Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Three of us went to Oberlin! (me and Eleni and Alice, comments yesterday.) That seems to border on the remarkable. (My daily readership is about 200.) Alice, I don’t know what “EXCO” means although perhaps I can sort of guess. There was knitting at Oberlin in my day all right – I remember Mr Murphy who taught me Latin and Greek beginning a session once by announcing that there was a special circle of hell reserved for people who knit in his classes. But I think the main reason it didn’t occur to me to knit, then, was that it was mainly if not exclusively done by nice Ohio girls and didn’t suit the malcontented persona I had espoused.

Everything was different in Glasgow. There were no malcontents that I could see, just Glaswegians. Might as well knit.

The VKB from the spring of 1955 (yesterday's post) is off to a good home. The two things I knit from it were a big, boxy cardigan in fine yarn on teeny tiny needles (as everything tended to be, in those days) and a sweater dress, no less, in DK in a stitch they call “Norwegian rib”.

It is simplicity itself: K1, k. into loop below next stitch on needle. Repeat. It is done over an even number of stitches, but there are two knit stitches at the end of every row, which means that the k1b’s of one row are done into the stitches that were knit on the previous row.

Barbara Walker doesn’t offer anything under the name of “Norwegian rib”. Her version of Fisherman’s Rib is very similar, though, except that the alternate stitches are purled, not knit. Every row is patterned. Whereas the commoner version of Fisherman’s Rib, in my experience, has a plain purl row for the wrong side.

It’s enough to make one want to knit some swatches, if there weren’t so much else to do. I remember that dress as easy and fun. I think it stretched out of shape on the first wearing, or maybe it was just that it looked ridiculous.

I am afraid I ordered that shawl pattern yesterday. Worse – far worse – I ordered the yarn, too. Mama Lu, our hearts beat as one on colour: I chose “mahogany”, which is described as “a dark reddish-plum”. I can’t wait.

I’m having a lovely time with the top border of my sister’s shawl. It’s pleasant to be doing easy lace, so that I can whiz along enjoying the yarn. I should finish soon, earlier than expected. My sister is going to pass through London at the end of June, on her way from Africa to CT. We won’t be there, but I’m now pretty sure the shawl will be, saving a lot on DHL and anxiety.


Eleni, what a treasure, those patterns of your grandmother’s! What I’m looking for, though, is, very specifically, early issues of the British edition of the Vogue Knitting Book: there was a parallel American edition, but I mustn’t get started on that. Maybe I should look on Ebay.

Linda, that’s remarkable that you grew up near Asbury Park. Where, exactly? We were in West Allenhurst. What a day for coincidences! And that’s remarkable news, that the boardwalk is gone. I went back once with my mother, oh, maybe 15 years ago, when she was living in a retirement community in Hightstown. The boardwalk was near-derelict then, unpopulated on a brilliant spring morning except for a few lonely and alarming-looking characters. We had lunch in a cavernous, empty cafĂ©. There was one of those carousel things on the table with condiments in little metal pots. There was a thick layer of green mould on the ketchup.


  1. Anonymous12:21 AM

    Jean, I'm in touch with someone who is selling all of her father's knitting books, magazines and patterns. She's only just managed to finish listing the books and that list runs into 19 pages and has promised to let me have the list of magazines as soon as it is done. Is there any particular magazine you are looking for?

  2. Anonymous4:41 AM

    Ah, ExCo. How the time passes. ExCo was the "experimental college," which aimed to teach everything from Sanskrit to basketweaving. I took a good modern Greek class via ExCo (and picked up my screen name there), but I passed on the massage and knot-tying classes. No knitting classes that I can remember.
    Jean, can I ask how you charted the Chinese characters on the one wedding sweater? any special tricks?