Thursday, January 25, 2007

We’re moving forward, website-wise. I’ve pared down the opening page into a basic who’s-who of the immediate family, where each of them lives, and what their children are called. I’ve signed up with UK-Cheapest and had an email from them which may or may not explain how to get access to my webspace. They say to wait for a bit to let the new domain name bed down. I thought and thought yesterday and finally came up with milestones, which I liked a lot, but it turned out that all the variants (milestone, milestones, mile-stone, mile-stones) with all possible suffixes had been bought up by the same person.

So I went for millepassuum which is Miles in Latin. As I suspected, nobody else wants that one. I think I’ll leave the whole topic now until we get back from London.

So, knitting

While we were in Strathardle last week, I got back to grips with Ketki’s gansey. I finished the back, and am progressing nicely up the front. The joys of provisional cast-ons and shoulder straps are not far away.

A little while ago my friend Helen showed me a navy blue gansey which had belonged to her father, knit on Eriskay I think she said. It was stunning in every detail, not least a split collar with silver-type buttons. And it didn’t hesitate to include stretches of plain st st.

With that in mind, I abandoned plans for double moss st and did a couple of inches plain at the top of the back, carrying the seven-stitch strips of broken rib up to the shoulder. The same strips will appear on the shoulder straps and run down the otherwise-plain sleeves.

This is a front view:

I stopped the main pattern before the top because I didn’t want to cut one of those trees. I put in a few rows of garter stitch as a division-line. The only difference between front and back – since I have opted for an Unshaped Neck – is that the front has a centred tree and the back has a broken rib strip in the middle.

Here in Edinburgh, I’ve finished the first Calcutta Cup sleeve and started the second. Two-circular knitting has been resumed, and feels very clumsy, but at least I’ve started and it won’t last long.

We’re going to London tomorrow. I’ll try to log in from there at some point. Deidra, Oyster cards are a London thing, well worth getting if you’re going to be there a few days. You pay for bus and tube and rail journeys by swiping the card, and you go to the newsagent and get more money squirted into it when necessary. It’s great fun, and journeys paid for by Oyster Card are actually somewhat cheaper.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Like I said, birthdays.

Our daughter Helen is 44 today. Happy Birthday, Helen.

I thought it was Franklin's birthday, too, but looking back I can’t find the fact in his blog any more. Happy birthday, Franklin, anyway, if so. I thought Joe had one a couple of days ago, but I can’t find that either. However, some blogs are as I remember them: Rabbitch was a year older last Sunday, and Sean on Monday. Rabbitch is the oldest of the pack, by a year over Helen; Franklin, I think, is a tad younger than Joe.

Many happy returns of the day, to them all, whenever.

1962-3 was a very cold winter.

It is a disconcerting thing about blogging – I’m assuming, for the moment, that memory hasn’t entirely failed me, this time. The Moving Finger writes, and having writ/ returns to delete and alter at will. I’ve done it myself, once or twice.


I got the travel socks out, and found to my pleased surprise that I was farther on than I thought – nearly to the toe of the first sock. Note the economical odd-ball being employed to finish it off. I agree with Perri Klass in the current Knitter’s, that knitting-at-meetings should be simple. So I cast on for the second sock before I went out last night – thanks to Joe, I have plenty of No. 1 surina needles – and got about 35 of the 50 rounds of ribbing done at the Drummond Civic Society meeting.

So I’m in a great position for London: I can surely polish off the first sock before we reach the Border, and be able to tackle the second with the boring bit already nearly done.


I heard from Jennifer this morning, who had been looking for my website and couldn’t find it. That’s because I didn’t pay the dial-up subscription for this year. Broadband doesn’t come with web space.

I’ve found a plausible-sounding cheap space-provider. The constituent pages are all here on my desktop. The only thing holding me back is the need to think of a good domain name, not too cute, but arresting. I'll put it in the sidebar straight away, once it's set up. With the new Blogger, it's easy, even for me.

Janet, we discovered the joys of Oyster cards the last time we were in London. We saved a lot of money, too – we always used to buy Day Travel Cards, but it turns out that on most days, we weren’t using them up. This time, we will be staying way out in Streatham with Rachel and I’m not sure Oyster reaches that far. She will have to explain the situation to us.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It is a truly remarkable week for birthdays – more about that tomorrow. I seem to be one of the very few people in the world who was not born in the 4th week of January. Nevertheless, I’ve been doing rather well…

My recent blogging on the subject of cashmere bed socks launched a correspondence with Barb Brown of Wild Geese Fibres. I have now received – without having to pay any duty! – a package of her cashmere/bison down/merino blend. It feels firm and durable. I can hardly wait to get started.

We’re going to London on Friday, for a whole week. The current travel-socks are not very far advanced. but I’ll edge them forward a bit at a meeting of the Drummond Civic Society this evening, and if I then press industriously forward while we’re in London, I just might be able to get them done. I’ll take that ball I’ve already wound along, in hopes of casting on.

And look at this:

It’s a dp needle-holder which my friend Janis in CT sent me. Just like that, out of the blue, because of reading the blog. It’s not only useful, it’s beautiful, and I look forward to a very happy time putting needles in it and taking them out again, like Eeyore with his honey pot.

Janis and I met at Camp Stitches on Lake George in ’00. I wanted to get from there to the mouth of the CT river, when camp was over, to visit my mother and my sister. I did a lot of online work on the problem, and found that by any means of transportation, it was easy enough (but very round-about) to travel down the Hudson to NYC and then back up the coast to CT, but not easy at all to cross overland from the Hudson Valley to the Connecticut one and proceed downstream.
So I advertised for a lift on the Knitlist and Janis answered. She lives almost within walking distance of my sister.

We had a wonderful day. We went via Northampton, where my husband and I lived in 1960-61. Rachel celebrated her third birthday there, Alexander learned to walk, and James was conceived, although we got him back to Glasgow in time to be born.

Webs was a new feature in Northampton since my day. Janis and I had a very happy time there, and later she took a picture of me on the steps of the house where we lived that year, and we had lunch in a place which claimed to be the birthplace of the graham cracker (if memory serves) and where I bought this mug, which often holds my morning coffee as it does today.

So the needle-holder is full of memories already as it will be full of needles soon.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Most importantly: Kate, (comment January 16) the only reason I don’t carry yarn up the inside of the Calcutta Cup sweater, from row to row, is that there are too many colours. If you can do it, by all means do. I’m using three different light-coloured shades for the foreground, a total of six browns and dark greys for the background, and red and gold for the centre row of each motif – more than might appear. My hope is that they combine to make the sweater more interesting to look at.

Lene, (comment January 16) if the gods could run the Trojan War from the outskirts of Thessaloniki, I figure they ought to be able to manage British weather, at least occasionally.

Now, steeks.
Julie, thank you for reminding me about Lind’s “Knitting in the Nordic Tradition.” It’s an utterly wonderful book, and it had been too long since I had it off the shelf. She’s got steeking all right, although at a glance I don’t see the actual word, which is what we’re concerned with at the moment.

And I can’t find my copy of Gibson-Roberts. I located yesterday’s missing Feitelson, but this one is really gone – I think it may be in Kirkmichael as a back-up book for the construction of Ketki’s gansey. I don’t keep knitting books there, but they go back and forth a lot on a need-to-know basis. I will certainly look when we’re next there. McGregor’s Fair Isle book is the earlier work, but Gibson-Roberts is still earlier than Starmore.

LaurieG, I’ve got several Threads compendiums – I’ll have a look and see if I can find the article you mention.

And it is indeed worth remembering, in all this, how wonderful many of Starmore’s patterns are. I’ve got a lot of her books, but I’ve never actually knit one. I long coveted the “Stillwater” pattern, but when I tried, sometime in ’05, the irregularity and unpredictability of it defeated me. I like my Fair Isles (and intarsias) rhythmical.

That’s probably enough for now. And it leaves me with plenty up my sleeve – Ketki’s gansey, the Calcutta Cup sweater, last week’s arrivals in the post.

Here’s a snowy picture of my vegetable garden. I had a lovely time with the seed catalogues last week. That earthy patch is where my husband dug up some soil to re-pot the Christmas tree.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

We’re back. Readership scarcely declined during our absence. Why bother? I ask myself.

We were pretty lucky with the weather. A bit of snow, but none of the storms which afflicted England and indeed, I think, much of Europe. It’s funny, waking up in the country to snow. You thought you were alone, but the footprints reveal pheasants and deer and many rabbits and even, in our case, a human being, who came half-way down the driveway with a dog and then turned around.

The driveway gave trouble yesterday – a first, for us, although our son-in-law Ed got stuck last winter. The snow wasn’t very deep, but rain had turned it to ice. The trouble started just around that corner. An industrious half hour chipping away, and spreading salt, did the trick – we didn’t have to enter the final stage of sacks and pushing. Just as well, at our age. With the previous driveway, life was like that all year round, mud being fully as impassable as snow.

I have much to report on the knitting front, and comments from last time to answer. Today, however, will be devoted to etymology.

The new (February) Knitting was waiting for me here – I never did get around to cancelling it.

In it, Alice Starmore is quoted as saying: “Steek is a Scots word which means to ‘shut’ or ‘fasten’. In the context of needlework it means ‘a stitch’. When writing my Fair Isle book, I decided this was an appropriate word to use for the technique – a few Shetland women already did, and it is now used by knitters all over the world.”

OK, so far.

Starmore’s “Fair Isle Knitting Handbook” was first published in 1988, according to my copy.

Sarah Don’s “Fair Isle Knitting” appeared in 1979. She describes a variation of the technique of steeking, but doesn’t give it a name. I think it would be fair to say that her book was ground-breaking, in the sense that there hadn’t previously been a book in English devoted to the subject. But it is a slim vol., largely a book of patterns.

Sheila McGregor’s “The Complete Book of Traditional Fair Isle Knitting” appeared in 1981, seven years before Starmore. She uses the word “steek” in the now-familiar knitterly sense. Her book is what the title claims. It should be – and probably is – on every Fair Isle knitter’s shelf.

[I can’t find Feitelson this morning! Where is it? But I think she was published too recently to affect the discussion.]

The only possible conclusion is that Starmore had never seen McGregor’s book when she wrote hers. And it is, indeed, missing from her bibliography, although Don is present.

But I hope Starmore's version of events, as given in Knitting magazine, doesn’t now become accepted as gospel.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I wanted to put in an appearance today because it is the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Union, the birth of the United Kingdom. It is being widely celebrated as a non-event, but today's weather forecast, from the Scotsman, clumsily scanned, suggests that at least they noticed on Mount Olympus:

Natalie, I love your idea that we might be able to knit our way to the Calcutta Cup!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Thanks to everybody for the encouraging fistful of comments yesterday. Lene, I knew you had been away for the weekend because I read your blog these days. The description in your Profile of the view from your window, sounds wonderfully like the view from Helen and David’s house on Pelion.

Anne, yes, £33 is a lot for three pairs of socks. Here was I a couple of weeks ago fussing about paying £3.50 for a ball of sock yarn in my new, nearby LYS, thus £7 for a pair. (For gents, I use slightly more than two 50 gram balls, but I now know to knit the toes with something from the oddball bag and save a bit that way.) But the £11 socks will be custom-dyed by hand. I’ll get the first consignment in early February, and will of course report further.

I spend with reckless abandon, sitting here at my computer, but squeeze the pennies a bit harder when I’m out and about.

Franklin, the needles I’m knitting my sleeve on seem to be 18” long. The sleeve is currently 14” in circumference, yet fits comfortably on the needle. I don’t know how that works. Even at 18”, the circular needle is small enough to be slightly uncomfortable to work with; I wouldn’t care to go smaller, although I have heard that it is possible.

Rosesmama, here’s a picture of the inside of the Calcutta Cup sweater for you. At the end, I’ll spend a week or so tugging each end to even up the stitches, then tying them in neat little square knots and cutting off the excess. It’s not as bad as finishing off a KF, look at it that way. In the latter case, I do weave ends in as I go along, just as I’m told to, but that still leaves an end hanging there and I never entirely trust it not to un-weave itself so I usually secure and tie them. That takes a long time.

Moorecat, thank you for the link to your blog, which I shall follow with interest. I have no expertise to contribute on the subject of corrugated ribbing, however. I don’t like doing it, I’ve forgotten why. And I sort of regard the function of ribbing to be its capacity for pulling in, and corrugated rib doesn’t pull in. As you have been discovering. On the other hand, it looks awfully nice. Maybe I should try again. I feel somewhat reconciled towards it since I discovered that it isn’t supposed to pull in.

Tamar, thank you for your encouragement about the collar-and-button-band neckline. And by the way, a friend has found a better picture of that vertically-striped sweater in the Shetland Museum, and agrees with you that it’s knit bottom-up, with intarsia. Most interesting.


We’re planning to go to Strathardle tomorrow. I hope however to make at least a brief appearance here to mark the occasion, since it will be such an important anniversary.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


I’ve been very good, so far in Ought Seven. No cider except on Sundays, and January 1.

Andrew Marr, writing in the Waffy the other day, reveals himself as one of the Smart Set who abstain from liquor in January. I first met this practice in the person of a rather grand Man from Christies who came to see my husband about a picture by His Artist, but declined the offer of a dry sherry on the grounds that it was January. Since then, I’ve learned that everybody-who-is-anybody does it. With the exception, presumably, of those few who observe Lent.

Marr said: “I’m back in the thrall of an annual illusion, which is that, without the wine and occasional whisky, the days will be longer, more will be achieved and I will feel flinty-sharp, bushy-alert. Each year it turns out that no, this feeling of perpetual queasy tiredness, as if I’m living inside an elderly washing machine, is just the way things are.”

That’s how I feel, I’m afraid. But today is Sunday.

Just as well. Readership was down yesterday – that’s always true at the weekends; no problem – and there were no comments. It’s been a while since I had a day with no comments.

Here, for a change, is a picture of the Calcutta Cup sweater lying on top of its wine-stained paradigm. There’s still a long way to go.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The storms have quieted down – the wind was high enough yesterday afternoon that one had moments of wondering whether one could keep on one’s feet.

I had an email from The Yarn Yard this morning saying that a new member of her sock club had mentioned this blog as her source. A grown-up moment! And speaking of sock clubs, the Harlot's tale of Blue Moon Fibre Arts and “Socks that Rock” is very peculiar. And we thought 21st century British banks were as bad as it gets. (But we haven’t, of course, heard the bank’s side of the Blue Moon story.)

I got a fairly recent Rowan book yesterday, “Vintage Style”, an eBay purchase. There are some good things in it, including two tempting Kaffe’s and a rather nice striped Mably. The patterns are based on styles of the 40’s and 50’s and I devoted a few moments, in my role as VKB connoisseur, to thinking about why they looked so different from their sources. I’m sure Rowan has a stock of VKB’s that rivals my own.

And I decided that the answer is that people are a different shape nowadays. Specifically, that women in the 40’s and 50’s, even impossibly slender models, wore girdles and other constricting undergarments, and moved and stood accordingly.

I was taken aback to hear Rowan say that two necklines I am fond of, the shawl collar and what I would call rugby-shirt and they call button-opening-and-collar, are particularly appropriate for “a classic of bygone times”. Roba degli anni cinquanta, in a memorable phrase from a Linguaphone Italian course I once pursued. Puts me in my place. I really must start to give serious thought to the Calcutta Cup neckline.

Rugby shirts aren’t made like that any more, anyway.

Ron from Mexico: Thanks very much for the comment. I’ll seek out the sweater you mention from “Sweaters from Camp”, and indeed consider knitting stripes as you say you did. Cautiously. I have a vertically striped dress and it makes me look particularly fat.

As for a top down Fair Isle raglan, rather you than me – I’ve never attempted top-down, or felt much attraction to it – but I don’t see why not. You might want to have a look at Wendy Knits. (Scroll down a bit.) She’s been doing a Bohus design top-down. It’s nearly finished, and it’s stunning.

Here’s where I’ve got to on my sleeve. All the stitches are now on the small circular, and progress is faster than ever.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Rain is hitting the windows with unpleasant determination again this morning, but unlike yesterday the early emails brought no temptation to spend money on knitting.

Two things I forgot yesterday:

Anonymous (comment, day before yesterday), I did look up Bev Galeska’s Magic Loop, and it’s interesting. Thank you for reminding me. I don’t think I’m going to try to change, now that I’ve mastered two circulars. The drawback of either system is that one has to stop half-way through the round, unwind all that yarn from all those fingers, set everything up again, re-wind the fingers, and…by that time I have forgotten where I was in the pattern and the process has to be repeated at least once before I can proceed.

The Magic Loop uses only one circular, but it still involves a mid-round halt.

The other thing is that Lorna let me have an early look at the brochure for the Fibre-Crafts retreat to be held in Jedburgh May 11-14. It’s gonna be good. I’m pretty sure she’d send it in .pdf form to anyone interested: lornajay at gmail dot com. The weekend will include an outing to the Woolly Ewe in Kelso, full of covetable yarn. At first, it looked as if that wasn’t going to be possible. Lorna must have persuaded them to open specially.

Calcutta Cup sweater

I tried worrying yesterday about whether I had calculated the sleeve length correctly – there’s not much room for manoeuvre, if I haven’t. But I’m now nearly half-way up, in terms of rounds. (Not in terms of knitting, because of the increases.) And the current measurement seems very plausible. And it sort of looks like a nascent sleeve. And it’s got the right number of stitches for the number of increases I am currently supposed to have done. I’m really rather pleased with it.

I will no doubt have more to say about the real-life Calcutta Cup as Match Day ’07 draws nigh. It will be played in London this year, which reduces Scotland’s chances to somewhere near nil. Not absolutely nil, however. England has been going through rather a bad patch lately, and Scotland through rather a good one, both for the same reason: a new team coach.

But I’ll tell you this: if Scotland does achieve the miracle, I will knit the Cup with the dates '06 and '07 into the Princess Shawl after all. No monkeying around with elephants: the Calcutta Cup.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A morning of excitements!

An email from my friend and eBay agent Helen just now directed me to The Yarn Yard, which is actually somewhere near Edinburgh but alas! doesn’t seem to offer a real-world shop as distinct from a virtual one. Never mind: virtual is good enough for now. In compensation for a dreary January morning with rain hitting the window, and dawn having a lot of trouble breaking, I signed up for three months of their Yarn Club.

And then your comment, Kate, reminded me how much I had enjoyed that copy of “Yarn” you sent when I broke my arm, and how I meant to subscribe but let it slide, like so many other things -- so I went to the website and subscribed.

That’s enough knit-related expenditure for one morning.

Tamar, that sweater is extremely interesting. (Comment yesterday, with web reference.) I’ve got to make a note somewhere where I’ll find it – hey! in the Palm! – so that when/if I ever get to Lerwick, I can have a look. The shape is far more adventurous than I thought Shetland/Fair Isle colour knitting ever got. I wouldn’t absolutely rule out sideways construction.

VKB: things have been very quiet over on eBay lately, as far as I am concerned. Not at all quiet, really – slews of VKB’s have been on offer, but I’ve got them all. I was interested in No. 41 (early 50’s) last night, because my copy, although complete, is distinctly tatty. I would have paid £8 or so for the excellent-looking one on offer. I was still tempted in the early evening when it stood at about £11.50. But it sold for £26.78, eliminating all temptation.

Calcutta Cup sweater

It isn’t often I knit something in which progress can actually be discerned from day to day.

There was a dreadful moment last night when, in spite of all that has been said here recently, I looked down at my hands and discovered wood in the right and metal in the left. It only happened that once, and the mistake was retrieved without too much difficulty. It had been a longish hardish day.

I’ve now added a full pattern repeat to the circumference and it’s beginning to take a bit longer to make the circuit.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The great thing about a sleeve is that it’s not very far around. Progress seems to be rapid. The downside is that the colour changes happen constantly.

Sheila, I think we have stumbled on the answer to the difficulties of the two-circular system, namely to use two needles that look different. Needless to say, in this case it was sheer happenstance. I have only three circulars of the required size – one, a metal one, is fully occupied holding the body stitches, so I set about the sleeve with the other two. If you hadn’t left that comment yesterday, this major breakthrough might have passed almost unnoticed, even by me.

Mar, like you, I enjoy DPs and wouldn’t dream of using anything else when knitting with a single yarn. But Fair Isle is different, and maybe getting harder for me with increasing age and frequent broken arms. Two circulars are almost as inconvenient as DPs – you have to stop in mid-round once instead of twice, that’s all. You still have to unwind all the yarn from your fingers, turn the work around, push stitches hither and yon on the needles, and set yourself up again for the next stretch. The big advantage is that the stitches are much more secure – you don’t keep losing a couple off the ends of the needles.

Try it again, Deidra and Mar, using two different-coloured circulars, if you’re ever in this situation.

I’ll still be glad when I can get everything on to one circular. I’m increasing by two stitches every five rounds. There’s still a long way to go.

Carlarey, I shall eagerly await your report of attempts to persuade Swapna that knitting is just as pleasant a vice as smoking, only easier on the lungs. “The Knit Stitch” is another possibility for a First Book for her.

I made some progress yesterday with luxurious sock yarns, and should be ready to report soon.

We’re going to London for more art at the end of the month. I booked the train tickets yesterday, and only realised afterwards that we will, thank goodness! be back here in time for Groundhog Day, and for this year’s Calcutta Cup match the ensuing weekend

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A much better day.

Here is a picture, as promised, of the youthful, mustachio’d Alexander wearing a sweater knit in the “Sand Lodge” pattern from McGregor. I seem to have been unusually, and rather successfully, restrained in my colour choices.

And here is the current state of the Calcutta Cup sweater. I did all the arithmetic yesterday, and have launched myself onto the patterned part of the sleeve. You will notice that I am doing what I said I wouldn’t do, and knitting it with two circulars. The DP’s were extremely awkward – I used to be able to do it. Maybe the trouble was that the only set I could find in the right size were inconveniently long.

I had to rip out the first half-dozen rounds because of a miscalculation in the setting of the pattern, and took the opportunity to start off again with circulars. It’s going pretty well. The two needles are radically different from each other, one wooden, one metal, and I figure that everything will be all right if I keep firmly in mind that I must always be knitting with two ends the same, two wooden or two metal. Eventually the whole sleeve will fit on one small-circumference circular. One Christmas, long, long ago I knit hats for everybody on my list and as a result I have a first-rate collection of small-circumference circulars in a wide range of sizes.


Crafty Granny, welcome abroad. I had never given much thought to the question of Grandmothers as Bloggers. Mary Morrison is a favourite, a fellow Texan of yours – but she rarely writes these days. I believe The Curmudgeon is one, too. She was a child bride. But I have always valued cyberspace precisely for the way one floats in it free of the constraints of age or sex.

Yarn shops: I don’t get around to many in London, due to the pressure of art. When I can, I visit the departments in John Lewis on Oxford Street, and Liberty, on Regent Street. They’re very close to each other. I’d like to drop in on I Knit near Vauxhall, but wonder if I’ll ever achieve it.

Edinburgh’s best is probably HK handknit. What I’m really looking forward to, is getting acquainted with k1 yarns in Glasgow. The next time we go over there, my husband will have to look at art by himself.

Apart from those, I shop on-line.

Lorna, you seem to have spent a whole day in Glasgow without going to K1! What restraint! Thank you for the tip about putting Oasis in my calcium pill containers. I had forgotton how much I used to love Oasis.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Yesterday was one of those days like swimming through treacle. Among the things I didn’t do were a) look for a picture, as promised, of the apparently vertically-striped sweater I once knit; and b) explore luxurious sock yarns, from the leads you’ve given me. I see that Sean is knitting cashmere socks, which he is reinforcing. I shall follow that tale with interest.

I should, however, finish the cuff of the first sleeve of the Calcutta Cup sweater today, and plunge back into real life (in the form of knitting the colour pattern on DP needles). I’ve worked out how many stitches I want at the top of the sleeve. I’m going for an even multiple of pattern repeats, although I don’t really think it’ll make all that much difference. The rest of the calculations remain to be done, including how to centre the pattern on the sleeve.

So for the rest of today, I’ll discuss


Lene, I am overjoyed to see that you have suited the action to the word and emigrated to Blogger. I will be a regular visitor. I hope you figure out how to import archives.

Katherine, it’s interesting to learn that there are two Messiness Books out there, and I suspect you’re right, that it’s a reaction to all this life management stuff. I subscribe to the FlyLady, and I think she has done me some good here and there, although you wouldn’t suspect it to look around my house. But I haven’t turned her back on since Christmas.

Deidra, you’ve got some good ideas there, about DP’s. Are there enough different-coloured rubber bands in the world to serve the purpose? Now that I have started taking calcium pills every day, I should have a steady supply of calcium-pill-containers. I’ve already mentioned how I have employed the first one to hold size 1 sock needles. But it hadn’t occurred to me that I could use them for any DP’s, by leaving the top off where necessary. I’m going to work on this.

Swapna, you should be proud of your knitting! Now I think you need a copy of Debbie Stoller’s “Stitch ‘n Bitch”. It sounds to me from the customer reviews on Amazon as if it’s better for the beginning knitter than “Knitting for Dummies”, much as I admire the author (Pam Allen) of the latter. And I think, without having read a syllable of either book, that you’ll like Stoller’s approach.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Swapna has gone over to the new-style Blogger, too. This is all a bit like the Stepford Wives, or maybe I mean Invasion of the Body-Snatchers. I like the family pictures she’s now got in her sidebar, so yesterday I put in some of my own.


I finished, perhaps, the body of the Calcutta Cup sweater as far as the armholes yesterday, and started the first sleeve.

That means I looked out sets of DP needles, a tedious chore. (I don’t like the two-circular solution. I keep finding that I’m knitting with the wrong end of the wrong needle, and it all gets into a tangle.) A few years ago, I bought this device for circulars in Cambridge, MA – from the very shop, I think, where Sean now works. It has saved me an immeasurable amount of both tedium and time. I need a similar solution for DP’s. It was a topic often discussed on the Knitlist, but none of the ideas really grabbed me.

There is a review in the current Economist (where else?) of a book called “A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder”. Procrastination is praised, as well as physical disorder, and we are told that the US Marines “never make detailed plans in advance. Leaving important things to the last minute reduces the risk of wasting time on things that may ultimately prove not important at all.”

Yes, but – as the reviewer says. It doesn’t work for surgery, or doing one’s income tax. But it nicely expresses my approach to life. I gave some thought yesterday to how many stitches I needed to cast on for the sleeve, consulting the Sweater Wizard and EPS. But I haven’t decided how to shape the sleeve increases, nor have I worked out – and it will have to be done very precisely – how long I want the sleeve to be, and therefore at what point in the pattern I must begin, to have it come out even with the body at the armholes.

Dear Spinning Fishwife, it is sad indeed that I didn’t know you had the Calcutta Cup last summer. I emailed the SRU after the Famous Victory, and learned that the Cup was going to travel around. I have paid at least some attention since, and logged in occasionally to their fairly useless website. (We’ve got the mug commemorating the victory in 2000, and hoped for another one.) I heard that the Cup had visited an Edinburgh Tesco’s – perhaps, who knows? it was my local one – and not only the Cup, but Chris Paterson with it. But I heard that after the event, too.

I should be brave and just ring them up and ask if I could go see it. In less than a month, now, it will almost certainly be transferred to Twickenham, and it may not return in my lifetime. And I am surely the only person in the universe who has knit it twice. (The other time was in granddaughter Kirsty’s Christening shawl – you have to scroll down to the bottom of the page.)


Thanks for all the leads on luscious bedsocks. I mean to follow them up today.

Catriona, I’m awfully glad you’re going to knit that shawl. I must warn you that the first is the worst – Amedro begins, as with all her designs, by having you knit the entire edging. It’s not difficult, but it’s definitely tedious. When I did it for Archie Drake, I consciously thought of myself as helping him and my daughter through those early awful weeks of pregnancy, while God is knitting the baby. After that, you’re flying, and it feels as if the work is going faster and faster as you decrease towards the centre of the shawl, and the baby gets fatter and stronger.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Cashmere socks: I was afraid that would be the answer. Thank you very much, commentators, for saving me the money and the knitting-time. The German sock yarns, various brands, that I swear by all have 20-25% man-made fibre, although they feel completely like wool. I suspect that must remain the answer – even if I reinforced cashmere, it wouldn’t amount to such a percentage.

Fleegle, I ordered from HipKnits only once, Malabrigo, and was disappointed with the slow service but not with the yarn when it eventually came. I put their tardiness down to the stress of their big opening, which happened at about the same time. I’m stalking them at the moment because of Google’s, and their website’s, hint that they are soon to sell Louet Gems Merino. But their website claims that everything will be “up and running” after the holidays “by the end of the week”. Like, today. And it's not. Which might seem to indicate a tendency to bite off more than they can chew, similar to my earlier experience.

I had a look at Jojoland. Yes! But where on earth – literally – are they? How would their cashmere-and-merino sock yarn wear? The colours are not very gentlemanly, but that might not matter for bedsocks. But it's still 100% natural fibres.

Tamar, don’t you think the vertical Fair Isle you were thinking of, might be the “Sand Lodge lumber knitted in Bressay” in McGregor? It’s knit in the ordinary way – it’s just the pattern that’s vertical. It’s in the “Designing a Fair Isle Garment” chapter, page 42 of my edition. I knit it once, for Alexander I think, attracted by that very feature. So much Fair Isle comes out in horizontal stripes. I’ll try to dig out a photograph for tomorrow.

Actual knitting

I’m a bit further on. At least when I’m Princess-ing, I can report precisely what row I’m in the middle of. This project seems completely bogged down in tedium. It’ll be better soon, and will seem to go faster, when I start on a sleeve.


Google Analytics and Blogger now seem to be singing from the same sheet – and showing readership up to previous levels. I notice that someone logged in from Saskatoon yesterday. Swapna, could that have been you?

Friday, January 05, 2007

The current thinking on the Calcutta Cup sweater is to knit the sleeves separately and join all at the underarms, EPS fashion. I’ve fished out Knitter’s for 2000, the four issues in which Meg expands on the EPS theme.

Then what? In my Fair Isles of old I did faux raglan seams all the way up to the neck, so that the pattern stayed on the same line all the way around, sleeves and body, but was of course not continuous, as the raglan shaping gradually ate into body and sleeve alike. Some necks I left round, in others I cut a v-neck. It’s almost as easy as that.

Maybe I could go for the seamless-hybrid shirt-neck finish after all? Plenty of time to think about it. It would be tricky, and would involve the dreaded purling, but might make up for having to jettison the Prince of Wales joke.


Has anyone ever knit cashmere socks? HipKnits has a couple of skeins of cashmere sock yarn on sale. k1 Yarns has more, more expensively. I know they would be heavenly to knit and to put on, but would they wear? My husband’s present bedsocks, knit of various leftovers of serious German sock yarn, have gradually with the years become loose. They now tend to come off at night.

Bedsocks are subject to more wear than you might think, as I have mentioned here before. The first pair I knit for him, made of various DK pure wool oddballs, went into holes almost at once. I could reinforce the entire foot, of course.

I discover this morning that the alarming drop in readership claimed for me by Google Analytics was due to the fact that the necessary bit of code didn’t transfer, when I switched from one New Blogger template to another. I hope I’ve now put that right.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Miscellaneous, today

The Calcutta Cup sweater is currently 15” long. The pattern-sweater Alexander gave me to use as a model (with red wine spilled down its front) is 17” to the armpit. I must figure out today where in the stitch pattern I want it to end at the shoulder, and distribute the resulting knitting above and below the armpit.

Tamar, I am very grateful for the effort you put in to the solution of what might be called the Prince of Wales problem. I will try to find the vertically-striped pattern you mean in Sheila Macgregor’s book. And I am much taken with your idea of casting on the sleeve at the underarm. Am I capable of it?

My current inclination is to go ahead as planned. I can’t really imagine what it will look like, and I want to find out. The pattern will flow continuously, although the colours won’t. And as you say, I will have learned some valuable lessons which can be applied next time.

Meanwhile, I have been impressed by the recent posting of a Seamless Hybrid on the Zimmermania website. I love that neckline, and used it for Theo’s Striped Koigu, only you can’t really appreciate it from the front.

It sounds as if the Zimmermania knitter knit it as EZ gives it and then blocked the hell out of it. The result looks terrific. I always found that the shoulder puffed up dreadfully when I tried it that way. I made it lie smooth (on Meg’s actual suggestion) by considering stitch and row gauge, and doing an occasional k2tog to make them come out even.
On this sweater, as on the Fair Isles I used to knit in the 70's, I planned the sleeves to match the stripes on the body. I could do that with the Calcutta Cup -- abandon the body at the armpits, knit the sleeves, join all and proceed. It wouldn't be as originally intended, but it would avoid any actual break in the flow.

Whatever (as the young say, at least in novels). Since EZ is all percentages, I could knit a Seamless Hybrid for a little boy out of Koigu and Louet Gems Merino, and am rather keen to do so.


Google Analytics is terrific, as I said yesterday, but seems to claim for me only half the readership I used to have with Alexander’s hit counter. What a swiz.

I have a website of my own at the moment, although rather neglected of late, in some “free space” that comes with my old dial-up connection. I kept it on for 2006 in a superstitious fear that my connection with the world would disappear if I stopped paying. The time for paying the annual bill is fast approaching, and I am afraid it would be silly to go on. All the material is safely here on my desktop computer, reasonably well organised. Some of it, at least, I’d like to find another home for. Does anyone have any ideas? I don’t mind a modest monthly fee.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

That is really exciting news, Catriona. Take good care of yourself, now.

I think my recommendation for a shawl might be this one, a Gladys Amedro pattern although it doesn’t say so, sold as a leaflet by Jamieson & Smith. It's called the "My Weekly Baby Knits Shawl" and its code number is L252. I have scanned this image from a brochure I got with some yarn last month, so we can be pretty sure it’s up to date and available. The knitting is pretty easy, but the result is a bit fancier than a simple hap shawl. It’s knit in lace-weight yarn rather than cobweb weight, which makes the whole project a bit less daunting. It's knit in one piece.

I knit it for Archie Drake of Thessaloniki (as he turned out to be), 11 years ago. It was my first venture into lace-weight, which I then thought was as far as I was ever likely to go in that direction. I was surprised and pleased about how straightforward the whole thing was.

Jamieson & Smith are 01595 693579. They have a website, but I don’t think it’s orderable-from. I could be wrong about that. I have always found them very prompt and efficient. They’ll sell you lace-weight yarn as well, of course.

The Calcutta Cup Sweater

I’m getting pretty near the armhole steeks.

As I was falling asleep last night, I thought about attaching the sleeves, and realised that I have made a fundamental and thoroughly stupid mistake. I’ve chosen a pattern, as I keep saying, which is both vertically and horizontally symmetrical, with the idea of taking advantage of the squareness (rather than rectangularity) of a Fair Isle stitch to make the sleeves look as though they flow continuously from the body, although in fact knit at right angles to it.

All well and good – but that idea depends (obviously, Jean) in knitting in two colours only. And I haven’t done that. Here’s a picture from a couple of days ago, to remind us. The stripes won’t be continuous. I think the only way to achieve that, in multiple colours, is to work everything carefully out in advance like Eunny Jang in her recent IK pattern, and knit the sleeves in the same direction as the body. Could I still do that?


Thanks for continued favourable comments. Sogalitno, I’m surprised and interested that you can tell the difference between Flickr pictures and one’s like yesterday’s which are directly in Blogger. I prefer it too.

The one thing I don’t like about the new regime is the small type size. I might have a look around the templates today to see if I can find a slightly larger one. I don’t feel quite brave enough to try adjusting it myself.

Nephew Theo weighed in yesterday to suggest that I use Google's own hit-counter. I’ve inserted the code successfully (gold star on my homework) and now I have pie-charts and a world map showing, among other things, a reader in Istanbul!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The first day of the rest of our lives. Monday is a grotesquely inconvenient day to have Christmas on, but the perfect day to start a New Year. And now it’s Tuesday, no more cider, strict attention to business.

Thank you for the kind remarks about the new Blog layout. Blogger has been plugging this new version for some time. When I saw yesterday that Joe had gone over, I decided I had better follow suit – jump before I was pushed. Now I’ve got a sidebar with an “email me” and a proper list of favourite blogs; very grown-up. On the other hand, Haloscan comments seem to have disappeared, and I fear the invisible hit counter Alexander wrote has gone down the same tube.

We’ll see how we get on with Blogger’s own comments this time. I’m sorry to see my old ones swept away, though – including at least two from yesterday. Somebody provided a link to a site about colour knitting; I hadn’t followed it yet, and now it’s gone. Could I have it again, please?

And we’ll see how we get on with pictures. I’ve been using Flickr, but it would be quicker and easier to use Blogger itself, if it works.


The discovery of that bag of Louet Gems Merino oddballs yesterday has inflamed me, in a mild way. A Google search restricted to UK sites suggests that maybe Hipknits is soon to have it. I’ll keep watching.

I knit this scarf (from IK) in ’04,

and this jacket (by Candace Strick) in the same year, the latter as my Games entry for that year. (That's granddaughter Rachel, modelling it.) It was unplaced, like last year’s shrug. Both were in Louet Gems Merino, and I have since discovered that Rowan 4-Ply Soft is very similar. So I’ve got a nice little bagful. It’s a delight to knit with. And I’ve got all those little people to knit for, who will soon get big and stop wearing wool.

I got all excited yesterday to see a new post in The Princess Diaries, and was disappointed to find that it only said how discouraged K. is feeling about the project. I hope Knitterguy will be able to cheer her up. Maybe I’ll do a month or so of my own Princess when the Calcutta Cup sweater is finished. Mine is still in the middle of the row I was doing the day I fell and broke my arm.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Well, we got here, friends: 2007. I like the James Bond link, Catherine. I’m taken aback by how many people, in the Blogs I read, seem to have found Ought Six a tough one. I can ask for no more, for ourselves, than more-of-the-same – but I hope those affected see a marked improvement this year.

The storms in Edinburgh yesterday which forced the concellation of the street party, make our glorious Christmas weather in Strathardle seem all the more miraculous.

One of my New Year practices is to make a hasty list in Lotus Organiser of what I hope to knit in the year to come. Not resolutions, by any stretch of the imagination; just sweeping out the mind to see what’s there. Most years, quite a bit of it gets knit.

Here’s what I wrote down yesterday:

finish Alexander's Calcutta Cup sweater
finish Ketki's gansey
do some more Princess
Koigu for small boys -- perhaps another Wallaby
KF, perhaps Ravenna
Bog jacket in Malabrigo
Hiawatha stole in Jade Sapphire cashmere
something with the Cherry Tree Hill suri alpaca I bought at Stitches East in ’02

I have two proper KF kits which I-mean-to-knit-one-day (as well as other KF’s that I have bought for the yarn, not the design). One is the vest based (I think) on a mosaic floor from Ravenna, and the other, the Green Granite Blocks jacket from “California Patches”.

Looking at them in the cupboard just now revealed a bag of Louet Gems Merino oddballs…let’s get started on the ’07 knitting! But first, I must wash the breakfast dishes.