Sunday, April 29, 2007

I’m somewhere in row 206, Princess-border-wise. I joined in a new ball of yarn the other evening – there now seem to be only five left in the packet. The last one took not much longer than a month to knit, with interruptions for London and Strathardle. The Princess suddenly begins to seem finite. I’m not sure I like it that way.

Still, little-boy-sweater today. It would be nice to get the second sleeve finished and joined.

Provisional Cast-On

I have never mastered it. One was needed for the shoulder strap of Ketki’s gansey last week. Brown-Reinsel’s instructions are for the over-and-under system. I tried, several times – I have a feeling I’ve actually done it, sometime in the distant past. But this time I failed, and eventually resorted to the last refuge of the clumsy, casting on and knitting a row in a different yarn.

I have also tried and failed the other “elegant” system (in the mathematical sense of that word) – crocheting a chain and picking up stitches from the back loop. I got that spectacularly wrong and had to spend hours tweaking out bits of yarn from the active loops.

I mean to try again for the other shoulder, bringing more books into play. My knitting library is here in Edinburgh – I had nothing to back up Brown-Reinsel last week. Watch this space.

Odds and Ends

Thank you for the note about nettles, Deidra. I had a natural-dye phase once, using unbleached yarn from Jamieson & Smith. Mostly I got a not-very-interesting range of browns, but I did succeed in finding some oclorechea tartarea (spelling not guaranteed) – a lichen – in Strathardle, from which came a pretty good red, and purple. You soak it in vinegar for a few weeks, I seem to remember. The natives used urine. Green, from nettles, would be a welcome addition to the range.

Knitterguy had a very interesting post recently, under the headline “Change”, with links hither and yon, not all of them knitterly but all interesting. The big news, and the saddest, is that Jamieson & Smith are discontinuing a long list of Shetland jumper weight colours. I was a tad worried when they were taken over a year or so ago, but people I respect seemed calm about it (notably Myrna Stahman), so I tried to stay calm.

We’ve still got Jamieson’s. We’d better treasure them.


  1. oh i cannot master the porvisional either but have not realized how the crochet chain works and it is easy peasy and lovely once you pick up in the right loop which is the one behind the chain. try it out on a few stitches and you will master it by noon, master knitter as you are!!!!

  2. Anonymous12:07 PM

    Yes, it is sad news about J & S. I am not a good colourist and rely on other people's patterns and I have noticed a lot of those patterns use the discoontinued colours. Jamieson's will not mail to customers in Canada or Mexico and we have to use dealers that charge up to 7 dollars for 25 grams.

  3. Anonymous1:51 PM

    ::phew:: I never got that provisional cast-on of knitting into the bumps of the crochet chain either, so I feel much better knowing I'm in good company. The related version that involves wrapping the yarn around a needle to form stitches while working the crochet chain is superior, I think, though some find it a bit clumsy to do at first. (Like everything is.) Eunny has good illustrations of it on her blog, here:

    The other thing is that good ole 2 strand or long-tail cast-on also works fine. Tie your waste yarn and garment yarn together to stabalize the ends, make a half-hitch around thumb with waste yarn, knit (or purl) it off with garment yarn: 1 stitch cast-on provisionally.

  4. Anonymous2:59 PM

    The Tsock Tsarina got me crocheting the stitches onto a knitting needle and knitting them from there. This works brilliantly for me.

  5. For provisional cast-ons, I use the plain old long-tail cast-on with a smooth yarn for the long-tail part. Then I go back and remove it later.

    There's also a discussion of how to crochet a chain ONTO a knitting needle, skipping the pickup part, in "Sweaters from Camp" from the Zimmerman/Swansen group. It may also be discussed in "Meg Swansen's Knitting", not sure.

  6. Anonymous6:47 PM

    I also finally mastered the provisional cast on via the Tsock Tsarina's method, which has you crocheting around your knitting needle. No need to figure out if you're in the correct "bumps" that way. And she explained that if you purl back from the end you just finished, you'll only have to zip it loose. If you knit back to the end you started with, you'll need to work the bits loose. I can't remember if she has this up on her blog with other tutorials or not. I pretty much was stuck doing the knit row in a different yarn and color before that, too.

  7. Anonymous8:16 PM

    I gave up on the crochet provisional too. For my socks I use two circulars and cast on using one of them as the provisional yarn. After I do the short row I just start knitting in the round like normal. I do have to tighten up that row of loops a bit.

  8. I'm with Ted, et al. on the wrap-yarn-around-needles crochet cast on, but I find that I can do it far less clumsily by making the crochet chain with my finger, rather than with a crochet hook. It may be a bit tedious for casting on 400 stitches or so, but it's a method that works well and considering that a fine lace shawl may contain several hundred thousand stitches, a few hundred doesn't seem so bad by comparison.

  9. Oh, and as for the J&S news, it's a sad thing, but I had fairly recently decided to try to steer my business towards Jamieson's anyway, as they process the wool in Shetland and I'd prefer to keep as much of my money in the islands as possible. My great-grandfather used to send money to the grandmother there he never met, so I see it as keeping up a family tradition.

  10. oh and i have heard that if you want to dye an exceptionally good indigo blue, you have to use the urine of alcoholic men. why alcoholic men's urine should be the best i don't know.

    and by the way the crown princess here in dk had a daughter and once again the shetland shawl hit the news.....

  11. There's a video showing the provisional cast done by crocheting around the hook. Being an old-time crocheter, I love it.