Thursday, May 24, 2007

While we were in Kirkmichael, we heard James Naughtie’s interview with President Carter on the “Today” programme. I was much impressed with what he had to say, and with the coherence of his thought and language. The interview can still be heard here.

So, here’s the vegetable garden. My husband said the other day that it has rarely looked so tidy. That could be attributed to what might be called the Japanese approach to kitchen gardening – no plants. That’s not entirely true. The potatoes are growing vigorously, and have been earthed up against freak late frosts. Other things – not all, but some – are coming up but are too small to be obvious to the naked eye.

There had been a frost in the week we were away, but a slight one, and damage was minimal.

And here’s the gansey. I achieved what I had hoped, finished the first sleeve (but for the cuff) and have done most of the second shoulder strap. (I took it outdoors to photograph it yesterday morning -- the results are good. This is the view from what is meant to be the back. Back and front are indentical in shaping, and differ only in the placing of the pattern.)

Tamar, I took your advice and recalculated and spaced the remaining sleeve decreases so that they came out even with the desired length. The worry at the moment is that the broken rib panel down the top of the sleeve wants to recede into the fabric, as if it were simply a panel of purl stitches. (I have pulled it out to have its picture taken.) I will have to be very firm with it at the blocking stage. And of course it won’t entirely be able to recede, when there is an arm in the sleeve.

The weather continued wet and windy, but I got my May calendar pictures.

It must have been a considerable comfort for old folks during the War to spend time as we were doing, and to know that their activities – growing vegetables, knitting, trapping rabbits – were all directly and specifically useful. Except that in my case, vegetable-growing demands a considerable expenditure of time and strength in return for very little food.


Thank you, everybody, for the kind words about the Princess. She’s not finished yet! I regard the forthcoming insertion, however, as the pons asinorum. Once I am across it, finishing is by no means guaranteed, but the end will be, however dimly, in sight.

Vivienne, I don’t suppose you remember which issue of “Knitting” your husband’s gansey was in? I have subscribed from the beginning, so I must have it.


  1. It was issue 2 of Knitting (one of the few copies that survived a very thorough spring-cleaning last year), and it was the start of my relationship with Jamieson and Smith.

    At some point I want to design one from scratch, probably using Cornish motifs from Mary Wright's book, or Norfolk patterns for where I live now, or a combination (I might get on faster if I could decide!). I just never quite get to the point of sitting down with my A3 pad of graph paper (I charted out the entire back/front of the one from 'Knitting' rather than have to keep hopping between little charts for individual elements, and found it made the knitting much easier).

  2. Anonymous12:35 PM

    It's nice to have you back! The gansey is such a pretty shade of pink and appears on my monitor as the shade I particularly love and find flattering. I don't remember what yarn and color name you used. Do you mind sharing it again?
    Thank you,
    Donna Wingfield

  3. I also am glad you're back. I check every day just in case you've come home early. Have the Koigu all boxed and ready to get into car.

  4. Anonymous2:44 PM

    This is the first time I noticed that your pink gansey is very similar to one I made from Mrs Laidlaw in the Gladys Thompson book. I made the shoulder straps in 'rig and furrow' so the sleeve pattern stopped at the shoulder. It's been about 10 years since I finished it, and the strip still recedes and has to be blocked every time I wash it. But as you say, in wearing, it stretches out enough to keep things in order.

  5. Hm, trapping rabbits! I may need to look into that. I went out to my strawberry bed this past weekend and found the damn bunnies had taken one bite out of every ripe berry. I wouldn't mind their eating one whole berry now and then, but ruining all of them is just... wasteful.

    In the meantime, I put out deer netting over the strawberry bed. Will have to see if that works. If not, stronger measures will be called for.

    Re: growing vegetables as useful -- I wonder if the amount of money and time I put into it is really worth it, or whether that amount of money would just buy as many vegetables in the grocery store. I'm not sure I want to start a spreadsheet to track that... I'm considering putting in rain barrels, though, which might tip the equation more in my favor.

  6. I have a rabbit living in my back yard here in Palm Desert, with its burrow under the lemon tree. I assume it forages on the neighbors' plantings, too, because a 15' x 75' xeriscaped and paved area isn't going to keep a bunny alive for long and this one has been around since fall, at least.

    Rabbits are much more charming when there's no garden full of tender greens or juicy vegetables.

  7. Ketki's gansey looks great. I really like the stitch pattern you have used on it. I've been studying it in Thompson's book and I'm thinking about using it in a gansey for myself.

  8. Anonymous11:27 PM

    Corbie--try liquid fence. If you are in the US you can order from Or if you go to "The LeCompte Family Blog" to which Jean links you can find the liquid fence link one post back. It has worked very well for deer so far so I'd certainly try on rabbts.

  9. I snorted laughing when I saw the rabbit-lover photo; I assume its for those who love rabbit stew?

    The gansey is going beautifully and I must confess to enjoying the colour more each time I see it. I was a little dubious about that much pink at first but I think I must be getting more colour-mellow the closer the little girl's appearance gets! I think the sleeve's patterning will be more obvious once it's being worn.

  10. Sister Helen, the netting is working well (so far) for the rabbits -- I got nearly half a bowl of strawberries from my smallish strawberry bed last night. But I'll see if the liquid repellent is around in local stores, just in case.

    I'll be using netting over the tomato bushes later on, to keep the birds from eating them for their water content when the summer dry season hits. I like the fact that it's reusable, among other things.

    Jean, the gansey is lovely. I have Gladys Thompson's book and have been contemplating knitting a gansey for several years; seeing yours might just push me to do it.