Monday, June 25, 2007

So, off to London. Back Saturday, DV, blogging on Sunday.

I've done nearly 1/4 of the central panel of the melon stole/scarf, before the train has even left the station. I normally don't do nearly as much knitting in London as I think I will, but the prospect of running out remains terrifying. I can't take the book along with the thought of starting the edging -- far too heavy -- so I have hastily packed some socks. On Thursday, I will be going to Birmingham for my friend Margot's rather tardy funeral. That's three more hours of train time.

Until Sunday, then...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Here’s where I am with the melon stole (VLT p. 146). I’m having a great time.

It’s a very easy pattern, and I’m trying to work out why it’s such fun, when knitting the easy Paisley Long Shawl last year, wasn’t. This one is alternate panels of st st and faggoting – I love faggoting – for five out of six rows. The patterning is all done in that sixth row, with an awkward and interesting manoeuvre, new to me.

I am to do 62 repeats of the 6-row pattern, over 70 stitches. That’s a walk in the park for us Princess knitters. Here you see the first eight of them.

The yarn (the Yarn Yard's new merino lace) is terrific. I adore hand-painted yarns, but too much colour variation can swamp lace. Natalie’s got it exactly right here, as you see. I don’t know how the other colour-ways will work out, but I have a good deal of faith in her by now. The yarn feels good and knits well. It’s plyed and it’s strong. I’d never knit again with Shetland cobweb yarn, which is unplyed.

At the end of each year, or beginning of the next, I like to sit down and make a list on a Lotus Organiser page of the knitting I might get done in the 12 months ahead – definitely not a list of resolutions, which would be contrary to the whole spirit of knitting. Here is this year’s list:

finish Alexander's Calcutta Cup sweater -- done, March
finish Ketki's gansey
do some more Princess
Koigu for small boys -- perhaps another Wallaby – done, June, with Yarn Yard yarn
KF, perhaps Ravenna
Bog jacket in Malabrigo
Hiawatha stole in Jade thingamy cashmere
something with the Cherry Tree Hill lace stuff from Stitches

And here’s how the list would look if I wrote it this morning:

Finish Ketki’s gansey
Do some more Princess
Finish Sam the Ram
Finish the melon stole
A boy-sweater in Glasgow Tenement yarn
A Shapely Shawlette in that cashmere Koigu
Get well started on Theo’s Obama-electing cashmere gansey

There’s not going to be time. I would like to get the Princess insertion out of the way, and the centre started, before 2007 becomes history.

I keep forgetting to mention that my sister has some pictures on the family blog of the cashmere for Theo’s gansey. Address in sidebar; scroll down. She’ll bring it to me when they come for the Games.


Mel, you’re right, of course, courgettes are zucchini. (Microsoft Word disapproves of “courgette”, indeed, but likes “zucchini”.) And I was thinking as I moved about yesterday, how many vegetables have Italian variety names, even in English catalogues – spinach “Lazio”, beetroot “Chioggia”. I will certainly go on down that path next year.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Today is Rachel’s birthday.

And we’re back again.

We were lucky with the weather. Despite poor forecasts, much rain elsewhere, and rolls of thunder from up the glen, we were fine, tee-shirts and sunhats even, and got a fair amount done.

The ten days away had been cold and wet. The grass and the weeds grew prodigiously; the vegetables, on the whole, have been biding their time.

It was sort of sad. a) because the summer solstice is the saddest day, and b) because I had to face the fact that I have other enemies besides rabbits.

Someone has been tweaking up newly-sprouted runner beans and French beans, and leaving the little plants on the ground to wither and die. Who would do that? It sounds like pigeons, but we haven’t seen them about. I don’t think it’s happened in other years.

It even happened while we were there. On Thursday afternoon when we arrived, I admired a little group of three runner beans, rare survivors from the many seeds planted. When I went back out after tea, there was only one. The other two were lying there, and since the deed was so fresh I tried planting them, protected with a sawn-off soda bottle each. They looked more or less OK yesterday morning.

We ate some spinach, after this picture was taken, and some cime di rapa con cecatelli, without the cecatelli. That’s cime di rapa in the lower right-hand corner. Turnip-tops, in English. I ordered several things from Seeds of Italy this year, for the fun of it and without much hope that they would be up to the rigours of Strathardle, but they’re all going great guns, including even an Italian courgette. I’ll get more, next year.

The peas have recovered surprisingly well from The Night of the Rabbit. Peas enjoy cold and wet.

As for knitting…

I knit a few rounds of Ketki’s second gansey sleeve – not enough to be worth photographing.

When we got back last night, I admired Sam the Ram from across the room, while making a start on the Melon Stole from VLT in the Yarn Yard's delicious new merino lace yarn. As I thought, the pattern is easy and fun. I am a firm believer in Franklin's second Observation on Lace Knitting, so I just picked a suitable needle size and started.

It looks, so far, as if my results will be much smaller than the object illustrated in the book, although of course the eventual edging and the blocking will change things. Since no particular size is needed, that’s fine, except it would be nice to have something that’s easy to spread out over the shoulders. I feel sort of sad when my fancy knitting gets scrunched up and worn as a scarf as seems to keep happening with my attempts at rectangular stoles.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It’s off to the West Port… We’re both going to Kirkmichael today, and will stay one night. The weather continues disgusting and the forecast poor, but I can weed and even hoe in the rain, if need be; I don’t want to cut the grass anyway.

No blog tomorrow.

I got Sam’s stuffing finished, and one ear knit. Sure enough, the ear instructions work fine as given. My husband says his legs don’t meet his body in a very sheep-like way, but my feeling is that we’re not in a competition for The Most Anatomically Correct Knitted Sheep, but for a Knitted Toy, and he’s pretty good.

Maureen in Fargo, I’m glad you’re still with me, and am very grateful indeed for your suggestion, that happy day, that I knit Sam.

I can’t show you a picture of the ribbing-to-ribbing grafting because it’s between his legs, front and back, and I don’t want to strain them. Here’s a picture of where the final cuff stitches were grafted to the body stitches. I’m proud of the way it looks.

So I will now – or when we get back on Friday, rather – put him aside for a bit to knit the Victorian Lace Today “melon shawl” – it’s the cover picture – in Yarn Yard's new fine lace merino yarn. There are three evenings remaining here in Edinburgh before we head south. That should be plenty of time to get started and memorise the pattern (it looks easy peasy) so that I can take it along.

I’ll tell you all about my vegetables on Saturday, insh'Allah.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My sheep!

Stuffing isn’t finished. When I was posing him for photography, I noticed that that left front leg was weak, so I pulled the stuffing out and re-did that. Now I think the head and neck need more, so I’ll do it again. The instructions wisely point out that this is the only chance I’ll get.

I don’t think I’ll have quite enough stuffing, but I’m not sure yet. I think I have enough to get to the point where I start the rear-end grafting, but the instructions also say that I will find as I work, that there’s room for more, and that I should put it in. And even if I finish, there are still horns to be knit and stuffed.

I don’t understand the instructions for the ears, but whenever that happened in the past all became clear as work progressed.

I’m terribly proud of him, and impressed with the instructions. The effect of seamlessness is wonderful – those cuffs under which are concealed the seams joining the legs to the body, are little short of brilliant. I have high hopes for him, especially if the judges don’t just think oh, sheep, cute, Aran, but actually examine him.

Not much else to report. “Butterfly” was good, but failed to involve the audience in a Total Experience. It’s pissing with rain this morning. I had hoped to go to Kirkmichael tomorrow – either by myself, for the day; or both of us, to stay one night. Just to get my vegetables weeded and maybe eat some spinach. But it would be no use in weather like this.

I read a lot more blogs than the ones listed in my sidebar, and have recently become rather fond of Kristin Nicholas, with whom I once did a course at Stitches East on designing for children. Her blog is sort of the Farmgirl with knitting.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I did it!

It was a combination of Lucy Neatby's Sock Toe Chimneys and going back to Montse Stanley and really paying attention to the diagram, instead of just Blindly Following the written instructions. I see what they mean about the grafting being offset by half a stitch, but hey! it’s grafted ribbing!

(I also finished Sam’s fourth leg yesterday, and sewed all four in place.)

Next, I must graft 18 stitches of ribbing to 22 body stitches. I got that job lined up last night, and saw that the body stitches are not ribbed at all. Some of them are Aran-panel, others seed stitch.

Since a line of grafting creates only one row of fake knitting, I think the only thing to do is to graft in ribbing, rather than try to accommodate the k’s and p’s of the 22 stitches as well. I think. We shall see. The designer, in whom I have the utmost faith by now, is emphatic that you should “graft to match the K or P nature of the stitch you are sewing”. That sounds as if you should try to pay attention to all of them.

Assuming – a big assumption – that that goes well, I might even be stuffing Sam today, ceteris paribus. Unfortunately, other things aren’t equal. I’m going to see Madame Butterfly this evening, which will not only cut radically across the time usually devoted to knitting but will mean that much of the day will have to be spent thinking about and lining up food to leave behind for my husband.

I’ll try to sneak half-an-hour to attempt that grafting, though.


I’m fine; Sunday’s fall has done no harm. Thank you for the concerned comments. (And Hi! Gail.) I think it would be a good idea, as you suggest, Tamar, to learn how to fall. My sister-in-law says to observe football players. In both of the falls that resulted in fractures I was carrying something; this time I wasn’t. One’s instinct is to protect one’s burden and it’s a hard instinct to abandon in a split second.

I stumbled across this link just now. It’s good fun. It might have been interesting to include alcohol – hard to believe they’re all teetotallers. The Mileses of Edinburgh eat very well, by world standards; but I knew that.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Not much knitting yesterday. I fell down, the sort of thing old ladies should avoid doing. I’ve got away with it this time, but the right wrist – which wasn’t involved at all; I fell on my well-padded bottom – is sore and weak. I am beginning to get the idea of how shock must travel through an elderly skeleton, quaerens quem devoret.

Anyway, Sam’s third leg is done. I hope to provide him with a fourth today, and maybe get them sewn into the cuffs. Then comes more grafting.

I’ve posted a query to the SamtheRam Yahoo group on the subject, although I very much doubt whether anyone is going to be able to come up with anything better than Lucy Neatby's Sock Toe Chimneys. The tutorial you referred to yesterday looks good, too, Lorna. I’m sure she’s right that it’s a good idea to take the stitches off the needles and pin them out. At the moment I’m rather looking forward to this. Another failure will dampen my enthusiasm.

Kapok: live and learn. I realise that I have no idea what it is, really. I didn’t know until I read your comment yesterday, Kate, that it was natural. I don’t think the stuff I’ve got is kapok at all – it says “100% white washable luxury soft filling” on the label, which isn’t very informative, and comes from a company called Abbey Kapok and Fillings. I think I jumped to the wrong conclusion. It looks as if it’ll do fine for Sam, whether or not there is quite enough of it.

Odds and Ends

Natalie of the Yarn Yard told me about the Yahoo “Mystery Stole 3” group the other day, and I made haste to join. The idea is that the designer will issue the stole pattern in bits, and we all knit along not knowing where we’re going. It’s a fun idea all right, but I had to drop out of message-receiving at once because the volume is tremendous and the knitting hasn’t even started yet. With all the beautiful things in the world that one isn’t going to have time to knit, I am surprised that so very many people want to do this.

I read your blog with interest, Mel, after you left a comment the other day, and therein discovered Ravelry, which everybody seems to have known about but me. A sort of Facebook for knitters? It’s not “up” yet – one can but press one’s nose against the window, but it looks good.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Thank you for the many kind messages about the death of my friend Margot.

The funeral is not until June 28 – the undertakers of Birmingham are very busy just now, I was told. Is that possible? We will be in London then; I will leave my husband to look at art by himself for a day. From there, it is a easy day trip by train and one which should still feel familiar.

I spoke yesterday to the one of Margot's daughters I know best, the one Rachel’s age. There is to be an all-singing all-dancing ecumenical service with only very slight religious overtones, followed by an eco-friendly burial somewhere near Evesham, followed by a party at home. Margot was a Roman Catholic of very Advanced Views.

We are very fortunate, I feel, my husband and I, in knowing where we will be buried, namely in the little Tayside burial ground on the road between our house and the village. There is bound to be a certain amount of delay and confusion on the Day of Judgement; it will be good to see the old place again.

Back to knitting

I am now knitting Sam’s feet, and it’s pretty boring. I’m working on the third.

There’s more grafting-of-ribbing to come, and I’m going to try the system Ann (yet another) recommended day before yesterday: Lucy Neatby's chimney. I will have to knit a completely separate little ribbed swatch for myself and try it and see if I can understand what I’m doing. When the final bits of Sam’s legs are attached to his body, there will be a considerably unequal number of stitches on either side, and the only hope of success will lie in an actual grasp of what I’m trying to do.

I am also winding the Yarn Yard lace yarn, and loving it. I enjoy the process, for getting acquainted with the yarn. It’s more cobweb than lace-weight, I now think, but plyed and strong, unlike Jamieson & Smith cobweb. I took this picture yesterday morning; I’ve done more winding since then. In the ball, the yarn appears to be solid-coloured.

The first step in the process was to finish off the yarn on my swift, which had been there a long time. The next step was to find the rest of that set of yarn in my stash. The search took an unusual length of time – I know my stash well, and can usually find what I want quickly -- and during it I found:

a) a bag of kapok which may be enough to stuff Sam;

b) and some lovely Lorna’s Laces Shepherd’s Sport yarn, machine washable, about which I had completely forgotten. I can’t even remember what I once knit with it -- the fact that there are different-sized oddballs as well as complete skeins, means I must have knit something.

But for now I’m winding the yarn by hand anyway. The skein is a bit too big for the swift, at least for the time being.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Occurremus Hilariter in Caelum

My friend Margot is dead.

This picture was taken the last time I saw her. She and her son Tom (eldest of seven) came here to Edinburgh two years ago to march in favour of Making Poverty History. She told me then that she had had cancer, and I gather it turned up again. The final episode involved an infection. It sounds unpleasant, but mercifully brief, and included “morphine intolerance”. That’s a new one to me. I thought we all had morphine, at least, to look forward to.

Margot and I go back a long way, to Glasgow in the early 60’s, when one or the other of us was pretty well constantly pregnant. It was Margot who rang us up on November 22, 1963, to say “Kennedy’s dead. Somebody shot him.”

Our paths diverged; we both left Glasgow, but by a very kind twist of fate, wound up living as near each other as before, in Birmingham.

I would like to go to Birmingham for the funeral. I don’t know, yet, when and where exactly it will be. I don’t like leaving my husband overnight, and the trains from here to there seem to be remarkably slow. I’ll enquire about flights today.

The American practice – I have no idea how common it is – of removing a corpse directly from death-bed to crematorium in anticipation of a later Memorial Service, has not yet caught on here, although no doubt it will, like all things American. It’s a mistake, I think. A relationship needs to be rounded off by a proper funeral, which can be a happy and inspiriting occasion in its strange way. I am sure Margot’s will be. I’d like to be there.

The Latin title today is St Thomas More’s motto. It was mis-spelled on the board outside St Thomas More’s primary school in Leicester, which all four of our children attended in the late 60’s. I wonder if anybody ever told them.

It means, “We shall meet merrily in heaven”.

I think I’ll leave knitting for tomorrow.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I failed. I can’t graft ribbing.

I devoted all of yesterday’s knitting time to the attempt. I had Montse Stanley and Mary Thomas open in front of me. I unpicked it at least three times.

I need, somehow, to grasp the concept. Instructions-by-rote serve well enough for ordinary st st grafting, but not here. Next time I get to Camp Stitches, I’ll post an appeal for one-to-one instruction on the notice board. As if…

Meanwhile, here’s a surprisingly successful picture of the result. Perhaps because the camera battery is in a near-death state, and it didn’t flash. I don’t think it’s a fatal error. I don’t know what sheep’s tummies look like, and don’t ever intend to find out – do they have a visible seam, like pussy cats? Whether or not, I think this will more-or-less do. At least it’s obviously not sewn. But it’s not grafted ribbing.

I wonder how Ted got on at this point?

The other excitement was the arrival of the lace yarn from the Yarn Yard which Natalie has flattered me by asking me to test drive. Needless to say, it’s beautiful – I’ll attempt a picture tomorrow when I’ve beefed up the camera battery. Pink and yellow like the dawns one sometimes sees in Strathardle at the other solstice.

However, my job is not to admire the colours but to assess the yarn. It looks and feels not unlike Helen’s Lace, but that’s half silk and this is pure wool.

Yesterday’s dentistry went well. Today’s early-morning excitement is to take the car in for its MOT and a general sprucing-up. I’ll sign off with an incomplete gallery of some of my recent Koigu knitting.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

An 8:30 dentist’s appointment forbids verbosity this morning, but much has been happening on the knitting front…

Today is the day I attempt to acquire the ability to graft ribbing. Here’s Sam, with the Strathardle wool which will be included in his stuffing for luck.

The Yarn Yard yarn for June came while we were away. It was inspired by “a large chocolate cake on a traditional blue willow-patterned plate. The skeins are not all identical…some of them have more of the cake eaten and hence more of the blue and white plate showing.” The letters from Natalie are not the least benefit of membership of the Yarn Yard sock club.

And the big one, yesterday, was a box of Koigu from my friend the Socklady. She has a friend who has so much of it that she is getting tired of paying the storage charges. I can see how that might happen.

So she is selling some of it off, and the Socklady and I have been the beneficiaries. I am told the seller has another 500 skeins in her stash.

The colours are as wonderful as if I had made the choice myself. I’ve knit quite a bit with Koigu in recent years – a sweater for grandson Mungo, one for nephew Theo, one each for the Little Miles Boys, one for Rachel, a Baby Surprise for a neighbour’s baby – and still my stash seems to increase.

I’m thinking maybe I should branch out into modular knitting. Has anyone looked at Maie’s recent book?


Catriona, I was thrilled to learn that you have finished that Amedro shawl, and enjoyed doing it. Never mind time – you’ve got a long life ahead of you. I knit my first Shetland shawl when I was pregnant with Rachel, and didn’t get back to lace for quite a while. At my age, the limitation of which one is ever aware, is death itself.

Rabbits. The great thing – one of many great things – about Beatrix Potter is that she sees country life with unsentimental eyes, even if she then dresses Peter in a little blue jacket with large buttons. His father, remember, was put in a pie by Mrs McGregor and I am looking forward to similar culinary experiments when James gets here in August. My husband won’t clean and skin them for me.

They’d be particularly tasty this time of year, too. I thought several times last week of Peter and his cousin Benjamin, seeing the young ones frisking about.

I have just re-read “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”. I had forgotten the wicked mouse, “carrying peas and beans to her family in the woods”. I had a lot of trouble with her last year. Mice – it must be mice – also nibble the shoulders of beetroot, when the nicely rounded bulbs begin to appear above ground.

But it would be no fun, gardening in the Garden of Eden.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Lots of vegetable-gardening, lots of rabbits, not much knitting…

Where to start?

Here’s my square-foot garden. Ted's interested, anyway.

It doesn’t look much like this, but it’s not a total failure, either. I blame a cold, wet May for much of the poor germination. I have filled the gaps in some squares, and re-sown others from scratch. The new seeds came up almost as soon as they hit the soil.

Rabbits had been tunnelling in to the fenced part of my garden. I tried blocking the mouth of the tunnel with stones, and found each morning that the stones had been disdainfully tossed aside. So I dug the tunnel back a few feet. I stopped when it began to go deeper (and when exhaustion supervened), and blocked the mouth with stones again. We never did find the other end of it.

Success! The stones were undisturbed the next morning. Joy turned to despair when my husband spotted a pair of young rabbits a couple of hours later, having a nice time giggling among my vegetables. I had succeeded only in shutting the rabbits in. He shot one of them. That evening, the other one was still there.

We tried to persuade it to take up a position from which it, too, could be shot, but it wasn’t interested. The next morning it was gone, as was half of the pea crop and most of the little runner bean plants just emerging into the light. So there must still be a rabbit-way in and out. But no one came back, in the remaining days we were there. I replanted the peas, although expert advice and my own notes from earlier years agree that it’s too late.

I love the solstice light. Maybe one day I’ll experience it in Lerwick, but for now, Strathardle is pretty good. We have got to spend the last week of this month in London looking at art, but I think I see a window of opportunity to get back to Strathardle for one night next week, at the solstice itself. We could eat spinach by then, I’m sure, from the squares in the middle column above.

Anyway, OK, knitting

I finished the second shoulder strap on Ketki’s gansey, picked up sleeve stitches, decreased the gusset away and am trudging down the arm. My notes clearly said to pick up 56 stitches on each side, but I couldn’t cover the ground with that few. I tried counting the completed sleeve, and it seemed, after repeated re-counts, to have 64 stitches on each side. Odd. So I picked up 64.

Last night, back at the ranch, I got Sam’s feet attached, and am ribbing his belly. I had a nice time wool-gathering on his behalf. The resulting generous handful yielded its dirt readily when soaked in a solution of washing-up liquid, and feels deliciously silky although the Scottish Blackface is supposed to be good for nothing but carpet-backing. It was awfully clever of someone a long time ago to conceive the idea of spinning such stuff.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Five Six Seven

Didn’t get as far as hoped with Sam. Here he is with three cuffs, but the Great Joining Round remains to be done when we get back. (He looks headless, but he isn't.)

We’re off to Strathardle today – the only June visit, as the last week of this month is to be devoted to art in London, with sinking of heart and anticipated tiredness of feet. But today, barring disaster, I will be reunited with my vegetables. We plan to come back a week today and blogging should resume on the 13th.

Odds and ends

Annie M has been to TNNA, whatever that is, teaching, signing books, having a nice time – and fondling yarn. She has an amazing list in today’s post which I have only begun to explore.

On the other hand, I did work all the way through the BritKnitCast list of independent UK dyers and spinners, and wound up liking our own dear Yarnyard best, although I also thought Posh Yarn rather nice.

And, oh, kristieinbc, I also had a look at Noro Cashmere Island! I am nearly finished with the bedsocks I am knitting from bison down and cashmere from Wild Geese Fibres. I got a few more rounds done in the dentist’s office yesterday, and nothing is more tempting at the moment than to go straight on to Noro. Bedsocks get a surprising amount of wear, but they don’t get washed nearly as often as everyday socks. Ten percent nylon is probably plenty…

A quick email from my brother-in-law yesterday to say that the cashmere yarn for Theo’s gansey has turned up safely in CT (from I haven’t had a eyeball-and-fondling report yet.

Natalie of the Yarnyard has honoured and flattered me by asking me to test drive some new merino laceweight yarn she is considering. It’s a good moment, with Sam nearly done and the Princess at an excellent stopping-place. I’ve chosen a pattern from Victorian Lace Today, and…

Monday, June 04, 2007

What a great day for comments, yesterday. Many thanks. I’m pretty sure I now see how to proceed in the matter of adding buttons to my sidebar – I learned what little I know in a different decade, and tend not to think of right-clicking. Donna, thank you for the code: that was really, really kind of you. I like the turtle-neck shrug, too. It’s gonna be gorgeous.

I finished Sam’s body yesterday – he looks not so much three-dimensional as eviscerated at the moment – and have also finished one of the four cuffs which come next. I’ll do my very best to polish off the other three and start attaching them this evening, and whatever happens will try to leave you with a picture before heading off to the country tomorrow.

But we may have to wait for the denouement until I get back next week. I promise a blow-by-blow when I get there, Jennifer. With pictures. I’ve now got Photoshop Elements, although I’ve been too scardy so far to install it. Maybe this will be the occasion – pictures of Sam’s feet with little arrows pointing to the exciting bits.

Donna W., I’m so glad to hear that you’ve bought “Heirloom Knitting”. I think it is the most important knitting book to be published in English for a long time. And the Spring Shawl is beautiful – I don’t have that one. I think I’d use Sharon’s own Merino lace yarn (slightly finer than Shetland cobweb), at least, I would if Sharon agreed. I am sure she will advise if asked.

And Charlotte, thank you for the advice about grafting ribbing. I’m not sure that flipping-over is going to be possible in this context, when I am joining up Sam’s tummy, but I will keep your splendid suggestion in mind when I commence battle. I’ve got shelves of books, too.

I forgot one piece of news yesterday – Natalie at The Yarn Yard has given up her day job – I didn’t know she had one – to concentrate fully on her beautiful yarn. She also provides a link to BritKnitCast - a UK knitting and crochet podcast, a new one to me and clearly a useful site, even before I’ve listened to any podcasts. The Yarn Yard appears on their list of independent UK yarn dyers. I’m going to explore the other members of that list when I’ve got a moment.

But now I’ve got to go off to an early dentist’s appointment…

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sam’s body is nearly finished. I should move on to knitting cuffs today. I don’t understand the instructions for attaching them, and can only hope they will become clear as I proceed. I see that one of the future excitements will be grafting ribbing: I’ve never done that.

A friend and blog-reader has offered to give me a bag of polyester filler that she was forced to buy in far greater quantity than she needed for some small knitted toys. So that takes care of that decision, and I’m very grateful. I’ll still go out wool-gathering in Strathardle later this week, in the hopes of adding some of that for luck.

Thank you, Vivienne and rosesmama, for your thoughts about the connection in meanings between the two sorts of wool-gathering. I particularly like the comparison with internet-browsing.

Today’s excitements:

1) I heard from yesterday that my order has been filled and dispatched to CT. That’s the denim-coloured cashmere for Theo’s gansey – my sister (his mother) will bring it when she comes for the Games and it will, I hope, be the Big Project here in Edinburgh in the fall.

2) I heard this morning of a long-hoped-for-and-by-now-unexpected baby due in December. I am so happy to have been given this small share in its parents’ joy and excitement. Franklin's touching post about his niece Abigail sort of sets the seal on things.


You guys know everything. How does one set about adding a button to one’s sidebar? I know that it isn’t OK to snatch buttons, but sometimes they’re offered for copying. What I don’t know is, how to do it. I have a vague grasp of HTML. I know that it will be a matter of adding a bit of code to my template (and I’ve done that successfully, to incorporate Google Analytics).

Start from scratch. Confronted with a button, how does one grab it?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I’ve got eight more circuits to do to finish Sam’s body – the weekend should see it done, barring disaster. Then come feet.

Some confusion, and much good advice, on the stuffing front. The confusion was entirely generated by my own confused thinking. Deidra, I knew that roving I bought would be clean and ready to use, but thinking about that led me on to thinking about the wool that lies around in the fields in Strathardle (for which I vaguely believe there is a special word, at least in Scots).

I like the idea that wool will make Sam warm and huggable. I don’t like the idea that it will make him heavy. I incline towards polyester because the designer used it and she has clearly expended a great deal of trouble on him. But she suggests roving as an alternative. I have found a source for roving without difficulty, by Googling. A donkey between two carrots.

But at least I think I will gather up some wool from the field next week and see how disgustingly dirty it is or isn’t. Whatever stuffing I use, I could put in a bit of real Strathardle wool for luck.

I wonder why “wool-gathering” means what it does. It must refer to the activity I am talking about. The OED gives both meanings – collecting wool from fences and hedges, and wandering-in-thought – without explaining why the first, which seems rather frugal and purposeful to me, should give rise to the second.

Little Boy Sweater

Alexander sent these pictures yesterday of little boys wearing the Little Boy sweater. As it happens, last Monday was James-the-Younger’s fourth birthday. I don’t on the whole knit to deadlines (the need to produce a Games entry being an exception), but sometimes things work out like that. This is James, with his mother Ketki.

I like the evidence that he appreciates the wallaby pocket.

Alexander thinks the sweater will have been passed to Thomas-the-Younger by winter. I wonder. It's clearly a bit big for him now. He will be three in November.

Friday, June 01, 2007

More Sam.

I did much better with polyester fibrefill when I stopped insisting on the exact phrase. This source sounds as if it would be fine. But first I’ll hike up to John Lewis and have a look.

Meg W. advises strongly in favour of wool. I could order roving (I'm no spinner myself, alas) but a certain amount of it lies about the fields in clumps, and hangs off the fences – the frugal gather it up and spin it, and I think such wool has a name of its own. It would be fun to stuff Sam with wool from the backs of real Strathardle sheep, but it would probably take more time than I care to spare from my vegetables to collect enough – and it would be filthy. How difficult would it be to wash?

Once, long ago, I saw a woman collecting it, and tried to speak to her. She turned out, however, to be French, and was fearful that I was an irate farmer’s wife telling her to desist. The best I could do was to reassure her and leave her to her occupation.

We’re going to Strathardle next week, I hope, and I will at least consider this solution.

I had hoped that our last visit to London, which seemed long and strenuous, would quench my husband’s enthusiasm for exhibitions until the autumn, but alas, no: we are going south again at the end of June.

My haircut was a success, unlike poor Annie's. I shouldn’t have let it get so long.