Friday, August 31, 2007

Sarah R (new comment on my post of a couple of days ago): you had me worried, but I Google’d on “George Bush in Glen Isla” and there he was. Google puts my recent blog entry first – no flies on those boys – but then gets down to more authoritative sources.

It was in 1959. He stayed with a family called Gammell. Not cattle, but sheep. And the connection with Bush, Sr., was not agricultural anyway, but investment banking and oil. Bush’s particular friend was named Jamie, and I’m happy to be able to report that a J.E.B. Gammell of Glen Isla is still to be found in the Tayside telephone book.

While we’re wandering around the internet: I’ve been playing with Ravelry, and I’m tremendously impressed. Is this what FaceBook and similar programs are like? I got the Princess in, and this morning I find that fargoknitter has added me to her friends! I can well imagine abandoning real life altogether, and living happily ever after in Ravelry.

But back to knitting. I have pressed on into the third, uncharted, pattern repeat of the Princess centre, and I think everything is more or less all right. Leaving one row unattached – to make up for the dropped stitches mentioned yesterday – seems to work fine. I found another stitch about to be dropped – that is: as I came to pick up the next stitch from one of the borders, I noticed that the stitch before it wasn’t on the holder. How did that happen? But I rescued it successfully and henceforth will check carefully every time I pick up a stitch.

I’m tremendously impressed to learn that Kathy means to progress from the Princess to the Wedding Ring shawl. Me, if I ever finish this I’m going to spend the rest of my life knitting socks and hats and jumpers for very small children. She’s young

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I might as well say it out loud and get it over with: I found three dropped stitches this morning in the right-hand Princess border. Not the border where disaster struck yesterday, the other one. The left-hand side looks perfect.

The border ends with six rows of garter stitch, so it’s not as if the strays are running back into the insertion. First I thought I’d rip – it would take out almost all of what I’ve done so far of the centre. Then I thought I wouldn’t. I’ll secure the three stitches, and I’ll do three (separated) rows of not picking up a stitch from that edge, and I’ll see what I’ve got at that stage.

This is what I’ve been afraid of all along: getting to the end and finding that I had more stitches on one side than the other.

Otherwise – otherwise! – all is well. I’ve done about 100 rows, and have about 100 centre stitches on the needle. I’m just about to reach the point where Sharon stops charting.

The idea is that we’re meant to proceed as before, working the simple pattern into the expanding triangle. I fear I am going to be the class dunce: the one who can’t do it. The essential difficulty is that the utterly important thing is to keep the centre stitch in the centre, whereas when one is actually knitting a row of lace, one needs to know precisely where to start. Even at this stage, the centre stitch is too far away to count conveniently out from it.

We shall see.

Meanwhile, here are some more August07 pictures. First, this year’s rabbit. I didn’t achieve my ambition of having James shoot some for the kitchen, but as you can see, the one he got proved tasty on the barbeque.

And here is Alistair, knitting on the prize-winning shawl, and his sister Rachel, who’s pretty good too, making use of some spare Noro Kuryon of mine.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The excitement is subsiding somewhat. We had a peaceful, ordinary day yesterday, pottering inefficiently forward, bit of art, bit of resting. I feel somewhat restored.

Nephew Theo, now back in Denver, has sent his copy of the Group Photograph we always take at the end of Games Day. I’m holding the Glenisla Shield, Rachel Miles has the Mandy Duncan cup, and my husband has a Golden Scots Pine, pinus sylvestris aurea, with which the children had just presented us because – on top of everything else – our Golden Wedding anniversary falls about now.

My job was to provide a picnic lunch for all those people to eat at the Games, and I did well. Sausages, barbecued chicken from Tesco's, three salads made by me, buns, crisps, lots of beer and cider. Everybody had enough to eat, I think, but there weren't grotesque amounts left over which is always the danger.

Theo has also put an album of his Games photographs on line. I’ve pinched this one, Sam in the arms of Thomas-the-Younger who now owns him. “Can I have your sheep?” he asked. Who could resist? Ketki is wearing a KF I knit her many years ago, and Thomas’ brother James-the-Younger is wearing the Little Boy sweater recently discussed here.

Comments: I can’t help with Wombles. I know they lived on Wimbledon Common, and vaguely thought I recognised one in that knitted toy.

Back to business

I am about 80 rows in to the centre of the Princess. Kathy, (comment yesterday) I am enormously encouraged that you have got so far with your centre in so little time. When I’m a bit further on, I will read again with attention your post about the adjustments you made when you thought it was coming out too big.

When I got up this morning I found that all the stitches on the left-hand side had come off their length of securing yarn, as if a ghostly cat had come in the night. In fact, I must have pulled it out yesterday evening under the impression that I was freeing only the next stitch or two. Catastrophe! I’ve picked them all up, although some have gone back a row or two. For the moment, I’m going to leave them on the very fine needles I used for the rescue operation, well equipped with point protectors.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Thank you, everybody, for the kind words about Sam.

Here he is on the show bench.

And here is the silverware. That’s the Glenisla Shield on the right. Beside it is the Mandy Duncan cup for the best child’s entry – won by my granddaughter Rachel for her entry in the “Cardboard Picture Frame” class. James Miles of the Economist in fact deserves a certain amount of credit for that one.

I think the best win of the day, though, was Alistair’s garter stitch scarf – it got Third in the “scarf” class.

The other three entries were Fun Fur. My heart sank when I saw them. They all looked perfect, and Alistair was even sceptical about whether they were handmade. (I’m sure they were.) His scarf was remarkably good for a first-ever FO – he’s a brilliant knitter – but garter stitch is tough to do, and it wasn’t perfect.

But he got Third. The judges in Strathardle normally don’t comment, but someone had written on his card, “It’s nice to see traditional knitting.”

I took very few pictures on the day, so much of the documentation will have to wait for the promised contributions from far and wide – including the moment when the local MSP’s wife put the Glenisla Shield into my hands.


Two in particular – Maureen from Fargo is in fact Sam’s onlie begetter. I was originally planning to knit a mermaid, which would have been well beaten by that Womble. She came to here to Edinburgh in April and we had a happy yarn crawl – it doesn’t take long, in Edinburgh – and pleasant coffee, during which she suggested Sam as a piece of virtuoso knitting which would impress judges.

How right she was.

Liz in DC: Did you know that George W. Bush spent a summer in Glen Isla as a boy? Perhaps even two. His father was pals with a big cattle-grower there. Glen Isla has its own Games (I’ve never been) but it’s possible even so that his host family brought him over to Strathardle for the big one.


I’m a whole 50 rows or so into the centre of the Princess, not finding it entirely easy. I’ve got the yarn for nephew Theo’s cashmere gansey. That’ll be fun. And I’ve got my Ravelry invitation!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sam won!

There were four entries in the "Knitted toy" class, including an excellent Womble which should have given the judges pause. But Sam won. Not only that: he also won the Glenisla Shield for the best entry in all the handicraft sections. I scarcely knew there was such a thing, and certainly never aspired to it. But here it is, preposterously, on the dresser in the dining room.

There will be a picture of me receiving it in next week's Blairgowrie Advertiser -- wearing, of course, my Dolores sweatshirt, "Sheep happens".

So that's what happens when you have Franklin on your side (comment, last Thursday).

Full details and many pictures to follow.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Thursday in Games Week

More than half over.

I acknowledge, here, a previously rather understated fact: that I have a functioning laptop and indifferent broadband connection here in Strathardle, and could be blogging away every day.

Today is a proper summer's day -- we've had very few since early May. Better yet, the lawnmower is on the blink.

The whole party except for the extreme oldies has gone off up Glen Derby, four or five miles or so, to the Ruined Bothy -- James and his children, Helen and David and theirs, my sister and her husband. (James' wife Cathy is sadly missing -- she has gone to London to publicise her new book.) James and his son Alistair will camp there overnight, the rest will trudge back this evening. We are enjoying the peace and quiet, and the sense that they are here.

I've been pushing forward with Ketki's gansey, in a state of increasing unease about the apparent fact that I have a lot more stitches in the second sleeve than I did in the first one. Of course I have careful notes -- but the intervals of time mean that actual memory isn't as sharp as it might be. Does a major frog loom? I have suddenly taken on board the fact that if I finish this thing, I can knit something else. Not much use if I have to go back to square five.

Sam the Ram is grateful for expressions of support from around he world. My big fear now is that he'll be the only entry in his class (6(b): Knitted Toy) -- I'd rather he finshed second in a class of two than first by default.

The agricultural show has been cancelled because of the foot & mouth restrictions. I trust that won't affect Sam. But it would surely have meant that Dolores would have been in danger of Extraordinary Rendition if she had dared to show up.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Games Week dawns. It’s raining.

However, boring though it is, I’m going to slog on with Vogue Knitting. If the magazine won’t tell its own story in its own anniversary issue, I may be performing a public service by writing down what little I know.

When the Vogue Knitting Book perished in the 60’s, it was seamlessly replaced – at least in GB – by “Vogue Knitting”, completely redesigned and with the numbering starting again from One. In the 50’s, the Vogue Knitting Book appeared on both sides of the Atlantic. They weren’t identical – my copies are British-edited and all the ads are British. But there was a considerable – perhaps total – overlap of patterns.

I wonder now whether the Americans decided to pull the plug, and the British thought they could go it alone, hence “Vogue Knitting”. It lasted for eight issues, edited throughout by Judy Brittain, and there’s good stuff there. And the name, “Vogue Knitting”, must have forced the current magazine to include “International” in its title.

I think we can trust the current VKI on dates. If they’re celebrating their 25th anniversary, they must have started up in 1982. So there was no VK at all in the 70’s. I think that’s the gap you’re thinking of, Katherine (comment yesterday). The one that continues to puzzle me is the break in sequence between Number One, which appears to have been published in America as well as here in 1932, and the true start of the American Vogue Knitting Book numbering sequence, during the war.

Whereas British VKB’s are numbered straight through from No. 1 in autumn, 1932.

Anyway, in the penultimate issue of the “Vogue Knitting”, in spring 1969, a Kaffe Fassett pattern appeared – surely his first. It was not the practice in those days, believe it or not, to include designers’ names, but Brittain broke with tradition to introduce this pattern: “Designed with an artist’s eye by American painter Kaffe Fassett…” I think maybe she knew she was on to a good thing. I never forgot the name.

You must forgive the slight awkwardness of the scan – I’m not going to force my precious copy into a better position on the scanner.

It looks pretty banal now – but remember, this was before Sarah Don or Sheila Macgregor, let along Starmore and Feitelson. There were no Fair Isle patterns to speak of. Incredibly, this one was printed without a chart, line by line.

The KF pattern in the Holiday, 1986, issue of VKI turns out to be illustrated in the anniversary issue, so I don’t need to risk the copyright police by posting it. It’s on the Westminster Fibers page in those silvery bits at the beginning, and strongly resembles the sort of thing the master was to publish in his Family Album.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

We’re back in Edinburgh for a long weekend of r&r. I tried to write yesterday, but the computer ate my homework.

There’s much to say about knitting (not to mention life). I read a short story once about a beautiful woman who went straight from being 22 to being 24 and then was allowed to take days of being 23 at whatever points in her life she felt she wanted them. I’d like to do that with August.

There’s much to say under various knitting-related headings: Vogue, grandchildren knitting, the Princess, Ketki’s gansey. Perhaps I’ll take them a day at a time.


I bought Vogue Knitting Book No. 4 on eBay last week, at very considerable expense. All the excitement was in the last 90 seconds. Three of us were in pursuit. Grandson Alistair enjoyed cheering me on.

Yesterday the much-touted 25th anniversary issue of VK turned up (along with the new IK – the absence of Knitter’s becomes ever more conspicuous). I had hoped for a bit of information about the series I’m collecting. It’s scanty, but there’s something there, and it’s puzzling.

On page 106 they acknowledge that this year is in fact the 75th anniversary of Vogue Knitting. If you peer at the covers illustrated for 1947 and 1948, you can work out – assuming two issues a year – that American Vogue Knitting began in autumn, ’43, which fits nicely with my vague impressions. Presumably knitting became big during the war, and Vogue rode the wave.

But they also show a cover from 1932. That must be it – Number One, the holy grail of VKB collectors. There’s a paragraph in my newly-acquired No. 4 which says, “An occasional second-hand copy of the historic First Book reaches Vogue. If you would like one, write, and we shall put your name on the waiting list.” Sort of like Ravelry.

But that 1932 cover is clearly American – price 35 cents, published in New York City. How did that happen? The British series is numbered consecutively from then (so my new No. 4 must be spring, ’34). On the whole, the British ones are numbered and undated, but there are ways we experts can date them. Spring, 1953, couldn’t resist a couple of references to the Coronation – you can count forward and back from there.

And for two issues, just after the war, dates are provided, American-style. Then they dropped the idea. But these fixed points agree with consecutive twice-a-year numbers starting in autumn, 1932.

Another oddity in the anniversary issue occurs in the interview with the knitting greats. Asked when they first heard about the magazine, Kaffe says, “I remember being thrilled when my first design – a little diagonal waistcoat – was accepted by Vogue Knitting. [It appeared in Holiday 1986 issue, for a feature called “The British Knitters: Virtuosos”.] Although I was becoming known in England, I wasn’t known at all in America…”

Well, I’m sure he hasn’t forgotten that his first design was published in the British Vogue Knitting nearly 20 years earlier, in the late 60’s. It was a Fair Isle waistcoat, pretty routine-looking now.

I’m afraid I’m going to have to dig both that pattern and Holiday ’86 out of my archives for comparative purposes. More tomorrow, if strength allows.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Foot and mouth. That’s bad news. Amongst other things, it means that Dolores will be turned back at the border, if she hopes to join us for the Games.

Here we are, briefly, in Edinburgh. We came down on Thursday to receive the Beijing Mileses, so that James wouldn’t have to drive all the way from Cheltenham to Strathardle in one go. Helen nipped down yesterday to do some shopping. So there were lots of children. Then my husband and I realised that we could wave goodbye to them all and spend a second evening here, re-grouping. We’ll join them today.

I’ve hardly knit since we left – haven’t even taken Ketki’s gansey out of the drawer. I did get a bit further with the Princess insertion last night – I’ve started the antepenultimate row.

But that’s not to say there isn’t any knitting news.

My friend Helen introduced me to Kaffe's new sock yarn and I am consumed with yearning. A child’s sweater, with “landscape” stripey sleeves and “mirage” body in the same colourway, perhaps. Helen suggests Astrid's Dutch Obsessions as a source for European-based purchasers.

And I’m greatly taken with the Tulip Baby Sweater that Franklin is knitting, little as I approve of bandwagons (this seems to be one).

And Franklin has told me how to find out where one is in the Ravelry queue. I discover that not only am I moving along nicely, but that I’ve made progress since yesterday. I don’t understand what’s going on – why don’t they just throw it open? I would consider it a brilliant marketing ploy, except that membership is free when one reaches the head of the queue.

Another thing: there are 13219 people behind me in line, plus others who have already joined, plus others ahead of me. Who are all these people? Only about 3000 of them read the Panopticon, a tenth of that number look in here. That leaves thousands of knitters with computer access who are missing a lot