Thursday, September 27, 2007

We’re going to Str*th*rdle today, each of us more than a little doubtful about our separate capabilities, but it’s got to be attempted. We should at least be able to get there, huddle by the fire, pick the apples, bring the clothesline in, drain the water. One is supposed, as well, to run the lawnmower until every last drop of petrol is used up, before storing it for the winter. It took me an hour and three-quarters of walking up and down, last year, fearing I had discovered the secret of perpetual motion. I hope I’ll be up to that.

The mysterious asterisks are there because there’s something else to be done, if it can be managed. Rachel & Ed heard a sensational piece of local news from Mrs *g* at their bed&breakfast, when they were there for the Games. I will try to verify it, as I walk artlessly to the village and back. Leaning on my stick, if need be.

Blogging should resume on Tuesday; maybe sooner.

Not much to say about knitting. I had to rip out my first attempt at the Shapely Shawlette, but I’m now steaming ahead. I’ve done the first eyelet band, and the first garter stitch one. There are three of each in the finished article. The figures are meaningless, because the Shawlette, like the centre of the Princess, starts with five stitches and expands. Those early statistics are easily acquired.

I had this message from Teresa at Colorway yesterday. It sounds as if everybody’s knitting the Earth Stripe Wrap:

“Dear Jean, thank you for your order. Unfortunately, due to the unprecedented demand for the Kidsilk haze in certain colours this autumn, both we and Rowan are out of stock of the Hurricane -- should be in soon and will post everything as soon as it arrives.”

Not much Ravelry news, either. I was invited to join a group called City Knitty. It’s for Edinburgh knitters – and we’ve got twenty-two members! Maybe I’ll be able to go to a real-world get-together one day.

Susanne, it was interesting to learn from you that Knotology actually works for String (see yesterday). I had grasped that she is a professional. Talk about working in a chocolate factory!


The Curmudgeon mentions this morning that she’s no FOH. Me neither. Was there ever in the history of politics a candidate so divisive in his-her own party?

I filed our income tax on-line yesterday, a first for me. The Inland Revenue has been pushing the idea for some years. It all went very smoothly but I had to lie down in a darkened room for a while afterwards.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Long hard morning yesterday. Hence no blog.

My friend Helen recommended Colourway as a source for Rowan Kidsilk Haze – what a lot of colours there are! Certainly better than toiling up to John Lewis and choosing from the eight on offer there. I’ve ordered one ball each of Jelly, Candygirl and Hurricane – all specified in the Earth Stripe pattern. So I guess I’m going to do it.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I finished the secret project, except for buttons and blocking, and cast on Judy Pascale’s Shapely Shawlette, using the cashmere Koigu that Maureen from Fargo brought me when she came to Edinburgh in the spring. (I ordered it, and had it sent to her to be smuggled in, pointing out that that would leave more room in her luggage for taking yarn home. She did it, and I was very grateful.)

Ravelry seems to have caught up with cashmere Koigu – they hadn’t heard of it only a few days ago, when I added it to stash. One other Raveller is knitting with it, namely Knotology, who has done several projects. Her pictures look like real Koigu, whereas I found the choice limited when I was buying mine, and most of the colours pale and dull. I have since read an interview with Maie Landra herself in which she said that cashmere doesn’t take dye like wool.

I’m pleased enough with the colour I chose, but it doesn’t glow like woollen Koigu.

Knotology’s Ravelry project-pictures sent me to take another look, however, at the String website (it’s an LYS in NYC, and cashmere Koigu is exclusive to them). The colour range has indeed improved since the spring. So if you want to be really decadent…

The only other news here is that “Slipknot” has turned up, the journal of the Knitting and Crochet Guild, pretty dull as usual, but with a report of Jane Sowerby’s (VLT) talk to the AGM. I would like to have heard that.

Oh, yes, and a card from Knitter’s saying that my subscription has only two issues to go. Pretty rich, since they seem to have stopped sending me the magazine. I’ll have to get to work on that one.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I’ve finished. The stash is in Ravelry.

The final bin yielded this gem, which may be eligible for some sort of prize. We bought it 50 years ago, when we were expecting our first child. My husband intended to knit her a garter-stitch blankie. As you can see, he never even cast it on. As you can also see, since it’s partly in its original wrapping, in those days stores wrapped things up in paper for you, and tied the parcel with string.

It came from an excellent Scottish chain called John Smith. I could show you still where their shop was in Edinburgh.

Sorting through stash has yielded two bags-full of yarn for the good ladies of Alyth to knit. I haven’t bothered counting, since it’s going straight out.

Rabbitch is now in Ravelry. Pretty soon we’ll be able to pull up the gangplank and live happily ever after in our virtual world.

Comments -- and the future

Kate, it’s great to hear from you. Tilly is gorgeous, worth all the trouble. Does she smile at you yet? That’s a wonderful thing. Knitting with three strands of Shetland jumper-weight would indeed produce something unsuitable for most sub-arctic climates. What a thought! Candace Strick's big idea for her Merging Colors was to keep the individual yarns very fine. Lots of winding!

Helen and Beadslut, thanks for the help with Rowan. Presumably you mean that I could look at all the colours of Kidsilk Haze on-line? Never occurred to me! What I need to do now, however, for I fear I’ll be going ahead with this, is to decide which three colours I need to complement what I’ve already got. A bright pink, I think, kaffe-fashion. And light colours, since my collection tends towards darkness.

We hope to go to Strathardle later this week, although neither of us is in tiptop condition. But I can’t leave the September page of my calendar blank, and we need to get in the apple harvest, all 12 of them, and ready the lawnmower for its winter snooze.

The plan is that I’ll bring back Ketki’s gansey, finish it here, and then launch myself into Theo’s Obama-electing cashmere gansey. Or maybe knit the Kidsilk stole. Or both. Or something.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I’ve finished recording the handpainted box. The final entry was this oddity – some more Koigu oddballs, and a complete mis-knit Koigu sweater. To think that I ever had grandchildren that small!

It’s something called the Ridged Raglan from an old Knitter’s. I misunderstood the instructions and did the left-hand raglan wrong (it would be on the wearer’s right). I think you can see the distortion in the photograph. The amazing thing is that I stumbled blindly on, hoping it would come right, and finished the whole sweater. (I later knit it again and did it right; it’s a brilliant pattern.)

But the yarn is Koigu, so I can never throw it away. So far, I have entered this picture in my Ravelry stash section, but I discovered this morning that they have a section for disasters (called “ugh”) – I think it belongs there.

My newest friend is The Stash Haus, who has only just joined. She says she’s scared to attempt to record her stash. I say it’s a remarkably useful exercise.

Thank you for the encouragement on the Earth Stripe Wrap. I made an attempt, yesterday, to assign the yarns I have to the color-names of the yarns prescribed in the pattern, but it was impossible. “Trance” “Jelly” “Candygirl” to name but three, are so vague they could be anything.

So I will have to do it arbitrarily, and just ensure, as I knit along – hey! am I going to do this? – that the two Zephyrs are never used together, because of their lack of fuzz.

I am nearing the end of my secret project. It will be good to be out in the open again.

Mel, thank you for the note about Estonian. I was right to mention Turkish, I think, at least to the extent that neither it nor Estonian is an Indo-European language.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Another successful morning of Ravelry-stash-adding. I should finish the handpainted bin today, and move on to the sixth and last – it appears to be largely full of Shetland oddballs again (“again”, because we’ve already had a bin of Shetland oddballs) and if so there will be nothing to do except count and photograph. The end is in sight.

“Pitsilised Koekirjad” turned up yesterday – that’s just over 48 hours after Iordered it, and it came from Germany. What sort of language is Estonian? It looks fully as opaque as Turkish. The book appears to be excellent, almost entirely photographs and charts, with sturdy Baltic ladies modelling a few garments and shawls. Estonian lace seems to go in for those little lumps called, I think, “nups”.

I find myself thinking more and more about Kaffe’s “Earth Stripe Wrap” since Helen drew my attention to it while we were talking here recently about knitting with two different strands of yarn at the same time. “Drew my attention to it” Purloined-Letter fashion, for there it is on the cover of the current (42) Rowan magazine.

That sort of knitting is very comforting in the SAD weeks ahead. (SAD = Seasonal Affective Disorder.) And this stash-inventory has revealed enough Kidsilk Haze that I’d only have to buy about half the requirement.

I went so far as to add it to my Ravelry Queue yesterday. Various other people are thinking about it. One person has finished it, using a knitting machine. Hers looks oddly bright and machined. The others are, like me, pulling Kidsilk Haze out of stash and pondering.

Here’s what I’ve got, along with some JaggerSpun Zephyr I wondered if I might include. I’m sure Kaffe would approve.

Friday, September 21, 2007

No more Ravelry news. I have nearly finished emptying and sorting the handpainted bin, and hope to start taking pictures today.

As this process proceeds, I have been collecting a bagful of oddballs to take to a recently-discovered group of charity knitters in Alyth. They received a large initial donation in August, and the new collection is coming on well, with substantial donations from the handpainted box.

Yesterday’s knitting news was the ever-welcome arrival of Wool Gathering. The pattern, a vest, is as elegant an example of Bavarian travelling stitch as you could ask for.

I accordingly ordered some books from the Schoolhouse Press this morning: “Lace Style” which I’ve been mentally hovering-over for some time; “Simply Shetland 4”, however silly it seems to ask it to turn around and come back to Scotland; “Selbuvotter” for my ethnic shelves – it’s about Norwegian black-and-white mittens; and of course “Armenian Knitting”. I have Kaffe’s new book on backorder from Amazon, and Estonian lace on the way from Germany as mentioned here the other day – should be enough to stop me buying yarn for a while.


I’m glad to have the Duke’s movies straightened out somewhat. Thanks.

I didn’t mean to give the impression that anyone was sitting knitting in the Edwards clip. Yes, my friend Isobel is the woman in the clearly-impressive handknit sweater. She says her husband Elly is in there somewhere too, wearing a navy blue gansey – presumably knit by Isobel – but you can’t see the pattern, she says. Perhaps I’d better watch it again.


My husband continues to improve. He was back at the computer-face yesterday, and we went for a slightly longer walk.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Another good day. It was autumnal-at-its-best. We went for a little walk in Drummond Place Gardens, the only place we can go without involving some serious up-and-down-hill work, and were generally more energetic than on Tuesday. My husband still isn’t doing any work, but he’s moving about and seems well.


I’ve finished the lace-bin and moved on to handpainted yarn. For the first time since I started this enterprise, I find some yarns there that I can’t really remember or identify.

I now have far more friends on that alternative shore than I do in real life. I love wandering about among their stashes and projects.


See Swapna yesterday on Karva Chauth, the Hindu fast-day for one’s husband. Ketki sent this link as well. No date is mentioned – presumably it wanders through the calendar in search of a full moon. Ketki says she’s never done the fast for Alexander. It’s a full-scale Ramadan-type fast, with no water allowed.

Carlarey, we’re keen on the Duke. We both thought “True Grit” was the one he made when he was dying, and his character in the film was also dying. He comes to stay with a widow who has a small son, and teaches the son to shoot, and rides about in a buggy with the widow, and in the end dies in a shootout which he has somewhat engineered in order not to die lingeringly of his cancer. Maybe that one’s called “The Shootist”? He looked a bit old and stout in “True Grit”, so it must also be a late one.

Miss Alice, thank you for the Estonian knitting symbol page. I’ve printed them out in anticipation of the arrival of the book, lest they slip away, like so much else.

My friend Isobel in NH is campaigning energetically for John Edwards. She sent me this link yesterday to a YouTube clip about his health care plans. Isobel is in it – you’ll recognise her by the knitting.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A good day, yesterday. My husband and I enjoyed the tedious routine as rarely before, talking about current affairs over lunch, resting in the afternoon, watching “our soap” while knitting and reading the newspapers, eating supper off our laps while watching a video (“True Grit”, which turned out not to be the movie either of us expected). All’s well. We should be more enterprising today.

I’ve just read Swapna's blog entry based on Janet’s comment here yesterday. But isn’t there a specific Hindu day for fasting for one’s husband? I heard about it on the radio once. A hospital consultant was asked whether it wasn’t a backwards and superstitious practice for a distinguished woman like herself, and she said that, given the importance to society of stable marriages and happy families, it was a good deal better than beating your husband about the head and shoulders with a blunt instrument.

I wonder if Ketki does it for Alexander?

Emma in France, I’ve never tried multistrand knitting for lace. In general, I like it, both for the colour effects that can be achieved – Kaffe uses it a lot – and for the sort of fabric produced. Would it be tricky, though, for lace? I’ll be interested to hear how you get on.

Go Knit In Your Hat has a good current blog-entry about the joys of Ravelry. She pointed me to one I hadn’t considered, the way it can be used to look for a pattern, when you have a vague idea of what you’d like to do for someone. It is endlessly fascinating to see how the same pattern turns out in different hands, with different yarns, and the cross-referencing in Ravelry is perhaps its strongest feature.

Although there doesn’t seem to be a way to get a yarn out of Stash and into Projects – it does occasionally happen – without deleting it from the former and starting afresh in the latter.

My sister hopes to join, once it’s open to the public, just so she can wander around and see what Franklin and I are up to.

I ordered Ptsilised Koekirjad this morning, inspired by missalicefaye's blog. Estonian lace patterns, I think. Book-buying doesn’t feel as depraved as yarn-buying. Miss Alice and I are friends in that alternative universe called Ravelry.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My husband is home, and in good shape.

The Letter of Dismissal – a copy of which will go to our GP – makes it sound as if the slight fever which sent us to the doctor last Thursday, was really more or less all that was wrong. There was some atrial fib. but a single treatment dealt with it. He doesn’t need to go on having his blood thinned and being monitored. His heart is in good shape for his age.

So that’s great. We’re both exhausted.

I’ve done some more stash-adding. I’m nearly finished with the lace-yarn bin. I think it will be pretty easy to separate out quite a few I’ll-never-knit-this’s, once the job is finished. And then decide what to do with them.

And then go on to books, if only to see whether I’m right that I have more than 200. Maybe not.

That Vogue Knitting from the late 60’s which I was talking about here recently has come up on eBay: 120162493652. The one with Kaffe’s first published pattern, for a Fair-Isle vest. It’s a British listing but she says she’ll post world-wide. I’ll be watching with interest, but not bidding of course because I’ve got it.

Emma in France, thanks for the link to Year of Lace. Very tempting. Are you in? But one thing about cataloguing one’s stash, it does make it a little bit easier to resist adding more.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I am more than ever grateful for everybody’s good wishes and sage advice about my husband’s incarceration. He seemed in good health and spirits yesterday – not a medical person in sight, as expected. Alexander is coming over again today (wonderful!) perhaps on the suspicion that I will be too feeble to press doctors as needed.

We have agreed on a variation of Swapna's excellent suggestion – when they finally get down to explaining to my husband as much as they care to explain, with instructions on what to do next, he will ask for me to be there.

Emily, I was particularly grateful for the time you took to write your excellent advice. I will have Alexander read it before we set out this afternoon.

On to knitting…
Or at least, yarn.

I got quite a lot of the lace-yarn-bin photographed yesterday, and entered in Ravelry this morning. Everything went smoothly. That’s an interesting thought, Gail – yesterday’s comment – that the trouble may have been at the Flickr end. Ravelry clearly know knitters well enough to know that there is no limit to be put on stash.

I hope to get the rest of the lace yarn photographed this morning, so that my husband doesn’t have to come home and find it all over the sitting-room floor.

Laritza, thanks for the tip about Librarything. I see that Ravelry’s book page connects with it, somehow or other. When I have finished with stash, I will start in there. I think I have more than 200 knitting books, but we’ll find out soon enough.

Mel, those Sicilian donkeys are sweet. I salute your acumen, in spotting my Ravelry picture as a startling likeness. Here it is, bigger. I’ve forgotton which grandchild drew it – Hellie Ogden I think – but that hip pocket distorted by the eternal handkerchief is a brilliant touch.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Not much news. Yesterday was Saturday and the upper and middle echelons of the medical profession had disappeared to the golf course. No doubt the same will be true today. Tomorrow is one of the many mysterious holidays in which Scotland revels (as well as taking all the UK ones) – I hope it doesn’t apply to doctors.

My husband continues to seem reasonably well and in reasonable spirits. He’s taking lots of pills, he says, and we presume the purpose is to steady the heartbeat and, I think, thin the blood. He’s managing his own diabetes and that now seems to be going all right. Alexander came over from Glasgow yesterday, appearing in good spirits. He told me to press firmly for information, which I will certainly do when doctors reappear on the wards.

I found a wall-chart yesterday with patients’ names in squares. His one had a sticker saying “Discharge in > 3 days”. So did lots of other people. But there was no telling when the sticker had been applied. It seemed sufficiently depressing that I didn’t mention it to him.

Not much knitting, either. No Princess. I entered some more stash into Ravelry this morning, and it didn’t appear, but experience has begun to teach that it may turn up later and that if I try to enter it again I will find that I’ve got the same yarn listed two or three times – and then it turns out to be impossible to delete the extras.

This didn’t happen in the early days of stash-entering. I have clearly passed some threshold.

Laritza (and everybody), I am Tayside00 in Ravelry. (A search on “Jean” would probably produce too many hits to be much use.) Do come round and have a look.

I have now counted, photographed, and entered three of the six plastic bins which are the last bit of stash to be done. (Although, as of now, only one of the three is to be seen.) Trouble is, I have arrived at the lace-yarn bin and that one will take days.

I continue to feel that this is a useful and salutary exercise. I look forward to cataloguing my books in the same way, but it’s no use tackling that job seriously until Ravelry will let me enter everything, not just the books in its inadequate database.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Thank you for the expressions of goodwill towards my poor husband. He’s still incarcerated. The problem, as far as I can deduce it, is an irregular heartbeat, atrial fibrillation. My sister says he’ll feel a lot peppier when it has been sorted out.

Tamar (comment yesterday), I wondered about the dental extractions, and told the drs.

We are worried of course about hospital infections, and about how weak he will feel after a few days of immobility. He has taken over management of his insulin injections, not without a certain amount of firmness, and complains of the lack of diabetic-appropriate food. I recommended the vegetarian option – I always go for it, in the air – and I’ll take him some bananas today. He caused a certain amount of fuss at lunchtime yesterday, I think, and after it had died down, Mr Mohammed in the bed opposite gave him an apple, which was most gratefully received.

Alexander is coming over from Glasgow today to see him. It will be a wonderful surprise. We were meant to have gone to Glasgow today ourselves to see Alexander and Ketki’s new flat there, and (in my case) to get to K1 Yarns – which is very near – and perhaps confer tone on my stash by adding some Habu. Another time.

I just spent a moment on the K1 website, after looking up that link. They offer something called “Springy Capelli” which is meant for knitting in with yarns which have no memory of their own – silk, cotton, linen – to give them springiness and prevent stretch. What a good idea.

Meanwhile, still no Princess. I’m knitting something, but 's’a’secret.

Ravelry seemed to go swimmingly this morning -- at first. I have counted and photographed the second plastic bin, 60 skeins and balls of Shetland jumper weight.

When I logged on, there was everything as it should be, including yesterday’s “Shetland jumper weight oddballs”. After I added the second bin, the first one disappeared.

Don't miss the grandchildren-pictures freshly posted to my sister's blog.

Friday, September 14, 2007

An exciting day, yesterday. My husband woke from a restless night with a slight fever. We went to see a doctor, who ordered him to be removed at once to hospital. When we arrived there he was judged not to be an emergency, so they devoted their time – and it was a busy day – to those who arrived in articulo mortis. Reasonably enough. Eventually, after many tests and many interviews with doctors who resembled our elder grandchildren, he was put in a bed in a ward.

They weren’t very strong on diabetic care, which was not, after all, what he was there for.

I have been waiting all morning for the call to say I can come and fetch him home. Thank goodness for broadband.

So, no Princess yesterday, and not much else.

Ravelry has settled down this morning – I had begun to fear that I had already entered as much stash as any one human being was allowed to have. I have started on the six bins. This first one contains 178 Shetland jumper-weight odd balls.

I also read, at last, the new IK. I’m not wildly impressed, although I like Kate Gilbert's Cinnabar Pullover and Jared Flood's Cobblestone Pullover, and could even imagine knitting the latter.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ravelry is odder than ever, this morning. I completely failed to get it to accept my Yarn Yard yarns into my stash, despite several attempts.

Thanks yet again, Kathy, for yesterday’s helpful comment on the Princess centre. I’ve now reached row 19 of the fifth repeat. I have discovered that things are slightly uneven – I’ve got more stitches on one side of the centre stitch than on the other. I have laboriously worked out how many stitches there should be (fewer) and am cautiously decreasing. How could this have happened?

The only other knitting news is that I ordered Kaffe's new book yesterday from Amazon. It’s promised for some time next month.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Well, the big news is that Franklin is in Ravelry. It’s true. You can just wander by and look at his FO’s and books and groups – he’s not in the “Dolores Devotees” group, I notice. No stash, yet, either. I feel more than a bit guilty and nervous – a groupie who has snuck in to the star’s dressing room.

I added one more item to my own Ravelry stash, but something is wrong this morning – new server? – and the picture doesn’t show on my stash page. It’s there, all right, if you click on the empty square, but that’s not much fun.

Once I’ve photographed my accumulation of Yarn Yard Sock Club yarns, I’ll be ready for the six plastic bins. This is a useful exercise. I find that the act of getting things out and arranging them for photography has revealed beyond doubt some things that I’ll never knit – well, lots of those – and more to the point, don’t want to knit. Now I must just decide how to dispose of them.

Thanks for the information about merging colors. I found the pattern in Jamieson 3. I remembered the sweaters once I got there, but hadn’t grasped the colour effect. Those Jamieson books are awfully good.

I’ve reached row 13 of the fifth pattern repeat of the Princess centre. Thank you for your note, Kathy (comment yesterday). I haven’t begun to think yet about how big this is going to be, or how big I want it to be. I do know that the only hope for blocking it will be to take it to Kirkmichael and do it on the floor of a biggish room upstairs which serves as a children’s dormitory in August and is otherwise unused. We don’t have that much unencumbered floor space here, and we need the double bed for sleeping in. (Franklin slept on the sofa while his Christening shawl was blocking.)

I’m beginning to wonder about Sharon’s instruction to fiddle things a bit if necessary so as to end with a “complete motif”. Does that mean a complete pattern repeat? That could be difficult, since 46 rows are involved. Or can you just stop after a Dalek or a wavy line?

I'll face up to that problem when I’ve got about 50 stitches to go on each side, I think.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

That VKB sold for $430 – see Angie's comment of yesterday. All the excitement was at the very end. With five minutes to go, it was still $33. In the end, my poor toothless husband encouraged me to bid. I was the underbidder, and have the melancholy satisfaction this morning of having cost the winner a penny or two.

So all our hopes now rest with the magazines in your neighbour’s cellar, Angie.

While on the subject of comments: Emily, I’ve got “Jamieson’s Shetland Knitting Book 2” and I can’t find a pattern in it called “Dawn and Dusk”. I’d like to have a look. Helen, I’ve got the current Rowan book somewhere here, too, I think, and will find the patterns you mention. Never mind taking out a second mortgage to knit with a double strand of Kidsilk Haze – one has already sold the bottom pasture to developers in order to buy the Rowan book in the first place.

Ravelry is down at the moment, being moved to new servers.

I did finish the Princess's fourth centre pattern repeat yesterday, and here we are:

Monday, September 10, 2007

Three more rows to go on the fourth pattern repeat of the Princess centre – today should see it done. My husband has some violent dentistry looming this morning, which may distort the day. We have the best dentist in the world. I used to think he was also the most expensive, until my husband had a dental crisis once when we were in Boston, MA.

The bidding for VKB No.1 is warming up. It finishes this evening.

Bavarian Twisted Stitch

I’m glad to hear that Meg is negotiating to reprint the Ehrlbacher books. I remember Candace Strick saying, during the twisted-stitch course I took from her in ‘99, that there was a series of three books in German, and that she was sending her son to Europe to try to find them for her. She didn’t look old enough to have a son aged much more than five. I remember feeling some concern for the poor wee tyke.

While we’re on the subject, I should mention the “Bavarian Twist Saddle-sleeved Cardigan” in “Meg Swansen’s Knitting”. The instructions are in English, and include a lot of sage advice about how to design in this beautiful technique.

Other Knit-Related Topics

Today’s additions to my Ravelry stash brought me to Candace Strick’s Merging Color yarn, which she did for me as a special order a few years ago. This is one I really must promote to a prominent position on the HALFPINT list. I think maybe the colours are too bright for me – I originally intended a basic pullover – but might be recast for a child or two.

The idea of Merging Colors is that you knit with three strands held together, and from time to time change the colour of one of them. Start, for example, AAA, then move on to AAB, then ABB, then BBB and so forth. It means, apart from a lot of skein-winding, that a good gauge swatch and a design that anticipated the precise number of rows in the finished project, would be essential.

Jean (comment yesterday) – I emailed Sam the Ram’s designer, Rita O’Connell, to tell her about his stunning success on the show bench, but the message bounced. Thanks for the nudge – I’ll email Blackberry Ridge today, with a pic.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

We’re inching forward on the History of Vogue Knitting. Nan (formerly Anonymous) provided a link to these magazines on American eBay, from 1968 and 1969. At this point the American and British magazines must have been completely separate – hence no Kaffe Fassett pattern in the American edition. I had always thought that the British “Vogue Knitting” series was completely British – what I hadn’t known was that something was being published in America at the same time. There are twice as many patterns in the American magazines.

No more bidding on VKB No. 1. Hope flutters, but I’m sure it’s deceptive.

This and That

Bavarian Travelling Stitch (comment yesterday): It’s a fascinating technique, isn’t it, Natural State Knitter? I first encountered it in a class with Candace Strick at Camp Stitches in ’99. I wish she’d write a book about it – I’ve been telling her so, off and on, ever since.

I have two sets of three books, acquired, I think, from Schoolhouse Press, although I couldn’t find them listed when I did a quick search just now: “Bauerliches Stricken” by Lisl Fanderl and “Uberlieferte Strickmuster aus dem Steirischen Ennstal” by Maria Erlbacher. Both in German, as the titles suggest, but so heavily reliant on charts that I don’t think that would be a problem. The Erlbacher set is pretty well exclusively travelling-stitch, the other one has a fair amount.

I’ve reached row 38 of the fourth pattern repeat of the Princess centre. See Kathy's depressing comment of yesterday. I had thought, peering at pictures, that there were nine repeats altogether. She says – and she’s in a position to know – that there are ten. It’s going to take a long, long time.

I’m also pressing forward with stash-photography. It’s all kept in a walk-in cupboard off the sitting room (which does double-duty as the stationery cupboard). Within it is a shelved section with doors, a cupboard within a cupboard, and that’s the bit which I have now finished exploring, yarn-wise, and posting to Ravelry.

Next I will start on the floor and open shelves, working my way back to the six plastic bins which I had thought contained most of the stash.

Thanks for the comforting stash comments yesterday, Shandy and Judith. If I can keep on knitting until I’m 96, and never buy any more yarn, I ought to be able to make a dent in it. The scary thing is that one of those six bins contains my lace yarns – several lifetimes’-worth there alone.

I am Tayside00 in Ravelry, if anyone wants to come along and have a look.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

More stash in Ravlery – we’re now down to some real oddities on the bottom shelf of the cupboard.

No more bidding on that ur-VKB. A sad thing, though: I mentioned a couple of days ago that the same seller recently offered VKB’s no 2, 3 and 4. I hoped she had the British no. 1 up her sleeve. But I found yesterday that she has put up three post-war ones (260156617073) with a little note saying that these are the last she has to offer. So there’s that hope gone.

Anonymous left an interesting comment yesterday, way back on a Games Week post. She’s trying to find the Vogue Knitting with the Kaffe Fassett Fair Isle waistcoat. She seems to have found it – but the seller can’t find the pattern. She thinks maybe what she has found is the American edition, and I’m inclined to agree. Although previously I had surmised that the "Vogue Knitting" series was British only.

Mine, reproduced below, is Spring/Summer 1969. I gather I said something slightly different before. An odd thing about the original British Vogue Knitting Book magazines is that they are not dated – there isn’t even a teeny tiny copyright notice inside. Whereas the American ones always are. The British did put dates on two issues just after the war, but then dropped the practice again. Those two are useful, however, since they are also numbered, in providing fixed points from which others can be dated.

Another, confirmatory, way to date them is from the issue of spring, 1953: a couple of advertisers couldn’t resist references to the Coronation. I think I’ve said before that I believe 9/11 is the only other contemporary event to make its way onto those august pages. The wartime VKB’s are full of wartime atmosphere – there is even a pattern in one of them which is billed as ideal for wear in the shelter – but there is no reference to specific events, Munich or Dunkirk or Pearl Harbor or El Alamein or Hiroshima, to name but a few.

That's by the way. Members of the "Vogue Knitting" series of eight magazines which followed the demise of the "Vogue Knitting Book", are dated. It is in the penultimate one of that series that Kaffe’s pattern appears.

Throughout the 50’s and 60’s there was a very considerable, perhaps total, overlap of patterns between the British and American magazines. But the covers usually, perhaps always, featured a different design. I don’t know whether or not there was a time-lag, or whether the two editions printed the same patterns at the same time. One day soon I’ll pick up an American one cheap on eBay and do a proper comparison.

Anyway, Anonymous, here’s the cover of my magazine with Kaffe’s pattern. I don’t see how anyone could fail to spot it if it’s there – it’s a full page colour picture.


I’ve reached row 35 (of 46) of the fourth pattern repeat in the Princess centre. Maybe I’ll finish that repeat and take another picture this weekend. When it’s on my lap, I really am beginning to feel that I’m getting somewhere, and may actually finish one day. When it’s spread on the floor, the hugeness of the task becomes apparent again. Kathy is much further on.

Friday, September 07, 2007

More yarn added to Ravelry. I now must have recorded several hundred balls/skeins, and I’m still nowhere near the six plastic bins which I think of as containing my stash, with just a few bags of prospective-projects in the cupboard beside. It’s getting increasingly depressing, but I am determined to persevere. The first step is to admit you have a problem.

I gave away 155 oddballs this summer to a group in Alyth which is knitting for some good cause or other. I had the granddaughters count them before we drove over. I was pretty pleased with myself that day, but now it seems like nothing.

And of course the Princess is the worst project in the world for anyone who wants to diminish stash, although I did finish a ball of Gossamer Merino during the last week of August. I’ve reached row 25 of the fourth centre pattern repeat. I peered again at the picture yesterday and decided that there are nine repeats in all.


Bidding has begun for the ur-issue discussed yesterday. I don’t think there’s much chance that it’ll go cheap.

I’m sure my sister is right – comment yesterday – to say that the patterns must be identical in the American and the (hypothetical) British Number One’s. But the ads, I’m sure, and perhaps the editorial tone, will be different. My feeling is that if I spend a million pounds for this one, its American-ness will jar when compared to the utter English-ness of the rest of my hard-won set. But when – if – I ever get a chance to buy the British one, I’ll find it hard to justify spending another million pounds.

But I’m not ruling myself out altogether.

My newly-purchased No. 3 turned up yesterday, in sparkling condition. The odd numbers are the autumn issues, but the difference doesn’t seem as marked back there in the 30’s as it does now.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I added two KF kits to my Ravelry stash this morning – his “Mosaic Waistcoat” which I think is based on a floor in Ravenna, and the Green Granite Blocks jacket from “California Patches”.

This enterprise is getting pretty scary, and I’m a long way from finished. It’s not that there are any surprises – this is all yarn I know and love. It’s just that there is so much of it, and I have so comparatively few years of knitting left, looking at it realistically.

However, the big news on the knitting front is this:

It’s on offer on 190149060730. I was stunned when I found it yesterday – it’s the original issue, to be seen on page 106 of the current VK, the anniversary issue.

I thought about it a lot yesterday. It is clearly the American edition, published in NY at 35 cents. There was no second American one until late in the war, when, I think, they started over, numbering from scratch.

Whereas the British magazine went straight on from here, twice a year, right through the war.

I don’t even know for absolutely, positively sure that there actually was a separate and different British first edition, although I believe there must have been. I got Number Two out yesterday and had another good look at it. It’s very English.

And I decided to hold out for the English Number One. I won’t let this gem go for a farthing, of course, but I won’t pursue it into the stratosphere either. Where I suspect it will end up.

If I had decided otherwise, I wouldn’t mention it here until after the event – Ah’m nae sae green as ah’m cabbage-lookin, as we used to remark to each other when we met in the street in Glasgow in the 50’s. It would be great, in fact, if one of you would buy it and tell me all about it.


laurieg, I’ll look for King’s “Night Shift”.

Beverley, alas, no, I didn’t know your friend, although I agree that coincidences like that do happen. Someone wrote to me after I posted the group picture from the 2006 Strathardle Gathering, to say that she recognized my daughter Helen: she used to room with her in Brooklyn.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I bought Vogue Knitting Book No. 3 on eBay yesterday for £33.62 – a bargain. I was the only last-minute bidder. It sold for four times that price on American eBay recently. I’ll be even happier once it is safely here – the mails have been very odd lately.

The same seller has recently sold both No. 2 and No. 4. Two I already had, Four I paid her a lot of money for. But that’s by the way. The question is – does she have The Big One? I’m holding my breath. She’s not a dealer, or much of an expert – she doesn’t know how to date them, apparently. Not that that matters, one way or the other.

I now lack only eight issues, including the much-desired first one.


Today I added sock yarns to my stash. This is a pretty solipsistic endeavour: no one else could be interested in my stash. On the other hand, it’s useful and interesting for me, and it’s no bad thing to take everything out of the cupboard every so often just to make sure that mice aren’t nesting in it.

Actual knitting

I’m not much further forward with the Princess. I went to a Drummond Civic Society committee meeting last night, and the poor old girl really isn’t committee knitting. Today (Wednesday) was my weekly osteoporosis pill, sit quietly for half an hour. I got through five rows, but only by extending the half hour slightly. So, row nine of the fourth pattern repeat.


Thanks for comments. Mel, I agree about Clive Barker. Kathy, I know of Herbert but have never read. Currently, I’m reading daughter-in-law Cathy’s new book, “Pool of Unease”. It’s her third – see sidebar. I don’t think it’s been published in the US yet. It’s good – no kidding.

My sister and brother-in-law should be back in CT by now, after a journey of nearly 24 hours. Starting with a full two hours in Edinburgh airport, then an hour and a half in Amsterdam, then at least two more in Boston waiting for a train which actually stopped in Old Saybrook. Plus actual travel time.

The taxi came here at eight in the morning. Before that, we were drinking coffee at the kitchen table. As I cleared the table I thought of a favourite passage in a favourite book – Fanny Price having said goodbye to her dear brother William:

“After seeing William to the last moment, Fanny walked back into the breakfast room with a very saddened heart to grieve over the melancholy change; and there her uncle kindly left her to cry in peace, conceiving perhaps that the deserted chair of each young man might exercise her tender enthusiasm, and that the remaining cold pork bones and mustard in William’s plate, might but divide her feelings with the broken egg-shells in Mr. Crawford’s.”

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I began this morning’s session not here, but in Ravelry, adding some more stash. That’s the way things are going. I hope I have the stamina to see this project through. I have a sort-of inventory of yarn in an electronic copy of Lotus Organiser which I have been keeping for years. But my Ravelry list will be considerably more complete, and will have photos. It’s a great comfort, as a new yarn is added, to be told that 68 other people have it in their stashes, too.

As for actual knitting, I finished the third pattern repeat of the Princess centre, and have done two rows of the fourth. I like the way it’s looking. The comparative simplicity of the centre sits well with the elaborate border:


Somebody wrote to me the other day about Stephen King and “Lisey’s Story”. I can’t find the email or comment – so I hope you’re here this morning.

I was disappointed by Lisey’s Story, too, and glad at least that I had waited patiently for the paperback. At least I finished it, which doesn’t always happen. My favourite book of his is Firestarter. I have by no means read or attempted to read all. I also like Pet Sematary, the Shining, Cujo, Carrie, Misery. I don’t like the big fantastic ones.

But what I really, really like is/are two short stories that appeared in the New Yorker. I was sorry that I let the issues go, and delighted when I finally found them in a collection: “Everything’s Eventual”, Hodder & Stoughton, 2002. The stories are called “That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French” and “The Man in the Black Suit”.

Maybe, having got this far, I’ll re-read them today. I think perhaps the tight editing of the magazine was good for King, who can be awfully diffuse. Both of those stories concern his main themes, the sense of the something-awful that can happen at any moment, and sometimes does; and the sense that, in the end, everything may not be all right.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Crisp, clear September, with Edinburgh at unbelievable last free of the Festival. Next year I’ll make an effort. I want to go to the Mela in Pilrig Park, about which I’ve heard great things.

I have reached row 40 or so of the third Princess centre pattern repeat. I’m having a nice time, and if, as I expect, we don’t go to Strathardle this week, I should get a perfectly presentable amount done before it is again laid aside.

I did a bit more Ravelry. I am concentrating, at the moment, on a faithful recording of stash. Here’s a bit of it. Not much use to anyone but me. One of the great fun things about Ravelry is to be able to see what other people have done with a pattern one is interested in. Whereas stash just lies there. That's the cashmere Koigu, this year's addition, destined for a Shapely Shawlette. The Fireside Socks kit was acquired from Claudia at Countrywool at Camp Stitches in 1999. Maybe somebody would like them for Christmas.

I am greatly taken with my friend Selma’s “Koigu Jazz Cardigan” – no one else seems to have knit it yet – from Maie Landra’s book “Knits from a Painter’s Palette”. I’ve got a lot of Koigu – I’m not complaining – and it’s fun to think about it. If I were Edith Sitwell, I might well go for the jacket in the current, anniversary-issue, VK: I see you’ve got to send for the pattern. I hate that. The Jazz Cardigan would be more fun to knit, I think.

Maybe I’ll get the book.

I got a few of my books into Ravelry yesterday, but that section really is still in beta. You can only post a book that Ravelry already knows about – and that doesn’t even include all possible KF’s or Starmore’s, let alone the more recondite things in my extensive collection.

My sister and her husband will whiz through Edinburgh tonight, as Helen did on Saturday, on their way to an early flight to CT tomorrow. The last rose of summer. We have some picture-hanging projects up our sleeve for Roger…

Sunday, September 02, 2007

How about that?

That's granddaughter Rachel with the Mandy Duncan Cup and her winning entry. It’s on the front page of the current issue of the weekly Blairgowrie Advertiser. The photographer must have singled Rachel out at the presentation ceremony and sent her back to the Home Industries Tent to get the Cardboard Picture Frame. The caption in the corner begins with the words “Outstanding Talent”.

The current picture in the frame is a random Greek scene which looked fitting. We plan to replace it with one of Rachel holding the cup, and hang it at Burnside.

There are more pictures inside the newspaper. I’m afraid that in the one of me with the other silverware-winners, I am holding the Glenisla Shield in such a way as completely to obscure the image of Dolores on my sweatshirt. Maybe I’ll show you tomorrow.

Meanwhile all is well. I’ve reached row 33 of the third pattern repeat of the Princess centre – there are 46. I’m already past the point where I can sit down and knock off a few rows. Soon, even one will be stretching it.

And I’ve spent some more time in Ravelry. It’s a lot like dying and going to heaven, including some good structures for getting in touch with the people you really want to know. I think I’ll concentrate in the beginning on getting my stash photographed and entered, although WIPs might be more useful.

The October issue of Knitting turned up yesterday, with a supplement on Nicky Epstein’s “Knitting Beyond the Edge”. It looks rather tempting – but there are now three such books, and it would be impossible to choose. We are offered all three for the price of two, like vegetables in the supermarket.


Thank you, all, for the Golden Wedding congratulations. Pixen, I love the stripey sweater and agree utterly about the wonderfulness of EZ. Janet, you hit the nail on the head about the celebration. I was feeling slightly sorry for myself earlier in the year and then suddenly realised that God was planning to lay on a spectacular party, with everybody there for the Games this year – my sister and my husband’s sister were both there; it was as near-complete a family gathering as anyone could hope to muster.

And then the Glenisla Shield!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Yesterday was the actual anniversary – the Princess of Wales made it memorable by dying on our 40th. We have never celebrated anniversaries, and we didn’t yesterday, but it was pleasant to think of. Helen sent us these flowers, as welcome and preposterous in their way as the Glenisla Shield:

I watched a teeny tiny bit of yesterday’s carry-on, while setting up the video to record something else. Those Royals can do timing. The Queen’s car pulled up, in stately fashion, in time for her to emerge calmly, greet the waiting clergyman, kiss her son and grandsons, and take her place for the procession. No standing around, no sense of haste. And then the procession moved off at precisely 12 noon.

The funeral itself, 10 years ago, was even more impressive, because the coffin was brought by horses from Kensington Palace where Diana lived across London to Westminster Abbey. It was carried in as Big Ben struck the hour. They must have been pacing it out all week, with stop watches.

One of the many things I mistrusted about Bill Clinton in the early days was his spectacular unpunctuality.

However, this isn’t advancing the subject of knitting.

I’m past the half-way mark of the third pattern repeat in the Princess centre. I think there are eight altogether, maybe nine, and of course since I am at the apex of a rapidly widening triangle, I’m nothing like a third of the way through.

Here’s the plan: I’ll knit on like this until we next go to Strathardle – not long hence, I hope. Then I’ll lay it aside.

I’ll bring Ketki’s gansey and the gansey-books back here to base and finish (after bringing the Princess centre to a suitable stopping-place) and then proceed to Theo’s. Here’s the yarn for his, looking rather alarmingly baby-blue. The hope is that it will look faded-denim when knit, especially if the promised slight unevenness in the dye manifests itself.

I forgot to measure Theo when he was here, so I must send him instructions.

And that will leave Strathardle free for a new project.

If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans for tomorrow.

Helen is on her way south from Strathardle at this very moment, with three fierce boys. She’s leaving for Thessaloniki tomorrow before dawn, and will be much missed. She’ll bring with her six copies of the Blairgowrie Advertiser. We’re splashed all over it, she says.