Sunday, December 02, 2007

So here’s the Earth Stripe. I’m perfectly pleased it, but never have I felt so detached from a piece of freshly-done knitting. That’s it. Done. Fine. So what? It’ll be a Christmas present, and since we are expecting a confluence of people in Strathardle over the hols, I may be able to produce a picture of the new owner modelling it.

The darkness at the top is a failure of photography.
Here is a (more successful) close-up of the i-cord edging:

Now, on with life. I very happily cast on the Koolhaas last night. I’ve finished the ribbing and have just started the first pattern row. This morning I have been reading Grumperina's excellent tutorial on cabling without a cable needle. I’ve done it in the past, most memorably during a day-long class on Bavarian Travelling Stitches with Candace Strick. I think I’ll go on with the hat today, and leave the gansey for tomorrow.

I’m not much of a hat knitter, scared of getting the size wrong I think. They’re very useful little things, quick to knit, no thumbs or fingers, and they need replacing when they get lost. I ought to do more. I’ve started the Koolhaas on 120 stitches and it looks plausible.

Comments & Miscellany

Kate, your idea of approaching a museum through the gift shop is a good one. My husband profoundly disapproves of entrance fees for public museums. We cough up happily enough for special exhibitions. But I fear Britain is off by itself with free entry.

You’d all enjoy the remarkable story of the Stashhaus cats, I think. The girl has got that authentic, sweet tortoise-shell-and-white face. And, yes, Stashhaus, rationing went on for a long time after the war. I had a meat ration book when I first came here, in 1953. By then the ration was pretty generous and price was the stronger disincentive. By the following year, when I came back (as it proved) to stay, rationing was over.

Shandy, you’re right about lisle stockings. I had completely forgotten them. Can you still get them? I can remember them on the spindly legs of unattractive maiden ladies.

My husband has been reading the recently-published letters of the remarkable Mitford sisters. I got it for him when he was in hospital a while ago. Yesterday he showed me this, from Diana in Holloway Prison in September, 1940, to her sister Pamela. (Diana was a fascist and I think her incarceration was to do with her politics. Her letters are wonderfully British-upper-class throughout the ordeal.) “Have you seen the dress I knitted for myself? Would you like me to make you one?"

I wonder if one was allowed to have the Vogue Knitting Book in prison? They’re strong on knitted dresses at that date. Everything, in those days, was one-size-only. You had to be shaped like the Duchess of Windsor, or bad luck. But the Mitford girls were shaped like that. Multiple-sizing came in just after the war.


  1. I was looking yesterday at some very fashionable (to my little group of 20-something intellectuals) tights yesterday, opaque and slightly textured in fawn cotton (with a bit of lycra), and mum said "they're just like lisle stockings used to be".

    I wouldn't describe myself as being in the mainstream of fashion, but quite a lot of us do seem to aspire to dress like a maiden aunt of the inter-war years at the moment!

  2. Koolhaas lends itself exceptionally well to cabling without a cable needle, with its mostly-two-stitch cables. In fact, because there is so much cabling, I wouldn't want to imagine trying to do it with a cable needle.

  3. Hi, Jean,
    Amazingly, Googling "Lisle stockings" provides a list of suppliers and links to wartime anecdotes. The suppliers seem to be either costumiers or surgical goods manufacturers. I imagine that knitted cotton would have far less elasticity than lycra and would roll around the ankles, so modern opaques would be much more flattering, Vivienne.

  4. your stole is lovely and the owner will be a lucky girl who will have something lovely to spice every outfit up with. beautiful finish with the i cord. love it.
    and i have not quite understood the thing about cabling without cable needles. isn't it just a lot of rearrangeing the stitches on the needle. i will look up grumperina's tutorial. and when you have bigger cables over 6 or 8 or more stitches won't it be more pretty and even if you use your cable needle??
    lovely interesting post to wake up to. it could be fun to make a list of literature with knitting in it or songs with knitting in them of which i know two.

  5. Maybe Vogue figured, in the early days, that if you knew enough to buy the magazine and knit, you could size the clothing yourself? Sort of like Dale of Norway patterns, which assume you already know how to do a traditional steeked jumper, and just need the stitch count and color graph.

    It's a thought, anyway.

  6. Anonymous4:28 PM

    In the 1980s there was a period when cotton tights were available with a bit of lycra, but they were terribly fragile. Some of them tore in the first attempt to wear them.

    The stole is pretty. Was the stockinette too plain for pride? After making all that i-cord, you deserve a point for endurance anyway, and balancing the colors takes some skill.

  7. Sir Oswald and Lady Mosley were treated quite rigorously when they were first imprisoned, but after Churchill's intervention they were allowed to be together and had an easier life. The date you mention is earlier so it is interesting that she was allowed to have patterns - and knitting needles. I think she might have been kept in isolation as a potentially dangerous influence so maybe that made knitting more acceptable and the needles safer. I really do wonder how one cleaned a woollen dress in prison, though? I wonder if her maid came in and collected clothes and took them to the cleaner?

  8. I loong to read that book, but I'm on a no more heavy books before Australia (January) diet. I might see if it's in the library before I go. I do love a good Mitford - and Helen, I bet her maid did come and sort out her washing. She probably had lots fo contacts in the Prison Visitors, too. Jolly handy, potentially.

  9. Wow! Earth Stripe looks GREAT! Nice job. ^_^

  10. Anonymous11:25 PM

    I work at a small museum in canada. It's the only completely self-sufficient museum in the country, and the majority of its income comes from entrance fees. I'm sorry that it is hard for you to pay, but museum upkeep and artefact maintenance is very expensive. Rather than sneaking in to a museum and hurting the people who run that specific business, why not write to your MP and try to change the system that way?

  11. The Earth Stripe is lovely! I wonder if the sense of detachment is due to all the i-cord and that it's being given away? I-cord is so tedious to me - worse than miles of stockinette.

    As to your question of the cats - they are not allowed outdoors (too many dogs in the neighborhood and a local ordinance to protect birds) so that adds to their "cleanliness." They do clean themselves and have used the litter box from the first - we only had to set them in it once, so it must be instinctual. Strangely enough, they often clean themselves in the bathroom while keeping me company while I shower - as if they realize the purpose of the room.

  12. There's more to read on your entry than the Earth Stripe "stuff" so I will later, but this knitter thanks you for showing all -- my shoulders can hardly wait to have one. Right now I'm wearing an extremely warm but very sheddy Orenburg shawl.

    Very impressed with your I-cord -- I may change my mind about that! Or I might add some squggly curls to jazz up the ends -- Nicky Epstein always has stuff that you can add on.

    Now, to read the rest of your post!

  13. The Earth Stripe is beautiful, and I expect it feels gorgeous too. I wish I didn't hate knitting with KidSilk Haze soo much. You deserve extra points for endurance there!