Thursday, January 31, 2008

Home again; very tired. It’s funny how cumulative tiredness works. We did fine in London; I can scarcely breathe this morning.

Knitting-wise, when we left I was just starting the heel flap on the first of the gent’s-size KF sock pair. Now I am four or five inches down the leg of the second – not too bad. Picture soon. I don’t suffer from second-sock-syndrome, but I don’t like doing sock ribbing, and I do like plenty of rib for a gent’s sock, and those 50 rounds are harder to get through on the second than on the first. I gritted my teeth and got them done on Monday and Tuesday so that I could sail forward with the leg on the train journey home yesterday.

The sad thing, knitting-wise, was that I FORGOT to bid for the Alice-in-Wonderland Vogue Knit on Sunday morning. I have corresponded in Ravelry with the designer of the Poet’s Coat (see last post) – it’s not a tail coat, let alone a swallowtail. I’m sort of afraid that if I started messing around with it, I’d wind up with something that wouldn’t even be useful as a little-boy’s dressing gown. Which would be shame since the original is so wonderful.

I think I need to search images in Google and get a firm grip of what a swallowtail coat actually is. More on this subject to follow.

Kate, did I answer your question? Memory suggests that 16” is a really-small baby size; 18” more practical; and 20” more practical yet. They grow fast, as Franklin recently discovered on re-visiting his niece. I think your 21.5” is fine – press on.


South Carolina was a big boost, and so was the Kennedy endorsement, and Edwards’ resignation, even without an endorsement, will be of more use to us than to Hillary, I think. So, a whole 10 days between South Carolina and next Tuesday, of feeling cheerful and hopeful. I still think in my bones that she’ll get the nomination.

Here is my thought. (Woollywoman, you’ve already said it more succinctly, in a comment on my last.)

History has produced a number of strong, intelligent, capable women who have proved to be highly successful leaders of their nations. They come in two categories:

…the ones who got to the top at least partly because of whose daughters or wives they were: Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great, Indira Ghandi, Benezir Bhutto.

…and the post-World-War-II ones who did it on their own: Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Mary Robinson, Angela Merkel (not to mention Madeleine Albright and Condi Rice).

If Hillary wins, she goes into Category I. And I feel that America, of all nations, deserves a first-woman-president in Category II.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Shan, you’re wonderful. I have completely fallen for the Poet's Coat [scroll down a bit] in Boho Baby Knits, and have ordered the book. The swallowtail coat is to be a joke-present for a family member, and s/he might be willing to pass it on to a small person whom it might fit. I may have more to say when the book arrives. Alexander thinks either of his sons would wear it, should it be passed on to one of them.

All went well yesterday. I have a new crown in my mouth, and lunch was successful. It consisted of Jamie Oliver’s “Tray-baked salmon with olives, green beans, anchovies and tomatoes” from “The Naked Chef”. A reliable recipe, but you never can tell.

And speaking of food – we’re going to London tomorrow, not without dread. We will be staying with Rachel and Ed in Streatham, although they themselves will be in Newcastle for the weekend visiting their daughter Hellie who is at university there. Meanwhile the other three children will be at home with us, and Friday is the Bard’s Birthday.

So I will take along a haggis.

Knitting (and political) Odds and Ends

Here’s the current state of Theo’s gansey. If Obama does get the nomination, I think I’ll add his initials in seed stitch just above the wrist ribbing on one of the sleeves. It seems a fairly remote possibility at the moment.

I had a personal email from John Kerry this morning, about swiftboating. I am finding Bill Clinton’s role in all of this more and more distasteful, he who wouldn’t lift a finger for Al Gore. If the framers of the 22nd amendment had thought for a moment that the husband or wife of a former president might stand for that office, I think it would have given them pause.

I read an old Knitter’s, selected at random, in my bath this morning, as often. I found I had Winter, 2003, in which I was rather struck by the Squares Squared jacket. It is offered twice, in yarns so indescribably awful that I must have completely overlooked it, the first time through.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Today is unusually fraught with external event – a dentist’s appointment and a lunch date here with my husband’s sister. Can I stand the excitement?

I continue to enjoy Theo's political essays, from which I am learning a lot that is not reported in the newspapers I read.


Mary Lou, thank you for taking the trouble to find out who Eric W. Pasold was, who donated the funds which will finance the conference I hope to go to in the spring. The links are there in yesterday’s comments. I hope your eye is getting better.

My friend Helen, who is a positive mine of recondite information, found this treasure for me on eBay yesterday:

Vogue-Knits were slim vols which I think might be called off-prints: more than 100 of them were published all told. Each one gathered together patterns on a single theme – Men’s, Cardigans, Ski Sweaters, whatever – from recent Vogue Knitting Books. But did the VKB ever publish patterns for toys? I don’t remember any.

However, my main interest here is not historical but practical. I want to knit a swallowtail coat, and I am hoping there is something here which would do, or which could be adapted to do. The one on the cover looks like a real possibility. I’ll tell you why eventually. Size is not terribly important, except that I certainly don’t want to make a full-sized one. Teddy-bear size would do nicely. Or smaller – does Jean Greenhowe have anything anywhere? I’d be grateful for suggestions. I hate that kind of fiddly knitting, but this is important.

Now I’d better face the day.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Thanks to all for the attempt to explain. No doubt this morning’s papers will try, too. I didn’t know about “super delegates” and had begun to get the impression that nowadays the state primaries were all that mattered. I’m glad something is left for the boys in the back room to do.

Gran – I’m afraid the link with your comment doesn’t work – the appeal of Obama to me is youth and strength and intelligence and humour and handsomeness, much as I felt about JFK 48 years ago. And about no one since. I admire Bill Clinton for several things, not least what he achieved in Northern Ireland, but I never fell for him. With Obama there is the additional hope that, being black but not descended from slaves, he might be the man to heal America’s great wound.


Not much. I pressed on with the back of the gansey, attached another ball of yarn, and put another skein on the swift.

I also sent in my cheque for the knitting conference. It is remarkable what a chore it seems these days to write a cheque, address the envelope, write a covering message, assemble these things, affix a stamp, walk to the post box. Most of my life is conducted with a couple of clicks. Fishwife, I so hope you can contrive to be there.


The Beijing Mileses regularly travel to Britain on BA flight 036, which crashed last week at Heathrow. They feel a bit shaken, but since all of the passengers and crew are fine – many of the passengers didn’t know they had crashed, until they had to slide down those slides – none of the rest of us are very impressed.

My husband and I flew from Glasgow to London in the 60’s with a pilot – in those days, a sheet of paper with his name, and various bits of flight information, was actually passed back from the cockpit and circulated from hand to hand – with a pilot who, a few months later, perished with all hands on a third attempt to land at Heathrow in filthy weather. I think it was and remains the worst crash the airport ever had. Shakel was his name.

Alexander was working in NY in 1988. He came home for Christmas. His return journey was booked on Pan Am 103, five days after Lockerbie.

But the one I often think about happened on dry land. I was driving all four children to school. As I approached the one traffic light on the journey, it turned green, and since no one was waiting, I sailed across without slowing down. And then saw, in the rear-view window, a bus cross on the other road behind me, shooting the light. How much was in it? Less than a second?

But it’s impossible to worry in retrospect.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


So I fear that’s it: we’re to have the same old same old, after all. I shall cling to faint hopes until Tuesday the 5th, though, and knit bravely on.

And knitting

A dry, bright day yesterday, and I took some pictures at last of Wednesday’s purchases at the HK closing-down sale. I offer you both Outdoors and Indoors. The brown-y one is for a child’s sweater, the pink-y one I hope for me.

Helen brought me this recently, as a first-foot present, and it promises to be very useful:

In the sweater section, it gives not only finished-chest-measurement but a suggestion for what age of child might fit each. Three skeins of the brown-y Araucania – that’s what I’ve got – will be plenty for a school-aged child. I have five of the pink-y ones (that’s all there was), and that’s going to run it close, for an adult sweater.

The Sweater Wizard gives yardages, too, and I can play around with that a bit. And there are smaller adults than myself in the close family.

On actual knitting, I did separate the gansey front and back, and am now racing towards the back shoulders. My current decision is, after all, to shape the neck and not have a shoulder strap.
And when the gansey is finished, I must put in a couple of months on the Princess. Kathy has finished hers, and Missalicefaye is speeding forward. My ambition for ’08 is to finish the body and at least make a start on the top edging.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

So, here we are, Nevada. I got a personal email from Michelle Obama yesterday.

And some more interesting post. A friend in California (small world dep’t) sent me this link about a day conference on the social history of knitting in Scotland, to be held here in Edinburgh in March. I think I’ll have to go. It will surely be the one conference where it will be perfectly all right to take one’s knitting. Anyone else?

And someone wrote from New Zealand asking about this pattern:

It's an old Patons pattern, designed by Mrs Hunter of Unst. The writer inherited it from her sister-in-law, along with a half-finished shawl and the wool. She had nearly finished it when she was burgled, losing the pattern, parts of the shawl, and the wool. Clearly burglars in New Zealand have different priorities from any I have had to deal with.

Not only will I copy the pattern and send it to her – despite my strict upbringing on the Knitlist – but I am actually saying so out loud here. The pattern must be 50 years old, because I knit it for Rachel before she was born, and she’ll be 50 in June. It is certainly unobtainable anywhere, so no one is being deprived of any revenue.

She says she is going to knit another one when this is finished, for her other child. I encouraged her to look to Amedro and/or Miller, and knit the next in one piece. This pattern asks you to knit six separate pieces and spend quite a lot of time sewing them carefully together.

It is exactly the sort of thing knitting editors did in those days, like knitting Fair Isle flat. EZ’s early career was a titanic struggle against that sort of thinking, and we are all the beneficiaries.

The pattern itself, which seemed to me the dernier cri of lacy complication in 1958, now looks embarrassingly banal.

The gansey now 16 1/4" long. I was aiming at 17", cast-on-to-underarm, but I think I’ll split it today, after a couple more rounds. I still remain very slightly concerned about excess girth, and would like to have a bit less length when it comes to the blocking stage, so that length can be achieved at the expense of girth.

I find that when I take the trouble to think and to write down my calculations before I start, I then tend to follow my own scribbles as slavishly as those of any world-famous designer. The instinct to be a Blind Follower is born with us.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Beverley, I love being asked questions I can actually answer. Vogue Knitting Book No. 47 would be autumn, 1955. I am particularly fond of the ones of that era, because that’s when I was taking up knitting seriously, after a four-year hiatus while I was at college in Ohio. Things have been very quiet on the VKB front on eBay lately, but since I need only five, now, to complete my set, I guess that's inevitable.

I forgot to mention that we have received the Old Kirkmichael postcard we recently bought on eBay. The subject is, indeed, the mill: you can just see the wheel on the far side. We know where it stood, slightly upstream from us and on the far side. I think I'm right in saying that not a stone remains. We had never seen a picture of it before. A choice postcard indeed. Postcard-makers 100 years ago were far more enterprising than they are now.

Angel, thank you for the political comment, which fits nicely, but in more detail, with what we’re being told here. It sounds from this morning’s Telegraph as if Latinos are likely to stay with Clinton. Nevada will be very interesting.

Your blog: children’s sleeves, and especially babies’ sleeves, are better short. A lot of patterns make them too long. Children, and especially babies, are no good at rolling their sleeves up, and I suspect their arms are shorter in proportion to their bodies than adult arms.

I never understood, until you told me, what “refried beans” were. Thanks for the recipes. January and beans certainly go well together. Mel has been cooking up some delicious-sounding ones lately, 7th and 11th January.

Meanwhile back at the ranch…

…there’s not much to report. I still haven't taken any pics of the new Araucania yarn. Here’s the current state of the gansey – about two inches to go to the underarm. I seem to have done the gusset calculations right: that doesn’t always happen. I like the look of reversed st st for the gusset a lot, and will always do that in future when gussets are needed.

If all goes according to schedule, our television set will be repaired today. I suppose I had better plug the aerial back in before the man comes, to make sure that it hasn’t pulled itself together of its own accord.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

We had a great day out, yesterday.

We were really too late for the best of the HK sale, but I bought more Araucania Ranco than I have lifetime remaining to knit it in – three skeins (=generous child’s sweater) of a browny Multi shade, possibly the same one as the sweater I’m already knitting in Strathardle; and five skeins of dusty pink in what claims to be a solid colour but obviously, deliciously, isn’t.

I’ll try for a pic today, if we get any daylight.

The last of the KF sock yarn had been sold that very day.

Helen was more restrained, and only bought a book.

The shop is closing, we gathered, because Jeannette wants to spend more time designing and also, I think, because she is exhausted. She confirmed that someone has plans to open a similar LYS – ah, but could it be as good? – in the Grassmarket soon. Let’s hope. Apart from the folly of buying yarn, I was very glad to have the chance to say goodbye and to thank her.

And I told her, Maureen, that the shop is mourned as far afield as Fargo.

Meanwhile the gansey goes smoothly forward. I’ll soon be dividing front and back at the underarm, which means I’m practically finished. Or at least that I must give some thought to shoulder treatment. I am up-sizing a Brown-Reinsel child’s pattern and I could just do what she does, knit right up and join the shoulders with a three-needle bind-off. But I have an obsessive love of shoulder straps, and I think I’ll try to do that.


Sure enough, I got a personal message from Senator Obama yesterday. Not asking for money but – oh! clever twist – asking me to ask other people for money.

I would have thought that at this stage, ardent prayer would be just as useful. He’s got to win both Nevada and South Carolina, the Telegraph pointed out yesterday, or he’s toast (to use Theo's expressive term). However, if anyone feels moved to donate, this is the URL. Tell me, either in a comment or in an email to my address as given in the sidebar, and maybe I will match your donation. I think you’ve got to be an American citizen. This offer does not apply to you, SisterHelen, or to you, Theo.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Jenny, yes, I’ve got “Gardening with the Enemy” and find it very useful. There are some things – even some vegetables – which the wretched creatures simply don’t like. Potatoes, rhubarb, and – more surprisingly – broad beans and courgettes are perfectly safe. I’ll go ahead with Joan J raspberries, feeling pretty confident, and grateful for your reassurance, Mel.

I’ve got one (shabbily cobbled-together) raised bed, Fishwife, and agree that it’s a hopeful way forward. My sister brought me the actual book last summer and under its guidance I have limed and manured the bed (but not at the same time, as Mel Bartholemew seems to suggest: all my other books insist that you mustn’t, to the point of bursting into italics on the subject) and covered it with an old plastic tablecloth. I hope to cobble together a second raised bed before the action starts this year.


So, it’s Romney by a considerable margin in Michigan. I don’t understand what happened to the Democrats there; your comment, Stashhaus, makes it all the more mysterious and interesting. I knew the Michigan delegates wouldn’t be counted at the Democratic convention, but I didn’t know that only Hillary was on the ballot paper.

I’d really like to see the Republicans nominate Huckabee or Guiliani, because I think they’re the most beatable, but anyone will do.

And finally, knitting

I think you can just discern the gusset beginning to emerge, next to the pink marker.

I put the next skein on the swift. No tangles. I should have done this from the beginning. If I give it a couple of twirls from time to time as I walk past, the ball will be wound by the time I need it, and no knitting time will be wasted on winding.

Today’s excitement is that Helen (of Chronic Knitting Syndrome fame) and I are going to explore the closing-down sale at HK Handknit, and have lunch in a pub, a rare dereliction of duty on my part, keenly anticipated.

And “fame” is the word. Jigzone has included a link to her blog for a month or so now, and she gets thousands of hits as a result. It’s better than being mentioned by Franklin.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I’ve found “Joan J” raspberries without difficulty, Fishwife. But does “spineless” mean that the rabbits’ll get 'em? I’m planning to put them outside the protected area.

Follow that link for views of a vegetable garden to beggar belief. How could one woman do it?

Part of the idea of thinking-raspberries, apart from deliciousness, is the wish to make more of the garden permanent and therefore less work. I’m thinking of a patch of sorrel, and perhaps trying Good King Henry again, and extending the herbs. Sea kale?

This thought segues rather neatly back into politics. The Sunday Times remarked this week that the Republicans are just beginning to realise that each of their candidates is seriously flawed, one way or another. I find that hard to believe: I’ve seen it coming for months. I respect and admire Mr McCain, and I think he’d not make an entirely bad president – but he’s too old. The drawbacks of each of the others are too obvious to need rehearsal.

One of my Theories of Life, based on recent experience, is that after 70 the individual years begin to count again, as they did in childhood and youth. If he’s 72 when he’s inaugurated, he’ll be 76 by the end of his term, and at that age strength of body (at the very least) is waning and you’re thinking of maybe planting fewer potatoes.

Mel, I am heartened by your assurance that I’ll get a “personal” email from Senator Obama one day, as the result of my contribution. I’ll let you know when it happens.

Manic Knitter, I am much encouraged that you regard Theo’s gansey as talismanic [=get Obama elected]. I had begun to regard the notion as rather silly, but will now knit on with renewed vigour. I didn’t get much done yesterday as I had to wind a new skein, and for some reason they keep tangling, although this one wasn’t quite as bad as the last. I’ll do the next one on the swift instead of arranging it around my knees.

[I read the account of your Christmas visit, which puts ours well in the shade. We had some sniffles, and Thomas-the-Younger was sick, off-stage, but that’s nothing compared to your experience.]

Two further non-knit thoughts: I corresponded with the seller of my new postcard yesterday. He referred to the building as a distillery. Was he just extrapolating from my guess that it was a mill, or is there something I don’t yet know in the message? It went through the mail in 1907. I await its arrival with great excitement.

Today is the true end of the holidays – our fishmonger should be back from his annual post-New-Year holiday. It’s a very sensible time of year for him to go, with the weather often limiting the amount of fish landed. But, oh! we miss him, just when lighter meals are wanted. Happy New Year and welcome home, Margaret and John.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Largely non-knit…

…although I did get that gusset started last night. Brown-Reinsel mentions the possibility of doing it in reversed st st (as I will be doing) – I just hadn’t noticed, the first time through. It’s a seriously good book. “Knitting Ganseys”.


On the theory that knitting a gansey for Theo is not really much use to Obama, in the last analysis – indeed, in the first analysis -- I made an actual donation yesterday, the first time in my life I have done such a thing. I expected the acknowledgement to come in the form of a “personal” email from the candidate, but it didn’t. I am torn between rejoicing in the triumph of common sense over sentimentality, and the urge to tell them they’re missing a trick here.

I remember visiting my mother in a retirement community in NJ, late in her life, and her telling me she had made a contribution to Jesse Jackson’s bid for the nomination. I said I didn’t think he was of presidential calibre. She agreed, and said she had sent the money to encourage him, because he was black.

She was devotedly liberal, but spent some of her formative years in the Confederacy. Perhaps for that reason, perhaps just because of her generation, her attitude towards blacks was condescending, although she’d have been furious if you told her so. I wonder what she would have made of a black presidential candidate towards whom condescension was impossible.

She was also an ardent feminist, and a great admirer of Bill Clinton – I think her last vote must have been for his second term, in ’96. I wonder if she’d have favoured Hillary just because she’s a woman, an attitude which seems to me equally condescending.

Lots of people loathed Mrs Thatcher, and lots of others admired her extravagantly, but no one ever accused her of being a woman.


No VKB’s lately, but I bought this gem last night. Not just Kirkmichael, but Balnauld, Kirkmichael – the little group of houses including ours, down that dead-end road. We’re pretty sure this building isn’t standing any more. Could it have been the mill? That looks like the burn – our burn – in the foreground.

Spinning Fishwife, thanks for the raspberry-growing tip. Noted. I’ve got lots of catalogues (and Google) – I’ll find it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The only knitting to report is more-gansey. I keep thinking I am about to start the gusset, and it somehow seems to keep receding. Maybe today.

Meanwhile, I’m getting kind of behind with comments.

Stash Haus, thanks for the reminder about the gift shop at the Churchill War Rooms. I’ll add it to the exhibition list in my Palm, and see what can be done.

Everybody, thanks for the sympathy about the demise of HK Handknit. (That link is right, and I’ll fix yesterday’s.) Especially Maureen from Fargo, with whom I spent a very happy morning there last April. (I know it was April, because the sun was shining. That didn’t happen again for a while.) That was the day she suggested I knit Sam the Ram for the Games last summer – and the rest is history, as they say.


Karen, I think your idea may be little short of brilliant, of growing raspberries without support. If something is worth doing, I always say, it’s worth doing badly. After all, they grow as weeds all over the place, without support, and are threatening to overwhelm the path from our house to the den. I will remember your suggestion of Autumn Bliss, too.

And, Judith, I will get the catalogues out and consider Tayberries again. The Ardle (as in Strathardle) is a tributary of the Tay (although it loses its identity before it gets there), so conditions ought to be perfect. “A sort of arch structure”, you say. I wonder if that is something I could cobble together myself, or would the Tayberry just bring it down? There’s lots of old wood of various shapes in the byre. And potash – that’s wood ash, right? We’ve got lots of that.

It’s time I got on with ordering seeds and potatoes, too.


I was grateful to everybody for the comfort about Karl Rove’s article. Subscribing to the LeComptes blog in igoogle, as I do, seems to bring in a lot of interesting political articles as well, and igoogle itself suggests others. Theo has miraculously embedded Obama’s NH speech in defeat in the blog. It’s a good speech, and interesting, too, for the sad faces behind the candidate.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Julie, I know I should be grateful for access to the art galleries of London (and Edinburgh, and Glasgow). But I haven’t recovered much pep since the hols and that horrible day with the snow, and London is very hard work. And a great big place, and you can’t see out of it. One of the lovlinesses of Edinburgh – Robert Louis Stevenson mentions it, in his little book on the subject – is that you can stand almost anywhere, and see beyond.

And to yesterday’s sorrows, another has been added. The best, I might almost say the only, LYS in Edinburgh is closing down. Helen and I are planning to go on Wednesday, to pick over the bones and tell them how sorry we are. The Spinning Fishwife thinks it may be a matter of the owners’ health, in which case I can only conclude that the place is cursed: the first owner died young, and suddenly, perhaps with a DVT, after a trip to the US.

It’s a great shop, in a good location, not too central, not too remote, not too big, not too small, always full of customers and good yarn and one or the other owner who really love yarn and can, as required, teach you how to cast on or speak with excited enthusiasm about the new yarns coming in next month.

Of my current three WIP’s, two derive from there: the KF socks which are my travel project, and the Araucania sweater in Strathardle. The yarn and pattern for Lorna's baby came from there, too. (Follow the link, and you’ll see the result.)

In my opinion, at least so far, the Glasgow competitor, K1 Yarns, can’t hold a candle to it. I may have hit them on a bad day – the owner was away, and someone non-knit was sitting in for her. I’ll try again, the next time we go over to stay with Alexander and Ketki. But my heart is heavy.
So that’s sad.

Helen and I had a good time yesterday. If you follow the link to her website (as given above) you’ll see the very scarf she was wearing. It’s very good, and I am keen to get back to Knitting New Scarves.


John Lewis can’t come until next Friday to see about the television set. The nice woman I spoke to thought the symptoms sounded terminal, and promised that the man would have a replacement in the van. We have reverted to this one, nearly 40 years old: I bought it with my first three months’ salary as a part-time Latin teacher, in the fall of 1970. It keeps us in touch with our soap opera, at least.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sort of low this morning, weighed down by trivial misfortunes.

--- Our new television set doesn’t work. No picture.

--- Rachel says she hasn’t had a New Yorker since December 17, and is forced to read books. I subscribe for ourselves and for all four of our children, and over the years my struggles with the subscription department – somewhere way out west – have been titanic. For any lesser magazine I would have given up long ago. This year I renewed early, and when they sent me the list of subscriptions with all the zip codes stripped out, I sent it back and told them to put them back in. I’ve heard nothing since. Our subscription and the Thessaloniki one are OK.

--- It rained all day yesterday.

--- We're going to London at the end of the month to look at art.

--- I read an article by Karl Rove yesterday which brushed some of the lustre off Obama. It was nothing to compare to Gennifer Flowers or Whitewater, just using a teleprompter for a “spontaneous” speech and bluffing when he didn’t entirely know his stuff.

This all sounds pretty trivial. My friend Helen is coming round this afternoon and will cheer me up.

Or I could buy some yarn. I like the Yarn Yard's “Fegrig” colourway a lot, and feel that I ought to have “Perthshire Berries” out of regional loyalty. Our market town, Blairgowrie, is a big raspberry-producing centre. The fields are hideous with polytunnels. For personal consumption, we seek out the roadside stall of the man who doesn’t have tunnels and I don’t know why I don’t get someone to put up some supports so that I could grow some rasps myself.

Here’s where I am with the gansey. I will press remorselessly on at least until a couple more primaries have been settled. We need to recover some momentum before Tsunami Tuesday. The pattern and even the initials are unusually legible in this picture.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Theo's “what happened” essay is interesting, and I mean to follow some, at least, of his links.

Mel, we didn’t get the “iron my shirt” episode (and coverage has been pretty extensive over here), but what you say fits with Theo’s remark about press coverage of Hillary’s tears. Here, that episode was presented as the humanizing touch which may have won NH for her. To me, it looked like an overtired child who has landed on the wrong square in Monopoly. Not quite Commander-in-Chief-ly.

I knit onwards. The gansey will reach the gusset stage soon, and I’ll go for Meg’s brilliant idea of doing it in reversed st st so that it is unobtrusive, but available, as she puts it, when you want to flail about. Since width remains a bit of a worry, and since I wonder if cashmere might not stretch a bit like alpaca, I’ll be slightly economical with the up-and-down measurements.

I get emails all the time from Knitter’s Review. I don’t know how that happens, and mostly I disregard them, but today I read one and arrived at this. Neither Knitter’s Review nor the website exactly mentions what I think might be the exciting thing here, namely colour. My big discovery for ’07, made the day I got my cashmere Koigu, is that cashmere doesn’t take dye as wool does. It comes out rather flat and distinctly un-glowing.

Which explains all those windows-ful of dull cashmeres we hurtle past in the Burlington Arcade on our way from the Royal Academy to Bond Street.

But silk, of course, takes dye like nobody’s business. So maybe the Swiss Mountain people have created a blend that preserves the best features of both yarns, a very exciting thought. I’ll wait until they have their full compliment of shades, and then maybe venture on a scarf’s-worth of yarn.

Here’s the picture of the new Yarn Yard yarn. Even outdoors in the sunshine, my photography doesn’t begin to do it justice. “Hats On” by Charlene Schurch has turned up from Amazon, and it’s terrific – I’m afraid I’ve forgotten which of you recommended it, but thank you. I think I have decided that as soon as I dare lay the gansey aside for a day, it’ll be the watchcap next.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Oh dear. A week is a long time in politics, but rarely quite as long as that one, Wednesday to Wednesday. Theo, you don’t have to worry too much about being wrong, when everyone else in the Western world was too.

On a brighter note, I took the gansey off the needles last night and threaded it onto waste yarn. Laid out unrestrained on the floor, it measures 24” across. I was aiming for 25”, so that’s perfect. I’ve got it back on the needles and am knitting happily on. It’s sort of boring to knit, but I am delighted with the way the pattern looks. I finished a skein last night -- that always feels like progress.

Perhaps I will soon allow myself to wind my Manos Silk Blend into a ball and put in a couple of days a week on a New Scarf..

I didn’t get the Yarn Yard yarn photographed yesterday – it was one of those days which never quite seemed to get started. Today is brighter, although stormy.

I am grateful for everybody’s help, in comments yesterday, with the question of knitting a sweater for my husband. I love Jared's Big Blue, Dawn, but I don’t think my husband would. He doesn’t wear cardigans (that’s easily altered) and doesn’t care much for any deviation from bog-standard long-sleeved v-neck. He’s much more amenable to interesting colour.

Thank you for the link to the mill at New Lanark, Natalie – I didn’t know about them, and they do indeed have some remarkable wools at remarkable prices. Next time I feel strong enough to climb the hill up to Princes Street, I want to have a serious look at the Peruvian yarn that John Lewis is selling (think Araucania, but this particular stuff is exclusive to JL). There might be something there, at considerable expense.

There’s something about EZ’s shirt-yoke, as in Jared’s sweater, which makes me tingle. I’ve knit it several times. Jared’s exemplar is a brilliant one – it isn’t entirely easy to get it to lie flat. I’m also pretty keen on a standard saddle-shoulder: I might be allowed to get away with that.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Hampshire Primary Day

Here we are.

Janet, my only friend in New Hampshire – a master knitter – is in the Edwards camp, too. But it doesn’t sound as if he’s in with much of a chance. Theo has responded promptly to my request for the insider’s view – do read, it’s interesting. My own opinion, for what it’s worth, is that his wife’s health rules Edwards out. Obviously, disaster can strike any of us from anywhere at any moment, and a president has to keep on presiding. One thinks of Patrick Kennedy’s little life. But to elect a man with drawn-out anxiety and pain almost inevitable (I gather) during his presidential term, seems unwise.

In any event, I’ll be hard at the gansey today. And by the time I sit here tomorrow morning, we’ll know the answer.

Another day should bring the gansey to the point where I can thread it onto waste yarn and consider the size. It seems sort of appropriate that it should happen this very week.

Yesterday’s big news on the knitting front was the arrival of the January Yarn Yard club yarn. It’s stunning. I’ll try to remember to photograph it on the doorstep during the brief hours of daylight. I’m thinking watchcap for self. Amazon tells me that that hat-book I ordered a while back is on its way. Maybe there’ll be something there. Not too fancy, though. The yarn should speak for itself.

And here’s a question. My husband needs a heavy-ish, long-sleeved sweater – DK or sport weight, no chunkier than that. He toiled around the sales looking for something yesterday. It seems churlish not to knit him one. I’d welcome suggestions for yarn. A certain modest amount of interesting colour, in a darkish manly colour, would be welcome.

I tried the Araucania website to see if they do anything like the “multi” yarn which I’m knitting in Strathardle, in a heavier weight. But the website is over-designed and I didn’t get anywhere. I’m going to see my friend Helen later in the week. She knows everything there is to be known about yarn, and may have some ideas.

Since I have no knitting pictures for today, here are some miserable children (Thessaloniki Drakes and Beijing Milses, intermingled) photographed at Christmas. Compare and contrast with the same small people in my sidebar.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Here’s where I am with the gansey. I feel slightly more hopeful about the size – not only will cables constrain it, but the whole pattern is essentially a rib. If it’s close to size, I could always knit it an inch or two short, and lengthen (and therefore narrow) it at the blocking stage. We shall soon see.

As we shall in New Hampshire. The British press has always been keen on Obama, although regarding Hillary as inevitable. Since she lost that quality in Iowa last week, they have all but skipped ahead to Obama’s inauguration. My sister phoned yesterday; we had a nice New Year’s conversation, largely devoted to politics. She’s far less maniacally devoted to Obama than I am, but not hostile.

What we need is a contribution from Theo to his family blog, with the insider’s view of what is going on. Perhaps later in the week, huh? British readers, at the very least, would be enthralled.

Here are some pictures from our holiday:

Christmas Day in the morning… And me and Thomas-the-Elder, at our family lunch on the 28th...

(Scanty) details in this morning’s paper make it less likely that the woman who died in Kirkmichael (see yesterday) was related to the people who pushed us out of our driveway on Friday. It is, paradoxically, a relief.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

A woman went missing in Kirkmichael on Friday, after setting out on a strenuous walk, and was found dead yesterday. The people who pushed us out of our driveway were a man in his late forties and two healthy-looking girls on one side or the other of 20, on their way to lunch after a morning spent tobogganing. Age-wise and love-of-outdoors-wise, the dead woman may have been their wife and mother. There couldn’t have been all that many strangers in Kirkmichael on Friday. Would God do a thing like that? All too likely.

Here are the missing pictures left over from yesterday, Ketki in her gansey and Cathy in the melon scarf from Victorian Lace Today (the only picture of an actual ’08 Christmas present). The yarn is the Yarn Yard’s Jean laceweight, named for ME.

Anonymous in Canada, I looked up Cathy’s jacket (yesterday's picture): It’s the “Round Trip” pattern, Knitter’s, Fall ’03. The Mitred Mozart you mention is a Candace Eisner Strick pattern –do you happen to know when it appeared? I’d like to take another look at it.

I sit down at the turn of the year and make a list of the projects bubbling in the back of my mind: not resolutions, just trying to catch the moment. I found it very hard this time to get anywhere beyond, More Princess, Theo’s gansey, Finish the Araucania sweater. A Mitred Mozart might be just the thing.

I got a bit more Araucania done while we were in Strathardle, the back finished except for casting off – I want to smooth the shoulder cast-offs. I know it’s done with short rows and wrapping but couldn’t remember precisely how, and all my books were here in Edinburgh. So I’ve left the stitches on a string and made good progress with the front.

And back at the ranch, I’m Knitting for New Hampshire on Theo’s gansey, establishing the pattern. The fear continues to hang over me that the whole thing will have to be frogged and re-started because it’s too big. We’ll see, fairly soon. I have an almost superstitious reluctance to rip out those nice initials. A picture tomorrow, maybe.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Happy New Year, everybody, and thank you for your messages.

I’m feeling pretty good about Iowa.

We’re back in Edinburgh. The holidays were good, although not entirely stress-free. On Friday the 28th, we all had lunch at the Strathardle Inn: all of us, 22 people, my husband and I, our children, their husbands and wives, all of our grandchildren. It may never happen again.

Yesterday’s return was an epic struggle. The last of the party, the Beijing Mileses, departed on Thursday morning, by limo to Edinburgh airport, thence to Heathrow, thence to the Middle Kingdom. It went smoothly.

Within an hour, snow started falling seriously. Our house is several metres below the level of the road to the village. I drove the car up to the flat bit of driveway before the final short, sharp ascent. I couldn’t take it the rest of the way and leave it beside the road because it – the road – is too narrow.

On Friday morning there was lots more snow and it was still falling. The car wouldn’t move for the sheer bulk of the stuff. We shovelled. It got going, moved along pretty well, and then stuck a couple of feet below the level of the road.

We went back to the house and finished up, closed the outbuildings, drained the water, turned off the electricity, and went back up to the car with sacking, in a state of close-to-terminal exhaustion.

We are near the end of a dead-end road. It was not the day for casual travellers. G*les from the big house might have gone by in his big car, or Jake on his tractor. Either would have stopped to help, but between them they scarcely constitute traffic.

As we were tucking the sacks under the wheels, and I worrying not a little about the immediate prospect of my 82-year-old husband pushing the car, some strangers appeared. They offered to pull us, we said a push would do it, they pushed, we got up. You can’t call it a miracle, but it was certainly providential. Maybe they were angels in disguise? The rest of the journey was not without its difficulties, but here we are.

This is supposed to be about knitting. Here are some pictures of people wearing things I knit.
Helen's husband David, with their son Mungo:

Rachel in her striped Koigu:

Cathy, in a fun pattern from Knitter's whose name I've forgotton, with James and their daughter Kirsty:

Thomas Miles, with his brother James, in a recent little-boy sweater:

There's more, but Blogger seems to think that's enough for today, and they're probably right.