Thursday, May 01, 2008


I finished Rachel’s socks, as hoped, and embarked upon Thomas-the-Elder’s, which will be even slower and more boring as involving more stitches and leg-length. I have included the left-over yarn in the photograph to show how generous the monthly Yarn Yard sock club allowance is. Rachel’s feet are small, but not negligible, and there seems to be enough left over to knit another pair.

In finally working to the bottom of the pile of accumulated mail from our few days away, what should I find but another knitting magazine, the spring VK, in a brown paper envelope, the last thing one expects these days.

A question: the editor, Adina Klein, says in her opening letter that her time at VK has “come to a surprising and heartbreaking end”. What’s up? Someone must know.

It is an interesting issue, I thought: nothing for me to knit, but plenty to read and think about. I like Mari Lynn Patrick’s “Blue Lagoon Redux”. I like quite a few other things, too: it’s just that they’re Not Me.

Two more questions, about books: I didn’t buy Donna Druchunas’ “Arctic Lace” because it sounded as if the lace patterns were recently-introduced and simple, to provide people with something to knit for the tourist trade. (I could be wrong: I’ve never seen the book.) What about the new one, “Ethnic Knitting Discovery: the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and the Andes”?

I collect books about ethnic knitting seriously, and I don’t mind overlap. On Fair Isle, I’ve got Don AND McGregor AND Starmore AND Feitelson, and wouldn’t part with any of them. But Druchunas, again, sounds trivial, “info-packed workbook”; “worksheets and diagrams are many”. But “regional knitting history” is at least touched upon. Has anyone seen it?

I was half-way through writing a similar paragraph about the next book review, “Cables, Diamonds, Herringbone: Secrets of Knitting Traditional Fishermen’s Sweaters”, when I realised to my embarrassment that I’ve got it.


Anonymous and Alltangledup, thank you for nailing that Biblical reference for me. And Mel, thank you for the link to Blue Letter Bible. I couldn’t make it work for me, probably because I couldn’t remember which translation provided the half-remembered phrases in my head, but it’s clearly an extremely useful resource. (I voted on your shoe-question, and am glad to see that my choice is in the lead.)

Mary Lou, sorrel is much used by the French, I am told: they don’t understand why the Anglo-Saxons don’t seem interested. It is used in soup and sauces and can be cooked like spinach. The leaf I ate while I was planting mine was delicious, with a slight lemony tang.

My sister phoned last night from London where she and Roger have briefly and mysteriously appeared. She says that in CT, you don’t chit potatoes, you just plant them. If I had to do that, 10% at least would be the wrong way up. But they’re tough little tubers and it probably wouldn’t matter.


  1. I have both of Donna's books, as I know her a little bit from online and like supporting her (among other things, she maintains a charity knitting blog and generally aims to use her knitting powers for good).

    "Arctic Lace" is almost more an ethnological text than a pattern book, though it does have charts for designs used by the different communities she profiles and a few patterns incorporating these designs. "Ethnic Knitting Discovery" is a very basic intro to typical patterns of the regions covered and aimed at a more beginner or advanced beginner audience. I don't think there's anything in it that hasn't been covered in greater detail by others.

    Growing up in South Carolina, we would often chew on stems of sheep sorrel - a common weed related to the culinary plant - for their tart flavor.

  2. As children, we knew sorrel was edible. We called it "Sour-sabs". Every year we tried it again, but it never tasted any better to us.

    So sorrel is the herb that we picked, chewed, spat out and said "I still don't like it"

    I've never tried it since I grew up. I wonder if I have changed?

  3. I second Mel's note re. Donna's books. I bought Artic Lace to support her, and the story of the projects in the villages (some of the money goes there, I believe) the patterns are not much. The second book has some, but is really more of a workbook for those interested in doing their own sweaters. A bit like Knitting the Old Way with how to detail tied to each ethnic style. Nicely, done, too. You probably have all the of it in some form or another already.

    I received Cables Diamonds etc. but haven't taken time to do more than a quick browse. And i don't chit my potatoes, just cut them in pieces to have a few eye and try to put them in eye up. They all make their way to the sun anyway. Your approach might be faster, something to think about in a cold climate.

  4. Anonymous1:30 PM

    There's a discussion thread on Knitter's Review forum about Adina's departure, including a farewell email from the lady in question:


  5. I have 2 of Donna's books. The Knitted Rug and Ethnic Knitting Discovery. Given the books that you already have, I would hold off on Ethnic Knitting Discovery. On my next trip to Seattle I am planning to buy the more expensive knitting books published in Norway and giving more of the historical background.

  6. Anonymous4:20 PM

    When I was a kid, once in a while I'd pluck a tiny leafy thing out of the lawn and chew it. I'm not sure, but I think it was called sorrel. I liked it once in a while but didn't think much about it, and we didn't gather it for salads or anything.

  7. Anonymous4:38 PM

    Just seconding Mel's comments on "Arctic Lace" and "Ethnic Knitting Discovery". Having read them first through my local library, I bought the former but not the latter. I hope you get a chance to look them over to see whether they have much to offer you.

  8. I have the first book Arctic lace and was fascinated by it because of the possible connection to Russian Orenburg lace patterns -- cultural anthropology/ethnography and all of that. One of the books about Orenburg lace is Gossamer Webs from Interweave Press.

    Glad to read about the second book -- will have to look at it "in my hands" before I would decide to buy it.

    Sorrel is also used for spring soups in Russia, and is supposed to have a lot of vitamins.

    Keep bringing up books for us to think about -- I'll have to check some of my titles, too.