Saturday, September 06, 2008

I should finish the bear’s coat, bar buttons and blocking, tomorrow or even today. Alicebluegown, I have by now forgotten most of what I learned when I was investigating swallowtail coats in the first place – I don’t think they are much worn now. You can see them on the town mice in Beatrix Potter’s “The Tale of Johnny Town-mouse”.

I’m not often frivolous in my knitting – but this has been so much fun that I might consider frivolity in the future. The full purpose of this bear will be revealed soon.

I spent much of yesterday thinking about the future. The range of Araucania Ranco yarns is considerable, and I love them; it might be fun to use them for a Fair Isle design. Pavi Yarns seems to have a good stock.

But I’d have to swatch, and the swatch would have to be circular.

I remembered that EZ had something about a “swatch cap” somewhere, and I found it in “Knitting Around” – but in the text, it is not a cap at all, just a circular swatch. And if one did make it into a cap by starting with ribbing, the swatch would be pulled in to the point of uselessness. Knit some ribbing to and fro, then join into a circle for the actual swatch? Less distorting, but only somewhat. A provisional cast-on, with the thought of adding ribbing later? Am I capable of that? Does EZ address the question anywhere else?

I am also much irritated by the fact that I cannot find the Spring ’08 Knitter’s – that must be the issue with the pattern by Candace Eisner Strick which I had my eye on for various reasons. I wrote to her, and she reminded me that there is a very similar pattern in her book “Sweaters from New England Sheep Farms” – but the all-over pattern in that one is not both vertically and horizontally symmetrical. The other one was, and I need that.


Kristen, like you, I cannot believe that there was anyone named “Mary Ann Wells” interested in Dickenson-Higginson during my mother’s lifetime. Somebody must have typed the name in carelessly. The question reminds me that I don’t have a record of what my mother wrote: I know the books, of course. In the course of recent paddling around, I have discovered references to an article about the critical reaction to Emily Dickenson which was written (I believe) in 1929 and is still cited. Neither my sister nor I remembers ever having seen that one.

The Economist isn’t interested in who had which baby, but is pretty scornful of Palin’s qualifications and McCain’s judgment in choosing her. (Kate W. – spelling it “McKean” is pure ignorance on my part. My husband’s niece is married to a man named McKean; the pronunciation is identical; that’s probably why.)

And it sounds as if James has been in trouble with the police again. I said that to my husband when I went to call him for supper last night, and for a moment he thought I meant the Blairgowrie police. A relief to discover that I was talking about western China.


  1. Anonymous9:52 AM

    Jean, EZ'z Meg in "Sweaters from Camp" pg. 24 gives us 'Speed Swatch': "With circular needle, CO about 40 st. and work a few rows of garter"; ... *knit 1 row with same or a 2nd colour, "SLIDE the stitches around the circular needle, so that the first stitch is again at the tip of the left needle. Pull out looong strand and loop it across the back and repeat from*"

    Meg gives this brilliant technique for working with colours .. I found that it is perfect also when using only one.
    Cheers!, Elizabeth

  2. Anonymous1:42 PM

    If you want your swatch to also be useful as a hat, you can cast on as usual, knit the colorwork swatches, finish off as a hat. After getting your gauge, you can pick up stitches in the back of the cast on, and knit your ribbing down, having allowed for that extra length during the colorwork phase.
    I haven't commented for a while, but continue to enjoy your blog daily.

  3. Don't be afraid of the provisional cast-on! They are inordinately helpful once you get the hang of it. I love the crochet one; if you do it right your waste yarn unzips off in a very satisfactory manner.

  4. i never really believed in the swatch caps. but i keep all my swatches. i think maybe one day i will teach knitting and they will come in handy.

    the reason is that if the swatch should be of any use all your let's say cables should be represented and that will not often be a well balanced pattern for a hat.

    i am eagerly awaiting to see what will become of the bear in the coat.
    i know the feeling of not being frivolous enough in my knitting. partly because i am attracted to the orderliness of knitting.
    and after knitting without patterns for a long while i now find myself learning so much about knitting and design for that matter from knitting starmore patterns. and a whole lot about order too.

  5. Anonymous10:59 PM

    If the swatch cap begins with design work, you can pick up stitches in back and knit downward to make a lining and work a 3-needle bind-off with the cast-on edge. Presto, extra thick for the ears, smooth for the forehead, and historically interesting, since that's how the Monmouth cap was made.

  6. Oh, a mention of "Johnny Town-Mouse"! My daughter loves that book and asks for it in her cute 4-year-old accent, but she calls it "That one about Timmy Willy".

    I love how refined the town mice are in their tailcoats, while Timothy William is a pudgy country mouse who's afraid to sleep in the sofa because it smells like cat.

    But I've no answers for the cap swatch, I'm afraid...