Monday, November 10, 2008

Sorry about yesterday. Bad night, bad day.

I had expected to approach today’s composition with both good news and bad in hand. Alas, it’s all bad – at least in knitterly terms, which perhaps don’t stand very high among the world’s problems.

I’m knitting Meg’s hat from the current Holiday VK, using some Rowan Tapestry which I have long nurtured in store. It’s a dark yarn, and won’t photograph well. Maybe I can get my husband to model the finished article.

I was getting along swimmingly, and loving it. I had started the third rank of shells, after which Meg says to start decreasing. Then I lost my footing somehow. I think it was because I took out half-an-hour to sew on a shirt button. I hate sewing on buttons. You have to assemble the shirt; the button – or a suitable substitute if you can’t find the button; thread of a vaguely suitable shade; a needle; scissors. Then thread the needle, establish that it’s not too big to go through the button holes, and make a knot. I’ve lost the knack of doing that.

At this point I discovered that I had threaded a wool needle. I needed to start over again with a sharp. I couldn’t get the stout thread in to it, and had to find a finer cotton. That was eventually achieved, the actual button-sewing went smoothly, and then I put all those wretched things away again.

But then, perhaps because I was flustered and cross, I couldn’t find my place in the hat. Whatever I was doing, wasn’t right. I tried ripping out three or four rounds, but the effort of recovering the stitches proved too much.

At this point all I wanted to do was rend the poor thing asunder with my bare hands, utter a mighty oath, and disappear into the darkness. I thought that was probably impractical. In fact, I unravelled it all and will start again today.

So that was meant to be the good news.

Now, for the bad. Look at this:

Washed on the cycle I use for anything with wool in it, felted within an inch of its life.

The yarn (Araucania Ranco) is labelled 25% polyamide which sounds, near as dammit, like the composition of the beloved German sock yarns I’ve been replying on for years. The label says a gentle machine wash is appropriate.

The distress here is not so much for Ketki’s forthcoming sweater, as in the fact that I have used this yarn for a child’s sweater, and am using it to knit socks for Alexander, in the expectation of easy washing. I suppose the only thing to do is finish the socks and tell Ketki she’ll have to use a cold wash for them. And hope for the best.


We have begun zero-ing in on plans, which centre on Alexander and Loch Fyne this year. We have often escaped “doing” Christmas by spending it with Rachel in London. But in London my husband is not to be restrained from strenuous artistic expeditions. There’s nothing much in the way of art on Loch Fyne. There will be nothing to do but eat and enjoy my family and knit and go for gentle walks – both Thomas’s and both James’s will be available for company, amongst others – and have naps. Bliss!

The one thing to be said for Christmas is that the pressure and anxiety speeds one forward through these dreadful dark weeks. It must be awful -- Kate? – to have it cut out half the summer instead.

Both Rachel and Alexander, in our telephone conferences yesterday, expressed distress at finding themselves older than the forthcoming President of the United States.


  1. ha i understand that distress. checked out the meg hat. it is lovely.

    and it is not possible to take pictures of anything right now.

    how distressing with that sample and strange too.

  2. Anonymous12:27 PM

    Ah yes--you can be sure the polyamide didn't felt. It appears that your only guarantee is when they specify that the wool part itself is superwash. But the other irony of labelling is that many yarns which actually contain superwash wool don't say so on the label.
    Aren't you glad you washed that swatch!

  3. My father used to say he knew he was getting old when all the cops he saw were younger than he. But now, a president. However, that distress is much preferred to the stress that would have come from having a president elect that is much older than I am...

  4. Anonymous9:05 PM

    I just looked at a skein of Arucania Ranco and the tag does indeed say:
    Dry cleaning is recommended
    Gently hand wash in cool water and mild soap.

    I'm NOT dry cleaning my socks! I guess I'll be hand washing them...they won't be the only pair, I do have a couple of others that aren't superwash wool. What a pain though...I'm sorry you found out the hard way but at least it was only a swatch. I hope the sweater hasn't been washed yet!

  5. thanks for the warning about the araucania, I have some that I haven't used yet.
    As for Christmas in Summer - after just suffering through the lack of summer yet again in Edinburgh, we are really looking forward to Christmas in the Santiago Summer. Ask how I feel after it though!