Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I didn’t do anything about getting hold of The Knitter yesterday. Your comments, Shandy and Judith, sort of stayed my hand. I resolved to spend more time in Ravelry.

In Knitting magazine, too, the best things usually turn out to be reprinted from some book. I think a knitting magazine editor who wanted to break new ground could do worse than wander through the blogs looking to see what amateur and semi-amateur designers are doing. The ones who don’t aspire to publication and don’t count on pattern sales to put soup on the table. Joe’s stranded knitting pullover would be an ornament to any magazine. There may be other good things out there.

I’ve been buying, as you know, Vogue Knitting Books with nice covers to replace the coverless ones in my collection, if I can get them cheap. Yesterday Number 50 arrived, spring, 1956. I paid £7.50 for it. (That’s cheap.) It’s an absolutely spanking copy, straight off the newsstand and containing this delicious flyer:

Even assuming that the LYS made all its money from selling wool, and the full charge for knitting a garment went to the knitter, that’s not much money for highly-skilled work. Almost everything was made with fine yarn, too. Even the Arans are only knit with DK. Who were the knitters? One would be very hard put to find them nowadays.

The Princess sped forward yesterday. I finished the slow-moving motif which takes up the first third of the repeat, and whizzed on to a point early in row 17. I’ve now done a complete repeat since I resumed Princess-knitting. I sort of feel I’m making progress.

I discovered a Great Truth about lace-knitting, too. Everybody else probably knows it already. It is this: it is much easier and quicker to knit two stitches together, by whatever means, if the two stitches themselves were knit or purled in the preceding row. If one of them was a YO, it’s harder to get hold of the pair, whether the YO comes first or second. All the rest of the centre repeat consists of simple triangles and chevrons with the lines moving in easy diagonals outside the lines of YO holes.


I had an email this morning to say that my seed potato order has shipped. This is exciting news. Surely there’s every hope it’ll be here before we leave for Strathardle on Thursday. I’m not at all sure I’m still strong enough to grow vegetables, but the first job of the season will be to set the potatoes to chit, and I am strong enough for that. The egg boxes are waiting by the dining-room windowsill.


  1. Chitting potatoes? I've wanted to grow them for a while, but I'm not sure what one is supposed to do to make them grow, other than forget them in the cupboard.

  2. Like you, I would have thought that it would be easy to identify really original content for a magazine with the internet to hand - so many innovative and reflective knitters out there. Recent examples include Lene on Dances with Wool adapting a jacket design from the Mason-Dixon book and making it her own. However, I'm not convinced that the purpose of the whole crop of those magazines is to promote originality and expertise. Almost everything I see in them is totally commercial, promoting new products. "Yarn Forward" does have a different approach, and has strengthened after a shaky start.

  3. Interesting to see the list of charges for hand knitting. In the 1980's, my Mother in law, who was a fast and very experienced knitter, signed up to knit at home for money - she didn't do it for long, since the pay was an insult to her expertise.

  4. Anonymous3:39 PM

    I didn't comment yesterday on The Knitter because I felt hesitant about being perceived as "too negative." I received one issue, number 2, and I am canceling the rest of the subscription. I do not need to pay a lot of money for a magazine that includes three book excerpts and includes a pattern and quotes from a fourth (not labeled "extract" for some reason.) All this in addition to 6-7 patterns that have already been published, some from books I chose not to buy. Before I even noticed this, there was a big ad that new subscribers can get a free Mile tote--what am I if not a new subscriber? There were four exclusive patterns, one citing a source for the yoke's fair isle pattern. That might not have been a big deal if the rest was original. No, thanks! It made the new IK look good! Picked up a Yarn Forward but need to spend more time with it.


  5. Anonymous7:07 PM

    I believe potatoes can be grown under a deep straw mulch - maybe with just an inch or so of dirt over the bit of potato with the eye in it.
    That would make it much easier to dig them when they are ready. But maybe the moisture content would leave them more susceptible to blight. I hope all is well with you.