Monday, August 31, 2009

It was the right thing to do….

I shall adopt your excellent suggestion, Cynthia, and refer to it as the Florence Griswold Stole henceforth. I now love the process of knitting it, and the pattern (interlocking Griswolds?) is crisp and clear.

The original attempt was beautiful, and would have made a classy stole, and no one would have noticed the wonky stems. But it wasn’t fun to do. I will remember what you said yesterday, Ron: “If you are not happy with the stole now, you will not be happy with it in a week.”

So today I’ll go on with that – for pure pleasure, knitting with alpaca-and-silk is hard to beat. But first I’ll finish the ASJ swatch – with a blunter needle and perhaps greater caution, in the hopes of splitting fewer stitches. I can’t change the yarn, Fishwife. It’s non-negotiable, as I believe Prince Charles once said of Mrs Parker Bowles. It’s my recent purchase of blogger’s yarns – Franklin’s Panopticon and Amy’s Vintage Office and the Modesitt one I think of as Gerry’s Roadkill although that’s not quite what it’s called, plus other beautiful yarns with evocative names.

With the swatch finished, I’ll have my data and can work on the maths.

Reading What Housework? this morningI discovered the February Lady Sweater, the last knitter in the universe to do so. I went straight to Ravelry and queued it. I think maybe enthusiasm is returning.


Rachel sent me this yesterday, although I think Helen must have taken it. It shows the Ogden children with the Ogden tree, the abies koreana. Now that’s what a Games Day tree picture should look like. Is it so good because the early evening light is better than morning glare? Or do I need a new camera or (more likely) a few lessons?

From left to right we have Hellie, a recent graduate of Newcastle University now carving a path for herself in the difficult world of publishing; Joe, going in to his second year at Nottingham University, reading politics; Lizzie, going in to the 6th form – she’s just received good GCSE results; and Thomas-the-Elder, our barrister. A fine set – and the tree has grown well, too.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fuzzarelly, I think it’s wonderful that you’ve got a Dawn Redwood a.k.a. metasequoia glyptostroboides, just like us. I’ve been reading about it in Wikipedia; interesting, as that source often is. The name “metasequoia”, I believe, refers to the fact that the leaflets are opposite each other on the stem, as an illustration in the Wikipedia entry shows. On other sequoias, they alternate. If I’m right. I have a half-memory that the man who initially described the fossils said he would have called it something snappier had he suspected that such trees still grew.

Another restless day, knitting-wise. I decided during the course of it that maybe the thing to do was to start on my Adult Surprise with my lovely new Lorna’s Laces sock yarn. Overturning the laboriously-acquired-over-decades one-WIP-at-a-time discipline of recent years, as I have no intention of abandoning either the jabot or the Thistle Stole.

So when knitting time came, I wound a skein of Amy’s Vintage Office and got started on a swatch. Splendid yarn. I’m going to enjoy this.

Two anxieties, though. I plan to start with an inch or so of solid charcoal before I let rip with colour. That’s going to make the vital centering of the decreases even harder. I’ll just have to be careful. The other is, that I notice a couple of split stitches in the still-very-small swatch. I think EZ says somewhere that that’s the one mistake in knitting which can’t be disguised as a Feature. And laddering down to fix one is next to impossible (for me) to do neatly in garter stitch.

Try a blunter needle? I’m using one of those fancy-schmancy made-from-musical-instruments ebony ones, and it’s heaven to hold and wield. But I can’t wear a jacket full of split stitches.

It’ll take a while to work out exactly what size I’m going to aim at, and the whole point of swatching is to get this right. I don’t want it slipping about off the shoulders, nor yet straining at the bosom.

As promised, I also worked on at the Thistle stole, and discontent seized me there, too. I am having trouble seeing exactly what is happening, what with the fine, dark yarn and working in garter stitch. The stitch count keeps being a bit wrong. I’m afraid the current batch of thistle stems aren’t straight.

Should I save this beautiful yarn for something I can actually do with it, and go back and knit the Thistle Stole in the yarn Cynthia and Sue intended for it when they made me the gift? It’s called Buckingham, from the Bristol Yarn Gallery. It’s Peruvian, baby alpaca and silk. It’s slightly heavier, so I would knit the stole as the pattern is written – fewer stitches than I’ve got at the moment, and st st which makes patterns easier to see. It feels wonderful, inviting one to imagine cuddling oneself in it.

It’s a nice gentle alpaca brown, representing thistles hit by glysophate, perhaps. I think I’ll do that.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Holly, those leads on jabot design you posted yesterday were enormously interesting and potentially useful. Stacey, yours too.

I don’t think there’s any difference between a man’s and a woman’s jabot. I saw some attached to women’s blouses – and gorgeous they were – at Kinloch Anderson that day.

I spent yesterday’s knitting time, despite intentions, fiddling with the jabot. My corner-to-corner lace square, full of mistakes, is now declining towards completion. The lace strip, meanwhile, is currently off the needle, stitches well-secured. That let me play with it on the newly-tea-dyed jabot, and I think that maybe after all I could make something of it.

But I’ll finish the square and see how it looks with something else underneath. I’ve got the Christine Duchrow incomplete jabot I knit a while ago, to fill that role temporarily.

Today I really will knit the stole, though.

I felt very restless, knit-wise, this morning. The fall Knitty doesn’t seem to be up. I went to Ravelry and found that other people are missing Franklin and that a post in a lace-for-boys group mentions my jabot! So I’ve got to persevere.

However, for here and for now, I’ll talk about Strathardle.

Lisa, we use the word “commonty” just to mean “land-held-in-common”. Which it isn’t, any more. Our house and its three fields used to be a croft, supporting a numerous family. The fields are now tenanted by sheep. In addition, there is a strip of land down by the burn (and occasionally flooded by it) --– I think it would qualify as a haugh -- which was once held in common by three proprietors. Well before we bought our house, it had been formally divided. We had the first bit, nearest the house.

We immediately bought the next section, allowing the former owner to continue pasturing his cows there in perpetuity rent-free. I wish we had pursued an attempt to secure the third with equal energy. The cows and their owner are long gone and our four specimen trees stand in that part. “Down the commonty” is part of the mysterious family vocabulary which incomers (such as the people our children marry) find so difficult at first, although all have mastered it by now.

I’m glad to hear there are metasequoias in America. It is an easy-going, fast-growing deciduous conifer, also known as a Dawn Redwood. The real-life modern ones in China were matched to the fossil shortly after the war, and thereafter widely distributed. It likes to have its feet wet, and our mistake was to plant it on a slight slope. If it had been a few yards further forward, nearer the burn, it would have been much happier. It even suffered this year in that freak drought of the early summer which carried off my seedbed roll. I thought it was big enough to look after itself, and didn’t go down the commonty to water it as I have in many another summer.

The other two trees are a pinus nigra, the Black Pine, planted in memory of Helen and David’s eldest son Oliver, who died at six weeks. Helen wanted a big tree. We put it in the winter of Oliver’s birth and death, and have never had a tree which hit the ground running with such enthusiasm. Here is this year’s poor picture, with Oliver's three brothers.

The fourth is an abies koreana, whose party trick is blue fir cones. It was planted for Rachel and Ed’s 40th birthdays, more than a decade ago now. It doesn’t always do its trick, but it did this year. Helen took its 2009 picture, with the young Ogdens. I’ll post it when she sends it to me.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tea it was, and very successful, I think. At first, I thought I had Gone Too Far, and would have to dye the yarn pale brown. But I rinsed the jabot, and it lightened as it dried, and now I think it’s fine. Many thanks.

Having got that far, I spent yesterday’s knitting time on jabot-thinking and indeed jabot-doing. I am less and less confident of my ability to make a suitable object out of a strip of lace, so yesterday I went back to Christine Duchrow. No need to rush things. James can start wearing it (if at all) on St Andrews Night in ’10.

The Duchrow jabot I previously attempted is a single object: that won’t do. We need layers, froths of lace. I found one that looks plausible – a square of lace, attached to the neck at one corner, with a plain rectangle underneath, both edged with the same pretty little edging.

There would be no absolute need to make the rectangle plain, either.

I completely failed to understand the simplest thing about the instructions. You start by casting on two stitches. Alternate rows are plain. Then you begin to increase. One stitch appears at each end of alternate rows. Where do they come from? Reading German, for me, is like trying to view the world through my Retinal-Vein-Occluded eye. It’s there, all right. I can make some sort of sense of it. But I can’t really get to grips with it.

(And actually, I don’t think the notes around the pattern explained the point, anyway. Maybe somewhere else.)

I fiddled around a bit, and found Maureen Egan Emlet’s “Mediterranean Lace” in A Gathering of Lace. I’m attempting four panels from the very bottom of that shawl – again, beginning with two stitches -- only this time I can see where the increases come from. I can’t quite see, at the moment, how I will manage the decreases, when I get to the maximum point. It should theoretically be easy.

It’s a rose trellis lace. I used something like it for the centre of a shawl once. I could do the same for the rectangle. Or try Hazel Carter’s jabot, which started this whole train of thought. That’s a rectangle, and it has a thistle on it, which is a nice touch.

And perhaps go back to Duchrow for the edging. We shall see.

But today I will switch back to the stole, from roses to thistles. Tamar, I think they sort of interlock in a way that won’t (theoretically) allow for another panel in the centre. Starting from each end, the sets of thistles have progressively shorter stems. I thought of adding a whole extra section at each end with stems one step longer than the longest, but decided (laziness?) that that might make it too long altogether.


Every year on Games Day I take pictures of the specimen conifers we have planted down the commonty, with associated grandchildren. This year, we had all the grandchildren and I had the right ones stand by the right tree. I don’t always insist on that. My Drake picture isn’t very good on children, and the Ogdens (London) weren’t there yet so someone else took that one in the evening, and James-the-Younger wasn’t feeling well so that one, too, was repeated in the evening with a different photographer when he was better.

Here’s what I got – Thomas-the-Younger with our deodar, a Himalayan tree. We put it in only recently. It comes from the Ardkinglas nursery, near where they live on Loch Fyne. It's growing fast.
And the Beijing Mileses with the metasequoia. That’s a tree which was identified and named from a fossil and later turned up growing peacefully in China. We planted ours when James and Cathy married, and it has struggled in the dry soil of the commonty, but is at last growing faster than the children. You have to peer a bit, but it's there, above Rachel-the-Younger in the middle.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Now, knitting.

Very little was done while we were away – a few rows of jabot. I did get into Blairgowrie, though, to discuss the problem with Piob Mohr. (I don’t know what it means, or how to pronounce it.) They were, as before, very kind, and they have sold me a lace-less jabot:

However, as I feared, and as I found out for sure when I laid it out this morning to photograph, it is a stark white which combines poorly with the antique-lace look of the gossamer merino I’m using. Is Cashsilk whiter? I could go back to that, or I could dig out the DMC cotton I bought to attempt the Princess in. Today’s job.

Meanwhile, I’m moving steadily forward with Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer’s Thistle Lace Stole. There are problems, as ever -- including those extra-big holes, dead centre.

I’ve inserted two extra pattern repeats to compensate for the fine yarn I’m using. That’s OK. The width looks good, and the rows aren’t uncomfortably long.

But I discover – for as always, I have rushed forward first only to make discoveries later – that this stole, unlike any other in the world, is planned as a whole, and doesn’t seem to have a section anywhere which can be extended to provide extra length. As may prove necessary.

And to make matters worse, I am knitting it in garter stitch, contrary to instructions. That will presumably shorten it somewhat further.

It is knit from each end, joined in the middle. So I have decided to finish the first half and then consider the problem. Maybe it will be long enough, if blocked with length primarily in mind. Failing that, I will have to add something somehow, risking asymmetry.

I am feeling autumnal, in need of Something Wonderful to knit, like Helen CKS’s Anhinga. But what? And anyway, when current projects are finished, I am supposed to knit an Adult Surprise with the Lorna’s Laces yarns I bought recently. That’s pretty wonderful. Is it enough?

Both the new VK (a.k.a. Designer Knitting, in GB) and – wow! – Jared’s book “Made in Brooklyn”, Gerri’s kind gift to me, were waiting on the mat when we got back here on Monday. Both have got good things; nothing quite lifts me out of my seat. Jared’s cover piece and Elizabeth Lavold’s pattern in VK both attract. Do I want a long, sleeveless cardigan? Why not?

I love Jared’s “Seneca” pattern, with the magic cables on the yoke. I love the mittens in travelling stitch. That’s a technique I keep resolving to get back to.

Next week’s excitement is a class with Annie Modesitt on Combination Knitting. Maybe that will incidentally provide some sort of answer to my restlessness.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It’s all over, and this will be a poor report.

I wasn’t feeling very snappy on Games Day, and thus lack the pictures I need: of the knitting, especially the cardigans that beat mine; and of the Collections of Four Vegetables, where the winners all entered great big cabbages.

The saddest photographic miss of all didn’t involve me – the winning entry in the Knitted Hat section (deserving of the Glenisla Shield for the best handicraft entry, although I don’t know whether the knitter got it) was done from Katherine Misegades’ “Picture Hat” pattern on page 142 of a Gathering of Lace. Or if not that, a near-identical rip-off. Spectacular.

The winning cardigans were beautifully knit, with cables 'n' things 'n' buttons 'n' bows. Mine may have been more wearable, and indeed fits the intended recipient well and she loves it. My consolation in the vegetable section was that no one else entered runner beans – as I’ve said, they’re not easy in Strathardle and I’ve never before had them ready so early.

I made a Collection of Four Vegetable soup the next day, and very tasty it was.

Our triumph was Alistair Miles of Beijing’s First Prize in the “bookends” category. His entry was based on a split log which he had been sanding and varnishing for days. He has left it behind, so I can produce a picture of it next time.

I didn’t even get new “Grandchildren” or “Rachel, Alexander, James and Helen” pictures taken for the sidebar. It could have been done, it should have been. Everybody was there. We had a good time. The weather was amazing: it had been as rotten an August as anyone could remember – here we are all rushing out the back door to see a rainbow, only the day before – but Games Day was fair.

Earlier in the week, we had a chain saw session to cut up wood for the winter. My husband says we haven’t done enough, but it’s a good start. James worked the chain saw, I steadied the logs, the children took turns handing me the next log. Then we formed a chain gang to stack it all up in the byre. Those are the Beijing Mileses on the left, the Athens Drakes on the right.

Then my husband, inspired at the idea that the chain saw was in action, with James on hand to wield it, decided to take out a sycamore tree (they’re weeds) which was overtopping a favourite chestnut. Here he is, with his sons, working on it. Alexander, on the left, is wearing a KF creation from a Rowan kit, dating from the days when Rowan made kits. I rotated the pattern somehow, I seem to remember.

Sunday was overshadowed by the news of the fires near Athens. Helen and her family now live in a northern suburb of that city, adjacent to Agios Stephanos where the fires were bad. Her husband (who had been weedending on Mt Pelion) went to the house with a list Helen had drawn up of the things she wanted him to take in the car if it was necessary to evacuate. She felt rather sorry, as things calmed down, not to have the chance, after all, to start life fresh.

Friday, August 14, 2009

James set himself yesterday to modify the wifi setup at the house in Kirkmichael, with the thought of preventing his son Alistair from spending all day on on-line computer games. The inevitable result was that he cut us off from all contact with the outside world. Service was eventually resumed after a titanic struggle.

This morning, I can’t get on-line from this computer, totally different system, different ISP, miles away. It must mean that is having a bad moment, but it’s hard not to blame James.

Yesterday was tough. My husband had a CT scan at the Royal Infirmary. We had a hellish drive there through Festival traffic, and then a bad time driving around that nightmare place past parking lots with SPACES but no visible way in; parking lots with SPACES reserved for hospital staff; and parking lots with NO SPACES and little queues of cars waiting.

That problem resolved, the scan itself wasn’t very pleasant, nor was the radiography department. Then we thought we’d drive home a different way, over by Holyrood, along the foot of Arthur’s Seat. My husband has known Edinburgh all his life, but didn’t reckon on new buildings and new No Right Turn signs not to mention the infamous tram works. So the return journey took even longer than the outward one.

One of those days.

And now I can’t get on-line.

I didn’t get much knitting done. I started the Thistle Shawl again on smaller needles and more stitches. That works well, and is going to produce a good fabric, but the particular needle I’m using still isn’t right. The eternal lace-knitter’s problem (on circulars) of the stitches not wanting to leave the cord and slip with any ease onto the straight bit.

No replies – the last time I was able to look -- from the AllotmentsUK group about my seedbed roll query. I’ll try the on-line readers’ forum at Kitchen Garden Magazine. That’s where I heard about it in the first place.

The world has come back to my computer screen, so I can post this and start the pre-Strathardle bustle. We’ll be away until the 25th or so. If you’re going to be in central Perthshire on the 22nd, come and join us at the Games.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Here’s a curious note for you on the vegetable-growing front:

Remember that “seedbed roll” in which I invested and with which I totally failed? Due, I think, to an uncharacteristic spring drought. Well, yesterday I set out to find how other people had fared. Googling produced pages of advertisements, and a few bloggers who posted in the spring that they were going to try it – including one who had my idea that maybe the upper plastic level would offer protection from rabbits.

But no results. I persevered until page five, where the entries seemed to be wandering from the point.

So I went to my AllotmentsUK Yahoo group and posted the question. No replies, in 24 hours.

I don’t know what I conclude. I think maybe it means that results were less than sensationally wonderful, but the argumentum a silentio is notoriously unreliable.


It’s done. Now all I must do is remember to take it along when we go back to Strathardle tomorrow. We nearly forgot to send our entries in at all – but recovered in time; the deadline is Monday.

I left the jabot in Strathardle, so I set forward last night on the Scotch Thistle Lace Stole, Cynthia’s and Sue’s gift to me that happy day in CT. Most of the rest of last night's knitting-time was spent winding a skein of beautiful Fiesta Ballerina.

The pattern wants 550 yards of fingering yarn, to be knit on 4mm needles giving a blocked gauge of 5½ stitches per inch. The yarn seems finer than that – lace weight or below. The ball band says there are 925 yards which will give 7 stitches to the inch on size 3.75mm needles (size 5).

We lace knitters don’t worry too much about such details. I started casting on, on 5’s, after winding the 925 yards, with the thought of adding one 10-stitch pattern repeat. The needle feels uncomfortably large. I may go down a size or two, and add two or more pattern repeats.

The other big knitting news that is that Gerri has sent me Jared’s book, from St Paul, MN, out of sheer kindness. It’s on its way. I’ll report fully when it turns up. He has been blogging lately about some of the patterns, in a most enticing fashion.


An unconscionable number of people will be sleeping in this house in our absence the night of August 21st – cricket-lovers, mostly, who have stayed behind in England to watch a day of the final test match at the Oval and are coming to the Games at the last minute. So today I must make some beds.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Glorious Twelfth

What a wise dispensation of Providence that hungry people come to Kirkmichael just when my garden is at its most productive. There is a glut of courgettes, a real glut. All in all, it’s been a good year – I think it was you, Angel, who said that it might turn out so, when I was sunk in gloom at the results of that spring drought.

The really exciting news, horticulturally – although it will be difficult to enthuse any readers with this one – is that I shall have some runner beans to enter in the “collection of four vegetables” class at the Games next week.

I always grow runner beans, because they look so pretty climbing up their tepee. Victorian gardeners, I have read, originally grew them for the flowers and only later discovered the beans. In England, they’re a garden staple. The books of advice tell you to keep picking even if you have to throw them away, in order to keep them coming.

There’s no danger of that in Strathardle, with our brief interval between the Last Frost of spring and the First Frost of autumn. I often get a reasonable crop in September, but so far that’s all I’ve ever achieved. This year they will be not just reasonable but abundant – and a few, down at the bottom, are ready now. That’s never happened before, so early.

I spent happy hours weeding. This is the time of year when the vegetables, if they have succeeded at all (and there’s still no salsola soda) can pretty well stand up to the weeds, and things tend to get neglected. But this year, with the responsibility for grass-cutting off my back, I have been able to keep at it. Everything looks unconscionably tidy, and I kept reflecting that the more I can keep on top of things now, the easier it will all be next spring.

You can just see the tip of the runner bean tepee, sticking up at the back above the abundant growth of mange-tout peas.

We had a nice time with family, and there’s more to come. James is planning a camping trip off into the wilderness, to a loch I can’t even find on Google Maps. Helen is in London with her three fierce boys, but will be back on Friday.

I did very little knitting, but last night and this morning, back in Edinburgh, I finished the knitting of the Child’s Cardigan. There’s plenty of tidying still to do – thank goodness I knit it in one piece to the armpits. Last night, in a flash of brilliance or idleness, or both, I decided that since I hate buttons in all their aspects, I would put on only one. So I’ve done that – one vertical buttonhole at the top. Vertical, perforce, since the band was being knit sideways. Today, insh'Allah, I'll buy a button and sew it on, and finish the tidying, and maybe even block it.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

A quick, picture-less touchdown this morning – we’re off to Strathardle. We’ll be back for at least a couple of nights next week, as my husband has a hospital appt for a scan a week today.

After that it’s all systems go for the Games. At present, it looks like a near full-house. Helen's husband David may be the only absentee. I can take a complete Grandchildren picture for the sidebar, if so. I chose my menu yesterday (I am responsible for the tailgate picnic) -- simplicity is to be the note. Piles of sausages and barbecued chicken legs as usual. The three salads will be Claire Macdonald's tomato, from last Saturday's Scotsman; and a green bean and a chick-pea-and-feta one from Jamie Oliver. Lots of beer and cider and potato crisps can be taken as read.

But two out-of-the-blue disasters have hit Rachel and her family in the last five days: a burnt-out clutch which is going to be very expensive, and a diagnosis of breast cancer in her husband's family. So I am sad and worried, and edgier than ever about chicken-counting.

I spoke to James yesterday. They’re in Cheltenham, with Cathy’s family, so at least they get a bit of a head start on the long drive north on Friday.

Helen, from Strathardle, reports that there are so many courgettes that she is making soup. I have never achieved a glut, or even near-glut, before, and am pretty excited about this. The Fishwife gave me a book last year, “What Will I Do With All Those Courgettes?”, which so far I have not had real occasion to use. It’s a slim vol – Helen may not have spotted it in the cookery book shelf.

I finished the neck band for the Children’s Cardigan and picked up the stitches for the button band. I’ll have to take a textbook along to help with the buttonholes.

I’ll also take the jabot, as far as I’ve got. When the moment comes – probably not this week; they won’t want me pestering them at the weekend – I’ll thread it onto waste yarn and take it in to the Blairgowrie kiltmaker to discuss whether they can sell me a bib-and-collar and perhaps consider construction techniques, if they’re feeling chatty. At the moment I don’t see how it is to be folded back on itself to make successive layers. That may become clearer as I proceed. I would be embarrassed to go back to Kinloch Anderson to have another look.

Yes, Tamar, oddly, I have read of spray starch being used on woollen lace shawls. I can’t remember the context. That’s a possibility to keep in mind.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I suddenly feel a new sprightliness, quite unexpected – as if I could see beyond the Games to the invigorating shores of September.

We’ve heard from the Beijing Mileses. They’ve been in DC lately, but last night returned from the US to London, and will drive to Strathardle on Friday. So we’ll go up tomorrow. Vegetables! Helen and her boys are there, although they’ll leave on Friday for a brief trip to London. It’s all go around here.

Every summer I get some seed-sprouting equipment to do with the children, and every summer I fail. This year it is to be micro-plants, grown in vermiculite. We are told that Top Restaurants use them in salads for concentrated flavour. We should get there in time tomorrow to launch a tray-full with the Drake boys, and then I can start some more over the weekend with the Mileses.

I knocked off a few more lace edging repeats for the jabot yesterday, and then stiffened my sinews and got back to the Child’s Cardigan. It is now completely assembled, and a fair number of the loose ends (the stripe-knitter’s bane) have been dealt with. I’ve picked up the stitches for the neck edging and am happily ribbing.

When I get to the Adult Surprise, I’ll have to deal with loose ends as I go along. The alternative is unthinkable.


I got some pictures yesterday. Sister Helen had done a brilliant job of assembling family: there never has been such a gathering. Her husband Roger, my brother-in-law, is distinctly short of relatives, but the other three strands that go to make up the new family were there in abundance: Theo’s mother’s relatives, who are also mine since she's my sister, and both sides of Jenni’s family.

Here are bride and groom with my first cousin Trinkie, my father's brother's daughter.

Here’s the bride with the Beijing Miles girls. Rachel, on the right, is the one for whom the Child’s Cardigan is intended. Kirsty, on the left, is the fail-safe.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


I think I’ve got what I want for the jabot – at least, I’ve got something to be going on with. It’s the “traditional peaked shawl edging” on p. 76 of Heirloom Knitting. Sharon rates it at the second level of difficulty, but it is in fact dead easy. It’s a 10-row’er, too, so it’s possible to snatch a moment and sit down and knock out a pattern repeat.

I didn’t think when I embarked on this project that it would be a matter of knitting yards of edging, but here we are.

Needles: I was having some trouble with white-on-knitting-needle-grey yesterday, so switched to a Knit Picks needle in size 2 mm. The business ends are shiny metal – that works much better.

The yarn is Gossamer Merino, left over from the Princess. Dawn asks what yarn the Kinloch Anderson jabot was made of – cotton, I think. Something fairly stiffish. I don’t think Gossamer Merino will be itchy – and I can see that that could be a problem. The piper I consulted at the Drummond Place Garden Party in June said he had given up jabot-wearing because of itchiness. The merino may be too flabby – we’ll face that later on. I hate knitting with cotton.


Deneise wrote to point out that the Lorna’s Laces colourway “Amy’s Vintage Office” was devised by Amy Singer, not by the Curmudgeon as I had claimed. She’s absolutely right. Here’s a link to a good account of its evolution. I can’t imagine why I associated the Curmudgeon with it.

Jared is about to publish a book of patterns with Classic Elite. I don’t often buy books of patterns any more, but for this an exception must be made. The Classic Elite website suggests that international postage and packing will cost more than the book itself, so I’m going to have to wait until it is actually published and look around.

The Fall IK turned up yesterday, sooner than I dared hope. I think I’m coming to approve of Eunny as editor. I like Connie Chang Chinchio’s cardigan, and I think I might like the Every Way Wrap if I understood exactly what you’re meant to do with it.


No more wedding photographs yet. The young LeComptes -- Jenni is taking Theo's name -- should be back in Washington by now after their brief honeymoon, so I hope we won't have long to wait.

I spoke to Alexander yesterday, a first-rate photographer. But he said he let his son Thomas do most of the picture-taking in CT, and they’ve come home with a good range of shots of people’s shoes, and little else. He (Alexander) is happy to be reunited with his vegetables, and with Scottish weather. Plans are still fuzzy here about when I will see my own vegetables. They’re eating courgettes and digging potatoes up there, I know.

Monday, August 03, 2009

I continue to crumble.

I did scarcely any knitting yesterday – tried the Vandyke edging, and fear it’s going to be too easy to lose one’s place in. Tried the Queen’s Lace Edging – it’s a good one, but perhaps too narrow. Add some faggoting along the straight edge?

I’m not sure I’m entirely happy knitting with Cashsilk. I can do it, but will I ever love doing it? Revert to Gossamer Merino?

Enjay, I don’t know what needles I’m using. Hopeless. I think the sample shewn yesterday is on a fine circular needle I bought in Beijing. (Means the Chinese must knit lace – I’d like to see some.) Currently, 2.25 mm with a good sharpish point, but I couldn’t say what brand. It is a subject well worth pursuing and forming conclusions about.

So I’m floundering about, people are rushing in and out and announcing their plans, I’ve got to start thinking hard about salads for Games Day, I want to get back to my vegetables. Helen and her family are in Strathardle now, and say that the mange tout peas have fallen down. They are very vigorous and I was already afraid I hadn’t hammered in the supports solidly enough. James and his family are arriving somewhere on Friday, coming from the US.

I sort of thought that once CT was behind me, I could float on down the river of life trailing my fingers in the water. It’s not working out like that.


“Scotch” and “Scots” (Mary Lou): you’re right about the distinction, but I suspect it is a modern one which earlier centuries didn’t fuss about so much. (Just as Jane Austen isn’t reliable on “imply” and “infer”.) “Scotch Corner”, anyway, is a place on the map, in England. The link is to a rather interesting Wikipedia entry.

GrannyPurple, I have seen the Nicholson Baker article in the New Yorker, indeed even cheated and read a few paragraphs. It’s in “the box” to go to Strathardle – that’s where we read the New Yorker, freed from the distractions of television and daily newspapers. I keenly look forward to reading it thoroughly.

Angel, it’s great to hear from you. I feared we’d lose touch after you left Oberlin. Do you have a new email address? (I can’t reply directly to comments.)

Gerri, that’s interesting about Lorna’s Laces yarn names. I think they have particularly good names, and I think it’s an important factor in selling hand-painted yarns. I liked “Andersonville” for its Civil War associations; didn’t know about Chicago. I wonder if Lorna’s Laces used Chicago names when Lorna Miser was running the show, or if this is something that’s developed since she sold the business on? It is certainly an instance of a selling-on which hasn’t resulted in a deterioration of the product.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

I am afraid I crumbled yesterday, left the poor cardigan untouched, and cast on the lace edging previously mentioned. It’s tough, although nothing that a Princess-knitter couldn’t master eventually. And it’s fully three inches wide, unblocked. I wonder if I should start again with a narrower one. – the “Triangle with Vandyke” on p. 121? Or the “Queen’s Lace Edging” on 129, the facing page to the one I’ve started?

Today is Cider Sunday, and perhaps better devoted to cardigan-making-up.

Jabot-making, while I’m on the subject

It occurred to me, too late to ask Mr. Kinloch Anderson, that maybe a kilt-maker would sell me the basic bib and collar for a jabot. The collar is about an inch wide, itself covered tightly with lace, fastening at the back with Velcro and thus adjustable. I’ll put the question to the Blairgowrie kiltmakers the next time I’m there. They were very friendly and helpful when I made my initial enquiries. And although they didn’t have a jabot to show me, they clearly were experienced in making them.

Here is the aborted Christine Duchrow jabot. It at least demonstrates that I can knit Christine Duchrow.

More of the future

So that’s the next project. It would be good to be far enough along to be confident of success in the next couple of weeks, so that James could think of getting a Montrose jacket before he goes back to Beijing.

After that will be the Thistle Lace Stole that Cynthia and Sue gave me the makings of, a week ago today. Sigh. [The sighing is for thinking of last Sunday. The prospect of knitting the Thistle Lace Stole is wholly delightful.] Here's the yarn:

And after that, the Adult Surprise with the Lorna’s Laces yarns from Angelika’s Yarn Store. Supplier and her stock most highly recommended. The package was waiting for me at my sister’s house, and probably includes enough yarn for two Surprises. Thus are stashes acquired.

The yarns are all sock weight – I’ll be garter-stitching forever. The skein in front is “Franklin’s Panopticon”. She only had one, and I was impatient to get the order in. In the second rank we have Charcoal, on the left, meant to give stability to the whole. Then the Curmudgeon’s creation, “Amy’s Vintage Office”. I love it. I grew up on typewriter ribbons. Then Annie’s “Roadside Gerry”. And a pile in the back of colours that seemed harmonious and of which I liked the names, “Andersonville”, “Mother Lode”, “Tuscany” etc.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


A confusion to be cleared: Sue knit the big white Princess, Cynthia the remarkably small (given the pattern) turquoise one.[Yesterday’s post] I remembered Cynthia saying that the blocking process had left hers with what amounted to a codpiece towards the bottom of the triangle – but I remembered, wrongly, that she was talking about the white one. I saw the codpiece, but memory bleached it to white.

My own blocking is less than perfect in that area. By the time anyone is ready to get married in it, it will probably have to be washed and aired and blocked again to get rid of the smell of mothballs. (Sharon Miller says to use bars of lavender-scented soap. My husband doesn’t think they would be proof against the Edinburgh moth.) Next time, I’ll start at the bottom, with pins, spreading the “feathers” out from that central point, and probably finish much of the rest with wires.

Kate, I’m glad you liked the reference to “High Society” in my account of the wedding. [Thursday's post] That song kept singing itself in my head as it was all going on – “Next July we collide with Mars”. The link I’ve just given was easily found – and worth watching – but I didn’t give it before for the prissy reason that Sinatra is drunk (I mean, acting drunkenness), I had forgotten that, and at Jenni and Theo’s wedding, although wine flowed freely, nobody got beyond happy.

Now, back to the future.

I am assembling the Child’s Cardigan and about to add the finishing edges. It’s not as good as it looks; a Home Industries Tent judge will find imperfections. I’ve joined the shoulders and set in the sleeves with three-needle bindoffs which look well and complement the black garter ridges in the main pattern. The size looks good for the granddaughter I’m aiming at. However it fares on the Fourth Saturday, I think we’ve got a useful garment here.

I’m desperate to get it off my conscience and proceed to a jabot for James. He spoke of it when we met in CT, and sounded distinctly interested. After I got back, I made the trip to Kinloch Anderson at last. I have been approaching the problem all wrong.

I thought jabot-knitting would be done, essentially, on the vertical, starting at the neck-edge, knitting a trianguloid object, and then perhaps another one or two to overlap it. Not a bit of it.

One knits a rectangular strip, about 3” wide, and attaches it to a bib thing in zig-zag fashion, overlapping itself. I think maybe you understood this all along, Tamar. The ones I saw were smooth-edged but I don’t see that undulations must be ruled out, and I’m going to start, at least, with “Twin-holed diamond with small bead insertion” on p. 128 of Heirloom Knitting.

I am sure I was talking to Mr Kinloch Anderson himself. I could well imagine him advising Prince Charles on sartorial matters. He volunteered the information that when he wears a jabot, he doesn’t wear lace cuffs because they tend to drag in the soup. The job will be much quicker and easier if I don’t do cuffs.

The Kinloch Anderson website shows a jabot worn with some sort of jacket in a rather alarming blue. Before our conversation ended, Mr Kinloch A. got out a black Montrose jacket and held a jabot to the neck. My bones turned to jelly, as they say.