Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Today’s need for haste is because I have an early appt with the hairdresser, to look nice for Easter.

Meg, I will act on what you say, and have five tiers for the jabot. The more, the fruitier. It is interesting what you say about floor-numbering in Hong Kong, Janet. I disapprove of superstition, and try to rise above it, but I can’t risk jinxing James. My father and his third wife used to live on a 13th floor in NY, so numbered. The things that happened there were bad enough that it could well be argued that the number was unlucky, if you were so inclined.

And, Tamar, of course. These tiers are quick enough to knit that I can try Number Five with a different centre pattern, and ditch it if need be. I am coming along well with Number Three. I will block it together with Two, perhaps as soon as tomorrow, and gather them in and pin in position and then we will see where we are.

My current thinking on the Koigu Problem continues to incline towards a sleeved Ribwarmer. I could gather the sleeves in to the wrist in the way I admire in that Sundbo soul-warmer, and try to edge the whole thing with her folded st st edging. The body – but not the sleeves – would have to be done in garter stitch, but you can’t have everything.

The weather here is appalling. We might have gone to Strathardle this week, had it not been Holy Week, and much good it would have done us. We hope for next week. Surely it will be spring by then.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Not much to say, not much time to say it in.

Lindsey, thank you for the pointer to the Posh Knitters thread on Ravelry. Most interesting. (I had never even heard of Posh Yarns – so much for me.) If Dee posts those beautiful yarns on her website on Sunday and is sold out by Tuesday morning, I don’t see why she should bother to go to KnitCamp or anywhere else. But her unexplained change-of-mind remains intriguing.

It does sound as if the organiser of KnitCamp is over-stretched -- running a new LYS and doing the camp in her spare time. Wait and watch. I was surprised to learn that there had been one last year. I remember the Ravelry weekend in Coventry, but not a camp. It couldn’t have been on the scale of this one.


I finished Tier Two, but haven’t blocked it. Tier Three, slightly larger, is well underway. I am toying with the idea of having a different lace pattern in the central rectangle of Tier Four. It will be the largest of all. The idea of change is to amuse myself – the current pattern, although I think effective for the purpose, is pretty boring. A change would violate the very first principle of design: Keep it Simple, Stupid. On the other hand, the central pattern doesn’t really show at all – expect perhaps on the lowest tier – so no one would notice.

The Doris edging does show, and must remain unchanged. The only trouble with it is, it’s so easy. I keep finding that I have fallen asleep at the wheel and don’t remember what row I have just knit, and therefore what comes next.

Here are some pictures to cheer us up on a cold, wet morning – James and Cathy on their wedding day, he in an antique jabot he had borrowed, demonstrating that there’s no one right way to do it.

And Thomas-the-Elder – just plain Thomas, in those days – wore the kilt as well. But without a jabot.

This all happened on the First of August, 1992. It was the 2000th First of August – there is a passage in Cassius Dio which allows us to date the decree of the Roman senate changing the name of the month Sextilis to honour the emperor Augustus. (The next emperor, Tiberius, was offered September but turned it down – what if there are more than 12 emperors? he said. You’ve got to love him for it.)


Tamar, Sundbo’s discussion of soul-warmers strongly suggests that you are right, that they originated as bed jackets.

Jean, I very much like your idea of testing a pattern by asking yourself whether you could do the washing-up in it. I will remember that.

Mary Lou, I love the idea of not wanting to look like a tourist on the Beijing subway. We missed out on public transport when we were there – usually a major pleasure of travelling – because the SARS scare was at its height. On the other hand, we had the Great Wall entirely to ourselves

Monday, March 29, 2010

The second tier of jabot lace is finished but for one edging repeat. A friend is coming to lunch today – what to feed him? – which will delay blocking slightly: the dining room is the normal locus for that operation.

And it’s more fun than anything, blocking something so small. I enjoy the operation in general, but crawling around from one edge of a shawl to the opposite point can be athletic. With a jabot tier – a doyley would be the same, but I’m not going to start knitting those – the whole job can be done from one position.

James wrote from Beijing yesterday: “Frothy and fruity! This will be a true test of nerves. I did see one person wearing a jabot at the last ball, but I think he was a foreigner.” What exactly constitutes a “foreigner” at a St Andrew’s Night ball in Beijing is left unspecified.


I’m cooling off on the shrug idea. Shandy’s remark about how they tend to slip off the shoulders meshed with something I had vaguely felt as I was posting that picture yesterday. I’ll have a look at everybody’s shrugs on Ravelry one day soon, though.

What about a sleeved Ribwarmer? Woolgathering #58. For that one, EZ seems to have abandoned her fine talk of “your gauge” and “K” and just written it at 4 sts to the inch – which will hardly do for Koigu. But that much thinking I think I can manage, especially because I have knit a ribwarmer and can work from the actual object.

And the Socklady has found some promising free sock-yarn sweater and jacket patterns at the Garnstudio.

My current thought – no doubt there will be something different here tomorrow – is to knit that VK scarf I mentioned yesterday in Koigu when the jabot is finished, and then put the whole question aside while ideas, we might hope, jell. I’ve got plenty of Koigu – there will still be a couple of jackets’-worth when the scarf is subtracted.

I might turn next to Kaffe’s “Green Granite Blocks” from “California Patches”. A dear friend gave me the kit years and years ago. I think it may have ripened sufficiently. I got it out last night. It looked good. It is an emotional necessity for me to have the Next Big Thing lined up in advance of the completion of this one.


Janet did meet Franklin in Seattle, and says that he is looking forward to the camp in Stirling – so maybe I can stop worrying. I can see that not sending anything in the post saves them a very considerable amount of time and money, but I do feel that the occasional “Dear Camper” email would provide a helpful sense that someone is in charge and that plans are moving forward.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Having got this far, I might as well show you the picture, hoping I’m not treading on any copyright toes.

It was the less-than-youthful model that caught the eye. Those full sleeves, gathered in to the wrist, make it look awfully comfortable and comforting. Many/most shrugs are sort of skimpy.

Shandy, what do you think? Do your observations about the shape still apply? [Everybody should now go look at Shandy’s Celtic throw. It’s absolutely amazing.]

Maybe you’re right, Tamar, and I ought to go back to the drawing board and start working out a jacket for myself. Grannypurple, thank you for the observation that the Sock Yarn sweater uses a heavier sock yarn than I was thinking of – meaning that I can’t just plug in Koigu. I should have noticed that.

The swing jacket in VK – Winter 2007-8, No. 19 – does have a schematic. At least that’s something to start from. It’s knit side-to-side, with swing produced by short-row wedges inserted both in the body and the sleeves. The yarn is worsted, 4 sts to the inch, totally non-Koigu. One would have to start from scratch, and think. I do hate thinking.

But, as I said yesterday, there’s time. I’ve started the second tier of lace for the jabot, and after a couple of false starts which slowed things down a bit, am getting on nicely.

The new VK, amongst a number of nice things, has got a scarf, no. 24, which would be splendid in Koigu and which makes me want to fling everything aside and cast on. It’s been a while since any pattern in any magazine made me feel like that.

They’ve also got a nice plug for KnitCamp, which goes some way – but not all the way – towards reassuring me. They say that 30% of the classes filled up right away, when registration opened in January. That doesn’t surprise me. But what has happened since? I did the sum this morning – if all the Ravelry members of the KnitCamp group go to a class at every session, everything’s fine. But they won’t. Many, indeed, will only go to the Ravelry Day on the Saturday, which can be expected to be a huge success like last year’s one.

It sort of sounds as if one woman is organising the whole thing – bigger by a good deal than a Knitter’s magazine summer camp.

I can but worry and watch. I need to know whether I am going to be able to park – parking is apparently limited on the Stirling campus. Trivial, but the sort of detail that needs to be covered. Maybe they should call in Theo, whose speciality is organising and whose attention to detail is second-to-none.

VK also has a nice plug for Judy Sumner’s Japanese-pattern sock book. I feel as pleased as if I had written it myself.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I think I’ve got it. Current plan is to add three more tiers – I’ll cast on one of them tonight, insh’Allah. Last night, I polished off the Mystery Project.

Dawn, Joannie Newsome did it your way, gathering the tiers by decreasing violently at the end. But what about blocking? I could put the stitches on hold and block before the final decreases, but I think that is more tedious than gathering by hand. You’re right, successive tiers won’t need edging at the top. That’ll make them appreciably quicker.

I spent an interesting half-hour last summer at Kinloch Anderson in Leith, kilt-makers to the royals, looking at jabots. I talked to a very kind, very grand man – surely Mr Kinloch or Mr Anderson. He said that when he wore a jabot, he didn’t include the lace cuffs because they tended to drag in the soup. For this year, anyway, I’ll skip them.

Maybe I can go back there with James in the summer and get him kitted out with a Montrose jacket.

Looking at the distinctly fruity jabots in both those links, I think I’ll go for four tiers on mine, and make the rest of them a wee bit wider. Could the bottom one be longer? Total length needs to be 10 or 11 inches, I would judge. The whole thing is ridiculous. I have said before that there is no country in Europe in which a man can do himself so well without joining the army.

The Koigu problem

It’s not as straightforward as I hoped yesterday.

The Kaleidoscope pattern, written for Koigu, is in garter stitch. I couldn’t face that, so soon after the ASJ. The Sock Yarn Sideways is written at 5 sts to the inch on no 5 needles, a bit more relaxed than I would like. Neither provides a schematic, making adaptation difficult. (Ravelry links to both in yesterday’s post.)

This morning I thought, what about a Koigu soul-warmer? No lice, of course. I have enough that I could do the whole thing in variations of a single colour, red (probably) or green. And I have a couple of skeins each of near-solid charcoal and of off-white, either of which could serve as the binding.

I’ll keep that on a mental back burner while I go on knitting the jabot.

Tamar, what I meant about the “false underarm seam” was the line where one round becomes the next one, not obtrusive but visible when you’re knitting lice as I discovered on the Grandson Sweater. However, the current notion does away with steeks as well as lice. The soul-warmer could be opened for the body part at any point on the sleeve. Couldn't it?

The new VK turned up yesterday and is, I think, very good. They’re definitely back at the top of the heap, design-wise. More about that tomorrow. For now, a final remark about


Thank you for your comment, Fizz. I am glad not to have disappointed. I am sure you are right – the awful stuff is called “Diamond White”. As well as the tax increase due tomorrow, we are vaguely promised another one, later in the year, on very strong cider. Yesterday’s comment applies, in spades: he’s thinking of bums on street corners and Diamond White. But many of the honest, traditional ciders are strong (including my beloved Weston’s Vintage) and they will suffer.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Real progress. It looks rather small, but edging added to the fourth side will widen it, and blocking will make a difference. Once it’s been blocked out and gathered in, I’ll know whether I’ve got another test square or an actual tier. I am very hopeful. At the worst – if it proves to be a test square – it should provide all the data I need to proceed. It seems to me to strike just the right note, fruitiness-wise.


Dawn, I’m sure you’re right that when the pattern says “length”, it is referring to the length from cuff to cuff. Once I had grasped that, I thought that Tamar’s previous comment – that there was no increasing to be done for the body part – was certainly right. Her comment yesterday, which came in after I had thought that thought, underlines the point.

I agree that a steek should actually be cast on. It would continue, wouldn’t it? the false underarm seam of the sleeve?

If you’re really thinking of knitting one, Tamar, get hold of the book (Sundbo’s “Knitting in Art”) and look at the picture. It’s a full page, near the end. You don’t need to buy the book, because you’ve already got the pattern except for a little chart showing decreasing into the cuff. I’m sure you could wing it, for that.

I’ll have to leave it on the HALFPINT list until my year’s yarn fast is over in November – despite re-setting the slider, I regard it as still in progress. And what I lack, in all that stash, is solid colours (or near-solid; that’s what I really love) in sufficient quantity to knit anything.

Koigu jacket

The Socklady came up with a gem of a pattern for me yesterday – her most recent blog entry says that she was looking for one for herself. It’s another sideways cardigan (Ravelry link), this one incorporating the very short-row wedges to add swing which I had been thinking of trying to introduce into the Kaleidoscope cardigan. (another Ravelry link).

I’ve bought it and printed it. Once jabot-making is out of the way, I think I’m ready to roll.

Non-knit: the Budget

Two things.

It is traditional for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on Budget Day, to carry a battered old red dispatch box which used, I believe, to belong to Mr Gladstone. When our current Prime Minister occupied that office, he had a horrible new box made for himself – no doubt, at considerable expense to the taxpayer, and no doubt part of the New Labour programme to sweep away fuddy-duddy-ism. The current incumbent, I am glad to note, has reverted to the old one. We are lucky Brown didn’t put it out with the rubbish.

There is to be a heavy new tax on cider, which the Chancellor has probably never tasted in his life. I am sure he thinks all cider-drinkers are low-life, as many of us indeed are. There’s something called “White Heat” much favoured by the derelict. But there are also serious cider-makers – mostly in Herefordshire -- like my friend Mr Weston, not part of any huge consortium, and I fear for their future. This is a picture of one of the bottles I hope to consume on Easter Sunday.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Despite yesterday’s good intentions, I got so depressed with my sloppy attempt at cotton-knitting that I abandoned it. I spent an anxious and unsatisfactory half hour or more cruising around in cyber-space looking for the ideal yarn. Does Lorna’s Laces Helen’s Lace come in a solid white? Can you get Jaggerspun Zephyr over here? What is “Sugar Rush” with which one of the gents on the jabot forum is knitting himself a jabot?

Then I calmed down and tried casting on the Heirloom merino lace I just bought. And I think we’ve got it. I’m not going to move the Progress Bar until I feel a lot more sure – but this could be it.

The clincher, with the cotton, was opacity. You can hardly see it, in some contexts. I can’t imagine it frothing up into the Bonnie Prince Charlie abundance I have in mind.

Plus I was making too many mistakes. It was like riding a horse you know is too much for you. Even if you stay on, even if you avoid making a fool of yourself, you and the horse both know that you’re not in control, and the ride is no fun.

I don’t blame the cotton. I think I guessed wrong about those numbers. Franklin has some nice edging patterns in the new Knitty, translated from 19th century originals. He uses “Coton Perle 12”. I don’t know if that’s relevant. I ordered “80” because it was less than “100” which Sharon Miller sent to swatch the Wedding Ring shawl with.

For a while yesterday I thought of reverting to the idea of knitting a piece of lace “about the size of a computer keyboard” (as another of the gents on that forum puts it) and trying to zigzag-stitch it to the backing. But for now, I’ll stick with tiers and go ahead with my current idea. The pattern in the centre is "Razor Shell", HK p. 59, as easy as a pattern gets.

Soul Warmer

Thank you, FiberQat and Tamar, for your help with the Sundbo shrug. I think I’ve got it. I will print out your comments and keep with the book. I am struck with your idea, Tamar, of not increasing for the body at all, or perhaps only very little – and I think that may be the way it’s meant to be done. I would want to knit the whole thing as a tube, with a steek for the middle, because of the lice. The edging, in the book, looks like fairly fine st st, folded over and hemmed. Very neat.

The pattern says – if “pattern” is the word – “The length of the soul warmer is the sleeve length + ½ the body width x 2.” Since the body width is the sleeve length, that should mean that the overall length is three times the sleeve length, and that is surely preposterous. Maybe that final “x2” should be “/2” which would give a length of ¾ of the sleeve length; not impossible.

The Estonian mitten book is splendid – just page after page of Estonian mittens with charts for the patterns. Two color knitting on four needles is tricky, but it can be done. I like an idea I read about on, I think, the KnitList long ago, of knitting a bunch of single mittens to keep in a basket by the back door so that people could choose non-pairs as they pleased on snowy days.

Shirley Paden’s design book is also very good, but doesn’t add anything to what I already had in the way of Montse Stanley and the Vogue book and a number of others.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

So much knitting excitement yesterday that one could scarcely contain oneself.

The Schoolhouse Press package arrived at the crack of dawn, as you already know. Mid-morning brought Shirley Paden’s design workbook from Amazon – I’m afraid I didn’t tell you I had ordered that – and when the post itself arrived, it included both the DMC crochet cotton and the Heirloom merino lace.

I cast on my current jabot idea in cotton and have progressed rather briskly. That is about the only good thing I can say about it. I tried to take a picture just now, but was not sorry to discover that the camera battery is flat, sparing embarrassment. Those cotton stitches are slippery and each escape has been less successfully retrieved than the one preceding it. The whole thing is something of a mess by now.

The only thing to do is to go on and finish and block and see what we’ve got. It won’t take all that much longer. It looks, at the moment, as if the result will be somewhat smaller than my target size. It also looks surprisingly ethereal. Surprisingly, for cotton. All this is useful information. Regard it as a test square.

Joannie Newsome knit her second tier to come all the way up to the top of the first tier. They are joined by a three-needle bind-off. The top part of the second tier, where it doesn’t show, is plain garter stitch. The third tier reaches about half-way up the second one. Extra overlap may prove useful, to add substance.

The Mystery Project is within an evening, or at worst two, of completion, and is looking good. At least reasonably so. I could retreat to that for comfort, but I think I’d better press on with cotton and humiliation.

I love “Knitting in Art”. Sundbo is the one who studies scraps of old knitting – she actually owned a shoddy factory. (“Shoddy” is a technical term in that sentence, not a comment.) She has written about this resource before, in “Treasures from a Rag Pile” and other books.

This one is a worthy successor. At the back, there are some patterns, very elliptical and Vibeke-Lind. I am particularly taken with a shrug, which in Norwegian is known endearingly as a “soul warmer”. This particular one has full sleeves gathered in to the wrist, and is decorated with lice. The edging and cuffs must be st st, folded over.

The instructions are about as terse as you can get: “The garment is knitted in one piece and is the same width across the body as for the sleeves. The length of the soul warmer is the sleeve length + ½ the body width x 2. At the cuffs, decrease the stitch count so that the cuff fits the wrist and then knit an edging or a ribbed cuff.”

Now you know.

I was thrown for a while by that bit about decreasing for the wrist – on the first sleeve you’ll be increasing from the wrist. I am painfully literal. And re-reading what I have just typed, the formula for the overall length looks far too big. Since it’s got lice all over, one would want to keep knitting in the round, but steeking shouldn’t be impossible for the centre bit.

Judith, thank you for the pointer to the Ravelry KnitCamp group. It doesn’t entirely dispel my unease, but I feel somewhat more cheerful. Perhaps I should face up to following the story on Twitter, as the organisers suggest

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Janet, if you do see Franklin in Seattle, you could ask, in a quiet moment, if everything is going to plan for the KnitCamp in Stirling in August. You could even say that a friend of yours is a bit anxious. You could even mention my name, which I think he might remember: we have corresponded a bit, and I almost got to be one of the 1,000 Knitters: I missed him in London by a couple of days.

Since I sat down to type, the doorbell has rung and the postman delivered “Knitting in Art” and “Estonian Mittens” from the Schoolhouse. Both look wonderful. I sort of “collect” knitting in art – as a list in my electronic Filofax, not canvasses on the wall. The majority turn out to be French from the third quarter of the 19th century, shepherdesses sitting on rocks churning out large socks, sort of thing.

I expected a good deal of that from this book, but (even on a five-minute inspection) it is much more sharply focussed. The author was looking more for knitting-being-worn than knitting-being-executed (although the latter is present too), in old photographs as well as paintings. The emphasis is solidly Scandinavian (good) and she comments as well as illustrates (better).

Here is an example of the sort of thing, except that this one is from me, rather than the book – a picture painted in 1815 of “Napoleon on board the Bellerophon in Plymouth Sound”. It is in the collection of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, and its interest to us is the honest British tar in the foreground in his striped, drop-shoulder jersey. Unusually clear.

“Estonian Mittens” makes me wonder if I should do some mitten-knitting. Memo for next Christmas? It is a field into which I have rarely strayed.


I dashed off a couple of repeats of the Doris edging in DMC Crochet Cotton 100 yesterday, as supplied by Sharon Miller for swatching the Wedding Ring Shawl, and found that I could do it. A great morale-booster, after the failure last week to knit 100 stitches of a very easy lace pattern is gossamer merino. Perhaps when I was approaching the Princess, it was with silk that I matched Franklin’s failure, rather than cotton.

On the same principle that led me to order yarn the other day – to get something a bit heavier than gossamer – I spent an uncomfortably long time looking for DMC Crochet Cotton at 70 or 80. (I don’t know what I’m talking about – just guessing here.) All the good websites seem to be north American, even when I specify that I want UK sites only. And some of the UK ones proved difficult or impossible to order from.

I finally found some 80 that I could actually have, and ordered a ball of that. I’m not going to re-set the slider again: a) because crochet cotton is not “yarn” and b) because it counts as part of last Saturday’s purchase, something a little bit solider for the jabot.

I’m still not committed to knitting a cotton jabot, but I’ll try.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A good day; the Mystery Project progresses nicely, a bit was added to the socks.

I heard from Joannie Newsome this morning – she has put her jabot pattern on Ravelry as a free download, as she said she would. I have downloaded and printed it. And written to express my gratitude.

Catdownunder, your friend’s idea is so brilliant and simple and obvious that I am going to have to try it out – namely, cotton. The prototype Princess, Sharon Miller’s original, was knit in cotton, before she had found the Gossamer Merino and Cashsilk she now sells. When I was starting out on that project, I ordered a ball of the cotton she used. I think what happened was what happened to Franklin.

Somewhere in stash lurks my ball of DMC crochet cotton. And even if I can’t find it, I can quite likely lay my hands on a sample sent by Sharon with a pattern, as Franklin says. Enough to see if I can hack it, anyway. I haven’t got much hope, but it’s worth a shot. I certainly won’t proceed if the result is agonizing to execute, even if it looks good.

Speaking of Franklin,

a) don’t miss his latest post – as if you would;
b) his role as a teacher at the Stirling KnitCamp in August reminds me to worry: what’s happening there?

I am concerned at the way one doesn’t hear anything about it. Something called Knit Nation is happening in London July 29-31. They have a full-page ad in Knitting magazine (British) and another in IK itself.

The website, which seems to be in a state of flux, says that b&b accommodation has sold out. That sounds good. It says they aren’t going to send anything to anyone in the post, a bit chilling when one has spent so much money, and that one should print out and bring one’s order confirmation. I don’t think I’ve had anything that I could print out and bring – a receipt for the payment, at best. I’d like directions on how to get there.

I read the blogs of four of the teachers very conscientiously, Franklin, Donna Druchunas, Jared, and Annie Modesitt. Only Annie ever mentions it at all – she says that classes are filling up fast, which can’t be entirely true since registration has been open since January. As far as I can see from the website, there’s still room in Franklin’s photography class. That is surely ominous, after all this time.

Is it going to happen? The list of teachers out-dazzles a Knitter’s Stitches. Why all this silence?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

You’ll have noticed the change. I ordered a ha’pworth of tar from Heirloom Knitting yesterday, that’s what it was.

To elaborate: I went off and had my bath after blogging yesterday morning, still thinking hard about jabot-knitting. It occurred to me that if what I want in the result is fullness and fruitiness, perhaps a gossamer yarn is not the best choice. I have ordered two balls of Heirloom’s Merino Lace yarn in Bright White.

I thought it proper to change the TickerFactory progress bar before I sent in the order. When I finished doing the latter, I found Grannypurple’s comment already in place. It cheered me up a lot.

The yarn is slightly finer than Shetland cobweb, the Heirloom website says – not exactly chunky. I know and like it. In fact, I started my Princess in it. I had eight or ten edging repeats done when I stopped and blocked – a very unusually conscientious step, for me – and established that the resulting Princess was going to be (even) bigger than the pattern predicted. I was sort of thinking of eliminating a couple of “feathers” in the border pattern.

I must have blogged about it, because Sharon Miller herself rang me up to say, Stop! Her Gossamer Merino was brand new then. She sent me a ball to try, and the rest is history.

I can’t find that aborted effort – it must be somewhere amongst the stash. But even if I could, one incomplete ball might not be enough.

Orders from Heirloom Knitting are filled with something like the speed of sound – I should be able to start again later this week. But it was no use going on with my pretty little edging yesterday, so I re-started the Mystery Project and feel much more cheerful about it. I will be able to correct a couple of small flaws in the first attempt, as well as size. Donice (comment yesterday), I love the use you made of the Doris edging.

I had noticed the hand-knit jabot you mention, Tamar – including a four-tiered version – on offer at the Scottish Tartans Museum gift shop. It is the same one – Joannie Newsome’s design. Either she is offering to knit them herself, or has given her pattern to outworkers. The price is steep enough almost to make it worth the knitter’s while, although I suspect if you divided it by hours-needed-for-completion, you would still get a figure far under a living wage.

I had also thought (in that same bath) of starch, as you suggest, Tamar. I have heard of starching knitted lace – is there a reference to it in Gathering? It sounds bizarre, but I will explore the idea.

Not entirely non-knit

I don’t think I ever told you that the Calcutta Cup match this year was a draw. So James-the-Younger will have to wait at least a year, and probably much longer, for his CC sweater. (See my blogging of March 10 for elucidation.) Draws are relatively rare in rugby, but there is no provision against them – no extra innings or extra time.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A maddening day on the knitting front. Thank goodness for Ketki’s socks for end-of-evening satisfaction.

I frogged the Mystery Project – and worked out how many stitches to cast on for the second try. Frogging is quite fun, actually – it’s deciding to do it that hurts.

My mind was so full of jabot ideas that I thought I’d spend a day getting re-started. I decided on something like 100 stitches, planning to gather in two-thirds of it, and cast on Crest of the Wave, p. 52 of Heirloom Knitting. I mean, the 4th pattern in the book, what could be easier for a veteran Princess knitter?


I realised, once embarked on the project, that casting on more than a dozen or so edging stitches is what I have no experience of whatsoever, in fine lace knitting. Even all those acres of Princess don’t involve any very serious casting-on. You knit an edging – and knit and knit and knit – and then pick up many hundreds of stitches from its flat edge.

The knitting kept wrapping itself around the needle. Even when I’d done eight or ten rows. And I couldn’t see very clearly how the pattern was developing – one needs that, in lace as in any other pattern, as a guide to where one is and how faring.

And the yarn kept breaking. HK’s cashsilk – it turns out I do have some notes, after all. Moths? Impatience? It looks all right. So I abandoned the day’s work in disgust. And retreated to the kitchen, where I soon calmed down and realised that I can do this my familiar way, after all – knit some edging for the bottom of my rectangle, leave the stitches live for later, pick up along the flat edge, finish edging the piece at the end.

I have restarted with the Doris edging, p. 74, and Gossamer Merino as used for the Princess. I can do it, I am relieved to discover. It’s a sweet little pattern. I’ve done two repeats.

I am thrashing about trying to decide on the main pattern. Joannie Newsome is right, I am sure, to go for something simple and all-over.

Tamar, that is a simple and brilliant suggestion, to try the current ideas out with some spare fabric. I don’t think there are any discarded lace curtains lying about anywhere here despite the overwhelming presence of Things in this house. But a worn sheet will be better than nothing.

The difficulty is going to be the utter softness of Shetland lace knitting. How to achieve a look of fruity fullness? Joannie Newsome’s knitted jabot seems to gather in about 2/3rds of the original width, as I said. That’s what I’m aiming at. The other three-tiered example which it is possible to study close up is made with “real” lace and scarcely seems to be gathered at all. It also doesn’t have much overlap between the tiers.

Joannie’s knitted one has lots of overlap, but perhaps one could have even more, and even a fourth tier?

Charlotte, thanks for the help with the zigzag. It makes perfect sense, and gives me something to fall back on.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I have a more-than-uneasy feeling that the Mystery Project is turning out to be too small, just when I’ve finished the slightly tricky bit and am ready to coast home. I retreated to Ketki’s socks last night – ribbing of second sock done – and today will have to face up to frogging and starting again. Bugger.

Especially as I am now rarin’ to go on the jabot. Matthew Newsome replied promptly - o si sic omnes! – and forwarded my message to his wife, who has also replied, most helpfully. (It’s really funny that you know him, Mel.) I think I’ve now got a serious line on how to do this.

I wish I had kept better notes (=any notes at all) during my earlier attempt, but I think that essentially what I tried to do was, Firstly, to knit an edging pattern and hope to attach it to the jabot backing in the zigzag fashion which has been explained to me and which I don’t understand; and, Secondly, to knit a Christine Duchrow pattern.

I’m now sure that my edging was far too narrow. I like the chap on the site I linked to yesterday who says that you want a piece of lace about the size of a computer keyboard for this purpose.

I could try that. But I also like, even better, the idea of knitting three separate tiers and attaching them gathered but straight, not in a zigzag at all. I agree with your remark about fullness, Dawn. My current thought is to knit rectangles, and to edge them with a narrow but distinct edging, and when attaching the top one to the jabot backing, to put the line of stitching along the point where the edging is attached. The bottom two tiers would only need to be edged on three sides.

Joannie Newsome is an awesome knitter. She’s JMN on Ravelry. She means to post her jabot pattern there as a free download, now eagerly awaited by me. It will certainly be the first Eng Lang knitting pattern for a jabot as a gent’s kilt accessory, and the “Eng Lang” restriction in that remark is almost certainly not needed. I don't count Hazel Carter's -- although it was that that gave me the inspiration for this project -- because it doesn't have overlapping tiers at all.

Once the Mystery Project is out of the way, I see my days as spent jabot-knitting, with sock-knitting and Koigu-swatching whenever I need light relief. But tonight’s frogging stands between me and that sunny upland.


In the absence of knitting photographs, here are two just received of Springtime in Greece. Helen and David recently sold their beautiful house on Mt Pelion because they felt oppressed by carrying two mortgages – they also own a flat here in Edinburgh. They then bought an utter ruin nearby, "The Blue House", which they plan to do up bit by bit, as funds allow. The first stage is to make it habitable for camping-out-in. Rather them than me.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I can’t tell you what I’m knitting, except that it is progressing nicely and won’t take long. That leaves space for what I’m thinking about.

I just tried Googling for “knitted lace jabot”. Surely I must have done that before? This time, I hit pay dirt – a man who wears one his wife knitted, based on something in VLT. Scroll down a bit; there are some nice pics. His name is Matthew Newsome, and I have pursued him via the links provided and sent an email expressing admiration and asking for tips.

I had sort of got the impression that James wasn’t brave enough to wear such a thing, but he mentioned it rather wistfully at Christmas, and I think it’s time I got back on the job. I mean to start again from the beginning, despite the claim of the progress bar.

And I’ve got the Vertical Kaleidoscope Cardigan pattern. Yesterday’s time-consuming problem centered around the fact that even after I figured out how to pay for it, and had successfully done so, I couldn’t download it. It was worth the struggle.

I have also chased up a couple of other ideas suggested by the Ravelry search for swing jackets, in particular Shiri Mor’s “swing cardi”, no.19 in VK Winter 2007/8. Cynthia, I spotted it in the VK sale you recommended me to have a look at – but there was no need to buy it. That one, like the Kaleidoscope, is knit side-to-side, and swinginess is achieved with large short-row wedges, wide at the bottom hem, narrowing to a point somewhere near the armpit.

Could I add some wedges to the Kaleidoscope? Do I want to? My new, improved shape still involves an old woman’s solidity of waist and thigh. Is that an area one entirely wants to draw attention to? Still, it’s fun to think about.

I am interested in Shirley Paden’s new book about designing knitwear. I greatly admire her work. She has a stunner in the VK just mentioned, No. 17. But am I ever going to do that much designing?

I spent some time yesterday catching up with the Socklady’s blog – link in sidebar. She is particularly good at evoking the sense of life lived cheerfully and simply cheek-by-jowl with powerful and dangerous nature, and she also knits beautiful socks.


I think I won yesterday’s round with the electricity board. Their first line of defense put up stiff resistance, but once I got through to the higher-ups, they agreed very quickly that the figures I was providing suggest that something is wrong. Someone is now booked to come and inspect the meter, although not until next month. I never throw utility bills away, but until recently would have been hard-put to tell you how a five-year-old electricity bill could ever be of any subsequent use.

They were very useful yesterday. Recently, our average annual consumption was just under 2000 units a year. Now, we’re apparently using that much and more in a quarter. As students are endlessly being told in the margins of their essays, Be Specific. It does help advance an argument.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One good thing the IRA achieved with all their bombs was to prevent, probably forever, the adoption over here of the American sentimental embracement of St Patrick. The absence is particularly appreciated just now, when we're all still reeling from Mother's Day last Sunday. One can bear just so much entimentality in any one week. Mother's Day gets worse every year. I was glad to see, browsing the Opinionated Knitter recently, that EZ disapproved of it as strongly as I do.

A frustrating morning has been spent trying to get hold of Leslye Solomon’s beautiful Vertical Kaleidoscope Cardigan pattern and there is left little time for blogging.

Thank you for the notes of sympathy about M’s death. It is her husband we should be worrying about. There is a son and a grandson, to both of whom he is close. The son’s first marriage foundered. The grandparents largely reared the boy, who has remained devoted to them. Those two can help maybe a little, if anyone can.

Knitting (and knitting-related)

The Schoolhouse problem has been straightened out. I finally heard from them, and suggested that the only solution was for me to buy the book I don’t much want, and for them to send the one I do want without a further charge for postage. Everybody’s happy. (And the next job is to tackle the electricity board about that suspect meter.)

I decided to go ahead with the pink Araucania sweater in Strathardle. I reached the armhole divide last week. That always feels like the Point of No Return in a sweater so constructed. It’s a lovely soft fabric, essentially sock yarn being knit on 3.25mm needles, which seem rather large. I’m still getting six stitches to the inch, so it isn’t absurdly loose. I can’t remember the reasoning -- I cast it on two years ago, and I usually like small needles and firmness. But I like the result here.

The skein I'm currently knitting is less striated than the one I started out with, and I'm afraid the change is rather obvious. I'll just have to live with it.

I also decided, for the immediate future, to knit a small mystery project. Doesn’t make for good blogging. After that, perhaps I will return to James’s jabot, all the while collecting ideas for the Koigu. That’s where Leslye’s pattern, mentioned above, comes in – it’s actually designed for Koigu, and is a strong contender.

But I am also walking carefully through the results of a “swing jacket” search on Ravelry. There are lots.

The new Wool Gathering has arrived – Cully’s sweater is extremely interesting. He is clearly an engineer of knitting, like his gramma. His i-cord Lattice hat, in an earlier Woolgathering, remains high on my HALFPINT list.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Safely back.

And the Grandson Sweater is safely united with its grandson. Here’s the picture from “Nordic Knitting”, just to remind you.
Here’s Joe, trying – rather successfully – to smoulder in similar fashion.

And here he is in propria persona.

It looks as if the fit is fairly successful. All this stuff about measuring and swatching must have some foundation after all. I like the way the neck stands away in a funnel – more comfortable than if close, I suspect. I’ve offered to lower it if he prefers.

Joe is studying politics at Nottingham University. He hopes to spend the summer in DC with Theo and Jenni (last summer’s newlyweds) in their new house, working at something political. He is currently in the throes of visa application.


The ground is still frozen hard an inch below the surface. I got a certain amount of pruning and fertilizing and mulching-with-manure done, but the sea kale and Jerusalem artichokes remain unplanted. And I had hoped to root out two dud gooseberry plants for which I have ordered replacements. No luck. By this time last year, I had planted a row of autumn-fruiting raspberries and a clutch of Mara des Bois strawberries and prepared the sites for the courgettes. (Dig a hole, half fill with manure, fill it in, mark with stick.)

Chaucer's "drought of March" is fully in operation. Everything is going to grow like Japanese knotweed when it rains and winter finally lets go.

But we had, at least, picked the perfect moment to enjoy our snowdrops. These pictures were taken on Thursday morning – we both think they got even better over the weekend.


Her son phoned – ironically, on Mothering Sunday – to say that the friend for whom I knit those chemo caps over Christmas is dead. Not a surprise, but a real blow.

When we saw them last summer, she seemed as ever, full of strength and good cheer. He was obviously fading. She told us about her cancer of two years before – one of those nasties which was advanced past remedy before it was discovered. I think she said it was attached to a major blood vessel. The drs could only prune it a bit and try chemo. They had succeeded better than they expected or hoped. Her husband’s fear that she would leave him was palpable as she told us all this. M. herself could have been talking about a round of golf (a game she loved).

We have known them for 40 years, true friends. He was my husband’s colleague at work. His support – devotion, is not too strong a word – went well beyond any job description. It is hard to see how he can live without his wife. His kidneys have failed – M. told me that in her Christmas letter. His son said on the phone on Sunday that he intends to give up dialysis.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The computer is being slow this morning, just when I need to rally the troops to go to Strathardle. We vaguely plan to come back on Monday – maybe sooner, if the ground is still rock-hard.

Yesterday was frustrating on the knitting front. I tried to swatch Koigu. Here is some of it, laid out for deployment. The orange balls are Rowan 4-ply soft, which I think would fit in thickness-wise. There are a couple of odd-balls of Louet Gems Merino, too, which is very similar to Koigu.

I found that the wavy stripe file Theresa had sent me, won’t load on my older machine. I found that I don’t have Barbara Walker’s afghan book, in which she does a wavy stripe. All the others, but not that one. That left the Lizard Ridge afghan pattern from Knitty which Anonymous pointed me to.

That one has a 14-stitch repeat. I thought I would probably prefer a longer one – Theresa said her pattern was a 32-stitch repeat. But I thought I’d try the Knitty pattern to get the idea, and I didn’t like it -- all that short-rowing and turning around and trying to find the wrap to knit with the stitch.

So I retreated to an earlier thot, and tried just knitting ribbon stripes, fancy Koigu interleaved with plain, narrower stripes. I thot I would do the latter in reversed st st, expecting them to recede like the purl stitches in a rib, thereby revealing on my part a pretty basic ignorance of the fundamentals of knitting – reversed st st stripes balloon outward, forming a welt.

It’s just as well we’re going away. The whole problem can marinate in my subconscious for a while.

The decision on the country front is to go on with the Strathardle sweater -- the dusty pink Araucania -- this time, thinking hard. It’s a Sweater Wizard pattern, only slightly tweaked from Ketki’s ’08 Calcutta Cup sweater. Here she is in it, with her sons in Scotland rugby gear. Do I want such a sweater?

[While we're at it, here are my other two Calcutta Cup knittings -- Alexander's Fair Isle sweater for '06, now a bit snug, and the centre of Kirsty's Christening shawl, from '00.]

Helen C.K.S.’ Post-Knitting Disappointment Disorder, mutatis mutandis, is my own this morning.

Nothing from the Schoolhouse, either. Very odd. Staff problems?

Back here Tuesday, insh’Allah.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The hat is finished, too. I’m rather pleased with it. The doubled yarn used throughout produces a nice, helmet-like effect. It should get to Beijing just in time for the end of winter, rather like Joe and his sweater. I'm getting better at pompoms, although I will never love them.

So I’m project-less, except for the socks. Very odd feeling. Usually, at this stage, I have something I’m aching to get started on. Today, the best I can do is sort the Koigu again and start swatching.

As it happens, my needles were even more empty on January 1, and every stitch I’ve knit in ’10 is, for the moment, still here in the house. Here they all are, piled up, along with yarn snatched at random from the stash cupboard for the photo op: perhaps 1/5 of the total, probably less.

It gives some idea of the scale of the job, and of the need for my yarn fast.

The spring Knitter’s turned up here yesterday. What is it about Knitter’s? I’m always glad to see it on the mat, but for dull, it takes all the prizes. It’s nice to have Perri Klass back.

There is one interesting thing, though: editor Rick Mondragon’s pattern “Cool Spectrum” on page 44. The idea is to take three strands of yarn, all the same colour at the beginning, and change one strand at a time as the work progresses so that colours merge one into another. Indeed, “Merging Colors” is the name Candace Eisner Strick uses – has used for years – for her own patterns and custom-dyed yarns using precisely this idea.

Candace is a friend. She didn’t know about Rick’s pattern until I emailed her yesterday.

It’s an idea that could have occurred anywhere to anyone, and obviously did occur spontaneously to Rick. But I am surprised that in the considerable time that must elapse between the dawn of an idea and the publication of a pattern, no one at Knitter’s thought of Candace’ work. She has had patterns published in the magazine – there was a year when the Mitred Mozart (Knitter’s #68) was the pattern that everyone was knitting. I got nearly 90,000 hits just now when I google’d it. And she has taught at Camp Stitches. That’s how we met, in her Bavarian Travelling Stitch class on Lake George in ’99, oh! happy memory.

So I think Knitter's might have managed a nod in her direction.

Still silence from the Schoolhouse. My email to them has now worked its way well down my Googlemail page. It will be buried even deeper on their computers, if it arrived, as two business days and a weekend have since elapsed. I’ll write again today, and if that produces nothing, I may well take you up on your kind offer to phone, Mary Lou. All you’d need is the order number and the bald fact that I got the wrong book.

(Follow the link to Mary Lou’s web page for a delicious knitting-and-chamber-music anecdote.)

Monday, March 08, 2010


Better yet – I’ve been corresponding with Rachel about sending it to London, with her socks. Turns out Joe himself will be coming home to Streatham this weekend, so if I can time the package to arrive on Saturday or next Monday, he’ll be there to let it in and try it on right away. If I move the damp object into the kitchen tonight and tomorrow, it should be ready.

On Wednesday we hope to go to Strathardle, at last. The weather has been cool, but vernal – we hope the Big Snow of a fortnight ago has retreated. Perhaps I’d better check with a neighbour, just in case. I can post sweater and socks and, I hope, ear-flap hat from there.

I finished in time last night for some more sock knitting. Someone, I think Franklin, described how everybody was obsessively knitting Olivers at the 2009 Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat, for which the pattern was originally designed. If you factor in KF stripes and KnitPro sock needles, "obsessive" reaches new heights. Today I’ve got to face up to the ear-flap hat, but I think there’s little enough to do that there’ll be room for more sock.

Mel, I am profoundly impressed by your toe-up Olivers. I have never been tempted by toe-up, since toe-up means ribbing-last. But I can admire the engineering. Your shaping reaches so beautifully from toe to heel. Mine is going to peter out well short of the toe. I started Oliver-ing every second round, soon realised I was going much too fast, and have switched to every-third. A rather haphazard way to knit a sock, but I think it’s going to be all right. I’ve made notes, at least, so that I ought to be able to repeat what I’ve done.

The shaping is a matter of paired increases and decreases, like many a lace pattern. The increases march two by two down the sole of the foot. The elegant lines of the decreases start underneath and eventually meet on top. I am normally the blindest of the Blind Followers EZ so often sneered at, but in this case it was the pattern that blinded me with instructions, especially as the Oliver shaping begins before the gusset shaping is finished. It is all “Needle #1” and “Needle #4” and “Repeat round 9” when what I needed was an overview.

I have been thinking, without reaching any sort of conclusion, about my Strathardle knitting. It is a dusty pink Araucania sweater in the round, meant for me. I started it somewhere in ’08, and am not far off the armpits. Somehow, lately, there has always been something urgent to take along from Edinburgh. Does this mean that I really don’t want a dusty pink sweater? I must face up to the question.

Theresa, you are right. I will be patient with the Schoolhouse, and we will get this sorted out eventually. I had wondered if they were having connectivity problems. Nothing is more frustrating.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Janet put me right in her comment yesterday – Schoolhouse sell both “Knitting in Art” and “Knitting Art”. So they might have foreseen the confusion and taken steps to prevent it. I have still heard nothing from them – I didn’t really expect action on a Saturday, but the time difference means that my email, subject line “order mixup”, was waiting for them when they got to work on Friday morning. Or maybe it got lost in cyberspace.

Apart from anything else, the book I ordered and paid for costs nearly twice as much as the one they sent me. Continued silence next week will produce something like crossness from here.

(Janet, you have all my sympathy for the horrors of moving house. I had almost forgotten them. I’m sure it will be worth it in the end, but oh, dear.)

The Grandson has been cast off and tidied up. I have knit one facing and pinned it in place, and am about half-way through the other one. They really aren’t necessary, but having got this far I’ll finish. Tonight’s session should polish off the job. The neck looks curious – it ends with eight rounds of k2, p2 which sort of flop outwards instead of pulling in. I’m pretty sure the neck will soon be lowered, but Joe might as well see the result as specified by the designer, and decide for himself.

I retreated again to Ketki’s sock for the end of the evening. I mean to do an “Oliver” –shaped instep (Ravelry link), as for my husband’s bedsocks last year. Reading through the pattern at bedtime, I lost my way entirely. This morning, reading the account in Meg’s “Knitting” of a similarly-shaped instep, I think I’ve got the idea again. My husband actually mentioned, spontaneously, how well his bedsocks seem to fit. Egyptian Cynthia uses the technique for all her socks – I don’t see why I shouldn’t follow her plan.

So now that I think I’ve got it in my head, I’ll have to keep at the socks before it slips away again. No hardship.

Anonymous, thank you very much indeed for the link to the Lizard Ridge afghan pattern on Knitty. The pattern itself attributes the short-row wavy-stripe technique to Barbara Walker. I haven’t looked that up yet, but I will. I’m pretty sure we have something here very similar to the stitch-pattern of Theresa’s beautiful jacket. I will tell you more when I start swatching – that will happen this very week, insh’Allah.

We have, this morning, embarked on Calcutta Cup week, which will end with the annual rugby match between Scotland and England. I have knitted something to mark each of Scotland’s last three victories, in 2000, 2006, and 2008 (no time, just at the moment, to dredge up the pictures). This year I have promised a sweater for James-the-Younger, if it should happen again. It is most unlikely, but all three of those victories were unlikely.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Many thanks to my rescuers! I am Tayside00 on Yahoo, as on eBay and LibraryThing. I didn’t even try that yesterday morning – the prompt suggested that the answer would be a yahoo email address, and anyway I thought I coined “Tayside00” later in life, for eBay.

But it was for Yahoo, of course. (Strathardle00 was taken, I remember. I wouldn’t entirely mind being Strathardle05 except that I didn’t want to stand in line behind one or two people I could think of – passions burn bright in the country.)

Well, the Grandson Sweater is finished except for:
a) casting off;
b) tidying up;
c) knitting and attaching facings for the neck steek; and
d) blocking.

The plan is to forge ahead, right through ear-flap-hat-Sunday if need be, and get the job done. Then a single day will probably be enough for the hat, which lacks only hemming, braids and bobbles. (Ugh) Then I’m free, free, free!

A funny thing happened this week.

A while ago, not long, I ordered a book from the Schoolhouse Press website called Knitting in Art. On Thursday the package arrived – with “Knitting Art: 150 Innovative Works from 18 Contemporary Artists”. You can imagine the contents, and you will be right.

I was disappointed, and concluded that I had to be more careful, and read descriptions more thoroughly, even when shopping at the Schoolhouse. But yesterday morning, synapses improved as ever by a night’s sleep, I remembered the picture of the book I actually ordered. I checked the website. The email order confirmation, and the invoice enclosed with the package, both say “Knitting in Art”.

It is easy to see how confusion might arise. I was puzzled for awhile because Schoolhouse doesn’t sell “Knitting Art” (and quite right too). Then, as they say, the penny dropped – the wholesaler sent them the wrong book, and Meg wasn’t around when the box was unpacked. She can’t be everywhere. Can I be the first customer to receive the wrong one? It’s new to their list, and on the expensive side.

I emailed them at once, nearly 24 hours ago, and have had no reply. That is odd. Is March 5 a public holiday in Wisconsin?

While on the subject of My Wrongs, a man has come and read the faulty electricity metre. He didn’t seem quite as appreciative as the woman on the telephone of the fact that the figure was absurd, but he did say that there is a thing called a “check metre” which can be installed alongside a questionable one in such cases. It will take about a week for his reading to get into the system – why? – and then I will swing into action.

Friday, March 05, 2010

I might even finish knitting the Grandson today.

The neck is awkward, because of spinning all that bulk around on one’s lap with two balls of yarn attached. I have switched from a short circ to a set of my new KnitPic needles -- they come in sets of six, and it’s working well, stitches showing no tendency to escape.

I looked up the Portom Sweater on Ravelry yesterday. Two people have knit it. One of them undoubtedly lowered the neckline, although she doesn’t say anything about it in her note.

I’ve also turned the heel of the new KF sock, which remains irresistible.

Kitchener Stitch

Many thanks, Tamar. I think that nails it. Now all we need is an early example of “Kitchener stitch” itself. My guess, as I’ve said, is that we might find it in the 1940’s. Maybe we don’t need that.

I tried to log on to Yahoo just now, to peruse the correspondence you mention from HistoricKnit (of which I am a member) in January,’09, and find that I have forgotten how to do it. I remember my password (I think), but not my identity. Their help screens don’t help. What on earth do to? Sign up as someone else, I suppose. In my Knitlist list-mom days I used to log on daily, and I still do – did – from time to time. But not today.

I find myself wordless and twitchy this morning.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Things went faster than I expected yesterday. The neck steeks aren’t very large, I got them secured and cut, picked up stitches, and have done a few rounds of neck. I think I’ll embargo pictures until I can show you the finished thing.

I mentioned EZ’s idea of knitting a garter stitch strip as a facing. First I thought I’d do it, then I thought it was too much trouble. But last night, seeing how short the strips would actually have to be, I reinstated the idea.

I wonder a little bit if the neck is going to be uncomfortable. The yarn isn’t quite scratchy, but it’s sort of….firm; and necks are sensitive. I can easily take it out if need be and substitute something lower and boring. We’ll see.

When I had finished picking up, numbers carefully balanced left and right, I found that I had more stitches than required. The pattern just said “128”, for all sizes, without discussing how they were to be distributed. I had 146. I’ve left them. Too big is better than too small, for neck holes.


Holly, yes, it’s KnitPro DPN’s I’ve fallen for. Maybe when my slate is clear – pretty soon now – and I embark on new projects, I should keep a couple of days a week for socks. Ron said a couple of days ago that he knits a pair a month. Why not? I’m sure there’s nothing I knit that is more appreciated and more worn – they sometimes come back to me for darning -- and I now have lots of people to knit them for, one husband, eight children-and-children’s-spouses, three adult grandchildren.

When this yarn fast is over I am going to order sacksful of KF sock yarn. Like one of those diets where you can’t stand it any more and eat a whole chocolate cake.

(Kitchener Stitch)

Jeanfromcornwall, you’ve identified an odd aspect of the “Kitchener stitch” problem – until ten years ago or so, when the Internet made the whole world one, the phrase was unknown to British knitters.

I find, looking about a bit, that I wrote a whole blog entry about this question on August 15, 2006. And have done bugger all about it since then. Kim Salazar was working on it, too, but I can’t find her in my email address books. Trawling through my August, ’06, blog entries, I find a most frustrating reference to a scholarly comment from Franklin. Frustrating, because I can’t find the comment.

(Speaking of whom, we must all cut out and frame the full-page picture in the new IK. And, isn’t this year’s Knitter’s Olympic Gold Medal beautiful? It almost makes me wish I’d taken part. I trust I’ll be able to see it regularly on the Fishwife’s blog. Her entry – see February 27— is stunning, well deserving of a medal.)

Tamar, please elucidate your reference to Kitchener’s sister. Maybe we’re on to something, here.

My own theory, for what it’s worth, is that the phrase was resurrected in 1939- when knitters got to work for soldiers again, and although examples -- or near-examples, “Kitchener” without “stitch” -- can be found from earlier dates, it was only then that it really took off and became part of common speech.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A good day.

The Eye Man said that my Bad Eye – the one that had the retinal vein occlusion – has improved considerably in the last year, and now even reaches the minimum standard for driving all by itself, although I wouldn’t care to attempt it without help from the Good Eye.

I got the first sleeve facing hemmed, and the second sleeve unpicked and reattached. The seam can’t be pressed towards the sleeve, as EZ would have me do, because the facing is in the way. So it is pressed towards the body, and seems to me to make a nice neat seam that way. I sewed the facing down with thread, for unobtrusiveness. I don’t know whether you’re supposed to do that.

So the Grandson Sweater is now in one piece, and I’m very pleased with it. That bottom ribbing doesn't curl any more either, or at least, not so badly.

Today I must press the new seam, and tonight sew it down and begin putting in rows of restraining stitching to secure the neck opening. Hey! tomorrow I may actually be knitting again!

Random Knit-Related

On Monday I ordered the sock needles Kate is keen on. I’d been meaning to do so for a while. No need to go all the way to Australia -- I ordered them from P2tog. That’s a link to a page describing the needles. They arrived yesterday – one could scarcely have better service unless she had brought them round herself on Monday afternoon. And they’re as wonderful as Kate says.

Using them, I thought I had reached the heel flap of Ketki’s KF socks last night, but I see, on consulting my notes this morning, that I have another 20 rounds of leg to go. It will be a pleasure.

I continue to think about Koigu stripes – and by now, swatching couldn’t be that far away. Theresa has posted pictures of a store-boughten sweater (only she didn’t buy it) with short row stripes, interesting but not I think as beautiful as the one she’s knitting.

I think I have at last pinned down the floating memory that has been plaguing me – and it wasn’t short-row stripes at all, but one of those things where you reach down and grab a stitch from four or five rows back and pull it up to join the ones on the needle. There’s an interesting gent’s sweater in the new IK which uses that sort of technique to create a lattice effect, but I’m thinking of colour.

The same IK has an article about Kitchener stitch in which it is said, “British Army general Lord Kitchener was concerned that sock seams maimed the toes of his soldiers. A smooth grafting technique solved the problem.”

Finding the source of the phrase “Kitchener stitch”, so that I can write to the Oxford English dictionary about it, has been a project of mine for more than a decade. (You must have heard this before.) I have asked Bishop Rutt about it, and Lord Kitchener himself. (The latter, engagingly, had never heard of it.) I’ll follow this one up, but I’m willing to take bets on the side, right now, that the author can’t substantiate that statement.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

I’ve just been ordering vegetable seeds. I have been very slow about it, this year – the weather makes it impossible to believe that anything will ever grow again in the frozen earth. Increasingly these days, I buy a seed here and a seed there from a variety of suppliers. It’s fun, but it slows the process down.

This morning I have been over at the Victoriana Nursery Garden, attracted by their “Victorian Colossal Climbing Pea”. Then I stayed around and got some other stuff.

And while on the subject of vegetables, yes, Becky, a leek. Leeks are a national symbol of Wales, like daffodils, although less commonly worn. The one I saw on March 1, 1966, was very clean, trimmed down to a modest length, and secured to the man’s lapel.


All went well yesterday. The thing is to keep calm and not struggle on to the point of exhaustion. There’s no hurry, as long as I keep at it.

The second sleeve of the Grandson is now set in, and I am satisfied with the result. Next I must press the seam towards the sleeve (EZ’s instruction) , and hem down the facing, before returning to the first sleeve and continuing to unpick it. I didn’t achieve Cynthia’s row of seeming-stitches. I think I did it essentially as EZ prescribes, moving back and forth from sleeve to body in what amounts to an overcast stitch. It looks surprisingly unobtrusive.

Tonight’s unpicking will involve the top of the sleeve which is a bit precarious for reasons mentioned yesterday. Take it slowly. Be careful.

So I got some more sock knit, when it was time to watch Neighbours and I needed soothing. Today’s excitement is a visit to the optician. That should add a few rounds while I wait for drops to take effect.

I spent some more time looking at Koigu patterns in Ravelry, indeed found a striped cardigan called, I think, the Vertical Kaleidoscope. Ravelry promised a download version, but the seller’s website wants to send me a printed one, charging $65 for Expedited Delivery. I emailed them.

The ribbon stripes in my head, with or without Theresa’s beautiful waves, remain the Top Idea.

Monday, March 01, 2010

St David's Day

This is the anniversary of the day in 1966 when my husband was appointed to the job in Leicester which was to take us away from Glasgow. We farmed the children out somehow – Helen was only three – and I went along with him to Leicester for the interview. I saw a man there wearing a leek. I have not seen that before or since, anywhere.


I finished knitting the hat, tidied it up a bit, got started on hemming it. Bobbles and braids loom. But today I return to the Grandson.

I thought about it during Mass yesterday. This time (second sleeve) I’m going to start by getting the live shoulder stitches off their waste yarn and onto needles for Kitchener’ing. There’s no steek, of course – hence all this angst. That means that the initial snip goes directly between the last stitches of the front and back shoulder. They are vulnerable, and would be I think even if they had been cast off.

So this time I will try to fortify them with needle and thread before I snip. I think I will want to have the new sock handy for some actual knitting at the end of the evening.

I’ve spent the last few minutes looking for “King Olaf’s soup” on Google – I suspect I’ve got the phrase wrong. I finally found this, from my own blog, written five years ago:

“My sister told me once that the wine you find left in the bottle when you've had your pudding and coffee is called "King Olaf's Soup". That's how I feel about the knitting left over at the very end of a project like this one that requires a lot of tedious finishing.”

I’m tremendously looking forward to the Grandson’s deep, patterned neckband.

Other knitting

Thank you for the pointer to Vogue Holiday Knitting, rosesmama. I had completely forgotten that pattern. The side panels look like the kind of ribbon effect I’m currently thinking of – but I don’t understand the instructions for producing them at all. “[Lay B on top of A, k1 with A] 6 times,” is how it begins. Never mind explaining – I’m not going to knit Fair Isle with Koigu.

The front panels, with simple mitred squares of different sizes, each level in a different colour, is an idea to remember if I return to mitres.

[I do like Kaffe’s dolman pullover, no. 4 in that magazine. Perhaps it could be a bit longer? And do the colours really work as brilliantly as in the photograph if you just tuck in, as per the instructions? Or do you need to wind on and start at a suitable point in the colour sequence?]

FiberQat, you do well to remind me to try Ravelry for Koigu patterns. I did, just now. I liked Nadine Shapiro’s Mandarin jacket, but couldn’t figure out how to get the pattern. I liked her Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, but that seems to be available only as a kit, for more than $200. I’ll return to the fray when I feel stronger.