Monday, November 29, 2010

Drummond Place in the snow, midday yesterday…

Looking down Scotland Street…

I opened the front door for a moment last night, before I put up the chain, and found that a neighbour had come and cleared our steps.

This is a particularly grim stretch of the year for me. Dark, and getting darker for nearly another month. It is a time of sad anniversaries, made worse this year by fears for C. The extra light reflected from the snow is an unexpected and most welcome boost.

It’s great fun, but it is only so on the assumption that it will all go away soon and leave us free to zip about the countryside in the days before Christmas, gathering in family members as they arrive and turkeys and Brussels sprouts to feed them on.


Sundays are never very good on the knitting front, as I keep saying, but I did at least finish the third ball of Cocoon last night.

I’m enjoying thinking about Around-the-Bend. You’re absolutely right, Shandy, that it will need a sober base. There isn’t enough of any one dark yarn to serve throughout, but I think by switching back and forth between the two halves I will be able to make good use of what I’ve got. I should polish off Matt’s socks in London next week – they will contribute a substantial amount of beautiful dark left-over yarn to add to the pile.

I can’t imagine where that orange yarn came from. Have I ever knitted anything orange in my life? It will indeed have to appear sparingly, if at all.

JeanfromCornwall, yes, it’s Paton’s leaflet 1085 we’re talking about – from which you and I and Margaret Stove knit shawls for our babies.
My one was (bizarrely) knit in six separate pieces and laboriously sewn together. Your one is much more sensible, starting with the centre and then picking up stitches and knitting outwards.

The leaflet says, of your shawl, (garter stitch centre, feather-and-fan border, wide lacy edge) that “this Shetland design has been in the Patons range for well over sixty years”. That takes it back to the 1890’s or so, perhaps as much as 20 years before the issue of “Aunt Kate’s Home Knitter” (1910) which Sharon Miller reproduces in her recent “Love Darg” book. She says there, in a footnote on page 1, that such patterns – “more elaborate versions of Old Shell bordered shawls” – were published before Aunt Kate, for whom she asserts primacy in the publication of finest Shetland lace patterns.


  1. It's also the pattern mentioned on page 53 of Sharon Miller's 'Heirloom Knitting', as one of the few Shetland lace patterns available for many years.

  2. Another thought is that Patons were certainly very loose about dates when boasting how long they'd been publishing 'Woolcraft' - they managed to celebrate its centenary well before it reached 100 (I think by actually celebrating the centenary of a different, Baldwins, guide to knitting that they took over and subsumed), so their "60 years" for the shawl pattern does not necessarily bear any relation to reality.

    My mother (Jean from Cornwall) and I collect 'Woolcraft' as you collect the Vogue Knitting Book - we're still missing some, but between us cover most of its history. Unfortunately, the most recent edition has dropped almost all the patterns, particularly the knee-warmers that had been there since the very first edition. It looks like a winter for knee-warmers too.

  3. Anonymous1:11 PM

    Well, how wonderful! My Mum knit the garter stitch centre shawl from that leaflet for my babies and many, many others. The same pattern has now become my "go to" for any babies of whose parents I am particularly fond. Those less close get an abbreviated version using 3/4 of the stitch numbers, which works very well to produce a smaller but no less acceptable shawl. It's more a buggy/pram blanket size and some new mums find it easier to use. Always made in machine washable yarn these days, which new mum has time to handwash a shawl?!


  4. Anonymous1:22 PM

    As a huge fan of Alexander McCall Smith, it is a great pleasure to see those photos of Drummond Place and Scotland Street. Thank you for posting them!

    As for Round the Bend, I think sparing use of the orange yarn will really make the whole thing pop. Perhaps the reason there is so much of it is that you really never did knit anything with it?

    I hope your SIL gets some word today - the waiting must be unbearable for all of you. And I also hope the news is excellent.


  5. Another Alexander McCall Smith fan here and another thank you for posting those photos. Would love to see the gardens where you walk, in better weather, of course.
    Hoping you have some good news soon about your SIL.

  6. I know of some feathered folks in Edinburgh who are pleased with the current conditions, as a friend just today recommended this:

    I snuck a small window up on my computer at work today and watched the penguins happily diving across their pond.