Sunday, November 07, 2010

Kristie, you’re young. I started on lace with a basic hap shawl in Shetland jumper weight for the 5th grandchild -- you haven't got that far yet. The pattern was from Madeline Weston’s “Traditional Sweater Book”. (Great book, recently reprinted, I think; the name keeps morphing.) Tremendous fun. The 6th grandchild got one, too – the pregnancies overlapped. For the 7th, whose pregnancy was particularly anxious, I pushed the boat out a bit and ventured on to an Amedro pattern in lace-weight. Leaflet from Jamieson&Smith, who don’t seem to offer it any more.

Most of the rest of the grandchildren (we’re up to 13, where we will almost certainly remain) had lace-weight shawls of my own design, some more successful than others. The best was Fergus Drake’s – the centre is meant to represent interlocking Greek crosses, for his place of birth. The border alternates the thistle and the rose, representing his mother’s and father’s nationalities.

And I’ve gone on from there. I’ve knit the Princess. (It’s time we had a bride to wear it.)

Your time will come, Kristie, I hope. It’s more fun than anything.

Back at the ranch – I resolved my problem with the Amedro shawl much more easily than I expected. I mean, I had worked out the solution in my head and didn’t expect it to work in real life, but it did.

I moss-stitched all the way back to the edge where I had picked up the wrong 18 stitches. (see yesterday) I dropped them off the needle and ripped, producing a loop of yarn. I then picked up the right 18 stitches, turned and knit back, still using the loop. The last few stitches were a bit tight, but do-able. And there we were. There’ll be a wee bit of tidying to do at the very end, but completely invisible to anyone even ambling by on the back of a cart-horse.

At the moment, about 4 7/8 rows of moss stitch remain to be done, and then the long cost-off. Tomorrow, at the latest, barring disaster.


Christmas presses. When I was younger, I used to think that the secret was to keep-on-going after my husband’s birthday, which looms not this week but next. He will be 85. (I read somewhere once that that is now regarded as the beginning of Real Old Age.) In youth, I rarely did (keep on going from that date). Now, I am hard at it already and already feeling panic.

Yesterday I made the pudding. Today I mean to renew the New Yorker.

All five households have subscriptions – my husband and I, and the four children you see in the sidebar – and all, I think, in our various ways, depend on it. It was part of my growing-up. I remember (in particular) reading John Hersey’s “Hiroshima” – a whole issue, no cartoons; and Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” – could this be saying what it seemed to be? Those are both the sort of burned-in memories where one remembers the setting as well.

And (when fully grown) “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” and Capote’s “In Cold Blood”. I "discovered" William Trevor and Alice Munro and Jhumpa Lahiri in the New Yorker. Alexander made me an alphabet book for my 70th birthday (some time ago, now). “N” was for “New Yorker”, and the page shows the covers nearest to my birthdays in 1933 and 2003. The two are astonishingly harmonious in colour and design.


  1. GrannyPurple1:44 PM

    Jean, I'm with you on the New Yorker. My mother used to parcel them up and send them to us in 1966-67 when my husband was a graduate student at LSE. Then they gave us a subscription every year until they were no more. For me, the incredible memory is of starting to read a short story and realizing within a few paragraphs that it was about my part of the world--southern Ontario--it was Alice Munro's first NYer outing! We continue the subscription with our youngest who lives in the UK, but our oldest is in NYC, married to a man who has his own subscription.

  2. Donice2:42 PM

    I clearly remember discovering The New Yorker while baby-sitting the four children of the neighboring intellectual, arty types. I was probably about 15. The love affair has continued almost 50 years now, except for a bit during the Tina Brown years. There must be something about it that compels us to give it to the next generation; we do the same.

  3. Hmm. With our move from Dublin to the U.S. I am rediscovering so many things that I didn't realize I had forgotten. That's not very well worded but I think you know what I mean. My mother was a faithful reader of the New Yorker. I have not followed in her footsteps in that respect....but now I have been seeing the New Yorker in the local bookstore and have been considering buying it. You are influencing me - I'll do it today.