Thursday, March 10, 2011

If we can deal with one day of Lent, we ought to be able to cope with the rest of them.

The weather is fairly filthy, rain, snow and wind, with some improvement forecast for next week, so I think we’ll hold back on Strathardle. There’s clearly only going to be one March visit, and I really want to engage with the soil.

All went well with RtB yesterday. I have learned some interesting things about grafting garter stitch – I don’t think I had ever done it before. Being able to join one colour to another so neatly is a revelation. Those Zimmermanns really understand how knitting works.

The DVD then starts i-cording with the cuffs, but I was anxious to get the whole thing together in one piece (always a great moment in dressmaking) so I started with the back seam. It proved a good choice in another way, as I am sure it is the worst of the finishing tasks. It involves three needles – one for each side, and one to knit with – and in my hands is extremely slow and clumsy.

Last night I was unhappy with the effect, too, but this morning it doesn’t look so bad. Little bumps of green show through on one side, the side nearer me as I toil on. But they’re not, after all, going to be obvious to the galloping-horse-rider.

The next job will be to i-cord all around what Meg enchantingly calls the perifery. I think I did that for the ASJ and found it not as bad as it sounds, chore-wise. At least only two needles are involved, and there isn’t the same overriding anxiety to make the two sides correspond minutely.

Meg says on the DVD, to my surprise, that she has decided not to bother blocking. I felt like that when I finished the ASJ -- after all, garter stitch is well behaved. But I blocked anyway, and was delighted with the improvement in smoothness and general appearance. I'll certainly do it again. Maybe fine yarn makes the difference -- Meg's RtB is much heavier and cosier.

Beverly, I agree with every syllable you wrote yesterday about fit and swatching. (Somewhere, Meg says that she never swatches. I don’t believe it.) I would say however that I have done somewhat better with fit in later life now that I swatch more often. I would also observe:

1) that garter stitch swatches behave better than st st ones.
2) and that it is almost always more useful to take measurements from a favourite, well-fitting garment than from one’s unsatisfactory self.

But I often think the essential problem might be more fundamental, like that of Major Erskine in Evelyn Waugh’s “Men at Arms”: “[He] was strangely dishevelled in appearance. His uniform was correct and clean but it never seemed to fit him, not through any fault of the tailor’s, but rather because the major seemed to change shape from time to time during the day.”

F11holdsteady, I will attribute Scotland’s forthcoming upset victory over England entirely to you. I have chosen the Posh yarn I am going to order on Sunday evening for the Little Boys’ 2011 Calcutta Cup victory sweaters. Posh puts up a preview during the week, and then we all scramble starting at 8pm GMT on Sunday evening.


  1. All I can say of the RtB is "wow"!

  2. I've heard Meg say this before - and how she gets around swatching, I believe, is to start with knitting the sleeve of the garment. If it is not turning out as anticipated, that sleeve becomes a hat.

  3. Anonymous1:31 PM

    For several months last year, I had the opportunity to knit with Amy Detjen (Meg's knitting partner) at a class she holds weekly at the Sow's Ear in Verona, Wisconsin. One evening I brought up Meg's "no-swatching" comment and my opinion of her seemingly antithetical approach. I believe Meg doesn't swatch because she doesn't need to - she only knits with a select inventory of yarn, as she has for decades, and her gauge therefore is a known constant. (I would guess that the first time she used UltraAlpaca, a new offering at Schoolhouse Press, she swatched.) Amy agreed. Pam

  4. I'm also looking forward to a major upset in this year's Calcutta cup. I was at Murrayfield in 2006 when Scotland overcame very long odds to beat England. One of our companions was a dear English friend, who was so appalled by the English defeat that she swore in a most unlady like manner. She is now a woman of the cloth, and was ordained last year!