Saturday, October 29, 2011

Today it’s not me but the computer which is slow and unresponsive. We’re about to go to Strathardle so I can’t sit around here all morning.

Big Thomas will be present at a wedding somewhere in the north of England today. He has cleared his diary for the beginning of next week – a very grown-up-sounding phrase – and will come to see us. He is expected at a breakfast tomorrow – we had one of those the morning after Theo and Jenni’s wonderful wedding two years ago, and it made a lovely coda to a brilliant occasion. Then he’ll catch a train to Pitlochry whence I will fetch him. 

We will scatter on Wednesday, and I should be back here Thursday. Friday of next week is the day when our friend from the NGofS is coming to lunch, to be confronted with the Earliest Known painting by ???????, so things will be tight.

The Brownstone still lacks ¾” of collar, so still one more session before I cast it off. Thomas's parents will be here for my husband's birthday later in November (I told you it was going to be a busy month) and I can send it south with them.

It will be good to be out in the natural light this weekend, when the clocks go back and darkness and gloom enfold us. November is a month particularly rich for me in gloomy memories and sad anniversaries, and now C’s suffering must be added to the total. It will soon be exactly a year since we suddenly learned we were about to lose her. November was full of horror and fear for us all and for her also of pain. She died in March. Her death was infinitely sad but November was worse.

Many thanks for yesterday’s comments.

I have a “health” section in my Zite magazine (I am embarrassed to confess) in which I had already seen an article suggesting that this year’s flu jab was more painful than usual. Ours is scheduled for an inconvenient day, November 13, when my sister and her husband will be here and Alexander is driving over from Loch Fyne for lunch. Cf. previous reference to the eventfulness of November. It was the first appt I could get and I didn’t want to leave things any later.

My husband was anxious about whether he would feel well enough to go out to lunch. I brushed anxieties aside, it’s never given us any trouble before. We shall see.

Your experience with having flu, Angel, reminds us what this is about. You’re young and strong. An experience like that really does kill old folks.

I am grateful for the help with searching Ravelry –- I shouldn’t be so feeble. It sounds as if everybody who needs to, knows about Zite, but a lively discussion about why-we-can’t/how-we-can get Interweave workshops on our iPads might be in order.

Stella, thanks for the short-rowing videos. Interesting, indeed. And rosesmama, you tempt me with what you say about Cat Bordhi’s sock book. I normally don’t buy sock books because I am pretty sure I will be happy for life knitting mindlessly with wonderful sock yarn, but maybe I should make an exception.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Everything keeps coming back to the Zimmermanns, doesn’t it?

I moved slowly and inefficiently through my morning’s domesticity yesterday, as usual, still thinking about shawl collars, and eventually remembered that vest in Meg’s book “Handknitting”. I don’t care for the pattern much, but that’s irrelevant – it has a shawl collar.

I had a look, and there it is – it might have been Jared’s inspiration. There are significant differences, of which the most interesting is that Meg doesn’t wrap-and-turn, she just turns. I had wondered a bit about that – does it make a difference that in this case each row is a bit longer than its predecessor? Whereas in the more usual short-row situation each successive short-row is shorter and then in the end you knit across, incorporating all the wraps? You don’t have to wrap when you’re turning a heel but in that case you are also decreasing so maybe that makes a difference.

Anyway, I’ll certainly try not-wrapping when I’m doing Little Thomas’s sweater, and see what happens.

Did you wrap when you were doing Rebekah’s collar, Kristie? Presumably so, since the pattern was Jared’s. I’m not very good at wrapping. Meg’s article in the current VK was useful.

My sister says the madelinetosh Dried Rose for my Effortless has arrived in CT. She will be here in mid-November, insh’Allah. That's any day now, but I should have made a good start on Little Thomas’s sweater by then, so Effortless will be next in the queue. I might even cast off Big Thomas’s Brownstone today – there’s excitement for you.


I’ve joined the “I love my iPad” group on Ravelry, although it could just as well have been the smaller “iWant/iHave an iPad”. I thought I might tell them about Zite and start a discussion going about importing Interweave workshops: but how to find out, in all that stuff, whether the topics have not already been covered exhaustively?

Zite currently has an article about the Brownstone from theraineysisters, increasing the sense of uncanniness. They do get it wrong sometimes, but there is a way to tell them so which theoretically means that the selection will get better and better as we go on. They can also be told when something is spot-on.


I’m feeling better, and was at least inspired yesterday to ring up and make an appt for our flu injections. We were drifting along expecting to be summoned for them, but it turns out the practice has had several clinics already and didn’t bother telling us. There are those who say the whole exercise is useless, just as many old folks die of pneumonia when you don’t inoculate them, but my husband and I firmly believe in flu injections.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I am not quite at my sparkly best this morning. Is it toothache? A stiff neck? Headache? A mild flu? Discomforts flicker and reappear hither and yon.

I had a good time (again) with Brownstone yesterday, and should finish Phase One, the short-rowing, today. An article on making a shawl collar turned up on Zite, my iPad app that surfs the web for me and puts together a knitting magazine. The collar was done separately and sewn on.

That sent me to my reference books for a rapid and unscientific trawl – and I didn’t find anyone who did it like Jared. I’ve forgotten, now, what was in what book. Someone started by picking up the stitches across the back neck and knitting back and forth, casting on a few at the end of every row. The loose tails were eventually sewn down. Someone picked up all the stitches and knit them back and forth, unshaped. The majority seemed to favour doing the collar entirely separately.

So far, Jared’s version looks wonderful. I have high hopes for it, although I am slightly concerned for what comes next. Jared has a couple of toggles. I’m not wildly enthusiastic about them – but the neck is cut very deep. Will it gape unless secured by toggles?

I’ve just browsed Ravelry, and have come home with try-it-and-you-may-I-say, as usual. Most people put the toggles on, but not everyone has fastened them for the photographs.

 The shawl collar looks slightly skimpy in many photographs, deep and luxurious on Jared’s model. The instruction at this point –  see yesterday – is to knit until the back-neck is 4 inches deep, or until wrap-and-turn reaches the markers indicating where v-neck shaping began, whichever happens first. At the moment my collar all-but measures four inches, and I am about an inch and a half short of the markers. Maybe I’ll do a few rows more.


All the subjects into which I was so eager to plunge yesterday, notably death and astronomy, seem unattractive this morning.

I was grateful for your comments yesterday, Kate and Maureen, confirming my impression that Interweave is not entirely facing up to the iPad. My Piecework subscription is working fine, in the Zinio app. And they put out that emag about colour, all very interactive, which runs under an app of its own. I’ve got that and I don’t know that I’m tremendously impressed with interactivity, but it’s on the iPad and it runs.

By comparison, the brioche stitch workshop seems a modest production for a machine which will play movies (although I haven’t got that far yet with mine). Where did you go in Ravelry, Maureen, to have that discussion with Interweave?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bad Day at Northern Rock

So here we are at the OK Corral, to mix references.

I keep thinking about the time-lag between the stock market crash of ’29 and the bank failures – ’31? was it? – which triggered the Great Depression. We’ve had a whole four years since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or whatever the hell they’re called, but…

One sort of feels that nowadays with computers and a Greater Understanding of Economics, everything is going to be all right. Whereas in the early thirties all we had was Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda. But I also wonder whether there might not have been Men in Suits even in those days, who understood a certain amount and had meetings and inspired a measure of confidence and still it kept coming.

We shall see.


I finished the body of the Brownstone, as hoped; wound and attached the 7th skein; picked up the collar stitches; and am now knitting short rows back and forth across the back-neck. Jared is very non-prescriptive here:  “Repeat rows 3&4 until you reach the markers at base of v-neck shaping OR until collar measures 4".”

One takes in two more stitches with each pass. I don’t think I’ll make it to the markers.

Picking up stitches used to a nightmare for me. The result inevitably looked a mess, and I could never find as many stitches as the pattern said to pick up. Jared’s instruction, on the long fronts, was to pick up two stitches for every three rows – i.e., far fewer stitches than would have been easy even for me. The result looks really rather tidy and has come out remarkably even, left side compared to right.


There’s lots I want to say – about astronomy [I want to look at the Kahn Academy, Sarah] and about mourning [prompted by Kristie’s very moving blog post and my visit to C’s house as part of our walk on Monday] and about getting the Interweave brioche stitch workshop into an iPad [there’s something I don’t understand about Adobe Flash – Big Thomas will have to explain when he’s here at the weekend].

But there’s not much time left this morning. I was struck by your remark on Sunday, Kristie, about having five men potentially to knit for, and only one sweater-wearer among them (and he dauntingly large). I found long ago that knitting for grandchildren doesn’t necessarily work – the modern child wears fleece, even in quite chilly circumstances. I was so very pleased when Big Thomas actually asked for a sweater. But I noticed that the one he sent me to measure, was cotton.

I emailed Alexander and Ketki yesterday with my idea of knitting a reduced Brownstone for Little Thomas with the left-over yarn. Ketki said he’d love it, so I’ll go ahead with that. Even if neither of them ever wears his sweater again, Big Thomas and Little Thomas can go about as an electric red team when we meet on the shores of Loch Fyne at Christmas time.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

St Crispin's Day

You guys are amazing.

I forwarded the translation of the Chinese care instructions to our niece last night, Beverly, very grateful. I doubt if she’ll venture on machine washing. She was surprised and touched by the gift of the shawl. I’m  glad I did it. I told her she could stuff it in the back of a drawer for now if she liked, but would have to get it out for my funeral. I want as many people as possible to turn out that day in something I knitted for them.

(My sister’s son Theo thinks this idea is hilarious, and looks forward to the occasion with unseemly glee. I find it less and less funny as the day approaches, but am still sorry I won’t be there.)

We had a grand time on our walk, in sensational autumn weather. We went to Bonaly and walked around the reservoirs for a couple of glorious hours. At one point we passed two slightly-built middle-aged men whom we greeted, as walkers do. And then after we had passed them, did a mental double-take: not two men, but the same man twice. They were identical twins.

No pics, alas.

And meanwhile, back at the ranch, I am within a few rows of the end of the body of the Brownstone. The present skein will finish the job – or if it doesn’t, and the next one doesn’t match, the line will be hidden under the fold-over of the shawl collar. So it looks as if the original purchase of seven skeins from Amsterdam is going to suffice.

I thought I had caught Jared out in a miscalculation last night – not enough decrease rows  to achieve his final stitch count. But looking again in the cold light of dawn, I see that he’s absolutely right – “Repeat the last 4 rows 3 more times.” I had overlooked  “more”.


Thanks for the additional help on astronomy. I think I am beginning to get it, and may have a go with a torch and an orange myself. Tamar, I don’t suppose you remember that artist’s name? I’d awfully like to have a look at the paths the sun etched onto his pieces of wood.

Thanks for the pointer to the Interweave Brioche workshop, Ann. Interweave seems to have something new every week.. I don’t think this one will go on a iPad, at least, I don’t see the word mentioned. I’ll sort of hover around and keep watching – it would be an ideal use for the iPad.

Lisa, the camera is telling me to change the batteries, although I did it yesterday and haven't taken a picture since. The calligraphy will have to wait another day..

Monday, October 24, 2011

Another relative quickie – I am going walking today with our niece, to whom I will at last present the Mourning Shawl. I’ll try to get a pic.

And she’ll need the yarn-care instructions that came in the box…

So before mid-morning I must make some sandwiches to leave for my husband’s lunch, and invent a supper for my happily weary self to make this evening. Left-over mutton with onion sauce?

It doesn’t sound like much, but that sort of thinking and trotting about takes me longer and longer these days.

I’m roaring on with the Brownstone. A couple more days to finish the body?


The astronomy is getting well beyond me. Jean, I thought the sun was always overhead at the equator, where they have more or less 12-hours-light, 12-hours-dark all year round. But what about the rest of us and the equinoxes? For us here in the northern hemisphere, the sun will be at its nearest to directly-overhead at the summer solstice, won’t it? And at the winter solstice, it struggles to get above the southern horizon. Where is it at the equinox? And how does that compare with where it is for everybody else in the world? Three-dimensional geometry was where mathematics and I parted company.

Lisa, the calligraphy is an appliqu├ęd throw – I guess you’d call it – Helen gave us, from Cairo where she and her husband met. It is the Arabic world they are really interested in – Greece was something of an accident. My camera is telling me it needs new batteries. I’ll take a proper picture tomorrow. Helen herself will be breezing through here for another night soon, and I’ll try to remember to ask her about it.

Everybody we’ve ever met is coming to see us in November, starting with Big Thomas this weekend. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Very miscellaneous non-knit

Wren, I didn’t see you and your boyfriend at the Farmers' Market, alas – but I saw your fractal cauliflower! And admired it, as I was queuing for some dirty, misshapen vegetables. Unless they had another one in the van.

I had a very successful time. We had pork chops for lunch yesterday, very tasty, and will have mutton today. The woman who sold me the rolled shoulder of, said that it could be roasted, slowly, but I think I’ll go for braising on a bed of the aforementioned vegetables.

Nicola Fletcher, half of the husband-and-wife team who run Scotland’s – maybe Britain’s – premier deer farm was there herself on the Fletcher stall. I told her that her father, Henry Chalk, used to teach me Greek (at Glasgow University). It was disconcerting to find her a grey-haired woman in late middle age. Knee-high, when I knew her.

My brother-in-law just sent me a wonderful link. But what’s this about its being banned?

Do read catdownunder on the subject of antipodean water and its descent through plugholes.

One thing is certainly true of the antipodes, though. I once had the pleasure of meeting Margaret Stove and her husband. He is a countryman, and it was his first trip north of the equator. He remarked on how very odd it was to find the sun in the southern sky.

There is a story in Herodotus somewhere (I think) of some intrepid Greek sailors who  reached the Cape of Good Hope, and came home with the news that they had seen the sun to their left as they sailed eastwards. The stay-at-home Greeks responded with pull-the-other-one, but it is the very detail, of course, which proves to us that they had really done it.

Cat’s preceding blog entry is about the usefulness of the ancient languages in later life. I was with Greek Helen when her first son, Oliver, was born. (He died at six-and-a-half weeks. His birthday was three days ago.) Her husband was travelling from Cairo to Edinburgh at the time, but didn’t make it for the birth. Helen and I and a wonderful obstetrician and a nurse were the four people in the room. The nurse said, calmly, “we have some bradycardia” as if it were something the doctor might like to know was available. I remembered enough Greek (cf  Henry Chalk, above) to know that she meant, “The heart is slowing down”.

Helen, in those days, didn’t know Greek. She’s way beyond me now.


The Brownstone is speeding forward. When one catches sight of it lying about, it looks a plausible size and shape for a young man, and I am really rather hopeful for it.

We’re not concerned with colour here, although in fact it’s come out better than one might have expected.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

It started with 316 stitches – I’m down to 260, just at that delicious cusp when the long rows begin to feel shorter. If all continues well, I should reach the v-neck shaping today and things will go even faster.

I was right – the 6th skein is dark, like the 5th, so there is no second line across the work. That means it is essential either that this current skein be enough to finish the body, or that I find another dark one.

And there’s good news on the Effortless front, although not-so-good for my poor sister. She broke her left wrist a month ago. It had to be surgically repaired. It is not making the progress she had hoped for (she’s younger than I am, but still, in her 70’s) and she has decided against her original carry-on-luggage-only plan for her trip to Britain next month.

That means she’ll have room for some yarn.

So I spent a very happy hour yesterday with the Jimmy Bean website. They didn’t have Byzantine or Tart or Smoky Orchid or Thoreau, but I decided to look on that merely as a slight simplification of the choice. I wound up with Dried Rose. Golden Hickory and Rosewood were strong contenders, Duchess a temptation.

But after all this needn’t be the last madelinetosh DK I ever knit. Who would like a sweater?


Thank you for the bean report, catdownunder. I have trouble with “clockwise” and “anticlockwise” but I think the answer is that Australian beans behave just like British ones. Something of a disappointment.

This morning’s ambition is to go to the Edinburgh Farmer’s Market, which happens every Saturday in the shadow of the Castle. Often intended, rarely achieved, for me. I want some mutton, a favourite of my husband’s, and some rare-breed pork chops which won’t taste like cardboard. It’s not (entirely) the butcher’s fault – the Modern Pig is bred for leanness.

So I’ll leave it there.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Current affairs

When Mr al-Megrahi was allowed to go back to Libya to die, my husband's sister, known here as C., remarked that he didn't look to her like someone in the final weeks of life. She was right -- but none of us expected then that he would survive not only Colonel Gadaffi but C. herself. Life is funny that way: we already knew that.


Little to report, really. I reached the critical point of the Brownstone and have done the first raglan-decrease row. No more measuring, no more calculating – it’s a straight run from here to the end, and then we get to see whether I got it right. I finished the 5th and attached the 6th skein of the original order – I think it’s going to prove darkish, like the last one, so there won’t be another line here.

I see I cast this baby on in mid-September. So there ought to be plenty of time to knit something for Little Thomas before Christmas.

I know I am meant to be spending odd moments working on two-colour brioche in the round as a challenge to myself, but there aren’t all that many odd moments around here and I can’t keep my hands off the Brownstone.


We have invited a friend to lunch who is in charge of Scottish pictures at the NGofS, partly because it will be nice to see her, and partly in order to show her the newly-discovered juvenile portrait of James ??????? by his artist brother. She’s coming on November 4 and I will report what she says.

Thank you for the pointer to the tetrapods, Judith. I have bookmarked the page, and am inclined to think I’ll go ahead and take the plunge. We’ve got a birthday looming. I think you’re right that a tetrapod is what’s wanted – my husband manages fine, if slowly, with an ordinary walking stick when it’s just a question of walking about. It’s stability for garden use we’re looking for.

I was encouraged by your comment (Tuesday), metropolitanrebecca, about your neighbour’s fall and its lack of unpleasant after-effects.

How did Blogger know that your comment wasn’t spam, Judith? They are very clever. I have things set up so that all comments on posts more than a fortnight old come through to me for moderation – and they’re all junk. Blogger does it automatically for more recent ones, and only very rarely makes a mistake in either direction.

I am particularly puzzled -- all bloggers will understand -- by the brief comments, usually in bad English, usually saying how useful the blog has been but occasionally slamming it, containing no links. What’s the point? Cui bono? Blogger unerringly weeds them out.

Catdownunder, you must be having spring. Don’t forget that your assignment (or your father’s) is to look at runner beans as they start to climb, before they get all tangled up, and see which way around the pole they are going. I can’t remember how on earth we got onto that subject, but I do remember that that’s what you were supposed to do. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The first comment yesterday is from the professional pattern-writer who out of sheer kindness – we have never met – translated the Japanese shirt pattern for me from the Japanese schematic into an English pattern. Her approval of progress-to-date is especially sweet.

All went well here yesterday, or so I hope. I have measured and calculated and launched myself into the top part of the “Brownstone” – some straight knitting first, on lots of stitches. I would hope to reach the raglan shaping today.

And my experience of life suggests that raglan shaping goes fast, once it starts. I might even hope to be finished except for the shawl collar when Big Thomas comes to see us next weekend.

I used to do circular raglans many decades ago, in my Fair Isle phase, before even I knew about EZ. I always tended to leave too few stitches behind at the underarms, and wind up with everything very tight for the first couple of inches of all-together knitting. Jared has left a generous allowance of stitches there, and all is going smoothly.

Madelinetosh doesn’t do dye lots. All has been well so far, but the current skein, the fifth of the original order from Amsterdam, is somewhat darker than its predecessors. There is a line. Kristie frogged half a sweater recently when she found, too late, that that had happened. I am pressing on. The situation is somewhat less urgent here because the dye, throughout, is somewhat (deliciously) uneven. But it’s visible – you can see it in yesterday’s photograph.

I estimate at the moment that I will have about four skeins left over, gathered frae a’ the airts. I toyed briefly with the idea of scaling the Brownstone down and knitting a whole duplicate sweater for Little Thomas, but have retreated, at least for the moment, to the simpler idea of a sleeveless vest with a hood for him.

I have been thinking a bit recently about droopy cardigans, as I approach my Effortless. They are everywhere, in real life. But where are the knitting patterns? I have been searching Ravelry and elsewhere on “asymmetrical cardigan” and getting nowhere. That just produces half a dozen that fasten on the left shoulder instead of in the middle.

This morning I had one of those revelations, and searched for “drape cardigan”. That’s it. Look at this one, at Marks & Spencer. It’s almost a knitting pattern in itself. And Ravelry’s got some nice ones, too. I like Kim Hargreaves’ “Embrace” although she is not usually a favourite of mine. 

I bought another book: “The Knitter’s Life List”, by Gwen Steege. I read about it in Knitty, I think, and it seemed to fit in with my current ambition to challenge myself. I’m enjoying it. No patterns – each chapter (sweaters, socks, hats, bags, whatever) begins with lists of things to Discover, to Do, to Learn and goes on to cover the subject informatively and in sprightly fashion. It would be very good for someone relatively new to knitting, full of a beginner's enthusiasm. 

I haven’t found any new challenges yet, in fact it leaves me feeling rather smug, been-there-done-that. Except for “finger knitting”, a whole new concept for me. It’s like “French knitting” except with no tools. I might even practice a bit and try it on the Little Boys at Loch Fyne when I see them at Christmas time.


Annie, I like the idea of a tetrapod to support my husband in the garden. I had never heard of it. I will explore further.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


The current New Yorker cover is brilliant.

Knitlass, thank you for the pointer (comment, yesterday) to the two-colour brioche knitting. That item has also turned up in my Zite magazine – I tell you, they are uncanny.

Tamar, that’s a distressing story about your husband’s fall. I wasn’t strong enough to lift my husband on my own. We tried several variations of posture – I can’t even remember which one was successful in the end. It would have been easy with one other person, not very strong, necessarily, lifting from the other side. We were within sight of the path along the burn, but it is not much frequented and there were no dog-walkers that Saturday afternoon.

The scariness was mostly focussed on, how much longer can we go on indulging in country life, silly old fools as we are? But the danger of an after-shock was scary, too. We seem to be out of the woods (!) on that one.


I’ve now attached the sleeves to the electric red Brownstone, and am putting in some short rows, on Jared’s instructions, before starting the raglan shaping. Very soon now, like today, I am going to have to stop and plan the end-game with care: how many stitches do I want at the end? How many rows do I want for the finished length? How, exactly, to arrange the raglan decreases and the v-neck shaping?

While in Strathardle, I didn’t get as much done as I might have hoped on putting the vegetables to bed for the winter. I am embarrassed to show you such weed-filled pictures.

In high summer, I thought all I had to do would be to chop up the broad beans and spread them around to achieve a pleasant mulch. Alas, the deer (who have been back) have stripped them of leaves as well as beans. All I could do was chop up the stems. Still, I did some forking-over and some creeping-buttercup-extirpation. Better than nothing.

And the deer still haven’t got the Brussels sprouts. My husband thinks they will eventually jump into the vegetable cage, which is not entirely netted on top. I don’t think they will, although they might figure out how to move the netting aside. We shall see.

I worked industriously on the Japanese shirt. It has deepish vents at the sides, so the first thing to do was to knit three rectangles. They have now been joined into one, with an elegant four-stitch overlap; the first buttonhole is in place, and I think things are going to go faster, not slower, now that I’ve got a million stitches on the needle.

Colour not good, there. It's madelinetosh "Cosmos", a rich, dark brown shot with green.

Another wonderfulness about the iPad is that I can temporarily increase type-size to make it easier to read while I knit – and I can switch from Henry James to a video of the one-row buttonhole technique without getting out of my chair.

I thought at one point that I might bring the Japanese shirt back here to be the Principal Edinburgh WIP. That could still happen, although not before the New Year. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Safely back. We were lucky in our weather – three warm, get-something-done-outdoors days. Yesterday we drove back through serious rain.

On Saturday my husband went off to a stand of larches he planted many years ago, now towering trees of which a couple came down in last year’s storms. He was tidying the whiskers off one such, to make it ready for the sawing-up of the trunk.

I went to fetch him home for tea. When he (eventually) agreed to come, he tripped over the very tree he was working on, and fell. No harm was done, on the soft forest floor – except that he couldn’t get up again. His lower legs don’t function at all well these days.

We struggled for half an hour or more, trying various ploys. Eventually the light began to fail, and I said I thought I should go for help. The notion made him angry enough to supply the needed adrenalin, and he got to his feet.

No harm done. He went back to his larches on Sunday morning. But it was scary.


There is a good deal to report on the knitterly and vegetable-grower-ly fronts but I shall stick to the iPad for today.

I got knit.wear into it at the very last moment on Thursday. I’m not really very impressed, except that I like Annie Modesitt’s kimono.Again, I’m glad not to have it adding to the piles of knitting magazines in the bedroom.

My resources for the iPad are “iPad for Dummies” and  “The 2012 iPad Handbook”. And you guys, probably best of all.

The Handbook is one of those things that you find on a newsstand, looking like a magazine, and – like Interweave’s Holiday Knits – you only realise when you get to the checkout that it’s priced like a book, and not a cheap one. It has its uses, though, and it’s British.

While I was floundering, I noticed something in it about Zite. Zite is a free app, from the App Store, which will make a magazine for you. You get three pages of all the things there are magazines for – cars and cookery and celebrity gossip and gardening, on and on. At the end is a box into which you can type “knitting”. (You can have as many sections as you like in your magazine, and change them any time.)

And then you have a knitting magazine. It’s simply brilliant. We have come to take Google for granted as if it were a force of nature – it is salutary to re-discover how clever an algorithm can be. Unless there really is a roomful of old ladies in Florida or California, scanning the internet all day long and saying to each other, “Do you think Jean would like this?”

Articles are drawn from blogs, journalism, and commercial pages. I learned about  “Jane Austin Knits” from Zite before I had the email from Interweave.

There’s a separate free app that lets you cut things out and keep them. I’ve done that with (among other things) an article about “Craft Activism” which has a clothes-line full of Mary Lou Egan’s mittens on the cover. Hey! I know her!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Plumber here this morning, and we’re hoping to go to Strathardle, so it’s all rather frot.

My husband seems unworried by the age of the sitter in our picture. If it’s really a ???????, as he believes, it must be very early and James must be pretty young. My husband is interested in the hair, though. It doesn’t look like powder. He wants to learn more about premature greyness. Catdownunder's comment (today) is helpful in that respect.


I’ve divided for the neck of the Brownstone sweater, and am adding some short rows to raise the back, on Jared’s instructions. The sleeves will be incorporated very soon. I’ve surprised myself by finishing the fourth of the original seven skeins. If my calculation of percentages in the sidebar is anywhere near right, I'm still on target for finishing the body before I need more yarn. The sidebar is allowing 16% for the shawl collar, and a few more points for the end game.

It would be time for a pic, if life were more straightforward this morning.

The package I have recently ransomed from Customs & Excise failed to appear in yesterday’s post, whether yarn or no. What did arrive was “Knitting Around the World” which promises, on a very hasty first look, to be excellent. It’s the usual trip from hither to yon but the author, Lela Nargi (unknown to me), has taken the trouble to dig out some less than usual photographs. And most of the traditions are enlivened by an account of a modern designer – the section on Shetland lace, for example, includes a substantial passage about Sharon Miller’s work.

I struggled, and in the end failed, to get knit.wear into my iPad. First I was told that my copy of iTunes wouldn’t do. I had to uninstall it and then install it again. I did that – neither process is quick or simple. iTunes will now load, but it doesn’t work like iTunes in the books. There is no section called “Devices” in the sidebar on the left, in which I could introduce the iPad.

Thomas-the-Elder will be here for a weekend visit soon. He’s got an iPad and will have to conduct a tutorial.

I made a little more progress with two-colour brioche. Marchant’s article in the current VK is an excellent introduction. Her book, I feel, is a bit strung-out. All the material is there, and well-presented, but it takes her so long to get through it that it’s hard to grasp the essence of the problem. Whereas in the magazine she’s got to get it all into four pages, plus one more for the hat pattern, and there it all is, with diagrams included.

I tried a cross, but failed at that.

If I were to attempt the VK hat, I would need to worry about gauge. “Aslan Trends Invernal” is a new yarn to me. Worsted weight, I discover, 4-5 stitches to the inch on 4-5mm needles. (How on earth did we manage, before the Internet?) Marchant uses a 3.5mm needle for her hat, and a whopping 96 stitches. On the other hand, my trial cylinder on 44 stitches is proving too small for much more than a baby hat. We’ll see.

Back here Tuesday, if all goes well. The weather promises not-too-bad, and I hope to make great progress with the Stout system, tidying up for the winter and spreading mulch everywhere.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tricia, thank you, thank you, thank you for telling me where my iPad-to-USB cable was. I hope I won’t forget again. I didn’t get around to trying to port knit.wear to the iPad yesterday, however, because it was a day frot with excitement.

n      Our new picture arrived. We were fully prepared for a second week of anxious waiting-in and increasingly irate phone calls, but Alban Shipping – who collected it from the auctioneer, packed it, and handed it over to UPS – and UPS themselves proved to be an entirely different kettle of fish from last week’s Yodel.

My husband is happy to have it, and has admitted it to the canon. There is a problem, which I think he hasn’t fully faced up to. Maybe today.

It remains very bad, and therefore presumably very early. ??????? went to art school when he was 15, and is known to have painted small portraits at that time, including one of his brother James. An inscription on the back of this picture says that that’s who we have here. So far so good.

By the time he was 20, however, ??????? was painting national-gallery pictures. So any dating for this one that makes him older than 16 is pretty well impossible to swallow. His brother James was only a year older than he was. Could this possibly be a picture of a man of 17?

The more I look at it, the more I think it could be. 

n      “Knit Swirl” is here, and has gone straight into the Challenge pile. I think I am going to be able to use Koigu without much difficulty. In fact, I think the main problem is going to be casting on 500 plus stitches, as you say, Sarah. I’ve dealt with more, knitting the Princess, but I didn’t have to cast them on. (Knit edging first, pick up stitches from.)
n      A card from the post office arrived saying that I owe them £15.49. That is presumably for three more skeins of madelinetosh scarlet from Happy Knits. That works out at £2.50 per skein, plus the £8 payment to the PO for their trouble. And that means that if I get yarn from the US for my hoped-for Effortless, it’s going to cost £28 plus postage before I even think of paying for the expensive yarn. I could buy several books for that.

I don’t need these three skeins for the current project, either. I’ll have to do something with them for Thomas-the-Younger.

n      I had a spare half-hour in the afternoon, while my husband struggled with James ???????, which I spent attempting brioche-in-the-round, from Meg’s hat in Woolgathering #80. I was wholly charmed by her advice on size: “Just start knitting with thickish wool and the finished cap is bound to fit someone.”  

 It didn’t go well – but then, it wouldn’t be a challenge if it were easy. I returned to the problem this morning, during my osteoporosis-pill-half-hour, relying more on Marchant, and I think I’ve got it. In fact I think – even Homer nods – that Meg is wrong. The sequence she gives as “wool fwd, slip 1 p’wise, p2tog” should in fact be “slip 1 p’wise, wool around needle, p2tog”.

I’ll keep this little cylinder and go on practising from time to time. The transition from dark-round to light-round is the next thing to master. Then I can go on to crossing the lines, Marchant-fashion. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Curioser and curioser.

I discovered yesterday that I have not one but two copies of  Knit.wear here on the desktop computer. I don’t see how that happened. I thought I conducted the whole transaction from the iPad.

But here it is, in PDFformat as you say, DaniK, and it remains for me but to do what you suggest: move it into iTunes and sync with the iPad. Neither operation will be straightforward. I have never moved anything into iTunes in my life, and am astonished to see that there is such a destination, here on the desktop. And I don’t know what I’ve done with the iPad-to-USB cable. I must have one somewhere, because I sync’d  a few times at the beginning, which wasn’t very long ago. I’ve been tidying up around here lately, and the room is fairly navigable at the moment, but tidyness affected only paper. The accumulation of wire still resembles nothing so much as a WWII field telephone station.


About an inch and a half short of the divide-for-neck point. I might even get there today.

As soon as I had formulated yesterday’s Big Thot, I saw the way forward, and it is as several of you suggest: set challenges, but let’s not be pernickety about it. The main thing is not to toss something interesting aside because it looks too difficult, or I think I don’t understand. Try it and you may, I say.

Having got that far, I made a little pile. It pretty well made itself:

n      Debbie New’s amazing “Unexpected Knitting” and the Knitter’s Magazine “Socks Socks Socks” book with her swirl socks on the cover. I think maybe I even tried to start them once. I find I’ve printed out and kept something from the Knit List – that takes you back – with pointers from someone who had succeeded in knitting them. If she can do it, I can.

n      Hoxbro’s “Shadow Knitting”

n      Marchant’s “Knitting Brioche”

n      “Knit One Knit All” for the mitred cardigan

n      And two Woolgatherings:  No. 80 with three interesting hats, travelling stitch, brioche, and Cully’s lattice hat; and No 82 with Cully’s brick sweater.

Brioche ought to be accessible. I love it, and I love its cousin-german, fisherman’s rib. I’ve knit EZ’s brioche watchcap from “Knitting Without Tears” a couple of times. She calls the stitch “fruity” – the perfect word. She thinks it doesn’t work in the round, but we have moved on since that book was written.

I think I am put off by Marchant’s vocabulary – she has created new terms: BRK for “brioche knit” and “BRP” for “brioche purl” which then appear in various more or less alarming combinations.: BRKBRPBRK. BRSSP.  Start with Meg’s hat, perhaps – that will get me going on two-colour brioche in the round; go on to Marchant’s hat in the current VK.

Amazon says they have shipped "Knit, Swirl". Will it arrive today?

Monday, October 10, 2011

I write my blog entries in Word and archive them for posterity, each one named for the day on which it was written, and then copy and paste them here. By skipping yesterday I have missed the day in 2011 when the numbers were consecutive. Yesterday was 9-10-11, British style. But today, at least, shares with the first of this month the pleasant attribute of forming a binary number: 101011.

We had a nice time with Helen, who then spent the rest of Sunday in Edinburgh airport (I learn this morning), waiting for Athenian air traffic control to pull itself together.

Not much knitting.

I thought I had succeeded after something of a struggle in buying the Interweave knit.wear magazine for my iPad. It came in as one long web page – not, that is, in the Zinio app where Piecework lives, nor the iBook one where Knitting Traditions and Knit & Spin are. But this morning it is gone – “Access denied request has expired”. And I have deleted the messages from Interweave related to it. Clearly I did something wrong. Live and learn.

It was not without interest, while it lasted.

I read the other day – this time in a food magazine – that Mark Zuckerberg, he of Facebook fame and enormous wealth, has taken to setting himself a challenge each year. It 2009, it was to wear a tie every day. In 2010, to learn Chinese. This year, to eat only meat he has killed himself.

I have been trying to think of a knitting challenge for myself. Not easy – and with so relatively few years left to me, I don’t want to be too restrictive. Knit only Zimmermann (including Meg and Cully)? That’s a possibility. Explore the areas I regard as closed through difficulty or distaste – afghans; bobbles including nupps; fancy brioche – I like that hat in the current VK and feel sure it is beyond me; shadow knitting. I am sure double knitting will go straight into that category when I get the new book. There may be the ghost of an idea here.

But one doesn’t want to make life too consistently unpleasant for oneself.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

And another follower! Welcome!

It sounds as if our new picture is safe and well. The shipping company claims to have picked it up from the auctioneer – an important first step. It is currently “downstairs being packed” and will soon be dispatched to us. When that happens, we’ll have a tracking number.

This sounds a bit languid, on reflection. We had hoped to go to Strathardle next week. I’ll phone again on Monday and ask for an ETA, if I don’t hear from them.

Thinking about Yodel: why does so serious a firm as Marks & Spencer use them, as horror stories multiply? The supermarkets are all dead keen to deliver, these days – I don’t understand the logic; surely it’s better business for them to have us turn up and choose the stuff and take it home ourselves? But keen they are, and they can hit a dime, so to speak, when it comes to delivery times, shewing that it can be done.


I’m about 3 ½ inches short of dividing for the deep neckline of the scarlet Brownstone. Another 3 ½ after that will bring us to the great joining-of-the-sleeves.

Thank you for the offer of help on the Madelinetosh front, Mary Lou. I may take you up on it. A shaky-looking package marked “gift” has a better chance of getting past the Customs. I looked up the Yarnery and was surprised, I don’t know why, to find you in Minnesota. I thought you were west coast. They list madelinetosh but don’t seem to have added her to the on-line section (yet) so I couldn’t wallow in the available shades. You are proudly listed among their designers.

I am rather proud of myself for not have ordered any yet. At least, in my new incarnation, I’m not adding to stash. And Amazon now say that “Knit, Swirl” should ship next week – the hope remains that it will furnish something that I can adapt for Koigu. I doubt if I will be able to refrain from knitting the Effortless next, but it’s just as well to hold back on the yarn-buying as long as possible.

Has anybody seen Interweave’s new Knit.wear magazine? It turned up amongst my emails this morning, and looks not un-promising. I can justify the expense to myself with the claim that I had the sense not to buy their holiday-knits this year. Interweave seem to be producing a magazine a week these days.

I spent a happy half hour with the Twist Collective yesterday. The link is to a cardigan I rather fancy – but it’s not asymmetrical, and the gauge is given over rib which can make for difficulties.


I didn’t know until I read the obituaries yesterday that Steve Jobs was adopted. Abortions were not so easy to come by, in the 50’s. How different the world might have been!

Helen is expected this afternoon. My husband and I will use our new don't-have-to-wait-in freedom this morning to go see Anish Kapoor at the College of Art. I think Helen has to leave at dawn tomorrow, in which case I will be here as usual. If I'm not, it will be because she's still around.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Welcome, new follower!

I’ve got the package! It came at 3:45, after nearly another whole day of waiting-in, but I’ve got it! I’m free! I can go across the square to get the papers whenever I feel like it – doesn’t have to be done at 7:15 before the Yodel working day begins. I can go to the supermarket! Helen is safely in London, full of joy at the news. We'll see her tomorrow.

It’s a great big heavy thing. I’m glad I’m not responsible for carrying it to Greece.

Anna Livia, I shall make sure that both Helen and her husband read your comment in full.

Knitlass, we’ve got a pragmatic postie, too, who often signs for things for us. I’m not scared of the Post Office. If I do get one of those dread cards, I can go to their website and arrange for re-delivery or whatever – sometimes sending it to a relatively-near sub-post-office for collection works best, as with the madelinetosh scarlet yarn recently – in the reasonable confidence that whatever is arranged electronically, will be done. Not so with Yodel.

But life has a way of going on. Today’s job is to find out what has happened to our parcel – the picture we bought in Salisbury last week. I arranged with a recommended shipping company to pick it up, pack it, and dispatch it to us. We agreed a price and I paid it. I have heard no more. Where is the picture? When can we expect it?


I reached the point yesterday – it happens in every full-sized project without countable pattern repeats – when I knit and knit and knit without making any progress at all. The Red Queen was standing behind my chair – “It takes all the running you can do, to stay in the same place”.

The sweater may not have advanced, but yarn got used. I have wound and attached the fourth of the seven skeins in the original purchase. So I’ve used somewhat less than half, so far. I am feeling rather hopeful. I have knit slightly over a third of the eventual length of the body. And, of course, I’ve done the sleeves. Even bearing in mind that once the sleeves are attached to the body, I’ll use a lot more yarn per vertical inch, I am inclined to think I’ll have enough to finish the body.

The skeins from Jimmy Bean – which look fine, to the naked eye – can then be employed on the shawl collar. Still nothing has arrived from Happy Knits. There’s another package to chase. If those skeins ever turn up, I’ll have to knit Thomas a matching hat and scarf. Or perhaps a sleeveless pullover for Thomas-the-Younger?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

I was sorry to hear of Steve Jobs’ death. It emboldens me to express out loud my suspicion that Mr. Megrahi, although undoubtedly very ill, may be hamming it up a bit. We saw him a month ago, apparently beyond speech and days from death. This week he gave an interview.

Still no package. The carrier is called “Yodel”, unknown to me and perhaps rather new on the scene. I missed the delivery on Monday. I re-booked it for Tuesday and had an email from them confirming the arrangement. No package. I phoned yesterday morning and was told the package was on the van and would definitely arrive that day. No package. I’m about to phone again.

Waves of anxiety from Athens make the waiting worse. Helen set out for London this morning, so from here on out it’s up to me.

Miscellaneous knitting-related

Little to report on the knitting front. I press happily forward with the Brownstone, the stitches now recovered and untwisted and unsplit and, where necessary, chained back up. It took a while. I’ll know what to do the next time I find a knot. The glorious yarn and glorious red are particularly welcome as a relief from package-waiting.

I also, finally, unpinned the Mourning Shawl from the dining room floor and mended the holes clumsily – there were actually some free stitches to be secured, to my horror. It remains but to hand it over to our niece. I think it might be easier to give her a photograph of it being blocked, rather than try to point out the lettering in the actual object.

I used to keep notes of interesting patterns in the magazines that I might want to look at again. There was a jacket called “Round Trip” in Noro Kureyon in the Fall, ’03, issue of Knitter’s which I knit for Cathy. I wonder how closely it resembles the ideas in the elusive “Knit, Swirl”. Conceivably, the same designer. It tends to slip back from the shoulders unless secured.

I need more shelf-space for knitting books. I wonder if I dare reserve the Knitter’s’s with the interesting patterns I have noted, including all four issues for 2000 when Meg walked through the EPS, and throw away the rest. 

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Yesterday was spent waiting in for a delivery that didn’t come. The vigil resumes today. Greek Helen is about to make a lightening visit to the UK.  The package is from Marks & Spencer and contains school uniform for her boys. She must have it NOW. Waiting in for a delivery hardly counts as stress in a world as stressful as this one, but it’s no fun. And my husband gets no exercise, since he won’t go out alone, and that’s not good for him.

Wednesday is my osteoporosis-pill day, and as usual I spent most of the half-hour (no food, no coffee, musn’t lie down) knitting. I’m nearly half-way between the cast-on and the beginning of the deep collar-hole. I love the slight non-uniformity of the colour.

However, just at the moment I’m a bit cross. I came to a tiny knot and decided to leave it and when I got back to it on the next circuit, it had come undone. There was nothing for it but to rip out the round. That’s where I am at the moment. It is going to be easy to pick the stitches back up, and also easy to see which one begins the round. But it’s a bore.

At least it came undone right away and not a month hence, when the hole might have been blamed on an entirely innocent moth.

I’ve been looking at “Effortless” cardigans on Ravelry. Lots of people have done them.  The tone is very enthusiastic and the results look good on the wearers. Lots of people have done it in madelinetosh dk, too. I was interested to see how well, to my eye, the more variegated shades look. It is knit on larger needles than I am using at the moment, and – not surprisingly – at a looser gauge. Some people have used madelinetosh “Vintage” which is tagged as a worsted yarn and which is available in London, from Loop.

But I don’t think I want anything heavier than the yarn I’m using and I am very happy dropping in on Jimmy Bean’s madelinetosh dk page every so often and dreaming of the future.


Thank you for your continued help. I looked up “white balance” on the internet and I think I see what I need to do. I haven’t tried “light box” yet. I have discovered that the “night” setting on my camera starts with a wide aperture and then sets the shutter speed automatically. I don’t have a “food photo” setting, alas, Woolly Bits. The very idea makes me want to rush out and spend several hundred pounds, if need be, on a new camera.


“Knitting Around the World” and “Knit, Swirl” are both currently promised for mid-October, which is virtually upon us, and “Extreme Double-Knitting” from the oddly-spelled Alistair will be with us soon, too. It’s available for download now. An exciting month. 

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

If I’m still functioning when the Calcutta Cup next returns to Edinburgh, I’ve decided on generous-fitting Scotland-blue sleeveless v-necks for the Little Boys – who may be grown men by then – with the cup and date in white somewhere. Easy wearing for the non-wool-wearer. And I am determined, with the same proviso, to contrive to see the cup when it next resides north of the border.

The commentators made much, the other day, of how rare it is for Scotland and England to play each other on neutral ground. I find myself wondering if it has ever happened before except in Calcutta. The whole thing started in the 19th century as an annual match between British civil servants there. When the Rugby Club broke up, they used the money remaining in their bank account to have the cup made. It’s got serpents for handles and an elephant on top and wonderful surface patterning – well worth seeing.

Yesterday I had an email from Interweave about their e-magazine ColorKnit. This time, it is available for an iPad, and I got it.

It is a whole new experience, not at all like reading Piecework or the New Yorker on one’s iPad. It’s a genuine interactive magazine full of hyperlinks and audio clips and perhaps even some video ones, although if so I haven’t come across them yet. I find it not entirely congenial –  broken-up and bitty and hard to navigate. And I’ll have to figure out how to get rid of it eventually: it’s very demanding of memory.

Actual knitting

I am now embarked on the blissful uninterrupted st st part of the body of the Brownstone sweater. It will all end too soon, with stitches cast off centre front for the eventual shawl collar. From then on I must work back and forth and excitements will accumulate – some short-row’ing in the back, the incorporation of the sleeves, the raglan shaping.

I am about to attempt a picture of it on the front step, incorporating some of your advice. I got the old, superior camera out and am, at the moment, boosting its battery a bit. I will have to remind myself how to turn the flash off and how to get the results into the computer. I’ll take the pictures on the front step (as is my wont, in the months when it is light at this time in the morning, and not raining) with a pillowcase or something similar from the ironing pile for background. The sun, if available at all, doesn’t reach the step until later.

I had a look at Picnik yesterday, and liked what I saw, although I think it was rather an effort for my not-at-all-new computer. But I couldn’t make any progress with those orange photographs – increasing the saturation made things redder, but obliterated all detail (such as stitches) in the process. I’ll be back. 

Vast improvement. The upper picture was taken, without flash, on the "auto" setting. Too pink, but that's better than orange. The bottom one is getting pretty close to the truth -- for that, I twiddled the controls around to a setting which seemed to suggest night-time. I'll now have to go back to the instruction book and see what I did.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Knitlass, just for you, here’s a picture of Alexander’s Calcutta Cup ’06 sweater. It’s a bit snug on him these days.

I’ve been sort of thinking about what to knit if we should win in ’12. (The even-numbered years are the only ones in which there’s a whisper of hope – because the match is played in Edinburgh. Scotland haven’t won in London since late in the Pleistocene era.) I think it would have to be matching, or in some other way comparable, sweaters for Alexander and Ketki’s sons. Ketki already has a Calcutta Cup sweater, from ’08.

Children don’t go in for wearing wool much, these days. Could I bear to knit cotton? Don’t think so.

I wonder if there’s a Calcutta Cup group on Ravelry.

Meanwhile, not much. I’m on the last round or so of body ribbing of the scarlet Brownstone. The pattern from here looks straightforward, at least until the sleeves get joined on.

Thank you very much for the advice on photographing red. My camera is pretty basic – I don’t even think I can turn off the flash. I used to use a fancier one, although usually set on Auto. Latterly, it had taken to over-exposing. I used to know a bit about shutter speeds and apertures but before I started fiddling about, Rachel and Helen gave me the simple one for my birthday. It’s clever – you can point it towards a window and it will photograph the room. But it can’t handle red.

Maybe I’d better resurrect the fancy one. How much could be done with one of those programs that lets you edit and adjust pictures?

The new Wool Gathering turned up the other day. The pattern is a neat little mitred vest or jacket, out of the same stable as Round the Bend and none the worse for that.