Monday, June 18, 2012

Today’s adventure should be the Upside Down French Heel – that is, the plain vanilla heel-flap-heel-turn-gusset I’ve been knitting all my life, upside down since I’m knitting toe-up. I’m nearly there.

Here is Lizzie in her Hundertwasser socks, with which she seems pleased:

Rachel and her husband Ed have birthdays two days apart. They have got into the way of celebrating with a family picnic. This year they had it in the garden so that they could scoot indoors if necessary. But it didn’t rain after all.

Thomas, Joe, Hellie, Lizzie, but no sign of the Birthday Boy and Girl. 

Helen wrote from Athens yesterday predicting the outcome of the Greek election:

“It’s election day here and it’s hard to think about anything else. The most likely result is a half hearted win for New Democracy who will cobble together a weak and unpopular government with Pasok and Greece won’t be kicked out of the euro but it will stumble on in this current state of self loathing and ineffectualness and nothing will change.”

I am reading “Raven Black” by Ann Cleeves, a rather good thriller set in Shetland. The detective is named Jimmy Perez, a Fair Isle man, descended from one of the Spanish sailors who survived the shipwreck of El Gran Grifon – that’s the ship from the Spanish Armada which was wrecked off Fair Isle. There are those who credit the shipwrecked sailors with teaching the islanders both their two-handed knitting technique and their colourful patterns.

Historians are skeptical, but never mind. It provides the detective with a pedigree which Lord Peter Wimsey himself can’t match.

But I doubt if the author is a knitter:

“She could knit a pair of stockings in an afternoon, a plain jersey in a week. She was known as the best knitter in the south, although she’d never enjoyed doing the fancy Fair Isle patterns. “What point is there in that?” she’d say, putting the stress on the last word so she’d almost spit it out. “Will it keep dee ony warmer?”

The author is characterizing the knitter as a not-nice person, of course, but even so she (the knitter), if she was that good, would have known that Shetland and Fair Isle colour knitting do indeed keep the wearer warmer, being a double fabric, and also form a stronger fabric than the soft Shetland wool produces on its own.


  1. It always amuses me when people who nothing about knitting let the fact be known by trying to sound as though they do! Just the same as actresses with knitting needles holding something quickly thrown together with super chunky yarn will prove that they have never handled such dangerous implements before in their lives.

  2. hm, and knitting socks in one afternoon? ok, with chunky wool and big needles = unusable socks. but with the fine yarn normally used - a pair of socks in 3-4 hours (that's what I'd call an afternoon). is that possible? I consider myself a reasonable fast knitter, but not that fast:) still, most books contain some stumbling stones like that, doesn't usually diminish the joy of reading for me.

  3. I'm fast, and can knit a single sock in 8 hours. That's with no patterning, just mindless stockinette.

    A pair in an afternoon? not likely.

  4. =Tamar10:02 PM

    My guess is that the author confused Fair Isle stranded knitting with intarsia, which is only one layer.

    Speed: I believe the knitting-sheath method sometimes called lever knitting can be that fast. Historically there are stories of people who could knit a pair of socks in an afternoon. I think Rutt reports a few of them.

  5. And the editor did not pick it up - which suggests the editor could not knit either.

  6. Ah, the perils of artistic license! And I'm dubious about that pair of stockings in an afternoon ... four pairs a week was considered good going for the stocking knitters of Wales, though admittedly they'd have carded and spun the wool for the stockings in that week too.