Sunday, September 30, 2012

All fairly well on the knitting front.

I spread the jacket out yesterday morning – a time of day when the synapses are firing, as far as they ever do. The problem was, too few stitches. If I had gone for the overlap, there would have been a few more. The part I was knitting had to be grafted, ridge by ridge, to the garter stitch above – that determined the ultimate number of stitches which had to be there.

In the end, the only thing to do was to cut back a bit on the underarm decreases. That was (and remains) worrying, tightness of upper sleeve being distinctly undesirable.  But otherwise it went well. Grafting st st to the edge of garter stitch going at right angles to the direction of knitting, proves to be a doddle. Slip a needle through the edge of the garter stitch, bump by bump, and graft as if you had st st on both needles. I am pleased with the result.

One day soon I must master the technique of drawing a circle around the part of the picture to which I want to draw attention.

I’m now finishing off the back – I may or may not get it done today. In that case, there will be 84 stitches to graft. I’m not complaining – I love grafting. But it’s slow work. Here's where we are so far:

(Never mind the colour -- consider the overall effect.) Next come the sleeves, which again involve instructions I don’t understand. Pick up stitches, make a cap at the top with short rows and wrapping. (I don’t mind short rows, but I don’t like wrapping.) Knit the sleeve down – something about knitting 2 tog every so often which I don’t entirely grasp. Finish with a garter st border.

Solvitur ambulando.

(In looking up that phrase to make sure I was using it appropriately, I found this, which brought tears to the old eyes.)

My scam

(If you're starting here, you need to read my blog entries for the last two days.) I emailed the bank yesterday. I got back a prompt, automated response which assumed I was reporting an email. It included a number to phone if I felt I had compromised my security. But that wasn’t the case – worrier that I am, I still can’t imagine that I have done myself any harm by pressing 9. So I didn't phone.

The message also said that my email would be read (eventually) and investigated. I’ll leave it there. An interesting experience.

I can’t find, this morning, the message or comment from one of you about the Money Box Live BBC programme on automated calls from banks. I went to the BBC website in search of it. I meant to listen, but I found a long written account – a quicker way to assimilate information.

The scams they talked about all involved the telephone-ee being asked to provide security details. The truly fiendish cleverness of mine was that it didn’t ask me for anything (except to press 9). And then provided a telephone number I could ring if I was worried.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

You were right, Beverly and Southern Gal. I haven't heard from the bank, which means that that automated call was a scam [yesterday’s post]. I haven’t tried to phone the bank, because once last year I had a call of which I was suspicious -- that time from a Genuine Human Being -- and I tried to phone, and got lost in a maze of choices and buttons and never succeeded in speaking to anyone. I could have reached a human voice if I had lost a card, I remember. Otherwise I have forgotten the details.

But I remembered the experience. So when the automated woman said that the bank would get in touch within 24 hours, but if I wanted to speak to someone now the number to call was…: I hung up. The scam must have resided in that telephone number. Someone would have tried to extract my security details. Or maybe it was one of those £1-a-second numbers, and I would have been lost again in a maze of choices.

All I actually did was press 9 during the original call. So the Bad Men know I bank online with the Bank of Scotland. They may have known that anyway – or were they phishing? Otherwise security has not been compromised. The bank’s security system, and my own, are both pretty good, I think.

Alexander, who acts occasionally as my financial advisor, says that he always hangs up at once on an automated call thus sometimes missing genuine ones trying to check up on recent credit card expenditure. If the bank wants to get in touch, they’ll keep at it, he rightly says.

Perhaps I’ll email them, less costly in time and nervous energy than a phone call. That call was sufficiently sophisticated to be worthy of mention.


I have reached the underarm of the mitered jacket. There I stopped last night – the situation now requires thought and counting and re-reading of instructions, not to be attempted last thing in the evening. I don’t entirely understand what I’ve got to do, either. It does seem clear that -- when I get there, as I will soon -- I must graft the live stitches to the under edge of the top border just like that, without first knitting up stitches from the border.

The stitch numbers aren’t quite right.  Maybe Glover meant business when she implied that you had to get a gauge of six stitches to the inch, or else. But I’ll try some calculations before I despair, as the general look of the thing is pretty good, I think.

The shape looks funny in the picture because the stitches are bunched together on a 24" needle. It will be easier to assess the situation if I put some of them on a much longer needle so that I can lay the thing out flat. I'll do that.

If all goes smoothly, I may even finish the body this weekend. Exciting!

Friday, September 28, 2012

I don’t reeely worry when I lose a follower, and I am grateful for your words of comfort. But as you say, Kristie, it’s a bit deflating. Google Analytics puts readership at about 300, and fairly steady.

And, Shandy, yes, isn’t it exciting? But why have you got your ticket to Franklin’s class only now? I had a receipt at once, and a hand-written note about class times and needle sizes. You signed up before I did. Or maybe I have an actual ticket still to come.

Perhaps we should type Loop’s postcode into Google Maps and walk about the virtual streets looking for a pub. I feel sure there will be something close by. We’ll have an hour and a half before the afternoon class.

Otherwise, no news. I will probably reach the underarm of the jacket today. I have pretty well concluded that I will have to knit up stitches from the bottom edge of the top border, before attempting to graft it to the st st fill-in I am currently working on. 

I wound the antepenultimate skein yesterday and found no breaks. But experience with earlier skeins has shewn that frayed bits may yet turn up in the knitting. Usually a row or two below the point one has actually reached. [My blogging practice is to compose in Microsoft Word, save the result, and then paste it into Blogger. Word let me through with "antepenultimate", but Blogger has queried it. Neither likes "shewn".]

I didn’t move any forrad’er with the yarn for Ed’s Gardening Sweater yesterday.


A funny thing happened.

I had an automatic phone call yesterday purporting to be from the Bank of Scotland. The voice was utterly plausible. She asked if I were trying to set up a payment from my internet account. Press 9 if not. I pressed 9. She said they would freeze the account and be in touch within 24 hours. That sounded sensible.

I have heard no more. But then, the 24 hours haven’t quite expired yet. I logged on to the account last night. It looks fine – the money is there. The date-of-last-log-in was well in the past. If anyone was meddling yesterday, they did it without logging in. There was no sign of the account’s being frozen, although I didn’t actually try to do anything so maybe it was.

This is not the account (or the bank) from which our day-to-day living is conducted. But the money is no less precious for that reason. I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I have lost a follower!

And I have used up almost all today's blogging time attending to correspondence.

The jacket progresses well. The next excitement will be dividing at the underarm. That moment is not far off, although perhaps not this evening. Quite soon after that I will have to graft the live stitches I am knitting on, to the lower edge of the top garter-stitch border which is of course not live. The instructions seem to glide over any possible difficulties. Presumably I proceed as if both elements were st st? Do you think I should knit up stitches from the border first, or just try to graft into the ridges as they present themselves?

Having got myself started on the subject, I spent some time with Jimmy Bean yesterday. I think I will go ahead and order Ed’s yarn, although I can’t start the sweater until I myself have measured a favourite sweater of his, and I can’t do that until mid-November in association with Franklin-at-Loop.

Thank you for your suggestion, Lou, that I buy the yarn at Loop that weekend. I had a look at their website just now. Loop doesn’t stock madelinetosh sport yarn, but they have a much bigger selection than I expected of DK. While I was at Jimmy Bean yesterday, I ran my requirements through their yarn calculator. It said I’ll need nine skeins of sport yarn, which seems rather a lot given that Ed is very fit and not very tall. But I can’t bear worrying, and this is going to be expensive anyway.

It might be worth taking a moment to re-do the calculation for DK, though, and then looking again at the selection at Loop. At Jimmy Bean, I’ve narrowed it down to Firewood or Cove or Hickory or Well Water. Susie most kindly wrote yesterday to say that she lives near the factory outlet (no discount, alas, or we would all move to Texas) and would get me anything I wanted.

It was incredibly kind of her, but I think any more choice would simply paralyse.

I will certainly buy something at Loop when I go to Franklin's classes, as a souvenir of a going-to-be-wonderful day.


We found last weekend that the deer had been back, in force. We have never had them anything like as bad as this. There was an item on television last week about some people called “poachers” who will come and take away your deer for free. Alas, there was no mention of how to get in touch.

I had hoped for an end-of-season sorrel soup, but they had had that. And the autumn raspberries. They still hadn’t got into the vegetable cage, and we had a pleasant dish of broccoli from there. I will have to think hard about every square inch of that space for next year. I think the crop I most missed, of those the deer ate, was mange-tout peas. Followed closely by broad beans. Both heavy on space. 

Deer don’t like rhubarb or potatoes or Jerusalem artichokes. Or, needless to say, Good King Henry. That’s a start. They nibbled my bunching onions without doing much damage – that could change as the weather gets colder. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

All well. Helen got safely back to Athens on Monday night. We dropped her at the airport on our way into the city. Fitting two extra people and their luggage into the car in addition to me and my husband and the stuff we normally carry back and forth, was a miracle of engineering, all due to Helen.

There is no flight to Athens from Edinburgh on a Monday. She had to fly to Brussels in an itsy-bitsy airplane, and on from there. Archie and I figured out from the Edinburgh Airport website later in the day that the little connecting flight had taken off an hour late (due to atrocious weather, presumably), and from the Brussels Airport website that she still had an hour to make the connection.

That should be plenty of time, I said. You haven’t been in an airport recently, said Archie.

In fact, it was very tight. She ran, and got through the door as it was closing. But she got there.

It was wonderful that she could come. It must have been nice for Archie to see her, after his first weeks of living away from home. And a terrific lift for her, to see him in such fine fettle. And we had that amazing weather. 

I have pretty well recovered by now from tree-planting and general not-very-strenuous bustling about, but it took a moment. One begins to feel one’s age.


I’m nearly half-way up the fill-in bit of the Mitered Jacket. There seem to be two fewer stitches on one side than on the other, waiting to be knit in, despite conscientious counting and re-counting. That is pretty well what always happens, in my experience, and I think the discrepancy will be fudge-able.

I love the way the fabric looks. With that in mind, and my continued satisfaction at my husband’s green v-neck vest, I wonder if after all if “Firewood” is right for Ed’s Gardening Sweater. Should I go for something solider, less variegated. Hickory? There are a million colours, most of them wonderful, but one is limited in practice to what Jimmy Bean has in stock.

Maybe I’ll run the problem through the Sweater Wizard today, guessing at size, and try to get an idea of how much yarn I’ll need.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

All went well, and here we are safely back. 

The weather was remarkable. We drove up on Thursday in steady rain. We drove back yesterday in more, and worse – Catullus’ caeli furor aequinoctialis. Same again, today. In between were sandwiched three days of September perfection.

We got our little tree planted.

The man who built its house had dug a good, deep hole, so it has plenty of weed-free friable soil below and around it. My husband – wrongly – believes that you shouldn’t include garden compost or well-rotted manure in a planting mixture as it is “too rich” for a young plant. But I did at least carry up two buckets-full of good soil from my vegetable garden. The old carpet was added to suppress weeds.

On Saturday I went to Pitlochry and met Helen and Archie off the Edinburgh train. Trains from the south come in on the far platform. Often and often in the last 50 years I have stood there watching from below as the new arrivals walk across the little bridge, looking for the ones I love. It was fun to do it again.

I guess if you’re in a wheelchair you just don’t get off in Pitlochry.

Archie is in good spirits. Clearly boarding-school scores something better than Tolerable on the Life-Experience scale, and some aspects of it are even fun. I won’t see him again for a while – he’ll go home to Athens for the fortnight’s holiday at half-term. (All Scottish schools do that – it’s a tradition which has something to do with freeing up child labour for the tattie harvest.) And to his other grandmother for the November exeat. And back to Athens for Christmas.

I re-engaged with the Japanese shirt while we were there, but it’s slow work, sock yarn in garter stitch. Should I bring it back here? Another successful evening with the mitered jacket yesterday. It’s looking good.

Helen C.K.S. has posted a new blog entry.  I’ve seen her Navigator sweater before (links are in her post) but this time I can feel it speaking to me. I like the idea of distressing it, too. Could I bear to knit with cotton?

And she’s posted another terrific cat video. 

Thursday September 20, restored, actually

Strathardle today. Helen and Archie will join us on Saturday. Back here Tuesday, if all goes well. I am anxious about it.

We have a tree to plant. I decided not to replace the pinus sylvestris aurea the neighbour’s horses ate – the one our children gave us as a golden wedding present. (I moved the corpse into my vegetable garden and watched all summer for a spark of life. Nothing.) We are going to put a pinus bungeana in the spot, now heavily fortified.

Bungeana is a Chinese tree, much grown in temple courtyards. James suggested it. It is hardy, as it would have to be in Peking winters. It likes sunshine, but will have to make do – at least we hope it will – with what Strathardle can offer. I got it from the Bluebell Nursery. They rang up most solicitously, the day after I ordered it, to make sure I knew how to take care of it and was aware that it would grow very slowly at first.

It’s most peculiar looking. I hope I can keep it alive. There is one in the Royal Botanic Gardens here, so we’re in with a chance.

We’ve had splendid Indian summer planting days recently, but the weather has turned against us this morning and the forecast isn’t good.

I told James we had a bungeana at last. He was pleased, and asked for a picture of it in situ. 


All well so far on the second attempt to knit the st st fill-in for the jacket.

 I went into the new local LYS yesterday, Kathy’s Knits, glad of an excuse to do so, and bought point protectors. And a skein of sock yarn, sort of on the principle which prompts my husband to try, at least, to buy something whenever he goes into a second-hand book store. Knitglobal, it’s called. New to me. She is serious about selling British yarn.

I see she is planning to start classes soon. I’ve signed up for info.

I very much like your idea, Mary Lou, of holding stitches on narrow ribbon instead of waste yarn. I will look for some. What I am doing here is taking 2” worth of stitches at a time – namely 11 – and holding them on the end of the circular, separated from the actual back-and-forth stitches with a marker. I know I need to knit together stitches number 3&4, 7&8, and 10&11 to make things lie flat. By paying attention, I find I can manage this without difficulty so I have skipped Glover’s suggestion this time, of marking the knit-together pairs with sewing cotton.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

If there’s one thing I like doing better than another, it’s knitting back and forth nibbling away at stitches at the edges – knitting an edging onto a shawl, for instance. That’s what I’m doing now with the mitred jacket. It puts me very much in just-one-more-row mode.

Except that disaster struck, last night. At first I couldn’t figure out what had happened. I finally concluded that while I was down at one end of the row, acquiring a stitch or stitches to nibble, stitches fell off the other end of the working needle and the vital edge stitch then ran down, detaching the centre from the border.

There was nothing for it that I could think of but to take two days' work out and go back to the point where I had just finished grafting the border together.

I have made some improvements. The first time, I kept the waiting stitches, which run up the inside edges of the jacket borders, on circular needles, one each side. And then worked back and forth on a third circular. This meant that there were an awful lot of needle-ends flapping about, adding to the general confusion – where am I? which is the right side?

This time I have put the waiting stitches on waste yarn. It takes a bit longer to grab them, but I think the system will be more secure and much less confusing. I have also broken the yarn in a couple of places where it turned out to be frayed – and this is the skein that was meant to be intact.

At the moment, I am almost back to the point where I was yesterday morning.


I like Tamar’s suggestion that we try on a familiar sweater inside-out to see whether Mary Thomas is right that it will become shorter and wider thereby. The woman certainly isn’t infallible. She says in her Knitting Book that there are only ten authentic Shetland lace patterns, which she names.

Alice Korach refers to this statement in an article in Threads in June, ’87, reprinted in their “Knitting Around the World” compendium. She is sceptical, and rightly so, because it’s rubbish. Now that we’ve got Sharon Miller that quaint notion is no longer worthy of mention.

And even the master can nod. I have long thought that the Seamless Hybrid Sweater in KwT is beyond beautiful. But if you knit it as EZ instructs, it doesn’t work. She has you go back and forth when knitting the saddle, taking in a body stitch at the end of every row. That procedure takes no account of the fact that stitch-gauge and row-gauge are considerably different in st st --  but not so different that there are twice as many rows to the inch as stitches, as her system implies. You’ve got to double up from time to time.

Believe me, I’ve tried.

But thinking about this yesterday, starting from your comment, Tamar, I thought, why not knit a Seamless Hybrid for my son-in-law’s Gardening Sweater which is next on the agenda, Madelinetosh sport-weight in shade Firewood? So that’s what I’ll do.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My money is all right, you will be relieved to hear. I wasn’t really worried (for once – I’m good at worrying), but it is disconcerting when one’s old familiar credit card is refused especially when one knows one is nowhere near a limit. It had to be checked out.

I got the new card up and running with an automatic freephone telephone call. It is a replacement for the old one, not a supplement for it, as I eventually suspected – they might have told me. I then acquired a PIN for it with a different freephone call. I didn't have one before, and that will be useful. I was clumsier at that, and needed help. I then set it up in PayPal and Amazon One-Click. I’m ready to spend again. I bought Zadie Smith’s new “NW” for the Kindle app, just to see if I could.

This took up most of yesterday morning.

And in the evening I leapt forward with the mitered jacket. The bottom band is grafted to itself, rather successfully if I do say so. Stitches have been picked up. I have started knitting upwards, incorporating stitches from the front bands at the end of every row. I did the arithmetic involving the row gauge of st st as compared to garter st – the calculation which determines how often I have to grab two stitches from the front band instead of one.

I had kept the swatch for my husband’s v-neck vest, also madelinetosh DK, complete with a note of the needle size used for it. How’s that for efficient? So I used that for the calculating.

Today’s knitting should reveal whether I have done it right.

(The knitting is around the back of the jacket, and scarcely visible in this picture.) It was all rather difficult because the garter stitch strip seemed enormous and it wasn’t easy to keep track of which was meant to be the right side or even to be sure that one wasn’t grafting it into a moebius strip. But I think we’re all right.

I believe it will need to taper a bit – there may have to be some decreases before the underarm. Or maybe not. But I think I can knit peacefully at least for today without worrying about that.

Thinking about the future, it occurred to me yesterday that if I want one-row stripes I could knit them into a vest for myself. I am messy, and I spend a lot of time, perforce, in the kitchen. My usual winter costume is a cosy hand-knit vest under a succession of cotton sweatshirts which go happily into the wash.

So that Unspun Icelandic Overblouse, whether in st st or garter, wouldn’t entirely work for me. Unless I took it to Strathardle and just let it get dirty. A possibility.

But I could devise a one-row-stripe vest pattern, I think, without too much difficulty. I could even do it the Kirigami way, with vertical stripes knit sideways on a dp needle down to the underarm, and horizontal stripes knit circularly below. I’ll give it some thought.

Marcella, thank you for the offer of finding and translating that Bergere de France pattern for me. It’s pattern 179.46 (snappy title) from the magazine Origin’ 4. But for the moment, at least, I am laying that thought aside in favour of one-row stripes of madelinetosh sock yarn. Apart from the expense, moths absolutely love cashmere.

Monday, September 17, 2012

I’ve finished the garter stitch strip. Today’s job is to graft it to the beginning and start picking up stitches for the fill-in.

That covers that topic, but fortunately for today there’s more to say.

Thrilled by your comment, Gretchen, I got out my old Vogue Knitting Books and tried to find the pattern that Kate Gilbert’s Kirigami had stirred memories of. Here it is, I think, from Book No. 49, autumn 1956:

(The scan isn't all that clear. Like Kirigami, it consists of one-row stripes. The stripes are vertical on both body and sleeves, knit sideways.)

Is that the UFO you have left over from 56 years ago? The gauge is 19 stitches to 2 inches – wow! No wonder you didn’t finish. The yarn specified is Penguin Alpen 3-ply, which is no reason for you not to knit it in Munrospun.

I also bought and printed the Kirigami pattern itself (Ravelry link again).  And downloaded a pic from the Twist Collective. Again, they gave me only half of it but fortunately this time the sweater is in the middle of the fragment I was allowed:

And I had a look at what Mary Thomas says. I was egregiously wrong yesterday – to begin with, the passage I was thinking of is in Mary Thomas’s Book of Knitting Patterns, not her Knitting Book. (That doesn’t mean “knitting patterns” as we would use the phrase – the books is effectively a stitch dictionary.) And what she says is that “front fabric” has width-wise elasticity, and tends to take-in and cling, whereas the elasticity for “reversed fabric” is depth-wise so the fabric tends to take up.

So if you put on an ordinary sweater inside-out, she says, it will be wider and shorter than before “because the stitches take the opposite bend when encircling the body”.

I’m not sure I entirely understand that, but I’m willing to take her word for it. And it should mean that it would be possible to knit the Kirigami without negative ease. Madelinetosh sock yarn?

I pursued the Bergere de France pattern mentioned in Saturday’s blog at least as far as their website. The yarn is 90% cashmere, 10% wool, and costs a lot. The pattern is in a book that costs $20 and that rules it out altogether. I am willing to contemplate extraordinary extravangance in yarn-purchase – but $20 on top for the pattern, no.


My credit card doesn’t work – not for lack of funds, unless a bad man has been in there. This happened yesterday afternoon, and again this morning, the clincher, when I tried to pay for Kirigami with PayPal. They recently sent me, unexpectedly, a debit card to use on the account. I’ve got to activate it by telephone and keep putting off doing so. I thought it was in-addition-to the credit card (which has more than a year to run) but maybe it is instead-of.

So I must spend some time on the telephone this morning straightening that out. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

That was a kind remark of yours, Mary Lou, about liking to see your name in print: as a consolation to me for not being able to figure out how to leave comments on comments. I continue cross at myself for failing to figure out something that other people can figure out. But if I succeed, it will create a new problem for days like this one, when the only knitting news is that I knit 12” of garter stitch strip yesterday and if I can keep that up, I’ll finish the strip and reach the grafting-point today.

I wound a skein of yarn yesterday. The last one, remember, was intact. This one turned out to be the worst so far. Depressing. I hope I’ve learned a valuable lesson about moths.


I was wandering about an old Twist Collective yesterday, and found this, by Kate Gilbert:

I like that a lot – but negative ease? I think not. If one just made a larger size, and left out the “subtle waist shaping”? I looked at other people’s projects on Ravelry, and they all seem to have gone with negative ease. It’s in reverse st st, which would tend to pull in anyway I think. I can remember my surprise reading in Mary Thomas’ Knitting Book long ago the difference as fabric between st st and reverse st st. So turn it inside out?

I have a vague feeling there was something in the Vogue Knitting Book in the 50’s with stripes that narrow. I love it. The pattern specifies a yarn I don’t know, Takhi Yarn Dove, but the gauge is only 18 sts to 4” on a needle a size larger than the one I’m using for DK at the moment, so it couldn’t be too daunting.

Rachel phoned yesterday, and I think we’re all set for the weekend involving November 18 and Franklin. She and Ed will come here – if that’s the way it goes – on Friday after work, and not go back until Monday. So I could stay in London Sunday night (the 18th is Sunday) and take an early train back the next morning.

It would be delicious to have 48 hours of irresponsibility. But the Bronze show has opened at the RA, and it is clearly something very remarkable. It would be a shame for my husband to miss it if getting there is physically possible for him. As I’ve said, I think, we’ll postpone that decision for a month.


My only excuse for including this is that I found it in a knitting blog, the Mason-Dixon knitters. It’s Merle Hazard, “everybody’s favourite financial crooner”, on the subject of the Greek Debt Crisis.  (Skip the text and scroll down a bit for the video.) Who would have thought there was a Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee, complete with the chryselephantine statue of the goddess?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I thought, yesterday, I had succeeded in writing indented comments-on-comments, the way grown-up bloggers like Kristie and the Sock Lady do. But I see that all I have achieved is to add my own comment to the list, which just looks silly. Onwards! As EZ would say.

Again, little to report. There is much excitement to come, but for now there isn’t much to say about knitting a garter stitch strip. I’m not quite half-way around. Finish tomorrow?

The new VK has turned up. While I was flailing about trying to hit upon something to knit with my Dried Rose yarn, I cheated and had an advance look at the issue on-line. So I knew already that there was nothing for me. In real life, it’s better than I expected, with lots to read and some good cables if I ever decide to go there after all.

The one thing I really sort of like is No. 9, an A-line tunic which comes pretty close to qualifying for the late, much-lamented “You Knit What??” website and yet has a wild appeal. But it will never be.

More seriously, the Bergere de France ad on the page facing the table of contents speaks to my yearning for droopy asymmetry and also has an interesting front edging. It looks like perhaps as many as 12 stitches of a k2p2 rib, softly cabled. If “cachemire” means “cashmere” in French, it also looks like a good use of that droopy yarn. It’s grey – I like grey – which is a sensible approach to cashmere inasmuch as it doesn’t take dye anything like as enthusiastically as wool.

I learned that when I bought some cashmere Koigu.

Am I talking myself into it?


We have already agreed that Kindle-reading reduces the clutter of paperbacks around the house. I have recently branched out a bit, and bought a couple of cookery books for mine.

I tend to buy too many, most of which fust unused in the spare room cupboard. Delia and Jamie and Nigel and Nigella get used and re-used and spattered with fat. And I wouldn’t want  Madhur Jaffrey or Ken Hom or Gino d’Acampo to be far away. But after that…

So I recently bought two for the Kindle app on my iPad, both of which turn out to be rather good: Lorraine Pascale’s “Fast, Fresh and Easy Food” and Bill Granger’s “Easy”.  The trouble with cooking from an iPad, however, is the way it keeps turning itself off.

I also acquired Nigella’s new “Nigellissima” the other day as a physical book. I got it out of love of her, thinking I really had enough Italian cook books to be going on with. It turns out to be fresh and interesting and full of good things.

Knitting books are another category of which I buy too many, but I would never get one for the Kindle. Even the ones I’ll never use – “Knit Your Own Royal Wedding” – are treasured members of the family.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Again, little to say.  Kristie’s comment reminds me that the progress on this jacket must be completely unintelligible to anyone who doesn’t have the book open in front of them. [Do follow that link. Kristie is in Korea, staying in a house of ill repute and having adventures and taking wonderful pictures.]

The idea is that you knit a wide garter stitch band which goes all the way around the piece, starting at the lower edge, up the front, around the neck, down the other front,  and around the bottom edge until it meets the cast-on stitches to which it is grafted.

Then you fill in the middle with st st.

Then you pick up stitches for the sleeves.

At the moment, I’m knitting the bottom edge. I spent some time this morning measuring and calculating and I think I have figured out how long to make it. Some shaping is allowed during the st st bit. I wound and attached a new skein last night, and it was perfect. No moths, no knots. Most encouraging.

Charlotte, I do have a progress bar for the mitered jacket over there. My difficulty is that I haven’t the faintest idea how much progress I am making, percentage-wise. One likes to under-estimate, but that doesn’t come in to it.  Say 50% for the body and 25% for each sleeve? Two-thirds for the body and one-sixth for each sleeve would probably be more like it.

But what percentage of the body does this border constitute? I am feebly adding two or three percentage points every day, surely an under-estimate. I will have a much clearer view of the whole when I have finished the border and picked up stitches to fill in the hole.

(Blogger’s automatic span-detection is brilliant, but for some reason it didn’t like your comment, Charlotte. Fortunately I caught it fairly quickly and reinstated you.)


My husband is getting less and less mobile. We are reasonably well served by busses, and can still manage when a bus goes where we want to go, such as to the National Gallery or RSA. And we can drive to the Gallery of Modern Art where they provide parking. But yesterday he wanted to see Leslie Hunter at the City Art Centre and didn’t think he could manage the walking.

So I drove. Twenty years in Edinburgh, but I have never had to wander around the city centre looking for parking space and I dreaded it. It turned out to be easy – there is plenty of on-street parking near by, very expensive and well-patrolled with the result that there were plenty of empty spaces. That means that the City Art Centre and the Fruitmarket are back within our range. Ingleby remains a problem – but there, you have to walk upstairs to see the art so perhaps it is best avoided.

And we enjoyed the show.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rachel sent it to me this morning, forwarded from Thomas-the-Elder.

Good progress continues on the mitered cardigan. I have started turning the final corner. Next comes the interesting task of assigning a size to the circumference. The pattern mentions the possibility of “tapered” for the all-over shape. I think we can rule that out to begin with.

I looked up “Around the Bend” and, as I thought, no provisionally cast-on stitches were involved. You abandon live stitches at two points, and when you have gone around the bend and got back to them, you graft. I’ve looked through the technique pages at the end of “Knit One, Knit All” and there is no reference to the offset problem. There probably is no such problem. But provisionally-cast-on stitches do not exactly correspond to the live stitches that set off in the opposite direction. They come in the spaces in between.

Although I take your point, Allison (comment yesterday). We’ll just have to see what happens.

And now I’ve run out of things to say. It happens, some mornings. I turned to Zite for inspiration – the on-line knitting magazine that comes to my i-Pad – and found this hat. (It’s the one for 10th September).

It's in Rowan Colorscape Chunky, even one skein of which is not a trivial purchase. On the other hand, it would be practically instantanous to knit. The pattern is available from the link above, or from Eskimimi on Ravelry. 

Another thing I like is Meg’s stocking-stitch Icelandic overblouse, taking off from the garter stitch one in Knit One, Knit All. It is illustrated in the new Wool Gathering, with a reference to a place on the Schoolhouse Press website where you are said to be able to find a free PDF pattern. That didn’t quite work, but Google found it for me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A good day. I got my confirmation from Loop and put it tenderly in the London Pile. I had written to Franklin after I booked the classes, not really expecting an answer and wondering whether he would even remember my name – and had a lovely note back yesterday. The trouble with email is that it’s sort of awkward for keeping under your pillow.

Woolgathering turned up, too. I like that gilet (although definitely without the waist), I like brioche stitch a lot, I have long wanted to experience Unspun Icelandic. My new, severe self, however, doesn’t order yarn until it’s nearly time to knit it – and, even so, look how long it took me to get around to the current madelinetosh Dried Rose which my sister courier-ed over for me last year.

[I also like the line Meg quotes, when she told her campers that several of her new designs included waist shaping, and someone said, ‘You mean they go out in the middle?’]

I’ve printed “Wingspan” -- see yesterday. I am very grateful for all your enthusiastic comments. Some of the examples in Ravelry look so clever I thought maybe you had to spend time winding yarn to the right place or even breaking and rejoining. Zauberballs should do splendidly, shouldn’t they? Crazy or no.

And Marcella wrote suggesting madelinetosh sock yarn. It might be the perfect answer for that souvenir skein I want to buy on November 18 (Franklin Day) – and still time to finish for Christmas. So far, my madelinetosh experience has been confined to nearly solids (which I love):  Thomas-the-Elder’s Electric Red sweater,  my Japanese shirt,  my husband’s v-neck vest, and now the mitered cardigan.

But a lot of the shades (including Ed’s forthcoming gardening sweater in Firewood) are much more variegated, and might make splendid Wingspans.

It’s funny how sometimes life seems flat, stale and unprofitable and there’s nothing in the whole universe one wants to knit, and at other times (like this one) projects come flooding in, too many to deal with. I’ve called up my electronic Christmas list and pencilled “Wingspan” into a couple of the slots.


Here’s the current state of the Mitered Cardigan. No buttonholes. Slightly blurry because the colour is truer without flash. The truth on that subject is closer to the top than the bottom photograph.

And here’s a close-up of the double mitres at the top front. Observe that the corners they form are turning in different directions. It looks so easy. It is easy. But it involves clever engineering. At least so it appears to my simple mind.

The garter stitch band goes on down to the bottom, obviously. One more mitre, then it completes the circumference of the body and is grafted to the initial, provisionally-cast-on stitches. Will that work, since a provisional cast-on offsets the stitches? I did some garter stitch grafting on Round the Bend, and was very pleased with the result. But I don’t think a provisional cast-on was involved. I must look out that pattern and see exactly how it was done. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

He did it. Thank you for your comment, Mary Lou.

He made his first splash at Wimbledon five or six years ago, the summer of my cataract operations. That time, he got through to the first Saturday, the day when sixteen men play for the last eight places. My first operation was that day, and they got me back upstairs at the point where Murray had won the first two sets. I couldn’t see – indeed, I remember wondering whether I ever would again – but I could lie there and listen while he lost the next three.

It sort of established a bond between us.

I don’t think that has ever happened to him again. (It is only in the four “Grand Slam” tournaments that they play five-set matches.) I didn’t hear the commentators refer to it last night. But I bet it flickered across his own mind, as he lost the third set and then the fourth.

We took the radio to bed with us. I’m glad I was “there”. It was a most satisfyingly real victory, with Djokovic giving it everything he had.


Thank you for your comments on the mitered cardigan. I am now nearly finished with the second double-mitre. Pic tomorrow.

I had thought of i-cord buttonholes. I did them on Round the Bend. But I wondered if it would disturb the geometry not to pull the whole thing forward for the overlap. Your comment, Hat, about actually disliking that look, has, I think, given me the courage to leave the buttonholes out. Indeed, I find myself wondering this morning if I haven’t already gone a bit past the place for the first one.

I don’t see why it should be incongruous to raise the back an inch anyway.

So that’s a decision.

The third skein turned out like the other two – two moth-damage breaks, a third where the yarn was frayed and I cut it, and a knot. Knots have exactly the same effect as moths, but I don’t mind them so much. They’re not my fault. So, again, I’ve got two balls for knitting with, and three tiddlers for my tiddler collection.

Loop (where Franklin will teach) stocks madelinetosh sock yarn. I bought the yarn for my Japanese shirt from them – that’s why I got the email about Franklin’s classes. Does anyone have experience of knitting socks with it? I’m wary, because it’s pure wool. Nobody can make sock yarn like those 25%-acrylic Germans. But I will want to buy some souvenir yarn on November 18, and that would be a pleasant possibility.

Thanks for your help on Craftsy, too. I have looked at their complete knitting list. If I ever do decide to take the plunge, it will be Myra Wood’s Perfect Fit Seamless Crazy Lace Cardigan. (Ravelry link) I don’t particularly want a crazy lace cardigan, but I’m curious. What is crazy lace?

While researching that question on Ravelry just now, I found THIS free download. (another Ravelry link). Isn’t it wonderful? Who would like one for Christmas? 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Helen writes this morning, speaking of a Strathardle neighbour: “I have become xxxx’s friend on Facebook which has opened out a whole new world. It’s a bit like being dead - you see your places and your life, but with other people in the photos.

She spoke to Archie yesterday. He sounded cheerful, she said, and not eager to prolong the conversation. The exeat is in less than a fortnight now. I am so looking forward to seeing him.


Well, I got my places in Franklin’s classes. Once I had noticed that the classes were restricted to seven learners, I was sure I was too late. Like Serena, who says she had prepared her runner-up speech for yesterday (sweet!), I was planning how to go on with the conversation once they told me I was on the waiting list. But in fact I got the last place in the reading-old-patterns class in the afternoon, and the penultimate one for lace in the morning.


I am not at all sure that I am up to six hours of such excitement in one day (as you say, Shandy). But London is exhausting, full stop. I’ve got to do something in the morning; hanging around Rachel’s house isn’t really an option – I might as well spend the time with Franklin.

Even if Loop passes on every penny to Franklin, £700 is not really enough to make a trip to London from Chicago worthwhile, even a brief one. But if he was coming to London anyway – he likes London – it’s not bad for a day’s work. Maybe he has some other gigs.

Actual knitting

I paid attention to my own blog entry for yesterday and took out the mitre I was working on – the one on the wearer’s right shoulder, at the back, where the work turns to start its downward journey. And lengthened the back piece so that it now equals two mitre-edges (more or less). Then I re-did the mitre, and have nearly finished with the right-hand edge-of-neck piece. Today I should begin the second double-mitre in the front.

I also considered my own question of yesterday, about the overlap. The answer, for the moment, is that there is none. The garter stitch strip is (meant to be) completely symmetrical. When it’s finished, you pull it forward to overlap by an inch and a half. At some subsequent point, the back is raised about an inch. That may make up for the overlap. I am surprised, but I have utter faith in Glover’s engineering.

Soon I will have to introduce buttonholes. I’m no good at them, and I don’t like wearing things buttoned up. I considered leaving them out. But I think it would spoil the elegant geometry of this thing to have it flapping about, so I will do as I am told.

Much of today’s time will have to be devoted to winding a third skein. I think I have plenty of yarn, so what I am doing is knitting with the substantial balls and making a collection of the tiny ones which can be employed at the end if need be. It will be interesting, in a grim sort of way, to see what the moths have left me this time. I continue to hope that I’ve been unlucky so far and the next skein will be intact.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

You win – and many, many thanks.

My husband’s birthday falls at that particular weekend in November – on the Monday, actually. He will be 87. Rachel and her husband had planned to come up to celebrate it, as they did last year, and would be happy to do that without me if I want to go to Franklin's classes. But it also occurred to me, nudged by your comments yesterday, that we might attempt a last visit to London.

My husband wants to see the bronzes at the RA. I wouldn’t mind seeing them myself. I emailed Rachel, and she phoned in the evening. She is willing to devote the entire weekend to us, meeting the train at King’s Cross on Friday, driving us to the RA on Saturday, and looking after her father – likely to involve another exhibition – on Sunday while I waltz off to Loop. And taking us to the homeward train on Monday.

I began this morning’s computer session with a visit to Loop – but you can’t book the classes on-line! Mercifully, the shop is open this afternoon. I was horrified to see that the classes are limited to seven people. Surely I will be too late? But I might be able to call in a marker from Franklin himself.

Shall we do lunch, Shandy? I am going to try to book both classes. I don’t think I have much to learn about lace, but we are all agreed that we would be happy to sit at Franklin’s feet for three hours learning about k2p2 rib.

I won’t book the train for another month or so (assuming all goes well this afternoon). Both plans can stay open that long. And either plan should allow me to measure a sweater of Ed’s for his forthcoming madelinetosh. Too late for Christmas, but that’s a small point. I can allow myself to order the yarn -- and protect it well from beasties, when it arrives.


My new KnitPro circulars turned up yesterday. I got the 24” size (now 60 cm) which EZ recommends for all purposes in the early pages of KwT. That’s shorter than the clumsy metal needle I had been using, and I am sure the work has speeded up, apart from the sheer pleasure of handling it. No more moth trouble yesterday, either.

I’ve knit across the back, and have nearly finished the next turn. The neck piece, which comes next, is short, so I should embark on the second double mitre today.

Looking at yesterday’s picture, I begin to grasp why Glover is so fierce about gauge. The amount I knitted across the back has to be double the width of a mitre. Perhaps I had better pause right here and do some  measuring. And figure out, from the instructions, where the front overlap is meant to come from, for I must soon start knitting buttonholes.


So is this to be Andy Murray’s big moment? Or is he to be forever a bridesmaid? A grand-slam final looms in which he will have an extra day’s rest over his opponent, who will be neither Nadal nor Federer and might not even be Djokovic who is currently doing badly in the first set of his suspended match. So far Mr Murdoch has kept the television to himself, but surely the BBC will have to muscle in on the final. 

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Again, litle to report – but we’ve got a picture:

As you can't quite see, because it disappears off the top of the picture, I have nearly turned the top corner, and should today start along the back. The camera did better this morning with the wonderful colour.

The dangling piece is becoming something of a nuisance, and will become more of one, but otherwise I am pleased with the way things are going. No moth damage yesterday, either – sometimes, as I am sure you will understand, as well as finding actual breaks when I am winding the skein, I also encounter frayed passages as I knit, which must be broken and rejoined.

None of that, last night.

I have been thinking for some time of knitting Rachel’s husband Ed a weekend sweater. Yesterday I spent a few moments over at Jimmy Bean’s – and found the yarn. It’s called Firewood. I wonder if it’s new since I last shopped for madeleinetosh? The only question will be whether to go for DK, or to prolong the pleasure with sport? And I need to get someone to measure a current sweater of his with some care. Is Rachel up to it? And to think that I had him here, in a casual sweater, only a couple of weeks ago.

New topic. Does anyone have any experience of Craftsy? Somehow I have put myself in the way of getting endless solicitations from them, and sometimes I am tempted. It's a good idea.  I am always suspicious because they constantly advertise “25% off” without saying, Off what? (Although in fact, when you persevere for a screen or two, it turns out not to be very expensive.) Today it’s a sock-knitting class with Donna Druchunas. But can she teach me anything?

It doesn’t look as if I have much hope of ever getting to a knitting class again. This might be an acceptable substitute.

Helen and I were talking rather wildly, at Strathardle recently, of her coming over for a weekend in November so that I could go to Franklin’s class on November 18 at Loop on Knitting Vintage Patterns. Or his Lace-Knitting class the same day. Or both. But it would be pretty ridiculous for her to come all the way across Europe just for that, and the days of the week when there are direct flights from Athens to Edinburgh don’t quite fit requirements. And it might be hard on my husband for me to go waltzing off to London when he no longer can.

So we probably won’t do that. 

Friday, September 07, 2012


Thank you very much for your help with those ugly acronyms – and special thanks to Mary for not having heard of them. Like some of you, I was puzzled by SCOTUS – surely not a reference to the medieval philosopher from Duns? And grateful to Stash Haus for nailing it.

You’re probably right about two-syllable words, Tamar – but two unfamiliar syllables in place of three very familiar ones? Your rule, also, would exclude the possibility of referring to Hillary as the SOSOTUS, which I rather fancy. Three syllables for six, a real saving.

Our wee-small-hours radio, tuned to Five Live, is on my husband’s side of the bed. He had it on for Romney’s speech which we got the full flavour of, and for Clinton which I, on my side, slept through almost all of, but alas! we both slept so well last night that it wasn’t even turned on for Obama.

Archie phoned from school yesterday. A brief, uninformative conversation which he terminated by saying he had to change after rugby. Helen said in an email last night that reports of the first week have been mixed. She wasn’t specific. His first exeat – home leave for a long weekend – is in only a fortnight. She will be coming over, and we all hope to go to Strathardle. She is sure she will know as soon as she sees him, how things are going overall. He has culture shock to deal with, as well as all the other problems of living away from home under a radically new discipline.


I’m not quite finished with those double mitres – the picture will have to wait until tomorrow.

All went very smoothly. I was alarmed at a passage in the instructions which said to knit 20 stitches in one direction, and then turn and knit 21 in the other, for 18 successive rows. But of course it works fine, when you stop to think about it. “R” means a ridge – two rows; we’re talking about garter stitch – and “r” means a row. I was a wee bit afraid that the instruction-writers might have got confused there. But of course they didn’t.

The wide garter stitch band goes up the front, turns right at the neck to go across the top, and then turns left for the shoulder piece along the neck edge. The second of those mitres, the left turn, starts before the first one is completed. It’s a very clever piece of engineering, at least to my simple mind.

Moth damage, I am afraid, is bad. I wound the second skein last night, hoping that I had hit upon a dud skein for the first one. Not so, alas. This one is even worse. This is the yarn, you may remember, which I found infested a few months ago. I froze it for a few days, and then, on your suggestion, roasted it for a while, and it has been in a ziplock bag ever since. I’m pretty sure the damage was at least arrested.

I think I’ll be all right in the end, after a distressing amount of joining-in. My own fault.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Little to say. I have started the double-mitre at the neck edge, don’t entirely understand the instructions. I should have either a photograph of success, or a tale of woe, for tomorrow.

I am re-loving madelinetosh, and thinking of where she might go next. Jared has a new collection. The Eternity Cardigan? The Hayward top? And Cookie A (Ravelry link) has branched out from socks. Quotient? Obtuse? One day, whether it turns out to be the Effortless or not, I must knit – and then surely never wear – something asymmetrical and swirly. And madelinetosh-y.

There’s a new blog post up from Helen C.K.S, always an event. She's knitting a cowl called Rayures. I think it's what is called a snood in Strathardle, and I wish I had knit it for the Games. Maybe someone would like one for Christmas. Helen's post also includes an amazing picture of the Queen, and a link to a link – but I’ve saved you the trouble – for the Internet Cat Video Festival.

Politics, random

It might be interesting one day – but not this year – to ask Theo what sort of budget he was working with, for the Convention.

America is far more deeply polarised than it was when I was young. Maybe the fear of nuclear annihilation – it was very real, always there; it began to recede only after the Cuban Missile Crisis  – made us aware of our common humanity.

Here’s something you can help me with. Does one ever say those rather awful acronyms, POTUS and FLOTUS, out loud? (I had never heard of them until George W. Bush’s day.) If so, how is the first syllable pronounced? To rhyme with “float”? Or “pot”?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

I’m connected to the internet this morning, but the computer is being unusually slow and bolshie even for it, and I am in a mild hurry.

I am grateful to everybody who took the time to write about interchangeable needles yesterday. There were enough negatives that I settled for ordering fixed circular wooden KnitPro’s in the size I am using (4mm) and one smaller and one larger. Like you, Mary Lou, I mostly knit with smaller-sized needles, and have a reasonable range of nice wooden ones down in those sizes. No KnitPro’s, though. This will be interesting.

The jacket progresses. Here we are around the first corner. This is the wearer’s left side – I’ve finished the garter stitch band along the bottom, and am knitting upwards towards the neck. I might even reach it today. Once there, one executes an interesting double-mitre, starting the second before the first is finished.

The camera hasn’t attempted to do justice to the beautiful madelinetosh colour, Dried Rose. And the impression conveyed, that the bottom band is wider than the vertical one, is an illusion.

I measured my gauge yesterday – 5 ½ stitches to the inch, instead of the required 6. That means that my garter stitch band is 5 ¾” wide, and that in turn means that the measurement from shoulder to shoulder will come out at about 19”. That falls somewhere between just-about-right and slightly-too-big, and I’m not going to worry.

It’s hard to estimate percentages for my progress bar, on a job like this.


You have Barbara in NH to thank (or blame) for the inclusion of this photograph – and you can’t be too sure I won’t have instructions from Charlotte to take it down, later in the day. My brother-in-law sent it yesterday, with no text, under the title “Our Keynote Address”. It shows my sister and her husband, of course, with Theo between them.

How did American politics get like this? It wasn’t so in my day – the party conventions, in the 50’s, actually nominated candidates, at least sometimes. Adlai Stevenson in ’52, certainly. And I don’t remember political advertising on television at all. Or canvassing phone calls, either automated or natural. It sounds from here as if enough money is being spent on politics alone to kick-start the economy.

I wish someone would make a short television program for us over here, showing some of the political television ads from both sides on which (we are told) so much money is being spent. We have nothing like that. Parties aren’t allowed to buy time on the commercial channels. They are allotted carefully-rationed slots on the BBC and nothing makes one reach for the zapper faster than the words, “There now follows a party political broadcast on behalf of…”