Thursday, February 14, 2013

Blogger’s automatic spam detection seems to have collapsed again. Can’t they just put in a line of code to the effect that any message which ends with the words “My website”, followed by a link, is to be suspected? You all seemed to have enjoyed the spam so much that I felt a bit mean, deleting it. Apologies in advance for switching moderation on again, if I have to – I’ll leave it for a few more hours.

Shandy, I’m sure you’re right that the messages have been filtered through translation machines. It hadn’t occurred to me. I thought it was just bad English, but the prose does have a special quality…

I read Cathy’s short story “Takeaway” in a single gulp yesterday. (Link to the Kindle edition on, but it’s also available on, as Kristie points out.) It’s very short, very clever. It’s also an excellent taster-introduction to her Chinese detective, Song Ren, who appears in her full-length thrillers set in Beijing, “Pool of Unease” and “The Slaughter Pavillion”.

She’s got a new novel, called “Carnaby”, coming out in July, under a new name, “Cate Sampson”. It is classified as “young adult” and is set in England this time.


I’ve started the tee-shirt.

My mind felt totally gummed up yesterday morning, as evidenced by that egregious mistake spotted by Beverly, when I said that I got 25 stitches to the inch on my swatch. (No wonder I found purling uncomfortable!) I should have written, 25 stitches to four inches, of course.

I measured a favourite rugby shirt. I wear it a lot, with a polo shirt underneath and, this time of year, a heavy sleeveless pullover underneath as well. That seemed about right, for size. It measures 22 inches across. I did the sums, worrying the while not about the arithmetic but about whether I had framed the questions rightly: is it legitimate to divide inches by stitches?

The answer seemed to be that I would hit my target if I cast on the number of stitches the designer gives for her smallest size, intended for a 32 ½” chest. How could that be? And she was using sport-weight yarn which would make her cast-on even bigger than mine? I wondered about this for a while, and re-did the sums both for my gauge and for hers. I finally decided (tentatively) that I was calculating correctly.

When the designer says, positive ease, she means business – that 32.5” chest gets a 48” tee-shirt. (Her gauge is 23 stitches to FOUR inches, and the smallest size starts with 140 stitches. Try it, and let me know if I’ve done the maths wrong.)

I don’t think I want that much material flapping about. I went ahead and cast on 140 stitches for myself, which, with my gauge, should produce a 44-inch-circumference tee-shirt. I think. I’ve knit a few rows, and it looks perfectly plausible.

I should just be able to follow instructions for the smallest size for the body (adjusting length, of course). The sleeves may be a bit trickier.


  1. Dear Jean,

    At your gauge 275 stitches should give 44" width. So front and back at 140 stitches each should be spot on allowing 4 stiches total for selvedge.

    1. Thanks, Karen. That's greatly reassuring.

  2. Is Takeaway available on anything else but the Kindle? I'm an iPad and Nook person and I can't find it anywhere except as a Kindle edition. So sad as I've enjoyed reading your comments about it and would love to read it. I'm always looking for new female mystery writers to read. Can't wait to see the tee-shirt. Wish I was as comfortable tackling knitting projects as you seem to be. ~chris

    1. It looks as if Takeaway is available only for the Kindle -- but there's a free Kindle app for the iPad. I've had mine so long I can't remember how I did it. It must be somewhere in the App Store. Once you've got it, just use the iPad itself to go to your Amazon account and order as usual and the book (or whatever) is delivered instantly. I hope that makes sense.

    2. Thanks so much Jean! I'm on a search for it now. ~chris

  3. Anonymous5:22 PM

    Thanks for the tip on Takeaway. I've downloaded it, and will (if I can resist) save it as part of my upcoming travel reading.