Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Well, here we are. The worst is over, surely. In my youth, Scotland scarcely noticed Christmas. Commerce put paid to that attitude, decades ago, and by now it is not only us oldies who lack the oomph for another four or five days of celebration. It was once – at least in the country – a four-day Sabbath, an open house involving everybody, house-bound o.a.p,'s, the most severe and reclusive spinster. Even the Mileses went calling. Whiskey and fruit cake and shortbread and good talk – if the host didn't have any (unlikely) the caller would have brought some.

We had a very jolly Christmas, with an excellent bird. On the 26th Helen and her family went off to Strathardle where David, at least – where were his strong sons? – did some valuable work clearing the ditch and moving fallen branches from the driveway in the driving rain. We went to Loch Fyne.

Rachel had told me a day or so before, that Hellie was feeling rather sad that her brother Thomas' bride Lucy is to wear the Princess shawl. She had thought it was hers. I am astonished that any of them paid any attention to it – and I had thought of it as a potential family heirloom, to be passed from bride to bride, But I can see it from Hellie's point of view, too.

I had been thinking anyway of getting back to lace knitting. I bought three balls of their Shetland Supreme 1-ply Lace Weight when I was in Jamieson & Smith's that happy, happy day in September. This was the moment. I took a ball of it along, and cast on the Unst Bridal Shawl.

Sharon Miller wrote the pattern to be knit centre-outwards. I didn't fancy starting with 165 stitches on my elderly and unaccustomed fingers. I cast on the edging, 23 stitches. Even so, I felt for the first couple of repeats that I could never do this. I'm nearly half-way along the first side by now, and it's going better.

Rachel and Ed heroically waited around on Sunday for my husband to be ready – he's a very slow starter – to be driven home, and then brought us here before proceeding to London. Ed is a very good driver, and he was driving a good car, but the speed was out of my comfort zone. I sat n the back there, thinking about knitting.

First, how to assign percentage points for the side bar? It's a wide edging, as edgings go – I have allowed a whole five points per side. Second, the matter we were discussing recently, how to get the whole thing into garter stitch most conveniently? Purling alternate rounds is out.

  1. The traditional way – knit each border separately, having picked up stitches from its edging. Sew them together at the mitred corners with herringbone stitch.
  2. What about Madeleine Weston's variation? Knit two borders at a time – that would mean only two seams instead of four. I've got Franklin's Craftsy lesson to help me with herringbone stitch.
  3. Fleegle's brilliant solution. I've used it once and got a bit tangled up. It depends on your knowing which side of the work is which – I didn't find it as easy as it sounds.
  4. Throw tradition to the winds, and mix stitches? Edgings in garter stitch, borders in st st, centre in garter stitch? Oh, dear. I think Amedro might have approved, but I don't think Shetland would.
  5. Then I remembered Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer's solution – knit around, wrap and turn. (I think it was Jackie E-S; I'm not going to pursue it to source just now.) I've done that one, too, and of course it's easy and it works. The corner with the wraps-and-turns has a stronger line than the other three. I remember that my husband saw it and commented on it. I think maybe that's going to be acceptable.

But meanwhile the edging will keep me busy for a bit. And I must knock off soon to finish Milano and Rams&Yowes. Look at it this way: Hellie won't want to schedule a wedding before Thomas & Lucy's day, November 1st. So all I need to achieve is to have the Unst Bridal Shawl – not finished, just in a state from which finishing can be imagined – by that date. Should be possible. Pic soon. Have a good New Year when it comes, all of you.


  1. Anonymous11:32 AM

    Dear Jean.....I am so happy to see your post this morning! I have missed your updates this month, which has made me realize that I need to concentrate on making some real friends here in NH rather than depending so much on my virtual blog friends.

    Happy New Year to you and yours. We usually give up and go to bed around 11, telling ourselves that it is already midnight and thus 2014 somewhere.....tonight it will be Edinburgh.

    Barbara M. In NH

  2. Anonymous1:03 PM

    I'm so glad you had a good time, and so glad you are back.

    And I love that Hellie wants to wear the Princess shawl, and I love that you're making a shawl for her. It makes her seem even nicer than before, somehow.

    Happy New Year!

    Beverly in NJ

  3. Missed your posts. Glad you are back.

  4. Thought of you over the holidays when I was given a bag of leftover Koigu (some full skeins as well) from a friends Mothers stash. Grandma passed away and none of her kids knit or want to learn. So eventually I will make the 2 ladies gloves of the wild sort.
    Glad you are back safely. Happy New Year.

  5. I am glad you had a great holiday. How lucky to have a knitting project ahead of you that someone actually wants.
    Ron in Mexico

  6. Happy New Year, Jean! I'm glad you had a lovely holiday with your family.

    It's been said that as we get older, our brain's perception of time shifts so that movement we considered fairly slow as a youth is horribly fast as a senior. I'm sure you were fine. Here's a podcast you might find interesting to listen to about time. http://www.radiolab.org/story/91584-time/

  7. Hi Jean:

    I had planned to send you happy new year greetings today. You beat me to it with your surprise post. I was delighted to see it in Feedly.

    Aside from that, I am amazed that you are not only considering, but undertaking, another lace shawl of the dimensions of the bridal shawl. I wish you all the best with it. Happy New Year to you and your family.

  8. Hello, welcome back, I have missed you. Glad Christmas was good, though to be honest, the old style Christmas you described does sound good, low key, inclusive and friendly (and lots of shortbread!)


    missed you and glad you had a peaceful holiday with your family.

    looking forward to the adventures with the new lace shawl! how wonderful of you to knit one for Thomas and his bride! ( or is it for Helle? ) your relatives are indeed lucky!

  10. I was hoping you did all right with that storm. Welcome back and glad to hear all are safe and sound. How sweet that your granddaughter even thought of the Princess. If it is to be passed around, I'd make sure everyone is aware of that. We had an ugly incident related to a family christening gown because of misunderstandings with someone who is no longer part of the family. Your family may be better behaved than mine. Happy New Year.

  11. Anonymous11:18 PM

    I was delighted to see your post today. I hope you had a lovely Christmas and look forward to a happy & healthy new year. I love that your granddaughter wants to wear the wedding shawl. I have also noted her name"Hellie" to keep in mind when baby no 3 arrives next year. Best wishes.

  12. =Tamar12:30 AM

    I would not be at all surprised if someone were to find a Shetland shawl that used wrap-and-turn. I've heard of an early stocking that was found to have that method in its garter-stitch top.