Wednesday, January 01, 2014

And here's 2014! One of my jobs for today is to make at least tentative plans for the sweaters I will knit when Scotland win the Calcutta Cup. I'll have to confine myself to the Little Boys (not Archie) if I am to progress with the Unst Bridal Shawl. And my resolution for 2014 is to see the Cup during its year in Edinburgh.

Thank you for all of your kind messages yesterday. It's good to be back. I missed you, just before Christmas. Who else would care how many presents I had wrapped?

I've now knit half of the edging for one side of the Unst shawl. It's a start. I've photographed it, but the process for importing pics into this new computer is still unfamiliar and I'm running late. Tomorrow, I hope.

I got the Princess pattern out of the archives. The Unst Bridal is almost – perhaps fully – as large, to my surprise (a 72” square, whereas the Princess is a mighty triangle, 64” from top to tip). This is an impossibly ambitious attempt.

It's much easier than the Princess – but will that speed things up? I have already mastered the edging, and can knit it without peering at the chart. That took much longer with the Princess, and I was younger then. The borders and the centre have lots of plain or near-plain rows. [I have learned which side of the Bosphorus Constantinople/Istanbul is on, and how to tell whether the moon is waxing or waning, but I've given up on “lace knitting” and “knitted lace”.]

I began to wonder, when we were on Shetland, how the knitters managed in the winter in the days before electricity. I can see how Fair Isle might be possible by firelight for a knitter very familiar with her pattern and yarns. But lace? There would always be three or four hours of decent light in the middle of the day – maybe that was enough? Or were the months from November through February devoted to spinning? That might be easy enough in the dark, to experienced fingers.

I haven't given any real thought yet as to how this absurdly ambitious project is to be reconciled with other knitting. For the moment, while enthusiasm is high, I'll just go on. But I want to finish the Milano this month – less than a week's work remains, I think. And I absolutely mustn't abandon Rams&Yowes. [A farmer near Dumfries – far from Shetland – was on the news last night because his farm had been flooded. He had lost three yowes, he said – and he clearly said that, not “ewes”.]

The other knitting news is that my Christmas present from Alexander and Ketki was two balls of mink yarn, from China where they were in October. It's called The Update Grows Hair Mink. The world will be a poorer place when the Chinese get better at English – it'll happen soon. It is 100% something, it says, although in the list that starts with 50gr and includes what must be washing temperatures, 15% is mentioned.

I have two 50 gram balls, grey and dark blue. The only possibility is a striped scarf or (better) cowl. When?


Our niece F. had her second round of breast cancer surgery on the 23rd. She saw her consultant this week (they can apparently get results fast if they put their minds to it) and the news is entirely good – no more cancer in lymph nodes or tissue. We don't know yet what follow-up treatment, if any, there will be.


  1. Happy New Year Jean. Good to see you back and even better to hear the news about your niece.

    The mink sounds very luxurious - what weight is it? There are some lovely cowl patterns on offer.

  2. Anonymous10:24 AM

    So good to have you back safe and sound. I miss my daily read when you're away. My friend dyed me 800yds of paperweight for Christmas. Now I have the pleasure of deciding what to knit....... Liz Phillips

  3. Happy New Year, can't wait to see the Unst Shawl progress.

  4. Happy New Year, Jean! How lovely to have two posts to read this morning!
    I was brought up on a sheep farm in Cumbria - just across the Solway from Dumfries. We always called them "Yows", but "Tips", not "Rams". But then there were also hoggs, gimmers, wethers, twinters... Like Eskimos and snow, I guess.

  5. Anonymous1:39 PM

    So glad to hear F. Is done with her surgery & got good news.

    Beverly in NJ

  6. I have 50 g of mink yarn. Mine is lace weight and 100% mink. I was told that it was enough to make a scarf. It will be one of my Ravhellenic Games projects.

  7. Yowes is Scots - not just a Shetland term - at least we have it in a children's rhyming book where some yowes are lost upon the knowes. I have learned much from reading and singing Scots books and rhymes to my children. Who knew that bubblyjock was Scots for a turkey?!

    Good to have you back safe and well again. Happy new year - I do hope things continue to go well for your niece. Here's to a healthy and happy 2014.

  8. Happy New Year! I will be waiting to see what you do with your mink yarn. I have some in my stash that Diana bought me several years ago when she was in China. I'm so glad to hear your niece is doing well. And I like your resolution to go see the Calcutta Cup in person this year!

  9. Happy New Year! I just finished Life After Life. I had no trouble staying engaged....just was totally confused half the time about what did or did not happen. But very interesting. I love my Kindle, but sometimes find it frustrating when I want to turn back to a part earlier in the book to double check some fact. It is just too much trouble with the Kindle.

  10. That is wonderful news for your niece! Many wishes for a speedy recovery and knocking that cancer into remission.

  11. YEA for your niece and her good news! can imagine yall are all relieved.

    great to see you back and cant wait for the photo of the shawl. you are inspiring.!

    the Happiest of New Year to you!

  12. What a nice surprise to see you back!

    Good health for all of you, and happy encounters in 2014!

  13. Happy New Year! So glad it started offf with good news for your niece.
    All best,

  14. Welcome back. Glad to hear your niece's good news. I'm waiting to see pictures of those two Christmas gifts you knitter.

  15. Terrific news about your niece, a great start to the year.

    Wouldn't a mink cowl be unfeasibly hot? Perhaps a scarf or shawl would be more wearable, but that's coming from my Australian perspective.

  16. Hello, I found you via 'Knitsofacto'. I like it here because you talk a lot about knitting! 'Ca' the Yowes Tae the Knowes' was a Burns song, I believe. My old neighbour, who hailed from the Dumfries area, once remarked on my bad cough 'that sounds like an auld yowe chewin' the cud'!Happy New Year Knitting to you and looking forward to seeing your finished shawl which sounds quite remarkable.