Sunday, April 06, 2014

So, Strathardle tomorrow. I won't try to blog. I spent much of yesterday in such a state of anxiety that I almost hoped our niece would ring up to say that she couldn't come after all. But when she actually got in touch, in the evening, much refreshed herself after a good walk on her first day of Easter holiday, she proved to be infectiously cheerful and energetic. All will be well. Maybe.

Today is the Paris Marathon, with Hellie running. Her boyfriend Matt is there, of course, and her parents Rachel and Ed, and her brother Joe and his girlfriend Becca, and six best friends, and Matt's parents and brother. Matt has organised everybody into teams to be posted at different points on the route. (When you start thinking about the missing brothers and sisters, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, not to mention the rest of the best friends, you wonder indeed whether Hellie and Matt will ever be able to afford to get married.)

Linda (comment yesterday), it was wonderful to hear that you were in Lawrence yesterday, with your grandson, thinking of his 21st and looking out for Lizzie, celebrating hers. What a small world we inhabit, especially since it has been digitally enhanced!


This shawl thing has become compulsive indeed. I'm currently well along with round 30 – the last one on the first of the three “long charts”. That doesn't mean I'm a third of the way through the pattern, by any means. It will be another 15 rounds before I reach that point. The other two charts are denser, especially the final one. I may have to see whether my machine will copy it in magnified form. But it certainly feels like progress to have polished off the first one.

And none of these calculations make allowance for the fact that the work is growing remorselessly at the rate of four stitches per round.

All went well yesterday. I am beginning to entertain the grandiose idea that we may have stumbled on a new way of doing garter stitch in the round – namely the use of a pivot stitch which is worked (or at least slipped) at both ends of every round. Then you just turn around and whizz off in the opposite direction, without further ceremony. Perhaps for very fine lace only. But it's early days yet.

I've been thinking, needless to say, about what knitting to take along tomorrow. Sadly, I must leave the shawl behind. It's not very sociable knitting, and hands get dirty with fire-lighting and gardening in a way that's somewhat incompatible with lace knitting. (Again, I wonder about Unst. No electricity and no hot water or softening lotions for hand-washing – how did they DO it?)

The problem with taking Rams and Yowes is identifying the yarns. I should have labelled the skeins somehow, before I took the ball bands off. But that's not the end of the difficulty – it is not entirely easy to match up the coloured squares on the chart to the yarn-identification list. I'll have to face up to all that next week, in preparation for Loch Fyne and Easter. In the meantime, there's nothing for it but the Pakokku socks, long neglected.

So, see you next weekend, insh'Allah. I'll take some pictures. Maybe the snowdrops will still be out. Maybe I'll have pictures of the Paris Marathon.


  1. I hope that you are able to relax and enjoy yourself. Maybe they used lanolin to soften their hands? It's in a lot of skin stuff now.

  2. Safe travels, I hope you will find it both energizing and relaxing.

  3. I hope you have a wonderful week at Strathardle, Jean. Hopefully your nerves will settle as soon as you see you beloved second home, and get out to poke around a bit in the garden and enjoy the country air. As for the women of Unst I wonder if possibly they didn't worry about getting a bit of dirt on the shawls when they were knitting. Maybe it came out in the whitening process we learned about.

  4. =Tamar6:42 PM

    There is a photograph (possibly staged) of knitting women that shows a ball of yarn on the floor. They had to wash and block the shawls; probably it all came out in the wash, plus the whitening effect of UV in the daylight.

  5. Snowdrops out here, north of Chicago. Just. Enjoy reading you each morning, and cheer every row advanced. Courage!

  6. I think your pivot stitch ( in this case, the corner stitch ) idea is genius! I tried it in the last few rows of the edging of an Estonian scarf/shawl I am finishing using the same yarn you are using for the Unst shawl. It worked like a charm, and it looks just like the other corners. Using two stitches at the corner doesn't work nearly as well. Oddly enough, it is two tight. Good on you. I'll use that in the shawl I am designing. It sure is easier to knit the 'purl' rows back. I like the look of a garter stitch base better anyway. It also doesn't matter which way you put it on (G).