Saturday, January 10, 2015

Oh, Mary Lou, don't write off intarsia.

That's what I thought when Kaffe's “Glorious Knitting” was first published – wonderful stuff, but not for me. But in those happy days, Rowan put up a lot of the patterns as kits which regularly appeared at a substantial discount in the January sales. I couldn't resist. That's probably where David's Tumbling Blocks came from. The first one I did was Crosspatch, a sleeveless vest.

The Tumbling Blocks pattern is particularly fun because of its geometric nature. Cloud-shapes are what to avoid. Kaffe himself says somewhere, what an addictive pattern it is. And the way to do it is his way – use lengths of yarn about a yard long, and just pull them through the mess.

Tidying up the ends remains a problem.

Knitting progressed well enough here yesterday. I was terribly tired after a week of excitement. Getting places on time has always been stressful for me – a characteristic I inherited from my mother, and she from her father. It's getting worse with age. And my husband, who has always preferred the last minute, is markedly slower with age. Ogden Nash wrote a poem about the two approaches to time-keeping. The punch line is “Each other is what they always marry”.


Some people won't ,like this. Yesterday, uncharacteristically, I went into Ladbroke's and bet £10 on the Liberal Democrat candidate to win the constituency of Gordon in the forthcoming general election.

The seat is currently held by a Liberal Democrat, Sir Malcolm Bruce. He has been there since 1983 and his majority in the last election was >6500. A man of blameless character, as far as I know, he is now retiring. His Liberal Democrat successor, Christine Jardine by name, should be what we gambling people call a shoo-in. But...

The excitement this time is generated from the fact that Mr Salmond himself is standing as the candidate for the Scottish National Party. They came second last time.

My reasoning is as follows:

  1. Inertia counts for something – there will be lots of people who will say “I've always voted Liberal and I quite like yon wee lassie”.
  2. They are a tough-minded breed up there in Aberdeenshire, and may not like being taken for granted. Mr Salmond, and the nation, simply assumes he'll win. He was telling us just this week how he might wind up as Deputy Prime Minister in a Labour-SNP coalition government. It's a bit like me and those Calcutta Cup scarves – first, win your parliamentary seat.
  3. Aberdeen is oil country (although the Gordon constituency itself is a rural one). The recent fall in the oil price is beginning to mean job losses up there, and people are anxious about the future. Not even I would suggest that Mr Salmond is to blame for the price of oil, but people will remember the wealthy independent Scotland he was promising us on the strength of a price roughly twice what it is now.

Well, we shall see. I got 5-1 on Ms Jardine. Mr Salmond was heavily odds-on. Mr Ladbroke clearly agrees with his self-estimation. Whatever, it's going to be an extremely interesting general election – the whole country is fractious and divided.


  1. Ellen1:14 PM

    Sometime in the late 90's, I attended a weekend workshop with Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably. First we had to "knit a postcard" (the museum sort with a reproduction of a colorful work of art), and then we did Tumbling Blocks. Besides the color part, Brandon spent a lot of effort to teach everyone "the technique", which involved knitting in the ends as you go. When all was done, you just snip them off to the appropriate length (Kaffe's sweaters in those days were really messy on the inside), and you're good to go. My copy of Glorious Color, a first edition, was signed by him at the end of the class.

  2. How cool to be able to vote on the results of an election! I hope you win, not least because the candidate is a woman.

  3. Hmmmm...maybe I'll give it another go, Jean. It just feels so fussy to me, but perhaps the geometric is the way to put a toe back in the water. I think being able to bet on a candidate must be rather entertaining. I took a photo of a sign on a church door near where we had lunch that said "National Discussion Day." The discussion must be getting heated.

  4. Good luck, Jean! Which Carol Sunday is on the top of your list when you win?

  5. I still remember the excitement of Kaffe's work in the 80's - his painterly use of colour. The exhibition of his work at the V&A acknowledged this - it was a wonderful event.