Friday, March 13, 2015

Today's problem is that the iPad has frozen again. I thought I knew what to do; indeed, I did it once, after John Lewis unfroze me the first time. But I can't get a peep out of it now. We have a very clever friend who seems eager to shoulder as much as she can of the distresses of old age – and who says that she walks her dog Pedro past our front door daily. Perhaps she can help. Pedro is the dog I am going to knit when things calm down. A Jack Russell without significant spots – which will make things easier.

Otherwise, it's all go. Webs has shipped the new order. I might even be able to knit a sample pocket square in Athens. Portable, light-weight.

The Tokyo has advanced to the fourth band, with another skein of yarn wound. There are 29 bands in all, I think.

I decided last night, as I knit happily on, that the thing to do was face the Sous Sous in the morning when the synapses are firing (or whatever synapses do). I've done that. It starts by casting on a great many stitches, proceeds to purl one row and then knit two, and then launches into the lovely cable panel set in double moss stitch. The pattern is really pretty simple, given the striking effect. All the fancy shaping, if fancy it prove to be, is in the front.

The new iPad won't sort mail for me – or maybe it's just that I haven't figured out how to ask it to do so. Here on the laptop, Googlemail has a category called Promotions which I rarely even look at, but on the iPad I must run briskly through them all. It's probably a good thing – I delete a lot of clutter that way.

I've been hearing a lot from Craftsy lately, indeed would like to get back to them. And Knitting Daily is sometimes interesting. They were haranguing me last week about the value of swatching, attempting to demolish each of my imagined protests in turn. (“I always get gauge”, “I don't want to waste expensive yarn”, etc.) However, they didn't think of my actual excuse – I've got so many daughters and daughters-in-law and granddaughters that it'll fit somebody.

Indeed, one of my real successes in recent years was my first Relax. That time, I think, I did swatch, and based the size on a beloved rugby-shirt-type-thing of my own. It came out exactly as intended. What I had failed to grasp is that the design required a good deal more positive ease than the rugby shirt allowed. It looked awful on me.

So I gave it to the slightest-built of the granddaughters, Hellie, now the prospective bride. It looks brilliant on her. And I persevered to knit myself another, the right size, which I love. So much for swatching.

But I must acknowledge that I knit a substantial swatch for Archie's recently-completed sweater and I admit it may be reflected in the successful result.

I think Meg says somewhere that she never swatches, but will start with a sleeve if she's in doubt. And, of course, as I keep saying, if you're a humble traditional knitter, knitting the same thing over and over – Fair Isle, Norwegian, whatever – you soon learn the characteristics of the fabric and are free to experiment with design.

To return to the Sous Sous – somewhere in all my books there must be a trick for estimating the amount of yarn you are going to need for a long long-tail cast-on. The Sous Sous wants something like 170 stitches. Nothing is worse than getting to the last five stitches and finding that you don't have enough yarn to finish. Been there, done that. But the opposite mistake – winding up with a yard and a half hanging down – makes one feel like a novice and an idiot.


We had another good session with the computer man yesterday. My husband has taken to his mouse with more alacrity than I would have expected. The man has recommended a wireless printer which sounds like a brilliant idea. At the moment, the printer is connected to the old, slow desktop computer which therefore has to be laboriously fired up whenever I want to print anything. The wireless one might even mean that my husband could do his own printing again, from the dining room where he operates.

The man is going to come back next week with such a machine – he recommends a brand, I've forgotten which, whose ink cartridges don't cast £75 each.


  1. Regarding how much yarn for a long tail cast on - not my idea but saw it somewhere and it works: use two balls. loosely knot them together leaving as much s you want for tails and then cast on from there using one ball for the right hand and one for the left. Then break off one of the balls when the stitches are safely on. This saves frustration but leaves tails at both ends - which can confuse me since I tend to rely on the tail to let me know whether I am doing an odd or an even row.l

    1. That's a great tip Jean. I always fail miserably with my estimate.

    2. Ghislaine in Vancouver11:40 AM

      Alternatively, if I have a centre-pull ball, I will use the yarn from the inside and outside of the ball to cast on.

    3. Anonymous6:50 PM

      This is the approach I first read in June Hemmons Hiatt's Principles of Knitting (first edition). Much as I hate leaving another end to weave in, this is definitely the way to set up when one is casting on a great number of stitches.
      -- stashdragon

    4. I like a long leftover to use for sewing the seam. I butterfly it and let it flutter about until I need it.

  2. We have just accquired a wireless printer -- I was startled to learn that I can print straight from my iPad now!

  3. Christine10:15 AM

    I've found that for long tail cast ons wrapping the yarn around the needle 10 times, dividing the number of stitches needed by 10 and measuring off the yarn the appropriate number of times works for me. I also add a bit for sewing up etc. for example: 150 sts required, yarn around needle x 10, measure off against that length x 15 and add a bit.

  4. If I am casting on a large number, I use two ends, as the others said. My rule of thumb otherwise is an inch of tail for every stitch you are going to cast on. This is a bit too much for fine yarns, and you will need a bit more for super bulky, but otherwise, it works well. I don't think the ipad should keep freezing. I haven't figured out sorting my gmail on the ipad either. If I do, I'll let you know.

  5. there is an app for GMAIL for the iPad - its in the Apple Store. It keeps all the same inbox categories (if you use them) Primary, Promotions, Updates, Forums.

    It is easy to install and add your google account. so you dont have to use the MAIL app on the iPad.

    Also google has a new INBOX app that is a HYPED up new version (i hate it myself)

    Try doing a reset for your iPad - hold the Power button on the side AND the button on the lower (or right) portion of the front of the iPad (sorry i forget its name) anyway hold them both at the same time... this reboots the iPad.

    good luck (you can always write me directly if you need help - sogalitno at

  6. Anonymous12:54 PM

    Estimate for long-tail cast-on - I've had good results with exactly the method Christine describes in her comment. Learned it in a knitting class with some high-profile expert.
    - Beth in Ontario

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  8. Anonymous1:30 PM

    In addition to the tips about resetting the iPad, above, I have noticed lately that Zite on the iPad is crashing - sometimes when I ask it to email a link, sometimes when I am simply trying to open an article to read it. So it is possible that is the source of your crashes. The reset or the closing of apps (what Sara, above describes as “cleaning up the iPad”) should help with that. Good luck; little is as frustrating as fighting with a computer!

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  9. Your Relax sweater suits you perfectly, Jean. In my mind's eye I can see you standing near Burrastwow House modelling it while I took pictures. Such wonderful memories!

  10. Anonymous2:59 PM

    I agree with JeanFromCornwall only I use the two ends of the same ball. I do an overhand knot of the ends to secure them, then begin the cast on, not counting the knotted end. Later I undo the end and weave in the ends. --Fiberqat

  11. I use the inch-per-stitch method. It works perfectly for me with worsted weight yarn and medium needles. I did a long tail cast on for the "28thirty" sweater yesterday. The pattern calls for a needle size of 5mm and worsted weight yarn. You begin by casting on 92 stitches. I measured out 92 inches of yarn, cast on, and ended up with about a 10" tail.

  12. Ellen3:42 PM

    I have actually cast on, ripped off and measured to figure this out. For fingering and dk yarn, you need a tail that is three times the width of the actual thing you are producing. In other words, if you are knitting a hat that will be 18" around, the tail should be 54" , plus about 6-8" for good measure. If the yarn is worsted or aran weight, I go to 4X. This works out pretty well. For anything like a blanket, I switch to the two end method.

    I would seriously suggest you take the laptop back to the store and have them exchange it. They should do this readily, and set it up for free. This is beyond the realm of accepable. In the long run you will be happier.

  13. Swatches! Mine always lie to me; most recently, a Haapsalu shawl center square which is supposed to be 56" wide, according to my very carefully made swatch, turns out to be 61" wide . . . not a problem in this case, but if it were a sweater, I'd be starting over. I cannot knit in my usual relaxed tension on a little tiny square -- it just doesn't work for me at all.