Sunday, May 24, 2015

I got some things done yesterday – not many, but some, including winding (but not casting on) a skein of Old Maiden Aunt's wonderful yarn. Now I'm alone – Greek Helen and her son Archie are on their way back to Athens. It is fun to feed him. We had bean salad and fresh tuna for lunch yesterday, and Jamie Oliver's Pasta Peperonata for supper. No left-overs.

I won't get much done today. I have given up the practice of religion since all this started, but I think I will turn out this morning. It's Pentecost, and I love that list of all the places people came from, who heard the Apostles preaching in their own languages. Medes and Elamites...and the parts of Libya around Cyrene.

There was once an old woman who enthused to her priest about “that blessed word Mesopotamia”. That's how I feel about the Medes and the Elamites.

This will be the first time, in his second incarceration, that I have gone alone to visit my husband. I think he is half-resigned to the fact that I am not going to act against NHS opinion and try to get him out before they're ready to release him. But I am sure he will have something to say on the subject today. He is very weak. We are all hoping that energetic physiotherapy can make a difference soon.

Largely knitting

Mary Lou, I once had supper with Lily Chin, at or after Camp Stitches on the shores of Lake George in 2001 or some such year. I'm not trying to trump you – I'd much rather dine with Nancy Bush. Zite produced the video the other day of Lily crocheting that sweater for Letterman. She has weathered the intervening 15 years rather better than I have.

I remember her appearance on Franklin's brilliant list of stasher movies. For what it's worth, Safari on my iPad couldn't find that reference. I tried several approaches. Google had not the slightest difficulty.

Somewhere in the last few days I have read the words of someone – Tom of Holland? – who enjoys winding wool for the chance it gives him (I'm pretty sure it was a man writing) to get acquainted with the yarn. That's rather how I feel. I thought about colour as I was winding yesterday. This beautiful yarn is 70% alpaca, 20% silk, 10% cashmere. I believe that cashmere is not very good for colour – I believe that because I was so disappointed when I first saw cashmere Koigu. All the sparkle and glow was missing. And one certainly couldn't blame the dyers' skill.

Silk takes colour most wonderfully of all. So what about alpaca? Does it count as wool (which is of course splendid for colour)? But alpaca is sort of a goat, like cashmere, isn't it? Have I made too hasty a judgement about cashmere? The world is full of interesting questions.

I continue to keep myself company with Craftsy. When I've finished Eunny on lace I mean to go on to cables. Eunny was telling me yesterday about stretchy cast-on's for lace, and I thought of the wisdom of the system I prefer for Shetland shawls, where the only cast-on or bind-off is 20 stitches or so for the edging. (Pick up stitches for the borders from the long, straight edge of the edging; knit the borders inwards; knit the centre back and forth, taking in stitches from the adjacent borders; graft the final centre stitches to the live stitches of the fourth border. I don't mind grafting.)

But what I also wanted to mention was Bush's lesson about attaching the edging to an Estonian shawl. It's sewn on, with a complicated system of gathering in the edging to fit – 3 to 1, 2 to 1, or 1 to 1. The materials for the Craftsy sample shawl specified the sequence precisely, and needless to say, when Bush did it, it came out precisely right. It wouldn't for me, I'm sure. And it also seems unlikely that Estonian knitters have the scheme written out for them. I must look at her book.

But the thing that really puzzled me was that the sewing-on was done with a single length of yarn. You leave it attached to the ball and pull it through. It worked fine for the small sample shawl. But could you do that on a full-sized one? Again, I must look at the book.


  1. Interesting idea of getting to know the yarn. I generally use a swift and a ball winder, so my knowledge may be one step removed. I don't know about cashmere and dyeing. Neighborhood Fiber Company has the same colorways on all their different yarn bases, and they hang on the same rack at the shop. It is fun to see how the color is altered according to the base. Best wishes for a good day.

  2. I wonder whether it might be helpful to use a different term, rather than "incarceration" for your husband's hospital stay? "Rehab" always suggests substance abuse, so that won't do. But more emphasis on the therapeutic aspects might help, especially as, were he able to walk out, he could just get a taxi, as my father did in similar circumstances, some twenty years ago, to everyone's amazement. The hospital could not detain him.
    I don't know if you are still reading "A God in Ruins", but there is a section towards the end set in a care home that you might wish to avoid just now.

  3. I love Pentecost as well. It is so funny when Peter gets up and says, we aren't drunk, it's only 9 in the morning!

  4. enjoy starting your shawl appropos Kate Davies - she is having a sale on her Ravelry patterns to celebrate her blogs 8th birthday ... check her website for details

  5. Ellen1:51 AM

    When I read Tom of Hollands blog a couple of days ago, it was like a light bulb turning on: I've always preferred round balls (although I do use a swift), wound by hand, without being able to fully articulate why.

    In the USA, facilities are often called "extended care, or continuing care" facilities, to distinguish them from nursing homes, and most of the time rehabilitation takes place there, and not in the hospital, where stays are generally quite short. Perhaps that sort of language would be helpful, if it come to that.

    A God in Ruins is probably the best book I have read so far this year (and I felt that way about Life after Life in its year), but I was left totally berefit at the end, and I agree you might want to set it aside for now, and look to something more cheerful...although I must admit I would not heed that advice if someone gave it to me. I hope this week goes better.

  6. Alpaca is a camelid so its hair would be different from cashmere in structure. It certainly took up dye beautifully at the dye class I attended today.

    I hope Mr M is able to gain his strength back. It doesn't sound good. Your constant readers have you and him in our thoughts.