Saturday, April 30, 2016

Another good day, yesterday. The Neap Tide shawl was just what I needed – the difference between knitting to pick up when I happened to have a chance to sit down; and knitting to contrive opportunities to get back to.

I calculated, very roughly, how many more stitches I needed to achieve the width specified in the pattern, given my gauge and given its, and I decided that two additional pattern repeats in the first Increase Section would about do it, 14 extra stitches.  Obviously, two more repeats add length as well as width. I have done that, and have now advanced to the second Increase Section, where the increases don’t come as fast.

Towards the end of this section, I should be able to get a better idea how things are going. I can add more repeats in the Centre section to increase the length, if need be. And if I decide that more width is needed, I can incorporate more stitches into the latter parts of the second Increase Section, without increasing length and at some damage to the slope of the curve.

It’s a super pattern. The yarn is wonderful too.

I often marvel at smart newspaper columnists who say that later life never involves any mathematics, so why learn all that stuff?  This particular problem was pretty elementary – I figured that I needed 25% more stitches than I had, and two pattern repeats, with increases on every pattern row, seemed to do the trick.

(And, knitting aside, what about the question, which often arises these days, of what a 1.5% tax free interest rate is worth to a basic rate? a higher rate? tax payer. That one involves elementary algebra. I can do it if I apply myself, and would feel a bit uncomfortable, I think, if I couldn’t.)

Friday, April 29, 2016

At least there’s knitting to talk about today…

Kristie alerted me to the latest news from the Vintage Shetland Project. “Publication date” is now mid-August, with the manuscript to be finished in July. I can’t entirely remember my own progression through belief to irritation to despair. I now don’t believe anything she says; I won’t be disappointed again.

If you Google the VSP, you won’t learn any more. What puzzles me slightly is that no negative note appears, at least in the first five pages. Endless praise and excitement from 2015. No references to (for instance) me. Could I be the only crowdfunder in the universe to be expressing doubt and irritation on-line? And even if so, why not cite me? I often find references to myself in Google when I look for something I’m interested in. Not this time.

What a contrast, all this, to Kate Davies’ hap book. It is already approaching the page-layout stage, and I am absolutely sure that it will appear later this year, as promised – and she doesn’t even have crowdfunders to please.

Yesterday I thought that what I needed was something new. We’ve all felt like that. So I got out my packages from the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I wanted something that started small and simple and got bigger. I settled on Mary Lou’s “Neap Tide” pattern for which I had bought two skeins of glowing yarn (50% merino, 50% silk) from the Old Maiden Aunt.

Most of yesterday’s knitting time went into winding a skein of it. It wasn’t exactly tangled, but it wasn’t exactly straightforward either. And 400 yards is a lot of yards. But I got it done.

Then problems presented themselves. The pattern says “fingering weight yarn”. There must have been something about the yarn which suggested to me, that day at the EYF, that it was fingering weight. The label doesn’t actually say so. Mary Lou’s recommended yarn is 255 yards to 100 grams. Old Maiden Aunt (see above) has 400 yards. I hadn’t previously taken that in.

Old Maiden Aunt recommends 2-3mm needles. Mary Lou says 4.5mm. Swatching is for wimps – at least when we are talking about shawls. I went for 3.5mm and am delighted with the fabric I’m getting. But I have knitted enough to determine – no surprise – that if I persevere with the pattern as written, my shawl is going to be on the small side. I think the solution will be two extra repeats in the First Increase Section, where I now am. 


Thank you for your comments about my sudden swoop into the Greek alphabet yesterday. I wasn’t doing anything fancy at the time. CKP, you may well be right that I hit Alt-Shift as I was sitting here thinking what to say next. I won’t try it again, just at the moment. And I enjoyed the Wikipedia entry about “lorem ipsum”. I have often wondered. It must have been very satisfying for the scholar who identified the passage in Cicero which has been rubbished to furnish that text. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

I am enormously encouraged by your Sous Sous experience, Pascoag Girl (comment yesterday). We’ll both get there in the end, I am sure. And, for the moment, I feel I have your permission to knit on, on the half-brioche sweater. I am within about four rows of finishing the tedious initial ribbing on the front.

I am also enormously encouraged by having been able to write the preceding paragraph. I was sitting here just now, blamelessly arranging my thoughts, when the computer went ding, ding, ding and thereafter everything I typed was in the Greek alphabet. Even when I closed Word and went back to my emails, everything I said was in Greek. If I had tried to do it, it would have taken me at least an agonized half-hour. I solved the problem (thank goodness) by restarting the computer. I want to try to find out what combination of keys I must have hit to produce so remarkable an effect, but meanwhile I am profoundly grateful to be back with Times Roman.

I think I felt a bit as King Midas must have, when everything he touched turned to gold. It’s no use invoking Help and typing in “alphabet” if you type in “alphabet” in Greek and Help says it doesn’t know what you mean.

My husband has a genius for creating unexpected computer problems by just looking at the screen, but even he has never achieved that one.

Genetics: Rachel says that Thomas and Lizzie, the eldest and youngest of her four children, have her brown eyes -- Thomas, of course, being the father of the wonderful Juliet. My own eyes are a sort of washed-out blue, and my husband has always claimed that his are hazel. He was an orphan when I met him. We have a drawing of his father which makes it pretty clear that his eyes were light in colour, but I don’t know about his mother. And you may well be right, Knitlass, that Juliet’s eyes are kitten-blue at the moment, rather than brown. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Howzzat! for the new header. That’s Juliet, of course. Her grandmother Rachel has beautiful brown eyes. Neither my husband nor I do – so the gene must be recessive. Is that right? I can’t remember her father Thomas’s eyes.

I must at least add an email to the designer of the Dunfallandy blankie to my to-do list, however far down.

Yesterday was a bit better on the knitting front, not much.

I finished the back of the half-brioche sweater, and cast on the front. My mistake, I now see clearly, was abandoning the Sous Sous at a point where so much fiddle is needed. I can’t pick it up and just knit for comfort – and that (comfort knitting), for very much the most part, is what I need.

I’ve got to attach that 4-stitch edging to the back neck. And then cast off the front shoulders and sew them to the back shoulders – I have established, for my own purposes at least, that grafting won’t be possible. And then, counting carefully, choose the spot and pick up stitches for the sleeves. I should have done all that before I laid it aside. Now, it all seems too difficult whenever I contemplate it.

At least I did something yesterday.

And I have also seen Kate Davies’ list of designers for the Hap Shawl book. It was among my “Promotions” and I deleted it too hastily. They are all designers I know, or at least know of, and am interested in. This book is going to be seriously good.


Archie came around yesterday afternoon, briefly, after a dismal-sounding trudge through the hail trying to open a bank account. The best he could achieve was an appointment to see someone a day or two hence. He has a test today on King Lear. I mentioned my favourite line, Lear with Cordelia’s body in his arms, “Never, never, never, never, never” – iambic pentameter turned on its head into a string of trochees.

He didn’t know it, although he knew “Howl howl howl” from the beginning of the same brief scene. So I have added a few syllables to his store of possible quotations. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I am sorry for the silence. I haven’t been doing any knitting, either. I must somehow get a grip on what remains of life. I have finished, but not yet bound off, the back of the half-brioche sweater. That’s all. Last night I dreamed that I had been buying yarn.

I had a grand time at Merchiston on Friday evening. There was an early and rather tasty supper with a dozen or more boys who asked intelligent and interested-sounding questions so that James could scarcely eat. They took this group picture for the school magazine. It is rather bleached by the late afternoon sun. It shows James, me, Archie, and his younger brother Fergus:

Archie said that the dress code specified in the three-line whip inviting them to supper was “smart casual”. The Drake boys clearly put the emphasis on the second of those words. Everybody else wore suits.

There were three or four dozen more at the subsequent talk. That went well too. It was a fun occasion. It was also nice having James here, not for Christmas or Easter or any Event that meant that we had to do anything.

When we were sipping our orange juice before our supper, a Chinese boy told James that he had seen him doing a podcast somewhere recently, and thought he spoke better Chinese than any other foreigner he had ever heard. That was very nice.

Yesterday was Perdita’s first birthday. We celebrated quietly.

All of this may or may not be of mild interest, but it’s not about knitting.

I trust we have all seen Kate Davies’ blog post about the final work on her haps book. Wonderful photographs as always. I’m greatly looking forward to that one. The next time we have a great-grandchild, if I’m still about, it will have a hap from that book. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Again, little to report.

Except that my husband is safely home from hospital. He arrived at midday, unannounced and with a catheter. I had an anxious time – would the social services carer and the district nurses turn up at the end of the afternoon? That sort of thing is all supposed to be arranged by the hospital before release, but we have had glitches before, and the catheter made it scarier.

In fact, they did turn up, although later rather than earlier, thus contributing to further stress. Catheter management is pretty simple (as I thought it would be).

I did virtually no knitting. There were a few available moments at the very end, and I did maybe half a round on the sock. There must be a better way.

Today James will arrive to give his talk at Merchiston. A friend has valiantly offered to hold the fort here at that difficult time of day, so I can go both to the 5:30 feed beforehand and to the talk.

I probably won’t be back here tomorrow. Don’t worry.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Happy Birthday to the Queen. She is doing a good deal better than my husband is, at 90. And her husband, rather underestimated, I feel, at 94, is doing better yet.

My husband, however, within the given parameters, is doing pretty well, and may be home today. He is off oxygen, and saturations are good. Antibiotics have been reduced to pills, I think – we can manage that at home. He had a catheter yesterday. I would have to be told how to manage that, but it couldn’t be very difficult.

I was there when a dr came around yesterday, who more or less said that he could come home. My husband had gained a different impression from a different doctor in the morning. The thing about the Assessment ward – I was there myself last summer, with my pulmonary embolisms – is that sometimes you see the specialist assigned to your problem, and sometimes the Omnium Gatheruzxmsa[asw=[- -- what does Perdita want? – the Omnium Gatherum Assessment doctor. Yesterday’s exemplar didn’t entirely seem to grasp the multiple systems which have to be put in order when someone with my husband’s multiple problems is discharged.

So this morning I sit tight, waiting for the telephone. I had allowed myself to think that if this ordeal dragged on as others have, I might desert my post and go to Strathardle for a two-nighter, with my cat. The weather is beyond blissful, as Knitlass has indicated. That is probably not to be, and it is far better for my husband to be at home.

James will be here tomorrow, to give a talk at Archie’s school, Merchiston Castle, about matters Chinese. It will be good to see him. He’ll go south again on Saturday.

And, oh yes, knitting.

I found the Sous Sous pattern. It had migrated out of the sitting room to a position in the catalogue room which it couldn’t have reached either by the agency of a carer or of a cat. Oh, dear. I went on with the half-brioche, however. Only one more complete pass remains – first this way and then that, with first this colour and then the other.

And during the hospital visit, I did finish the first yarn cake and did attach the second, from the middle.

I’m sort of catching up with Craftsy. I’ve got an awful lot of half-viewed courses, and have added more recently. I am much taken with Bruce Weinstein on Combination Knitting. He promises greater speed. He is the designer of the sweater I knit for Archie a year or so ago, so I feel we are acquainted, although I am disconcerted to learn that he pronounces the two syllables of his surname differently despite the apparent similarity of the vowels.

But he is persuasive. Maybe I’ll even take an evening off and do a swatch for him.


I loved this, from this morning’s Scotsman, in an article on dementia: “Smoking, drinking excessive alcohol and eating less sugar are among the actions we could all take to help make our brains more healthy…” I don’t smoke, but otherwise…

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

So – it’s Hillary. I guess we always knew that, really.

I am rather embarrassed at how much quicker you were than I, at finding my glasses. (Comments, yesterday.) They were on the floor – that has happened before, in the history of the world – fairly near the chair where I put them, but not so near that they could have got there under their own steam. A furry paw must have been involved.

My husband seemed much better yesterday, although still with oxygen up his nose and on a course of intravenous antibiotics. He is in an Assessment Ward, which encourages us to hope he will be out soon. Alexander and I got there at an inappropriate (=non-visiting-hours) time yesterday, since we didn’t know what ward he was in, nor what its rules were, when we set out. They were generous and hospitable, but it wasn’t ideal. Today I will go at the right time. I will try hard to talk to a doctor. I’ll also take in some day clothes. Getting dressed always seems like progress.

A total strike of junior hospital doctors is planned for next week. It would be interesting to be in a hospital when that happens, if it does.

As for knitting, not much sock at the hospital, under the circumstances. Here they are. What I have done – daft! – is simply to continue with the first cake of yarn, after finishing the first sock. When it gives up – soon; surely today – I will switch to drawing from the centre of the second cake, so that the colours go back in the other direction. Although of course they won’t get all the way back to bright pink.

If only there were a little more yarn in each cake, I could go ahead and knit a third sock for a three-legged friend or, failing that, leaving the wearer free to choose any two on a given day. But for that, I would need to get half-way through the current sock before switching yarn cakes, and clearly that won’t happen.

At home I went on with half-brioche. I wound another skein of Whiskey Barrel – that, too, always seems like progress. Part of my excuse for not turning back to the Sous Sous, is that I can’t find the pattern. When my husband was in bed last weekend, I had carers seize the chance to clean the sitting room, where he usually spends the day.

In order to gain access to the floor, it was necessary to amalgamate our multiple piles of paper. Somewhere in the amalgamated piles, that pattern must be (and, at the worst, it’s in my Ravelry library). But the other pattern came to light promptly, and there I have stuck. I might even reach the bind-off today.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

My husband is back in hospital. The doctor came and found that there was even less oxygen in his blood than the day before. Our resistance crumbled. There followed a long day of waiting, first for the ambulance and then for a hospital doctor. And then – although by that time I had gone home – for a bed. The doctor was cheerful about it. “It’s always like this on Mondays.”

I got on with the socks. It took a while to get my fingers re-accustomed to sock knitting, and another while to finish the ribbing of the second sock. I think sock-ribbing is the kind I like least. But it’s done, and more hospital sitting should mean good progress today. Alexander is coming over.

In the evening I watched an episode of The Night Manager – too complicated for my husband – and knit half-brioche. I’m within hailing distance of finishing the back.

And this morning I have been overtaken by the One Impossible Disaster. I can’t find my glasses. This happens to other people all the time – never to me because, since childhood, the last thing I do at night is take them off and put them beside the bed. And the first thing I do in the morning is reach out and get them and put them on.

There was one memorable occasion in Oberlin when I had put them on the floor beside the bed and swung my feet out in the morning and stepped on them. I never did that again.

But this morning, impossibly, they are not to be found. An old pair from the drawer will serve, just about; uncomfortable, but safe to drive, anyway. I don’t know what to do. There’s nowhere else to look – and they simply aren’t there. Phone the oculist.

Somehow or other I had got out of sync with Franklin’s Lion Brand Notebook. I spent some happy time yesterday catching up. Notification turns up amongst my “Promotions”, along with messages from Susan Crawford about the latest postponement of the Vintage Shetland Project. (There’s nothing new from that source.) I must have missed several. I particularly like his latest, about the Franklin Habit Home for Neglected Knitting Projects.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Still very little knitting. Is this a symptom of a deeper malaise? James’ wife Cathy asked me early last week for the Latin for “Help! I’m dissolving!” (Something to do with something she’s writing.) I offered “Subvenite! Liquor!” and have wondered since if I should adopt it as my own motto. I discovered in the course of looking things up that Ovid says somewhere of somebody that she “…liquitur in lacrimas” (= ”…dissolves into tears”). It’s always slightly disconcerting to find a modern phrase in the Bible or Shakespeare or, in this case, Ovid.

I’m sorry for my absence. My husband has another chest infection. Perhaps more accurately, his chronic condition has flared up again. Our GP suspected trouble when he was here on Wednesday, and prescribed a course of antibiotics now half-finished. But my husband continued to weaken and this morning his diabetic nurse told me to phone the emergency NHS weekend number.

A nice doctor came fairly promptly and wanted to send my husband off to hospital yet again. We demurred, and he acquiesced, too polite to ask why we had called him out if we weren’t going to take his advice. My husband has been in bed all day, too weak to totter about, disagreeable but clear-headed. I don’t think he lost ground during the day. Tomorrow we’ll call our own doctor.


I have got as far as to hold the shoulders of the Sous Sous up against each other, and I even tried slipping a needle through some of the bound-off stitches on the back shoulder, to see if I could by that means, graft them to the live stitches of the front. It soon became obvious that the answer was, no. And just at the right moment, I read your heartening comment, Mary Lou, to the effect that a grafted shoulder might not be strong enough anyway to hold up this fairly hefty item.

So the next thing is to do the binding-off and start seaming. But all that has actually happened is a few more rows of half-brioche.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Grandmother Rachel just emailed to say that Juliet smiled at her yesterday – aged five weeks exactly. Early but not implausible. It has always seemed to me wonderful that the first thing a child learns to do is something so utterly human.

And another thing that seems wonderful, in a thoroughly imperfect world, is that English asparagus and Jersey Royal potatoes appear in the supermarket at the same instant. I’m sure neither were there when I last was, on Saturday. We had them for supper last night, with a bit of haddock. My husband didn’t think the asparagus was very good.


I took myself in hand and went back to the Sous Sous. I have extended the four-stitch ribbed edging to a length which should reach around the back of the neck. The next instruction is to graft the live stitches from the front shoulder to the bound-off ones of the back – “or, alternatively, cast off the stitches and sew shoulders together” – a rare touch of insouciance, for a knitting pattern. I love grafting, so I’ll at least attempt the former option.

I haven’t matched front and back yet. The back shoulder stitches were sloped, a few cast off at the beginnings of many rows. It would have been a bit fiddly, but by no means impossible, to keep them live for future grafting. I wish I had read the pattern through at the start, but I am sure that is a virtue I will never acquire.


Thank you very much, Lisa, for guiding me to the Ravelry page with the patterns from Valimaki’s “Color Wheel Knits”. She is a designer I very much like, and there are some good things there – but I now know that I don’t need the book, at least, not right now.

Joni and Tamar, thank you for guiding me to Franklin’s colouring book. I pre-ordered it from even before reading the next comment. Isn’t this an extraordinary phenomenon, adult colouring books? One likes to imagine the marketing meeting at which a Brash Young Person suggested such a preposterous idea. And now it turns out to be the Next Big Thing! Where does anyone find the time to do all that colouring-in?

Knitlass, I hope you have a grand time at the Knitting and Stitching show. My husband and I went to one at the Ally Pally once. The astonishing thing, which he remembers as vividly as I do, was the Japanese pavilion. So it must have been 2001 when we were there. The journey to north London was well worth it for that alone. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

I’m not getting much knitting done. Can I reconstruct my day? The limitations are fairly strict. I keep sinking down and knitting a few peaceful rows of half-brioche – I’m a couple of inches beyond the underarm cast-off by now; and that’s all.

One bit of knit-related news, though. I got a picture of myself back from the framer yesterday, and hung it up. My sister commissioned Franklin to do it in 2006. Eventually one gets around to things. Sorry about the reflections.

I love Carol Sunday’s “Nancy’s Vest”.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

I had a good day in Strathardle, but a very strange one. The house is fine – the water went on without difficulty, and there were no leaks. There have been mice but not too many  –  the house had been empty for seven months, after all. 

The garden is ragged. My husband and I, even tottering on senility, had been able to accomplish quite a lot just by being there and helping out one plant or another with weeding and feeding and mulching. Several had perished – including, alas, the pinus bungeana, perhaps for lack of that attention in 2015. I devoted the time and strength I had to rescuing from beneath the weeds a little, late-blooming rose my husband is fond of. It is almost the last survivor of the roses the last full-time occupant of the house loved and tended, and one I have not been able to find in the books: a red floribunda with clusters of single flowers. It suffered from last year’s neglect, but it’s still alive.

Here's the rose, when I had finished with it:

And here’s a recently-planted white lilac, as an example of a plant badly in need of a similar session:

(We're famous in the village for our daffys -- those aren't all, by any means.)

Maybe we should replace the bungeana with another pinus sylvestris aurea. But for the moment, we’ll wait to see whether it pulls itself together. Spring is a wonderful season.

It was odd being there alone. And, odder, walking down the drive and feeling weak and remembering how I didn’t feel this weak, the last time I was here.


The first half-brioche sweater was, as it happened, lying out in the sitting room when I got there, much reduced by moths and perhaps even mice. But enough remains to make it clear that, as I thought, it is a straightforward number with front attached to back at the shoulders; no saddle. I can’t remember the source of the yarn – as with the present effort, it was one solid and a toning variegated. I was very fond of it, but it tended to shed and my husband eventually forbade me to wear it in Drummond Place.

VK was waiting for me when I got back, the perfect end to the day. I don’t need another project but I like what I see, overall. Yoko Hatta’s duster, no. 16, perhaps top of the list, but there are a number of other things of interest. I don’t remember an issue where a single designer has had so many things as Hatta does here.

Does anyone know anything about Color Wheel Knits by Veera Valimaki? There are no reviews yet on I don’t want a book that’s “just patterns” unless, like early Kaffe, it’s one I’ve got to have. 

As for actual knitting, not much of which has been done lately, I hope to resume the Sous Sous today.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Very little to report. I scarcely knit, yesterday. If I’m back in the saddle today, I should reach the armpit decreases on the half-brioche sweater and be ready to switch back to the Sous Sous.

Thank you very much indeed, Skeindalous and Catherine, for the reference to Matthew 12 (comments yesterday).  I’m sure that’s what I was thinking of – and it’s maddening to have something on the tip of one’s mind like that. The only NT commentary (Knox) I have in the house is a bit puzzled by the passage, and certainly offers no line of thought which might be applied to stash-enhancement. Be careful, is my only conclusion.

But I’m glad I am buying for specific projects and hope that I can, at least, stick to that.

I’m glad to have such good reports of the Crazy Stripes Tee, from Mary Lou and Kristie. And, oh! Kristie, you are right – I bought the yarn for KD’s Northmavine Hap when we were in Jamieson & Smith that day, and I have even started it, and it’s all in a shoebox here and should have been listed.

I probably won’t reappear here until Tuesday at the earliest. I’ll have to spend leisure moments today preparing to leave all behind on Monday, when I am to go to Strathardle. I need to write out a programme-of-the-day for my husband’s meals and medication.

It will be wonderful to be there. Will this be the first time since Pentecost, 2014? when Rachel and Ed came up and took us there for a two-nighter. It is impossible to believe I have been away so long, and equally impossible to think of a later trip. I am not feeling terribly strong, and still don’t know whether this is the inevitable decline or the lingering effect of last summer’s pulmonary embolisms (in which latter case, I might still improve a bit).

 All I hope to do is to ensure that everything is all right – most especially, that when I turn the water on, it stays where it belongs. The people who sold the house to us (and for whom it was also a second home) gave up when they got there in the spring of 1963 and turned the water on and it all came down into the kitchen from the tank above. But ’62-’63 was an especially savage winter. I remember it in some detail – Greek Helen was born in that January.

I’m hopeful – but I don’t trust water.

I will take a thousand pictures. I will go down the commonty to see our trees. If I have the strength actually to do anything – and if it is still alive – I will weed and mulch our pinus bungeana. It is a tree which often grows in the courtyards of Chinese temples. This will have been its third winter, I think. Or fourth? It replaces the pinus sylvestris aurea – the golden Scots Pine -- which our children gave us as a golden wedding present and which was eaten by a neighbour’s horse. I couldn’t bear to just buy another, so we went for Something Completely Different.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

You might as well hear the worst: I went to the Ginger Twist Studio yesterday, and I bought some yarn.

Somewhere, very likely in the Bible, there is an image of a house or stable being swept clean only to make room for worse. I’d be very  glad to know the source of that, if anyone recognizes the idea I’m groping towards. And be warned by me, that a purge of stash can lead to an excess of yarn-buying.

It might be as well to list my USO’s (UnStarted Objects), for my own sake as much as yours:

                (sock yarn doesn’t count)

                Jamieson & Smith Shetland Heritage yarn, purchased on the spot in 2013 (was it?) for a sleeveless Fair Isle vest

                Madtosh Tannehill DK for a sweater for my husband; my sister has that lot in CT and will bring it here later this year

                Nature’s Luxury wool, silk & camel, for Mary Lou’s Bidwell shawl

                Oldmaidenaunt merino&silk, gosh it’s beautiful, for Mary Lou’s Neap Tide shawl

                Skein Queen merino & cashmere, for Mia Rinde’s Cameo Flower shawl from Knitty

                Whistlebare mohair and wensleydale, plus a pack of their coordinated skeins for striping, for Carol Feller’s Yorkshire Capelet from IK

                (That’s four from the EYF. I thought there were only three.)

                And today’s purchase: Ginger’s hand-dyed Luscious 4-ply, blue-faced Leicester, silk & wool, to be striped with 5 graduated skeins from the Big Boys, purchased recently at Kathy’s Knits when I was there with J. and her daughter Emily.

I was thinking of knitting yet another Relax, and striping that. ButI am now rather taken with Atelier Alfa’s “Crazy Stripes Tee” which I found after I got home yesterday – How? From Flipboard? So I’ll contemplate that as a possible pattern, and perhaps print it out (I’ve bought it) and store with the yarn. I doubt if the five Big Boy “cakes” would be enough to stripe the pattern as written, but adjustments may be possible.

                You’ll have to agree that the list is already past ridiculous. And that’s assuming nobody has any babies for a while.

                The Ginger Twist Studio is tiny, and delightful. No branded yarn; all local. The proprietors are American and my Bernie Sanders sweat shirt was applauded. 

Thursday, April 07, 2016

On I go. Only a few centimetres – and fewer inches – left before the armhole decreases on my half-brioche sweater. The Sous Sous was abandoned in an uncomfortable position, with fiddly bits next instead of peaceful knitting. I had better get back to it soon.

I have discovered some sort of mis-stitch, hundreds of miles down one of the WB ribs. Do I dare try to ladder back?

I was briefly inflamed with the idea of walking up to the Ginger Twist Studio on Tuesday, since I had to go up to St James’ Centre anyway and that must be nearly halfway. Alas! Ginger Twist is closed on Tuesdays. I have to go up again soon, and will make another attempt. I am not as strong as I used to be, but I think the walk is still within range.

The shop looks very interesting, from its website, with luxurious yarns dyed locally. I am much taken with the Luscious 4-ply – blue-faced Leicester, silk, cashmere. But there are other possibilities I might prefer, when face-to-face. The trouble is a) I feel I ought to buy something, whenever I visit an enterprising and independent LYS, which this clearly is (as I feel in a second-hand bookshop); and b) I have an idea of something I might like to knit.

That’s a trouble, because I already have the three projects I bought at the EYF, neatly tucked away with their appropriate patterns. All relatively small projects, but still, three of them. And the madtosh Tannehill which my sister will bring relatively soon (I hope, for the sake of seeing her), intended for a sweater for my husband. And what if Hellie and Matt get pregnant?

So I don’t need another project.

But it's wonderful what can get done, if one goes on doing.


There is going to be an Edinburgh Knitting and Stitching show at the Royal Highland Centre at the end of this month – a first for Edinburgh. This is what goes on at the Ally Pally from time to time, isn’t it? They have emailed me asking me to go free and blog about it. I am flattered to be noticed, especially because the EYF, in summing up, mentioned a whole host of blogs about themselves – but not me.

But I’m not strong enough, so soon after the EYF. And I suspect, looking at the interesting list of workshops, that the show is more stitching than knitting.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Another good day for Bernie! New York will be very interesting.

All continues well on the knitting front.

I’ll have to make myself a little schematic. The pattern is so old it doesn’t even offer one. I think the other time I knit something with this stitch pattern – the half-brioche I keep going on about – it was completely plain. This time I’ll go with the pattern in having what I called the other day, saddle shoulders.

What happens is that the front and back don’t attach to each other at the shoulder. Instead, there is a strip at the top of each sleeve which runs between front and back, up to the neck edge. Is that a “saddle shoulder”? I’ll try to make the round neck a little lower than round necks used to be. Lots of necklines have lowish round necks these days. The one fashion tip which has registered with me, in a long life, is that collars flatter the aged face. The collar being provided by something worn underneath, of course.

And I mustn’t forget the Sous Sous. When I reach the underarm decreases, at the very latest.

I remain very grateful for the introduction to Nathan Taylor, and it is remarkable, as you say, Hat, that one so young could make such progress in knitting, especially while concentrating his life on something else (=acting). I have started to watch the videos you provided the link for – he’s good at video-making, too – but I don’t at the moment think I’m going to try to teach my old fingers to do two-colour brioche in one pass. I’m enjoying life in the slow lane (except that there’s so much I want to knit, and time is running out).

You were knitting something from that little book called “Knitting Brioche-stitch Socks” (by Barbara Sander) the day we met, Hat. I bought the book and then, as with so much else, have done no more about it. Now, at least, I have got it out and am thinking about it again.


Greek Helen and her family are planning a week in Strathardle at the end of May. We are trying to contrive a plan to get my husband there, at least for a day. He doesn’t think he can do it, but I hope the idea will percolate. We’d have to take a carer along. It would be sort of sad, as it would almost certainly be the last time he would see the dear place. But not as sad as not seeing it, surely.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

It’s Lizzie’s birthday today, Rachel and Ed’s youngest child. When I was young, a baby born on the last day of the tax year (which this is) was a great blessing, as the parents were able to claim it as a tax-deductible dependent for the entire year. Alas, that privilege was withdrawn even before Lizzie was born, but we love her anyway.

I hadn’t intended to give the impression that brioche stitch is in any way difficult. It’s perfectly easy, for the hands. It’s just that I am trying to figure out what the yarn actually does – that’s trickier.

EZ has a hat in KWT in “prime rib” or brioche stitch. She makes it sound as if she approaches it with some caution. She also says, pace Marchant, that brioche stitch and fisherman’s rib are not the same. Both writers could be right – maybe the yarn traces the same course in both cases, but the methods of doing it (knitting below;  or slipping a stitch wyif, passing the yarn over it, and knitting the two together in the next row) may produce a different effect.

I’ve never tried all that fancy stuff in the books, where the brioche ribs swirl about and even cross over each other. Maybe one day.

At any rate, my iPad was persuaded to give up its treasures due to the intervention of a kind friend, and here’s where we were a day or two ago:

I realize with something of a start, that I’m going to have to decide what I’m doing. The pattern I am vaguely following is for a man. It has a placket front and saddle shoulders. Do I want that? If not, what do I want? I love the fabric I’m producing – but decisions must be made.

Thank you for the introduction to Nathan Taylor, Anonymous. (Comment yesterday) I don’t think I’ve heard of him, although obviously I should have since he published a shawl pattern in VK recently. And he was at the EYF! What a lot of famous knitters I missed!

I had feared that the organisers might be overcome with the sheer exhaustion of it all, and might be planning to spend the next few years in recovery on a remote Hebridean island, but no! There is to be an EYF in 2017 and the dates are fixed. Now all we need is Franklin.


A neighbour here in Drummond Place has Strathardle associations, and a little house of her own somewhere in the vicinity. She has offered to drive me up on Monday, when she has to meet some builders. I don’t think I was there at all in 2015. Is that possible? That dear place is so much in my thoughts that it feels as if I am constantly there.

But this time last year, I was in Athens. And not long after that, my husband’s hospital ordeals began. 

Sunday, April 03, 2016

More new followers! Welcome! Welcome!

We had a stranger this morning as our Edinburgh Council carer. She hadn’t been briefed, and when we met at the door, she assumed I was her charge. It was a bit disconcerting. It won’t be long.

I’m hugely enjoying my Half Brioche Experience, although I’m not making much progress with my goal of understanding the stitch. Every text I turn to seems to approach it differently.

My pattern is as follows. “wb” means madtosh DK “Whiskey Barrel” and “rhc” means “Roasted Hatch Chillies”. K1b and p1b mean to knit, or purl, into the stitch below the next stitch on the left-hand needle:

11.     RS, with wb, p1, k1b across, then p1
22.   RS, with rhc, purl
33.    WS, with wb, k1, p1b across, then k1
44.    WS, with rhc, knit
I hope that makes sense.

The k1b’s and the p1b’s are all concerned with the columns of apparent knit stitches, as viewed from the front. Since the knitting and purling below is entirely done with wb, it is no surprise that those stitches look entirely wb. The rhc yarn sort of slips behind when you knit into the stitch below it.

The purl columns puzzle me more. In fact, there is no funny business there at all. They are purled on the right side, by both yarns, and then knit on the wrong side, likewise. So why, on the right side, do they look so completely rhc? The purl columns have twice as many stitches as the knit columns, since there is no knitting below. Maybe that has something to do with it.

“Half brioche” because half of the rows are plain knit or purl? Or because only half of the stitches are ever knit or purled below? Or are those two conditions interlocked?

“Look at your knitting” was one of the wisest of EZ’s wise maxims. In this case, it isn’t doing me much good yet.

I’ve got the XRX book called “Knit One Below”, and Tarasovich-Clark’s “Brioche Chic”, as well as Marchant, so there is much to explore. I might even wind up tempted to swatch.

I took some pictures for you, and mailed them to myself from the iPad. They whooshed off in appropriate fashion, but never arrived at the other end. I have a feeling this has happened before, but if so I have forgotten the remedy.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

And another follower! Hi!

A good day, yesterday.

First of all, I met one of you – we’ll call her J. – and her Oberlin-graduate daughter Emily (see yesterday’s comment). We met in Kathy’s Knits and did a certain amount of yarn-buying all around, and then went around the corner to Angelina’s for coffee and scones and talking which could have gone on a lot longer.

I bought a set of graduated yarns, partly, perhaps, inspired by the class I had taken with Carol Feller at the EYF., partly because I don't like to leave an LYS (or an independent bookstore) without buying something, Emily asked what I was going to do with them. Good question. But I think I have at least a tentative answer – her mother J. was wearing her Relax and I suddenly remembered how much I love that pattern, both the knitting and the wearing of. So maybe one day I will do it again, with the graduated yarn as stripes starting near or at the bottom. All I need to do is to find the right madtosh near-solid for the rest of it. And time, and time.

Later, I started my half-brioche sweater. How very second-millennium it felt, to be knitting k1 p1 back and forth in DK over 83 stitches! But it produced a deep rib very briskly, and I have now gone on to the real pattern.

This time I really mean to figure out what I am doing – or, rather, what the yarn is doing. The effect, on the right side, is of a rib with the knit stitches in one colour and the purls in the other. The reverse is messier-looking. I got Marchant’s book out. The net result was to confuse, but I have at least discovered that she regards k1b and p1b (which is what I am doing) as producing an identical result to slipped stitches paired with YO’s and knit or purled together as one on the next row (which is her preferred technique).  

I have other books besides hers, including the XRX “Knit Below”. It is obvious from the beginning that this group of stitches admits of a great deal of variation.

My pattern, at least, is easy and stress-free.  It involves nothing more nerve-wracking than knitting or purling into the stitch below the next stitch on the left-hand needle (which is – if you’ve never tried it – a remarkably easy and comfortable thing to do). The stitch itself, when thus inevitably slipped off the needle, forms a sort of YO over the stitch just knit.

I’ll continue to report on my discoveries, at least until I slouch back and just enjoy the process.


The gov’t has just made a “living wage” mandatory for all workers over 25. I wish I knew the carers who are keeping my husband and me afloat well enough to ask how much they earn by the hour. They are all skilled and pleasant and patient and efficient at their difficult job, some more than others but all well within acceptable parameters. Some are employed by Edinburgh Council – the famous “care package” that my husband couldn’t be released from hospital without – and some by a private firm which provides us with invaluable help for a few hours daily – so that I can get out and meet knitters, among other things.

The “living wage” sounds to me far too little to reward what they do. 

Friday, April 01, 2016

New follower! Hi!

Little to report. The Sous Sous decreases are done and today I will lay it aside in favour of starting my half-brioche sweater at last. But don’t forget, Jean – the Sous Sous isn’t finished. I wound a skein of the Roast Hatch Chillies in December to knit a Christmas present hat, and I can’t find the ball. That’s a nuisance, but only a small one. I’ll be starting off with good old Whiskey Barrel, anyway.

I know Meg has unvented a way to knit brioche in the round, but I’m not going to attempt it. This is going to be an old-fashioned number: front, back, two sleeves, sew them together. The late and much lamented Judy Sumner assigned different days of the week to different WIPs. I prefer to set goals: I’ll work on the back of the new sweater until the ribbing is finished and the glories of the pattern established.

Speaking of brioche, I see that Nancy Marchant will be at the Loch Ness Knit Fest at the end of September. I couldn’t get into her class at the EYF, even ten minutes after booking started. Starmore will be there, and Di Gilpin, and other folk unknown to me. There will be knit cruises on the loch and it all sounds rather fun.

Vintage Shetland Project

Guess what? The promised “early April” date for publication joins the other promises on the scrap heap. Now it’s “just a few weeks later than planned”. So – May? June? We’re getting rather close to the first anniversary of the crowdfunding episode. That was early July last year, with publication promised for November.

“Every new lead takes time to follow up” – that’s a dangerous path to go down. One of the attractions of the crowdfunding pitch was that she had a good track record, with the Stitch in Time books. I thought she could be trusted to pull this one off, too.

I still think she probably will, but I’m getting crosser and crosser. And she must have known for a couple of weeks, at least, that she wasn’t going to make the “early April” deadline. Why not tell us?  Why let us wait until the promised month arrived before breaking the (new) bad news?