Friday, September 30, 2016

Another successful day, knitting-wise.

I’m decreasing for the toe of the second Whiskey Barrel sock – nearly done. The new skein makes a distinct break from the old one, but fortunately the line will be hidden well within the wearer’s shoe. Such breaks are a danger, with madtosh.

I got my five rows of Uncia done. I would have liked to add a sixth, so as to start today with a wrong-side row. They’re easier. But it’s wiser not to press on when tired (which I am, most of the time).

And I added another point to the edging of the Hansel Hap. I would have liked to get a bit further forward with that, too, but bedtime beckoned. Prince Albert has still not appeared, although much discussed. The Queen has offered her heart and hand to Lord Melborne but he has sensibly declined them.


The big knitting news of the last two days has been the arrival of two books – “A Shetlander’s Fair Isle Graph Book”, from Jamieson & Smith; and the Feral Knitter’s “The Joy of Color”.

The Shetland Guild of Spinners etc set about to publish a book of members’ Fair Isle designs, a companion to their brilliant lace book. Then one of the group remembered that she had two Fair Isle graph books, given her by the son of the knitwear manager for Anderson & Co (a broker, still there in Lerwick, which bought knitters’ work and sold it on). She was a lace knitter herself, and had forgotten about them.

They are enchanting. Page after page of Fair Isle patterns, broad and narrow, carefully coloured in on graph paper. There is an introduction by Carol Christiansen, the revered curator of textiles at the Shetland Museum.

Interestingly, on an early page there is a row of swastikas. It is a Hindu symbol of good fortune. I have used it myself, in lace, knitting shawls for the Little Boys. But I have never seen it before on Shetland. Christiansen says in the introduction that it doesn’t appear in Shetland knitwear after 1934 – which probably helps date the pattern book. (My father’s mother had a little silver spoon with good-luck symbols: a rabbit’s foot, a four-leafed clover, a swastika. Striking, to a child – me – seeing it during the war.)

The Guild is still working on that book of members' Fair Isle patterns, you'll be glad to hear.

“The Joy of Color” is another self-published book, and another triumph. It’s not a pattern book, but a distillation of the workshops Janine Bajus – the Feral Knitter -- teaches on how to design your own Fair Isle. Meg herself contributes a forward.

I haven’t yet progressed beyond the chapter on colour, and am, as usual, feeling bogged down in shades and tones and colour wheels, as I do even when Franklin tries to help in his Craftsy class. I’ll report further.


  1. Good Morning Jean. I'm still reading along with you and enjoying your daily updates. Your recent knitting has motivated me to get mine organized and I now have a finished sweater, tv knitting and a travel project. I've just finished watching the Shetland series and will be looking for another. I've taken an occasional position at the local international boarding school as a member of the residence staff. I'll be taking my travel project (fingering weight mittens, self-striping yarn, simple pattern) along to work this weekend. Hopefully I'll get some stitches in while supervising teenagers. I'll let you know if any progress is made. Enjoy your weekend.

  2. We had a pre-war copy of a Kipling book (Kim?) that had a swastika in the frontispiece. I imagine those disappeared. I am currently knitting with Neighborhood Fiber Company, another lovely yarn that occasionally requires some working from two skeins at at time to avoid a line. It is lovely stuff, though. Waiting for the Shetland Book, and I've meant look for Janine's. Your recommendation is sufficient.

    1. =Tamar8:58 PM

      Those symbols are still present on some Romanesque buildings in Washington D.C., as an inevitable result of using certain kinds of decorative Roman designs. They were also used in the American southwest; I have an old enameled silver pin with the good-luck symbol formed of arrows.
      Janine's book sounds good. I need something to teach me to work with color.

  3. Just reading the obituaries in "The Times" today and I come across your husband, mentioned as a former colleague of the deceased. Perhaps this was a long-standing friend of yours? He certainly sounds like an interesting man.

    1. Thanks for this. I had heard of Luke's death from his widow, but would have missed the obituary in the Times but for you. My husband founded the art history department in Leicester. Luke joined us after a couple of years, and remained there as professor when we moved on to Birmingham and the B£rber Inst£tute.

  4. I'm always impressed by how much you get done even though you feel slow.

  5. So much fun to get new knitting related items in the mail!!!