Thursday, May 25, 2017

I’m sorry about yesterday. My husband was very weak. He is somewhat better today. James is here, for an overnight visit. Alexander is coming tomorrow. Rachel will be here on Saturday for a similar overnight visit. We hope her new granddaughter doesn’t throw a spanner in the works by getting born tonight.

I’m doing well with the Polliwog – back and front finished and overlapped, one set of stitches picked up, first sleeve progressing nicely. I continue to be enchanted by the pattern. It deserves to become a classic. I will be proud to send it to Hellie & Matt & their daughter and tell them that it was designed by a friend of mine.

Maybe the next time we have a great-grandchild, I will knit it again in the yarn it was designed for. What a luxury it is, to be able to whistle down any yarn in the world! I remember my high-school self, and those VKB’s, and all those yarns I had never heard of (same still applies). All I could do in those days was buy yarn at Woolworth’s in Allenhurst and hope for the best. The best didn’t happen very often. Now, it would take only a moment or two to find a source for anything Vogue could throw at me.

Everybody has responded with great enthusiasm to the prospect of the Lovage. Ketki says that it would make a good Calcutta Cup sweater, with the Cup and the date around the bottom. Only one trouble with that idea…

So I’ll probably go ahead with that. How I wish I could be like Andrea – finishing one project and then buying yarn for the next. It sounds so easy! But even she took on board a few odd skeins during the EYF.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I keep worrying away at that Freecell layout – but I can’t do it. How I wish I could tell you which one it is, as I could have in the old days!

We’ve had another hard day here, but essentially – no better, no worse. And not much knitting.

Sure enough, I’m up to date with Andrew and Andrea now that I’ve watched all of Episode 23 with Deb Robson. That’s a wonderfully good episode. I don’t have her book, The Fleece and Fibre Sourcebook, and I have rarely seen so many enthusiastic Amazon reviews all tagged “verified purchase”. But it’s a book for spinners (mainly, I think) and felters as well as knitters. I think I’ve got to be firm with myself again, as with Arne & Carlos’ birds. In my next life, I will take up spinning early on.

Thank you for your encouragement about the Lovage pattern. I have sent out a general alert, to see whether any of my female relatives in however remote generations, might consider actually wearing it. Remember, I’ve also got Kate Davies’ “Rachel’s Yoke” here, ready to go. And the yarn I bought from the Ginger Twist Studio, planned to make a sweater with my purchases of gradient yarns. That could well be done as a yoke.

So it would be ridiculous to rush out and buy “Lovage”. But we’ll see what they say.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Today was no better, on the domestic front.

I did, however, finish off the first of the back shoulder short-row sections of the Polliwog, and may be able to do the other tomorrow and start picking up stitches for a sleeve. Am I dragging my feet a bit here, for fear of having to make a decision or two about the future?

Yoke sweaters seem to be everywhere in Andrew & Andrea. I feel greatly drawn – and have two, here, ready in stash and Marie Wallin’s “Lovage” pattern still calling to me.

I have been thinking somewhat about meticulousness – which Andrea certainly has and I certainly haven’t. She would never have abandoned the Stillwater project.

I think I’m nearly up to date with A&A. I’m watching Episode 23, the one with Deb Robson – and I think when I’ve seen that, there will be nothing for me but to wait for the next episode. I saw all the intervening ones in my initial flurry of excitement. The standard is very high.


My front-step garden was seriously advanced today. I had meant to work out there while the cleaner was here, dusting and ironing. But she came out too. She is Romanian; we lack a common language. We can communicate nearly-perfectly, but can’t gossip. She is very strong and intelligent.

So last year’s pots and troughs have been emptied and re-filled with fresh compost; seeds planted; everything tidied. There are a couple of tweaks to come, but essentially, the job is done, and affords me much pleasure. And Daniella got the dusting and ironing done as well. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

This has been another difficult day. If I suddenly drop off the radar, don’t worry. I have cancelled the walk I was to go on tomorrow with our niece. Next weekend, I was hoping to go to Strathardle with Helen and her family; care arranged here. That hangs in the balance.

Pippa Middleton seems to have had a successful wedding. It will be interesting to see, in the next few days, whether the family has sold out to Hello! magazine to recoup some of their expenditure. Understandable, if so; splendid, if not.

Helen heard the pipes at Holyrood Palace this morning when she was walking her dog, and wondered if the Middleton celebration had reached this far north. I’m pretty sure it was for the Princess Royal (Princess Anne, who is a good egg) and the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland (an important annual event).

I’ve done virtually no knitting, and about the same amount of Andrew & Andrea.

Please go see Mrs A’s website for Arne & Carlos’ birds (comment yesterday). They are enchanting.

MaureeninFargo (comment yesterday) – you’re absolutely right. I’ve got Deborah Newton’s book, and it’s good, and that’s why her name is familiar. (And, oddly, it’s on the shelf where it belongs.) She was excellent with Andrea on the podcast – lots of first-rate specific advice about measuring and fitting delivered with great good cheer.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

My husband has been very weak today.

Here are the doorstep pictures. I need another hour or so out there before we can slouch back and just worry about watering and feeding. The trough on the left, with the dead broccoli, needs to be cleaned out and replenished with fresh compost and the sowing of salads. That’s the big job, but there are a couple of others. Notice the strawberry pot.

The excitement, at the moment, is the quince tree in the upper right. I have had it for about a year – I have always wanted a quince tree. It bloomed beautifully and abundantly. I was out there with my soft brush, helping pollination along.

Many of the faded flowers have fallen. But many others have not. I don’t need a large crop – half a dozen quinces would probably be more than enough. I’m thinking Middle Eastern tagines. So I’m holding my breath over those un-fallen flowers.

As for knitting, I have advanced the Polliwog to the point where I am going to start the short-rowing for the back on the next row. One of those situations where one thinks, is that about it? Or should I rib two more rows? The leitmotif of an anxious day.

I also watched a bit more Andrew & Andrea – I’m up to the end of 2016, and have already cherry-picked a lot of the 2017’s, so – not much more. I’m currently watching the interview with Deborah Newton: most interesting. (Why do I know her name so well?) She has published two books relatively recently – “Finishing School”, about finishing; and an equally clever title about measuring and swatching and achieving fit.

Maybe those are the books I should buy, instead of Arne & Carlos on knitting birds. (But Pom Pom – comment yesterday – if you have the slightest interesting in knitting birds, this is clearly one for you. Knitter magazine, mentioned yesterday, has a fairly routine pattern for a tea cosy from A&C, with a – European – robin perched on top. For the robin, and it’s delightful, you have to buy the book.)

But I doubt if I have any ambition to become a couture finisher, any more than to knit birds.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Rachel rang up this morning to say that Hellie and Matt’s baby has been officially declared to be Full Term. We have nearly the full contents of Pandora’s box still to worry about, if we want to worry – but prematurity can be struck from the list.

Here is a picture of her Polliwog, taken from in front. I am assiduously knitting away behind.

I think, studying the pattern, perhaps rather belatedly, that the answer to my question of yesterday is to make the back about an inch (eight rows) higher than the front, and then launch the short-row shaping in exactly the same way. That will raise the back neck. Then the “arms” of the back will fold forward, coming about to the point marked by those safety pins.

And then – this is brilliant! – the sleeve stitches are picked up through both thicknesses of fabric, so that there is no seaming at all. I think I’ll make the sleeves slightly shorter than specified, as I used to do for my children long ago. I said something about this to my sister-in-law once, but she assured me that her children had arms of perfectly normal length and she just followed the pattern.

The new “Knitter” arrived today. There’s a nice interview with Mucklestone. Do I want Arne & Carlos’ new book, about knitting birds? I love A&C and I have nearly all of their books, and I have at least knit several Christmas baubles from their Christmas bauble book.

But I don’t believe I am ever going to knit a bird, and I am trying, these days, to give occasional thought to the mammoth task of one day getting out of this house. That will involve -- amidst much, much else -- culling the knitting books.

Well, we’ll see.

There is an interesting-looking feature about podcasts which I may consult when I am up to date with Andrew and Andrea. Jen A-C is also interesting, and very lucid, on Combination Knitting.

I am afraid that the design on page 18, No 1 of the Studio Linen Collection, is the strongest candidate for the late and much-lamented “You Knit What??” website that I have seen for quite a while.

Here are promised pictures of my Greek olivewood bowl, first more or less on its own and then in its natural setting on the coffee table.

I have also taken pictures of my doorstep plants, but I think that’s too much to embark on now.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Again, there is very little to report. I’ve knit some more of the ribbing on the back of the Polliwog, slightly worried because I’m using the wrong yarn. Translating a stitch gauge is not too difficult, but here I’ve got to get the rows reasonably right, as the back folds over the front.

Still, babies don’t expect Saville Row tailoring.

Thank you for your encouragement about my strawberry pot. I’ll keep you posted on its progress. Moorecat, I agree absolutely that a ceramic donkey with panniers would be naffness-too-far. But, Amy, I am seriously tempted to add a gnome to the ensemble. Perhaps not that one. I promised you pictures. I’ll try hard again tomorrow.

Andrew and Andrea have published a new episode – she’s still got Repetitive Strain Injury and is forbidden to knit. She’s filling in with a bit of dressmaking, somewhat tedious, to my taste. Been there, done that. But I’m listed among the patrons!

I’m still catching up with the backlog. I learn that Australian magpies warble, who would have thought it? And that it is a sound which expats don’t realise how much they’ve missed until they go home and hear the magpies warbling again. And I also learned that six or eight Australians every year have one of their eyes pecked out by a magpie. Could that be true?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

There is little to report today, but there is something.

I finished the sewn bind-off on the front of my Polliwog. And I gather, that’s that, no shoulder seams. It was slow, even after I had mastered it. It’s a four-step process. Only two of the steps actually eliminate a stitch, but the yarn has to be drawn through after each step and of course I had left myself too long an end.

Still, it’s done, and looks extremely nice, and is very flexible.  I’ve joined the yarn to the back and started knitting upwards.

The German short-row technique is also brilliantly successful. It remains to be seen whether I can bring off the rest of this increasingly interesting pattern. The baby, remember, is due at about the same time as the British General Election – so, by now, she’s very nearly full term. But she’s got her shawl, to come home from hospital in. She can wait a week or two for her Polliwog.


I have been rather hankering after a strawberry pot for the front step, while at the same time fearing that it would be a tremendously naff addition. (Naff: British slang, today meaning uncool, tacky, unfashionable) When Helen and I went to Homebase a couple of days ago, they didn’t have any strawberry pots, therefore something of a relief for anyone who was worrying about my image.

But this evening Helen came by, with Perdita’s favourite catfood which has been out of stock in Waitrose and Tesco recently – and a strawberry pot.

A photograph tomorrow, along with one of the olivewood bowl from Athens.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Somewhat more knitting, today. I have finished both short-row shoulders on the front of the Polliwog. That brings me to a sewn bind-off which I can’t, for the moment, do without peering at the page for each of the four steps. I’ve been through the sequence twice, with success, but will have to start early tomorrow to finish it, or at least get the hang of it, before the day closes in.

Andrew and Andrea have a sequence called “Knitters of the World” – as it might be, you or me. In one episode they had an Australian man, a fairly recent convert to knitting, who said something like “The Book of Knitting has no last page”.

I thought that was rather good. The German short-row technique that Mary Lou uses here is new to me, as is this sewn bind-off. There is always something new to learn.

I am very grateful for all your replies about yarn bowls. I am, again, strongly tempted. When I was in Athens with our niece two years ago – just before my husband’s fall that precipitated us into our present state of decline – I bought an olive-wood bowl, about 6” across.

I asked myself in the shop, as my husband would have done had he been there, what am I going to do with it? The answer was, keep it in front of me on the coffee table to hold stitch markers and safety pins and my little scissors and point protectors (but Perdita makes off with those, having gone through the contents of the bowl with gentle paw).

There are also a few sea-smoothed fragments of (possibly ancient) pottery which we picked up that week in the harbour at Corinth, where St Paul landed before preaching to the Corinthians. That bowl is a constant pleasure.

But that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t have a yarn bowl as well.

New topic: I got a postcard today from Lisa, from Ravenna: an astonishing and delightful surprise. I look forward to showing it to Helen -- Ravenna is Mecca for mosaicists. St Apollanaris' sheep look wonderfully like the yoke of a Kate Davies sweater. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

How does Andrea do it? The day job, the podcast, and a tremendous amount of impressive knitting. I’m more like Andrew at the moment, managing a row or two if I’m lucky.

Having him there on the sofa, a beginning knitter, is certainly one of the things that distinguishes this program from the crowd. I am keenly looking forward to the next episode, in which I trust I will be listed as a sponsor. And meanwhile, I am catching up steadily on the backlog. At first, I plucked the plums – Oliver Henry, James Norbury, the Boyfriend Sweater. Now I am watching earnestly in sequence.

James Norbury appeared on an American television quiz program where there were three men claiming to be James Norbury, and a panel questioning them. Easy for us, who know what James Norbury looked like. If I should be plucked back in time to sit on the panel, my question would be: Where is Fair Isle? James Norbury could answer precisely. Could the others? But it was all rather silly.

My row-or-two today took me to the short-row sequence at the shoulder of the Polliwog. I suspect this is the secret of its slip-over-the-head-ability. I am greatly looking forward to telling you more.

The new IK turned up, without stirring my blood in any way. There are some fine shawls, but I am afraid the world is full of fine shawls at the moment.

I was seriously tempted by the back page, the wooden yarn bowl. I did some googling, and found some beauties – I think I would really prefer something more bowl-like, opener and wider, than the one IK features. And there are many such.

But do I really need or want such a thing? I would be very glad to hear from anyone who has one and loves it. I was thinking along these lines when I went to the EYF, but all the ones I saw there were ceramic. I want wood, if I want one at all. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

This will be almost entirely non-knit, as virtually nothing has been done. A couple more rows of Polliwog ribbing. I hope I’ll get to the exciting bit tomorrow. Helen and I went to Homebase yesterday and had a jolly time choosing things for the front step, and I spent a happy half-hour after Mass this morning establishing some of them. Isn’t May wonderful?

When my husband’s evening carers arrived just now, I was out on the step looking at my handiwork and John said that I was “walking in the grounds”. He was dead right. I’ll send you a picture when it’s all finished.

Mary Lou, the (too-thin) yarn I am using for my Polliwog is Sweet Georgia’s “Tough Love Sock”. The colour-way for the contrast stripes is called “phoenix rising”. I can’t find the other ball band.

Kirsten, no – the current implementation of Freecell, at least the one I’ve got, doesn’t have serial numbers as in days of yore. I don’t dare move on from my current game – that’s good – because I can’t see that I can ever get it back for my sister or my son – or for you. I’m getting close to the point of knowing the layout by heart, myself. My “winning streak” – thanks to the MLE system of employing Ctrl-Z when you’re really stuck – totals more than 3000.

Shandy, you’re right, I think, about Ella Gordon’s post. When I click on my own link of yesterday, I get only a single (rather splendid) picture. Will this work better? In despair, google “Ella Gordon Whalsay”.

In any event, under the first two Fair Isle pictures in that post, once you’ve succeeded in finding it, she says, “On the right two items made by Helen Hughson for her to be husband and her brother, each has 19 different motif’s.

What I missed was the orientation. The motifs are all there, but turned the other way around, no more than one per row.


We watched the Pathe newsreel of the 1937 coronation yesterday. It was rather interesting:

(a)  The little girls behaved very well. Our present Queen would have been 10 or 11, her sister Margaret correspondingly younger. It was a long day.

(b) The whole carry-on was more than slightly preposterous. If I live to see another coronation, it will be interesting to compare. It won’t be like that.

(c)  The size and enthusiasm of the crowds was truly extraordinary. Kim Jon-un and Donald Trump could only watch and weep, although I don't suppose that either of them did. Given that the 30’s were tough – perhaps not quite as tough here as in the American Depression, but still, not a laugh-a-minute – and given the squalor of the Abdication Crisis not long before, it seemed very remarkable.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

I wonder if I have met an unwinnable Freecell? How I wish there were a way to save it, and forward it to you, and keep it for my sister and/or Alexander (who are both very clever), and Google for a solution – and thus set me free to go on wasting my time. But I fear I’m beaten.

Here, at last, my Polliwog, progressing slowly but happily. Soon I will embark on some interesting short rows. The whole point of this pattern is that it is meant to slip easily over a baby’s head (and I’m sure it will). Not a matinee jacket, anyway. I'm very pleased with it.

Ella Gordon has posted a new blogpost – always a welcome event. And in her discussion of Whalsay knitting, she illustrates two items from the ‘30’s (I can’t see, and she doesn’t say, what the “items” are) with different motifs as one proceeds along the row – just like the Museum Sweater!

I am continuing to watch Andrew & Andrea systematically. We had an interesting episode recently, No. 6, with an interview with a natural dyer. I’ve done a bit of that myself, in my day.

It is interesting how everybody, world-wide and throughout history, seems to converge on wanting red. It must be something to do with the construction of the human eye. Or not necessarily human, considering how the birds will strip my red currant bush if not netted, but leave the white currants which taste very similar.

During my own dye phase, I found some ochrolechia tartarea above the Croft of Cultalonie, (rather proud of myself, for that),  and from it dyed some yarn purple and other yarn a rather convincing red. To turn it red, I had to macerate the lichen for a while. Urine is recommended. I made do with vinegar.

But it is interesting how humble people whose lives must have been rather difficult, took the time and trouble to discover the properties of ochrolechia tartarea, while the more leisured derived their reds from more exotic sources.

There is a famous passage in Virgil’s Fourth Eclogue – the “Messianic Eclogue” – in which he imagines the sheep in the age-to-come wandering about the fields all red and gold and purple already. Virgil has been rightly censured for being ridiculous. But the commentators I have seen (the English language ones only) have rather missed the point, I feel. He doesn’t use the normal Latin colour-words here, but rather the names of the expensive dyes of his day, crocus (=saffron), murex, sandyx. That’s what we’ll be able to do without, he is saying, when the Red Revolution comes.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Miscellaneous – but where to start?

Life continues difficult.

Today is, I am told, the 80th anniversary of the coronation of George VI, the Queen’s father. I was coming up to my fourth birthday, and don’t remember the occasion. My husband, rather closer to the scene, would have been 12 ½, but claims equally to have no memory of the event.

In those days, we had paper doll books. I hope someone else remembers. The outside covers were cardboard, from which characters of one sort or another were to be punched out – is that right? The inside pages were paper, from which we cut out clothes to dress the characters in. There were tabs on the shoulders of the clothes and, when appropriate, elsewhere, to secure the clothes to the characters.

I had such a book for the Coronation. The King, the Queen, presumably the little Princesses. After the pages with their Coronation clothes, did we have pages of soberer clothes for them to have tea in, later in the day? I think we did. I wonder if an un-cut version of that paper doll book survives.

I also remember having such a book for the Quiz Kids, a radio program by which I was obsessed. I was in love (sight unseen) with Richard Williams of East Chicago, Indiana. 

Next: Helen says that her new website (address in sidebar) has had a gratifying input of viewings from here. Thanks, guys!


I have advanced well with the Polliwog – I really, really will take a pic for you tomorrow. I’ve finished the initial stripy bit and have embarked on the ribbing above.

I continue to enjoy Andrew & Andrea. I have reached Episode Six, when Andrea tells us that she has started knitting Marie Wallin’s “Lovage” pattern for their daughter. I think I will have to send out a general alert to sister, daughters, daughters-in-law, and granddaughters asking if anyone knows anyone who might actually wear it. It would clearly be enormously fun to knit.

Tamar (comment yesterday), brilliant as always: knit something like my swatch-scarf to discover whether I can discover a rhythm to Starmore’s Stillwater pattern. I notice, in the book, however, that somebody – and it could only be me – has struck out all 58 rows of the charted pattern repeat. Theresa, if you got to the underarm steek, you did better than I did. But it doesn’t auger well for a second try. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

That was another fairly difficult day, although not quite as bad as some.

I didn't get much knitting done. I think the first section of the Polliwog still needs another pair of rows before I can move forward. Nor have I taken the promised photograph. I’m very pleased with what’s happening – I can tell you that much.

I have set myself to watch Andrew&Andrea from the beginning – that’s not too arduous, as they only started last year. They have undoubtedly improved as they have progressed. There are a few tedious passages in the early episodes which I fast-forward through. Not many.

Andrea is terribly keen on Alice Starmore, and has knitted some beauties. I’ve got quite a few Starmore books – and I took a class with her once, in London, on Celtic cables  – but I don’t think I’ve ever knitted anything of hers. For many years the Stillwater pattern, in her book of the same name, was at the head of my wish-list.  But eventually I tried it and found that I couldn’t get into any sort of rhythm with the pattern. What happened to the yarn?

I have looked at it again over the last couple of days. I still think it is utterly beautiful. It doesn’t look as if it should be impossible to establish a rhythm.

I don’t think either Alice or Jade turn up as guests on the Andrew-and-Andrea show, despite very substantial promotion of their patterns and yarn. Maybe next week.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Helen has been toiling mightily of late on her new website, and now it’s up. I don’t think I knew that she was going to teach a mosaic course on Pelion in September. It sounds good. The link is as before – see the sidebar.

We’ve had another tough day here.

I’ve done a bit more Polliwog knitting, and should reach the exciting next section tomorrow. You have been promised a photograph and I am aware that I haven't produced one yet.

Kate Davies has a new blog post up, with wonderful pictures of things people have knitted from her “Inspired by Islay” book. How does anyone have the time? I was overjoyed to learn that a new collection and new yarns are on the way. I had been a bit afraid that the book she is working on, about her stroke – which promises to be extremely interesting – had taken over from knitting for the time being.

Total Irrelevance

I don’t always get to Mass these days, unless Helen is here and free to come and manage things in Drummond Place. She did, last Sunday, and it was all about the Good Shepherd.

And what I thought about was the day I was walking towards the village and found myself behind a shepherd (Bob Forsyth, I think, who is now buried one space down from my grandson Oliver in the new cemetery along the Bumpy Road). In front of him were a flock of sheep, and at the head of that procession, a dog.

When the leading sheep reached the point just before the new cemetery where there is a wee burn and a track, Mr Forsyth (still from behind) told the dog what to do with a sharp whistle and, probably, for all I can remember, a single syllable of instruction.

The dog translated that into language that sheep could understand – “We’re going to turn right here, and go through that gate.” And they all did, without agitation, and Mr Forsyth and the dog followed and closed the gate.

I suspect they didn’t have sheepdogs in the Middle East in biblical times. I don’t see how this anecdote could be turned into a parable – the dog would have to become a bishop, perhaps? But it is for me a very happy memory.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

That was a pretty good day. I got the car insured, in the nick of time  -- our previous insurer has decided to stop insuring private cars. My husband continues to mend.

And I knit forward with the Polliwog. Mary Lou (comment yesterday) has pointed me to a couple of errata, one of which I had figured out for myself. It’s going to be a jolly little sweater.

When I was first married, I blush to remember, I knit a “matinee jacket” (remember them?) for our niece, my husband’s sister’s daughter, for her first Christmas. She will have been six months old, so I thought she qualified as a “baby” – at that point, I hadn’t even met her. But even in 1957, young ladies of six months didn’t wear matinee jackets, however well-knit. My poor sister-in-law was hard put to find language to thank me. The Polliwog is going to be a different story altogether.

 I have been thinking about the future. It deserves one of those decision-cartoons which occasionally turn up in the press. I think I can maintain two major WIPs at once, from this list:

Alexander’s Fair Isle vest. Calculations remain to be done.

“Nancy’s vest” from Carol Sunday, using the Blacker “Samite” yarn I bought at the EYF. You may remember that I chose a nice dusty red which turned to brown in my hands as soon as the ink was dry on the cheque (so to speak). (Andrea was there too and bought a lovely old-gold shade.)  But brown is not entirely inappropriate for Nancy’s vest.

A yoke sweater. If so, which?

          --Kate Davies’ “Miss Rachel’s Yoke”. I’ve got it; all I have to do is knit it.

         Something using the yarn I bought from the Ginger Twist studio last year, combined with one (or more) of my packs of gradient yarns. The possibilities here are

o   – Kate Davies “Port Charlotte” pattern from her new “Inspired by Islay book.
o   – the cover pattern from the “Heart on my Sleeve” e-booklet I bought recently to support work against malaria.
o   – why do I need a pattern? Knit an EPS yoke and put the gradient yarns in as stripes.

n    Just this afternoon I encountered Marie Wallin’s “Lovage”. Oh dearie me!

Monday, May 08, 2017

My husband is slightly better this evening.

And as for knitting…

I’m having a lovely time with the three-row stripes on the body of the Pollywog. I mustn’t go on too long – it’s a matter of the largest-size stitch-count and the smallest-size size. I should have taken a picture today, and will very soon. It’s going to be a rather delectable little sweater.

Thanks to Andrew and Andrea, there are various paths I might start down --  but at the moment, each seems too long or too sad or too complicated (or a mixture of all three). I really will try to do better tomorrow.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Another bad day on the health front.

I did get to spend 20 minutes or so on the front step, as I have been promising myself for some time, advancing – not, alas! very far – this year’s garden. Neighbours came by, and stopped to chat. The sun shone. I almost felt that it would be worth having two Novembers in the year, for the sake of one May.

Knitting went well. You’re absolutely right, Lisa (comment yesterday) – it’s best to correct a mistake. My Polliwog is now well past the point discussed yesterday, and it will soon be forgotten. I have wound the skein of contrast yarn and embarked on the stripes and am very pleased with what is happening. Pic soon.

I’ve done a bit more Andrew and Andrea. I’m pretty well up to date with recent episodes – a couple abandoned due to tedium, but remarkably little. I’m doing some catching up: I think their more recent episodes are better, brisker, and more professional.

A&A have launched a KAL in which the idea is to knit something for oneself and something for a Loved One, which are in some way related. Not a bad idea at all – although I feel myself too old for it. I’d like to knit something for Hellie and Matt’s soon-to-be-born baby, for instance, and something related for her cousin Juliet O., above. But not for ME.

I think, apart from my beloved Relax, that I knit for myself mainly when I want to try out an idea which wouldn’t interest (to put it politely) anyone else. There are some horrors in my drawer.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Not too bad a day. My husband, at least, no worse.

The Polliwog seems to be cursed. I was well advanced on the first instruction (on the second attempt): knit eight rounds in k1, p1 rib. Then I discovered that at some point, about round 4-5, I had turned around in my tracks (it happens).

I spent a while wrestling with the problem. The mistake could probably be fudged. BUT 1) doesn’t a great-granddaughter deserve better? 2) doesn’t Sweet Georgia yarn from the EYF deserve better? 3) doesn’t Mary Lou, who designed the pattern, deserve better? And I remembered the valuable maxim I learned from the nun who was headmistress of the school where I used to teach Latin: “If in doubt, take it out.”

So I started a third time.

I’ve watched a bit more Andrew-and-Andrea but must stop for fear of overdosing. It is possible to stir the porridge with one hand while cradling the iPad in the crook of the other arm, but I agree that on the whole video podcasts take up a lot of valuable time. This one rather redeems itself by having segments which are seriously visual: how to pick up stitches around a neckline, for instance.

And Andrea (admittedly prone to verbosity) is very good on the interviews. She clearly does her homework, she asks the questions we need to have answered. I enjoyed Tom of Holland, whose class alas! alas! I never got to at EYF ’16 – and isn’t that Kate Davies’ Rams and Yowes blankie in the background? And Oliver Henry – older than when we met him sorting wool in the shelter next to the shop three years ago, Kristie – actually showed us the Museum Sweater for a moment. The Museum’s own replica? or the one which advertises Jen A-C’s pattern on the Jamieson&Smith website? – whether those are individual or identical garments. 

Friday, May 05, 2017

Today was rather a set-back on the health front, after yesterday’s optimism. My husband has now finished the course of antibiotics with which he was sent home from hospital last week. We hope tomorrow may be better simply for being antibiotic-free.

So I didn’t get much done. But here, at least, is the swatch-scarf (and my toes):

The duller two rounds of lozenges at the top will be the basis of Alexander’s vest. The next two down, somewhat brighter, will be a vest for Ketki when Scotland next win the Calcutta Cup – that’ll probably be at the Greek Kalends. The brighter version has Flugga White instead of a duller natural grey; and a red accent across the centre instead of a blue one. Otherwise identical, colour-wise.

Tamar, I am, as always, both grateful and deeply impressed by your contribution (Wednesday). Join the ends of the swatch-scarf and make it an infinity scarf! Simple, brilliant (=Tamar). Thank you.

I had hoped to get some calculating done on the vest itself today, but didn’t.

I did make a start on the Polliwog – and then made what is, to me, the one irremediable mistake. I dropped a stitch during the first post-cast-on round. So I have started again, and all currently promises well.

I also watched a bit more Andrew&Andrea. Flipboard seems to have given up on knitting altogether. I joined something called News360 which promised well but doesn’t seem to be producing much (knitting). Podcasts may be the future. I enjoyed the current episode, with the Dutch lace knitter Monique Boonstra, new to me, and brilliant.

And Shandy, there is a recent sequence about setting in sleeves, I can’t remember in which episode. Andrea is obviously an accomplished seamstress. It was done after the seams were sewn, just as you said. The pins were inserted perpendicularly to the seam. I didn’t even know that. And Andrea is devoted to back stitch, which is what I have done all my life until recent enthusiasm for mattress stitch has made me feel inadequate.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

We’ve had some relief from politics today. Local elections are in progress, and the BBC has refrained from talking about the General Election until today’s polls close.

That means that we have had a lot of room for news about the Duke of Edinburgh who is planning to step back a bit from public duties at the age of 95.  Famous moments from his career have been mentioned, including the time he referred to the Chinese as “slitty-eyed” during his wife’s state visit to China.

That was James’ story. Perhaps even his scoop. He (James) was a young reporter with the United Press, based in Beijing, therefore covering the state visit. The Duke’s remarks were made to British students, in private, so to speak – no reporters there. James got wind of it, sought out and interviewed students who had been there, and put it top of his report on the day.
Maybe other reporters did, too; I don’t know.  But not all. James used to tell a good story of a Great Man who had already filed his story, due to having superior technology. He came walking through the press room – there was something here in James’ account about a roll of paper around which the Great Man was authoritatively snapping a rubber band – while James was still laboriously producing his copy.

“What are you leading with, Sonny?” he said.


We’ve had a better day today on the health front.

And knitting has gone well, too. I’ve finished another round of lozenges on the swatch-scarf – everything the same as before, except that (a) they are different lozenges and (b) they are offset and (c) the colours change places with each other. It makes a remarkable difference. I’ll show you soon – I want to finish off with another round of the peerie pattern. I wish I had begun with one.

And then it is certainly time to stop having fun and start plotting the vest.

The new needles arrived today, so the Polliwog will now be resumed as Number One WIP, once that peerie pattern is done. And I have become a patron of Andrew and Andrea, at least for the time being, and am enjoying catching up. I haven’t seen the interview with Oliver Henry yet – looking forward to that one.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Thank you indeed for that link, Mary Lou – comment yesterday. How long did they have to wait for the weather, to make that one? I’ve heard of Mati V. I think she makes it sound a bit easier than it is. And the trouble with machine knitting (which I’ve never done, but have often been tempted by) must be that you’re left with nothing but the boring bits like the weaving-in.

We’ve had another tough day here. I worry especially about my husband’s lack of appetite. I called our GP and a dr came – we’re no forrad’er.

I’ve been knitting the swatch-scarf. It’s pretty well long enough by now to serve as a scarf – especially if I added fringes at either end. Oh, dear – do I have to?

I’ve been re-trying the sub fusc scheme which Alexander prefers (I'm not sure I don't agree) and throwing blue across the centre of the lozenges for the “pop” -- the blue that my neighbour & friend gave me recently, some will remember, from his father’s sheep.

And I encountered today a phenomenon which I have met before: I knit half a lozenge, everything has been established, all I have to do is to count down in the opposite direction – surely I can now judge how things are shaping up? But again and again, including today, everything looks different when the lozenge is finished.

The issue today was that blue across the centre. When I did it, it was scarcely distinguishable. And boring, if you could make it out. Now, it’s really rather good.

I’ve been consoling such moments as have been available, with Andrea and Andrew. I watched an episode about the “Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater”. Alas, they didn’t really address the issue, but showed us toe-curling snippets from an episode of Ozzie and Harriet from the ‘50’s.

It reminded me how glad I am, for all that I grumble about old age and its burdens, that every day carries me further away from the 1950’s. I wonder if, in 2070 or so, old folk watching episodes of Friends will have the same feeling – Yes! That’s what we were supposed to be like! But I never quite fitted in!

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

It has been another difficult day, and I’ve never been very good at thinking – Shandy, I am very grateful indeed for your comment yesterday about sleeves. I feel we’ve had some books? magazine articles? recently about set-in sleeves from the top. I’ve never tried it, and really should.

My husband’s sweater – shoulder seams sewn, then sleeves set in, then sleeve seams joined – undoubtedly looks a bit lumpy. But it will have to be washed soon (madtosh DK is machine-washable, with a measure of caution) when it gets covered with soup-stains and then we shall see.

I sort of remember that when I launched myself into knitting in the ‘50’s, I read somewhere that the first step was for the knitter to produce the garment pieces, and then the tailor’s job began. Mary Thomas’ knitting books take very much that line. She is disdainful of “peasant knitting”. One of EZ’s greatest achievements was to cut through that sort of thing, and pave the way for knitting to be knitterly.

Which is not to say that a set-in sleeve is not an elegant thing.


I remain full of enthusiasm for Andrew and Andrea, and agree, Shandy, that the accents are enchanting. Skeindalous, I tried “Handmade and Woollen” and probably hit it at a bad moment, but found it languorous. A&A produce a real magazine and keep things moving.

Anne, I enjoyed your comment (since removed): “I am a Paterson contributor to Fruity Knitting”. At first I thought, is this yet another aspect of modern life with which I am unacquainted? And then I thought, No! It’s a spell-checker trying to rationalize “Patreon”! I suspect I will join you soon, but first I want to follow up the podcasts suggested in PomPom’s comment of yesterday – except that I can’t find it on the blog, just in my inbox.

I knit some more of the swatch-scarf today, and ordered the needles which will allow me to speed ahead with the Polliwog, but am too tired to discuss either.

Hellie wants me to send Mrs Hunter of Unst’s shawl down to London now, so that she can carry her daughter (for daughter it is to be, I am told) home from hospital in it. I’ll see to that tomorrow.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Another tough day here. My husband has spent most of it in bed. Does that portend a night of lively conversation? We shall see.

Wikipedia seems to say that there are some unwinnable Freecell layouts. I thought Alexander told me that mathematicians believed the opposite, but couldn’t prove it. I’m still stuck, anyway.

As for knitting…

The only thing I could possibly actually do, is to go on with the swatch-scarf, so I did that. I charted a couple more lozenges, and pressed on. Obviously, this famous vest will only use eight or so (at the most), but I might as well go on swatching with a different lozenge each time.

Carol Sunday – oh! I do love Carol Sunday! – lured me in the other day, and produced a quotation from Marc Chagall which I cannot now locate –  to the effect that colours near each other on the colour wheel are good friends, but that what they really love is the colour opposite. That should mean that my current swatch-attempt, with blue shot through the middle, should be sensational. We shall see. I hope to have it ready to show Alexander on Wednesday.

There is much to be said about podcasts (especially --  a whole new world for me) and sleeves (Shandy) and goodness knows what else. I must try to re-arrange my day and write to you earlier in it.