Tuesday, October 13, 2020


Today I felt really awful, scarcely able to totter around the house. Archie came, and we got a few things done, although a walk around the garden not among them. And I had had ambitions to do two circuits. So maybe it’s just as well the cruise was cancelled. As well as worrying about my cats, I would also have to worry about whether I was strong enough to get up the steps onto the boat. There is one cabin on what might be called the ground floor, and I had secured it for me and C. All I had to do was get aboard.


I decided that charcoal grey as far as the eye could see, was assuredly not what the doctor ordered for this time of year. Instead of turning to that hat, I got out the bag of Shetland oddments – autumnal in colour – and started casting on. I’m at that familiar point where the first choice of length for the long tail of the long-tail cast on, is clearly not enough, so I’ve started again. I have a feeling I have read of a trick to get that right. Does anybody know one?


I’m going to go for random stripes, probably two rows each, maybe four, in st st, not garter st like the Dathan. At the underarm I can decide my next move: 1) add steeks, go on up to shoulder, cut steeks, add sleeves. That will produce something rather like the dropped-shoulder sweater Toast is selling. It would have the considerable disadvantage of having to twirl the whole sweater on my lap as I knit the sleeves. Or 2) pause there and knit sleeves and join for yoke, which could be either raglan or round. Another EPS, in fact.


The oddments-bag lacks red, because I have set it aside for the Orkney hat. I’ll have to get some more. Winter solstice knitting needs red.




“House of Mirth” is clearly not going to end well. I have heard from one of you who has read “The House with the Green Shutters”. I remember a fair amount of it very vividly, after one reading – and I certainly don’t mean to read it again. (Interesting, in a way, that I can remember from many years ago, when I so often these days can’t remember whether I have read something from a few months back.)  The central character leaves the House behind and goes off to university – to Glasgow, I think; or maybe I think it because that’s where I was and so I fitted his experience into my own. His university experience felt in many ways familiar to me. I doubt if the Glasgow University of today would have much in common with me or with the House with the Green Shutters.


  1. I got tired of trying to guess the length of yarn for long tail cast on, now I just use the cable cast on. Many good YouTube videos demonstrations.....

  2. For long tail, a rule of thumb is one inch for every stitch you are casting. This will be over generous for fine yarn, but beats running out. For very long cast ons, I use two ends. This works if you have a ball you can pull from inside and outside at one time. It leaves an extra end to weave in, but again, better than running out.

    1. Anonymous3:27 PM

      Just what I was going to say!
      -- Gretchen (aka stashdragon)

  3. I endorse the two-end method. If you're making something colourful, each end could be of a different colour. Just cut off the end you've finished with at the end of the cast on. Another method for DK yarn: I divide the number of stitches required by 3, then wind the yarn that number of times round my thumb and start casting on at that point. Seems to work.

  4. Anonymous9:30 PM

    You might try using two balls of yarn for the cast on (one in each hand, as it were), then either cut one and weave in the end, or use them alternately. Like Mary above, I prefer the cable cast on - nice and stretchy and I like the way it looks.

    I also agree that this time of year needs some cheering colours; red for sure, maybe gold too?

    Helen (anon)

  5. Wind the yarn around the needle the number of times equal to the stitches and then allow some more.

  6. I always think of the first cast-on as practice to get my tension right, especially if I haven't cast on anything new for a while. Then having to rip out and try again isn't so bad. And if I fail a second time, I use the two-ends!

  7. I always use the cable cast on. Sorry to hear that you are feeling worse. Certainly knitting with lovely Shetland colours will help your mood.

  8. Anonymous11:28 AM

    Hopefully your weak feeling is temporary. Your zest for knitting at least seems to remain strong. Elizabeth Zimmerman in one of her books responded to a solution for long tail yarn shortage with "what's the fun in that?" But after 3 tries there Is no fun at all. I think she meant the sense of triumph on those rare times when you get it right the very first try. Chloe

  9. My tip for long-tail cast on is this: measure out 3.5 times the required length. For example, sock cuffs are 10-11" around, so 36" should be enough. A 40" sweater-in-the-round would need 140" or almost 4 yards.
    Many hats are 22" around, so 77 inches or 2.25 yards are required, give or take. This works surprisingly well for me.

  10. If I run out of yarn on a long tail cast on, I take the tail of the ball, hold it awkwardly for the next stitch and just continue the cast on. On a large number of stitches I never have to start again. I just weave the two tails in later.

  11. I always had trouble with the long-tail cast on for long casts-on, so I switched to a different cast on if there are a lot of stitches: cable or knitted. I haven't read House of Mirth or any Wharton in a very long time. Does a Wharton book ever end well?