Thursday, March 05, 2015

Talk about cups running over!

The little package from Loop arrived – a ball of Juniper Moon (what a forgettable name!) as a potential material for the pocket squares for the wedding. It looks very promising indeed. It's a 50% merino and silk mixture, DK, a deep, rich colour. I think I'll knock off another sample square as soon as Archie's sweater is tidied away, while I'm winding the opening skeins for the Tokyo Shawl and Sous Sous.

For the package from Webs also turned up – with no VAT to pay. The Queen must have overlooked it. She's getting on a bit. Whiskey Barrel is exactly as I hoped, for grey-brownness. Exactly as I imagine a whiskey barrel to look. Splendid.

And Archie's sweater is finished, as far as knitting goes. The neck edging includes the tops of the plackets. The start I reported yesterday, those first 20 stitches picked up, proved to be exactly right. The edging is tending to flop outwards, just as the hems at the bottom are trying to flare. The sleeves, at least, are behaving themselves.

I still have a few more ends to deal with, and buttons to buy and sew on. I don't think I'm going to see Archie this weekend – his mother Greek Helen (who will arrive late this afternoon, another cause for joy) will be at the school tomorrow for a parents' evening and a university application talk and a parents' supper. But Archie will be here overnight towards the end of the month, before his early-morning flight to Athens a couple of days before my own. If I can get the blocking right on the basis of earlier try-ons, he can wear the sweater home.


I was deeply touched yesterday by how many of you rushed in to join my unknown benefactor in the gift of the Tokyo Shawl. Thank you, one and all.

I was interested to learn, BirgitR, that this blog turns up on your Zite. I have it in mine, most days, but I thought they were maybe just doing it to please me. And I promise to get to grips with the interaction of Windows 8 and my camera. Or my iPad and my new MacBook.


The moon is full tonight, I think. Observing it nearly so, the other evening, I was sort of surprised to work out that the impending eclipse will coincide with a new moon.

I've just had a wee look at Wikipedia and discover, not to my surprise, that the Greeks and the Chinese were both able to predict eclipses in the fourth or fifth century BC. That seems awfully clever of them. I often marvel at how, after millions of years of evolution, high civilisation seems to have begun in the same split second (evolutionarily speaking) in China and India and Europe and the Middle East, and probably elsewhere, roughly four thousand years ago. Something to do with agriculture and aqueducts and sewers, no doubt. High civilisation needs cities.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015


The yarn didn't turn up until after 2 – I had nearly despaired. I thought the postie would bring it mid-morning.

­I opened the box with avidity and pulled the plastic-wrapped packageof yarn out upside down. I had time to think, in rapid succession, before I turned it over: Oh, dear, there's no brown in that grey at all...The yarn looks awfully fine for DK...They've sent the wrong order; I'm going to have a struggle, sending it back.

The card – with a nice design of slightly abstract-looking southwestern sheep – says “A gift from all your very loyal followers. Please enjoy!” The shop it comes from is not Webs at all, of course (who are sending me the madelinetosh order), but Tutto in Santa Fe. I wouldn't mind browsing there.

It may be from all of you as it claims, but some one individual must have thought of the idea and executed it. Thanks are inadequate. The yarn is more precious to me than spun gold. I will knit it in alternate sessions with the Sous Sous and wrap it around myself in all the winters left to me.

I rather dislike descending to the mundane, after that.

Nothing came from Loop except an email to say they had dispatched my order. Maybe they're not open on Monday. It will require a signature but if our usual postie is on duty she will sign for me while I enjoy the supermarket.

And as for knitting, I have now done everything else on Archie's sweater, and am approaching with trepidation the infamous neck edging. Beverly, I did email Bruce Weinstein, on your excellent suggestion. No response yet. And, Judith, I looked at the Ravelry discussion you referred me to, and I agree that Bruce's own Henley looks as if the edging goes all the way across the top of the placket.

So I started off that way, and have picked up 20 stitches from the placket edge to the first false raglan seam. If I go on at about the present rate, I will have 70 stitches by the time I reach the back-neck mid-point. The instruction says to pick up 112 in all. I would allow myself a certain latitude on that – say, perhaps, 110 to 120, but 140 is too many in a pattern so carefully written.

So I'll start again, this time omitting the placket. The top of the placket, after all, looks finished. What follows is not finished at all – I was adding stitches at the beginning or end, or both, of many rows and the result looks ragged. From the raglan seam on there's a chain, representing the 76-stitch original cast-on.

I'm thinking aloud here. A little mental arithmetic based on the figure in the last paragraph suggests that I should pick up 23 stitches on each front. Perhaps I'll do a bit more counting, after all, before I take out what I've done already.

We didn't go out yesterday, as hoped. The snow melted, but it stayed very cold. I got a bit done, other than cooking and knitting and making the bed, for the first time in quite a while. I repotted my cactuses (I have three) and sowed some chilli seeds and paced about the house with a tape measure looking for a spot six feet x six feet, unimpeded by furniture and not part of a major traffic avenue, where I could block the Unst Bridal Shawl.

Not easy. And the spot had to allow room at the edges for the blocker to crawl about. I have decided to try pushing the two single beds in the spare room together and doing it there. If it works, it will eliminate crawling. That's good. I must get it done before the end-of-month travel, so that my husband and Alexander can take it to London.

All that, and a new follower! the first for many a day. Welcome!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Snow, this morning. Not much, but more than Edinburgh has had all winter. It could mean that my husband won't venture out for a walk which would add a valuable hour to my morning. Not that I ever get much done .

But I got further forward with Archie's sweater yesterday than I thought I would – the front hem finished, the skein wound, the back flap (which is 1/2” longer than the front one) half done – I've just attached the red for the inner side. So, not much more knitting to do here. The front flap is tending to flip outwards, which would be a fault even if it weren't bright red on the inside. Blocking will have to be severe on that point.

That was terribly clever of you, Mary Lou, to remember the pattern involved. It hadn't occurred to me to try Ravelry since the pattern has only a generic name, Henley. And searching Ravelry for “Henley” was indeed next best to fruitless. But I found it easily, searching on the designer's name (Bruce Weinstein, in”Knits Men Want”). Lots and lots of people have knit it, and I am happy to report that it looks pretty good on men of all shapes.

I'm not sure the pictures help much with my problem – where, exactly, to start picking up stitches for the neck edging. But I think I have decided to go with my final thought, fortified by your comment, Jean. At least for my first attempt I will start the edging in the middle of the placket-strip.

Today is the big day when the madelinetosh Whisky Barrel for the Sous Sous pattern should arrive, and also, perhaps, the Jupiter Moon or whatever the stuff is called, from Loop, for the next attempt at a wedding pocket square. The first moderately successful attempt, using Rowan Cotton Glace, got to London safely but the bridegroom hasn't squared up to it yet.

Nothing of interest in Zite. I'v been flipping through Brooklyn Tweed's winter Look Book. On a day like this, as we huddle against the cold, I am much taken with the pattern called Rowe, another unfastened cardigan – they seem to follow me around – deeply cabled, very suitable for snuggling in. Brilliant photography throughout,  as we have come to expect.


Thanks for the help with my husband's putative trip to London. I forwarded your comment to the care team, Helen.

I must re-engage with my camera. All these pages if prose look more than a bit boring.

Monday, March 02, 2015

This week promises well, full of event but devoid of medical appts. And it begins with the drop of another digit in my Lenten weight. The weigh-in on Ash Wednesday was particularly horrendous which of course is a great morale-booster now.

Ireland beat England in a thriller. Everything seemed so much better than the match in Edinburgh the day before – the passion and commitment and skill of the players, the total involvement of the many thousands of people in the stadium. Rachel phoned in the evening – she had had a miserable weekend rugby-wise. Living as she does in a nest of Englishmen whom she loves, all devoted rugby fans, an Irish victory was no comfort to her. And the teetotal life is proving difficult, although it is Rachel's single-minded devotion to Lenten abstinence which inspires all the rest of us.

She has arranged to take the week off work while my husband is in London and I in Athens, so that should be fine. And Alexander, having driven my husband down, will stay there. I didn't know that until we saw them on Saturday. I thought maybe he was going to make two round trips. I had feared that too much of the burden would fall on James' wife Cathy. My husband has to stay with them in Sydenham because Rachel's house doesn't have a ground-floor lavatory. But clearly they have all been thinking hard and spreading the load.

I hope they can get him to the “Made in China” show in Dulwich, previously mentioned here – the Gallery has commissioned a Chinese fake of one of their pictures, and hung it in place of the original. Visitors are invited to spot it. I'm sure my husband will succeed, if they can get him a wheelchair and drive him to the door. Dulwich is a nice place to go, anyway, and they do lunch.


I finished the front flap of Archie's sweater, and have made a good start on hemming it. I don't want to let all the sewing pile up to be done at the end. That's how things wind up in the UFO pile. I'll have to wind another skein of madelinetosh Composition Book Grey before I can knit the remaining (back) flap, so probably won't get much actual knitting done today. That will leave four whole skeins over. I can't remember bow I calculated how many to buy, but I clearly didn't do a very good job of it.

The neck: Thank you, Tamar, for your continued interest in this rather tedious subject.

It occurred to me during Mass yesterday – always a good time for reflection – that it would be possible to take the instruction “begin at the centre neck edge” au pied de la lettre. The two ribbed panels for the buttons and the buttonholes of course overlap completely. So the actual centre neck edge is in the middle of those panels. The best I can say of the photographs is that that solution is not ruled out. It would mean that the edging wouldn't overlap – the ends of it would be adjacent in the rare event of the sweater being worn fully buttoned up.

From Zite this morning: a scheme for renting a Jacob's sheep for £60 a year. They live – the sheep do – in the south of England. Renters will be sent enough wool for a jumper, and can buy extra for a larger jumper. The money will go to a good cause, the Teenage Cancer Trust. Jacob's wool is, I am afraid, scratchy (see yesterday) but they say a certain measure of lamb's wool from a neighbouring farm will be spun in for softness. It all sounds rather nice and well-intentioned and amateur. Here's the link.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Sure enough, Italy won. Scotland started off with real fizz, and lead throughout the match until Italy were awarded a penalty try in, literally, the final minute of play. It was a fine spring afternoon, to begin with. A hard, cruel rain was falling at the end. That has something to do with what students of literature call the Pathetic Fallacy.

Wales beat France in Paris, no small achievement. Ireland-England will be this afternoon.

Knitting round and round Archie's large sweater is ideal for rugby-watching. I've finished the two extra inches I decided to add to the body and have now embarked on the terminal flaps.

Pattie and Tamar, thank you for your (convergent) help on the question of whether to include the tops of the button bands in the neck edging. There is a close-up photograph, Pattie – good question – but it doesn't entirely help. I can't see any sign of a break between the placket and the rest of the neck edge, but I can't see any sort of conclusion at the outer edges of the plackets, either.

It's just possible that the number of stitches to be picked up might offer a hint. I'll work on that a bit. The edging is the simplest and smallest possible – pick up the stitches with the right side facing. Purl back, on the inside. Knit one row. Knit another row, for the turn. Knit one row, purl one row, for the inside. Bind off. Fold and hem down to the picked-up stitches.

Yesterday I ordered from Loop a ball of that yarn I mentioned, was it called Jupiter Moon? and will try it for a pocket square.

AND I heard from Parcelforce about the package of madelinetosh Whisky Barrel. I paid the charge, and it is scheduled to be delivered on Tuesday, far sooner than I would have thought possible. It might be mildly amusing to add up the figures – the off-the-shelf cost per skein at Webs, plus the shipping cost and the VAT and the fee to the post office divided by eight – there are eight skeins – and see how the answer compares with the off-the-shelf price at Loop. But I probably won't do it.

My husband says, of agonizing over whether to buy a picture, that once you have done it, and hung it on the wall, you soon forget what you paid for it.

The Loch Fyne Mileses seemed in good form when they called in before the match. They brought us some duck eggs. They and Rachel and James have made far more serious plans than I had realised for looking after my husband while I am in Athens during Holy Week. I feel much happier about bounding off, although it remains to persuade him. I am sure it will be good for him to escape my constant company.

Zite came up this morning with this: 20 Knitting Fails Worse than that Itchy Sweater. (I'm having trouble with the link. If it doesn't work, google “MashableUK knitting”. ) I'm inclined to disagree – nothing is worse than an itchy sweater. But if you do take the trouble to look, be sure to click through on “15 Great Achievements in Knitting”.


We're promised an eclipse of the sun this month. We've had one since we moved to Edinburgh – I thought it was to be the last here for a century or so. That time, we put a black pail full of water on the doorstep and took a very hasty and very cautious look at the sun's reflection. About a third of the disc was gone. (The eclipse was total on the south coast of England, I think.) Darkness advanced to the point where the birds in Drummond Place Garden were getting agitated. It's a treasured memory.

This time, we're getting 90%. It'll be total in the Faroes. So it shouldn't matter at all if the day is cloudy.  

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Today's excitement is very pleasant and thoroughly unstressful – Alexander and Ketki and their Little Boys plan to look in before the rugby. Murrayfield is on the western edge of the city (and they come from the west), so it's a considerable extra loop for them on a busy and exciting day, to come on into the city centre.

Scotland ought to win. Everybody beats Italy. But we've lost the services of several good men to injury and misbehaviour, and Italy aren't as dire as they used to be, so it could be interesting. It could even end badly.

England will play Ireland in Dublin this weekend – that should certainly be a good one. Both teams are unbeaten so far. I just heard two mighty ex-players, one from each, talking about he tournament on the radio. Both have still to play Scotland, in the two weekends remaining. The Englishman simply assumed that England will win the Calcutta Cup. The Irishman referred to Scotland as “resurgent” and thought it might be a tough game. I don't think I need to tell you who I'll be cheering for in Dublin.


As hoped, I finished Archie's second sleeve, including the hemming of it, and went on to get the body stitches started again. That wasn't quite as straightforward as hoped. I had put them on two extra-long dp's for the most recent try-on and one had pulled partly out, resulting in a lot of picking-up and a fair amount of repairing ladders. All is well – the stitch-count right and the fabric smooth. Madelinetosh is good that way.

Reading ahead, I thought I had a problem I needed to consult you about. At the very end (except for sewing on buttons – ugh! – and blocking) one is to knit a little edging at the neck. There is a ribbed placket for the buttons, the two strips of which of course overlap – so the neck edging is knit back and forth. The instruction is “With RS facing...beginning at centre neck edge, working along neck shaping, pick up and knit...”

Reading that last night – indeed, reading it now – I took “centre neck edge” to mean the middle of the back. Quod absurdum est, when you think it through. The pick-up has to begin just inside the ribbing of the placket on the wearer's right-hand side. That point can be considered as the (front) centre of the neck edge, if you imagine the neck edge as an oval and ignore the placket.

Or are you meant to include the top of the placket in the edging? Sitting here typing away, I now think that must be what's meant. It could have been better expressed.

I had imagined doing the whole edging in the red of the inside hems, but I now see that the edging, too, although narrow, is folded and hemmed, so I'll keep red for the inside. It'll be visible enough when the placket is worn open as, surely, will often be the case.

Greek Helen will be here at the end of next week – I wondered for a while if I could have it finished in time to give to Archie then. He will surely come here, or she will go there. But I don't think it's possible – it'll need a day or more to dry after blocking, apart from anything else. Before then, some knitting time will have to be devoted to winding a final skein. But we might manage a final try-on.

New knit-related topic

My new iPad doesn't segregate mail the way the laptop does, and the old iPad did. At first I thought this was a nuisance, but now I think it's a good idea to have the briefest of looks at the ads as I delete them. (Somebody is pestering me to let them preserve my on-line identity from identity thieves. They seem to think I am Jean Miles of Old Saybrook, CT, so I am not too worried.)

In this way I discovered that Loop has a DK called Juniper Moon, a silk and merino blend in rich, deep colours including what looks like a navy blue. I think I might order a ball, with pocket squares in mind.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Today is Alexander's 55th birthday. No wonder my husband and I are coming apart at the seams.

Dr Who

Tom Baker, of course – the Dr Who with the scarf. Thank you, Liz. And thank you, Jean, for the anecdote about him in the bookstore. I knit one of those scarves once, too – can't find the pic, alas. Very soothing knitting, very comfortable garment.

The Peter Davison role I remember fondly was not Dr Who or All Creatures Great and Small, but A Very Peculiar Practise, about a university student health clinic. There were four doctors: Davison, representing sanity; a fierce, rather butch woman; a self-absorbed and self-important bore; and a drunken Scotsman who might well have been played by the man who plays the undertaker in Dad's Army, but wasn't. It was filmed at Keele, I believe, and was extremely funny.

I've just been Googling it. I see there's a DVD available. I'm tempted.


I've finished Archie's second sleeve, all but a few minutes and then the actual hemming. I'm about half-way through the red inner hem. I should be back at work on the lower body this very day.

And I've suddenly run dry. A computer man is coming soon who will try to help my husband through Microsoft Word to sanity. For now, he's just coming to suss things out. So I'd better sign off here.