Monday, May 02, 2016

Again, little news, (and less thought) -- but that little, good.

My sister has fixed a date and booked a ticket for coming to see us at the end of June. Very good news.

I went happily on with the Neap Tide shawl. Soon I’ll have to fit it into the programme. I did some weighing and measuring and extrapolating this morning. I weighed the ball while I had the scales out for my husband’s porridge – there are still more than 70 grams there, out of 100. The width is getting on nicely. The length is still distinctly short of the metre which will be wanted at the halfway point.

But all I’ve got to do is keep adding increase-repeats of the pattern until I am satisfied with the width, and then knit straight, Centre Section-type repeats until I’ve got half the length. Keeping track a bit, so that the return half can be harmonious. 

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Oh, dear – here is May, most beloved of months. And there’s no way to slow it down.

Not much today, but all good:

Knitting continues well – starting the Neap Tide shawl was the right thing for me to do. I did a bit more measuring and extrapolating yesterday, and decided that the extra stitches I have added are not nearly enough to get near the desired width, even allowing for blocking. So I am progressing through the Second Increase Section, as through the First, increasing one stitch on every right-side row. It makes for easier knitting, too; less thinking.

The current skein – there are two – looks as if it will last forever. I will re-group (=recalculate) towards the end of this section.

I wonder if this is the yarn I knit the Fantoosh in. The label doesn’t give it a name, just the fibre content and “4-ply”. The colour is called Crazy Ivan.

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.