Wednesday, July 16, 2014

On we go, and I continue grateful for all your advice. Maybe I'll wind up doing the border as written.

I'm not entirely enjoying the knitting, although I thoroughly like the look of the result (except that the most recent rank of yowes is half-submerged in mooskit). I should have gone up a needle size or two, as often with colour knitting which tends to be very tight in my hands. Too late now. The yarn is firm and the knitting needs pushing and it's not much fun. The result is only very slightly tighter than the specified gauge – blocking may cure even that. A good texture for a blankie, I suppose, but tough going.

I have a half-feeling that when I last worked on it, I set myself to do two or three rounds an evening and then switched to something else. But when was that? Not this year, which has been Unst Bridal Shawl from the beginning. I've just been back to my blog for December, 2013. It's all about Christmas knitting and the Milano – not a Ram or Yowe in sight. Although I feel that the Milano might well have been the “something else” when the system was operative.

But I thought that such an approach might help, anyway. Three rounds, and then I'm free to knit some more shawl edging if I want to. That would see the centre of Rs&Ys done in about a fortnight. I assume that the border, however I do it, will be faster and pleasanter.

I'm inclining, after all, to the idea of knitting the edging as given. Although a double edging of stockinette still appeals. And much as I hate sewing in all its forms, you may well be right, Mary Lou, that the best thing at the end will be to bind off and sew the hem down.

For those of you who have done it: why do we need to bind off when the centre is finished? Why not slide the stitches along and cut the steek? It seems a waste to dispense with them, when they are required again immediately.


We are making a strenuous effort to get caught up with the New Yorker. We used to read it in Strathardle, where we have no television and no newspaper. Lately, of course, we only go there with other people, and once there, we tend to talk to them, so New Yorkers pile up.

My husband cheats, I feel, by flipping through them quickly. I am finding lots of interesting things to read in depth.

The other day in Talk of the Town I found mention of Jane Gardam, of whom I had only vaguely heard. I whistled her “Old Filth” down from the ether and am hugely enjoying it. It is about an elderly retired QC and judge who shares with me the misfortune of living in the country cheek-by-jowl with his worst enemy. The title is not inviting – the author says in the introduction that the publisher didn't like it. She explains that “filth” is a well known acronym in English legal circles for Failed in London Try Hong Kong.

That sounds a bit Rumpole-of-the-Bailey-ish, but it's not. It's darker, although there are light moments. The novel ranges widely in time and geographical space without, so far, confusing me for a moment. Recommended.


  1. I don't know if it is appropriate, but I have had issues long ago with casting off stitches, and then immediately picking them up again for an edging - specifically on round necked jumpers. I used to get a rather annoying line in the knitting, which also used to gather in, and then the ribbing (or whatever) would flare out a bit. I also found it chafed a bit in wearing. Eventually I decided to ignore the pattern instructions - revolutuionary in the days before EZ - and just leave the stitches live and knit on , only picking up on the side bits where the decreases were. It made the ribbing flow on from the body, and feel more comfortable. I hope this makes the sort of sense you want to hear!

  2. I love that acronym! Hong Kong seems to be the destination of choice of many former senior work colleagues of mine. I will smirk quietly every time I think of this now ;)

  3. elginknitter1:10 PM

    I wonder if you need to bind off the border stitches before hemming? When I make a doubled-over crew neck on sweaters, I sew the live stitches (sliding them off the needle one at a time) to their corresponding body stitch. The advantage in a sweater is that if this is done loosely, the neck retains lots of stretch for going over the head. Would it work on the blanket? You could sew a bit more firmly than on a sweater.

  4. I stumbled across Jane Gardam somewhere and have had Old Filth on my to read list, then spotted that in the New Yorker, too. (I am afraid I cheat as well.) glad to get a good report on the book, I'll push it to the top. I just finished Restless, by William Boyd which I really enjoyed.

  5. Ellen1:31 PM

    Because arthritis has left me with a dodgy left thumb, I have given up stranded knitting altogether because it requires a more active left hand. My only exception might be a little bit of accent or border here or there. I would definitely encourage you to mix it with other's not only easier on the hands, but a little bit of the shawl each day will keep you from worrying about that uncompleted project.
    I am convinced that no one can read the New Yorker cover to cover every week and still do any other reading. If I get through at least half each time, I feel I'm still getting my intellectual workout. I'm not such a fan of the short story; I enjoy much more the long investigative articles about topics I know nothing about. Then I pass them on to my daughter, so we get our money's worth!

  6. Now that you have started Old Filth, you must go on and read The Man in the Wooden Hat which is written from the wife's perspective. Our book group did both books and enjoyed them very much. She has a third book, written from the perspective of Feathers' rival titled Last Friends. Haven't read that one yet.

    This NYT article indicates that the BBC has a 6 part series of Old Filth in development:

  7. Anonymous4:46 PM

    Oddly enough, just last weekend I read a short story by Gardam, "The Meeting House" (original publication date 1994) in The Oxford Book of 20th-Century Ghost Stories. My first encounter with her writing; now I shall look for her novels.

    If you work your way up to the July 14-21 issue of the New Yorker, don't miss Tales of Old Santa Fe. I love Santa Fe and have happily spent much time with a friend who lives there, but must say that author Jack Handey takes perfect, hilarious aim at its mores.
    -- stashdragon

  8. I never bind off stitches that I will just pick up again in the next step -- it makes no sense to me! If I know I'll have to pick up stitches from the cast-on, I run a very small needle through that first row, so the stitches will be clear when I need them. It just makes everything a little simpler.

    The Unst is beautiful! I can't wait for the final photo -- in all its glory!

  9. Anonymous7:45 PM

    Regarding not binding off, my concern would be that the not-bound-off edge would have more give than the other edges. I would worry that it might tend to stretch and get distorted without the stability of a bind-off vs the other edges. You might want that flexibility in a neckline, but in the blanket it might lead to one wonky side.

  10. Jane Gardam is a lovely person and so is her husband (he was a QC).They were Downunder for Writers' Week some years ago and Jane came before that and we talked long and hard! Have you ever read her "Bilgewater"?