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.

Non-knit

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?