Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday. It must be a difficult moment in any bereavement.

Today was a good day – successful knitting, exciting rugby. Scotland came that close to beating the All Blacks.

I figured out what was going wrong with the shawl edging last night. Can I explain it?

In my (admittedly limited) experience of lace knitting, the knitting of a shawl edging begins at the inner, straight edge, whether you are knitting the edging onto an otherwise-finished shawl or, as in this case, knitting it first. The pattern stitches are done on that first, outward-headed row, and on all subsequent odd-numbered rows. Unless you’re doing a really fancy-schmancy lace with pattern stitches on both sides.

I assumed that that was the case here. I have, perforce, bought the kit from Jamieson & Smith, which includes charts. I am glad to have them. Amedro didn’t chart her designs. The new chart clearly shows the scallops to the left, as the work faces you for the first row.

But that's not right. By the time I had finally finished two pattern repeats, it was clear that the knitting started out at the scalloped edge.

Now that I have grasped that, all is going well. I’ve done eight scallops, 10% of the whole. The danger now is inattention due to the easy pattern. The answer will be (as so often in life) little-and-often.

It has left me wondering, how does the knitting know which side to put the scallops on? For the first eight rows, you are increasing; then, for the next eight, decreasing. The chart, as printed, looks curiously upside down. But why? The symbols are correct, and following the chart will produce the desired result, if not the expected one.

I did a bit more of the Soutache, too. I am tempted to knit the Blue Sky Fibers slouch hat again. It’s been cold here lately, and Greek Helen has been wearing the one I knit for her last year. It’s certainly attractive. It makes a good, if rather expensive, Christmas present. It’s ideal winter solstice knitting. It would be something straightforward and simple, on days when both the Soutache and the shawl seem too much of a challenge.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A distinctly better day.

The package came from Jamieson & Smith. The yarn for the shawl is fawn, as requested, and is more beautiful than I had expected. I also ordered their new book: “Jamison & Smith, a Shetland Story” which I have been reading with great interest. Oliver Henry wrote it. Some attractive “Fair Isle” patterns are included, but the story is the thing.

And I got my hoped-for place in Kate Davies’ “West Highland Way” club. Greek Helen is determined that I should have a proper kitchen, at last, here at the end of life, and she had made an appt for us to go up to John Lewis and talk about getting one fitted, for 10:30 this morning.

KD’s club went live at 10.

So there I was poised, fingers on keyboard, Helen here waiting to drive me up the hill. All went well until the actual moment when I clicked on PayPal – and then I lost the connection. I think the trouble was that Paradox, who had been trying to help, had put me into Flight Mode. Whatever – it took me a while to re-establish the connection, and then I couldn’t persuade the website to listen to me and it was time to go. So I went. I didn’t need the yarn anyway. I could join the club without it.

But when I got back, and went back to the website, I found that my order was still in my basket. I happily paid, and all is well.

Last night I reached a milestone with the Soutache: it was time to wind and join in the fourth gradient colour, and that has been done.  The fifth colour is the one which will form the mid-way point of the scarf.

But for today’s knitting, I cast on the newly-arrived yarn and started the edging. I have had a terrible time. Like Miss Rachel’s Yoke, it’s too easy. The first time, I found that I was confused as to which end of the row I should be knitting from. (That is, had I left out a plain-vanilla even-numbered row?) The second time, I was interrupted at a vital point and found myself unsure whether I was nearly finished with the first repeat, or just starting on the second. The third time, everything was going swimmingly, I thought – but what I expected to be the final row, was two stitches short.

At the moment, starting yet again, I am half way through the first repeat and unaware of any error.

Here is another cat picture, Perdita this time:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

It hasn’t been a wildly productive day. I have done no knitting at all, but intend to hunker down with the final episode of Victoria before going to bed. That should move things forward.

The mail was a real disappointment. There was a big, squishy package just right to be my yarn – but it wasn’t. It’s something from Greece for Greek Helen. There were two interesting-looking envelopes: they tuned out to be for the next-door neighbours.

For many years now, I have kept a file of clippings about the Most Expensive Picture Ever Sold at Auction. There have been years when I seemed to have added to it every few months. But of late, the supply has dwindled away. So I was very keen to have today’s addition. I bought two newspapers, and neither of them have the story.

Perhaps tomorrow. This will surely be my last clipping. It will be a good while before anything can eclipse Leonardo. It looks like a fairly dreadful picture. I don’t know what I’d do with $450 million, but it wouldn’t be that.

One thing I did today was watch Notting Hill on my iPad, thanks to Netflix. It really is very classy schmaltz. I must have told you repeatedly that James used to live on the same stair as Hugh Grant, when they were both students, and once loaned him a frying pan. That frying pan is our family’s claim to fame.

Here’s another dead-cat picture for you.

I was interested in your comment about religion and presidents, pgnitter. It would indeed make an interesting newspaper article. Times change, and we change with them, but we don’t always notice.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

All well here, and the Soutache has progressed slightly. The stitch count continues sound. I wonder what I was doing wrong. I may yet find out.

Dear Carol, thank you (link in comment yesterday). That’s “my” duchess all right. Goodness, I hope I get to meet her. In our exchanges she mentioned that she lived for a while in Glasgow. Her written English is certainly faultless.

Knitting news is all on-the-brink, nothing actual. The package from Jamieson & Smith should be here soon, I’m hoping for tomorrow. Will the yarn be “fawn” or will I have a tedious return on my hands? And on Friday, I can sign up for Kate Davies’ new club.

Brooklyn Tweed has a holiday brochure up, and unlike all the other examples I know of that genre, it includes two (rather delectable) sweaters, as well as the expected – and also delectable – hats and cowls and scarves. I don’t think there are any mitts.


I’ve gone on watching “The Crown”. Your fault, Mary Lou. Today it was 1954, and the destruction – that certainly happened – of the Graham Sutherland portrait of Churchill, considerably to the old man’s discredit. I hope the sketches survive. Two remarks:

1)    They can’t include everything, obviously. But you’d never suspect, from what is shown, that Churchill went to Washington to see Eisenhower in the summer of 1954. I was young then, and world events get remembered as they entangle themselves with one’s own life. I had a summer job at Life Magazine, cutting up the day’s newspapers and filing them. American presidents were expected to turn out for church every Sunday – are they still? – and there was always a paragraph or so on the subject on Monday. I was impressed to learn that Churchill gave instructions to be called in time for lunch.

2)    A few years ago, Alexander saw a Sutherland in the window of a charity shop, tagged at £10. He went in and tried to buy it, but the man behind the counter had another look and withdrew it from sale. I don’t think, strictly, that you’re allowed to do that. Alexander didn’t really like the picture all that much – he was just hoping for a quick buck.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Soutache continues well. This 12-row centre section, repeated over and over until the crack of doom, is very easy. It would, indeed, have made a good preliminary swatch. And it should mean that the final section, which gets a bit complicated again, should find me the complete mistress of two-colour brioche.

It’s very pleasant to knit. I am self-taught, slow and clumsy, as I’ve often said, and I find ribbing and patterns (seed stitch) derived from ribbing, tedious and unpleasant. But brioche, although it involves bringing the yarn forward between stitches, doesn’t seem to have the same effect.

The order from Jamieson & Smith is on its way, I am told. Will they really have sent fawn although I originally clicked (as instructed) on white? And how shall I interleave it with the Soutache?

We are only days away, now, from Kate Davies’ West Highland Way Club. I’m going to go the whole hog this time (if I get in on time) – Option 1, with the yarn sample pack. Although the last thing we need around here is more yarn. I am not familiar with the West Highland Way, but we’re in territory which is at least somewhat familiar from driving up along the west side of Loch Lomond before turning left and over the Rest and Be Thankful to Alexander and Ketki’s house on Loch Fyne.


Mary Lou, I was immensely touched by your comment about the Cenotaph. Did you just happen to find a soldier there, or was he stationed? I think I have said several times that I did not grasp the extent of the WWI slaughter until I first came here in 1953 and travelled about and saw the war memorials in village after village (starting with Grantchester itself) with three times as many names for the “Great War” as for the Second.

When I was growing up, it seemed to me very odd to celebrate “Armistice Day” when we were totally at war.

It has left deep scars. I often think how peculiarly dreadful it must have been for people of the age of my husband’s grandparents.  They must have been born, roughly, in the 1860's. They were lucky, in a sense. Their only son, born in 1894, came back, although he then went on to die of a brain tumour. And then the war happened again – twenty years is the twinkling of an eye, in adult life – and could well have claimed my husband, their only grandson.

But he came back, too. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Oh, Carol, yes! “Cooking with the Duchess” in Palermo must be “my” duchess – but, alas! the link didn’t come through with your comment today. Please re-send. Rick Stein had a Weekend in Palermo program on television here recently, including the duchess. The food in Palermo looks pretty inviting. Street food tours are available, and Archie is interested. What a relief, not to be committed to art museums. I can always go back and visit them next time.

 But it sounds as if your reference is to a newspaper article.

I have progressed with the Soutache. Things are calming down – the stitch count even comes out right, these days. I have hit the centre section where 12 rows are repeated over and over for a long time.

AND I have ordered yarn from Jamieson and Smith for that Amedro shawl, for next year’s great-grand-baby. I gave up and wrote to them and they wrote back promptly to say that I could order the shawl kit as per the website – I won’t be sorry to have the pattern again, with the charting done for me – and just announce in the comment box that I want “fawn” instead of “white”.

So I did that, also ordering the new book about J&S themselves (+ some patterns). I will certainly let you know what happens.


I watched the ceremony at the Cenotaph on Sunday morning. It was very moving. What a security nightmare that must have been!

Michael Foot, a former lefty Labour party leader, turned up one year in inappropriately informal dress. I was glad to see that Jeremy Corbyn, the present Labour leader, alarmingly left-wing, was nevertheless properly turned out.

I have been watching “The Crown” on Netflix, I am ashamed to admit. I doubt if what really happened was much like that, but it has a hypnotic fascination.

Here is today's cat picture (Paradox) – not dead;  totally in charge. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

I signed up for the new Craftsy classs by Lesley Anne Robinson on “brioche lace” and watched some of it in bed last night. I felt that she had me on the right track (although I might well have achieved the same end with the other Craftsy classes on my list, Marchant and non-Marchant).

Things went better today, and I feel that I’m nearly back in the saddle. I’m still having a bit of trouble with right- and left-leaning decreases: that is, I don’t yet know instinctively which is which. And I’m having trouble, too, with the stitch count: I have several times discovered extra stitches lying about at the end of the row. It will be a soft and pleasant scarf to wear when I’m finished, whatever happens, and will look good in a general sort of way. By then I would hope to have fancy two-colour brioche down pat.

Rebecca, thank you for your kind remarks about Miss Rachel's Yoke. I'm at least as bad as you are at choosing colours for stranded knitting (although rather enamoured of Kaffe's idea of basing a scheme on a favourite picture). I just ordered a kit from KD's online shop, with Haar as the base colour. 

The EYF Vendors’ List for 2018 is up. It’s going to be fun. Kate Davies isn’t coming back – I already knew that. She will be there, giving talks about her new book about her stroke, but not selling yarns and books. She felt that enough was enough. And Jared doesn’t seem to be making a re-appearance. The general list, however, seems thoroughly satisfactory.