Monday, March 19, 2018

The weather has calmed down, for the moment. Today was a cold spring day, such as are not uncommon in March. Archie came to lunch – his term seems to have ended already, and won’t resume for a month or so. He is flying to Greece tomorrow to join his father and brother (Mungo, the one in Jordan) to lounge around a bit, and then drive to Turkey for a while, all three of them. They'll be back for Easter, all three.

I couldn’t give him lunch, so we walked up the hill to a Mexican place just off St Andrew Square. Not bad, and the walk was no doubt good for me, although thoroughly exhausting.

I rapidly finished off his sock this morning, so that he could try it on. It’s a good sock, and the foot-length is perfect, but the leg is too snug. Archie is big. I should have done it on 72 stitches instead of 64.

It would be absurd to rip out a perfectly satisfactory sock. So the thing to do is to knit its pair, at some point, for somebody else, and start afresh for Archie. Kaffe has some interesting yarn under the heading Chilli Pepper. The sad thing about this procedure would be that none of the new pair will have been knit in Palermo, but that is a minor consideration compared to having socks that fit.

Meanwhile I have pressed on with corrugated ribbing. It is slow, demanding work, and I wonder if I’ll ever try it again, but I like the result.

The National Gallery has turned up, in the person of a pleasant young woman, to collect some books for their library from among my husband’s, promised them – and selected by them – some years ago. We have been held up recently by a maternity leave. I had hoped she would make a space for me to house my knitting books in, but it looks as her selection is more hit-and-miss than that. I feel that if I could get my knitting books properly stashed, the rest of the house would fall into order of its own accord.

And the kitchen has reached a point of (waterless) stasis. The joiner has finished and has gone away for the time being. A man came today and measured for the work surfaces which will come back next week with the sink already fixed in place. The floor and the tiles on the walls and of course the painting remain to be done. Maybe they will get on with some of that this week.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The weather is still nasty. It’s too dark now to see whether it’s snowing, but it’s blowing, and there’s snow lying from last night. When I got up this morning it was blowing a small blizzard – I offered my tutor the option of postponing our nine a.m. Italian lesson which she gratefully accepted. She usually comes by bicycle – the bus journey takes her three times as long. I’ll pay as usual, and we’ll fill in the lesson as soon as we can.

So I’ve been in all day, which always feels stuffy.

However, I got on a bit with the vest. Thank you for your help with joining the cast-on into a circle. I usually follow the course a couple of you suggest, knitting the first three or four rows back and forth. In this case, though, I was beginning with the techknitter’s recommended procedure for corrugated knitting – a couple of rounds of st st, to provide a curl, and then a few more of k2 p2 rib. I knit the first row before joining – but then was forced either to join or to purl, and chose the former.

I like the idea of attaching clips of some sort, and will try that next time. That’s probably the trick I feel I’d heard about. And Maureen, I will remember what you say about using a long needle. That makes good sense. I’ve got rather a short one at the moment.

I’ve finished the techknitter bit and have advanced to the actual corrugated ribbing. I had thought I would just do it in two colours. But at the EYF I picked up the free Shetland Wool Week leaflet, with this year’s pattern: it’s a nice little hat, and it begins with corrugated ribbing. A little shading in the knit-stitch column is perfectly easy and looks rather good. So I’m doing that. Finishing one colour and attaching the next one feels like Progress.

I started out knitting the knit-column with my right hand, and doing the other with my left. Goodness, this is much easier, I thought. Starmore is right. About half-way around I realised that I wasn’t purling at all. I didn’t correct it, and those unwanted knit-stitches are buried in the dark green columns and would require dismounting and close examination to detect.

I did learn on the swatch-scarf that if I forget to take the yarn back after purling, the thing to do is leave it and correct on the next round by flicking the yo to the back. Quicker and easier than correcting on the spot.

CKP, I’ll suggest a vacuum pack to my sister for that yarn – thanks.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The weather sounds almost as nasty out there as it did during that famous passage two weeks ago – and it’s almost as cold, too. We’ve had snow…

…and it was snowing at Twickenham as Ireland beat England. St Patrick will be celebrating with his mates in heaven tonight. It was the first time in several years that England have lost at home, and it means, as I said yesterday, that Ireland have their grand slam. Scotland won in Rome, but only just. Italy outplayed us for much of the match.

I didn’t pick up Archie’s socks, after all. I cast on Alexander’s vest and started on the techknitter part at the beginning, which is pretty easy knitting. I feel I’ve got an awful lot of stitches. Somewhat-too-big is a good deal better than somewhat-too-small, but there’s a limit.  It’ll be a while before a judgment is possible.

I have half a feeling that I recently read about a nifty trick for avoiding the Fatal Twist when joining knitting for the round, but if so, I can’t find it. Anybody? I tried YouTube but all I got was a couple of pleasant ladies telling me to be very careful to get it straight before joining.

I think I’m all right, but it’s not entirely easy to tell when you get up into hundreds of stitches. I got it wrong once, knitting a shawl edging-inwards. That time, I took the scissors to it.

I’ve heard from Jimmy Beans that they’ve shipped that yarn to my sister, and she has born with good grace the news that she’s got to find room for it in her suitcase. Maybe by the time she gets here I will be far enough forward with the vest that I can allow a couple of days a week for a second WIP.

The kitchen is getting on nicely. But it was sort of peaceful, not having the men here today. I gather that I will be without water in the kitchen at least through next weekend. I braved the weather and got up to Marks and Spencer this morning and bought some ready meals. It’s not so much the cooking – I’ve got the Aga, and evenings are peaceful when they finally go away – as the washing up.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The weather has turned vicious again. 

Yarn-buying: I have betrayed my own pieties of yesterday.

I thought about madelinetosh as I was tottering about the EYF market.  It wasn’t represented, but when I got home I went to Jimmy Beans’ website, where I have spent many a happy hour in the past.

And I found this: A “onesies” yarn, a JB exclusive, of which, if I understand rightly, the last few skeins were being sold at a discount. There was enough for a sweater. The colourway is called “Penny Loafers” and it spoke to me. And not just a discount on the sale price: no postal charge within the US. And my sister is coming to see us next month. That also means, no customs charge.

I did a careful comparison this morning, of gauge and wpi and yards per gram, and decided that it would, indeed, “do”. The total price, in dollars, was about the same figure as I almost spent in pounds at the EYF yesterday.

I didn’t do any knitting today, but I did finish and close the other end of the swatch-scarf:

It, too, like the Soutache, would benefit from a pass of the steam iron. I hope I’ll do that over the weekend. If so, everything in the collection above will be finished except poor Archie’s socks. I must get on with those. Tomorrow is another rugby day, the last of the present season. That should advance the socks somewhat.

It does look to me as if corrugated ribbing is trying to flare out a bit, there at the end of the swatch-scarf. So I will follow Meg’s and Maureen’s advice and reduce the stitch count a bit, perhaps 5%, and drop down one needle size. Today I did the last calculations for Alexander’s vest: there are going to be a full number (nine) of pattern repeats – but that doesn’t mean I can start at the beginning of a repeat. I will be starting at a side seam, and I want the pattern to be centred in front. I hope I’ve got it right.

Will I have the strength of character to rip and start again if any of these thoughts and calculations prove faulty?

My main interest in the rugby tomorrow will be England-Ireland in London. Ireland has won every match so far, and are eager to complete the grand slam. England have lost their last two and are keen to avenge the humiliation. (France beat them and so, of course, did we.) But the game is at Twickenham, where England are almost invincible. Scotland are playing Italy in Rome (lucky men) where we often do badly. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I had a fine day at the EYF, and am very tired. Several of you spoke to me, which was wonderful. I met Christine by arrangement in the Podcast Lounge after my morning class – she was waiting for me with a sandwich and a bottle of water. Life-saving!

We admired Andrew and Andrea from afar, and then Christine went off to her afternoon class and I actually spoke to them, briefly, when they had finished talking to Nancy Marchant. They are taller than I expected, and every bit as good-looking and pleasant as we had all concluded some time ago.

I had my valuable Pupil’s Hour in the marketplace first thing in the morning, before the hoi polloi are admitted. I got the colours I needed for Alexander’s vest, and looked around a bit.

I was the dunce of my drop-spinning class, as I fully expected, but I enjoyed it very much and learned something, as I had hoped, about how yarn works. It is interesting to think of Primitive Man, eyeing a sheep, and thinking, now, if we just sheer this stuff off and wash and comb it, we could perhaps figure out how to add some twist which would make it strong enough to weave or even knit…It's almost as magical as wine-making.

I didn’t buy any other yarn. Tiredness was beginning to pile in by the time I got back to the market in the afternoon. I was hoist by my own petard on the yards-per-gram thing. The Brooklyn Tweed website gives its Arbor yarn, on the page about Gudrun’s Kirigami pattern, as 145 yards to 50 grams, and that’s what I had written down.

Loop was there, but hadn’t brought Arbor, which they stock in abundance. I wandered around looking at other possibilities. They were all identified as metres per 50 or 100 grams. And I didn’t even have my telephone with me, which could presumably have translated.

But then common sense kicked in, augmented by exhaustion. Did I really want to spend more than £100 on wool I might never get around to knitting, which “would do” for this pattern? When I’m ready to knit, I can order the wool, from Loop. So I called a taxi and went home.

The kitchen is progressing well. It’s got lots of units now, but still lacks water. The cats had bullied or charmed a tradesman into letting them out of the dining room, and were enjoying their day in charge. I've finished tying off the ends on the inside of Ketki's scarf, and have picked up stitches at the other end and started to knit some ribbing to finish it off. Picture tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

That was even worse. The fuse box had to be changed, which meant that the electricity was off all afternoon, until nearly seven. Not too bad at first, but at the end – no heat, no light, no television, no computer, and if there had been, no wi-fi. And the iPad was low on battery. I sat there wrapped in a blanket feeling sorry for myself.

Shandy, I am sure I am not going to work my way around the house with renovations, when this is over. The central heating boiler was condemned and sealed off yesterday by a zealous young gas fitter. Something will have to be done about that.

The cats are bearing up well, although agitated (as am I). They don't have to be confined to the dining room except when quantities of things are being carried in or out. I'll leave them there tomorrow when I go to the EYF. They are puzzled by the banging and sounds of men's voices, and rush into the kitchen at the end of the day to assess progress.

And progress there is, although I am still without water. And Ketki’s Calcutta Cup scarf is progressing, too. I decided I had done enough corrugated rib, and have finished off one end, as planned. It is now inside out, having the loose ends tightened and knotted and cut. I think I remember hearing from Hazel Tindall herself that she ties and cuts the ends on the inside of a Fair Isle sweater, unless she is actually preparing it for an exhibition.

And in this case, the knots will be sealed inside. I am about 5/8ths of the way through the job.

The Soutache, by the way, is waiting for a final, gentle steaming before I sign it off.

Fortunately I prepared for the EYF first thing this morning, while still feeling in high spirits. I’m all set, except for not know how much of each colour to buy for Alexander’s vest. It doesn’t matter – Jamieson & Smith will send any necessary augmentation promptly.

Has the endearing hybrid “yards per 100 grams” established itself on both sides of the Atlantic as the way to describe yarn? I have noted those figures against the names of yarns specified by my fancied patterns, in case I want to attempt substitutions.

Elizabeth, I am sorry not to have seen you at Kathy’s Knits. Please say hello if you see me tomorrow. I’ll be at the market, I hope, for that preliminary hour before my morning lesson, and in the afternoon while strength suffices. I’ll carry my New Yorker tote bag, which has the advantage of being printed on both sides.

I’ll wear my “Never Underestimate an Old Woman Who Went to Oberlin” sweat shirt. Last year there was another Oberlin woman (not as old) in Hazel Tindall’s class, an extraordinary coincidence.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

So much suddenly happens.

This was the kitchen yesterday.

It’s worse now, as they have removed the sink so I can’t even boil a kettle. The contents of the kitchen are spread all over the rest of the house. Here is some of it, in the spare room.

The men are very good, and are working very hard. Maybe it won't be too long.

The Vintage Shetland Project has arrived! And I think it probably has to be classed as a triumph.

And the EYF is this week – day after tomorrow, for me. I must print out my Thursday class ticket again – the first attempt, several moons ago, came out a bit blurry – and I must make careful notes about yarn. How much of which colours do I think I need for Alexander’s vest? And Gudrun’s sweater? And the KD vest from the West Highland Way, just in case her yarn turns out to be there?

I spent some of the stressful sitting-around time yesterday re-plotting the Calcutta Cup chart and making it match the motifs stitch-count-wise. I have now knit it on to the end of the swatch-scarf and have gone on to practicing corrugated rib. I'll post a picture soon. I think I’m ready to finish it off with some ribbing and a three-needle bind off, then turn it inside out and secure the ends a bit before picking up stitches and repeating the process at the other end.

I like the effect of corrugated rib, but it’s odd. The purl ribs come more prominently forward than I expected. Of the various systems, I think two-handed with the purl yarn in the right hand is the least tedious for me. Doing it in two passes would be unendurably slow. It is extraordinary how right the books are, that it is hard to remember to move the yarn to the back after purling. Every time I think I’m beginning to settle into the rhythm, I find that I left it in front again.

And the new Fruity Knitting has appeared! For a while I thought there wasn’t any fruit, but it turned out to be concealed behind Madeleine’s head.

Franklin is in Italy, sending wonderful pictures back to Facebook.