Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kirsten, I thought yesterday and earlier this evening that I had encountered the Freecell layout that I couldn’t win. I wished it had had a number, as under the old system, so that I could have told you and we could both have been free of the curse.

But then I cracked it. There is nothing that can help us except self-discipline.

Here’s the Tannehill. I’m very pleased:

When the picture was taken, the sleeves had been sewn in (rather lumpily – I’m counting on blocking to work wonders) and the sleeve seams pinned. By now I have done them, all but an inch or two. That leaves tidying, the neck ribbing, blocking: three more days, insh’Allah, and I should have another FO. A useful one.

I had a very happy moment, in the course of all that. I have been knitting sleeves lately, as you know, and had for the moment forgotten that the body was knit around until being divided at the armpits. So – no side seams! It was a real moment of surprise and delight.

Alexander came to see us today, as often on a Wednesday. I had him try on my husband’s madtosh sleeveless v-neck Whiskey Barrel vest, which looked very well on him. I thought that was a simpler way of establishing size than tape measures and gauge calculations. But the fabrics are so different – Fair Isle sort of stiff, plain-vanilla madtosh adapting itself more cheerfully to the human form.

So the Fair Isle vest should be ever so slightly smaller? Perhaps next Wednesday I’ll employ a tape measure. He approved of my plan of knitting a comparatively sub fusc vest for him now, and a brighter one for his wife when Scotland next win the Calcutta Cup. If any of us live to see the day.

We could go on talking about our cats forever. And what fun it would be! You need to know that every comment is read and treasured.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Today is Perdita’s second birthday. She is not an entirely satisfactory cat – my husband would very much prefer someone who would sit on his lap and talk to him; but she is a valuable third personality to have in the house and by now she is a member of the family, like it or not, satisfactory or otherwise.

I finally finished that sleeve cap. The Tannehill is knit, except for the neck ribbing – but it remains to be seamed. I got the shoulders done, and even pinned the first sleeve in place. Pic tomorrow.

How long has it been since I set in a set-in sleeve? What was I thinking of, to do it this way instead of a good old EPS raglan? The answer to that second question is easy: I wasn’t thinking. The first sleeve seems to fit well into its socket: that’s something.

The general impression at the moment is that this sweater is going to be really good, and fulfill its intended purpose to something like perfection.

It leaves me, just now, with nothing to knit, until the seams are done and I can start that neck ribbing.  Uncharacteristically, I don’t even have a pair of socks on the go. I could wind the skeins I bought at the EYF and cast on Mary Lou’s “Pollywog Popover” from “Drop Dead Easy Knits” – it's going to be next anyway – just for something to knit in the dead hour at the end of the day when mindless television and mindless knitting are all that spirit can manage  – certainly not, the setting-in of a set-in sleeve.

But I am afraid, if I do that, that the Tannehill might lie about in the form of disjecta membra forever. No, I must press on.


Flipboard seems to have given up trying altogether in its “Knitting” category. Alas, again, for the death of Zite. Does anyone have a suggestion?

Poor Susan Crawford is trying to work, but finding her mind clogged with “chemotherapy-induced cognitive dysfunction”. It sounds thoroughly unpleasant. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

I’m sorry for last night’s gap – sometimes I feel I am sinking beneath the surface or life, not waving but drowning. But essentially, everything is all right and here I am.

I am shaping that final sleeve cap, but I should be further forward with it by now. Tomorrow, surely, will see it done.

Here, at least, is the long-promised pic of the swatch-scarf, not showing up quite as well as I would have hoped. The two rows of lozenges at the top are the ones I am ready to pass off as OK. The two third and fourth up from the bottom, are the calmer ones Alexander prefers.

Shandy, yes, I saw Jen’s comment here and was very grateful for it. I seem to be having trouble getting into Evernote – I mustn’t let that one get away. I think your problem about the bisected lozenges can be resolved by the fact that they are offset in every other row. But thinking about things like that makes my mind hurt.

I am enjoying thinking about the future, even as I toil ever so slowly on with that sleeve cap and contemplate the seaming to come. I incline rather a lot towards KD’s “Miss Rachel’s Yoke”, which I’ve got. Call it the Veenstra syndrome – I don’t terribly want to wear it, it would get dirty too quickly, I do better in washable rugby shirts; off-hand I don’t know who else might want to wear it. I want to knit it.


Archie came to see us for a while on Sunday morning. The conversation turned to Ozymandias, King of Kings. It was my husband who brought him up. I wondered who had written the line. Archie said, without (metaphorically) looking up from his knitting, “Shelley”. My husband said, with some emphasis – and some plausibility, I thought – “Coleridge”. So we looked it up.

Archie must be learning something. Much of his classroom time at Lancaster is spent in Autonomous Learning Groups, a phrase which passed immediately and derisively into our family vocabulary. It means what we used to call “seminars”, but without the presence of a grown-up. Helen is indignant that universities charge more money than good private boarding schools and offer substantially less tuition.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

It has been a difficult day – my husband sleepy, characteristically disagreeable, uncharacteristically low on appetite. The cat is fine, and I not much behind, although when life contracts like this to the immediate situation, it’s hard to say how one actually feels.

Kirsten, what are we to do without Freecell, after such a day?

Knitting, then.

I have broken my promise to you, to take a picture of the swatch-scarf. I have knit forward with the Tannehill, but not as far as I expected. I’m still a very few rows short of the beginning of the shaping of the second sleeve cap.

“Knitter” arrived today, not yet sufficiently digested, but including an enthusiastic piece about the LYF by Jen A-C. I was struck by the pic of Lucy Hague’s Durrow shawl, which reminded me of the Dunfallandy blankie I knit for great-granddaughter Juliet.

They’re very different. Looking up the links just now for you, I am really rather impressed with how different they are. What they have in common is cables which snake from one square to another, and possibly – but this depends on orientation – horizontal cables. Which Dr. de Roulet, designer of the Dunfallandy, unvented.

The Dunfallandy squares are knit from corner to corner, with the horizontal cables in the middle. Whereas Hague’s squares are knit either centre-out or centre-in so the horizontal-looking cables must have been formed differently.

I think I remember chatting to Lucy (you know how it is) at the launch of KD’s and Jen A-C’s Haps book, and asking whether she knew the Dunfallandy blankie which I was then – or had been recently – engaged with. She didn’t. Elderly memories are not to be trusted.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Kirsten, I’m sure you’re right, that cold turkey is the only answer to our Freecell problem. Once, long ago, in a burst of piety on Ash Wednesday, I deleted it (or something equally obsessive, but I think it was Freecell) from my then-computer. But that wouldn’t work nowadays, would it? when it is beamed down to us from heaven and isn’t even here on earth to be deleted.

I never allow myself to lose, ever since Mary Lou told me about Ctrl-Z. And the “Undo” button on the new manifestation of the program does as well. Every so often I hit a nasty layout and think, Great! I’ll never be able to do this one so the problem is solved.

But I always go back to nibble at it, and so far, I’ve always won.

Equally, I sometimes hit a sequence of easy ones, and think, this is really rather boring. But then I meet one of the nasties.

Let me know how you get on.


I have, reluctantly, laid the swatch-scarf aside and resumed Tannehill-knitting. I am very close to the second sleeve cap – another day or two will launch me on to seaming.

Stranded knitting is awfully cosy, and my swatch-scarf, being a tube, makes it doubly so. Or quadruply, depending on how you look at it. That means that a Dr Who scarf, length-wise, is not a good idea. It currently measures 33”, not quite enough by any measure – but it won’t need much more.

I am sorry I didn’t get a pic taken today. Tomorrow, promise. Both Perdita and I, and perhaps my husband as well, felt slightly under par today.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

I think more and more about what you said the other day, Mary Lou, about your former relationship with mah jong. Freecell is taking up too much of what little remains of my life.

No pic today, despite promises. I’ve finished the lozenge and have embarked on the peerie pattern. I like to leave the swatch-scarf at that point, where I’m ready to snatch it up and embark on the next experiment. I wonder if the original knitter welcomed the peeries as relief from the stress of knitting eight (or however many) different lozenges around the body, or found them a tedious interruption to the intellectual excitement.

My own experience veers towards the latter.

It occurred to me today that perhaps Alexander’s problem with my latest experiment is the slightly Christmassy effect of the red stripe across the middle of the lozenge in conjunction with Flugga white. Perhaps if I went back to the original sub fusc colours and threw in a gentle blue stripe instead.…

I must go back to my Craftsy Fair-Isle-vest class with Mucklestone and try to find and mark the place where she extols the merits of swatching and says, perhaps with a wicked smile, that you may never need to knit a sweater again. Who would have thought that I would be so totally drawn in to a practice I have always avoided? I’m sure it helps that there’s no immediate need for the garment, since (as Alexander’s remark about his winding sheet implies) there’s no immediate (or even remote) prospect of Scotland's winning the Calcutta Cup.

My plan, vaguely, having invested all this time and interest, is to go ahead and knit Alexander a non-Calcutta-Cup vest. Then when we do win, if I’m still capable of knitting, I’ll knit his wife one in the brighter colour-way.

And my more immediate plan, once I’ve finished the current peerie pattern, is to return to my husband’s Tannehill sweater and finish it. What a lot of italics there are in this post!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sorry. At my best, I was never very good at multi-tasking, and I’m well below my best by now. We’ve had lots of people about, and have enjoyed a happy time, but not much knitting, less blogging. Rachel was horrified to see how much of her anticipated inheritance is being squandered on top-level cat food, but otherwise, I think, enjoyed herself.

She was very pleased to hear about the General Election, because it will happen just when Hellie and Matt’s baby (=her second granddaughter) is due so she doesn’t need to count any more, the press will do it for her. Sure enough, tonight, “…fifty days until…”

I thought  Ms Sturgeon, although her words were bold, looked a bit uncomfortable on the news last night. I think Scotland is far and away the most interesting place in the UK to be, for this election, but one thinks of the Chinese curse (if true) about living in interesting times. Wikipedia says there is no such Chinese curse.


I think I’m still engaged on the lozenge where last I was to be found. I’ll finish it, I hope, tomorrow, with the following peerie pattern – then a photograph. Alexander joined the party this morning, and as I half-expected he would, preferred the sub-fusc version at the beginning of the swatch-scarf to the livelier lozenges I have been knitting lately.

Sub-fusc would rule out Flugga White.

He does not think there is much prospect of our winning the Calcutta Cup any time soon. “You can use it as my winding sheet,” he said.

But all was a bit noisy and confused this morning, and I was dashing out to the supermarket while there were still people here to sit with my husband. When Alexander comes next week, I can expound the difference between stitch pattern and colour sequence and explain just how I have been experimenting.

We’ve had a Shetland Vintage Project update from Susan Crawford, although it doesn’t get us much forrad’er. She is working again – good news. She hopes to have it ready for the printer by the end of June, although she doesn’t phrase the prediction quite as confidently as that. I have, I am afraid, lost all hope, after being disappointed so often. I am desperately sympathetic with her situation. If a book eventually results, I will be awfully glad.