After a few weeks of arctic conditions the snow has moved south, thereby becoming newsworthy to the BBC, who only have to look out the window of their offices in London to report it. This would be perfectly fine with me, if only the cold weather would leave Scotland altogether to go infest southern England, like an annoying elderly relative who takes turns to inflict himself on his offspring (King Lear’s daughters had the same problem, I seem to remember).
Alas, dear reader, it hasn’t budged. So it’s still bitterly cold in Edinburgh, below zero, and snowing just enough to freeze and be treacherous. I start the day immersing my fingers in a mixture of boiling water and antifreeze to get them to work (well, it helps with the car…), and sullenly waiting for my Amazon parcels to arrive (latest delivery estimate: 8 December; looks like Tiny Tim isn’t going to get that new crutch for Christmas after all).
So, while I sit at home and work on my Vitamin D deficiency, I can knit, albeit very slowly with frozen fingers. (People think I’m cracking my knuckles when all I’m doing is shattering the ice.) I’ve finished the 3 inches of ribbing at the bottom, and made the increase into the body.
If you recall I cast on 384 stitches for the ribbing (plus 20 stockinette stitches for the steek, making 404 in all). It’s customary to increase by 10%, and 10% of 384 is, of course 38.4. I decided to round this up to 40, on a whim, and to err on the side of caution (too big is better than too small – though I grant you 1.6 stitches isn’t going to make much difference). So I now have 424 stitches to play with (or 212 per side), plus the 20 stitches of the steek.
It’s important to ensure an even distribution of increases round the body so that your pattern will be centred properly. In this case I had 96 ribs round the bottom, and 40 stitches to add. Dividing 96 by 40 gave me one increase every 2.4 ribs, or 2 increases every 5 ribs. (Basically I divided the ribs into quarters and made sure I increased by 10 stitches every quarter. You don’t have to get too anal about it, broad brush is fine.)
We still haven’t given any serious thought to the pattern. I’ve got a couple more days’ grace, as it’s customary to allow an inch of plain knitting above the ribbing before launching into the pattern. Working out the pattern is a bit like doing fractions for homework, or memorizing fourth declension nouns in Latin, and one of the joys of being a grown up is putting things off till the last minute. (Hang on: that was on one of my report cards from school, too. H’m. I seem to detect a trend…)
Good progress on the novel. I’m up to 35,000 words (about half a standard Graham Greene-sized book), though I suspect very few of them will make it through to the final cut.
This week’s bread, a bunch of my patented “baguettinis”, or mini baguettes, and my first attempt at a stollen, the German marzipan-centred dried fruit bread, a recipe that can only be enhanced by soaking the fruit, and the baker, in rum…