The quick Christmas cowl

… which can be worn all year round, with the right yarn. And it’s easy.

A couple of posts ago I mentioned these cowls, which I’d been making for a craft fair. They’re really popular and a quick knit. Just right for that emergency present – and I promised the pattern would be up here ASAP.  They are what I call ‘yarn dependent’, in that the right yarn makes them delicious or doesn’t quite work. I’ve found what I think is the best solution, something which works in summer and winter, and which isn’t too bulky (often a problem with cowls – you can feel swamped or have lots of flapping fabric). But they work just as well with a nice tweedy aran.

For myself, I settled on Colinette Giotto, a tape yarn, a blend of cotton, rayon and nylon. Ideal for people who are either iffy with wool or who are sensitive about scratchiness. Warm enough for winter, cool enough for summer evenings.

cowl 1

The cotton stops it being too glittery and gives it depth, and I am completely hooked on it. As a result, I sometimes end up with part of a skein left over, and I find these simple cowls ideal for using them up. They’re very adaptable – can be made thinner or fatter or even longer (I wrap them round twice, until they stretch, but I’ve one which goes round my neck three times), depending on how much yarn is hanging around in the stash waiting for a good home. Colinette says that Giotto should be knitted on 8mm needles, but don’t you believe it.

Incidentally, gauge / tension is relatively unimportant; you want a fabric that has some drape without it being too thick and solid. Do a quick pattern repeat to see how it feels and adjust the needle size if necessary. My cowls, knitted like this, are 12cm wide, but I have made them wider.

Here goes:

Christmas Cowl
You need about 75g of Colinette Giotto – that’s about 105 metres, and a pair of 5.5mm needles (old UK size 5, US size 9).

Cast on 20 stitches.

Row 1 (right side): knit
Row 2 (WS): K1, purl to last stitch, K1.
Row 3 (RS): K2 *P4, K2, rep from * to end
Row 4 (WS): K1, P1 *K4, P2, rep from * to last 2 stitches, P1, K1
Rows 5 and 6: repeat rows 3 and 4.
Rows 7 and 8: repeat rows 1 and 2, the stocking stitch rows.
Row 9 (RS): K1, P2 *K2, P4, rep from * to last 3 sts, P2, K1.
Row 10 (WS): K3, *P2, K4, rep from * to last 3 sts, K3.
Rows 11 and 12: repeat rows 9 and 10.

That’s the pattern repeat, a simple basket weave, with line of stocking stitch between the two halves:

basket weave

Follow the pattern until your piece of knitting is as long as you want it to be – generally about 95cm – and ending, always, on Row 12. Cast off.

Oversew the cast on and cast off edges together neatly on the WS, ensuring that the pattern flows on the RS and making as flat a seam as possible. Don’t use back stitch or mattress stitch; they will be too bulky. (Oversewing is sometimes called ‘overcasting’, ‘edge to edge’ or ‘making a flat seam’. It’s the simple method most of us were probably taught not to do as soon as we started knitting properly, but it’s vital in some circumstances.) That’s it!

Notes and adaptations:
Always, but always, knit the first and last stitches of every row, even the purl rows, to give you a neat edge. That’s written in here.
• If you wish, use a provisional cast on, and then graft the two ends together. I usually forget and cast on as normal, because I’m on automatic pilot.
• You can also do a three-needle cast off. Again, I usually forget. It is important that the oversewing is neat, however.
• Because knitting is elastic, the cowls will stretch; just wind them round more in wear. However, the stretching means they get thinner, so I recommend 20 sts as the minimum cast on.
• Casting on 26 gives a wider cowl, ideal for people with bigger necks (chaps, generally, or tall thinnies with long necks). This adds an extra repeat to the pattern going across but doesn’t alter it in any way. It also takes more yarn, of course, so bear that in mind. And you may need to make it longer, say 100cm or more and adding another full pattern repeat, if you’re dealing with a rugby player.

Enjoy – any problems, let me know.

What not to do at a craft fair…

Just before the big Harlech Craft Fair at the weekend, this materialised on the Fair’s Facebook page. It’s from the California Arts Council:


We were very busy – it’s the first year we’ve used social media in an organised campaign – but a couple of us amused ourselves by collecting these. I had several 5s, as usual quite a few 7s (yes, but when will you?), several 10s and a 9 from someone who wanted me to make a long dangly scarf, crocheted in eyelash yarn. Had to explain that not all knitters can crochet (don’t get me going on the eyelash yarn), and she left shaking her head sadly at my incompetence (she can’t do either).

But there were two prize winners. One wasn’t from my stall. There was a pair of fingerless gloves on the other knitter’s stall, very reasonably priced. One of our very right-on residents picked them up and delivered herself of a 1 – though without the specific Walmart ref, natch – with what could only be described as a sneer; I think she was looking for a fight. Stallholder resisted urge to biff this person over the head, which I considered very restrained, and pointed out that the gloves she was talking about were not wool, not handmade, and might easily have have manufactured in some far-eastern sweatshop by eight year olds – the perfect response for our guardian of all social causes.

My prizewinner was a version of 10, I suppose (why these people have to be so furtive, I do not know, but the close examination and muttering always gives the game away – just ask, and I’ll help). Two women approach stall, second visit for one. Returnee goes back to cushion she was examining earlier. Friend also fondles cushion. Meanwhile, I am dealing with another customer. After some time, the two walk away; intrigued, I follow. One is saying to the other ‘so you could do that for me with an old sweater?’ and the other assures her that it would be easy, could do it for Christmas, though she was expressing slight worries about the rib pulling in. Had they asked I would have enlightened them: no, you can’t use an old sweater. It has to be knitted from scratch, largely because of the rib pulling in, plus old sweaters are never quite the right size and some have a surprising tendency to unravel and develop strange bald patches that really show up. I wasted many hours and several sweaters, including one in cashmere, before realising the truth. I hope they’re not planning to do anything else in December…

But it was a lovely craft fair, and because several people have asked, here’s a general montage of some of the stalls:

Selling my babies (as it were)

Just a quickie post, because it’s the big Harlech Arts and Crafts Fair this weekend and I am one of the organisers. (It’s highly professional, and is absolutely not toecover territory, see previous post, well… generally it isn’t.) I’m also a stallholder, and I have a terrible habit of being very, very, very last minute. I also have a terrible habit of forgetting to photograph things I sell…

This year I have rediscovered my love for all things Colinette. Well, not quite all things, because the patterns are still bonkers and I’m not a huge fan of having unintentionally indigo hands or red bamboo needles. But I can forgive their Giotto yarn almost anything:

giotto 1

simply because the colours are so gorgeous, the texture is so appealing, and it drapes beautifully,

cowl 1

with just enough body to work as a light cowl. It’s my own pattern, dead simple, and I sold several of these last year. One was bought by a friend who wore it all summer, and that’s even though it was a good summer. I’ve some bits left over so I’m experimenting with necklaces, but I’ve not made one I think really works. Yet.

Even the more subdued colourways appeal:

Giotto 2

and I freely admit that I often find them very difficult to sell. Um, to part with: they’re very easy to sell… my inner two year old surfaces and I start channelling Stewie from Family Guy when it suddenly happens to him: Mine! Mine!! MINE!!! (Some might say I channel Stewie at other times too, but I couldn’t possibly comment.)

So sometimes I just give up. Generally I try not to do this with more than one item, but often I fail. My item of choice for this year, which is going nowhere near my stall, is a double mobius cowl, also in a Colinette yarn, Prism this time:

Prism cowl

It’s too smooshy. It’s too soft. It would be cruel, sending it out into the wide world. Wearing it is like having a nestful of kittens draped round your neck, except there’s no fighting and nobody dribbles or pees down your front. It’s just too cuddly:

prism detail

I’ve used Prism before, for a cardigan, and let me just say that it felts beautifully despite being  blend of cotton and wool. I’ll leave it at that, but boy am I going to be careful with this. See? I couldn’t trust anyone else to look after it.


The season of the toecover

(Or what NOT to knit for Christmas.)

I’ve been sent a couple of things to review recently which I’m not going to mention. Sometimes I do this because they are inappropriate. OK, sometimes they are terrible (in which case I give feedback directly, but not here), but sometimes they are just plain wrong. And this is the season for it: the run up to Christmas. If I see another book inviting me to knit / crochet / weave / felt something – stockings / candy canes / decorations / skirts for Christmas trees / strange small gift items – I am going to scream. Or strangle / incinerate / shred / rip the offending object into small pieces.

These books are toecover production manuals, and they should be ignored at all costs.


This is a budgie cover, but it is also – most emphatically – a clear type of toecover.

Not come across ‘toecover’ before? It was part of our family vernacular, for as long as I can remember, and now I forget that it’s not universal. But it should be. It has nothing to do with sports equipment or anything medical, and everything to do with, um, ‘handicrafts’. Unfortunately.

It comes from the wonderful Betty MacDonald, and her book from the 1940s, The Plague and I, detailing her year in a TB sanatorium (doesn’t sound funny, but it’s a hoot). ‘Toecover,’ she writes, ‘is a family name for a useless gift. A crocheted napkin ring is a toe cover. So are embroidered book marks … pincushion covers done in french knots … cross-stitched pictures of lumpy brown houses…’

agh 2

She waxes lyrical for a long paragraph, but you get the picture. Those are toecovers. It’s easy to imagine that the toecover died out sometime around 1970, when everybody was too busy getting off of their heads to bother about making attractive napkin rings out of leather scraps and left-over yarn, but evidently not:


Thank you, Golden Hands.

And they still live and flourish today.

Think about it. What else are knitted iPhone covers, crocheted tree garlands that look as though the cat’s been sick, twee dolls for adults, wine-bottle cozies in moss stitch (or, indeed, any stitch), and most take-away coffee cup holders, especially those with hands? And in case you think I’m exaggerating, a quick search for ‘knitted gifts’ on Pinterest revealed the existence of what can only be described as a completely un-ironic frilly dress for a decanter. NO!

Magazines are the natural habitat of the toecover, especially at this time of year. Take the latest issue of Landscape, for instance, a relatively recent addition to the ‘I want that lifestyle’ area of magazine publishing. The latest edition, based around Christmas, features some things called ‘table stockings’. (I can’t photograph it, because I’d be breaking copyright and I’m being rude enough without tempting fate.) They’re not for the table legs – we’re not Victorians, honestly – but they are little socks, knitted in red with a cable pattern and a white cuff. You put your cutlery in them at the table. Apparently they ‘bring a light-hearted touch to the dinner table’. I knew that.

Surely those of us who do knit presents for our nearest and dearest are already bogged down making scarves, hats, gloves, socks, even the occasional definitely ironic sweater with a reindeer on it (check out this Rav project page for an, er, interesting take on the reindeer motif – but not if you’re easily offended), to bother about making tiny socks for spoons? Surely? Surely?

Posy Simmonds had a series of cartoon strips in the 1980s Guardian called Mrs Webber’s Diary; there were several incarnations with slightly different titles, but they were some of the most pertinent pieces of observation I’ve ever come across. In one, a daughter had called her mother to say that she had just been unsuccessful in a job application. It’s seen from the mother’s POV, and she suggests that at least missing out on the job would mean her daughter had time to care for her family – ‘you’ll have time to do it all properly … I was only joking, Jane’. She then says ‘…you’ll find something to do … look at me, I did…’ and puts the phone down. The last frame says it all:

AGH3 This is a toecover factory.

Do not fall into this trap. Do not knit bulky bookmarks, tiny hats to use as Christmas tree decorations, strange naked deformed dolls which are supposed to be cute, little house-shaped key rings which double up as key tidies or – the oddest one I found in a quick search – a strange chicken with something hanging out of its mouth, possibly a worm, possibly its entrails. It will end badly.

But if you do have spare time, knit socks – and give them to me. My nephew has just requested socks and I do not knit socks. Rats.

PS: I popped into (and out of) a little craft fair yesterday, and discovered a toecover nest. Here are a few extras, not all knitting:

  • Earmuffs, knitted in eyelash yarn, but with dangly legs (why?).
  • A crocheted heart with ‘I [heart] my teacher’ embroidered on it. No scented stuffing or anything like that, just a heart-shaped thing.
  • A wooden circle, with ‘a round tuit’ pyrographed on – so someone could get a round to it (ho ho ho)
  • A decoupage box for holding those small packs of paper hankies… there were also several of these knitted or crocheted, too; I think this village must be prone to bad colds.
  • A fake nose. I need to explain this one: made out of pink felt, I think it was supposed to be a pig’s snout. It had elastic so it would stay on, clearly designed for a small child. Childline need to be advised.
  • A pile of blocks of wood or cardboard covered alternately in fabric or crochet, with embroidered titles. They were not real books – I mean, who’d want real books in their house when they could have a pile of fake ones?


Archaeology and clothing (or maybe not)

Hee hee… I was down in the basement the other day when I came across a small stash of Ladybird books among all my files. For anyone not familiar with these, they were – and to some extent still are, though they’re not the same – a British series of books for children. The non-fiction ones were intellectually respectable, and they were much beloved by middle-class parents of a certain type. A type which definitely included my own parents.

Ladybird archaeologyLadybird books’ golden age was in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. My mother used to hunt them out in second-hand bookshops so some of mine are quite old, and the pics are fab. One thing that is quite noticeable is the fact that I held onto those featuring dress (like Clothes and Costume) or archaeology (such as Stone Age Man in Britain, yup, ‘Man’). The whole reason why I went on to read Archaeology may, indeed, have had something to do with my desire to stand around on sites in a white headscarf and yellow top, while an Indiana Jones type peered at pots (not that Indiana Jones had even been thought of when this was painted).

I just have to share some of the illustrations, so here are a few which really focus on what people are wearing.

Ladybird arch 2Skins, generally, it does have to be said. Often curiously fitted skins, sometimes daringly off-the-shoulder skins, but almost always skins.

Here we see two prehistoric bods actually making up their clothing (I can’t help feeling that cowboy movies may have had some sort of influence here). Note the apparent crudeness of the stitching – quite possibly using gut or sinew as thread, since they’ve evidently not progressed to the cord stage – but also note the interesting fact that he has managed to shave efficiently and she has successfully dealt with any underarm hair, so they were evidently more skilled than the stitching suggests. Her fringe is pretty cool, too. Unlike the hut roof, which I can’t help feeling would have blown straight off if anyone had so much as breathed on it.

Ladybird arch 4And here we have preparing the skins. I clearly remember this one, because I wanted to wear skins and prepare them like this (why, I do not know). Now, of course, my first thought on looking at the clothing is to wonder about the impact that entirely accurate historical epic One Million Years BC, featuring Racquel Welch in a skin bikini, had on the illustrator. Clearly it’s toned down for an audience of children, but I can’t help feeling there’s a certain reminiscent something in the tailoring.

I also remember asking my father what it would have been like to wear skins – I may have imagined that someone of such immense age (he must have been 37 or so) would actually know. He looked at the picture closely and said ‘draughty’. I caused a major diplomatic incident by complaining to my mother about this flippant response, but maybe it was better that he didn’t give me the practical demonstration I was demanding.

Ladybird arch 5Moving on a little, in actual Ladybird years, comes this contribution from the book on food and cooking, which must have been from the 1970s, given the dreadlocks.  I have an friend who was brought up on a hippy commune in Dorset – and looking at this, it’s all I can think of. Bare-arsed kids strolling about, cooking on a bakestone over an open fire, living in something that could almost be a bender, stereotypical roles ever so firmly entrenched… you can almost smell the fumes of a Camberwell Carrot carrying on the breeze.

There is one difference, though: cleanliness. Here, not there.

ladybird archaeology 6We do eventually move away from the skin clothing, and now we are in about 500BC. I know that, because this is from The Story of Clothes and Costume (originally published in 1964), which was clearly written for older children, and the text gives me some real information. As well as giving a rough date, it also informs me that this illustration is based on actual clothes from the period found in Denmark, and indeed some are clearly derived from garments discovered in bogs which come from about this time, like the Tollund Man‘s cap.

The female clothing, I’m less certain about; garments retrieved from Danish bogs tend to be full length and these dresses are more like something bought in Chelsea Girl, which may be where the artist found them. (It’s probably just as well that the artist did not use the Egtved girl’s clothing from the – much – earlier Bronze Age as inspiration, something which I wittered on about in my very first post on this blog, because there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the girl wore anything under – or, for that matter, over – her string mini skirt.) I’m also intrigued by the colours, since much of what I manage to produce with natural dyes is… well, khaki or, as my mother once unforgettably put it, ‘shades of shite’. But then I don’t suppose that would have made a very fetching illustration.

But I’m not sneering, I really am not. These books captivated me, and did so to such an extent that I spent years up to my knees in mud or marking up bones in some breezy finds hut / tent / old outside toilet / broken caravan. There is something wonderfully atmospheric about some of the illustrations, and you can almost crouch over a guttering fire with a hunter as he tries to keep himself warm on a snowy day in the Neolithic, or walk up towards an Iron Age village on the downs in autumn:

Ladybird archaeology 7It was many years later that I learned the truth of Bettany Hughes statement that ‘just because you feel you can reach out and touch the past, don’t presume you can describe its face’. I’m quite glad, because you have to start somewhere, and being fascinated by a standing loom leaning against an Iron Age hut is certainly somewhere. Now where did I put my fluff?

More general sheep strangeness

I wrote a post a while ago, before I got bogged down in work and distracted by creepy stalker person, about the apparently odd things that have cropped up in the long, long relationship between people and sheep. No, not that sort of relationship – for heaven’s sake. Ahem. It’s also taken me a while to recover from the idea of nanny tea. Bleagh.

Bodleian sheep(And if nanny tea had left you traumatised too, be grateful I didn’t share some medieval contraceptive advice: drink sheep pee. Mind you, that pales into insignificance when compared to the alternatives, such as you won’t get pregnant if you wear weasel testicles on your thigh or hang the amputated foot of a live weasel round your neck. I bet you won’t. Couldn’t find pic of this, so settled for some lovely sheep from the Bodleian.)

A lot of the uses and significance of sheep are only strange to us, now, at this point in time and place. Had we, for instance, been fishing in the North Sea in previous centuries, we might have been wearing clothing made from oiled sheepskin; doesn’t seem too unreasonable. Coracles could be covered in cured hides, too (and inflated skins have been used to make rafts, especially in central Asia).

Further back we’d probably have cooked using a sheep’s paunch. Not cooked the paunch – can’t imagine what that would be like – but cooked in it. You suspend the paunch over a fire and fill it with water, which heats up and also prevents the paunch from igniting. You pop some hot stones in which keeps the temperature up – or maybe you don’t; in experiments there wasn’t much difference between cooking with the stones in and without – and then you add whatever you want to cook. Grain was found to be edible within a couple of hours.

mediaeval sheepWe have a tendency to think of sheep as a source of either meat or wool, but there’s milk as well. Perhaps we’re more likely to consider that now than we might have been, say, 20 years ago, but in earlier times it was a perfectly normal consideration. Take one Medieval example: villeins on the Templar estates in Wiltshire had to send a women to milk the sheep every day, and she got half the whey or buttermilk for her labours.

(Of course, until the Industrial Revolution every single thread used in every single piece of cloth was handspun. We spin for pleasure, by and large. Our ancestors did not; they spun because they had to.)

Sheep milk was considered the most important product in Medieval England, in fact. It ranked above wool and well above meat… and between wool and meat in the hierarchy of importance came dung. It wasn’t just useful as a manure, though it was common practice to put a flock on a field which needed some extra oomph. It was used for fuel, along with cow dung (horse droppings and those of other non-ruminants are not much good), and in Ireland was also used to scour wool (which seems a bit counter-productive to those of us who spend ages trying to get sheep shit out of raw fleeces). Basically, a sheep was much more useful alive than dead. Lamb – well, eating that was a terrible waste. Mutton was better.

Once a sheep was dead, nothing was wasted; the guts were incredibly useful, and gut-dressing was a specialist trade. It probably wasn’t quite so specialist in the Bronze Age (when most people would have done many different things), and it’s been suggested that the cord decoration on some BA pots was probably made with sheep gut. Sheep guts have also been used to make fishing lines, strings for bows and musical instruments – and that use goes way back; a bow with a string of sheep gut is mentioned in the Odyssey.

Skin – well, that had all sorts of uses from the boats and clothing mentioned above to becoming parchment, especially in Medieval France (calf and goat skins were also used). It was soaked and limed, and then stretched and dried. Finally, the skin would be treated to make a better writing surface for the scribes; parchment is very resilient and can be re-treated and re-used; it is often possible to see hints – or even read – what was there before. In Greece, cured skins were used to store wine and olive oil.

Bones, especially the astralagus, the ankle bones, could be used in divination. All sorts of bones have been used in this way, for millennia, but these almost cuboid bones are still used in some places; they’re known as ‘shagai’ in Mongolia (photo from Wikimedia Commons):


and are sometimes painted in bright colours. If you want to know the future, or get an answer to a question, you roll four on the ground. The two more convex sides, known as horse and sheep, are lucky (horse is the luckiest – this is a Mongolian thing, after all, and horses are inseparable from the traditional Mongolian way of life). The concave sides, called goat and camel, are the opposite: unlucky. They’re also used for loads of games, in much the same way as dice could be used.

girls playing with sheep bonesThere are records of these bones being used in Greece to foretell who a girl would marry, and they were certainly used for playing games there, too, in more ancient times (these two girls playing ‘knucklebones’ come from the British Museum, and about 330BC). It wouldn’t surprise me at all if there were other incidences of their use, for either fun (they’re also used to set the position of the strings in a traditional Kazakh musical instrument) or fortune; they’re such a convenient shape. Anyone know of any others?

It’s not surprising that sheep have accumulated such a wealth of apparent oddness. They’ve been significant for so long; something strange is bound to stick. And it’s not surprising, really, that there are signs of sheep being worshipped, or venerated at the very least. It’s not just the ancient Egyptians with their sheep mummies; at Catalhoyuk, a very early settlement in Anatolia, skulls of rams were given the same respectful treatment as those of bulls, which seemed to be the main focus of the people’s religious life. There are many other incidences, but I draw the line at worshipping Madam, the ex-pet lamb and now escapologist ewe from up the hill, whom I found in the garden again this morning… Knucklebones seems like a good game, my lady – you are warned.

Book Review – The Knowledgeable Knitter

jacketA little while ago I was sent a great book to review on circular knitting by Margaret Radcliffe, which I really enjoyed and have found useful. I’ve now been asked to look at another book by her, The Knowledgeable Knitter.

I’ve got several basic instructional books, from a battered copy of Mary Thomas which belonged to my mother and possibly to her mother, to June Hemmons Hiatt’s massive and exhaustive Principles of Knitting. What, I wondered, might this new book have to offer that was different? Then I thought again – perhaps, with my somewhat mangled collection, I’m not actually the target audience. Maybe this is designed for relatively new knitters.

And then I opened it and began to work my way through it, and my assumptions were wrong. It will be brilliant for those people who have recently picked up the sticks and string, but it’s got something in there for every knitter. I’m convinced of it, in fact.

But don’t just believe me… time for a look inside.


The comparisons of various approaches to particular situations, as here (looking at corded edges on the left and decreases at the very edge on the right), are particularly useful. It’s not often you get to see options spread out in this way. Come to think of it, short of knitting a shedload of samples, I don’t think I’ve seen it done so well before.

I’m currently working up a pattern for a big cowl knitted in two skeins of Colinette Prism, for instance, and I need a neat edge. I normally always use the very old method on everything – a garter-stitch edge (knitting the first and last stitches of every row). However, I wasn’t sure I wanted the nobbly edge which that produces, so I tried several of the options here. OK, I couldn’t find what I needed when I looked up ‘selvedge’, but I just looked up ‘edges’ instead. Then I went to my other books – and this is by far the clearest.

Let’s try another double page spread, this time part of the section on cast offs (aka bind offs, of course – this is an American book).

page 3

On the left are some suggestions for stretchy cast-offs, including my favourite, the yarn-over cast off (the detailed drawings are at the back of the book, in the appendix, and are very clear). On the right are some embellishments and a look at applied edgings. I have yet to come across an apparently ‘basic’ book that covers this. Hang on, I’m just checking… yup. There’s a bit in Montse Stanley’s brilliant Handknitter’s Handbook from 1986, but I have to say that those are very 70s – tassels, bobbles… The examples here are rather more relevant. And photographic.

Basic? Nah (there’s a section – a good section – on steeking, for instance, and plenty of info on design and adapting patterns).

Some of the best parts for me are those on design and adapting. Here’s a page on circular shaping in pattern stitches, in the section on shaping and fitting.


I know from my own experience that this often confuses even experienced knitters (well, it certainly confuses me sometimes). And the illustrations are wonderful – really clear. The photographs inspire you, and it is so good to see what an end result actually looks like when you are contemplating the technique illustrations at the back. Basic? No, I really don’t think so.

And what about some practical advice on amendments? How about ‘reshaping armholes’? Adjusting sleeve caps? Both recently relevant. And I was very pleased to see a small part on weaving in colours along seams, long a bugbear of mine. Margaret Radcliffe is very methodical, exactly as I was taught to be with Fair Isle – great (I was taught in threes: one along, one across one way, one across the other way; she goes every other stitch, one up and one down, repeated on both sides of the seam for four ends, or for French braiding).

OK, I’m not going to refer to the part about understanding knitting patterns very often – though, having said that, it might help me get over my blind spot about charted cable patterns – but there is a ton of stuff in here for me, and for most of us.