Posted by: christinelaennec | November 23, 2016

Giving thanks (and finishing steeks)

It has been an eventful month, and that’s just in our little world, nevermind on the larger world “stage” (the term almost ceases to be metaphorical).  Just after my last post, Michael had a bad cycling accident.  He was coming home from work in the evening, after several days of working long hours, and in the dark he didn’t see a metal roadsign that for some reason was on the path.  We spent the night at A&E but very luckily nothing was broken.  He always wears a helmet, and that was split by the impact.  As we were finally leaving A&E at 5 am, he said to the nurse, “I just want to get into a hot bath.”  To which she replied (imagine a Glaswegian accent) “Ach no, you dinna want to dae that – you don’t want to have to call the Fire Brigade to get you out!”

Over the next few days, the Dafter helped her Dad get used to using crutches, and showed him how to use a chair to get in and out of the bath.  He has had a little peek into her world of effort and pain just to do simple things.  And of course not only did I lose my auxiliary for a couple of weeks, but I had two people to take care of.  However, we are so grateful that it wasn’t worse.  He’s now able to walk without crutches, although he does still look a bit like a gunslinger who’s just been in a shootout.

Here is a little visual pun he left for me while I was out doing grocery shopping:

A little joke left for me by Michael.

A little joke left for me by Michael.  Not enough eggs?  Use a potato.

Tomorrow will be Thanksgiving Day in America, but we had our Thanksgiving last Saturday.  I was worried I wouldn’t find a source of pumpkin puree for the first year since coming here in 1992, but I managed at last. Here is (was) my pumpkin pie:

Pumpkin pie was achieved!

Pumpkin pie was achieved!

Michael was recovered enough to make our meal, and Our Son came from Edinburgh to celebrate with us:

Thanksgiving 2016: the Dafter, Michael, Our Son.

Thanksgiving 2016: the Dafter, Michael, Our Son.

The Dafter and Our Son taught themselves how to play Chinese Checkers.  We told them how when we were graduate students, with only a radio and no tv or internet, we used to play games a lot.

Chinese Checkers after the meal.

Chinese Checkers after the meal.

They learned very quickly, and ended up having a three-way game with Michael (two star points per player).  It was a good family time.

Thanks for your concern for Tilly.  She has fully recovered from her two operations, and has been very affectionate and funny.  She meows at us in ways she never used to, and has been quite playful.  She and the rats have become a bit more used to each other.  One afternoon I had the rats in their sling (which I patched up after they half-devoured it) and Tilly just came and curled up on my lap.  It was a very peaceful half-hour:

Tilly, and the rats in their mended sling. All contented, and me reading!

Tilly, and the rats in their mended sling. All contented, and me reading!

Thanks also for your good wishes to the Dafter.  She has continued to find college a struggle, and also the shortening days, and the number of colds and bugs about.  But on she goes!

The weather has been cold and frosty, with some beautiful sunny winter days.  Today the frost on the grass never melted:

Still frosty in the afternoon. 23 November 2016, Glasgow.

Still frosty in the afternoon. 23 November 2016, Glasgow.

We’re now a month from the solstice, and the sun is low in the sky.  The sun rises about 8:15 and sets about 4.

I’m particularly glad that Michael is making a good recovery, because we have a special party to go to!  Here I am trying on my party dress – very relieved that it still fits!  I bought it in a vintage shop many years ago.  And I finished a capelet that I made from Louisa Harding’s Nikita pattern.  The colours don’t quite match, but I think they all go well enough together:

Yes, Cinderella, you shall go to the ball! Trying on my party clothes.

Yes, Cinderella, you shall go to the ball! Trying on my party clothes.  Capelet details here on Ravelry.

I have, slowly, been finishing my Oregon cardigan by Alice Starmore.  Here, for those of you who are interested in the steeking technique, are photos of how I have been finishing them.  I don’t claim by any means that this is the most elegant way of doing it – you can cover the steeks with ribbon and no doubt achieve a much neater cross-stitch than I can.  But it works for me, and I want to show you that steeking is completely do-able.

Because the task of finishing steeks isn’t one that I do all that often, I start with the armhole seam as it is the least likely to be visible.  The first step is to trim the steek stitches down to two.  I do this with sharp scissors, and of course being careful only to cut the steek stitches and not anything else.  I also try to do this by natural light, but that isn’t always possible in Scotland in November!

Trimming the steek to two rows.

Trimming the steek to two rows.

I trim a few inches, and then begin tacking them down.  The pattern tells you which colour to use, or you can choose what you feels blends in the best.  I tack down the steek both to the backs of stitches, and sometimes to the yarn “floats” of the back side.  I feel with my hand underneath that the needle never goes fully through to the front.  Because the steeks lie flat anyhow, you’re really just securing them rather than having to force them into some new direction.  It is slow work and I rarely finish a great deal in one go.  But that is okay because the steeks just wait patiently for me to continue another time.

Tacking the steek stitches down with cross stitch.

Tacking the steek stitches down with cross stitch.

The finished tacked-down steek:

Steek stitches all tacked down on one armhole seam.

Steek stitches all tacked down on one armhole seam.

The right side:

How it looks on the right side. Amazingly, there's no ridge.

How it looks on the right side. Amazingly, there’s no ridge.

Once I’ve done the armhole seams, I then begin the steeks inside the buttonbands, which are more likely to be visible when I have the cardigan unbuttoned.

Tacking down the buttonband steek. I trim a few inches, cross-stitch, trim a bit more, and so forth.

Tacking down the buttonband steek. I trim a few inches, cross-stitch, trim a bit more, and so forth.

I hope to show you the completely finished sweater in my next post!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate it.  And a happy end-of-November, and soon the start of Advent, to others!  I hope it’s a time of year for coming together with family and friends, and being aware of the things we can be thankful for.




  1. You are such a talented lady! Love the cardigan and the dress AND the quilt on the sofa! Enjoy the party – you look lovely! Glad to hear DHis recovering.

  2. I’m so glad Michael wasn’t too badly hurt—Brian once spent a couple of days in the hospital after a similar bike accident. And special thanks for the photos this time: so much tenderness! Please give Michael my love and take a whole lot of it for yourself.

  3. It’s so nice to see your lovely family celebrating Thanksgiving together. I’m happy to hear that Michael’s recovery is coming along; it sounds like a scary accident. You look so beautiful in your party dress and cape. The color is my favorite, too! My best wishes to you dear friend, Pat xx

  4. You look lovely. You all look lovely! Thanks for cheering me. Much appreciated. x

  5. Glad to hear Michael is on the mend, it really could have been a whole lot worse. Good news on Tilly too. It was great to see you all together to celebrate Thanksgiving, I am sure there were lots of wonderful memories created to treasure. You certainly looked beautiful in your stunning dress and caplet, hope you enjoy the party. Take care.

  6. Hello Christine, lovely to have another post from you. I bet you had a really nasty fright when he had the bicycle accident, thank God he is ok! Can’ t emagine life without bicycle helmets! And dear puss, glad she is getting on fine. We often play chinese checkers when up at the farm. I find it is very nice and simple for me with my Me, not having to think too hard, just play. Wish your girl all the best at college, you must be so proud of her. My girl is halfway through her Nurses’ training at University. Her health isn’ t good and it is a terrible worry. Most likely there will be a big operation the coming year. It is awful seeing one’s children struggle. I knit and sew a lot, that is a life-saver. Your knitted cardigan is absolutely beautiful! The steeking looks beautifully neat and tidy! So excited to see the finished jacket. Blessings, Pam in Norway

  7. Best wishes to Michael, what a horrible thing to have happen to him but, as you say, thank goodness it wasn’t worse (and how useful the cycling helmet was – far better that spit down the middle than what was inside it). I love the picture of you with rats and cat, what a delightful scene. I hope you enjoy the party with your lovely dress.

  8. Hello, this is my first comment on your blog – I always enjoy reading your posts and actually some of your thoughts were a tremendous comfort to me during an extremely difficult time just recently. I’m glad that Michael is on the mend and Tilly is enjoying life. You have beautiful children. Enjoy the party in your special dress. Warm regards.

  9. So much to your post. I loved the little potato/egg humor and hoping everyone recovers soon. My goodness! Beautiful knitting and steeking is on my to-learn list!

  10. So nice that all your family were gathered for Thanksgiving. I think family times were so much better when games were played instead of the internet, mobile phones, etc.! Fall has been hanging around for a long time here, and we haven’t had much frost or real winter weather yet. You look lovely in your purple dress, and I agree, the purples goes well together. Looking forward to seeing that finished cardigan too! Take care, friend, Hugs, Anne♥

  11. great to see photos from Thanksgiving!!!! So glad Tilly is feeling better. How fun to have to get an outfit together for a part!! can’t wait to hear! Your steeking is beautiful!

  12. How lovely you look in your party dress and capelet! I hope you had a wonderful time. Great family pictures and I can’t wait to see your finished Oregon cardy. The colors are beautiful. The steeking is a mystery to me but it looks complicated and a bit fussy. You are very patient and so talented. 🙂

  13. oh my….that sweater!!! gorgeous!!! Hoping your family is all on the mend for the upcoming holiday!!!

  14. Hugs to Michael and Dafter. You look fabulous in the dress and capelet.

  15. Lovely family catch up, and also nice to see Tilly and the rats hanging out together 🙂 glad Michael is recovering too.

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