23 February 2006

Fictional Knitting

I've just finished reading the brilliant novel Death in Holy Orders by PD James, featuring the sublime Adam Dalgliesh. I thought I'd share this extract, which is one of the first 'knitting clues' I've ever read (and I read a lot...). It's from from Book 1, Chapter 13.

A bit of background first. Mrs. Munroe was found dead in her chair some few weeks earlier - the doctor certified a heart attack, but Dalgleish suspects she was murdered. With no body left to examine (she'd already been cremated) he must rely on small clues from her neighbours. Mrs Pilbeam, the cook and housekeeper, is helping him out :

Dalgliesh asked her : "I just wondered whether there was a manuscript, a letter or a document on the table."

"No, nothing on the table. There was one odd thing though. She couldn't have been knitting, not really."

"Why do you say that?"

"Well, she was knitting a winter pullover for Father Martin. He'd seen one in a shop in Ipswich and described it to her and she thought she'd knit it for Christmas. But it was a really complicated design, a kind of cable with a pattern in between, and she told me how difficult it was. She wouldn't be knitting it without the pattern open in front of her. I've seen her many a time and she always had to refer to the pattern. And she was wearing the wrong spectacles, the ones she puts on to watch television. She always wore the gold-rimmed ones for close work."

"And the pattern wasn't there?"

"No, only the needles and the wool in her lap. And she was holding the needle in a funny way. She didn't knit like I do, she told me it was the continental way. Very odd it looked. She used to hold the left needle kind of rigid and worked the other one round it. I thought at the time it was funny, seeing the knitting in her lap when she couldn't have been knitting."

... brilliant book.


  1. So cool!

    I only knit continental style when i'm knitting with 2 colours - I knit regular with my right hand with one colour, and continental with my left hand with the 2nd colour. Very handy trick that saves lots of time :)

  2. I love this book, and all the other Dalgliesh books!

    Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog.

    My email is jmeedmondsATyahoo.com.au and it would be great to do this off list.

    Thanks once again for cheering me up on a down morning!!

  3. I've recently been shown how to knit continental - I'm v e r y s l o w though. And I can't figure out how you purl...
    VERY tricky to use it for double coloured knitting - do you get a drum roll in the background? ;)

    And Sheep Rustler - thanks for your comment, and yes, PD James is THE BEST. You have impeccable taste :D


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