Thursday, August 25, 2016

I had a lovely day yesterday, in Mediterranean warmth and sunshine, no hospital. I’ve had no news, which I take it to mean that Alexander found things much as usual and didn’t learn anything significant.

A friend rang up in the morning and whisked me off to Dr Neils Garden on the edge of Duddingston Loch. Very nice, architecturally; lacking in plant labels. We saw an abies koreana, half the size of the one we have down the commonty but absolutely covered in blue fir cones, which is/are the koreana’s party trick. We have only a few this year. I’ve Google’d it since getting home; it sounds as if perhaps young trees have more fir cones. I’ll look it up in our Big Tree Book the next time I’m in Strathardle.

Duddingston Loch is famous for the Reverend Robert Walker, but you can’t expect to spot clergymen on the loch at this time of year.

Then we went to see my friend’s sister who lives in a splendid house nearby. In between is a pub called the Sheep Heid where the Queen recently dropped in for a bite, after a day at Musselburgh races. She very rarely dines out in public in London. I suggested to my friend that we should lunch there, but neither of us, in the event, were very hungry, so we didn’t.

On all fronts except knitting, life has been accelerating. Thomas O. rang up to say that he and his wife Lucy and daughter Juliet will be here on Tuesday. Help! The spare room is full of Archie’s things, and, with my husband away, domestic help is also lacking.

But this morning comes a message from Greek Helen in Normandy. They will be in Cheshire tonight (deo volente) with David’s mother, and she will be here in Edinburgh tomorrow. She can take charge of everything; c’est son metier.

I didn’t knit a stitch yesterday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I’ll be brief today. There were an unusual number of emails this morning needing an early-morning clear head, and I can’t sit here all day.

Here are the Vampire socks – but now I have four socks to finish-finish, and I had better get down to the job:

I cast on a madtosh Whiskey Barrel sock at the hospital yesterday, and was very pleased with the way the first ten rounds went.

But I still don’t seem to have enough oomph to knit in the evening.

Alexander is coming over for a visit today. I might give myself the day off. I haven’t decided.

I’ve joined the Susan Crawford group in Ravelry, as perhaps the best way of finding out what is happening with the Vintage Shetland Project. And, sure enough, someone named Shinybees posted yesterday to say that there will be an update from Susan this week and that, as we feared, “finishing touches” are still needed to the book. The grim diagnosis happened near enough to publication date that I had dared hope everything was ready.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

You’re right, of course. No one will notice Emmitt’s middle name, if he suppresses it. I amused myself while driving to the hospital yesterday by working out his relationship to Juliet O., above. My mother liked that sort of thing, and was good at it (as she was on grammar). James is keen on family history, but would rely on an app for the answer.

I think it’s “second cousin once removed”. Theo (my sister’s son, Emmett’s father) is a bit confusing, being midway in age between my own children (his first cousins) and my grandchildren (his first cousins once removed). It’s often difficult to remember which line in the imaginary chart to put Theo on. I kept wanting to assume that he and Juliet’s father were first cousins – but they’re not.

Mr and Mrs Hussain who run my admirable corner shop, are each other's first cousins. That means that their children are their own second cousins. There’s a thought for you.


I’m doing the toe decreases for the second Vampire. It shouldn’t take long to polish them off today. I’ve decided to go on to a pair of socks for my brother-in-law. I turn out to have two skeins in the sock bag of Madtosh Whiskey Barrel in whatever her sock-weight is called. I meant to knit them for my husband, to match his sleeveless vest. But he doesn’t wear socks any more, just slippers.

Yesterday, at the hospital, I wound the first of those skeins into a ball – a risky operation, as I had occasionally to stand up to fetch a nurse or perform some other service, and every interruption risked an impenetrable tangle. But I got it done, and am ready to cast on.

No shawl knitting, of any sort, was accomplished. While I’m at the hospital, peacefully knitting socks and chatting, my internal monologue anticipates my activities for the rest of the day, when I get home. When it happens, I feel as if I have been hit by a wrecker ball and accomplish nothing.

More non-knit

I am grateful for yesterday’s comments. With the right equipment, and a redistribution of care, we ought to be able to get my husband home, even now. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Here he is, my new great-nephew:

He weighed in at 7lb 5oz. He’s supposed to be three weeks early, but there was some confusion about the dates. Jenni had a tough time, and needed blood.

His name is Emmett Kelley L. My sister reminded me, when she phoned with the news, that that is (apart from the “e” in “Kelley”) the name of a famous American “sad” clown. I wonder if Theo and Jenni know – I think “Emmett” was chosen because they like it, and “Kelley” for family associations. But it’s more than a bit like naming your little boy Charlie Chaplin. There’s still time for a re-think.

So I must get back to the Hansel. Nothing yesterday, except that Vampire II advanced towards the toe, which I might even reach today.

Non-knit (and Comments)

Good question, Weavinfool. My husband’s goal is undoubtedly to come home to his familiar squalor and his cat. I and others are wondering, is this going to be possible? If he goes into care, the last months – however many they prove to be – of our 60-year marriage will be spent in rage and grief. We’ve got to do better than that.

Skeindalous, thank you for that interesting information about Caesarian sections. I’ve done a bit more looking, and find I am right in remembering that Caesar’s mother survived his birth by many years. It is therefore very unlikely that he was born that way, although one never knows.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Theo’s wife Jenni is in hospital for a “section” to produce the boy for whom the Hansel hap is destined. It must still be the middle of the night, there. The shawl won’t be much required in current DC heat, but I had better get back to work finishing that edging on the fourth side.

“Caesar” seems to have dropped out of American parlance. I would, myself, preserve the other half, and say “Caesarian”.  I’m not going to look anything up just now, but I have a vague memory that Julius was fond of his mother. If she really survived that procedure, two millennia before it became remotely safe, she deserves remembering.

I sped down the foot of the second Vampire sock yesterday, and must at least look in the Unknit Sock bag before I go to the hospital today. My husband is weak, and not doing very well with unappetising hospital food. It was better in the Royal Infirmary, he says.

And I moved on a bit with the Uncia. I’ve reached row 127. There’s one more set to come – the fifth – of 14 rows to be knit in one instruction. That is, “repeat rows aa-bb 7 more times”. Then I move on to the charts, which are clearly going to be more difficult but at least when I knit 14 rows, I’ll get 14 rows of credit on the chart.

I’m using SkeinQueen yarn for this, bought at the EYF for something else. It provides slightly more yards-to-the-gram than the specified Fyberspates, so I’ll presumably wind up with a slightly smaller product. Also, I’ve gone down a needle size, for comfort. I like the fabric I’m getting, a lot, and in the absence of a swatch (it was supposed to be over st st, for heaven’s sake) or numbers on the schematic, there’s not much evidence for guessing how far out I am.

I’m not worried.

Yesterday’s post was remarkably productive on the knitting front – the new IK, the anniversary issue. Sweep the slate clean, and there would be more than enough there to keep me knitting until the next issue. Including a Fair Isle vest from Mary Jane Mucklestone to be kept in mind when Scotland next win the Calcutta Cup.

[On my way to the Western General to visit my husband every day, I drive past the field where (I have heard) the very first out-of-India Calcutta Cup match was played.]

And yesterday’s post also included the book on Estonian knitting which Kate Davies was so enthusiastic about recently. Why is it in English? I think she’s right, that it’s very, very good. I hope I’ll have more to say about it soon.

In these sad times, I try to think of every purchase: is this something I would want to take with me, when we break up the house? I think Estonian Knitting might make the cut.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Bettina, I hope there is something in Knitlass’ comment on your comment yesterday, to give your son something to think about. There are plenty of ways forward other than university and all that debt, and I very much hope he will find one of them soon.  As for Archie, he sounded perfectly cheerful when he phoned on Thursday with the news that he would be going to Lancaster. He’ll be fine.

His whole family, including dog, has now set forth on the drive across Europe to Edinburgh. Today, Ravenna, which for Helen, the mosaicist, will be like Shetland to me.

And as for knitting, I got the stitches picked up and the gusset decreases worked, on the second Vampire sock. Time to begin thinking about the next pair.

And I moved a bit forward with the Uncia. I am currently mired in another instruction to “repeat rows XX-YY a further 7 times”. And there’s another such passage before I reach the sunny uplands of the charts. I love the way it’s looking, fanning out indeed like a Gothic column as it expands to support the lacy ceiling of the cathedral.


Here’s the threatened grammar lesson. It’s from the article about the Trumps in the current New Yorker. The author identifies herself as Harvard, so I’m not picking on someone smaller than myself.

“…his younger sister, Esther Schulder, whom he believed was cooperating with Christie.”

That’s wrong. “Whom” should be “who”. You don’t need rules. Just unpick the sentence – “he believed (“she”? or “her”?) was cooperating…” Obviously, “she”. So “who”, when you put it back together.

Extraordinarily, there’s another example of the same construction later in the same sentence. “…he set a trap for her husband…whom he resented for having had an affair at the office.” “Whom” is right, that time. “He resented him (not “he”) for having had an affair…”

Now you know how to do it.

I still have The Hunting of the Snark open on the table here, and discover, when they have landed and are preparing for the actual hunt:

But the Beaver went on making lace, and displayed
                No interest in the concern.

Though the Barrister tried to appeal to its pride,
                And vainly proceeded to cite
A number of cases, in which making laces
                Had been proved an infringement of right.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Archie’s results weren’t quite good enough for the place Glasgow had offered him. It happens, and sometimes the university will bend a bit, but not in this case. I think the family had a fairly awful morning, compounded by the fact that Greece is two hours forward, so it will have been the middle of the morning for them, as we were struggling out of bed.

Here’s Helen’s account:

“After much waiting (the school's computer system was down), calling (they weren't answering calls), texting (some of Archie's friends were on site) and confusion, we finally know that Archie got ABC, with the A being in English. This is less than he needed for Glasgow so there was another round of frantic calls, being on hold, emailing and advice flowing in from Alistair on Instant Messenger before finally it was concluded that he will go to Lancaster to study English. We are rather pleased because it's a campus university and nice and northern.

The University “clearing system” computers seem to have held up fine. Don’t miss Knitlass’ comment yesterday, either. Alistair is Archie’s cousin and good friend, James’ and Cathy’s eldest. He has just finished his second year at Glasgow, doing computer science. I think his own A-Level results fell short of the mark, so he has lived through such a day.

Archie phoned me with the news not long after 9. I told him to read “The History Man”, but on looking it up afterwards, I’m not sure I’ve read it myself. I was remembering the brilliant BBC series from the 1970’s, with Anthony Sher, filmed largely at Lancaster. It turns out that the BBC have, relatively recently, released it as a DVD. I ordered it for him.

After all that, I phoned London, and spoke to Rachel herself. She didn’t yet know her actual results, but she knew that they were good enough to secure her place at Leeds.

So all is well.

Mary Lou, thank you (comment yesterday) for the reference to the Beaver who “sat making lace in the bow”. I had forgotten him.

I’ve done the heel flap of the second Vampire, and turned the actual heel – I’m ready to pick up those stitches and knit the gussets.

And I’ve done a bit more Uncia. I’m mired in one of those instructions: “Repeat rows 92-93 a further 7 times”. I’ve done four. So I’ve reached row 101, I think.

I hope this link works. It’s a brilliant YouTube video about Shetland lace. I was surprised, though, that it suggested that J&S’s newish heritage lace yarn isn’t plyed.

The internet is entirely silent about the Vintage Shetland Project, as far as I can ascertain. There’s a thread in the Susan Crawford group on Ravelry which has excited anticipatory messages until about a fortnight ago.


There’s a grammatical point I want to explain to you – I have baffled and offended many a friend with this one before now. But I feel I owe it to Ross and Thurber to say it in public, because the error which provokes my remarks this time is in the New Yorker itself. But that’s enough for today.

Perdita misses her chair. She wouldn’t come out of hiding for a whole hour when I got home from the hospital yesterday.