Monday, July 25, 2016

I have been much moved by all your messages. Thank you.

This is very sad news, about Susan Crawford’s cancer. I feel that frisson of guilt one has, when something terrible happens to someone one has been bad-mouthing. I wish her nothing but well. Bugger the book.

It has been a tough week here, but things are looking better. My husband had hip-replacement surgery late on Tuesday (having fallen on Monday morning). He is, at last, pulling round. He hasn’t been able to swallow all week, but yesterday he did, and they were going to try to get him up in the evening.

Helen came from Greece, James from London. They’ve gone away again, but Rachel is coming today.

Soon we will be thinking about rehabilitation, and the “care package”. He fell when under the care of the council carer who had come to get him up and dressed, as every morning. I was in the kitchen. They can hardly refuse to reinstate the “package”, I hope, when the fall was largely if not entirely their fault. My husband bent over to pick up his handkerchief. I wouldn’t have let him do that, if I had been there. I suspect the carer wasn’t at his elbow as he should have been.

Meanwhile Archie is here, and it is a comfort to have him. We were talking about movies over supper last night – he is an expert in some fields, na├»ve in others. He said he had never seen a Woody Allen film, and I suddenly thought that he must see “Zelig” – so I ordered a DVD, and it will be here soon. We’ve got a videotape of it, but that’s not much use any more. My father has a bit part in it: a great-grandfather Archie never met.

I haven’t see it for a long time, and it will be very odd to see it again. My father, as I remember, has two short scenes, full-screen, utterly himself. Allen wanted what my father was, a retired newspaperman who could (pretend to) reminisce about the ‘30’s. I don’t know how they got together. My father (counting on fingers here) was a bit younger then than I am now. He had a lot of fun shooting those scenes, and happily dined out on the story for some time thereafter.

There is disappointingly little to say about knitting.  My husband is in the Royal Infirmary this time, a long journey. I could drive, but the thought of finding space to park and then struggling with the payment machine is too much for me. The bus is slow and bumpy, but pretty well door-to-door. Still, a certain amount of sock-knitting is not impossible.

I’ll return to the subject soon. Maybe not tomorrow, what with Rachel being here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

My husband fell on Monday morning and fractured his hip. He had surgery yesterday, and is poorly this morning. No more from here for a while. I'll miss you, and I'll be back a.s.a.p.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I have had two more days of not bad, but not much. I have turned the final corner of the Hansel hap, and now face the final straight – attaching the edging, I mean.

I had an idea, the other night. I have been buying yarn recently with specific projects in mind, feeling that that is somehow more virtuous than random stash-enhancement. But that doesn’t mean I have to use the yarn for the project it was bought for, does it? Perhaps there was something from the EYF market which would do for the Uncia shawl?

And there is – two skeins of the Skein Queen’s merino and cashmere 4-ply, in a beautiful and very suitable shade called Blush. The Uncia is done in two skeins of Fyberspates 4-ply, 365 metres in a 100 gram skein. The Skein Queen yarn claims 400 metres to 100 grams – a wee margin of error for comfort. (I learned from my recent experience with the Neap Tide shawl that the fact that “4 ply” matches, so to speak, guarantees little or nothing. It is the metres-to-grams figure which is likely to be far more significant.)

I will be sorry not to experience Fyberspates, with which I have never knit, but I can’t have everything. Fyberspates will have to wait for another time. I’ve got to make a dent on those EYF purchases if I am to enjoy myself to the full next year.

The Skein Queen yarn was intended for your Bidwell Shawl, Mary Lou – something else I will have to come back to. Perhaps I can bring things full circle one day by knitting it in a Fyberspates yarn.

I have been enjoying the one-WIP-at-a-time experience, until I hit the current roadblock with the Hansel edging. But the Uncia and the half-brioche sweater could nevertheless be combined, once the sweater has been successfully re-established.

Another issue of The Knitter has turned up, rather soon after the first one, I feel, but none the less welcome for that. So Rowan has been sold! Why did nobody tell me? The new owner’s plans to simplify and strengthen the yarn list, sound sensible. Wait and see. And I read about the forthcoming Loch Ness Yarnerama. I wonder how that will fare? and hope it will be possible to find out. I may have to start Twittering.


Archie’s money-raising job is nearly over. He has had some success, but not much. Several men told him that they had had such a miserable time at school that they wouldn’t dream of donating.

He has agreed to take me for a Pokemon-Go walk on Tuesday.

Turkey: an extraordinary event, to end an extraordinary week. And now Baton Rouge, to launch what will surely be another one.

I have listened to and read and watched as much as I could about what has been happening in Turkey. Nobody has attempted to explain to me why more than 2000 judges have been arrested, although the fact is regularly repeated. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Oh, France! I have nothing to say, but silence mustn't be interpreted as indifference.

It’s raining tonight, real, serious rain. All my doorstep pots appreciate that far more than all the heavy watering cans I can carry out to them.

Here is a picture of the nasturtium pot. I think you can see how the flowers to the right, the first to open, are proper nasturtium flowers, and the ones to the left – and even more, the buds being held aloft from the leaves – are different, with the stems attached to the base of the flower. I no longer have the seed packet, alas. There was nothing at all in the earlier progress of the seedlings, or in the foliage, to make me suspect that they weren’t all common or garden nasturtiums.

One of the things I didn’t know about until I was thoroughly grown up was the way plants can be picked up and moved from one species to another – or even switched between genera? – as botanists currently think fit.  I think I thought it had all been fixed forever by Linnaeus. Not that I suspect anything of the sort is happening here. It’s just that I have been trying again, and failing again, to identify the cactuses in my little collection and you have never seen such a family of plants for reclassification. The experience leaves me edgy and suspicious.

As for knitting, again, there is little to report. I have reached the penultimate repeat of the edging on the third side (the penultimate side, indeed) of the Hansel shawl. I’m getting there. And I welcome your question, KayT, about what comes next.

The main idea is to return to the half-brioche sweater I am knitting for myself. But starting something new would be very pleasant, and could be invigorating. I am in need of invigoration. But what? My husband’s sweater, with the beautiful madtosh Tannehill? Or one of the alarmingly long list of other projects for which I have yarn and pattern carefully stashed together? Or – caution thrown to the winds – Lucy Hague’s “Uncia” pattern from the Haps book? It’s fun to think about such things.

The whole world must know by now about the sheriff in Dundee who, confronted by a road rage case in which the offender claimed to have been on her way to an LYS, told her to knit some things to be donated to a charity shop and bring them back to court in December. Otherwise, prison.

There is a good deal we are not being told here. Even an LYS doesn’t justify road rage. Maybe the sheriff didn’t entirely like the victim’s story? It would be nice if the Dundee Courier, which first broke the story, would assign a reporter to keep in touch with the accused and let us know how her knitting is getting on. I think I’d go for hats, in that situation.

I think (from Flipboard) that this item first ran in the Courier, and then got taken up in America, and has now been noticed by the serious London press here. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

There is virtually nothing to report, and no excuse for it. With tennis finished, and politics moving beyond my ken, there’s nothing left to say. Well, that's not quite true – I’m glad our new Prime Minister is coming to Scotland tomorrow. Mr Cameron always seemed to be avoiding us.

As for knitting, my progress is very slow. I don’t entirely see why it should be so. I’m weak, but I could insert knitting more effectively into the times during the day when I sit down to draw breath. I could play fewer hands of Freecell in the evening when my husband is in bed and I am winding down for sleep.

Nine of fourteen points have been done on the third side of the Hansel hap. That’s where we are.

Horticulture is going well on the front step – that’s a cheerful topic, and news to report. We’ve had a second sorrel soup, with every reason to hope for at least one more. The nasturtiums are in bloom – and there’s a puzzle. Nasturtium flowers are normally, in my experience, joined to the stem in the middle of the flower, like a ballerina being held aloft by her partner. So it is with the first two to have flowered, but the next ones are like ordinary flowers, with the stem attached to their base. There’s nothing in the pot to suggest that anything but nasturtiums are there, nor did I plant anything but nasturtium seeds, all from the same packet.

I’ll post a picture soon, but that won’t help.

The broccoli is being attacked by caterpillars of what could only be the cabbage white butterfly, and I’ve lost half the lettuces I planted out, to what could only be slugs. Nature is red in tooth and claw, as has been noticed before me. One day soon I will open the front door to find rabbits grazing, or even deer.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Oh -- and another follower! Welcome! Welcome!


When I first went to my present hairdresser, I asked him to aim for Hillary Clinton. But latterly, in the years between the Secretary of State-ship and the candidacy, I feel she rather lost interest in hair, and I have asked him to aim for Theresa May instead. And now look where we are!

I feared yesterday that the poor Queen might already have reached Balmoral  – she left Edinburgh on Saturday after some strenuous days of royal duties. I feared that before she had had had time to kick her shoes off, she had had to put them back on again and go haring back to London to receive Mr Cameron’s resignation and to ask Mrs May to form a government. I don’t think those are tasks which can be delegated.

But it turns out she went south from Edinburgh at the weekend anyway, to Sandringham, so she’s well placed for London.


I’ve rounded the second corner, the half-way point, in attaching the edging to the Hansel hap. It turns out that the stitch count on the second side was right after all.

I think the trouble is that this edging is extremely boring, but not in the peaceful way that the rest of the shawl is boring, where one can just sit back and knit and read (or talk, or listen). The edging pattern is simple, but each of its 16 rows is different so one has to pay attention to where one is and what’s going on. I have never got going with audio books, and anyway when I am sitting with my husband, with or without the television on, an audio book wouldn’t really work.

I think I got on a bit more briskly today, for having grasped this. I’ve now done four and a half pattern repeats along the third side. There are 14 per side, and each takes – I am rather ashamed of myself for having timed one – about 15 minutes. The pattern is of the very simplest: a column of faggoting (I love faggoting, as you may remember) parallel to the straight edge of the shawl, and a zig-zag of YO eyelets at the outer extremity, as the knitting itself zigzags.

I looked up my Very First Hap, in Madeline Weston’s “Traditional Sweater Book”, and found that the edging was even simpler: the YO zig-zag is there, but no faggoting. How could I have endured it? I think that perhaps when I knit Gudrun’s pattern again, I might choose a slightly more complex “lace” (=edging pattern), just to keep myself awake. KD’s edging for the “Moder Dy” pattern in the Haps book would do very nicely indeed – and would fit just fine, since it’s also 16 rows long.

I have ordered some cheap point protectors for Perdita via Amazon. Will she like cheap ones? Will there be enough green ones in the package? She much prefers green. She has already gone through (=eaten, lost) the ones I bought from Kathy the other day, and has found and removed the ones I was trying to employ on the Hansel hap.

But now I learn that the cheap package is coming from Hong Kong and may not be here until early August. “Where do they find such slow airplanes?” as my late father once asked.

Monday, July 11, 2016

New follower! Hi!

Well, that was grand. Raonic played awfully well, Kristie – Canada can be proud. He’ll be back. But Murray played better. It was a tight match, but the result wasn’t just luck. Raonic bore himself well in defeat, as in play. Murray burst into tears – not just wiping a drop from the manly eye, but apparently sobbing.

Now there’s nothing to look forward to except darkness. I must re-engage with knitting.