Sunday, January 26, 2020

I’ve finished (knitting) the Hansel  shawl, and have joined the ends of the edging. I thought I took a picture of it, but apparently not, and it’s too late, light-wise, now. Tomorrow I’ll hope to dispose of the ends, and perhaps on Tuesday face up to blocking.

It measures 32” across, spread out fairly casually on the floor. Shandy says that Ravelry says that it should be 54 ¾”. I don’t think I’ll achieve that, but maybe somewhere in the region of 45”. Gudrun points out in the relevant section of the Craftsy class that garter stitch has lots of yarn in it, and can be blocked severely.

I think the spare room bed will do – but it’s low. I’d have to kneel, I think.  I might be more comfortable crawling.

My niece C. takes me to Mass on Sunday mornings. Today she said that she would like to knit something for this baby. She will be its grandmother. She used to knit, but has disposed of needles and stash, Marie-Kondo-fashion. So when we got back, I gave her “Drop Dead Easy Knits” (on loan) with a recommendation to try MLE’s “Polliwog” pattern. Here we are conferring about it:

My hair is awfully wild.


Mrs Sacoolas is back near the top of our news. There has been a formal request for her extradition. There are precedents, apparently. Mr. Pompeo turned it down personally.

Some progress with the Finzi Contini’s, although nothing has happened. It seems rather long.

We were in Beijing for the Sars crisis. Fortunately, the government wasn’t nearly as efficient that time. Tourist attractions (Forbidden City and Great Wall among them) weren’t closed, just empty. Wonderful!

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Three more scallops to do, and the edging of Gudrun’s hap shawl will be finished. Tomorrow should see it done. I must have another look at the Craftsy class for the finishing-finishing, although I think I could probably figure it out for myself.

Thanks for the numbers, Shandy. I’ll nerve myself to measure tomorrow.

You’re right about the hypotenuse, of course, Moorecat, but if the shawl is orientated that way, only corners hang over the edge of the bed, instead of whole sides. Maybe the corners could be pinned to the sides of the mattress? Anyway, we’ll see.

I am much enjoying thinking about what-next. Finishing the 2nd Dathan is near but by no means on-the-doorstep. I’ve got time for thinking. Jared has an interesting scarf called Gilda. But what’s the use of a stash if you never knit it? I think starting again with the Spring Shawl is probably the best plan, but even if so, I might want something to alternate with it.

Cam (comment Thursday) I don’t think anyone except MLE and Jacqueline Fee (author of the Sweater Workshop) knows what a Japanese yarn cocoon is. I promise to tell you as soon as my copy of the book arrives. I might even knit it, if it’s knittable. I had hoped the book might arrive today, but it didn’t. It’s billed to arrive sometime between today and Tuesday, not directly from Amazon. Patience!

(I get irritating ads all the time along the side of the computer screen about things I might want to watch on YouTube. Sometimes I fall for them. This evening I had one suggesting a how-to-take-care-of-your-cat in Italian. Clever YouTube!)


I’m moving gently forward with the Finzi-Continis. I have reached the winter of 1938-39. I wonder if I read to the end, all those years ago. So far, nothing much has happened. Everybody has been playing tennis in the Finzi-Continis’ garden (they’re very rich) because they were thrown out of the town tennis club because of the Racial Laws. I remember the tennis, but nothing more.

Friday, January 24, 2020

We had a jolly birthday lunch for/with Helen today, at Le Roi Fou, an excellent restaurant near here. There’s no doubt that “dry January” keeps the final bill down on such occasions. Not much else got done – one more scallop; a bit of the Finzi Contini’s; some mending of sweaters which the moths had attacked.

Mary Lou, I can hardly wait to see the Japanese yarn cocoon, when my Sweater Workshop arrives (which should be soon). Non vedo l’ora, as we say in Italian. I am much concerned, in a very pleasant sort of way, about the question of what to do next when I finish the Dathan hap (laid aside in favour of having the “Hansel” ready when the baby actually appears).

Do I give up and start the Spring Shawl again from scratch? Or start something else, and continue to wait for it to turn up? It must be somewhere.

Shandy, I had thought of blocking the “Hansel” hap shawl on a spare room bed. I don’t think they’re wide enough – two singles, separated by a little table. But I will explore the possibility before I get down on my knees. Would it help to turn the shawl diagonally? The other possibility is to do the blocking on my bed, and sleep in the spare room myself for a couple of nights. The problem there is that there is a largish chest at the foot of the bed, and it might not be possible to reach all the sides. But, again, I will investigate.


The Oberlin Alumni Magazine turned up yesterday. Nobody I remembered is recorded as having done anything (not even died). The row with Gibson’s is referred to rather tangentially in an article by the retiring president of the Alumni Association. Tracy Chevalier, on the other hand, is made much of.

I spent some time in happy imagination, living at Kendall in Oberlin, a retirement community just off-campus. Retirees can audit classes (for free) if the lecturer agrees. I could never leave my children, my cats, Edinburgh, Europe. I couldn’t be happy having spent that much money on myself instead of leaving it for my heirs. I couldn’t face dealing with American income tax or health insurance. But Britain doesn’t really do retirement communities (partly, perhaps, because we’ve got the NHS) and it is, in many ways, an attractive way to live.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Eight edging scallops now done, of 14, on the final side of Gudrun’s “Hansel” hap.

Nancy in Wisconsin: getting someone else to block the hap is a good idea, and my local LYS, Kathy’s Knits, is just the sort of place to look for such a someone. But could I bear to hand my baby over to a stranger? My Personal Trainer was here this morning – not a knitter. I described the process to her and she seemed to think I was fully capable. We practised getting up from the floor.

I’ve taken the plunge and ordered Fee’s “Sweater Workshop”, the new edition, flesh and blood copy. I don’t like cookery books or knitting on the Kindle, although I make occasional exceptions for the former.


weavinfool, I think you can leave off War and Peace if you want to. We got through it as bedtime reading, but for that, soporific is what you’re looking for. We were well into Remembrance of Things Past, Scott Moncrieff translation, when my husband died. I am sure I will never pick it up again.

Rachel used to keep her books in alphabetical order by author (she was a librarian in an earlier life). When my husband and I went to stay with her, as we often did while he was fit enough, rather than take along our current book, we read Rachel’s in order, a random chapter from each in turn. If she had (as often) more than one book by a particular author, we only read a chapter from one of them, but that had to be the first book on offer. There is a note in my Filofax from 26/9/11 saying that we had done Garnett and were ready for Gaskell.

It was a remarkably satisfactory form of bedtime reading.

I am getting on reasonably well with Il Giardino dei Finzi Contini. I read it once long ago, but remember very little. It is about being Jewish in Mussolini’s Italy. The author tells us early on that the Finzi Contini’s were deported to Germany in ’43 but he hasn’t yet explained why he himself survived.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Nicely forward. I’ve turned the third corner with the edging of Gudrun’s “Hansel” hap – another two or three scallops a day will see the knitting finished this month. I’ve chosen a spot for the blocking. There’s no way to avoid crawling around on the floor.


Tamar, thank you for the reference about killing with noise. I still wouldn’t like to put it to the test. Sayers stuck with clever-ways-of-killing to the last, and they were clever, but I don't think that's what I read a murder mystery for.

Mary Lou, thank you for telling me that Fee’s “Sweater Workshop” is spiral-bound. I’m now pretty sure I don’t have it --the only spiral bindings in that section of my knitting shelves are Gibson-Roberts, “Knitting the Old Way”, and Hewlett and Manvell, “Secrets of Success in Knitting and Crochet”. That one looks sort of home-made and bears a sticker from Ries Wools of Holborn, a grand shop, long gone.

Tamar, again, Oberlin College wasn’t punished for students shoplifting, but for what happened afterwards in this particular case. Wikipedia, “Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College”. Racism is a feature. The damages started at $11 million, as I said, but have gone up to $44 million. The result of the appeal will be interesting.


I am beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t lay aside all this fiction and try to read something serious. I am compromising by reading “Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini” in Italian. It’s fairly tough going.


My husband’s affairs still haven’t been completely settled. I had an email from the lawyer yesterday, setting a task which I was sure would involve weeks of anxiety. But it turned out that Helen had a complete list of the necessary data, neatly tabulated. I sent it off to the lawyer. So it’s been a good day.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

I’m now within one scallop of the third corner of the edging of Gudrun’s “Hansel” hap. Here’s a pic:

It does look a bit on the small side. (I was worried about that, because of having so much yarn left over) but it’ll do, especially once it has been vigorously blocked. I have every hope of finishing the actual knitting before February starts.

While we’re at it, here’s this week’s Tuesday picture of the avocado tree, not looking so well:


Metropolitan Rebecca: I think Alexander would have liked the sweater, writing and all, if he had ever had a chance to see it. But I couldn’t go ahead after his reaction over lunch.

And, no, I thought the passages about Hallelujah Dawson were just about acceptable. He is a sympathetic character, liked by both the author and her other characters except one. And he belongs in the plot. What I didn’t like at all was the casual English anti-semitism manifested in several offhand remarks. And there isn’t even a Jewish character.

Valerie, I’ve never read any Tracy Chevalier. I think she went to Oberlin. Maybe I’m jealous. Perhaps I should start with “A Single Thread”.


Oberlin: I had one of those letters recently from my class president, wanting money. He mentioned a current row between the college and a local shop which has been there forever called Gibson’s. There’s a substantial passage in Wikipedia on the matter of the row. Currently the college has been fined $11 million or something like that, and is appealing.

Two things struck me: 

1) the row started with a bottle of wine. In my day, Oberlin (the town) was “dry” (and students were forbidden to have cars). When did that change?

2) It sounds from the Wikipedia article as if shoplifting is regarded as fun by a significant number of students. In my day, the college operated on the Honour System. Exams weren’t invigilated. I think we would have felt that the Honour System put shoplifting out of bounds. When did that change?

Monday, January 20, 2020

Guess what? I’ve finally finished that ball of blue yarn. 9 ½ scallops done of the edging on the third side of Gudrun’s “Hansel” hap. 14 required. I should have the knitting of this thing pretty well finished in January. That leaves finishing and, of course, blocking. That will be tricky.

Mary Lou: have I got the “Sweater Workshop”? The name “Jacqueline Fee” sounds familiar. Whether or no, the idea of using a change-ringing formula to determine the size of random stripes (or the colours) (or both) is brilliant, and very tempting. Another Dathan? I’ve got more than enough yarn from that bagful I bought on Shetland. I find achieving the effect of randomness actually rather stressful.

Metropolitan Rebecca, your comment has had the perverse effect of sending me to “Unnatural Death” (having finished “Nine Tailors”). No racism so far. Interestingly,  I’m pretty sure I remember what the trick cause-of-death is going to be, although the situation and the characters (except for Lord P. and Bunter and Parker and Miss Climpson) seem completely unfamiliar. I prefer later Sayers, with Harriet.

I vaguely remember Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter, and I agree with you, he wasn’t right.

Knitlass, for heaven’s sake, you must read the Nine Tailors. There are eight bells in the ring the book is concerned with. One thing I have learned from it: there is at least one system in which the position of the tenor is constant, ringing at the end of every change. I have noticed that effect often when the BBC is ringing bells for me on Sunday morning. I thought it was that my ear was too wooden to hear how the tenor was moving. So the next time that happens, I will know that it is standing still and can concentrate on watching the other bells move.

That book is my only experience of bells. Did I read it again in the 80’s? When Alexander was at Balliol I knit him a fair Isle sweater that was inscribed around the yoke rather like a bell: JMM ME FECIT GADM ME GERIT COLL BALL ME VIDET AMDG. (JMM made me GADM wears me Balliol College sees me) It was in the knitting of that sweater that I noticed for the first time that Alexander's initials are an anagram of AMDG: to the greater glory of God.

But before Alexander ever saw it, my husband told him, over lunch one day on a visit to Oxford, “It has writing on it” and of course Alexander was horrified and I had to take it out. I’m still a bit cross at my husband – he should have given the sweater a chance to speak for itself.