Saturday, February 22, 2020

I’ve had a good day’s rugby – Scotland won against Italy in Rome. Poor Italy hasn’t won against anybody for five or six years now, and this is getting ridiculous. They were introduced to the tournament twenty years ago because the television people wanted an even number of teams. And France beat Wales in Cardiff – that was a thriller.

But not much knitting, because Perdita sat on my lap again. When she was young, we were inseparable. It was my husband’s idea: “It’s time we had another cat”. He was in hospital when he said that, and when I fetched her home. She would have bonded to him had there been time, but there wasn’t. He couldn't make allowance for what a disagreeable cat she was (and is). “She’s your cat”, he said, with displeasure.

And so she was, until I got this wretched kitten to keep her company. There are days, now, when I scarcely see Perdita. And so I am glad to have her on my lap, and to think that the old bond is not altogether broken. But what about my knitting?

I’m moving along through the last quarter of the edging of the second side of the Cameron shawl. But slowly. Andrew Marr should move me forward tomorrow, unless Perdita likes him too.

Friday, February 21, 2020

A fairly good day. I got a job done – an email written – that had been weighing on my conscience. I did some more knitting. I would be fully 3/4s done with the edging of second side of the Cameron shawl had Perdita not come to sit on my lap again, quite early in Pointless.

I found the “Oak Park” scarf on the kitchen floor this morning. I had left in in its project bag on the sitting room floor. No harm done. In tidying it up, however, and placing it beyond paw-reach, I realised that I was wrong yesterday to say that the order of the stripes didn’t matter. They are brilliantly gradated. How will I manage? In Kirkmichael I ranged the balls of yarn along a shelf of the dresser in the dining room (where all indoor life takes place) – that clearly won’t work here, even if there were a dresser.

The colours will have to be arranged in a drawer, or on a shelf in a cupboard with doors. It’ll be something of a nuisance, since there is a change every four rounds. Good exercise.

Rachel sent me this link to a story about Fair Isles on Fair Isle, with lots of pictures. Some of them look mechanical to me, but the overall effect is colourful, and touching.

Quite a few universities are on strike at the moment – that’s how Archie can be here so often. A story in this morning’s Times says that lecturers are holding impromptu “teach-outs” on the picket line, and that University College London is offering a knitting workshop.


I have settled down for the moment with a Ruth Rendell called “A Guilty Thing Surprised”. It’s an early Wexford and I don’t feel that she had yet fully hit her stride. Italian this evening, however. Dante himself, in fact.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Not a bad day. My trainer came, and left me, as always, feeling more energetic and full of resolution. I packed up the recycling neatly and put it out (paper, rigid plastic, and cans this week). I took some important steps towards this week’s Italian lesson. We have started on the history of Italian literature which is a good deal more fun than tenses and prepositions but still leaves me struggling to say the simplest thing.

And I have knit more of the Cameron shawl edging – I’m now 3 ½ scallops past the halfway point. There was a minor disaster today when the yarn broke, but I figured that wasn’t my fault and anyway I would probably make more mess frogging back than securing the place and tidying it up with a needle on some later occasion.

Until that happened, all was going well – but it is sort of tedious, and maybe it would be wiser to start the second half of the edging soon so that I can knit it on the train, after all,  when I go down for the great-granddaughter’s christening.

I got the “Oak Park” shawl out (see yesterday). It has been years. It was in one of the many project bags with which my sitting room is festooned. The problem, as I remember, is going to be arranging the colours in order. I cannot imagine that it makes the slightest difference whether I succeed or not. What I really wanted to see was whether the pattern was there, in the bag. It is.

Senility is not entirely predictable, but that’s another argument against the cats and in favour of me, in respect to the Spring Shawl. The pattern is still there on the chest, where I remember leaving the knitting itself. If I had put it away somewhere, I would surely have put the pattern with it.

Thank you very much for your help with the architecture student who wants to know about knitting. I’ll write to him tomorrow. Debbie New is a particularly good idea, Else, and there are others. He claims to enjoy my blog, so I can suggest that he reads all of yesterday’s comments with care.


Reading is sort of stuck. I am bogged down in a Sciascia (Italian serious thriller-writer) and may abandon it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A better day’s knitting. I am now within half-a-scallop of the halfway point on the second side of the edging for the Cameron shawl. Alexander was here, and heard the story of the Spring shawl. He is convinced that it is not behind the chest on which it ought to be lying (so we shouldn’t need to pull it forward). We walked around the garden, and he agrees with me that the wild garlic is well forward.

I have Carol Sunday’s “Oak Park” scarf partly finished in one of my project bags (see sidebar). It used to be my Strathardle knitting. When we went there regularly, I used to maintain a separate Perthshire WIP. I think maybe I will resume work on it when the Cameron borders are well-launched. It would be nice, easy knitting and the scarf would be nice to have for my May cruise.

I have had an email from an architecture student in London. He and his classmates have been set to do a project “in relation to disciplines” and he drew “knitting” out of a hat. Can I help? After my recent experience with phone calls “from the bank” I look for scams everywhere, but I don’t see how this could be. I’ll recommend “Knitting Without Tears” and Ravelry. Any ideas?


Don’t miss Kirsten’s comment of yesterday. She is giving away some interesting knitting books. I trust the happy recipients will contribute postage.

Mary Lou, that time I deleted FreeCell I meant it as an act of total abnegation: let’s stop wasting time. But I was glad when the march of progress restored it to me in the form of a new computer. I regularly play a hand or two between paragraphs when blog-writing.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

No luck with the Spring Shawl. Julie (comment yesterday) – I think if I found the Spring Shawl now, I’d go on with the Cameron, although I would feel bound to return to the earlier one afterwards. Tamar, we’ve looked behind as well as under the chest it should be on. We haven’t pulled the chest forward from the wall, though, because there’s a valuable and rather heavy ceramic object on top. Maybe we’d better face up to that – but not until there are several strong right arms available to help.

(And, Tamar, when you think of the name of that book – in which the English language itself is used as a code – I’d love to know it.)

Archie and I got some other things done, however. We wrapped a 60th birthday present for Alexander (who should be here tomorrow), and got up to the top of the hill to buy ourselves some tuna for lunch, and then came down again and bought Alexander some Six Nations sausages. Our butcher makes them every year around this time: pork from Scotland, herbs from England, leeks from Wales, Guinness from Ireland, onions from France, tomatoes from Italy. That’s the recipe.

I’m sure I tell you every year that Alexander has never been entirely forgiven for not holding out until the 29th. He wasn’t due until March 3 or 4. He’d only be 15 this year if he’d listened to me.

Not much knitting has been done in the midst of all this, although I did at least insert the next marker – the edging is now ¼ of the way along the second side of the Cameron shawl. Perdita came and sat on my lap in mid-Pointless. I would have pushed Paradox off, but the disagreeable Perdita is not a lap-sitter and I love her the best, so she stayed and knitting was laid aside.

Kirsten, you have solved a major problem for me. I usually give up cider-drinking for Lent. This year, I had a dry January (without a single lapse) and am working on a new modus vivendi involving somewhat less than half the cider I used to enjoy. I’m doing well, but not without effort, and would like to forge on with the project. And so I shall! I’ll give up FreeCell for Lent! (Once, two or three computers ago, I deleted the whole game on Ash Wednesday. I wouldn’t know how to do that now, thank goodness.)

Monday, February 17, 2020

I was beaten by a hand at FreeCell today. That doesn’t often happen (ever since Mary Lou introduced me to ctrl-Z). It was humiliating.

The Cameron Shawl, however, proceeds without distress. Only one scallop to go until the next marker. And when I finish the edging for this side of the shawl, the next step looks easy enough: pick up 220 stitches per side; increase 8 or 9 per side; and start knitting the border charts from the top down. The centre square may prove more awkward.

Stashdragon (comment yesterday) your contribution to the search for the Spring Shawl is brilliant (=look on top of the furniture). Archie will be here tomorrow, and I’ll set him to work. Was it Sherlock Holmes who said, when you have eliminated everything else, the remaining possibility, however unlikely, must be right? And Perdita always was a climber – her original owner warned me of that, the day I first brought her here.

Paradox can do it too:

And here is a picture I found just now of Perdita, eyeing the Spring Shawl itself:

Remember that the ball of yarn was nearly at an end, so they wouldn't have left clues all over the room.

A propos comments yesterday about family expressions: Marjorie Allingham says somewhere, in one of her thrillers, that they are the one unbreakable code.

A propos nothing at all, really: Somebody got into trouble the other day for his (rather funny) transphobic tweets, but the judge let him off. And I wondered how and when I learned what those two words mean – “transphobic tweets”? It’s not at all obvious.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

This is a genuine, undoctored photograph taken this morning:

I (who am taking the picture) am standing at the kitchen door, looking down the passage towards the Catalogue Room. On the right, you see the partially-open door to the Downstairs Lavatory, although it has been a quarter of a century since I lived in a house in which that phrase was appropriate. Between that door and the Catalogue Room, you can see a band of light falling across the passage from the open door of the Spare Room.

And in the foreground, to the right, you can see Dathan 2, last seen by me laid out to block on one of the beds in the Spare Room (but not pinned down).

This experience has revived my belief that it was my furry friends, and not senile forgetfulness, who have removed the Spring Shawl from the place where I remain convinced I left it. But where did they put it?

All well with the Cameron Shawl. I have reached the first corner. Now I must begin to think of what follows edge-knitting. For the pattern, as I have told you, is written from the centre square outwards, and I am (obviously) working from the edging inwards. I’ll pick up 220 stitches from the edging for each side of the shawl (22 scallops times 10 stitches each) – and then what?