Tuesday, April 07, 2020

I trudged around Drummond Place Gardens again – what a glorious day it was! There were an unusual number of child-walkers there and it was pleasant to call out greetings to them, especially as I so rarely see fellow human beings these days. I was persuaded not to go out for those sausages.

Helen and I have a scheme for tomorrow. She is going to come around early, and sit on the front step (hoping for another day like today) while I have a bath. I am afraid to do it, these days, when I am alone in the house, for fear of falling. Now that I don’t have Daniela, I’m getting pretty dirty. If I don’t reappear within half an hour, Helen will come in and mount a rescue operation.

Not much progress on the Virus Scarf, but some. I took the promised picture, but again can’t get it out of the iPad. I’m not doing anything different – what’s gone wrong? Two things to try: I could send the pictures to someone else, who could then (if they arrive) send them back to me. Or I could take pictures on my telephone instead of the iPad, and see if that’s any more cooperative.

Failing that, here’s a better one. My friend G., instead of bullying me around Drummond Place Gardens, walked up to Holyrood this morning:

I think that's the palace, off to the right.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Not too bad a day. I did a circuit of the Gardens, well away from the few other fresh-air seekers. I changed the litter tray. I got the rubbish into its gull-proof bag, down the steps and onto the railing. That’s about it. I’m very inclined to go to Crombies first thing tomorrow for some sausages.

I watched the Queen last night, and was a bit disappointed. It was recorded, like a Christmas message, with clips interspersed of Britons doing heroic things. When Diana died, the Queen spoke to us live, and it was electrifying. I think I was expecting something like that.

I also think I’m not the only one to be uneasy about the health of the Prime Minister. We’re not being told much, at least, not today.

But on the other hand, I’m having a wonderful time with the Virus Scarf. Weavinfool, yes, it is the Blue Sky 21-color scarf, and it’s perfect for these troubled times. The yarn is delicious on the hands, soft and bouncy. (I think “squishy” is the technical term.) The colours are good. The fact that the percentage-achieved can be calculated precisely for the progress line in the sidebar (rows-so-far-knit divided by 524) is gratifying to an obsessive like me. The pattern consists of a row-by-row specification of each stripe and the number of rows it contains, and they can each be struck off once knit, and that’s gratifying too.

I’ll take pics tomorrow.


There was what I thought a sensationally good article in Saturday’s Financial Times, by the novelist Arundhati Roy, about India and the coronavirus. I asked Alexander if he had seen it, or would he like me to send? And he said they are trying not to accept anything but the most necessary from the outside world, but would I put it aside? That was sort of scary. He recommended her Booker-winning “The God of Small Things”.

I sought it on Amazon, and they told me I already had it. (Amazon could double their profits at a stroke if they stopped preventing silly old fools like me from buying books twice.) Sure enough. And I seem to have read about ¼ of it. I’ve gone back to the beginning and am enjoying it very much.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Here’s Sam, self-isolating in Argyllshire. Self-isolation is particularly difficult for sheep:

And here he is with Thomas:

He seems to be aging very well. Perhaps a bit weaker in the legs than he was 12 years ago, but that’s true of many of us. I remember someone – presumably Thomas – asking that day, towards evening, “Can I have your sheep?” I am sure the question had previously been run past his parents.

Not too bad a day. My friend G came and force-marched me around Drummond Place Gardens. It had been quite a while since I had been out. There always seemed to be a delivery to wait in for. Spring has made impressive strides since I was last there. And I feel the better this evening for the effort.

I made good progress with the Virus Scarf, and will resume it soon when I go to watch the Queen. I’ve finished the first plain section, and begun on the striping, which is slow but fun. Each colour has to be located, of course, somewhere in the fistful provided, and the mini-skein wound. And as the contribution of each ends, it has to be re-attached to its label because it will one day be needed again.

I’ve done row 35 of 524. I hope my inability to show you that picture of Paradox resting after a strenuous morning of mousing, won’t prevent the sending across of other pictures. Anyway, I’ll try soon.


I had a stinker of a Freecell the other day. Even leaving it overnight didn’t help. I eventually got it, with more than an hour recorded on the clock. And, as almost always when that happens, I couldn’t think what I had done differently to make it come out. Even while the game was still in progress, when I had reached that stage where there is only tidying-up to be done, I couldn’t think why I had succeeded. Presumably, nevertheless, such struggles make one stronger.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

I am very touched that anybody remembers my Great Victory with Sam the Ram. Anne (comment yesterday) has found the picture – just click on 2007 and there he is, at the end of the first post that comes up (=end of year). He is rather good, if I do say so.

What I, embarrassingly, don’t remember is which of you suggested knitting him. I was intending to reproduce a mermaid that I had knit for Rachel’s daughter Hellie. She loved it for years, but it eventually fell to pieces. I think, in ’07, I still had the original pattern. The category, remember, was “knitted toy”. But whoever-you-were was here in Edinburgh and we went on a modest yarn crawl and had coffee, over which she suggested Sam, saying, rightly, that he involved a certain amount of virtuoso knitting which might impress the judges. Maureen, could that have been you?

I’ll ask Alexander if Sam is available for a modern picture.

I felt more than ordinarily flattened after my Italian lesson this morning, which is my excuse for having done even less than usual for the rest of the day. And as for knitting, I succumbed. The Virus Scarf has a background colour called “Cast Iron”. I wound a skein of it – 150 grams; no joke; and cast on. It’s lovely stuff, and will be wonderfully cosy to wind around oneself if I ever finish. There are 524 rows, of which I’ve done 15. That might even last out the emergency. The yarn is called “fine highland wool” and comes from Peru. And there was not a single knot in those 150 grams.

Greek Helen, she with the abscessed tooth, is doing well, but anxious about how she will fare when the antibiotic is over. She has been warned about this tooth for years. It is fused to the bone in some way and will require surgery to remove – pliars won’t be sufficient. And these are no times to go through the door of a hospital if it can be avoided.

She has volunteered to be Helpful, on some register or other. That involved doing someone’s shopping the other day. She was horrified at the diet implied by the list. “Don’t you want any fruit or vegetables?” “Well, yes; you could put in a can of pineapple.”

Friday, April 03, 2020

On we go. This is getting rather tedious, but I’m tottering on. I went out on the doorstep yesterday evening at 7:59 to applaud the NHS, feeling rather foolish and wondering whether Drummond Place went in for that sort of thing. But at 8 p.m. there we all were, clapping away, and next door neighbour’s son played Scotland the Brave on the bagpipes and it was very touching.

The Queen is going to speak to us on Sunday.

The yarn for the scarf arrived. (The only human beings I see these days are delivery men, from a safe distance.) I had already done two rows of Cameron Scarf by that time, and thought I might allow myself to wind a skein of the base colour and make a little start. But I sort of felt in my fingers the wisdom of the suggestion I got on Shetland (mentioned here previously) to stick with lace once having embarked on it, rather than interspersing something of a different gauge. (Although I will intersperse away, once this piece of the shawl is finished.)

I’ve finished row 7, the last pattern row. There now follow five plain rows, and then what I think is called a “break” row – YO, K2tog all the way across. Plenty of time for lots of counting.

I had a nice newsletter-email today from Misa Hay, who so brilliantly organises and runs the Shetland Wool Adventure I went on a year ago. Another small business to worry about. It’s a cheerful message, with advice about gardening and baking – she used often to provide us with her own homemade cakes at tea time – and pictures of chilly Shetland in the early spring.

She says that Wilma Malcolmson is the Wool Week patron this year, and there is a picture of this year’s hat. Well, maybe. The Edinburgh Festival is gone, as you probably know, to the somewhat relief of residents but substantial loss to the city. The 138th Strathardle Highland Gathering is still going ahead on August 24th, according to its website. Well, maybe, again.

A “knitted sheep” is asked for in one of the Home Industries Tent categories. Humph. I won the Glenisla Shield with Sam the Ram in ’07, when the category was “knitted toy”. He should remain the definitive Strathardle knitted sheep. (He lives on the shores of Loch Fyne, with Alexander and Ketki’s sons.)

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Not too bad a day, although weak on exercise. I got the recycling sorted and tidied and put out for collection. I had a good lunch. I received two more deliveries, including the gochugaru red pepper; surely the scarf kit will be here soon. Now that I’ve got the gochugaru, I need a delivery slot at a grocery store that might have Chinese leaves (=Napa cabbage). Not so easy. I’ve got a cabbage here already – I suspect a Korean grandmother would roll up her sleeves and use that.

The other delivery was cider, and required a signature. But we don’t do that in these troubled times. He stood well back from the door and asked me my date of birth. I had to repeat it. He clearly didn’t believe that time went as far back as 1933.

One of the columnists in the Times this morning included some Seclusion Tips from a military man. They ran along the lines we had been talking about here. Here are two good ones: Take time and pride in what would normally be menial tasks. And, Clean something to a degree you wouldn’t normally, every day.

I doubt if I’ll do either. But I keep circling back to Shandy’s idea of knitting a series of quick things, such as Coronavirus Hats for All. I’ve got quite a bit of madtosh DK in my extensive stash, and the world is full of wonderful hat patterns.

And I’ve reached row 12 of the Cameron Shawl borders – 7 is the final pattern row. There are some blanks at the end. My best course would surely be to finish this piece before flinging myself into the scarf, if I have the strength of character.

I am beginning to have an uneasy feeling (are some lace experts among you laughing up their sleeves?) that a lace chart can’t just be knit upside down, as a Fair Isle chart could be. At least, not in all cases. The only way to establish the truth would be with some swatching. It might be interesting.


I am beginning to worry about finance, as many others must be doing. How many LYS’s will be able to keep going? And what about me? How secure are my pensions and welcome bits of dividend income, as the world totters?

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

I am very touched and very grateful for your response to my dismal post of yesterday. Today went much better. JennyS, I put your suggestion into practice straight away. Again, I couldn’t go out, for fear yesterday’s delivery would come (and it did) – but I live in a long, straight apartment and so instead of walking straight across from kitchen to sitting room when I wanted to sit and knit, I walked the whole length and back, to both ends. It takes somewhat over 100 steps. Better than nothing.

And I found an unemployed Katcha Katcha and recorded how many times I had done it during the day. I would be embarrassed to tell you how few – but maybe I’ll do more tomorrow.

And I began the day by making a short and simple list of some things I hoped to accomplish: this is perhaps a variation of what you are suggesting, Shandy. My list was to order some gochugaru chilli powder, an essential ingredient in kimchi on which I’m getting low; to pay some bills; and to cook a proper lunch instead of just sitting there picking at cheese. I achieved all three.

My sister phoned from DC. It was good to talk to her. I had been toying with your idea, Allison, of employing Skype. I use it successfully for my Italian lessons, and also, recently, signed a document giving Helen power of attorney when I can no longer function – that had to be done in the presence of a solicitor, and apparently Skype counts as “presence” in these up-to-date times.

My impression is that DC is not quite as locked-down as Edinburgh. My sister said that her husband’s dentist is nagging him to have a broken crown repaired. It’ll have to be done, but not right now. Helen has what sounds like an extremely painful abscess. She phoned our dentist last night, and he said that no one would examine her in present circumstances. He managed to get her a prescription for some antibiotics and a painkiller. Abscesses can be dangerous; I’ll be glad to hear that the antibiotics are working.

Also.President Trump still seems to be conducting his press conferences in the real world, with everyone sitting well apart, whereas the British government’s daily press briefing is now entirely remote.

Knitting: I’ve finished row 14 of the first two Cameron Shawl borders, and have polished off the Trees of Life. AND I have ordered that expensive Blue Sky 21-colour scarf kit. I wanted to knit something that could forever be the Coronovirus Knit.

But I still can't get that picture of Paradox out of the iPad for you.