Saturday, June 23, 2018

I’m sure I’ve told you before that Rachel was born early in the day, 60 years ago, and I was taken down to a ward, and someone came around selling newspapers, and I bought the Express. I still have it. The horoscope for my new daughter started off: “Not a day you will remember…”

Fully worthy of the Delphic Oracle.

And rather odd, given that 1 in 365 of the Express’ thousands of readers would have been celebrating a birthday that day.

On the whole, today has been more minus than plus, here. The mother of my beloved cleaning woman died suddenly and unexpectedly, in Rumania. Daniella is going home tomorrow and doesn’t know when she’ll be back. I depend on her for almost everything. Can I get to the Hebrides without her?

The parking permit wasn’t in today’s post. If it doesn’t turn up on Monday, I’ll try to phone them.

Knitting has advanced slightly. I’ve reached the central three rows of the current Fair Isle band – the division for the armholes will take place on the second or third of them. Tomorrow, or perhaps even this evening.

One of the reasons I have been advancing so slowly is that I have been watching something called Staircase on Netflix. I thought until today that it was an utterly brilliant mock documentary, about a murder trial. The credits at the end give Jean-Xavier Lestrade as “writer and director” which seemed to indicate that it was fiction. But today I google’d – and it’s not. It gives one furiously to think about Pilate’s question: What is truth?

Perdita is fine.

Friday, June 22, 2018

All well – at least, as well as all ever is in this vale of tears. Don’t miss the preceding Stop Press, and thanks to all who have already commented on it.

Katie, I agree, if we go ahead with this at all, Murrayfield had better see the whole collection. I’m pretty sure Cathy gave me back her daughter Kirsty’s Christening shawl, which shows the 2000 Cup, and I’m pretty sure I know where it is. Alexander has an all-over Fair Isle (?’06) which, even holding his breath, he can no longer wear, but I’m sure he’s got it. Ketki has the ’08, and it still fits fine. ’10 was a draw – I knit a hat for James Miles the Younger, with half the Cup. He lost it, but a photograph exists.

You’ll notice the pattern of even-numbered years. We never win at Twickenham.

As for the on-going problems: still no Resident’s Parking Permit, but my windscreen note is still working, and has saved me £30 at least since midday yesterday.

The vet has diagnosed Perdita with nothing worse than sloppy grooming. I was braced for terminal cancer, and Helen – who drove us down there and back – for a cyst. The affected area has been shaved and it is nice to see again how God maps out the design for such a cat on its skin.

I set upon the to-do list with the hoped-for vigour this morning. Everything is done except for paying the parking fines – I hesitate, in case I get another one – and writing out a detailed programme of cat care for my absence. I should be able to manage both of those in the remaining week.

But I haven’t done any knitting.

Tomorrow is Rachel’s 60th birthday. If ever a day was the First Day of the Rest of My Life, it was the 23rd of June, 1958.

Stop press:

Here is a link to a tweet from Ketki with a reply from Murrayfield itself:

Thursday, June 21, 2018

I was wrong: the interviewer did ask Penelope Jardine about rumpty tumpty with Muriel Spark –presumably having warned her of the question before the cameras rolled. And it was phrased rather more discretely. Miss Jardine laughed and said, in effect, I know what you’re asking, and, no, there was nothing like that.

“Boston marriage” is a new phrase to me, and one I am glad to add to my repertoire. Thank you, Mary Lou.

The Resident’s Parking Permit didn’t turn up today, to my huge disappointment. I took the advice of several friends and neighbours and moved the car back into a resident’s parking space and put a note on the windscreen. I seem to have got away with it, so far.

So tomorrow I had better get back to my to-do list. I could knock off taxing the car and paying the parking fines and paying an electricity bill and making an appt to have my hair done, all well within an hour, if I set myself to it.

Perdita has a dr’s appt late tomorrow afternoon. That is a huge worry. She has a rough patch of fur on her back, beneath which seems to be a lump. She doesn’t seem ill or uncomfortable. Can a vet make her better? Or just charge me a lot of money for making her worse? It will be hard, after all,  to concentrate on the to-do list.


I have knit a whole round wrong, on Alexander’s Calcutta Cup vest. I don’t think it will show up much, if I carry calmly on. The lozenge, where the mistake is, is the right shape, and the “X” of the OXO is unaffected.

The main feature of the new Fruity Knitting is an interview with the Italian team behind Myak. They sell Tibetan yak yarn and cashmere, dyed and spun in Italy and mixed, in some cases, with silk. It’s no use adding random wonderful yarns to stash, however.

Andrew and Andrea say they won't be back for three weeks -- they're working on something special. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

I hope you all realised last night that I wasn’t here because family was. Alistair himself – by now, presumably, a graduate of Glasgow University, as I am – came over, and Helen came down with her two resident sons (Archie and Fergus), and we all had a rather good takeaway around the dining room table.

After a week or two to catch his breath, Alistair (whose first class degree is in computer science) will start a rather good job with somebody I’ve never heard of, doing something incomprehensible. He said he was thinking of saving up the deposit to buy a flat (in Glasgow) so that he could have a cat. A grandson after my own heart.

Meanwhile I still haven’t got my Resident’s Parking Permit, and life is entirely centred around keeping the metre fed and moving the car occasionally. Surely tomorrow. A day’s metre-feeding costs almost as much as a day’s parking ticket, but feels more virtuous.

I’m excited to hear, Shandy, that you’re coming up in August for a mosaic class with Helen. Surely we can meet? I am getting confused about months and dates – she was here a moment ago, in a state of some agitation about the mislaying of a load of supplies (tesserae?) on their way from Athens to Pelion via Volos for a class she will be teaching very soon. She’ll get her tesserae, and I’ll get my Resident’s Parking Permit, and we’ll think about August.

Knitting: I’ve finished the peerie and embarked on the next Fair Isle band of Alexander’s Calcutta Cup sweater. This is the one that will be interrupted in the middle by the start of the armhole holes.

Sex: Like you, Kay, I hugely admire Mrs Roosevelt. I firmly believe – laugh if you will, remembering that I am 84 – that profound and loving and long-lasting friendship is possible between same-sex couples without necessarily involving  rumpty-tumpty. If the author of White Houses wants to persuade me that it was otherwise, between Mrs Roosevelt and what’s-her-name, she’ll have to persuade me, not just dump the “fact” on the first few pages.

Today is, or near enough, Muriel Spark’s 100th birthday. A commemorative programme on BBC Four tonight will include a rare interview with Penelope Jardine, with whom MS lived in Italy for many years. I don’t suppose the interviewer will ask about rumpty-tumpty. I’ll take my knitting and go off and watch that now; perhaps tell you about it tomorrow.

Monday, June 18, 2018

There really is nothing to report today. The entire time has been spent worrying about (and paying for) the car. Helen nobly went off somewhere this afternoon to see if she could fetch the new Resident’s Permit home for me, but it turned out the office has been moved to Corstorphine. (I’ve heard of it.) It’s probably no use going tomorrow, wherever Corstorphine is, because by then – surely – the new permit will be in the mail.

Archie has emboldened me to believe I’ll be able to pay by mobile telephone and bank card. Coins have run out. I’ll have to do that before 8:30 tomorrow morning. If successful, that’ll take me to lunchtime. And the new permit could be in tomorrow’s mail.

Archie and a dear friend and I went to lunch at a humble but delicious Korean restaurant over near the University and the Central Mosque. I don’t think their kimchi was quite as good as mine, however.

What a pleasure it is to anticipate a holiday with no concerns for passports or currency or language! Preparations (largely complete) have been suspended, however, until I get my Resident’s Parking Permit.

I am tempted to write you a whole blog entry about SEX. I recently bought the well-reviewed White Houses for my Kindle and the first few pages have made me cross. Maybe soon, but I’m too tired tonight.

Now I’ll go knit for a while.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The smooth progress of life had a bit of a setback today. I nipped down to Tesco’s this morning – and found not one but two parking tickets on my windscreen. My Resident’s Parking Permit had expired. If they sent me a reminder, I never got it. Or never opened it.

I have renewed, on-line. I wonder if I could get away with a note to that effect on the windscreen? Probably not. Metred parking around here is terribly expensive. I have poured enough coins in to get me through to noon tomorrow. Mustn’t forget. And I must also pay the fines. And, of course, once all that is settled, get back to the things that should be done before I leave, such as taxing the car.

I’ve done a bit of knitting – I’m half-way through the next peerie. What I did achieve was to sit down at the kitchen table with Calcutta Cup vest, swatch-scarf, tape measure, and Fair Isle vest instructions from Meg and Alice Starmore and Kate Davies. Later I added EZ’s original EPS, in the Knitting Workshop.

I fired up an old computer and persuaded it to show me some of Meg's Fair Isle Vest video -- enough for her to express in numbers a desired measurement from underarm to shoulder (9 1/2"). Then it pegged out.

Needless to say, the experts all contradict each other, and my gauge measurements came out different each time. And nobody would tell me how wide to make the shoulders. A bit narrow will be fine – narrow shoulders can be bulked out with armhole ribbing. But the thing one absolutely doesn’t want is any drape over the shoulder blade. I measured an old, moth-eaten, hand-knit vest of my husband’s and decided to aim for four inches each side.

KD’s Stronachlachar, high on my hoped-for list, droops over the shoulders in just the way mentioned. But that’s deliberate, meant for a woman, and looks fine. I watched her give a talk about “Handywoman” yesterday, wearing Stronachlachar. But it wouldn’t do for Alexander.

So I think I’ve done all the maths – certainly enough to be moving forward with. I had help:

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Tonight’s computer tragedy is that it won’t play Meg’s Fair Isle Vest video. I’ve wasted valuable time trying. Is this another feature of the upgrade?

I’ve finished the third Fair Isle band of Alexander’s Calcutta Cup vest, and have decided to divide for the v-neck half-way through the next one. It is time to listen to Meg’s gentle advice; very frustrating not to be able to. I think, by good luck rather than good management, the v-neck will begin in the middle of an X rather than an O.

I am not entirely happy with the amount of yarn available. My one mission at the EYF market, as far as I can remember, was to get yarn for this vest. And so I did – but what I now seem to have is a considerable quantity of a mid-grey which doesn’t figure in the vest, the dark grey which I do use in every Fair Isle band about to run out, and a couple of other colours in a precarious state. I’d better order some more. Nothing worse than worrying about running out – except, perhaps, actually running out. Fortunately, in Fair Isle, you can change dye lots with impunity.

Here’s the vest:

Here’s a dead cat (not):

There is an interesting post from Kate Davies today about her forthcoming book “Handywoman” – about her stroke and how it has transformed her life. I’ve pre-ordered, as I may have said.  The pre-order also includes a pattern for hare-and-tortoise gauntlets. They’re good, but I don’t think I’ll bother downloading. My HALFPINT list already stretches out to the crack of doom.


I didn’t accomplish anything today, I don’t think. The new shoes I ordered for my cruise have arrived, and they’re blissfully comfortable. Are we all – the other 10 or 11 passengers, I mean – fitting ourselves out with new wardrobes?

Poor Glasgow! The last time the College of Art had a bad fire it turned out, I think, to have been started by an electrical fault in some equipment a student was using (and left on) to prepare for the end-of-year show. And it’s that time of year again. This fire sounds much worse.