Saturday, July 22, 2017

Another low day – no excuse. Rain, so I didn't need to water my tomatoes.

As requested, I’m at least logging in to thank you for help with budgeting. I had never heard of Pocketsmith, and it’s interesting. But British banks don’t like to have you handing out your log-in details to a third party, and I’m inclined to agree. Also, I don’t want to subscribe to anything.

I had thought of Excel, and am tremendously impressed than you could just do it, Mary Lou.  I watched a YouTube video on the subject last night, and I guess I get the idea, but I remain impressed.

I think my present system (an antique version of Quicken) is going to work. There are various respects in which I can simplify the way I used to keep accounts when I was young and enthusiastic, without spoiling the results.

I hope to do better by you tomorrow. Archie is coming for a late lunch, which will keep me on my toes.

Friday, July 21, 2017

I’ve got a little, tiny green tomato on one of my tomato plants on the doorstep! How’s that for exciting?

I got on well with the Polliwog yesterday, first sleeve finished, sewn bind-off completed – I didn’t even have to look up the technique. I’ve made a good start on picking up stitches for the second sleeve, but I discovered at the close of play yesterday that I am doing it wrong.

I thought I wanted 90 stitches. I only need 6o, so I’ll have to double back. Over-confidence bred of the successful sewn bind-off.

The decision about What Comes Next now looms. Marie Wallin’s Lovage, I think.

Carol: Orla's shawl is the Paton's pattern designed by "Mrs Hunter of Unst" to which KD devotes a chapter in her Haps book. I knit it for Orla's grandmother Rachel many years ago. In Ravelry, it goes by a slightly different name -- but I've forgotten what. (One of you told me.) Once you find it, I think it's a free pattern. 


For many years I kept accounts with Quicken. I even wrote a book about it. Then I upgraded to a faster computer and found that, although it would load the program, it refused to import the data. Intuit, by then, had deserted the UK. I struggled, and then sort of gave up.

Then at some point I moved on from that computer to my husband’s laptop – it won’t even load the Quicken disk. Microsoft Money has also deserted the UK, and the homegrown program once provided by Sage seems also to have melted away. It was a bit kludgy. Sage and Intuit still offer small business software. Maybe Microsoft does, too -- who knows?

Google’ing seems to show that nothing else in the personal finance line is available here in the UK. People use apps on their telephones – but I am not that advanced with mobile telephony, and anyway what I want is an overview, over all the various accounts we have squirrelled here and there, of what is actually happening. I’ve got plenty of money just now – don’t worry. But incomings will now be reduced, as pensions are cut; and outgoings, although lower, won’t be that much lower. As I say, I need an overview.

Yesterday I gave up, and went back to the computer mentioned above which will load Quicken but refuses to import data (too late now, anyway) – and started again from the beginning. It’s going to take more than a bit of doing, but I feel wonderfully invigorated by having made the start.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

I’m sorry to have worried you. The difficulty has been nothing worse than a busy week socially – a coffee and two lunches. I get home utterly tired. At whatever time of day, fall gratefully into bed. No Radio 4 these days. Just Women's Cricket.

I wrote this much on Monday:

“A very happy ending to Wimbledon – not a dry eye in the house.

I thought Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, would be handing out the prizes, but no, it was the good old Duke of Kent, as usual, looking much sprightlier than his wife. And surely, I thought, he must be a couple of years older. But I looked him up – he’s more than two years younger. I’m afraid, in our ninth decade, every year counts, as it did in our first.

Oh, Maureen, (comment yesterday), how I would love to go to Shetland with you next year! Especially as we missed meeting when you recently came to Edinburgh. But the June Shetland Adventure finishes only a few days before my cruise to the Hebrides departs, on June 30. Not long enough to turn around and become re-acquainted with my cat; and anyway, I want to space out my pleasures.”

I received this picture of Orla the other day. Clearly, I’ll have to finish the Polliwog fast.

I am in fact making progress with it, albeit slowly. I don’t watch much television these days, is the problem. I’ve done all the decreases on the first sleeve (top-down), worried again about whether it might be too long and therefore omitted the following nine rounds (about an inch and a half), and am now embarked on the final ribbing. Another sewn bind-off follows shortly – I should be pretty good at it by now.

I’ve blocked the Northmavine Hap:

with Perdita's help:

I can’t sign it off until I’ve clipped the darned-in ends.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

That leaves us with Federer. Now, even more, he’s simply got to win.

Yesterday’s match started well, evenly balanced. Venus had a couple of points for the first set on the Spaniard’s serve, but failed to make them. Then she collapsed, much like Murray with his hip, although she hasn’t complained of anything since, that I know of. With Murray, I could switch over to the other match (Muller-Cilic, I think it was). Yesterday there was nothing for it but to retreat to the kitchen.

However, better news: the Northmavine Hap is ready for blocking. I got the last few ends darned in this morning watching the rather interesting political program we have on Sunday morning. Who knows? I may even get the blocking done today. I’ll return to the Polliwog while supporting Federer.

Anonymous, thank you again, for the Shetland Wool Adventure dates (comment yesterday). They offer a wide choice of dates, which is good; they go to Unst and include a lace lesson, which is very good. Perhaps less good, they put you up in Lerwick, rather than at wonderful Burrastow where Kristie and Kath and I stayed, and where Mary Jane and Gudrun go. But on the other hand, Burrastow is a fair distance from anywhere and there’s much to be said for being in Lerwick. SWA promises good food. Burrastow guarantees that. Mary Jane and Gudrun don’t go to Unst.

I do agree, Lisa, that nothing beats armchair travel planning.

Mary Lou, I have let my New Yorker subscription lapse, a shameful admission. I switched credit cards – or, rather, had mine switched from under me – so that they couldn’t automatically renew. I went straight in to put things right when I heard from them, but something was wrong with their server that day and since then life has piled up on me.

But I need to read about The Accidental Urban Gardener, and Rachel says I’ve missed David Sedaris. I will take action.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Federer was magnificent, too. He and Williams have got to win, if there is any poetic justice in the world.

I finished the sewn bind-off of the Northmavine Hap. I’m ready (although I must confess that I haven’t done it) to put the book, “Colours of Shetland”, back on the shelf. That will be a step forward. I have started, languidly, darning in the loose ends – although not securing them, in case blocking changes things.

I am desperate to be knitting something, but don’t dare. This is the very most dangerous moment to lay a project aside.

Here it is. I am surprised, despite all my recent grumbling, to find how very long the top edge is, how obtuse – I hope I’ve got that right – the lowest angle. Blocking will change that. I’ll get some more ends darned in during Venus’ final today.

Non-knit & comments

The Duchess of Kent was at Wimbledon yesterday. She’s six months older than I am, and didn’t look at all sprightly.

Anonymous, thank you, I’ve signed up with Misa Hay for news of her Shetland tours—but couldn’t find any 2018 dates yet.

Thanks for all the advice about exercise. I’ll try YouTube, to begin with. I need something that can become an early-morning routine.

Lisa, that’s a good idea, to photograph the essential page of my new passport.

Friday, July 14, 2017

I got my passport! And – equally as important – I have located and rubber-banded to it, the one-before-last, which contains the vital rubber stamp “Given leave to enter the United Kingdom for an indefinite period.” They don’t hand those out like sweeties any more. I don’t know what would happen if I tried to get back to Drummond Place without it, and don’t intend to find out.

Helen (anon) (comment yesterday) – that was a good idea, to list the places I wanted to visit, and see what Google came up with. Lerwick, Norway, Faroes, Iceland. There are indeed several interesting cruises .  I even found one that included a knitting cruise, but it seemed to think that 1500 passengers made it a small ship. (Not all knitters, of course.) I’m certainly not going to add my voice, and money, to big-ship-cruising.

I’ve signed up to hear what Gudrun and Mary Jane are offering next year, and also Amy Detjen. You’re right, Mary Lou, that my driving-home-from-Greece hopes for this year preclude Rhinebeck. Which is a distinct shame.

My difficulty is not just that I’m about to turn 84, but that I’m weak. I hope that will pass, to some extent. But that’s why an initial adventure with family at hand to support, is a good idea.

I’m getting a bit bored with tennis, and indeed with the sewn bind-off. Three more matches. Federer and Williams have simply got to win: the two oldest players in the tournament, I think. Venus was magnificent yesterday, and the British Girl, in today’s newspapers, is suddenly somewhat more Australian than she was yesterday.

We’ve heard from Susan Crawford. She hopes to have the Vintage Shetland Project book ready to go to the printers in “early autumn” and to us six weeks later. I’ll believe it when I see it. It would be gloomily interesting to collect all her reports from the two years (for such it now is) since she solicited crowd-funding. I’m pretty sure, although I’m not going to look it up, that when she was first diagnosed with cancer, late last year, she planned to publish the book as then scheduled, but said that she wouldn’t be able to take part in the post-publication publicity.

Cancer sort of takes over everything, but it is worth remembering that we had had major delays before the diagnosis. She was at EYF in March, 2016, selling autographed bookplates to put in your book when you got it. I was already cross, having hoped to have mine by November, 2015, and didn’t seek her out. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Wimbledon imploded yesterday. Murray’s painful hip (we’ve been worried all along) gave up on him. It is to his credit as an athlete that he was able to do as well as he did, and to his credit as a man that he stuck it out, and lost in five sets. I couldn’t bear to watch much of it, and mostly switched over to see Mr Muller losing to Celic on the other court. Painful, but less so. And then Djokovic withdrew with a sore elbow, after losing a set.

Federer’s match, after all that, was a draft of cool water in the desert. He’s got to win.

I shall be cheering for Venus today. (And, Peggy, I agree: the way she carries herself is an essential part of her beauty.)

As for knitting, I got a couple of feet along the sewn bind-off of the top edge of the Northmavine Hap. The instructions for the sewn bind-off say to start out with a piece of yarn which will go the distance three times. That’s obviously impossible, in this case, and even if it were otherwise, I have read recently that drawing an over-long piece of yarn again and again through the loops, abrades and weakens it.

I have already finished the first piece of yarn and started on the second, and I don’t think the break is going to do any harm. There’ll be more. I’m not halfway yet.

Still loose ends to come, and blocking, but I’m beginning to think about the future.

Especially because I had a text message this morning (!), just like a grown-up, to say that my new passport will be delivered today between 8am and 6pm. At least, I hope it’s my new passport. Maybe it’s the old one, rejected. It's something, from the American Embassy in London.

But that should mean that the world is my oyster. I have been searching websites in the last few days, for places I might go. What a lot there are! offers cruises around the coasts of Turkey, Greece, and Italy in Turkish “gulets”, small boats like the ones that will take me around the Hebrides next summer, but in warmer waters. Somebody called Flavours offers tempting-sounding cookery holidays, also in Italy.

The trip to Thessaloniki this autumn, and then the drive back through Italy and France with the Drakes – for that is the current plan – will let me know whether I am really strong enough to contemplate any of this.