Sunday, June 26, 2022


Archie and his youngest brother Fergus came to see me today. No walking, alas, but they were here when the Waitrose order arrived and got it stashed, under my supervision.


I heard from Rachel, She has just had a birthday, as I told you. She says her son Thomas gave her a Scotland rugby shirt, signed by all the team. Now she will have to figure out how to get it framed.


I have knit on, but not very far. Have I lost my mojo, when it comes to knitting colour? Or is it that DK is intrinsically less fun than Shetland jumper weight? I hope I’ll speed up, as life goes on. And of course it will eventually get smaller and quicker. My favourite blogger, Queer Joe, has been writing recently about the delights of starting at the widest point, where feasible, and knitting ever faster and faster as you near the end.


Wordle: four, today. Both of my guesses – lines three and four – were possible answers, incorporating all four of the brown tiles I had accumulated, each in a new position, and using, for the fifth letter, one I hadn’t already eliminated. It sounds obvious, but I don’t know that I’ve ever done exactly that before. Line three was wrong, line four was right. Ketki and Thomas got it in three, Alexander and Rachel (in London) needed only two. We haven’t heard from Mark yet.

Saturday, June 25, 2022


A long day. Michaela (Daniella’s summer substitute) came early. The rest of the day rather dragged. Archie will come tomorrow (postponed from today) and I think we ought to try to walk – with little hope of success.


That sounds gloomier than I feel. Knitting went forward well. I have set the colour pattern for the yoke of my Lilias Day. When I actually faced up to it, I had a moment of doubt. The basic pattern covers 24 stitches. The whole pleasure of colour knitting lies in symmetry and rhythm. However, despite the long repeat, all is well. And I can tell you that, despite my having done no stitch counting during the recent plain-vanilla stretch which introduced quite a few decreases and established the yoke, it came out perfectly, to the stitch. I was prepared to do a modest bit of fancy footwork, if necessary.


Wordle: thank you for your comment, rheather. I do emphatically agree that part of the pleasure of Wordle is that it’s over and done with so soon. I think a lot of us share your experience of not being able to remember today’s word, even half an hour afterwards. It took me five again today. I was very proud of my third line  -- WEALD. I don’t know what it means, but it met the requirements: A in the third place, a green; E somewhere else, a brown; and none of the already-excluded letters repeated. Everybody else in my little group did better, but never mind.

I've finished my re-read of "Tiger in the Smoke". It's good, all right. I hadn't fully grasped, from previous readings, that it takes place in "real time": the opening scene runs on continuously until the final one. Some characters get some sleep, others not.

Friday, June 24, 2022


Wordle: I got it in three. After my two starter words, I had one green and three browns. As every morning, I struggled to find a word which fit all the requirements. This time, unusually, I found one. It didn’t seem a very likely word, but I typed it in, and it was right! Everybody else in my little group also got three, except for Alexander. That took a bit of the icing off.


After a very considerable struggle, I got through to my doctor’s surgery on the telephone this morning. and have booked an appt for a doctor to talk to me about my arthritic hip next week. The struggle involved dialling again and again, as you might imagine, and as I struggled I thought of your comment, Melinda, and called up Allingham’s “Tiger in the Smoke” from my Kindle library. By the time I had made the appt, I was re-hooked. I think I’ve read it fairly recently, but that hardly matters. It’s awfully good.


As for knitting, not as much as one might have hoped. I’m currently knitting the final plain-vanilla round on the yoke. I had to devote quite a lot of time this morning to putting right Paradox’s well-meant intervention of yesterday.

Thursday, June 23, 2022


Today is Rachel’s 64th birthday. The first day of the rest of my life if there ever was one.


The doctor’s office rang up to say that my hip is arthritic (as discovered by the x-ray) and I must ring the practice early tomorrow to make an appointment for a telephone consultation. What a carry-on!


Knitting has gone forward nicely, except for the times when Paradox tried to help. I have attached the sleeves and have four more rounds of just-plain to do before the fireworks start. It is exciting to have reached this stage. Barring disaster, I'm going to finish this one. A whole sweater!

Wordle: five, again. Today’s word was something of a Wordle special. I had the last four letters but chose the wrong one for the empty slot at the beginning. Judging from the grids, Thomas had the first four letters but guessed wrong for the fifth. He wound up with five as well. The others did better.


Reading: I am happily embarked on Donna Leon, “Death at La Fenice” as you recommend, Joan. (But I am glad to hear that you picked a random one and got hooked, Kirsten.) He hasn’t had anything to eat yet. I haven’t read Dorothy Dunnet – I’m afraid I have an irrational prejudice against “historical”. Perhaps I should try to overcome it. And you are absolutely right (as always), Tamar: Mr. Campion. The trouble there is that I almost know them by heart. Beth, I’ll go back to “A Private Patient” next, if nothing else offers.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022


Alexander and Ketki both came to see me today. I haven’t seen Ketki for (literally) years, and it was very nice to do so. Thomas, their younger child, has his last bit of school tomorrow – he is bound for Birmingham University subsequently – so they will happily retreat to the shores of Loch Fyne and I won’t see them for a while.


What with one thing and another, I still have two rounds of the second sleeve of the Lilias Day to do. I hope I will polish them off this evening, and perhaps even get everybody arranged on a single circular for the yoke.


A physiotherapist rang up, and is coming to see me next Tuesday. By then I may have heard about my x-rayed hip and we may be ready to form a plan of action. I have left off exercises recently for fear they were making my hip worse. Perhaps I’ll resume.


Wordle: my usual five. Nobody did brilliantly.


In despair about what to read, I have retreated to an early PD James. I think it’s called “Unnatural Causes” and I have no memory whatsoever of ever having read it before. She definitely got better as time passed, and this one is from her earlier years. Still not to be despised. What a lot of fairly important things have changed: the comfort of a domestic fire, for instance; the ease of phoning people who all have mobile phones. One of you reminded me recently of Donna Leon – Venice! Food! – and I think I may go there. Where to start?

Tuesday, June 21, 2022


Another good day, although no walk. I made good progress with the Lilias Day sleeve – I could even finish it tomorrow. What I did finish was a skein of yarn. First I was in that situation, familiar to all of us, where the remaining scrap of yarn appears miniscule but in fact goes on and on and ON. However, in the end it gave up, and I wound the next one and am basking in that glow of satisfaction which comes from having reduced the stash by one whole skein. And it was a 100-gram skein, at that. There is one more – I’m not altogether sure I’ll need it.


Helen is going to Greece at the crack of dawn tomorrow,  to teach mosaic-making on the slopes of Mount Pelion. She is worried about the predicted heat, and also about wildfire.


Wordle: it took me five again today, Ketki four, Thomas and friend Mark (the clever ones) three. Alexander hasn’t been heard from, a most unusual occurrence. He is scheduled to come and see me tomorrow.


Comments: Thank you for your help with Knit Stars. I gather that Scandinavian knitting is to be the theme this time. I’m at least mildly interested, and such a sweater for a grandson might be a worthy project for Calcutta Cup 2022 (we won again). As soon as Lilias Day is finished, I must return to the legwarmers (Calcutta Cup 2021) and when they are finished – there’s not much further to go – ’22 has to be the next project. Today is the summer solstice. The year is slipping away.


KayT, I did a Craftsy class with Stephen West once. He is thoroughly delightful.

Mary Lou, I can’t work out Millais’ monogram signature, but I don’t think a crown would be involved. Just his initials. One of his given names was Everett; I can’t remember the other. Our picture is one of my husband’s “finds”. He was a great one for going patiently through piles at auction sales. Spotting that monogram must have been an exciting moment for him, confirming his opinion of the picture itself.

Monday, June 20, 2022


A good day. The x-ray appt went off smoothly. One thing to be said for Covid: hospital appts are now kept on time and it’s just as well, because the piles of 18-month-old copies of Woman’s Own have all been swept away and there is nothing to do while you wait except stare into space. Unless you brought your knitting. If I’ve got it right, the x-rays will now go to a Great Man or Woman, who will relay his or her conclusions to the GP and I should hear in about a week.


I’ve finished the sleeve increases on the second sleeve of the Lilias Day sweater, and am now knitting the straight bit at the top of the sleeve. If I can keep up the pace, I should have arrived at the fun part, the patterned yoke, by the weekend.


Arne and Carlos have alerted me to something called Knit Stars – it sounds a bit like a virtual Stitches or Vogue Knitting Live, with a dash of Craftsy in that you can watch the workshops as often as you like, forever. I don’t think I’ve heard of it, although this is said to be Season 3. They are coy about the cost which must mean it is expensive. I have put down my name to learn more. A&C are going to be among the stars in the forthcoming issue.


Wordle: it took me five today. The Mileses – Alexander and Ketki and Thomas – each needed four, and friend Mark pulled it off in three. I must concentrate on my third line, if I ever want to improve. I use two starters – TRAIN and HOUSE. They always produce something. Then I need to put in a third line which could possibly be right – using all the information I’ve got and not re-using any eliminated letters. I can almost never think of such a word so I put in an imperfect one (which often yields useful information anyway).

Here is a picture of our picture, the lost one that was found:

I'm sorry about the streaks of sunshine, but you get the idea. It must have been done at some point during the summer Millais and the Ruskins spent in Scotland, much plagued by midges and rain, while Millais worked on a portrait of Ruskin (now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford). That's Millais hunched over his easel, in our picture, with Mrs Ruskin on the left and Millais' brother William fishing in the background. That's Ruskin on the right in a separate study.