Thursday, May 28, 2015


“Little C” has been released from hospital, still with a lot of pain. She was even given some morphine to take home with her. I'm sure she'll be more comfortable soon, just for not being in hospital.

And so might my poor husband be, were he fit to be cared for at home. He seemed, in a sense, much better yesterday, absolutely determined to come home TODAY. The entire visit was spent discussing that point. I dread today.


Good old Meadow Yarn came up trump with my needles, as usual, and I suppose one must nod in the direction of the Royal Mail for actually achieving next-day delivery in return for the inordinate cost of a first class stamp. And the wooden needles do indeed grip the yarn better. I have nearly finished the eight-lozenge repeat of Chart B of the Fantoosh. There will be eight more repeats of Chart B to follow, each longer than the last – and the rows have already become slightly uncomfortably long.

The other knitting news is that a Japanese book of patterns involving cables arrived from Loop. They're having a Japanese moment, as you'll know if you're on their mailing list. I can't even tell you what my new book is called, because it's all in Japanese, but the patterns are wonderful and the photography, if possible, even more so.

I had a Japanese Phase some years ago, some will remember, during which I even knit an ear-flap hat (for James' and Cathy's daughter Rachel) from a Japanese pattern. Japanese patterning is very clear and logical, and I've got all the stuff explaining it here in one place. I think I could successfully puzzle out a pattern. And there are some tempting ones in this book.

The latest issue of Amirisu (which is bilingual) has an article about Loop, and an interview with someone from madelinetosh. I may succumb, although it's awfully expensive.


Fattoush wasn't very successful as an all-day meal. It's back to bean salad for today.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


“Little C”, the equestrian, is still in hospital, still in very considerable pain, still on morphine, but so far, as of late yesterday, no broken bone or damaged organ has been found responsible.

My husband was very weary when I saw him yesterday. Visiting hours coincide with what used to be our nap time, and we both suffer. He is still on antibiotics for both a chest and a urinary infection. He no longer had an oxygen tube up his nose – he said he had told them to remove it. That might explain some of his weariness and breathlessness. I'm going to try to talk to a dr today – although I suspect the wonderful ward nurse knows more than any of them.


One of you came to the door yesterday, just before Visiting Time, and left me a lavender plant and a wonderful glossy gardenia. She had been on the calendar for a long time. We had hoped to meet for a bit of LYS and lunch had circumstances been otherwise. The lavender is of a superb dark blue – they can be awfully peely-wally – and will I hope, one day not too far away, find a home in Strathardle.

The gardenia is a sensation. I doubt if I have seen one since high school days in New Jersey. I've looked it up and chosen what I hope is the best spot for it, best-of-a-bad-job, I'm afraid, in accordance with advice from the RHS – in the bedroom with my cactuses. It can't go out on our sunny doorstep, even on warmer days than this, because it doesn't like too much direct sunlight, the RHS says.


I've simply pressed on with the Fantoosh, ignoring the calls of reason. I'm now working on the 3rd repeat of Chart B – the one with eight lozenges.

Skeindalous, thanks for the maths. I think you've left out one repeat (not that the Knitting Police would shoot you for stopping at that point). The first two lozenges are established by the Setup Chart. There then follow eleven repeats of Chart B. So I think there'll be a whole other row, of 24 units, if you knit it as written.

But you've done the hard work, and I can and will use your results in my sidebar.

One of the rather gratifying things about the pattern is that the lower, st st portion of each lozenge is knit in the rank below (that's why you need a Setup Chart to start with). So my current eight lozenges are almost finished before I begin them.

I find the first row of the twisted rib which finishes off each lozenge, rather difficult to get through. That is a great incentive, of course, to polish off these eight and see if I can get it right-first-time for the ten which will follow. I ordered the needles from Meadow Yarn, and they have been dispatched. Today? I ordered one the length of the needle I am currently using, and another the length Kate Davies specifies. Even if they do come today, the shorter one may be too short.

It's a very clever pattern, very highly recommended.


I have established a system of life where I cook something for lunch and finish off eating it when I get back from the hospital, utterly exhausted, ready to fall into bed. Yesterday it was a potato salad of Jamie's, with some smoked trout. The day before that, a rice salad. Today I think I'll attempt a Fattoush. The coincidence of name is irresistible.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Another day, another dollar.

Our niece C. came with me on yesterday's hospital visit. We found my husband much as he had been on Sunday. He still had oxygen tubes up his nose. The antibiotics were no longer attached, but the machine was still there. The male nurse in charge of things, whom we love and trust, said that OT was holding off for a couple of days. Tamar, yes, oxygen saturation is being tested and “bloods” taken. C. thought he was a bit chirpier than when she visited with me last week.

Then a couple of hours after she dropped me back here, she phoned to say that her daughter (another C., I'm afraid; this threatens to get confusing) had been thrown from a horse and was conscious and waiting for an ambulance. She phoned again later in the evening to say that the younger C. was in the other major Edinburgh hospital, in considerable pain, being given morphine, in a neck brace and a pelvic brace, but able, at least, to wriggle fingers and toes.

And she phoned just now to say that her daughter has been admitted to an orthopedic ward. Initial xrays have come up clean, but she is still in a great deal of pain, still being given morphine.


Well, Fantoosh is wonderful. If anyone is holding back – I can't imagine it, but... – you must go ahead. It's hard enough to be fun. It's easy enough to be fun.

Kate D. is right – the lozenge pattern is easy to master. I had a bit more trouble with the question of how they connect to each other, but I think I'm getting on top of that one. I've finished the set-up chart, two lozenges, and the first iteration of the “proper” chart, another four. I've embarked on the six-lozenge row. There are another ten repeats of that chart to go, counting the one I'm doing, each one adding two more lozenges to the row.

I am irritated with myself for not being able to work out a simple arithmetic formula to tell me how many lozenges there will be altogether. Obviously, I can just write down a list of the repeats – 4,6,8,10,etc. – and add them up. But there must be a snappier approach.

I love the yarn. And the first thing I must do this morning is go off to Meadow Yarns and order a new KnitPro needle or two. I don't seem to have any in the right size – not surprising, with the number of WIPs I am piling up. It's surprising I have an available needle at all. But it's too shiny, and the yarn itself is sort of slippy. I'll be happier with the slight adhesiveness of wood.

Scifiknitter, I suspect you're right that it's going to be impossible to drop Fantoosh from the Active WIP list. Here they all are:

A system will be required. The late, great Judy Sumner used to have a different WIP for every day of the week. I'm getting dangerously near that position.

(Scifiknitter, a friend called around last week to tell us that his girlfriend, a woman I suppose in her 50's, has a rare form of lung cancer. She is Dutch, living in Amsterdam, and has been enrolled in the trial of a new drug in which not many people are involved, world-wide. I wonder if you and Lieke are trying the same thing? So far, Jimmy said, she's doing well – it seems to have stopped the disease in its tracks.)

Monday, May 25, 2015

My husband was less well yesterday. He had apparently fainted, or nearly fainted, when being helped back to bed after his shower on Saturday (they didn't tell us) and again yesterday. He has been checked over from head to toe. He told me and Helen himself that he had had another chest xray on Saturday, and we were puzzled. Yesterday he was being given oxygen again, and an intravenous antibiotic. There is some infection, lung and urinary, and some fever, the excellent nurse explained. Oxygen saturation is OK.

I think “incarceration” is the word, Shandy. He certainly regards his time in hospital as imprisonment. And “rehab” will do fine as the word for the next stage. There has been some talk of moving him to a ward dedicated to that purpose, or even to a different establishment. I was told to bring in clothes for him today so that he can demonstrate to the Occupational Therapist his ability to put (at least some of) them on. I am afraid he will regard that undertaking as “social work” and be extremely bad tempered.

I am sure the NHS is as eager to get rid of him as he is of it.

Alas, that epistle about the Medes and the Elamites was badly read in Leith yesterday, as it often is, even in the cathedral we used to attend. Maybe I'll have better luck next year.


I got on well with Fantoosh yesterday. The garter tab worked fine with an ordinary, un-crocheted cast-on. I have nearly finished the set-up chart which establishes the first two tesserae. That's not the right word: the first two lozenges or tiles. Kate Davies says that the pattern is easily memorised. At first I thought she had overestimated me, but I am beginning to think she might be right. I'm afraid I'm going to have to go on to the next, four-lozenge rank.

But then I must stop and finish at least one of the other things.

I plucked Nancy Bush's “Knitted Lace of Estonia” from the shelf – it was actually in the right place. And found everything to be as she said in the Craftsy lessons. Modern Estonian knitters now sometimes knit the edging on (since the invention of circular needles) but the traditional way is to sew it on – in two long pieces for the big square or rectangular shawls. And to use a single length of yarn to do it.

The pattern of three-for-one and two-for-one as you sew applies mostly at the corners. I hadn't grasped that on Craftsy, where one progresses fairly rapidly from one corner to the next on the small sample shawl. And Bush admits that a bit of fudging may be necessary to ensure that a scallop is properly centred at each corner.

And meanwhile I'm getting on fine with Eunny Jang and lace. We started out with basic left-leaning and right-leaning meshs and have now progressed into slightly more advanced lace patterns, where the YO's are separate from the decreases. But we are still keeping the building blocks in sight. This is relevant both to the Tokyo shawl and to Fantoosh, and really rather interesting.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I got some things done yesterday – not many, but some, including winding (but not casting on) a skein of Old Maiden Aunt's wonderful yarn. Now I'm alone – Greek Helen and her son Archie are on their way back to Athens. It is fun to feed him. We had bean salad and fresh tuna for lunch yesterday, and Jamie Oliver's Pasta Peperonata for supper. No left-overs.

I won't get much done today. I have given up the practice of religion since all this started, but I think I will turn out this morning. It's Pentecost, and I love that list of all the places people came from, who heard the Apostles preaching in their own languages. Medes and Elamites...and the parts of Libya around Cyrene.

There was once an old woman who enthused to her priest about “that blessed word Mesopotamia”. That's how I feel about the Medes and the Elamites.

This will be the first time, in his second incarceration, that I have gone alone to visit my husband. I think he is half-resigned to the fact that I am not going to act against NHS opinion and try to get him out before they're ready to release him. But I am sure he will have something to say on the subject today. He is very weak. We are all hoping that energetic physiotherapy can make a difference soon.

Largely knitting

Mary Lou, I once had supper with Lily Chin, at or after Camp Stitches on the shores of Lake George in 2001 or some such year. I'm not trying to trump you – I'd much rather dine with Nancy Bush. Zite produced the video the other day of Lily crocheting that sweater for Letterman. She has weathered the intervening 15 years rather better than I have.

I remember her appearance on Franklin's brilliant list of stasher movies. For what it's worth, Safari on my iPad couldn't find that reference. I tried several approaches. Google had not the slightest difficulty.

Somewhere in the last few days I have read the words of someone – Tom of Holland? – who enjoys winding wool for the chance it gives him (I'm pretty sure it was a man writing) to get acquainted with the yarn. That's rather how I feel. I thought about colour as I was winding yesterday. This beautiful yarn is 70% alpaca, 20% silk, 10% cashmere. I believe that cashmere is not very good for colour – I believe that because I was so disappointed when I first saw cashmere Koigu. All the sparkle and glow was missing. And one certainly couldn't blame the dyers' skill.

Silk takes colour most wonderfully of all. So what about alpaca? Does it count as wool (which is of course splendid for colour)? But alpaca is sort of a goat, like cashmere, isn't it? Have I made too hasty a judgement about cashmere? The world is full of interesting questions.

I continue to keep myself company with Craftsy. When I've finished Eunny on lace I mean to go on to cables. Eunny was telling me yesterday about stretchy cast-on's for lace, and I thought of the wisdom of the system I prefer for Shetland shawls, where the only cast-on or bind-off is 20 stitches or so for the edging. (Pick up stitches for the borders from the long, straight edge of the edging; knit the borders inwards; knit the centre back and forth, taking in stitches from the adjacent borders; graft the final centre stitches to the live stitches of the fourth border. I don't mind grafting.)

But what I also wanted to mention was Bush's lesson about attaching the edging to an Estonian shawl. It's sewn on, with a complicated system of gathering in the edging to fit – 3 to 1, 2 to 1, or 1 to 1. The materials for the Craftsy sample shawl specified the sequence precisely, and needless to say, when Bush did it, it came out precisely right. It wouldn't for me, I'm sure. And it also seems unlikely that Estonian knitters have the scheme written out for them. I must look at her book.

But the thing that really puzzled me was that the sewing-on was done with a single length of yarn. You leave it attached to the ball and pull it through. It worked fine for the small sample shawl. But could you do that on a full-sized one? Again, I must look at the book.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

My husband will be in hospital for another few days. I gather that not much is wrong medically, but he is conspicuously weaker than he was during those – fairly horrendous – two days at home last week. We were present yesterday to watch him being moved from chair to bed, the space of a few inches, by two nurses. I couldn't manage with anything less than 24-hour help.

I wouldn't say that he is resigned to it, but he has realised that simple fury is not going to suffice to get him out. A physiotherapist explained to him yesterday that going home now, even with care, would probably result in his sinking further. Daily physiotherapy at the hospital for a while is much more likely to be productive of results.

Rachel and Ed were here yesterday, as well as Greek Helen. They had long planned to spend this weekend on Loch Fyne tasting possible wines for the wedding – Matt and Hellie are coming up, too. I suspect a good time will be had by all. Rachel and Ed both managed to get an extra day off work so that they could come here first to visit my husband. They went west yesterday evening. Greek Helen is still here – she and Archie (because it's half-term) are flying back to Athens tomorrow on that early EasyJet flight of happy memory.


However, that's not really the news.

It is this: one of you gave me the Fantoosh pattern, through Ravelry. I have sent a message of thanks by the same means, which I hope she has received. I have printed and studied the pattern.

And someone else has anonymously paid Old Maiden Aunt for the yarn. I've had an email from Paypal to say that my payment has been refunded. A Random Act of Kindness, the donor said.

It is impossible to express my feelings about this kindness. I showed the note from PayPal to Greek Helen this morning, and saw tears in her eyes. That's how I feel, too. Thank you and thank you and thank you.

And I think I will allow myself to wind the yarn and start the shawl this morning – although after that, I will have to lay it aside until something is finished. It begins – Kate D., how could you? – with a four-link crochet chain in waste yarn, the foundation of a garter tab.

Well, as it happens, I've done a garter tab with Stephen West. He starts by casting on three stitches. Kate Davies wants me to pick up only two from that chain. I'll try casting on – I have searing memories of crochet chains and waste yarn and agonised unpicking. Maybe casting on won't work for only two stitches, but that's what I'll try first. (You then knit six rows, then pick up stitches down the side and across the cast-on edge – or, in Kate D's case, you whip out the chain and knit the two live stitches.)

Whatever, it won't take long. I'll report back soon. If casting on doesn't work, I must have a crochet hook here somewhere. I resolved yesterday that if my husband is going to be safely incarcerated for the next few days, as appears to be the case, I must make better use of my few remaining mornings. Up to now, I have been spending them, one could almost say, huddled in terror at the prospect of the afternoon's hospital visit, and then flinging myself into bed, exhausted, on arrival home.

I've been having a very nice time with Craftsy, when I wake up at 4 a.m. after the above procedure. I've finished Nancy Bush and her nupps and gone on to Eunny Jang and lace. She's engagingly enthusiastic. Her name is pronounced “Oony”. I think I had been wondering if there would be a “y” sound in there.

Bush's sample Estonian shawl was beautiful. I'm tempted. I have something to say about the way the edging is attached, but perhaps that's better left for tomorrow.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I am grateful, again, for all your sympathy and advice. It had already (but only just) occurred to us that some sort of tranquilliser might soften my husband's mood and make life easier for all. Greek Helen is trying to consult the GP – he didn't have a telephone slot available yesterday. She will be here in propria persona this afternoon – that'll be wonderful. Something involving tofu and aubergine, I think, for supper.

I felt greatly strengthened by my day off yesterday, and Alexander reported that the visit wasn't as bad as he expected.

This afternoon someone from a private care firm is coming in to assess us. We had someone else of that sort on Tuesday – but they haven't been able to specify a starting date yet.


Yesterday evening I finally found an Old Maiden Aunt shade in the right yarn which was in stock – and which didn't bat me away when I tried to order two skeins. It's called “Hebridean” I think, and it's on its way. Now I'll have to buy the pattern and knit it!

I'm enjoying Nancy Bush's class. She's lovely, like someone I might have known in college. I like the oatmeal-y yarn she's using for the sample shawl, to the extent that I feel tempted to root around in stash and see if I could find something that might do. That would be ridiculous. I've got more than enough knitting already, with more on the way. The Tokyo shawl moved forward nicely yesterday.