Saturday, February 18, 2017

Last night’s problems were resolved shortly before midnight, by two nurses who replaced my husband’s catheter, leaving me weary today (Perdita seems fine) but otherwise OK. The standard of care we receive continues to be astonishing.

An old friend and one-time next-door neighbour from Birmingham came to call today. She said that when her 90+-year-old mother was in hospital towards the end of her life, the social worker called the family in and said that Mrs Molnar would have to be out in a week (i.e., you’ve got to organise care and pay for it). I don’t entirely see why Scotland doesn’t sink beneath the waves, providing us with so much.

Not much knitting today, what with Nina’s visit and general exhaustion. But I am well embarked on the second half of the tenth repeat of the centre pattern of Mrs Hunter’s shawl. Each repeat consists of two rows of roundels, the second one offset.

I learn, a bit too late, that the EYF organisers were here (=around the corner) at Kathy’s Knits today, with a trunk show of patterns from Wool Tribe, the EYF magazine. I doubt if I could have fitted it in, even had I known, and it would have increased the stress of the day to try. I'm sort of sorry, anyway, to have missed it.

What I did do yesterday was to email Franklin urging him to book a gig at next year’s EYF. (I did that last year, too, with no result.) He’s all we lack. I’m sure they’re right in claiming to be “the UK’s premier urban hand-knitting show”. Presumably “urban” is included so that they don’t seem to be pushing ahead of Shetland Wool Week – otherwise, I can’t think of any rival claimants. Having all classes and all free-range market tickets sold out six weeks in advance would make Vogue Knitting Live itself feel a bit envious.

Presumably they are looking for bigger premises for next year. Both the vendors and the knitters must be intensely frustrated at the thought of all those people, keen to buy yarn, being kept outside the doors.

I also went to the Baa Ram Ewe website to look at their Dovestone DK, recommended for the shorter Ancasta. It looks pretty wonderful, both in terms of colour and of composition – none of your poncy merino, it is a blend of the wool of three breeds of British sheep. (I gather the British climate is too cold and damp for the delicate chests of merinos.) I haven’t emailed them yet, but will soon. It is sufficiently expensive that I would be glad for guidance on how much to buy – which Laine doesn’t provide. And sufficiently glorious, that I hope they will say they’re bringing truckloads to the EYF and I don’t have to choose a colour now.

Friday, February 17, 2017

My husband is having catheter problems, and I am waiting for a district nurse to come and resolve them, late at night. Someone phoned back, after our initial call, to say that they are inundated with calls this evening and therefore it’ll be a while. I continue to be astonished at the level of care we get. I think he has gone to sleep fairly comfortably. I can, and will, but wait.

I’ve made a fair start on the tenth repeat of the centre pattern of Mrs Hunter’s shawl.

You’ll have seen that Kate found her Wild Apple kit. I think you were too severe, Shandy – she had plenty of yarn, of course, but suddenly she had the time and she didn’t have the thing she had been planning to knit. I am always surprised when I read of people who finish something and don’t know what to do next. Part of the pleasure of finishing, for me, is lining up the next one, selecting it from the queue, laying out the yarn where I can watch it as I put the finishing touches on whatever.

The poor cat rightly says that it’s time to go to bed, and can’t understand my explanation of why we can’t do it.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Guess what? I found Gaughan. And guess where? Where she belonged – among the “technique” books on the knitting shelf in the bedroom.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that it is ever a good idea, when you’re looking for something, to go back, from time to time, to the place where it ought to be. As several of your perspicacious comments suggested.

I have enjoyed looking through the book  again today, keeping ever a sharp eye in case it showed any tendency to vanish into thin air. I am glad to have it, and perhaps even gladder to discover that I treated it with respect in the first place, and put it away where it belonged. My hold on life is ever more tenuous, and that discovery was a boost.

[No, in answer to your questions about my two big losses: no iPad and no keys. I feel pretty sure that the iPad must have been stolen, although that leaves several anxious questions unanswered. How did someone get in here and out again unobserved? The keys remain a total mystery. There is no way that a Bad Man could have got hold of them in Strathardle that day, surrounded as I was by family. I can still remember the sense of emptiness and surprise when I realized that they weren’t in my hand as they had been a moment before.]

Looking at cables in Gaughan has rekindled my enthusiasm for the shorter Ancasta. I think probably the time has come to email Baa Ram Ewe about the yarn.

I’ve finished the ninth repeat of the centre pattern of Mrs Hunter’s shawl. When I’ve done the tenth (of fourteen), it’ll be time to start counting – how many stitches remain to be swallowed? How many rows remain to be knit?


There’s nothing to be said about rugby, really. We get this weekend off. The unfortunate Scotland coach has got to find three men to replace Greig Laidlaw: a scrum half, a captain cool under fire, a near-faultless goal kicker. Not easy.

Does he have a slightly feline face? Or is it just that, loving him and loving Perdita, I want to find a resemblance? As I think I’ve said before, Laidlaw sizing up a kick and Perdita meditating a leap to a forbidden height, approach the problem in much the same way.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Greig Laidlaw won't be coming back to the Six Nations tournament, due to an injury to a ligament. I know that is not the sort of news you come here for. The one or two people actually interested, already know. But there is a certain knitting relevance. After our glorious victory over Ireland in the first match of the tournament, it was possible to toy with the dream of winning the Calcutta Cup.

[To do that, you have to (a) be Scotland and (b) beat England.]

I have commemorated every Scotland victory since 2000 in knitting. This year it was going to be a sleeveless Fair Isle vest for Alexander with my rendition of the Cup, and the year, just above the ribbing. But I don't think there's any chance at all without Mr Laidlaw so we don't need to worry about that.

I'm on to the ninth repeat of the centre pattern of Mrs Hunter's shawl -- of fourteen. 

No luck with Gaughan, either. I'm sure you're right, Mary Lou, that the fault isn't Perdita's.

Records show that I bought it late in November. That makes it a strong candidate for having been swept into a totally miscellaneous pile of books and papers to make space to celebrate Christmas. Once I had that thought, I believed I had cracked it, but no such luck. 

Your idea is a good one, Tamar, and one I still cling to -- the books I did find were here in the dining room, where I sit over my computer. The book must have been in here when I was writing enthusiastically to you about it. We ate Christmas dinner here, and later I needed most of the table for the Income Tax. But apart from the knitting books I found yesterday, everything seems to be art. I’m sure you’re right, Chloe, that it’s under something.

I feel confident that I wouldn't have mis-shelved it, but otherwise am completely baffled.

We have had two epic book-searches in recent years. One was for an old edition of Ripley's Believe it or Not. Alexander and James, in youth, annotated the illustrations, often very wittily. I looked for that high and low, both in Kirkmichael where the annotations had been done, and here. I eventually found it in a perfectly appropriate place, in a pile of books under the Glass-Fronted Bookcase. The G-FB is devoted to books by family members or to works of great significance, but has run out of space. I've given Ripley to Alexander.

The other was a book my husband had convinced himself that my sister had taken away to the USofA and never returned to him. He was fairly unpleasant about it. That one had been mis-shelved. I found it, purely by chance, not long ago, when I was looking for something to take him to read in hospital. It must have been there ever since we moved here from Birmingham in (I think) 1994.  I rang my sister up at once. The book is called "Ordeal by Hunger" and well worth a read. Copies are available, but my husband wanted his copy, which had belonged to his father. It's now in the G-FB. He never apologised. He was never very good at that, and he's far too old to learn how now.

Those two books were literally irreplaceable. I can always buy another Gaughan.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

There is little to report. I am nearly finished with the eighth repeat of the centre pattern of Mrs Hunter’s shawl – the seventh was the halfway point. The end is in sight.

My main knitterly concern today is that I cannot find Norah Gaughan’s “Knitted Cable Sourcebook”. I spent a fair amount of time looking for it. If I had shelved it, it would be among the “technique” books – Post-Quinn on double knitting, Hoxbro on shadow knitting, that sort of thing. I have so many brioche books that they are in a separate place. In neither place, however, do I find Gaughan.

I thought of one spot after another where she might be, and have left little pools of tidiness behind me all day. I found Mrs Thompson’s “Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys, and Arans”. I think I may have mentioned here recently my anxiety about her absence from her place on the shelf. I found Franklin’s colouring book. But no Gaughan.

I am sufficiently sad and anxious that I may even buy myself another copy. It is a seriously good book.


I have nothing more to tell you about Greig Laidlaw’s ankle. He has gone back to Gloucester, where he plays rugby when he is not playing it for Scotland. That’s better than being trussed up in a French hospital – the match, on Sunday, was in Paris. I’ll keep you posted.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Home again -- although in fact I never got very far. The weather on Saturday morning was appalling, and I feared that appalling might = snow in Strathardle. I didn't feel strong enough for snow. So I spent the weekend in Helen's and David's lovely, comfortable flat on Windsor Street, while they went away to Strathardle.

Helen says that the pipes are OK and the mice haven’t been in and it was bitter cold. They meant to stay another day, but the weather got too much even for them, and they’re safely back here this evening.

I spent much of the time in bed. Very little knitting. I re-watched two Craftsy favourites, Stephen West "Shawlscapes" (delightful) and Franklin on Heirloom Lace Edgings. The former may have provided some suggestions for EYF yarn-buying, and the latter could be very useful when it comes to sewing up the open corner of Mrs Hunter's shawl.

Or what if I just slid needles through the chained edgings on either side of that opening and did a three-needle bind-off on the inside?

I think Perdita was glad to see me back, but it's hard to tell with a cat. My husband did well with his carer, so future escapes are a possibility.

One thing I think I have partially learned in extreme old age, is that length can be a more useful measurement than weight in yarn substitutions. A skein of the yarn I’m using for Mrs Hunter is 940 yards long. So at the moment I know what it means, to knit 940 yards. And other shawl patterns which define their requirements in yards, can be judged accordingly.

Today’s pattern for KD's "Inspired by Islay" club is a pretty yolk sweater which would be a good use for a set of gradient yarns.

And have you seen her sad blog post, asking for suggestions as to what to knit? "Inspired by Islay" has gone to the printer. Suddenly she has time. She thought she had a kit, laid aside for this very moment, but she can't find it. She doesn't have much of a stash. What an organised woman! And what a dreadful situation!


I did get out of bed long enough to watch the rugby on both days. Scotland lost to France, and far, far worse, we lost our captain to an ankle injury at the end of the first half-hour. We don't know yet how bad it is, but it doesn’t sound good. With him off the field, there was no hope. I watched the rest of the match in glum misery. He is the best captain we've had since Gavin Hastings in the last millennium, cool under fire and also, incidentally, brilliant at kicking goals.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

I’m very much better. Although I was spared the dread coreopsis, I felt pretty low on Tuesday and Wednesday, but am now, I think, restored to my usual sub-par level, perhaps because of the antibiotics, perhaps because the boil started to drain yesterday, whatever.

Barbara-Kay, very grateful for your reminder about hand-washing. I’m not always desperately conscientious, but in this case I knew the dangers and have tried hard. Public service announcement re-broadcast.

The plan has long been to go to Strathardle on Saturday with Greek Helen and her husband David, who returns from Thessaloniki tomorrow, and Fergus. There has been some suspense because of my health, and because of bad weather forecasts, but at the moment it's all systems go. I thought we were to have Archie, but no. I had thought about taking the cat, but no. A carer whom my husband knows and likes will live in. If all goes well, the world is my oyster.

The temptation will be to spend 20 hours asleep and the other 4 knitting, but I must get out for a good walk both days and, of course, contrive somehow to watch France-Scotland on Sunday. If we could win that one…

I am very grateful indeed for your help with my quest for patterns to walk around the EYF with. JeanK introduced me this morning to Heidi Kirrmaier, a brilliant suggestion. And, Sharon, I have looked at Versaciknits, also with profit. I was interested, and indeed inspired, to read two endorsements for Nancy’s Vest. What’s the point, I ask myself, of exploring the EYF for grey yarn? But maybe there’s more to that search than meets the eye.

Which brings me back to the point where exhaustion supervened last night – the (grey) yarn I am using for Mrs Hunter’s shawl. I have always loved variegated yarns, from the days when I made i-cord with four nails stuck into an empty cotton reel. I think, when I first discovered hand-painted lace yarn, I went more than a bit OTT, with the result that the shawls knit for the Little Boys – who happened to be the grandchildren available at that time – were more than a bit garish.

Less is more. There have been no grandchildren since, and I have had time to calm down. This yarn – The Yarn Collective, Portland Lace, merino, “Morning Rain” – is something that turned up in my email “promotions” one morning, and is perfect. Variegated enough to make the result interesting and to keep me happy, but nothing to startle the horses when they wrap the baby in it and take him/her (I don’t want to know, at this point) down to the pub for lunch.