Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I stayed wide awake through Wimbledon yesterday, rejoiced in both the victories I saw – Murray is Murray, and Serena, like me, is a pulmonary embolism survivor, although she seems to have recovered full vigour, like the Socklady and unlike me.

I finished the border of the Hansel hap, decrease round and all, and have started on the edging. I surprise myself by not having 5mm dp’s of any sort. I’ve sent to Meadow Yarn for some, and they emailed promptly back that some have been dispatched. Meanwhile I have some 4.5mm Knit Pro Cubics and one of those is doing nicely in the interim. EZ: “Knitting is forgiving stuff”.

The promised fortnightly bulletin about the progress of the Vintage Shetland Project is again late – the last one appeared on June 7. Poor Susan! Her book and the Haps book would have nicely complemented each other had Vintage Shetland appeared at the first or second announced date. Now it will limp sadly in arrears, and she cannot fail to be aware of the recent smooth launch and rapturous reception of the other book.


Everything continues to be extraordinary, and now the Labour Party is imploding. There was a profile of Jeremy Corbyn in a recent New Yorker. I didn’t get through it – perhaps I had better go back and try again. I wonder if this is at all what things felt like in 1939 and 1940, before Churchill? The “phoney war”, what’s going on here? Who’s in charge?

There are letters in the Times from sage greybeards who say that the referendum means nothing, legally – only an Act of Parliament can disconnect GB from the EU. Others say that maybe the referendum will have shaken Brussels into giving us what we’ve been asking for, namely control over migrant workers from other EU states, and then we could have another referendum. (Nigel Farage: “It’s not best two out of three.”) And Nicola Sturgeon is trying hard to keep Scotland in the EU even without the rest of the UK. How would that work? Would they want us, now that oil is worth so little? What would we use for money?

It’s nothing if not interesting.

I google’d “glyphosate” just now and found nothing up-to-date. A decision has to be made NOW, I learned, as the current license runs out at the end of the month.

Non-knit, non-Brexit

The indefatigable Queen is on a visit to Northern Ireland. She met Martin McGuinness yesterday (they have met before). “How are you?” he asked. “I’m still alive,” she said. (He had once proclaimed her a legitimate target.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I dozed through Wimbledon yesterday afternoon, knitting in hand, and thus missed the Upset of the Century. I’ll pay attention when the winner -- he's actually British -- reappears, playing Federer.

Football is not among my interests, but no knitter could be entirely unmoved by Iceland’s unexpected triumph yesterday.


I had started to feel so guilty about feeling hopeful when everyone else was feeling sad, as almost to forget that Archie&I had actually voted Remain. But things seemed a bit better yesterday. An Action Group of some sort has been set up –filled with civil servants (think “Yes, Minister”). I don’t suppose most politicians know any more about the knitty gritty of the tendrils binding us to the EU than do you or I, but civil servants ought to.  And then I read Libby Purves’ column in yesterday’s Times – I have long loved her – and felt even better.

“Respect voters, channel Chesterton: ‘Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget/ For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet.’ OK, they may have spoken wrong and plunged us into difficulties. But it is not fair to blame them more than the arrogant, incompetent Brussels institutions and the decades when governments neglected inequality.”

The excellent “Farming Today” programme on the radio yesterday morning said that the decision on glysophate was expected that day. I haven’t heard it yet.


Hap-knitting is certainly getting slower, but I have finished with the colours and reverted to the grey. I am knitting the penultimate round, and may finish the border today if I can stay awake for Wimbledon. Then a decrease round, and a final round of purl – I’m unlikely to achieve all that today.

Jen Arnall-Culliford, co-editor with Kate Davies of the new Haps book, says that someone or other is working on every single pattern in the  HapsarehappeningKAL in Ravelry  – two weeks and two days after publication. That’s pretty good going, and a tribute to the all-around excellence of the patterns.

I got all excited about Kate’s blog post about the Cordova Gansey Project in Alaska – but, alas, it doesn’t represent a whole new vein of previously-unknown gansey patterns, as I had hoped for an instant.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Very little to report.

I am knitting round 45 of the 50-round Hansel border – the last pattern round, as it happens. All is well. Watching Gudrun’s lesson about knitting the edging reminds me that I must look at my dp collection: do I have a sufficiently elegant needle in the right size for the edging? Most of my dp’s are much narrower-gauge, for socks. Do that today.

We watched Question Time yesterday evening – it’s really very good, and Dimbleby is brilliant. It was about the Subject of the Day, of course, and we heard a lot about the racism which several commenters have mentioned.

I think there is a real potential confusion here, although I may be underestimating the British Public. On the one hand, membership of the EU means free movement of all its citizens from one place to another as takes their fancy, much as citizens of any state can move anywhere else in the US. But not quite like that, since language is likely to be different and since EU migrants aren’t citizens of wherever they pitch up, and can’t vote.

Britain is worried, with perhaps some reason, about excessive migration from new-member Eastern European states, attracted by the contrast between our Welfare State and their poverty.

On the other hand, there are the wave upon wave of refugees moving from Syria westwards, and from North Africa northwards. These unfortunate people have no “rights” at all in the EU. 

 I think voters may have muddled these two groups together a bit – and thrown in the many legal Indian, Chinese, and Pakistani residents of this country (usually citizens, unlike me) who of course have nothing to do with the EU. This is from memory: I think citizens of India and Pakistan (and probably Hong Kong) used to have free entry into the UK, and I think I can remember the passing of the Act of Parliament, long, long ago, that locked the door against them. It would have been in the ‘50’s.

Racism is certainly an ugly current in Brexit. But it’s not the whole story, and I remain hopeful. I am sorry to see that KD is as sad as I know many of you are. Farmers are terrified – something like 40% of their income is paid directly from Brussels in the form of the Common Agricultural Policy, and they don’t trust Westminster or Holyrood to make it up to them.

A learned professor says in today’s Telegraph – “Parliament will be required to sustain a policy to which most MPs are opposed, an event without precedent in its long history.” You read it here first.

There is a tremendous sense of confusion and emptiness at the centre.

But today is the first day of Wimbledon!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Knitlass, your Irish friend will be perfectly all right. The right of citizens of the Irish Republic to live and work – and vote – in Britain is enshrined, as they say, in an Act of Parliament from the 1940’s. It has nothing to do with the EU.

It could be that the reason why older people have voted Brexit in greater numbers than the young, is that we can remember Britain before all this started happening.

I’m not as worried as a lot of you are (although Archie&I voted Remain). To me, this will mean that Scotland’s battered fishing industry can reclaim our inshore waters (until Mrs Sturgeon takes us back into the EU, of course) and that we can decide for ourselves whether or not to go on using glysophate in our gardens and on our farms. The democratically-elected EU parliament decided in open session some weeks ago, by a considerable majority, that glysophate was OK. The unelected Commission in Brussels will decide this week, behind closed doors, whether we can use it. That’s the sort of thing I don’t understand or like.

And I do not think the Brexit leaders are madmen. Students from Europe, as from further afield, will still be able to study here, I feel sure. The position of foreign passport-holders who live here, and British passport-holders who live elsewhere, may prove slightly more difficult, or may not.  There are such things as visas. Three of our four children have wandered the world. One or another of them has lived and worked in Mumbai, New York, Hong Kong, Beijing, Cairo, Bahrain – to mention only the non-EU places. The world is pretty small these days. I don’t think that will change.

 I’m a bit worried about Ketki’s job – she works for J.P.Morgan in Glasgow. She and Alexnder and the Little Boys are on holiday in the US at the moment. I am sure she is facing the future with Hindu calm.

I had better go back to talking about knitting.

I have only nine rounds of the Hansel border left to do. I have joined in Contrast Colour One, last as it was first. Five more rounds of that, then four final rounds in the main colour, and I’m ready for the edging. Can I get that far before my sister gets here on Wednesday? The rounds are awfully long by now. I’ve re-watched Gudrun’s Craftsy lesson about knitting the edging, and am raring to go.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Well, here’s a how-de-do. Anxious emails washed ashore more or less simultaneously yesterday from Greek Helen’s husband, who works for the Black Sea Trade and Development bank in Thessaloniki; and my sister in DC, worried about her investments. And I am distressed by your distress, Knitlass.

But, although Archie&I voted Remain, I am not entirely sorry about the outcome. A favourite writer, AA Gill, defending Remain, asked in the Sunday Times recently whether we had actually noticed any diminution of sovereignty. My answer is yes, although my examples – you’ve heard about the bees – are all from the countryside. And I am afraid I am rather enjoying the sight of Mr Cameron getting his come-uppance – he knows he will be remembered in history as the Prime Minister who needlessly took GB out of the EU and thereby broke up the United Kingdom. The Lord North de nos jours.

I am sanguine about the loss of the EU. I don’t like its undemocratic secrecy, or its itch for a United States of Europe. But I will deeply regret the loss of the United Kingdom, which now seems inevitable. I don’t think Mrs Sturgeon will make Mr Salmond’s mistake of sailing into a referendum on independence without having thought out the question of currency. Will she offer us the Euro? Maybe there’s hope after all.

It is a very odd situation, unparalleled in my experience – having a parliament forced to act against its wishes. Normally, its will is sovereign – it has been called, with some justice,  an elected dictatorship. But now it will be forced to do something the majority of its members find repugnant.

Well, we shall see.


I continue to move happily forward with the Hansel shawl. I have finished with Contrast Colour 3 and, sure enough, needed a very small contribution from a second ball of yarn. I have now moved on to CC2, for which I will presumably need a little bit more.

KayT, I know absolutely what you mean about rushing to deliver-in-person-rather-than-having-to-post-it. My sister will be here next week (she'll find it cheaper than she would have the week before) and I could almost have the shawl ready to give to her: her grandson being the baby involved. But I am a couple of weeks short of that being possible. The best I can hope for is that I will be knitting the edging by the time she gets here, and she can see the shawl gradually being released.

Aine, yes, and thank you – that’s the sweater I was admiring on Andy Murray last weekend. How well the sweater fits the man, as well as the cables fitting the sweater. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

So -- tomorrow we'll know about Brexit. Knitlass, I am a hollow reed, changing my mind every half hour. Archie's vote will have been cast your way, but I think I might be a bit happier tomorrow morning if it has gone the other way. It will also be interesting to see how Mr Trump fares here -- he's coming to open his improvements at Turnberry Golf Course, one of the great ones. ("Here" = Scotland, not Drummond Place.)

I wrote last night, meaning to polish and post this morning, as I often do. But this morning got away from me, as it often does, and already last night’s paragraphs begin to sound stale. Amended, they follow.

My husband is perhaps a bit stronger. At least, he has been walking a few steps with the zimmer frame, which he hasn’t done for a while. He still seems sleepy and dim. A dr will call on Tuesday, when the course of fairly fierce antibiotics prescribed for him last Sunday is finished.

An old friend came to call yesterday afternoon; my husband was glad to see him and brightened considerably. The friend was, we all thought, a confirmed bachelor until, in his early forties, he met his match: a woman of the same age, as stubborn as himself, or so he tells it. A Dutch woman, not greatly enamoured of Scotland. They didn’t marry, but had fifteen happy years and were planning old age together in Belgium, as a compromise: until she died, earlier this year, of a rare form of lung cancer. She was a life-long non-smoker, robustly healthy. Jimmy is devastated. The house in Amsterdam has been sold. He has come back here and doesn’t know what to do with the rest of his life. But he feels he will have to give a good account of it, when he and Lieke next meet.


I have reached round 33, of 50, on the borders of the Hansel hap. The rounds are getting longer all right. I bought two balls of each of the four contrast colours, guided by the yardages given on the pattern. I have now finished with Contrast Four, and have plenty of yarn left from its first ball. No great harm done – I will put it away with the colours I bought that happy day in Jamieson & Smith, and wait for Scotland to win the Calcutta Cup so that I can knit Alexander his Fair Isle vest.

Contrast Three, on the other hand, may or may not require a few yards from the second ball. I’ll know soon. Contrasts One and Two certainly will. It’s all rather exciting.

I have become a patron of Knitty – I can’t now remember exactly how it was done. I hope I have given them access to my credit card and don’t have to take any further action myself this week. My reward has been, recently, to hear their report on TNNA  (gradient yarns are in) and now to have an advance look at the new issue. It’s nice.

The thing about Knitty, though, is not so much advance looks as the fact that, there it is, and one goes back, in my case, nowadays, more often than I go back to real magazine, often late in the evening.  In the old days I used to read VK in the bath until I knew each issue by heart, but times have changed.

I feel I’ve knit from Knitty as much (or more) as from any other publication: Kate Gilbert’s Clapotis Shawl, that one everyone was doing a few years ago, with long ladders made by dropping stitches; the Dunfallandy blankie; the Cameo flower shawl – I can’t really count that yet, but at least I printed it out and bought the yarn for it at EYF.

And I feel pretty sure that there’s at least one other Knitty FO out there somewhere.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

We had sorrel soup yesterday, from a recipe as recently adumbrated, and with the main ingredient harvested from our own doorstep. Very tasty it was, too.

Here is June virtually gone – the summer solstice passed, always a sad moment. Plenty of excitement left this week, however. I don’t have a vote of my own, not being a British subject, but Archie says he has no idea how to deal with the referendum and is happy to cast my vote. I have told him to vote Remain, although with many misgivings. I won’t be entirely sorry if it goes the other way.

That very day (=tomorrow) is Rachel’s birthday. And two days later, her husband will be 60. If you want to feel old, try having your younger sister living in a retirement community and then finding that you have a son-in-law of sixty.

Yesterday was a day much like other days. My husband is still not walking at all, even with his zimmer frame. “Transfers” are slow and difficult. A dr will see him tomorrow.

I knit happily on with Gudrun’s hap. Purling alternate rows is bearable. I have twice found myself knitting when I should have been purling. Both times, I tinked, and re-did it right. I continue to enjoy this project enormously.

There are lots of interesting colour ideas in KD’s new Haps book, and two whole pages of colour schemes in Sharon Miller’s haps book. I like the notion of having the centre a blaze of colour, as in the picture on page 21 of KD’s book. All I need now is lots of great-grandchildren.

I’m glad you’re enjoying the book, Melfina, and very happy to take credit for inspiring you to buy it. Godrun’s Hansel pattern provides an excellent template for centre-out hap-knitting. Though essentially an edging-in girl myself, I think I’ll be coming back to this one often.

Thank you for the suggestion, Carol, that I look again at the Mason-Dixon knitting blog. I’ve signed up. And I wandered for a while through the old favourites, to the Men’s Knitting Retreat with Queer Joe, to her mountain top (with bears in the yard) with the Socklady. I’m glad to hear that her energy levels are back to normal – her pulmonary embolisms were more recent and I think more serious than mine, but I don’t yet feel properly energetic, and have begun to doubt that I ever will. How fortunate we are to have in knitting a passion that doesn’t demand much in the way of energy!

Andy Murray was pictured in a rather good cabled sweater last weekend. Telegraph magazine on Saturday? I must go back and try to find it before it gets totally submerged in our newspaper pile. The cables had been particularly well planned to fit the space available. Wouldn’t it be nice if he won Wimbledon again?