Friday, August 17, 2018


It’s wonderful to have my knitting back.

I’m at that stage, familiar to all – especially to all who are slightly worried about whether they have enough yarn – where I go round and round and round, watching the ball of yarn from which I am knitting diminish, while the knitting itself remains unchanged.

In sober fact, I’ve knit nearly 5 inches. There are 11 to go before the underarm. The construction of the Kirigami is that of a simple yoke sweater. When I get to the underarm, I ought to have a better idea of how the yarn is holding up. I could, perhaps, shorten the arms somewhat.

I chose the percentage for the sidebar simply because I had eight skeins of yarn and I have used up one of them.

IK turned up today. I was almost afraid to open it, so disappointed had I been with the last issue. This one’s OK. Almost everything is cabled. I think I would go first for the Sandy Neck pullover, but maybe that’s just because I’m keen on their male model. I do like cables. I don’t think I’ve done any since the Dunfallandy blankie I knit for the first great-granddaughter.

As for the rest of life, I (as so often) didn’t get very far. I did make progress with the task of dispatching two boxes of my husband’s papers to the man who has taken over work on the magnum opus. I’ll have to do Italy tomorrow, after all.

Does anyone know about booking Italian trains? I know it is possible, probably easy. But is it necessary? Here in GB, it would be insane (price-wise) not to book a train as far in advance as possible. But it might be less stressful not to be committed to a specific train.

Mulfina, thank you for the link to the article on New Jersey Italian. I'll chase that one up. The Duchess who gave me and Archie our cooking lesson in Palermo told me that she once was employed in Glasgow teaching Italian to Scottish-Italians a couple of generations removed who knew none of their "native" language. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018


Shandy (comment yesterday) – you are a good friend. That’s the answer, of course. Gudrun’s “Kirigami” pattern never made it into the WIP list in the sidebar until today, and was set aside – I don’t remember the circumstances; perhaps when we won the Calcutta Cup.

I got it out this afternoon, and made a certain amount of progress, including the finishing of the first skein. I’m omitting the waist shaping, since I’m thinking of this one for myself and I haven’t got a waist any more. Doing it that way will use a bit more yarn, which gives me something to worry about. It’s a madtosh DK called “Penny Loafers” and it’s “one of a kind”. So if I run out, it won’t just be a matter of a different dye lot…

Blog-wise, this won’t be much more interesting than Rachel’s socks. Probably less, since the circumference is so much greater. But the great thing is to be knitting again.

Not much was accomplished today, otherwise.  If we’re going to Italy in October, I must get started booking things. I’ll do that tomorrow. This idea grew from my wish to see the Riace bronzes. They are in Reggio Calabria, right down in the toe of Italy. There is an airport there, but so small that to get there from pretty well anywhere, you have to spend a long time somewhere else waiting for the connecting flight.

So I thought, why not fly to Naples and go down to Reggio C. by train? Much easier and more entertaining. We’ll stay a couple of days in Naples, having got there, eating pizza and visiting antiquities.

There seems to be no reason to linger in Reggio C., once one has seen the bronzes. But my big discovery was that from there, one can take a train to Sicily. So we’ll do that, and go to Catania, and book a car and driver one day to take us to Piazza Armerina for the mosaics. From Catania there are reasonably convenient flights home.

But thinking is no use, without some actual bookings.

It was this journey, as I remember, that killed Il Gattopardo. He was in Naples, and instead of taking the ferry home to Palermo, insisted on going by train. I’ll read that chapter again. 

One thing I did get done today was to chop up some chillis and put them to ferment, with the thought of making some more hot sauce.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


An Oberlin friend writes what I think might be called a private blog, addressed almost every day to 20 or 30 family and friends. She tells us what she’s been doing. She is fully my age, if not a few months older, far more sociable and energetic, carrying far more responsibility. It is a daily pleasure to read about her.

That is the sort of blog this is turning into, as knitting falls from my listless fingers. Except less energetic.

I got up to Valvona and Crolla again today, so plenty of exercise. And spotted the new, fancy-schmancy restaurant at last. I must have walked past it at least twice.

I’ve thought of a whole new anxiety – if Archie and I go to Italy in October, I might miss the starting gun for EYF ’19 classes.  Someone could always act on my behalf. I'll have wi-fi wherever I go: I can choose my classes. It's only the finger-on-the-button bit that might not work. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


I’m sorry about yesterday. It was Helen’s husband’s David’s birthday, and we all went out to our favourite local hostelry on Broughton Street, the Blue Snail. The arrival of more, perhaps smarter, restaurants in the vicinity has clearly done it no harm so far. It was packed to the rafters.

Not much knitting, although I’m a bit further forward with Rachel’s sock.

I re-read my blog entries for the last month of my husband’s life. Those were tough days, but I did a lot more knitting than seems to be happening now. A great-granddaughter was expected any moment; I was knitting Mary Lou’s Polliwog for her.

I fell asleep (literally) during “Fake or Fortune” on Sunday night. I think the moral is, I need to program knitting into an earlier part of the day. Perhaps I should attempt the quiz which has replaced Pointless, although I shudder at the thought.

The resolution of Sunday’s program (=fake) depended on the say-so of an expert, unseen and unheard, who seemed to be relying on the witness of her eyes (exactly as I had been complaining didn’t happen) despite all the science produced by the program.

I am contemplating another Italian adventure in early October, before the university term starts. Archie is game. Naples – Reggio Calabria – Catania, travelling by train except for there-and-back. Scylla and Charybdis seem to hold no fears for the Italian railway system. We shall see. I’m not sure I’m strong enough now, let alone in several weeks’ time.

Sunday, August 12, 2018


Again, little or no knitting.

I was overjoyed, Mary mom, to learn that the Druid company did their Godot in Chicago, and that you stood and cheered. It seemed far too wonderful an experience to be limited to a single week at the Edinburgh Festival. Greek Helen and a friend are going tonight – the last night, I think. Maybe she can get everybody to their feet.

There’s a wonderful touch, special to Edinburgh. You will remember that a Boy comes on, at the end of the first act, with a message from Mr Godot. He’s not coming, but he will be here tomorrow. The same Boy appears at the end of the second act with the same message. But he doesn’t recognise Vladimir and Estragon. “That must have been my brother.”

Edinburgh has produced identical twins, the perfection of 13-year-old schoolboys. If you didn’t have a programme, there was nothing to worry about – the same Boy-actor both times, you would assume, as in all other productions. But if you do know, you’re left to wonder – have you seen two boys, or only one? The programme implies that both were involved, but perhaps they alternate between performances. There was only one for the curtain call. I think Beckett would like that.

The Sylvia Plath program was much as might have been expected, with contributions from old friends. It sort of took us through the Bell Jar. It was interesting to see Frieda Hughes, the daughter, with both Sylvia and Ted discernible in her lineaments. I didn’t know that her brother Nicholas, the younger of the children, was himself a suicide. I must have known, and forgotten. It was fairly recent – 2009.

Tonight we move on to “Fake or Fortune” which my husband and I used to enjoy. I am always surprised that so little is made of authenticating a picture by looking at it, as opposed to science. That’s how he did it.  Like recognising your mother’s handwriting on an envelope, in the days when people sent each other letters every week.

Saturday, August 11, 2018


This is all culture, no knitting, I am afraid.

I hope everybody realised yesterday that silence was due to my busy day. And I got through it – the lunch with Helen’s sons at Dishoom was delightful. I took a taxi up, and walked back, so the day wasn’t completely without exercise. And I was still strong enough for Godot in the evening.

It was sensational. If we hadn’t all been so British, we would have stood up and cheered at the end. As the Times rightly said at the end of their review, “So there you have it. We can all stop waiting now. Godot has arrived.” [And yet they gave it only four stars. What did they want? Love interest?]

It was brilliantly designed and directed and acted and choreographed. I read some of it today, to see if they had hammed it up a bit to make it more entertaining. No, it’s all there in the text, including the stage directions. If the dead care for such things, Beckett must be very pleased.

Perhaps you have to be Irish to take him to that level. They all were – a company called Druid of which I had never previously heard.

Tonight on television – to descend to the mundane – is the program about Sylvia Plath which prompted our recent conversation. I have been reading The Bell Jar in preparation. I thought it was going to be a re-read – I’m sure the book is on a shelf in Kirkmichael – but it doesn’t feel at all familiar, after the first couple of chapters about the month in NYC with Mademoiselle.

It’s very grim. It was published shortly before her death, although the slightly-fictionalised events in it had happened a few years before. Did she feel that, once it was published, she owed it to her public to go through with a successful suicide?

I’ll watch, anyway, getting on with Rachel’s socks. Then, next week, the Calcutta Cup vest must be resumed.

Tomorrow is Paradox’ 1st birthday.

And what I forgot to tell you in advance, now really too late, is that there was a nice puff for Greek Helen and her mosaics in yesterday’s Times – but only in the Scottish edition, alas! in the Bricks & Mortar section, halfway through an article called, I am afraid, “Ways to Craft Your Own Homeware”.

Thursday, August 09, 2018


Somewhat better. I did my two circuits of Drummond Place Gardens. I finished Archie’s socks and in the afternoon Archie himself came to put the recycling out. It goes out fortnightly, and I have missed two: one for Wimbledon, one for Kirkmichael, so there's lots:



It looks a bit long in the foot. That’s easily corrected, in a top-down sock. I'll see what he thinks, after a bit. And I don’t know how that hole came about. I have fixed it. The yarn was broken. Moth? Cat? A snag?

Tomorrow Archie and his brothers and I will have a mid-afternoon lunch at Dishoom, when Archie finishes work, and then, I hope, a bit of a rest before taking a taxi to Godot. A busy day. And getting up Dublin Street to Dishoom is a strenuous walk – it will be good for me, but...

Comments

Interesting about weather, Chris. European weather often follows on behind American, but, clearly, not always. '62-63 was a savage winter here  -- the pregnancy that produced Helen gives me several secure points to remember it by. The last severe winter we had here was ’10-11 when my husband’s sister was dying.

Janet, my guess is that hiding under the desks to avoid nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis was a technique left over from WWII because they couldn’t think of anything else to do.

My mother was in Dallas that week, where her own mother was seriously ill. She didn’t notice what was happening, and in a few conversations on the subject subsequently, confused the Missile Crisis with the Bay of Pigs. And I will never know whether family anxieties obscured all else for her that week, or whether Texas is so far away and so big that they weren’t terrified the way we were in the centres of civilisation.

I can remember waking up and hearing the milkman’s horse in the street and thinking, well, it hasn’t happened yet.