Friday, February 23, 2018

I blocked the shawl, not altogether straight. Now that I'm on my own, I could block on the double bed and spend a couple of nights in the spare room. I think, if I live to knit any more lace, I'll have to do that, although I'd be sorry to lose my comfortable bed, even for two nights. But crawling around on the floor is getting a bit difficult.



It’ll have to do.

I have resumed the Soutache scarf, not altogether successfully. And brioche is not very frog-able. My comfort is that I am knitting the centre part which will largely disappear behind the wearer’s neck. By the time I emerge out the other side, I should have remembered how to do it.


Here is a perfect illustration of the difference between the sisters’ tails. The floor looks like that because Paradox has been savaging a roll of kitchen paper. Perdita still growls and hisses, but without much conviction. As you see, they have reached a modus vivendi.

And here is Perdita taking her turn on the computer. She has made some changes to the settings which I don’t approve of, but can’t figure out how to change. Things are sort of elongated. She is a very clever cat.

Non-knit, non-cat

When I sit down here tomorrow evening, I’ll know who won the Calcutta Cup. The friends who drove me to the funeral will be at the match, but not Alexander, who failed to get tickets.

I have bought myself a spiralizer. A friend points out that I could probably have had it for a quarter the price at a charity shop: spiralisers were big a few years ago. Still, it’s fun, and works well. There is more spiralizing coming up in next week’s Mindful Chef meals.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

I guess you’d have to say that the funeral was a great success, although the phrase sounds inappropriate. It was a beautiful day, clear blue sky, pretty cold but absolutely still. The dreadful wind turbines on the moor above Alyth weren’t turning. (Wind turbines need their own Hitchcock to make a North-by-Northwest-type movie about them.) There was a good turnout – even the local baronet came, the man who leads the pipe band onto the Bannerfield, with drawn sword, on Games day.

The metrical psalm “The Lord’s My Shepherd” is pretty well obligatory at Scottish funerals. There is a special poignancy about singing it for a shepherd.

The burial ground is a short distance from the church, along the road towards our house. When we first came to Kirkmichael, 53 years ago, there were only two or three graves. Now, a lot of our friends are there, and our grandson, and my husband, and, sooner or later, me. If you know Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town” you’ll remember the village graveyard. It’s like that. They did that play in Pitlochry decades ago and had me in tears. Even James, aged about seven, said “It makes my eyes prickle”.

We’ll have a good time on the Day of Judgment, standing around talking to each other.

No knitting yesterday, but today I have finished tidying the baby shawl and sewing the open corner. I’m rather pleased with it, and hope I’ll get it blocked tomorrow. I’ll take before-and-after pictures for you. It’s too dark for photography just now.

So I’ll be available for a new WIP just in time for the Calcutta Cup match on Saturday. Perhaps it’s a Sign.

This week’s West Highland Way pattern is a cowl, pleasant enough but not one for my list. Meanwhile the indefatigable KD has turned her “Carbeth” pattern into a cardigan. It’s a short, easy-fitting, cosy number which has become instantly popular in its original, pullover form. The cardigan, especially, is seriously tempting. Two strands of Buachaille held together.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

I think tomorrow’s funeral is casting a gloomy shadow over this evening. I have still to make sure I can lay my hands on some decent clothes in the morning before an early departure, and to do some washing up.

It was very good to see Archie, who seems in good form, and the Mindful Chef produced one of his better efforts. I’ve still got two vegan meals to get through this week, but there’s nothing in either so perishable that it can’t wait, if I’m too feeble to cook tomorrow evening. I am likely to be too tired to post here, as well.

AND I’ve not only finished knitting that shawl, I’ve also grafted the top border to the centre. There remains at least a day’s work before blocking: I knit the borders in garter stitch by knitting them back and forth, which means that the fourth corner is still to be sewn up. And then there are the loose ends – not only the ones where new yarn was joined in, but also the ones where cats intervened.

You can scarcely move in this house for knitting books, but when I wanted to be reminded of how to graft garter stitch (it’s very easy), I google’d a YouTube video. The world moves on.


Judith, I was overjoyed to discover that my estimate of ¼ mile for the circuit of Drummond Place Gardens was not entirely wide of the mark, and I am sure the knowledge will help keep me walking. (Today I walked to the top of Broughton Street to get some things for lunch – that’s further than twice around the gardens, I’m sure, and also up hill.) Thank you very much indeed for your map-geek-ery.

Archie introduced me to Thomas Ligoti. Horror is something of a speciality of his (Archie’s). It was he who introduced me to Lovecraft, some years ago. Poe I knew, but I had never heard of Lovecraft. I bought Ligoti for my Kindle – he’s a Penguin Classic, no less. I read a couple of stories with my supper, and I think that’s enough for tonight. I’ve started re-reading Persuasion, a much safer harbour for a gloomy evening.

Ligoti is ¾ Sicilian. That island seems to be following me around.

Monday, February 19, 2018

It has been another quiet day. Helen is gone, and will be away for three weeks. The installation of my new kitchen looms, and inspires dread. Still, it won’t happen this week.

I find I have reached the final pattern repeat for the centre of the baby shawl, rather to my own surprise. I might be grafting tomorrow – when the knitting is finished, the stitches are grafted to the live stitches of the fourth border. Fortunately, I love grafting, although I’ll have to look up how to do it in garter stitch. And I could be blocking by the end of the week.

Archie is coming to lunch tomorrow. Today’s Mindful Chef – smoked trout and quinoa in a sort of kedgeree – would have been plenty for two. Broccoli cropped up again. Tomorrow is a monkfish curry. I think I’ll see if I can get a bit more monkfish, just in case; and perhaps some more black rice from Health Food opposite the fishmonger there at the top of Broughton Street.

That will do for tomorrow’s walking. Today, inspired by (or, under pressure from) Mary Lou, I walked twice around Drummond Place Gardens. I tell myself that it’s a quarter of a mile per circuit, but I am probably flattering myself. It was sad to remember how recently I used to speed-walk four circuits in the morning before going to get the papers.  

No, I haven’t seen your French detective series, Shandy (comment yesterday). My Italian one is called “Maltese” and is all about the Mafia. The first episode was on Channel Four one Sunday, but since then it is not being broadcast anywhere and one has to summon it up from somewhere in the bowels of the television set. One of Alexander’s sons showed me how to do it. It’s good, but rather unpleasantly violent.

Half-asleep, I heard a Syrian girl from Aleppo on the radio this morning. She has cerebral palsy and could not get out at all, therefore no school. She had learned English by watching American television, and spoke it brilliantly. I don’t think Maltese (or anything else) is likely to have such an effect on me. The girl is now in Germany and somehow or other, there, manages to get to school, where she is doing well. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Again, there is nothing much to report. My new food box will arrive tomorrow, and you’ll be glad to hear that I have a potato in the oven baking even as we speak. I’ve been looking at other recipe boxes on-line – Waitrose now offers one. But they all have a two-person minimum per meal, which makes it seem expensive. And I wouldn’t care to have a single meal dragging out over two days. Freezing isn’t practical, because everybody seems to depend on crunch and freshness.

I haven’t done much knitting. I watched an episode of an Italian thriller this afternoon, for the sake of the language. I was able to knit lace while I watched, without error but it was very slow. I hope to get some more done after I’ve had my potato.

I wrote a note in the Fruity Knitting Group on Ravelry the other day, asking when Andrew and Andrea were going to be in the Podcast Room (or whatever it’s called) at the EYF, as I knew they were coming. Andrea has replied, so now I need to match her reply to my class times.


Mary Lou, no, I’m not walking for Lent, although that’s a very good idea, especially as the weather eases and days lengthen. I’ve given up alcohol, and hope to shed a bit of poundage and feel more energetic thereby. Or at least to be able to visit the doctor and grumble in a fortnight or so.

Today is the first day of Calcutta Cup week. The match is on Saturday.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

I have faced up to the end-game of the baby shawl. There is one less stitch than there should be on the left-hand side, where I take in a stitch at the end of every right-side row. That will be easily fudged. And, better yet, the pattern itself comes out even, as Amedro wants. That is, I’ll finish with a complete repeat.

So February may see it done.

I feel very sorry for the people I used to meet on the Knitlist in the Good Old Days, who found themselves at a loss when they finished a major WIP. For me, one of the considerable pleasures of actually finishing, is juggling what-next in my head during these last few days. Immediately, I resume the Soutache scarf. But there should be room to add something else once the shawl is blocked and ready for the post.

Kate Davies has, as I hoped she would, written about the new West Highland Way pattern on her blog. It’s called Stronachlachar, and the blog post includes a good picture of it. I’m very tempted, except that it would mean buying yarn, an unimaginable hardship. KD used to go in for snug-fitting to a degree that I didn’t entirely like, but she seems to have relaxed a bit.

Anonymous, I cannot imagine why you failed the robot test (comment yesterday). The questions sound very difficult. I’m sure I couldn’t have managed.


Helen’s husband David, who still works in Thessaloniki, is here this weekend – they will go back together on Monday, and she will be away for three weeks, much missed. They are going to Jordon to visit their son Mungo who is learning Arabic there.

Today, a lovely day, we went walking in the Botanic Gardens. We visited the glasshouses, where I haven’t been for a long time. Four days of Lent have not proved sufficient to provide me with any oomph, but at least I stayed the course.

Friday, February 16, 2018

There is little to report. Mary Lou, thank you for telling me that those beautiful LYKKE Norwegian needles are made in Japan. You have saved me from myself. I think Loop are bringing them along to the EYF. I might just take a peep.

On Wednesdays Kate Davies gives us West Highland Way people a new pattern with an unpronounceable geographical name connected with the Way – and on Fridays we get an essay from her about the place. This week’s one is particularly interesting, about Glasgow’s water supply.

I knew Glasgow got its water from Loch Katrine, and that it is particularly good water. I didn’t know what a feat of Victorian engineering was involved, nor that it was built in response to a mid-century cholera epidemic. Maybe the essay will be available on her blog soon. Or maybe you’d have to buy the book. Hopkins’ Inversnaid makes an appearance this week, too.

The shawl centre continues well. The markers for the two final corners are getting closer.

I found the new “Shetland” (on television) rather dull, and abandoned it. It was wonderful to see the landscape, though. Tonight I will watch Nigel Slater's food programme. He's in Iran.

An old friend has died, the Kirkmichael neighbour who for many years farmed our fields. He was 93, even older than my husband. Other old friends will take me with them to Kirkmichael for the funeral next Wednesday. Greek Helen, unfortunately, will be in Greece.