Sunday, September 14, 2014

I found a parking ticket on my blameless car yesterday. This morning I composed a dignified letter of protest, not untinged with irony, and then looked closely at the ticket and discovered that it had been issued to somebody else altogether. So I had to start the letter again from scratch. Do you think the offender was stupid enough to suppose that moving the ticket to another car would let him off paying? I wrote the second letter and sent it off with the ticket, and it all eats into valuable blogging time.

I have nearly finished the third round (of four) of the mooskit stripe on the return half of the border of Rams & Yowes. Three stripes to go. I remember a line of Meg's somewhere, when they knit EZ's famous ribwarmer with a skirt, transforming it into a long jacket: Long Day's Journey into Garter Stitch. I am very negligent about keeping my Ravelry up to date, but I mean to post this as an FO once it achieves that status, with a warning to everyone not to think, when the centre part is finished, that they're anywhere near the end.


It looks as if we will be able to get to Strathardle soon. My husband has been agitating for a visit, although by now sufficiently aware of his frailty to sympathise with my reluctance to be there without support. Greek Helen is coming over for Mungo's first exeat at the end of the month, and Mungo – who I am sure would prefer the bright lights of Edinburgh, since he is at school in rural Perthshire already – has heroically agreed to spend it in Kirkmichael. Archie will join us.

Archie himself phoned yesterday, protesting mildly. Strathardle is boring. But since he has the bright lights available constantly on his doorstep, we don't have to feel too sorry for him. He sounded cheerful. Contrary to what I wrote yesterday, he said he doesn't care what happens to Scotland but will vote No for my sake.

We had a knock on the door from a No-campaigner yesterday. That doesn't often happen here, in any election. My Birmingham friend was surprised to see how little visual evidence there is of what is happening -- posters in windows, that sort of thing; I assured her that we are seething all right.

There'll Aways Be An England...

From Ian Paisley's obituary in the Telegraph yesterday:

“In the Eighties he flirted with the prospect of Protestant 'People's Militias' and once conveyed journalists to a hillside in Co Antrim at night to witness 500 men in military formation brandishing firearms licenses.”

I find that enormously funny. Maybe only American readers will agree. Maybe it isn't funny at all.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I had a grand time with our old friend from Birmingham but ran behind the clock for most of the rest of the day. I've embarked on the mooskit stripe on the return half of the Rams & Yowes border.

Hat, thank you for the tip about Franklin's toddler's brioche sweater in Knitty. I like it, and the accompanying article, as always with him, is a delight to read. He says that the original Weldon's pattern says that the rib can accommodate a growing child; you just have to knit an appropriate length. I did a half-day at a Stitches conference once on Designing for Children with somebody famous – probably Kristin Nicholas. She said the same thing, I remember – children get taller, but don't expand very much.


The Orange Order is going to march through Edinburgh today in support of the Union. That won't help. They're scary. I hope they'll lighten it up a bit, and maybe leave out the open bibles and crowns.

Mr Salmond has been helicoptering about visiting “the seven cities of Scotland”. It's easy to think of six, but I had to google for the seventh. It's Stirling, not Lerwick as I had hoped.

The polls continue to be very tight, with No just ahead. Businesses are becoming more outspoken about the economic dangers of independence, and now one of the more rabid socialists on the nationalist team has threatened that there will be retaliation after a Yes vote.

Roy Bremner (I'm a big fan) was good in the Telegraph yesterday, but even he left my husband unmoved.

Greek Helen says that Archie – we can count on a No vote there – is afraid that Independence would mean higher school fees, to the point where he couldn't stay at Merchiston. There's no danger of that – he has only one more academic year after this one anyway, and it would take a few years to unpick Scotland from the rUK. But it's desperately touching to learn that he is happy enough there to entertain such a worry.


I have begun to think seriously about The Wedding, not just the technical question of whether or not I'm going to try to persuade my husband to attempt it, but also what I'm going to wear. November 1: I'll probably need a COAT. A shawl might do the trick, if I took along a respectable-looking bag into which I could cram it. I'll look in the drawer, but I don't think there's anything suitable. Too late now.

And then there will have to be shoes. This is going to require more strength than I think I can muster.

Friday, September 12, 2014


I continue to feel that the tide may have turned on Wednesday. Mr. Salmond sounded cross and captious and defensive yesterday, about the banks threatening to leave and the supermarkets saying they might have to raise prices if a national border separated them from Scotland. And Gordon Brown, our Achilles, re-emerged from his tent once the Party Leaders were gone, and borrowed from Lincoln to say that you can ignore some of the warnings some of the time, but...


I'll have to be brief this morning. An old friend, our next door neighbour in Birmingham for many years, rang up yesterday. She's coming round for an early coffee so I must scramble through the early-morning things I normally do at snail's pace – going out for the papers, eviscerating a grapefruit for my husband's breakfast, that sort of thing.

But there isn't much to say, anyway. I've reached the shaela stripe on the inside border of Rams & Yowes. Four more to go, when shaela's finished. The corners are folding neatly inwards now that the decreases are adding up, matching the increases on the outward journey.

Back tomorrow in better voice, I hope.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


We watched a good program last night compiled from amateur videos of 9/11 with no commentary. It was dreadful to realise that there was plenty of time for anyone below the level where the planes hit – and they hit high. We actually heard at one point the instruction, “Stay on your level”. If only it had been, “Stand up. Leave everything. Keep calm. Walk downstairs.”


Things are looking slightly better this morning, The three Englishmen managed to breeze into town and out again without tripping over their shoelaces. Gordon Brown – the ex-Prime Minister and our great hope – prudently stayed out of the picture. And the latest poll is better. The man on the radio just now said that it showed the Yes campaign six points ahead, and I lay there in a cold sweat thinking, that's it then, we're sunk, and then after awhile he said with a little laugh that he meant to say that the No's were six points ahead.

And the banks where our money is have promised to move to England if the vote is Yes, so maybe I don't need to worry.

Mary Lou, thank you for the link to Krugman's article in the NYT. I think the No campaign has sort of given up trying to explain the currency problem over against Mr Salmond's bluster and is concentrating now on the fact that Yes is forever. A good point. I think quite a few people whose hearts say Yes will prudently vote No because they're scared of the unknown.


I haven't finished that sholmit stripe in the border of Rams & Yowes. Even as the stitch reductions at the corners begin to mount up, two rounds is about all I can do in a day. Each stripe is four rounds.

“Knit One Below” turned up yesterday and looks interesting, although my heart remains fixed on H.'s brioche socks. There's something about X's photography for Knitter 's which sets my teeth on edge, although I would be very hard put to explain what it is. It's easy to recognise his hand – that should be to his credit.

If you want to revel in photography, and knitting – Jared's fall collection is out.


The other book in yesterday's mail was Jamie's new “Comfort Food”. It's good, but not easy. They are some of the most complicated recipes I have seen from him in a long time. He clearly finds comfort (as would I, in other circumstances) in the sort of meal where you have one central dish and a lot of things in little bowls and a lot of people around the table.

I think my own two principle comfort dishes are Delia's chilli con carne and Madhur Jaffrey's Pork with Long Beans and Chives from “Step-by-Step Cookery”. Neither is exactly quick. I hope I'll pick up another one or two from Jamie.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dentistry went well. I'm not at all sure the root canal was necessary, and it was certainly expensive, but at least he's done no harm. He said there was an abcess.


General gloom. The rUK – indeed, the rWorld – has woken up to what is happening here. They flew the Saltire in Downing Street yesterday (silly) and today the three party leaders are coming to Scotland. That is likely to be counter-productive and if they make fools of themselves, as is all too likely, it will be disastrous. Mr Salmond must be smiling. There was some talk at the weekend of the Queen making a direct appeal to the people of Scotland. She quite rightly squashed that idea yesterday.

Alexander writes that he has moved their cash out of the Bank of Scotland. I'd better do so too, with ours. I feel much as I did during the week of the Cuban Missile Crisis when I heard that all the nuclear submarines in the Holy Loch had put to sea.

Thank God for knitting.

I'm doing the fourth stripe (sholmit) on the inside of the border of Rames & Yowes. I could even finish that stripe today if I press a bit. There are nine altogether.

The little book H. recommended turned up yesterday – “Knitting Brioche-Stitch Socks”. It sounds perfectly simple and looks luscious; I am eager to try. I knit a couple of rounds on the Pakokku sock yesterday while waiting for the dentist. I'd have to polish that pair off first, wouldn't I?

I've had a nice time, too, thinking about a shawl for a great-grandchild. There are some tempting possibilities in Stove's “Wrapped in Lace” – especially once I master the Fleegle system for garter stitch in the round. But I am greatly taken with the idea of re-knitting the one I made for Rachel before she was born.

You've heard the story before. It was a Paton's leaflet. The shawl was designed by Mrs Hunter of Unst, it said, and was knit in six parts – edging, four borders, centre – and sewn together. I doubt if that is the way Mrs Hunter did it. It is the sort of thing pattern-publishers did to EZ's work in those days, flattening her circular patterns into back-and-forth. So she started publishing on her own, and changed the world.

But anyway. I lost that Paton's leaflet and for many years sought for it in every charity shop I passed. I finally found it, to my great joy, at the annual Christian Aid booksale. It would be fun to knit the shawl again in one piece.

Interestingly, Stove has that same leaflet and knit from it when she was expecting her first child (page 25 of Wrapped in Lace, with a picture). But she chose the other design.


JAG, I agree with Judith that guising (on Halloween) is best done in a familiar community or not at all. I sort of think, as Tamar's note suggests, that Scotland invented it. The English prefer Guy Fawkes to Halloween. The little boys on Loch Fyne love it – but they live in a rural community where everybody knows everybody.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

I forgot to mention yesterday that I wouldn't be here today -- I have an early dentist's appt, a root canal I think it's called, which will be a pleasant change from worrying about the referendum. See you tomorrow, I hope.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Don't miss – as if you would! – Kate Davies' post about her fortnight in Sweden and Shetland. I am so looking forward to her yoke book And the news that Hazel Tindall – the world's fastest knitter, I believe – is about to release a DVD about Fair Isle knitting, is very exciting. That will get me back to my knitting belt and the Fair Isle supplies I bought at Jamieson & Smith a year ago, if anything will.

Thank you for the comments about how cold it gets in DC. Theo himself sent these pictures of his son Ted last winter.

I am sorry I was so gloomy yesterday. I am much weighed down by the fast-approaching referendum. This isn't at all funny. Linda, good luck on researching the issues (and please let me know anything interesting you discover). But I wonder how many people are paying attention. I see the issues as a) the currency – if Scotland can't use the pound, they'll have to do something else, and that will involve establishing a central bank with a considerable reserve of capital if they want to be taken seriously. Otherwise (for instance) bank accounts won't have a government guarantee as at present, and, I gather, EU membership will be ruled out. And, (b) North Sea oil, how much remains? Enough to fund Mr Salmond's promises?

But is that what they're talking about in the pubs in Govan?

I raised the question yesterday of what I will knit for a great-grandchild, if I'm still capable of holding the needles when one finally looms. The answer is, undoubtedly, a lace-weight shawl for use in the early weeks. An aid to modestly when feeding, and for general carrying of the baby around the house.

I knit one for Archie – my first venture into lace-weight – from a leaflet of Gladys Amedro's, written as “Gema Ord”, an anagram. I could go back to that. I designed shawls for some of the subsequent babies – I can remember only two, a disastrously cluttered one for one of the Little Boys now of Loch Fyne, and a rather successful – because simple – one for Fergus, younger brother to Archie and Mungo. It had alternate roses and thistles around the border, for England and Scotland, David and Helen, and interlocking Greek crosses in the centre for Fergus himself, born in Thessaloniki.

There must have been others. I'll look around a bit, and think about it.

Brioche stitch: The article in IK cites Principles of Knitting in its brief bibliography, the 1988 edition. I've got it, and I can't find anything. Nothing in the index under B for Brioche or F for Fisherman, nor anything appropriate in the many entries under R for Rib.

I must be doing something wrong. Hiatt wouldn't have omitted so important a subject.


Kristin, I wish I could watch the men' s singles final but, as you say, not at 2 a.m. The radio said yesterday that Japan is on fire with enthu*ia*m – my * key ha* *uddenly failed – but that no one expected this, so there are no arrangements for the match to be televised. S seems to have come back. Go, Nishikori!