Thursday, May 07, 2009


Dear Shandy, it would be wonderful if you could go to the Ravelry Woolday and be in the same room with Jared and Meg for a while, and tell us about it on your blog. And you almost inspire me to try parsnips again – for me, they tend not to come up much, and not to progress once they have condescended to appear. But I love to eat them; it might be worth trying again. No room, this year.

I’m glad you like LoveFilm. We’re currently working our way through the first series of Monty Python – no longer cutting-edge and therefore curiously dated, but still pretty funny.

Growing things: a lot of it is in the way the year sorts itself out. Peaches, for instance, are tricky to the point of nearly-ungrowable here. In the US, they get through seriously cold winters without difficulty, but expect a steady spring and hot summer when the time comes. Asparagus, somewhat similarly, doesn’t mind bitter cold, but can be thrown off-course by a British off-again-on-again spring. I have read – could it be true? – that sweet corn, reasonably reliable in the south of England, doesn’t like Scotland because it needs to do some growing at night and we don’t have much night from mid-June to mid-July.

And Cynthia – gosh! Forty-seven top edging points! (This is a Princess-knitting paragraph.) You inspired me to start counting – I had just plunged in. The join is so beautifully effortless-looking that I’m not absolutely sure where I started, but I think I’m halfway through repeat no. nine. I am certainly about halfway between the corner and that vast trackless desert of centre stitches. The fact that an hour’s session produces visible progress continues to delight me.

But I won’t be finished before CT, unlike you. I had dreams, in an earlier year, of offering it to Jenni for use at the wedding. (It might have been totally unsuitable, of course.) But I felt I couldn’t subject her to the uncertainty, or myself to the stress, so I didn’t, and a good thing too. I am still confident of finishing in ’09.

Mary Lou, thank you for investigating “Knitting and Tea”. Alas, I’ll pass it by, with many a sad backward glance at that handsome cover-model. I’m sure he really plays cricket, aren’t you? Something about the way he holds a teacup.

So now what do we think about “Knitting in Tuscany”? The title intrigues, but the cover picture is about as depressing as a knitting pattern gets.

I’ll finish with vegetables again. I have started putting my windowsill-grown beans and courgettes out on the doorstep for a few hours of daylight each day. It’s called “hardening off”. This is a picture from Tuesday morning, when they first went out. They are getting much buffeted by the wind – I may let them stay indoors today. But they must face up to things if they expect to flourish in Strathardle. All will, in due course, be supplemented by seeds sown directly in the soil – fairly soon now.


  1. This is the variety of sweetcorn I grow. (You will need to cut and paste..)

    I've only had one really disasterous year from this variety, out of ten years of growing it. One year I grew 80 seedlings, expecting about 50 to come to maturity and give one decent cob each. I ended up with 150 cobs and could barely give themm away fast enough, lol. Needs a hot summer for this size of crop, though. Worth a try?

    Parsnips? Tender & True, also from Kings. Fresh seed every year.

  2. No cuckoos in Oberlin-- at least none that I have heard- although I did encounter a skunk who was drowsing under my car in the old shed that doubles as a garage behind my house... you should have seen me run the other way as he woke up!!!