Wednesday, May 06, 2009


I forgot to say – we heard the cuckoo in Strathardle last week, and saw a swallow. Swallows have been flying around Loch Fyne for at least ten days.

Do we have cuckoos in America? We must. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard one except in Kirkmichael. (And have never seen one, at all.) They’re pretty rural, I think: one wouldn’t expect them in Detroit. But what about semi-rural or small town – West Allenhurst, NJ, and Oberlin, Ohio? I don’t remember cuckoos. The season at which they sing their unmistakable song is pretty brief.

Thank you for the vegetarian comments. Mel, I follow the progress of your garden keenly, via comments and the blog itself. I don’t think tomatoes really “do” anywhere in the UK except under glass or polythene; I envy you them. Lee and Gretchen, thanks for the memories of eating radishes with butter. It sounds good, and I will pass the idea on to Ketki. She likes radishes, and Alexander grows them for her.

The Princess

I’m pleased with my success at fixing the first hole – it’ll definitely pass the galloping horse test. I’m enjoying this top edging a lot, although I know there are yards and yards to go. After the struggle at the end of the centre, when I had to knit hundreds of stitches (literally) for every one I was allowed to pluck from the border, it’s a great pleasure to be steaming along so comparatively fast. Even if I get only one repeat done in an evening, that’s ten loops picked up from the edge of the border.


After... In this picture, the edging has advanced slightly beyond the trouble spot.

I bought myself a copy of Photoshop Elements ages ago, with the thought of being able to draw circles on photographs to point out Important Aspects. This would be the perfect occasion to demonstrate – except that I’ve never even installed the program.

Knitting, General

The bedsocks fit fine, and I’m now ready to venture on a whole pair of real socks for my husband. Normally, on 64 stitches, a pair of gent’s socks takes me somewhat more than 100 grams. Economically – although economy is rarely evident in any other aspect of my yarn-buying – I buy only two balls, 50 grams each, and finish the toes with something from the scrap bag.

But I was afraid that on 72 stitches, the change might come too far up the foot, so yesterday I ordered three balls of KF’s “Mirage Twilight”. And while I was at it, I discovered that the great man has produced a whole new range of sock-wool, called “Exotic”, unknown to me or to John Lewis’ Edinburgh yarn department. Exotic is striped, like Landscape, only sort of crazy stripes. Irresistible. So I ordered two balls of “Exotic Clay” with Rachel in mind. I find that with KF stripes, all you have to do is cast on. The socks then knit themselves. You can see part of the range here.

I got Meg’s spring newsletter this morning – it cost me $37: the new Baby-Child-Adult Surprise leaflet, the catalogue of the recent Bohus Strickning exhibition in Minneapolis, and oh! those arch-shaped stockings. How I wish I could go to the UK Ravelry jamboree in Coventry in June! Meg will be there. Among others.


  1. Anonymous12:31 PM

    Your patch/darn/reknit is totally undetectable. Forget the galloping horse criterion; even the offending mouse would be hard put to identify his handiwork.

    I have dedicated countless hours to my edging, and have finished 47 points. My side edging ended exactly on row 10, which makes the math much easier for the top; I only need to decrease 2 sts along the way, and begin the second side on row 11.

    The end is in sight for both of us. We'll be done before CT.


  2. We saw and heard cuckoos in upstate New York last year on a hike. We were out in the Schoharie Valley on a short hike (west of Albany). It was a bad caterpillar season and the woods were literally crawling with the nasty chewing pests. As we hiked the birds calls were so distinct--like nothing I had ever heard before. We got home and immediately called our friend at the Audobon Society. Turns out that caterpillars are one of the cuckoos favorite treats!

  3. Hi Jean

    I don't know if you're aware of Kirstie's Handmade Home (

    It's all quite smug and irritating for the most part, but last week, amongst other things, she (a) "learned" to knit and (b) poked around Kaffe Fassett's London sitting room for ideas about colour. You can probably watch it on the Channel 4 online player thingy if you're interested

  4. I can't see the mend from here. I am surprised to hear that there are cuckoos in the US, I didn't know that. I have distinct memories of hearing that cuckoo clock call in France when I was about 19. I rushed back to write a letter to my mother and tell her I had heard a cuckoo. BTW, I took a good look at Knitting and Tea. The cover sweater has no chart and I didn't see much else that impressed me. There is a cricket blazer to knit and recipes for tea cakes and goodies.

  5. Beautiful job of mending!

    Are the early Alaskan tomatoes an option?

  6. i wonder if short-season tomatoes might help the tomato growing issue. We actually have a short-ish season where i live, but it gets HOT in the summer. I think the only thing that gets me through the summer is the fact that it brings the tomatoes. has a collection of short season heirloom tomato seeds. They also have a tomato growing guide with some ideas I had not seen before (not that i am an expert tomato grower by any means).

  7. Oh, Jean, what a mine of information your blog continues to be. I use Ravelry all the time but had not noticed a UK event. And with Jared Flood in attendance!

    I have still to thank you for mentioning Love Film. We have worked our way through "I, Claudius" and "Martin Chuzzlewit". Such an easy system.

  8. This year, I am trying upside-down tomatoes (in recycled 2L bottles) in my bay window. So far they are still green and content (although it's tricky to tell a drooping leaf, upside down). I also have some "micro-toms" which reportedly will fruit in a 7-9cm pot!