Sunday, November 21, 2010

I have lost my most recent note of where in the Western Infirmary C. is to be found, now that she has been moved again from High Dependency, so I’ll have to phone our niece today. That will give me some idea of what to expect tomorrow. My husband and I move through our fairly strict daily routine in our usual elderly way, but every so often he says something which shews that his thoughts – probably even more than mine – are fixed in that currently unknown ward.

When my time comes, I wonder – this is really trivial and silly, but it’s what I’ve been thinking about – whether I will be able to recite memorised poetry to myself, when too weak to read and disinclined for my own thoughts. To that end, I have been reinforcing the little I memorised in youth, beginning with Act V Scene 5 of Macbeth. We made a recording of it in our English class during my final year at Asbury Park High School. I couldn’t have been involved, because no woman speaks. But I came away knowing it all, and have brought the memory back to near-word-perfect in the last few days.

It is an eventful scene – Macbeth is told that his wife is dead, delivers himself of “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow”, and immediately thereafter is informed that Birnam wood is on its way to Dunsinane.

When I think I have got that back to a state of effortless recall, I’ll move on to Horace Odes II, 14. When I was a freshman at Oberlin, Mr Murphy bribed us with a whole extra 5 points on our final exam score if we would learn it and write it out for him. Wise man.


Thank you for the information on interchangeable needles. I think I half-knew that small sizes didn’t work – which makes the bringing-out of an expensive lace set, in a case, rather odd. I was interested to learn from the Japanese blogger that the needles in the lace set are much shorter than non-lace Addi Clicks. Sharon Miller prefers them like that – I’m not going to track down the reference – and will bend the end sections of an otherwise satisfactory circular quite radically to achieve it.

I will have a look at St*rmore’s Fair Isle, Tamar. If you and I were free to walk the streets of Perth today, I would show you the spot where once was the LYS which claimed to have been the first to import coloured Shetland yarns to the mainland. When I knew them, in the ‘60’s, they still sold leaflets like this – alas, undated.

As the handwritten note says, I knit the second one for James when he looked more like the model than he does now. The shop was able to supply the yarns as specified, a miracle I took for granted. I have made a note within that one needs only one ounce of No. 68, Rust, not two as the pattern claims.

I was afraid they wouldn’t like it if I bought in one fell swoop one each of the entire set of patterns– why on earth not? but such are the follies that youth fastens upon us. So I used to buy one every time I went in. I can still remember the thrill of horror and my sharp cry, the day I discovered that the shop was gone. My husband said I mustn’t behave like that in the public streets. I think we had stopped for sustenance on a wintry journey from Leicester to Strathardle, and had had a Chinese somewhere nearby on South Methven Street. I remember that it was dark.

As for my current knitting, I plodded onwards with the scarf yesterday.

I think I can safely say that I’ve passed the half-way point. It now measures 4’ 3”, but the essential measurement is that I am more than half-way through the third ball (of five) of Cocoon. I mean to go on until the last stopping-point before the yarn is used up. I think the-longer-the-better, for this one.


  1. Re tailor-made knitwear. Patons and Baldwins published "The Art of Knitting" by James Norbury in 1950The interesting thing in this text is the prevalence of garments in three-ply, even for a man's cardigan called "Smoker's Delight" for the "Husky male." D.K. is used for zipper jackets called "Come Wind, come Weather", but there are no patterns using Aran or chunky wool. Virtually everything is shaped by increasing up the sides, and fine yarn would make a close fit possible. But was this just echoing the prevailing fashion, or was thicker wool not available?

  2. I don't remember anything much thicker than DK being available back then - certainly in the second half of the fifties. I can vaguely remember an attitude of "youngsters too impatient to do things properly" in the (?)early sixties when chunkier yarn became more readily available.

    I can also remember how hard it became to find 3ply in anything other than baby colours - for a good few years in the early sixties, the only place to get good colours was RS Duncan, and then they closed. Certainly there was nothing on the High Streets I patronised.

    What I wanted to knit more than anything was one of those very thin button through cardis that we used to wear back to front, with a pencil skirt. That would have needed 2ply, and it just wasn't there.

  3. Anonymous2:27 PM

    Jean, I think the reason Addi has chime out with the interchangeable lace needles in larger sizes is that many knitters, like me,a prefer the fine, sharp points on the lace needles for general knitting. I find they make cables, bobbled, much easier than normal Addi points. Unfortunately I do not like the interchangeable sets so I am acquiring a complete set of larger needles as I go.

    Barbara M.

  4. From my experience of working with the elderly and my own grandparents is seems the oldest and most treasured memories seem to stay the longest.

    My grandmother's fondest memory was going to the Chicago World's Fair in her early twenties. She relived that trip many times a day as dementia set in towards the end.

    I like to use HyaHya needles for lace knitting. They're inexpensive compared to Addi and very well made.

  5. I have nothing of import to say, except that I look forward to your posts every day. Thanks for blogging.

  6. Recall on poetry - tonight my husband, out of the blue, tried to recite a poem he had memorized at his preparatory school when he was 10 or so - a Walter de la Mare poem. Not great on the recall but an interesting anecdote about a nasty teacher from the past to go with it. I told him of your efforts with MacBeth. All this resonates with the present for me as I have been assigned to memorize the words for Home on the Range, Down in the Valley, and The Red River Valley. I am not doing very well so far.