Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A good day’s vegetable-growing. Vaut le voyage. Now I am tired, and must spend today re-grouping, as far as possible, and resting for the assault on London tomorrow. Knitting is packed – what book to take? I’m too near the end of Hornet’s Nest to rely on it.

(When I read Warrender, I am impressed by how early everybody gets up in the morning. In Steig Larssen, it’s how much coffee they drink, and all that easy angst-free sex. Warrender won’t do for London – too much Sweden, too soon.)

In the eight days I had been away from Strathardle, and despite leaving it under a cover of snow, spring had done that thing it does. Sprung. All the trees faintly misted with green along the motorway, and when I got there I found the seedling weeds. And that sudden feeling of the power and generosity of the earth.

There was not much actually to see, just the baby weeds and the feeling. The radishes are up, good old radishes, and I brought a few sticks of rhubarb back.

I watered in the nematodes. Fortunately the day was wet enough that I didn’t need to follow on with more water – we have to carry water from the house, for historical reasons too dull to go into here. That would have prolonged the job quite a bit. I got the potatoes planted. I stopped at a garden centre in Blairgowrie on the way to see if they had parsley yet, and they did, so that’s in. I planted peas, and some parsnips, and a few more spring onions.

I would have liked to add some more broad beans, and a bit of salad stuff, but time pressed. No pics. I could have showed you the baby radishes, but it was raining gently much of the time and I didn’t think that would be good for the camera.

As for knitting, I have cast on stripe four of the Chevron Scarf. I’ve got the hang of the long-tail cast-on now, picking up and putting down yarn and needles. And I finished a whole ball of Koigu on Monday evening, as hoped.

I was sufficiently alarmed by JeanfromCornwall’s comment about the possible waning of KF sock yarn that I went to my favourite supplier, Modern Knitting, and there found, I am glad to say, the complete range still on offer. There’s many a slip twixt the computer screen and the stash cupboard, I know, but I was glad at least to see no “out of stock”’s listed yet. They’ve got a lot of other wonderful things, too, if you want to be tempted by sock yarn.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Half-way through stripe three, of six. I’ve reached the point where it gets boring – I’ve done it, so to speak. Now it remains but to grit my teeth and go on doing it. One substantial consolation is that very soon, I will actually finish a ball of yarn. That happened often during the knitting of the Grandson Sweater, and I think I finished some red in the construction of the ear-flap hat for Beijing (which still hasn’t turned up there). Otherwise, not. No wonder the stash stays the same size.

And if I go on from here to Kaffe, the same situation will prevail.

And, Jean, yes, it’s going to be a bitch to block. My hope is that with a pin in each of the external points, and the whole thing stretched, the internal points won’t need individual attention, I can dream. It’s not terribly complicated, catdownunder. Feather and fan stripes, with the ingenious twist of semi-detachment.

And, yes, Mary, I’m afraid the doorstep was wet when I took yesterday’s picture. It wasn’t actually raining at the time, and the moment was brief. I don’t think any harm was done.


We sat down yesterday to face the question of going to London – my husband remains keen, although I’m not at all sure he’s up to it. He’s very short of breath, these days. I’ve been sort of dragging my feet and preferring to talk about something else – I don’t like leaving my vegetables this time of year, anyway.

However, he is determined. And when we sat down with the list of London exhibitions, and had nearly decided to go in June which might never happen, he kept sighing for the Gorky expo at Tatmo which goes off soon – so we’re going this week. Rachel, unfortunately, has room for us, in her household which involves much coming-and-going. I’ll go up to the station this afternoon and negotiate tickets.

I will try to fit in a day trip to Strathardle, all by myself, in advance of this. A couple of hours in reasonable weather (which we’re more or less having) should let me water in the nematodes – they expire on May 10 – and plant some or all of the remaining potatoes and perhaps a few seeds. So if I’m suddenly not here for a day, that’s where I am.

London should let me finish off Ketki’s socks and start another pair – some relatively boring ones for my husband next, I think, to make the KF yarn last longer. I noticed the last time I wandered around the yarn dep’t in John Lewis that they didn’t seem to have it any more, and tried to suppress a feeling of panic.

And Rachel has Free Cell on her computer.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I have never had an outage – is that a word? is it the word I want? – that lasted as long as yesterday’s. It was a disconcerting experience, like one of those dreams in which you need to say something and can’t speak. I don’t even have Free Cell on this computer to keep myself occupied – I deleted it, some years ago, in a burst of Lenten virtue. I found myself slightly surprised during the course of the day that knitting doesn’t need an internet connection.

During a previous period of glitches, minor by comparison with yesterday, I had made a note of some telephone numbers, so I was able to phone Customer Services. “We are aware…engineers are investigating…” It was a comfort. In the afternoon, the message was upgraded to “engineers are still investigating…” The first person who answers when you phone Demon Customer Services is a Scotsman who sounds slightly surprised at being pressed into service to make such a recording. He’s very reassuring, as no doubt he is intended to be.

(I phoned Virgin Money once, about an ISA. While waiting to speak to a human being, I heard the familiar voice of Richard Branson – “thank you for phoning Virgin,” sort of thing. How long did it take him to make that recording? Ten minutes, at most. It was an absolutely brilliant piece of marketing.)

I am well launched into Stripe Three (of six) of the Chevron Scarf. In repose, completely cast-off, it measured 48”. We’re aiming at 58”. It’s not an impossible gulf, given, especially, the open nature of the pattern.

And, Lisa, I think I would say it requires only a fair amount of patience. I did use the long-tail to cast on the third stripe. It was a bit complicated, keeping the two balls of yarn separate when I had to abandon one of them, every so often, to connect to the previous stripe. And also having two ends of the circular needle, plus my left thumb, to knit with. I was getting into a rhythm towards the end, and will persevere with the method, because it certainly makes the succeeding row easier.

Meg, thank you for your kind words (Comment, Friday) about the colours. My first thot had been to use different Koigu reds for each stripe, drawing on my extensive collection. But then I found I had enough of this colour-way for the whole thing. It’s quite like the illustration in VK, and I’m very happy with it, too.

And, Susan, thank you for the nudge – I will write up the jabot. (And congratulations on the weight loss. I love the pic of the scales and the stone. I have maintained my own loss, two-stone-plus-very-slightly-more. It’s tedious, sometimes, keeping up the discipline with no reward of additional loss, but on the other hand I often think of how heavy two stones are, and how nice it is not to be carrying them about. I can feel the difference.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A sudden lack of connection to the world – panic sets in. I’m still connected to Ground Control, but can’t reach anywhere on the Net. ISP trouble, right?

I was over there in Ravelry when trouble struck. I realised yesterday that if I wanted to find out about Irina Poludnenko, I had better look for her there rather than Googling her name in the wider world. I’ll learn, eventually. She’s done some good things.

While on Ravelry yesterday, I added the Chevron Scarf to my own pile of WIPs and FOs, and was impressed with how Ravelry has moved on. In my early days there, I laboriously catalogued my entire stash as then constituted, uploading pics to Flickr and then retrieving them for Ravelry. Now it’s seamless, straight from my computer to theirs, just like here on Blogger.

And yarns can now be fetched from stash for new projects.

And one’s projects can now be Organised. I mean to do that, although so far haven’t thought of any categories to organise them into.

So this morning I decided to add the Grandson Sweater and the ASJ to my page, and was engaged on that occupation when the outside world vanished beneath my feet. Most disconcerting.

The scarf progresses well. I’m knitting the final row of the second stripe. Of the three transitional rows – casting off in pattern; casting on again attaching to every 12th stitch of previous stripe; knitting 1st pattern row of new stripe – it’s the third that’s tough. Getting hold of stitches from the cable cast-on for the M1’s and even for the k2togs is hard.

So this time I’m going to attempt to employ a second ball of yarn again, and do a long-tail cast on. Will it work? I ought to find out this evening.

I also mean to measure length while it’s cast off, just to get a general idea. The pattern is aiming for something just short of five feet and my impression is that I’m in the right ball park.

I have a couple more things to say, but they involve on-line reality checks which are outside of my grasp. Nor, of course, can I post this. When you see it, it means I must be back with you.

And here I am -- at teatime. What a day!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tamar, thank you. It is a good thing you don’t have a blog of your own, so that you can devote serious computer time to knowing where the find the answer to everything. I am very grateful, and very comforted. (See comment yesterday – the problem was how to find my way around on the Stirling campus at Knitcamp in the summer, when I arrive breathless and need to find Franklin's class.)

Good progress with the scarf. I’ve started the second stripe, and although the process of casting off, casting on and picking up, and resuming the pattern over the cast-on stitches, is all a bit awkward, it’s do-able. And the fact that the scarf suddenly looks like the illustration is a great incentive to proceed.

I found that, for myself, the way to do the casting-on row was to *pick up the next stitch for joining and keep it there on the RH needle while cable-casting-on 11. Then knit it.* Repeat indefinitely.

The designer is called Irina Poludnenko. I google’d her without finding anything else that interested me. She seems to work mostly for Tahki Stacy Charles. although searching their website for her name yields nothing.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The computer is being unusually sluggish this morning.

Here’s the scarf so far – I’m casting off the first stripe, and should at least, today, progress as far as casting on the next. How easy will it be to hit the precise point required for the joins – the stitch between two M1’s? Blocking this baby is going to be as bad as lace – every point will have to be pinned.

Knit Camp

I continue uneasy, if only for having spent so much money and having absolutely nothing to show for it. The Ravelry group is some comfort – the enthusiasm of the knitters will carry things forward despite the organisers, to some extent. All I really need from on high is an indication of what building(s) on the Stirling campus will be devoted to classes. I have a nightmare of getting there half an hour early and not being able to find Franklin.

What bus to take (if I arrive by train), where to find it, how often it runs, where it will put me down – all that I can find for myself, if need be.

Annie Modesitt said the other day that classes are filling up FAST. But she said that a month ago, and registration has been open since the first of the year, so it can’t be true. A recent Q&A on the Ravelry group would seem to hint that no class has yet sold out.

I wonder how they mean to deal with classes that don’t attract enough punters. Do they just say, Sorry, Franklin, we won’t be wanting you after all? (I choose his name per impossibile; but there are others who might suffer that fate.) Can you treat famous knitters like that? What does Knitter’s Magazine do when not enough people sign up for an advertised class at Stitches? Many -- most? – of the teachers are American. Who is paying their air fares? Annie is fussy, and won’t teach for Stitches, so they must have offered her what sounded like a good deal.

As far as we hear from the organisers at all, it is all about the Knit Camp T-shirt and choosing a list of Ten Iconic Knitting Patterns and, in short, rather girly.


We went to a “hustings” last night at which appeared the candidates for the parliamentary seat of North Edinburgh and Leith. It was rather interesting. Worth being reminded, as this election gets more and more American, that what actually happens in Britain is not a vote for Cameron or Brown or Clegg or Salmond, but for some un-famous soul to represent a relatively small geographical collection of people, including oneself. I don’t think we have gerrymandering here.

None of the candidates was remotely slick. All were politicians, wittering on from their internal scripts about schools! and hospitals! and scrapping Trident! The audience was more interesting – large and angry and frightened of a future which will soon involve paying down the deficit.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My sister and her husband have bailed out and taken the offered refund for their non-refundable air tickets, figuring that there’s not much point in flying to Paris and then trying to reach GB if most of the population of these islands is over there, too, waiting to be evacuated from the beaches, Dunkirk-style. Roger and Helen will take awhile to recover, and then try again, maybe in June.

It’s sad. But at least Roger is there in CT with his vegetables at this vital time of year.

A good day, yesterday, involving much napping. I think we both feel much restored.

I’ve made a good start on the chevron scarf. I could never have done it without Gretchen’s comment of January 5, after I had had to make two attempts to cast on the Grandson Sweater. Her notion is to tie two balls of wool together, when doing a long-tail cast on, and use one for the stitches and the other for the long-tail. With 411 stitches involved, as here, that was a Godsend.

The scarf – for non-VK-owners – consists of six six-row stripes. End of story. Except that each stripe is cast off when complete, and the next one cast on and at the same time attached to its predecessor once every 12 stitches. The pattern is good old Feather and Fan, with the increases done as M1, lifting the bar between the next two stitches and knitting into the back of it. The pattern is a 12-stitch repeat, and is offset by 6 stitches in successive stripes. The points of attachment for successive stripes are likewise offset.

I’m using Koigu, which must be very close in size to the specified yarn, “Claudia Handpainted Yarns Cotton Ball” of which I have never heard. Koigu has slightly more metres to the gram, and I’m knitting on a 3mm needle as specified on the ball band, not 3.5 as the pattern says. So my result will probably be slightly smaller – but wool, on the other hand, may block more obligingly than cotton. I’m not worried.

There doesn’t seem much point in attempting a picture until I have attached the second stripe.

Thank you for advice about the Games. I still don’t feel that I’ll attempt another knitted toy, but I’ll look at Alan Dart. Interesting what you say about the judges feeling that Mrs Miles shouldn’t win too often, Mary Lou. They’re not supposed to know. You submit your entry with a tag attached, folded over and sealed. It’s only opened, revealing your name, if you win.

BUT in ’08, the category was “child’s sweater with motif”. I re-knit the VK dinosaur sweater which I had done many years before for Thomas-the-Elder. Here is the '08 version on his cousin Thomas-the-Younger.

It was unplaced – clearly, “with motif” didn’t mean “with motifs”. So the tag was never opened. But in conversation at breakfast at their b&b the next morning, Rachel and Ed met some people who had admired the dinosaurs and who mysteriously knew that “she won last year”. The walls have eyes, in a village. And of course committee members are already on duty during that delicious early-morning time when one brings the family entries down and submits them to the Home Industries Tent. It's the best bit of Games Day, just as exploring the contents of one’s stocking is the best part of Christmas.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Where to start? – ah, with ChinaDoll’s question. We had a spectacularly wonderful week, as sometimes happens, blue skies, sunshine all day, both of us outdoors all day. No cloud of ash overhead, no smell of sulphur, no smarting eyes, no spectacular sunsets, even. It is hard not to veer towards the conclusion that the Snark is a Boojum. My sister and her husband were meant to fly from Boston to Nice on Sunday evening for a meeting connected with their recent work in Africa, to be followed by some long-awaited family visiting.

At the moment, they are still in CT, re-booked to fly from Boston to Paris tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

There had been a great storm in Strathardle in our absence. We lost a venerable and beloved tree. It was a gean, prunus avium, and we will replace it this fall. It comes under the heading of native woodland, and my husband is anxious not to get something from a garden centre, grown in Holland. I think that won’t be difficult.

From our west lawn -- it fell rather neatly outwards:

From outside. Everything beyond that gate is our neighbours' land:

After scrambling through the tree, looking back towards our bit:

I got a lot of preparatory work done for the ’10 vegetables. The ground was very workable, but it was still cool to the touch, and there is no sign yet of this year’s seedling weeds. Both of these symptoms mean not to press ahead too fast with one’s own seeds, but I put in some radishes and spring onions and spinach and beetroot, just because the sun was shining. And a few potatoes. Plenty of seed left to re-do it all next month.

When we were there in February and March, you will remember, the ground was literally frozen solid. For the February visit, I had taken along some newly-purchased sea kale thongs and also some luscious-looking Jerusalem artichokes given me by the Fishwife. (And if you want to see what a vegetable plot should look like in April, just go have a look at hers.)

All I could do was collect earth from the many molehills – for some reason, not frozen – and store the things in two big flowerpots. The sea kale, last week, turned out to have turned to mush – a rather expensive failure with which to kick off the vegetable-growing year. I’ll put peas in the spot prepared last autumn for sea kale. But the artichokes, in their pot, were happy as Larry, perhaps happier, with roots and sprouts. So I planted them.

Yesterday morning, we woke up to this.


As for knitting, I pressed on, but not very hard, with the Araucania sweater. I’m now an inch and a half short of the shoulder in the back.

And last night, I started casting on for the VK Chevron Scarf, 411 stitches. Most of the experience of knitting it – if I persevere; no guarantees at this stage -- is going to consist of casting on and binding off, so I might as well try to enjoy it.

I got a look at this year’s Games Programme while we were in Strathardle. The knitting classes are “knitted toy” and “article for a premature baby, to be donated”. I won a Knitted Toy class with Sam the Ram in ’07 – it’s far too soon to have that again, and there’s no point in my entering. The thing for the baby is worth doing, and will be quick, and do-able from stash. So I’ll do that. My husband’s sister, who had the bad luck to be present in Sam’s year, thinks I am fiercely competitive. I think I am entering because the Games are more fun if one participates, and so that I can set the grandchildren an example of grace in defeat. Who is right?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

C’e lo fatta! as I think we say in Italian:

Slow and steady. I put gathering threads in each tier, and drew parallel lines on the backing before I started, in the interests of achieving straightness. Now I need a ziplock bag and some of that acid-free tissue paper I got for the Princess, if I can find it. What one doesn’t want now is a moth.

Jamie Oliver’s tray-baked salmon was absolutely right for lunch yesterday. So that’s that done. And I’m glad we postponed Strathardle until it was behind us. The weather is less spectacularly vernal this morning, but still along the right lines. I have high hopes of actually getting started on things. When we get back, it’ll be time to start growing beans on the windowsill. That’s always fun.

I even got some Oliver’ing done on Ketki’s second sock yesterday evening. A good day all round.

Next I’ll attempt that VK scarf (see sidebar) in Koigu. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. And then probably go on to the KF jacket.

The further I proceed with this yarn fast, the more depressed I get at the absolutely unchanged aspect of the stash cupboard.

Back next Tuesday or so, insh’Allah.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Little to report.

We had a nice day with the Loch Fyne Mileses. Alexander agrees that the tree-climbing stunt was just that, pointing out that such a tree is of substantial diameter at the base, so that a plumb line dropped from the top, can’t hang straight.

The fish pie was nice -- here’s the recipe, Holly -- but the little boys didn’t like it. (Alexander: “They don’t eat food.”) Ketki had some emergency supplies.

I often wonder how cats fared during the war

and the same question might be asked about young children. Both groups survived.

As for knitting, not much. I was kicked-by-horse tired in the evening, and made do with rounding the heel of Ketki’s second sock. I’m just at the point where the Oliver shaping starts. That’s great fun, so firmness and self-discipline will be required this evening if I am to start assembling the jabot.

I’d better get on with today’s lunch party. The weather is suddenly, gloriously spring and I have high hopes for some energetic vegetable gardening in Strathardle, starting tomorrow. Alexander has got his radishes in.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

“Ducks in a row” – that’s it, of course. Thanks, Moorecat. I love the one your husband heard, too.

Here’s Tier Five, finished.

Here’s the complete jabot, pinned together. I had a while yesterday, after doing the pinning, when I wondered if I hadn’t gone Over the Top with a fifth tier. It looks better this morning.

The only way to go from here, is on. Unpin everything, tidy the loose ends, and start attaching, layer by layer. I could have embarked on the process last night, but I was frazzled by a day which ended up with only one duck in position – Delia Smith’s Luxury Fish Pie is made and refrigerated. I’ll leave it out to get to room temperature while we’re at Mass, and put it in the oven while we drink Prosecco afterwards with our friends, as we did last week.

Last night, I retreated to Ketki's KF socks, and reached the heel flap of the second one. Thank God for socks.

This morning, I must cut up things for a salad, and arrange the dining room. Two more ducks.

Something completely different…

I don’t know how long the BBC will keep this one up, but for the moment here is a clip about the measuring of a tree in Argyll which has been pronounced the tallest in Scotland, or is it GB? We saw the item on the news on Friday evening, with additional material which doesn’t appear here, and lacking the scene for which I include it, namely Alexander and his sons, standing under the tree, peering upwards like the men of Galilee on the first Ascension Day. Their bit lasts less than a second, I would say, but they are perfectly obvious, in the foreground, the boys wearing red. It’s right at the beginning – you don’t have to stay around for the tree-climbing.

(The tree is in the arboretum on the Ardkinglas estate, and that’s where the Loch Fyne Mileses live.)

In the item as shewn on the news, the men came down from the tree and stretched out their rope on the ground and measured it. I will ask Alexander about this when he gets here today. Surely trigonometry – available since the Enlightenment if not since Archimedes -- would provide a quicker, easier and probably more accurate measurement.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thanks for the help with pdf files. Live and learn. I tried the Help section of my daily word processor – Word – and found that I could buy a pdf attachment. (My system is pretty old and creaky.) But then, I thought – I’ve got another word processor, Word Perfect, which I use to get my husband’s Word Perfect files, created on the DOS machine he uses daily, believe it or not, into a format usable by the world.

Word Perfect will load his files and convert them into modern Word Perfect, thence to Word, and Word presents them, when necessary, to the world. When I bought this computer those little square not-floppy floppy disks were just on the cusp, and I was surprised when the machine was delivered without a drive for them. If I’d thought that was a possibility, I’d have asked the nice man at Dell to put one in.

I don’t like to boast – well, I do. I installed one with my own hands.

Anyway, just now I loaded Word Perfect and asked it about pdf’s. It is perfectly happy to produce them without additional payment. So that’s that problem solved.

The discovery of Google Document, thanks to FiberQat, is another plus. I don’t know how I’d ever use it, but I’m very glad to know it’s there.


Tier Five of the jabot is nearly finished – a repeat and a half of the Doris edging pattern to go. A busy day looms: Alexander and Ketki and their sons are coming tomorrow for their delayed Easter visit, and Monday is the lunch guest who’ll get Jamie’s tray-baked salmon, and Tuesday, insh’Allah, is designated for Strathardle at last, to get started on the ’10 garden. (Spring is suddenly, definitely here. Only a fortnight ago an Intercity train in the Highlands got stuck overnight in the snow.) Today I need to get the birdies lined up, or whatever the phrase is.

But I’ll try hard to get Five finished and blocked, so that assembly can begin tomorrow.

To change the subject –

I was glad to see that the Twist Collective spring-summer collection is with us at last. There’s nothing there for me, I don’t think. It’s all a bit form-fitting, no swing jackets. But I followed up the ad for Sweetgeorgia yarn. Wow! I found the website a bit hard to navigate – what look like links, don’t seem to link to anything. But click on the changing picture of yarn at the top, and you’re in. Anything you want, I gather, will be custom-dyed.

So that’s a good one for my Dream List. I continue to follow Posh Yarns closely, too.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Tier Five progresses well. The Leaf Lace pattern looks fancier than Razor Shell, and goes particularly well with the Doris edging. That’s what it is, Stacey – Heirloom Knitting p. 74, chosen for narrowness. I agree, it’s doing the job well.

FiberQat, I’d love to put the jabot instructions on Ravelry. I hesitate a) because it wouldn’t quite be a pattern, like Joanie’s. I’d refer to Heirloom Knitting and the criteria for choosing patterns from the book and the rough size each tier should be, and the yarn and stitch numbers and needle size I used, but that’s not quite the same; and b) because I don’t know how to create a .pdf file. Maybe I should find out.

Or would I need one?

When I was cruising around recently looking at Koigu jacket patterns, I found an entrelac one. I don’t really think I want it – the effect is too Michelin Man. But I clicked on download-free-pattern, only to be told that the designer was currently stuck on figuring out how to do a .pdf file.

(As the clumsy among you must know, if you type in “Ravlery” by mistake you arrive at a site at least somewhat knit-related; I’ve been there often but never really explored it. What a good idea! And what a compliment to the original!)

Postal services

The ear-flap hat still hasn’t reached its addressee in Beijing. The Chinese are funny about packages. I’m glad I’ll be able to hand over the jabot in person.

Here in Edinburgh, I’ve been waiting too long for packages from two of my seed suppliers, and for a sweat shirt from CafePress. I’d worry if only one thing were missing, but with that many, they must be somewhere in the system. I’ve got plenty of seeds, anyway.


My friend’s viral message turned up on schedule this morning; the deluge related to 13/11/9 seems for the moment to have subsided.

Comments are instructed to turn up in my email in-box, as well as being appended to the blog itself. Most of them come in with your internet identities as Sender, but some are Anonymous. The bad ones are always Anonymous, so I click on that word with a certain sinking of the heart. It is particularly gratifying when, as yesterday, it turns out to be you, Ron.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Hard to get started, this morning, and now time’s nearly up.
Here is Tier Four of the jabot, being blocked:
It looks very like Tier Three.

Here is the jabot with four tiers pinned in place – that’s really enough, but for Chinese superstition.
I am well embarked on Tier Five. It is slightly larger than Three and Four, and uses a different lace for the central rectangle. The rectangle won’t show at all – it’s just to amuse me. And I’ve chosen one, Leaf Lace, HK p. 65, which is chock-a-block with K3tog’s, and slo-o-o-ow. Still, it makes a change.

And when it comes time for sewing, as it will soon, I will repeat your comment as a mantra, Mel, with every breath I draw: slow and steady. If I need gathering threads and/or basting threads, I will put them in. The ball isn’t until November. There’s no hurry.

I have discovered that Blogger allows me ten fixed pages – I mean to write out the procedure for jabot-knitting and have it permanently available. Or as permanently as this transitory medium allows. I think maybe I should do a page for Lizzie’s First Holy Communion veil, which was repeated and improved for Rachel and Kirsty in Beijing. That page already exists, as part of the detritus from my abandoned website. It’s just a matter of bestirring myself.

The point being, of course, that I don’t think there are patterns for either “out there” – except, now, Joannie’s jabot pattern on Ravelry.


What else? – I’m having a nice time with Steig Larssen. Never mind the danger that I might let slip a spoiler – he completely gives away Volume 1 in Volume 2, and even more so, 2 in 3. You’ve got to read them in order, or you might as well not bother. And it’s not entirely easy, now that all three are in paperback and the titles absolutely indistinguishable. I don’t remember any other thriller author doing that – little teasers to induce you read the earlier books, yes. This is different.

I didn’t hear from my friend’s virus yesterday, and rather missed it – but one has turned up this morning, so that’s OK. Comments continue to pile in for Friday the 13th of November last year. I’ve never had a deluge quite like this. I remind myself – slow and steady – that I don’t need to rush off and delete them in Blogger every time one pops up in my inbox. They haven’t been published. They can wait until I get around to zapping them.

And – it’s spring. It really is, this week at last. Next week, we hope for Strathardle. Maybe I can get started on this year’s garden at last.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

My husband fully appreciates the resources of the internet, but I am the one who is sent to draw from the well. I have just spent the better part of an hour trying to find out what Lady Salisbury meant when she said, of an artist I won’t name, that he had the manners of Brancas. I think I’ve got it – not only who Brancas was and what his manners were (that was fairly easy), but how Lady Salisbury might have known about him.

It took time that might better have been spent blogging.

Tier Four of the jabot is finished. I hope to block it this morning. It will dry quickly, and I ought to be able to pin it in place in time for this evening’s Knitting Session, so that I can make a final decision about the dimensions of Tier Five. I’ve already made a good start on its lower edging.

The day is rapidly approaching – this week may even contain it – when I’ve got to take needle and thread in hand and sew this puppy together. I’m nervous of that moment. I am no seamstress.

This and That

Moorecat, thank you for the kind remark about our green room. It was scary, I remember. The painter himself thought we’d gone a bit too far, and we weren’t sure until the work was pretty far advanced that we’d got it right. And, yes, a squirrel swift.

I hate shopping except in LYS’s and bookstores – well, food-shopping isn’t too bad as long as my husband stays home. But he likes antiques and hardware and, in general, the pursuit of anything he has determined to find. Currently, an umbrella stand for Strathardle.

We saw the swift in an antique shop and it was only after we got home that I realised I wanted it, and phoned them. This must have been in my Knitlist days: I didn’t even know that it was a “squirrel swift” until people there told me.

It’s been very useful, not least because a job can be suspended in mid-operation. The current one has been in that state far too long. It was, I think, part of the original plan for Ketki’s Calcutta Cup sweater of 2008, discarded after swatching. The plan was discarded; the yarn is still with me. I must finish winding it, because Koigu-winding looms, and after that the KF jacket.

Donna Druchunas has a link on her blog to an appeal for funds for the Musk Ox Farm. I’d like to know more about what has gone wrong, and what the business plan is. But it is dreadful to think of it coming to an end.

I’ve started Steig Larssen #3. No spoilers, I promise. Reading Wallander, one is much impressed with how early everybody gets up in the morning. In Larssen, it’s how much coffee they drink.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Do I have anything at all to say about knitting today? Well, I am putting the side edges on Tier Four of the jabot, which should therefore be finished today. That’s something.


Billi-Jean, I think you’ve cracked it. I was stuck in a five-year-old time warp, assuming the virus had to live in my friend’s computer. But his address list is out there with msn (just as mine resides with Google), and that must be where the fence is down. I did get another one yesterday, but there is nothing so far this morning.

When I had KLEZ.H its finest effort was to send me a message from “James Miles” inviting me to click on a website to get rid of itself. What would have happened had I done it? Things could hardly have been worse at that point. But I didn’t -- there was something about the prose style of the message which suggested that it had not been written by any “James Miles” I had ever met, let alone the one I brought up. I should have saved it.


I am a bit embarrassed to be reminded that I have mentioned Jamie’s tray-baked salmon before. It was Greek Helen who pointed it out to me. I had the book, but hadn’t spotted it. How well you put it, Gerri – “impressive enough that a guest feels a guest”.

The official Oliver website doesn’t give it – I looked just now -- although a similar one is there, from “Jamie’s Dinners”. That’s the volume, out of all of his, which I have duplicated for the very short cookery-book shelf in Strathardle.


Our niece Clare has just indulged herself in a digital camera. She sent me these pictures from Sunday’s gathering.

Brother and sister:

In the foreground you can see the composed salad, the quails eggs concealed under layers of potatoes and avocados. I wouldn’t say the flavour is distinctly different from hen’s eggs. It’s the size that’s fun. Notice the flagon of cider in the background.

Knitting Ketki’s sock:

Trying to get the rabbit to work:

That’s the green suede jacket I bought at East at Christmas time. As sometimes happens with absurd extravagance, it’s utterly wonderful, rarely worn, and I love every moment I spend inside it. And a year of blameless living has reduced me to a size which makes it no longer acutely painful to look at pictures of myself. That’s a plus.

Monday, April 05, 2010

We had a good Easter, even without the Loch Fyne Mileses. The lunch worked. Room temperature turned out to be a perfectly satisfactory way to eat a freshly-roasted chicken, and it was a good chicken. The composed salad was much appreciated, quails’ eggs and all. Guests sat on through the afternoon and I advanced Ketki’s second sock.

(I hadn't noticed until I laid them out for photography just now, how close they are to being identical. Close, but not.)

I had a word with the fishmonger, following Shandy’s lead. He says he gets his salmon fresh every morning, and I’ll be fine buying it on Saturday for Monday. I trust him. So next Monday the National Gallery man will have Jamie Oliver’s tray-baked salmon with olives, green beans, anchovies and tomatoes (from “The Naked Chef”) for his lunch, with some French bread and frozen fruit salad, unfrozen, to follow. I’ve made it often before. It’s easy and involves no last-minute stress. That’s that settled.

No message from my friend’s virus this morning. I rather miss it. I heard from the man himself who said, rather oddly I thought, that he had scanned his computer and found nothing wrong. Assuming his protection was up-to-date, can a virus hide? When I had KLEZ.H it disabled my virus protection first thing; I wouldn’t have been able to run a scan. (I was using McAfee at the time, and it was a whole month out of date.) At least it was open about it.

I’m about half-way, maybe a bit more, through Tier Four of the jabot.

When my Yarn Fast is over, I’m going for some Posh Yarn. Everybody else has known for ages, but it’s a recent discovery for me. Towards the end of the week, she posts a preview. Then on Sunday at 7pm it goes on sale, and everybody grabs. People can snatch yarn out of other people’s shopping baskets – it’s not yours until you pay for it. It all sounds great fun. Best of all, from my point of view, she’s just strengthened her DK yarn selection. Previously, she skipped a bit too rapidly from sock-weight to Aran.


Angel, take good care of yourself. How fragile are all our little plans! I like your Lady Sweater a lot. That was a relatively recent abandoned idea of mine. I’ve got the yarn, and fear it may be too acid and alarming a red. You may have inspired me to get it out and reconsider.

Jeanfromcornwall, yes, indeedy. I pre-ordered Steig Larssen no. 3 in paperback from Amazon, and I presume that is what is in the unopened package which has been lying here over the weekend, while I finished a Warrender. My first – “The Fifth Woman”. It’s good, very inventive, but it doesn’t pick me up and take me to Sweden and make me want to know what the characters are doing this morning, as Larssen does.

Alexander didn’t wait for the paperback, and he says no. 3 is the best of the lot. He is a bit dubious about the whole Larssen phenomenon, however.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Today’s message from my friend’s virus is captioned “Anne Blondel”.

Here are tiers Two and Three of the jabot being blocked.

And here’s a pinned-together pic of the jabot to date. I am terribly pleased with it. One more tier would probably do the trick, but that would make four – so two more we will have. The more, the fruitier. I am well along with the bottom edging of Tier Four. I just emailed this picture to Beijing.

And here is a close-up of my pins. I think I bought some of these wheels last summer, when I found I didn’t have enough dressmaker’s pins to block the Princess. They're German. Apart from being fun to look at, they have the great advantage that I now know for sure at the end of a job whether I have found and gathered in every single pin.

Non-knit, catering dep’t

Tomorrow’s lunch party is sort of falling apart. Alexander phoned yesterday to say that Ketki and both boys have colds. Over the last two years my husband’s sister has had repeated chest infections. One of them involved a hospital admission and they each have reduced her to weeks of weakness and misery. She’s OK at the moment, and we simply can’t risk being held responsible for the next relapse.

So if they don’t come, the rest of us will have to take lunch away in doggy bags. The organic chicken I have ordered is big, and the first course is to be a sort of salad, hot-smoked salmon, quails’ eggs, watercress, avocado, you name it – all purchased already, all unfreeze-able.

Tomorrow’s difficulty is the need to go to Mass, right in the middle of the morning. I have decided to roast the chicken early and eat it at room temperature.

The menu I am worrying about, if you want to be helpful, is a week later, when the Director of the National Gallery is coming to lunch. We don’t know him. I need something reliably easy to cook, not demanding too much in the way of last-minute, and easy to eat.

I like your salmon fillet idea very much, Shandy. The difficulty is that we’re talking about Monday the 12th, and Monday isn’t a good day for fish. Traditionally, that was because the boats didn’t go out on the sabbath so there was nothing in the market on Monday morning. I think that state of affairs has probably been swept away by progress, but the fishmonger is still closed on Monday.

I like the idea so much, however, that I’ll have a word with him this morning. Could I buy the salmon on Saturday the 10th?

It would be prudent to skip blogging tomorrow. See you on Monday, insh'Allah, and Happy Easter to anyone who's interested.

Friday, April 02, 2010

I didn’t mean to frighten you off – if anyone really left a comment on an old blog entry, I would recognize it and welcome it and pass it. They are individually scrutinized, albeit through glazed eyes.

I was interested, Rebecca, in your “nonsense” comment that turned out to come from St Nicholas

a) because that sort of nonsense comment is the oddest of all. Often they don’t contain a link. What is the point? And then there are their first cousins, the slightly illiterate ones that say that your blog entry was a great help with their college assignment. Junk comments like that tend to be attached to current blog entries, whereas the multiple-link ones go for the archives.

b) because I grew up reading bound volumes of St Nicholas, presumably ones my mother or father had brought along from childhood. I’ve never “met” anyone else who had heard of it. I don’t remember asking my parents about those volumes, just enjoying them. There was a serial story about a little boy who was keen on a little girl who was referred to as his “affinity”. It was a new word to me at the time and from my current perspective, I think it an excellent one.

I was also interested to hear of your Oberlin connection. I was there from ’50 to ’54 – would I recognize your parents’ name? “Angel”, who comments here often, was on the Oberlin faculty in a junior post until recently, but is now in Texas.

I have had another crazy – i.e., surely virus-sent – message from my Oberlin friend, this time with the subject-line “Jacques Bourglan”. (M. Bourglan has a Facebook page, and looks rather sweet.) This time I didn’t click on the link. I did do “Reply All” to look at the list. It’s not very long, eight or ten addresses, and is clearly the “g-to-j” section of someone’s address book. I would be especially interested to hear from anyone who has heard of a virus which sends Viagra ads in messages captioned with the names of non-famous Frenchmen.

But we’re supposed to be talking about knitting.

I have finished tiers Two and Three, but haven’t blocked them. I’ve even cast on Four, and will try to get a minimum lower-edge done even before I pin Two and Three into place and decide on sizes for Four and Five.

I find that knitting the Doris edging is a case of four steps forward and three steps back – progress, in other words, but slow.

I have already mentioned my tendency to let my thoughts wander and find that I have forgotten which row I just knit. Also – this has happened three times – if I falter at the point where I need a slip 1, k1, psso at the end of a return row, to join the edging to the main body, and a stitch escapes, there is no recovering it. I pick it up, easily enough – but suddenly there is another one below, and another, and…

and the whole thing comes unzipped, and there is nothing to do but to rip all the way back and start again. Fortunately the edges are short. Mercifully that never happened when I was edging the top of the Princess, yards and yards of it. I haven’t figured out the mechanics of this phenomenon, being too cross when it happens to pay attention.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Not much knitting to report today. Tier Three still needs its side edgings, and religion (Maundy Thursday) will cut into knitting time. I’ll try to grab an hour from the rest of the day to get it finished.

I’m having a lot of trouble these days with Spam Comments – Blogger is now set to submit them for moderation if they are attached to an entry more than two weeks old. I don’t think I’ve ever had a genuine one come in under that rule.

At the moment, I’m getting them every three or four hours, night and day, for Friday, November 13, ’09. Was that one picked because it was Friday the 13th? Or because in it I complained of bum comments? And, what’s the point? Maybe there is no point. Maybe somebody has a virus, and the virus is sending comments to my blog.

Yesterday I got an email (nothing to do with the blog) purportedly from an old Oberlin friend with whom I correspond very infrequently. The subject line was “Antoine Cerezo” and the text consisted in its entirety of a link on which I injudiciously clicked. It was a webpage advertising Viagra.

I ordered a full system scan at once, and Norton found nothing wrong. Once, long ago, when I really did have a virus (KLEZ.H, for the record), the first thing it did was disable my then virus protection. So it was a comfort to find that Norton still appeared to be functioning.

I wrote to the Oberlin friend to tell him I thought he might have a virus. No reply, as yet. I don’t think any other address book in the universe (well, maybe Oberlin College’s) would have both his address and mine, so it’s got to be one or the other of us, doesn’t it?

I’d welcome advice from anyone who knows about these things – or about Antoine Cerezo, who has what I think my sister calls a “big Google”. And, of course, if anyone who has corresponded with me at the address in the sidebar gets a funny message “from” me – let me know. KLEZ.H took hold of the address book and sent messages far and wide.

Easter weekend

Catdownunder, it’s not just rain we have too much of around here. It’s snow. Pretty ridiculous.

Alexander and Ketki and their sons, and my husband’s sister and her (obviously, grown-up, indeed middle-aged) daughter are coming to lunch on Sunday. I used to cook for six every day of the world, twice a day at weekends. But by now, it has become an Event, and something of an anxiety. Alexander is a brilliant cook, and everything I try to do for any group in which he is included can be guaranteed to turn out a disaster.

Still, there’ll be plenty to drink.