Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We did it! More accurately, Rachel did it. (And Kristieinbc did it too – she got to K*rkmichael!)

I finished Rachel’s socks, and left them behind. I didn’t have a camera, so you’ll just have to imagine them. I got the next ones started.  Here they are:

KF's Hand-Dyed Effect in "Rhubarb". I don’t like the soft, splittable yarn or the big floppy ball that keeps coming apart. The result is OK, though. I must persevere. Perhaps I’ll take a couple of evenings some time soon to finish the ribbing so that when we next spend an afternoon in a waiting room, or go off somewhere – Christmas? – I can hit the ground running. I move the safety pin up every 10 rounds, as an encouragement. 

Rachel met us at King’s Cross on Thursday. Friday we managed by ourselves – the dear old 159 bus leaves not far from Rachel’s doorstep and proceeds all the way to Trafalgar Square. We saw an exhibition of altarpieces at the National Gallery, and also a little show about Sir Charles Eastlake, an early director. And we must have walked past four or five of the World’s Top Ten Paintings, getting from one to the other.

On Saturday Rachel took us to the Saatchi Gallery for modern sculpture,  a lot of fun. And on Sunday to the British Museum for an expensive and exhilarating exhibition of reliquaries. And yesterday she took time off work to drive us back to King’s Cross. And here we are.

Lots of points arise from your dear comments which need discussion, but I am going to go off on a tangent now, and hope I will remember to get back to the comments.

Boring bit

It occasionally happens, when, as last weekend, I want to get some knitting finished in a specific time, that I set myself little targets for each day. Nothing too strenuous – life is stressful enough without adding stress to knitting. Just enough, this time, to stop me spending too much time playing Freecell on Rachel’s computer. (I am obsessed with that game, and have deleted it from my own computer.) 

And whenever I do that – I’m talking about the last few years – I have a nagging feeling that there is a word which originally meant an amount of yarn weighed out for a day’s spinning, and went on to mean exactly what I was doing, a day’s task. Every time the situation came up, I scoured the corners of my mind looking for that word, and could never find it. “Stint” was the best I could come up with, and that wasn’t it.

This time, as we traveled south on FirstEastern and I was doing my day’s ??????, I had a sudden moment of illumination, as represented in the cartoons by a light bulb going on over the subject’s head. It isn’t an English word, it’s a Latin one.

Rachel produced, with some difficulty, the back half of a Latin dictionary, starting at “il…” That was the half I needed. I looked up pendo, I weigh, and there was my word: pensum, a second declension neuter formed from the perfect participle, meaning precisely what I just told you, both literally and metaphorically.
English has a vastly richer and more expressive vocabulary than Latin, but that doesn’t mean there is a one-to-one correspondence. The word doesn’t seem to have survived into modern Italian, a pity. The relief I feel at having thought of it at last, is tremendous.


  1. Anonymous12:59 PM

    I actually had a some of that sock yarn in my basket, but left it behind at the checkout. I just didn't like the feel of it. I will wait for your opinion when the socks are finished. I can always go back and get some. Golly, I am glad you thought of your word. I find it very irritating when I can't think of a word - I often can say it in English or Spanish but not both. I hope you permit us to use your word. It is lovely.
    Ron in Canada

  2. Anonymous5:39 PM

    Your "pensum" reminded me of "pensive"; a day's work as a thoughtful effort. Turning to my dictionary, I find that "pensive" derives from French "penser"= to think or reflect, with "penser" itself derived via Latin "pensere" from L "pendere"= to weigh. So there we are.
    -- Gretchen

  3. =Tamar8:19 AM

    Gretchen beat me to it. I too was wonder whether penser was a related word. If "pensive" came from weighing something soberly in the mind, does that mean there was a different word for light, frivolous thoughts?

    The purple-grey yarn is pretty.