Friday, November 18, 2011

95th Follower, welcome! Encouragement is never more welcome than in the dark of November.

 We had a very nice time with my sister and her husband, now back in CT. Alexander drove over from Loch Fyne on Wednesday and we went out to lunch. So that leaves tomorrow’s birthday, excitement-wise. My husband particularly didn’t want to go out for that, and it’s his birthday, so today must be spent planning with care (7 adults, 2 children); shopping; planning the remaining three weekend meals – that’s a big one; and, I think, setting the table. Plus we’ve got to eat something today. I’ve got the prosecco. 

I am reading an interesting book on my iPad. I can’t name it for you until after Christmas. At the beginning of one chapter, it quotes a 19th century account of a mastectomy in Edinburgh:

“It is over. She is dressed, steps gently and decently down from the table, looks for James; then, turning to the surgeon and the students, she curtsies – and in a low, clear voice, begs their pardon if she has behaved ill. The students – all of us – wept like children; the surgeon happed her up.”

I love those last five words. I am glad the author included them – I wonder if he knew what the surgeon did at that point. My husband didn’t.

Alexander gave us the OED for Christmas, years ago, the whole 12-volume thing on a CD. “Hap” as a verb, now only “Sc. and dial.”, means “to cover for warmth, to wrap” and examples go back as far as the English language itself. Hap as a noun is “a covering of any kind”, with examples from the 18th century onwards. So a “hap shawl” – which the OED doesn’t seem to mention, but what can you expect of an authority which doesn’t include “Kitchener stitch”? – must have taken its name from the action of “happing”, rather than the other way around.

(Tamar, thank you for your Kitchener comment. We mustn’t forget that until very recently, when the internet brought the whole world together, the phrase was unknown in Britain. EZ was puzzled by it when she got to America.)

Actual knitting of the small Brownstone progresses, if slowly. I’ve finished the body ribbing, worked the increases, and am now steaming forwards towards the armpits. Alexander liked the redness of what will be his son’s sweater.

I am worried about the bigness of the big Brownstone. I tried it on my lumpy self – it didn’t seem totally outrageous. I must get it tidied up today, so that Big Thomas’s parents, who will be here tonight, can take it south on Sunday. And we’ll just have to see how it looks, and what, if anything, needs to be done, when we see it in action on the shores of Loch Fyne at Christmas.

My sister brought me the Dried Rose madelinetosh for my Effortless. The colour is fairly dark and subdued, but even so the heap of skeins glows slightly. I can’t wait.

But of course I must, and will. I did a bit of on-line Christmas shopping this morning, on the one-for-them, one-for-me principle. (Does anyone know anything about daisy grubbers? There seems to be quite a variety of designs.) I bought the “55 Christmas Balls to Knit” book for myself, and mean to take a hand-knit bauble to Loch Fyne. If I can get it done, they’ll be taking it out and hanging it on a tree long after I’m dead and their sweaters and hats have mouldered away.


  1. I know which book you are reading - and the author. I will be interested to know what you make of the book.

  2. Alison9:51 AM

    "Hap", both as a verb and a noun, is still in common use here throughout the Lothians and "hap" is, indeed, the most commonly used word for a tarpaulin or large covering. I've also often heard "all happed up" for warmly dressed and haven't you noticed the small chain of clothes shops named "Happit"? There's one in Shandwick Place I believe.

  3. I loved the idea of those baubles too. They are easy to do without the book - several basic patterns are available on-line. I've posted a few I've made, put together from different sources, not designed by me.

  4. thanks for explaining rarely used words every now and then. as a non-native speaker those always stick to my brain much better than just overreading them in a book somewhere:)) btw - you mentioned that you bought the Extreme Double-Knitting - did you find it in the uk somewhere? I am still waiting for amazon uk to cop on - but so far nothing:((
    greetings from the emerald isle:)

  5. That is very interesting about the word hap. And I find myself quite curious about the book you are reading, and the need for secrecy.

    Also, you are not lumpy. I can vouch for this since I have seen you in person. :-)

  6. To my intense surprise, no one has mentioned this yet, but...the idea of a 19th century mastectomy is making me feel faint with horror.

  7. The only daisy grubber I own is one I got with a magazine about 12 years ago. Sturdy item, one inch wide section of metal, V-notch at one end, angle at the other as it meets the handle, for leverage. I've pulled up thousands of weeds with it and it's good for raking out rubbish from between slabs too. Not bad for a freebie.

  8. We have two daisy grubbers. My favorite is the one with a very longer handle so that you don't have to get down near the ground to work. In fact, if you hold a grabber (reaching aid) in your other hand, you can dispose of quite a few dandelions while standing completely upright.

  9. Anonymous10:54 AM

    Sorry Jean, I get so fed up with "Kitchener" stitch, surely it was someone in his household, his nanny, wife or sister, who suggested to graft socks rather then bind off together or stitch.
    The more I read about Lord Kitchener the less probable I find the idea of him having first hand experience of grafting other than perhaps comfortably wearing his own grafted socks. Marcella

  10. I've never seen a daisy grubber till I just looked it up. It appears to be quite useful. However, since I'm looking out at the snowy lawn, I can ponder it at leisure. The knitted christmas balls range from quite simple to a little more keeping track. A first time two-color knitter in my class last week is turning one out with very little pain. You could make a dozen by Christmas, I'm sure.