Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Poor NY. It is terrible to think of it in that condition.

On the other hand, it sounds as if both federal and state authorities did a rather brilliant job of preparation. It makes Bush’s total dereliction of duty in the case of New Orleans all the more outrageous. I hope the clean-up and reconstruction will go forward with the same energy and attention to detail. It won’t be easy.

My sister and her husband had a Mandatory Evacuation order which some of their neighbours ignored. They spent the night with friends and are now back home, no significant damage, I gather, but also no electricity. They live on low, flat land not all that far from the CT River and Long Island Sound. I wonder how Old Saybrook itself fared which is virtually a peninsula.

Theo says he and Jenni are fine in DC, with all the electricity they need.

I wish the storm had had a proper name -- Alexander or Alexandra or Alessandro or whatever -- instead of a nickname.

Knitting

I was heartened by your negative comment on the Wingspan, Lou. It’s not working for me. I’m nearly finished with the 6th triangle – near enough the end that I can grit my teeth and see it out.

I went to John Lewis yesterday and had a quick look at Cocoon. I’m afraid the terra cotta colour didn’t lift my heart, and it needs lifting. I was sorry, because I have knit two big Cocoon scarves in the dark days of other years, and I love the Cocoon experience.

Today I’ll go to the new, local LYS (Kathy’s Knits) and see what she has in the way of a big, lofty, red yarn. I had a quick look at Ravelry for patterns, without success. Men trying not to look embarrassed in something girly, or men in firm fabric scarves – herringbone stitch, or whatever – very nice but I’m not up to it. My previous two Cocoons were 1) a Rowan pattern from a couple of years back called Traveller or Wanderer and 2) something from Lynn Barr’s “Reversible Knitting” book. I could repeat either of those, or just go for brioche stitch as previously discussed.

Non-knit

I cruised through the computer section of John Lewis on my way to yarn. Sure enough, no MS Surface among the tablets. I was struck with how small computers are getting – desktops were represented only by a few sturdy specimens along the wall. Maybe that is the answer for me – just leave Old Faithful here on my desk. (It has its uses, such as the disk drive and software to get my husband’s work from his DOS-based Old Faithful into the Cloud.) And get myself a super-duper laptop with which I can waltz around the house.

Catriona, thanks for the tips on Cook. I spent some time on their website yesterday (very confidence-inspiring) and have put both your suggestions on my short list. Prices are really very reasonable. They offer roast lamb with vegetables and roast potatoes to serve six for £35. I'll go for that for the Birthday Lunch. That seems to be real roast lamb, in a lump, not pre-sliced.






Tuesday, October 30, 2012


It sounds as if the storm has created the expected godawful mess – but not a Katrina-sized disaster. Hard to tell. I haven’t heard from my sister and will try to get in touch today.

I’ve reached the 6th triangle (of 8) on the Wingspan. It seems flat, stale, and unprofitable, but at least nearing completion. I brought the Japanese shirt back from Strathardle last time – maybe I’d feel better working on that for a while. But I think I need red.

I drew up a skeleton menu plan yesterday for my weekend in London – I want to leave Rachel as free as possible. It remains, of course, actually to execute my plans. I’m going to order two meals from Cook – Cathy recommended them last summer, and they have a shop in Edinburgh. I’ll make a one-pot for one of the other meals. I have a goodly supply of red currents in the freezer, our own crop. I’ll make my husband an unseasonal summer pudding for his birthday. Time for a to-do list.

But he won’t be getting a Microsoft Surface. It says in the Economist that, at least at first, they will only be sold online and through dedicated MS shops. I’ll wait until they get to John Lewis. Or longer.

Monday, October 29, 2012


We have late-summer hurricanes on the east coast all the time; I can remember being blown about. But I’ve never known anything like this, for anticipation. I read somewhere recently that the US has most if not all of its electricity cables above ground, suspended from poles, whereas here in Britain, in memory of Hitler or perhaps it was in anticipation of him, a substantial portion runs underground. So the US is much more vulnerable to storms.

It’s all above-ground in Strathardle, and winter storms often plunge us into darkness.

Computing

Thank you very much indeed for your help with the Microsoft Surface. (Anonymous, it was grand to be reminded of those days when one typed in the Greek alphabet code by code, and of the thrill when one printed one’s work and it was right! Or nearly.)

Catmum, that review you linked to was pretty damning – I watched the clip where he tried to save a Word document and was repeatedly frustrated by a window demanding that he “sign in”. It wouldn’t accept his password, and it wouldn’t go away. My husband would throw the machine across the room.

Your link sounded more encouraging, Theresa. And my husband’s requirements will be vastly simpler than those of either reviewer – he doesn’t want to watch movies or make PowerPoint presentations or do any other of those even more incomprehensible things the reviewers mentioned. Just word-processing (USB port essential) and web-cruising with a machine he can hold while sitting in an armchair.

I will proceed with much-increased caution, but I’ll still try to have a look at it in John Lewis if they stock it.

In the old Word Perfect he uses, I have created tiny applets to make things easier. For instance, to insert a footnote you need to hit a function key, probably in conjunction with Shift or Ctrl or Alt, and choose “footnote” from the menu screen which then arrives, and finally write it. I have consolidated that so that all he has to do is put the cursor where the note goes and hit Alt-N (“N” for “note”). I doubt if such easings of the path are possible in Windows.

Knitting

I’m down to the last few feet of the first ball of yarn, perhaps 1/3 of the way through the 5th triangle. That’s fine.

Else reminds me, in an email just received, that knitting something red is very helpful at this time of year. How could I have forgotten?! Last year, I had left-over yarn from knitting Thomas-the-Elder’s “electric red” sweater. I knit a smaller version as a Christmas present for Thomas-the-Younger and still had enough for a beanie for Alistair and another for Fergus although by then the red appeared only as stripes.






Hindus are on to something, regarding it as the colour of good fortune, worn by brides. When we “did coloring” at Hampton Elementary School in Detroit during the war, all the big, successful children got all the red crayons of which there were never very many. What about that brioche-stitch scarf I was thinking of? Rowan Cocoon doesn’t get redder than “Quarry Tile”. Would that do? I'm not sure -- Else's right, I need red.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Odds and Ends

I am enjoying my 25-hour-day, although it won’t be so much fun when the dark descends this afternoon.

I hope all East Coast American readers, and my sister and her family, are well battened-down in advance of the storm.

Sock yarn: those of us with a bulging bag of sock yarn oddballs should always keep an eye on what The Socklady is doing. The link is permanently in my sidebar. Currently, she is showing her most recent pair of “conservative wild & crazy”s – a work of art. The longer you study the way they nearly-but-don’t-quite match, the cleverer it looks.

Else wrote to me a propos gents in scooped-neck sweaters (yesterday, Beverley Nichols; Friday, the Prince of Wales) saying that “these low-necked sweaters are not for the working men who have to be kept warm while on their boats or tending their sheep...” It is an aspect of that strange style which I had never considered: perhaps it was an essential part of the evolution of men’s knitwear from purely functional to fashionable.

Jeanne, thank you for the kind remarks about my daughter’s Fair Isle sweater yesterday. (It has appeared here before.) The colours are all natural, and it’s rather wonderful how they go together. Some of the variation is achieved by the differences between sheep – that is, the yarns are undyed. And the colours are all from Strathardle lichens, from my Dyeing Phase. The reds are from ochlorechea tartarea which I found above the Croft of Cultalonie – I think I could still take you to the spot. Lichens are much more forthcoming with browns and yellows – I can’t remember what I used for those, but they were abundant.

I’d like to get back to dyeing, although it’s difficult when the kitchen is occupied all day with food. I’d like to try growing woad.

All well with the Wingspan. I am nicely advanced with the 5th triangle and the first ball of yarn still hasn’t given up the ghost.

Computing

I am thinking about getting my husband the new Microsoft tablet – is it called Surface? The name is utterly forgettable, whatever it is.

He is about to finish a final revision of the Magnum Opus and wants me to put it all on his Palm for future consultation and searching. I think a tablet would be better for a number of reasons. 

This new thing has a USB port, which ought to make it easy to port the Magnum Opus in. I am equipped to convert his files from the DOS-based Word Perfect he uses into Microsoft Word, the modern lingua franca, already present on the Surface (if that’s what it’s called). It would require some learning, but I think it could be done. He never did master mousing, and now we have moved beyond that.

And if we extended wi-fi to previously uncolonised parts of the house, I think he could learn to use the Web. He knows how useful it is, but I have to do all the searching.

So if anyone knows anything about this new machine, I’d be interested to hear. I hope they stock it in John Lewis so I can go up the hill and talk to a Young Man.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


More cheerful.

The Wingspan proceeded well yesterday. I finished the 4th triangle, started on the 5th. At the end – after the 8th – one has to knit four rows across the whole top edge, before casting off. That means that if one is using two 50-gram balls of sock yarn, as I am, it is important that the first ball is not entirely exhausted until somewhere in the 5th. And that is what is happening.

Books

1) I found my new “Fair Isle Knitting Patterns” book from the Shetland Times.

The idea I was trying to remember yesterday is this:

Patterns must (obviously) fit into the number of stitches available. This book says that “the patterns should be of similar size in terms of number of stitches so that they sit on top of each other vertically”. So, for instance, if you have a convenient number of stitches in total like 240, you should restrict yourself to a “family” of pattern repeats: 3,6,12,24 or 4,8,16, or 5,10,20,40.

I’ll have to think about that. I don’t remember that I’ve ever met that idea before, face to face, although I’m sure it must be there somewhere in Starmore. I’m quite sure I’ve never employed it in my own Fair Isles.


[Else, that was an interesting remark of yours yesterday, about the Prince of Wales’s neckline. Here’s another for you, although not so dramatically low: Beverley Nichols when he published his autobiography at the age of 25, in 1926. “Authentic” costumes on our screens endlessly dress men in Fair Isle, but never with a scooped neck.]

2) I got “Sock Yarn Studio” from Amazon.

The back story there is that when I found earlier in the week that my credit card didn’t work for digital downloads, I tried buying a flesh and blood book to see what would happen. It went through without a hitch, leading both me and the nice lady at Amazon to think for a while that only digital downloads were blocked.

What had actually happened was that Amazon was briefly out of stock. One isn’t charged until the book is actually dispatched, and by the time they were ready to do that, the problem had been resolved.

It’s good, the "Sock Yarn Studio", including a really rather super ear-flap hat from Franklin. Goodness, the man is clever.

The point of the book is, how to deal with one’s sock-yarn stash. There are patterns for the odd balls – my odd-ball bag is now far weightier than my sock-yarn bag – and patterns for a sock’s worth of yarn if you don’t want to knit socks. Like me and the Wingspan at the moment. Seriously good patterns. Good value.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Feeling low. An early attack of Seasonal Affective Disorder? I don't like the label -- but it does seem awfully dark, and there’s a long way to go before the solstice. I’m not really enjoying knitting the Wingspan (although that’s the least of it). It’s a terrific pattern. The KF sock yarn I’m using is an old friend. I’m very pleased with the way it’s looking. But no relish.

Still, it won’t take long. I have embarked on the fourth triangle of eight. There’s that lovely package winging its way towards me from Jimmy Bean at this very moment, although I won’t start Ed’s Gardening Sweater until I have seen him in London (Nov. 17, for that) and measured an old favourite and discussed necklines. There may be a bit of a gap between Wingspan-completion and Nov. 17 but there are plenty of things to plug that with.

If gloom is specific, it’s the noticing of an increasing number of little markers that chart our decline. We are lucky that we can hear each other without shouting, and that we still have a good many of our marbles. I can do the Telegraph’s “tough” Su-Doku’s (although almost never the “diabolical” ones printed on Fridays), and my husband, in WS Gilbert’s words, can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dous and Zoffanys.

Let’s not worry.

Kathleen (comment on recent post), the book I’ve been enthusing about, “A Legacy of Shetland Lace”, is published by the Shetland Times (scroll down a few after following that link). I also bought a book of Fair Isle Knitting Patterns from them – this was the activity that got me into trouble with my credit card company last week – and wouldn’t, on the whole, recommend that one.

There’s almost no text. What there is, is not uninteresting on the mathematics of selecting patterns. Obviously, the pattern repeats must fit in to the overall number of stitches, but there’s a bit more to it than that. But if you’ve got Starmore or Mucklestone, I wonder if you really need this one.

Embarrassingly, I don’t even know where I’ve put it.

If I ever knit an all-over Fair Isle again, it might be fun to have small patterns, 5 or 7 rows, all different, in darkish shades. And I’ve still to try the Prince of Wales joke – an all-over two-colour pattern which plays on the fact that Fair Isle stitches are virtually square, and so can seem to flow down the sleeves uninterrupted while in fact the knitter rotates the pattern by 90 degrees. Or something like that. 



Thursday, October 25, 2012


I was re-connected with my funds at about mid-day yesterday. The experience was rather like those dreadful moments when one’s ISP goes down and the whole world is suddenly denied one. I don’t need, or want, or deserve a suede shirt – the link to the shirt is in yesterday’s post, and for the sentiment, see this old friend – but I do need to know that my credit card is on my side if the mad impulse should strike.

Anonymous, I am much attracted by your theory that it was geographical spread which alerted the silly machine to my credit activity – both Jimmy Bean and the Shetland Times were paid directly, not through the decent obscurity of Paypal.

So I’ve now got two Paretsky’s on the iPad and “Risk” by C.K. Stead, which I’m actually reading. Hat, at the risk of sounding like an embedded ad, could you treat yourself to a Kindle? One of the many plusses is that you can change type size ad lib. My eyes are of eagle sharpness since my cataract operations, but I switch to big type when I’m knitting-and-reading: makes it easier to keep my place.

I wonder if I actually heard Paretsky speak at an Edinburgh Book Festival once? I went with Cathy, then as yet unpublished. She wanted to hear female thriller-writers, and soon thereafter became one herself. As we settled into our seats I idly read the program and discovered with a thrill of something like horror that Thomas Lynch was speaking at that very moment somewhere nearby.

Nothing to be done, but afterwards I found him (sitting alone, as I remember), and bought a book I already had, and took it to him to sign, and said I was a t’riffic fan and hadn’t known he was here and went to the wrong talk. He signed the book, “Well met in Edinburgh”. Maybe he did that for everyone, but I like to think it was a response to my girlish babble.

He is an essayist, poet, and undertaker. He lives in Michigan.

On the subject of female thriller-writers, watch out for Clare Donoghue, but not for a while yet. Granddaughter Hellie works for a London literary agent, and has just sold her first book (first sale for Hellie, first book for CD). It seems to have generated some excitement, publishers competing. But CD won’t see the light of day until early in 2014. Maybe I’ll see Hellie when I go to London next month and can learn the back story.

I’ve now got my rail tickets to London and my new Senior Rail Card. It's sort of fun to think that Franklin over there in Chicago must be beginning to think about his own arrangements for his trip to London.

Still, we’re here to talk about knitting.

Here’s the mitered jacket, being blocked. I must now try it on and see how it hangs and think about that i-cord edging and buttonholes. The baby jacket in Franklin’s long-awaited blog post is finished so simply and elegantly with i-cord loops for buttonholes... It's the details that count.


Here’s the Cousteau hat, with loose ends still not secured. In wear, it doesn’t stand up in a peak like that. At least, not on a head as big as mine.


And here’s the Wingspan, looking rather well.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Franklin’s back! (As if you didn't know!)

And thinking about Franklin, and my classes with him next month, I began wondering which issue of the Twist Collective it was that published his brilliant essay about the Ten Knitters You Meet in Hell. I pottered around in the Twist archives for a while, quite needlessly, because Google found it in one.

[Google has done some good work for me lately – I have started to compile this year’s list of Books People Might Like for Christmas. There was one, recently reviewed, for which I could remember neither author nor title, just what it was about. Amazon’s search engine failed – I kept getting helpful suggestions, but not the book I was looking for. Google, same key words, got it right away. They also tracked down an ode of Horace for me the other day from a mis-remembered quotation. Those boys can write an algorithm.]

Not much else on the knitting front. I have advanced to the third triangle of the Wingspan. Not sure if I like the yarn I snatched, rather than chose, from stash.

So I’ll write this morning about my credit card. It’s been blocked.

It got some heavy use last week – the Shetland Times, that Kirkmichael postcard, the order to Jimmy Bean, rail fare to London.  (It’s not maxed out.)

The rail tickets were bought on Sunday afternoon. On Monday I thought I fancied something to read. Granddaughter Lizzie (American Studies, Birmingham University) is doing a course on The Thriller this year. The reading list makes a feature of Sara Paretsky whom I’ve never read, so I thought I’d have a go. No luck. [Elmore Leonard isn’t even mentioned in the extensive reading list. I suspect the academic attraction of Paretsky is partly, at least, that she’s a woman who writes about a feisty, perhaps even Lesbian, woman detective. Two birds with one stone.]

I tried various stratagems and eventually rang Amazon. They were kind and helpful and suggested all the things I had already tried. No luck.

And just as I was gloomily revving myself up to phone the bank, armed with the last four digits of my Social Security Number, they phoned me! And I assured them that I really had wanted to pay Jimmy Bean and the Shetland Times, and they said that’s fine, the card is un-blocked as of now (and the balance is what I thought it was).

I spent the evening in a glow of happiness. The only trouble is, still no Paretsky this morning. But I have the comfort of knowing I can phone Mr Umesh when he gets to his desk – I don’t have to start at the bottom.

I have never believed in this unusual-activity business, since I went to Theo’s wedding and paid for a hotel room in CT, and hired a car, and they didn’t raise an eyebrow. What activity could be more unusual than that, for me? None of last week’s transactions were really that odd, or that high-priced, except perhaps for paying so much for a postcard. What will they do when I buy a new desktop computer, or a suede shirt?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


The winter darkness seems to have come down awfully suddenly this year.

I’ve finished the first triangle of the Wingspan. I am working in my head on an essay about monotonous knitting – which much of it is, much of the time – as distinct? from boring knitting, which is relatively rare. But I haven’t got there yet.

So, thots, again.

Knitting-related ones:

I learned from Liz Lovick’s blog about the Yarn & Cake shop in Glasgow. It is clearly very near the premises once occupied by K1 Yarns. I believe the owner has given that one up to concentrate on Edinburgh (to which I link). Maybe Yarn & Cake took over.

And Liz’ pictures of Scotland, taken from the train as she travelled home from Glasgow to Orkney, are worth looking at, too.

Politics

Thanks, Kristie. It is exactly as you say. If I had access to a polling booth, I’d vote for Obama, sort of sadly. I will lie awake that night listening to the radio in an unusual state of mind, terribly interested in what is happening but not cheering wildly for either side. (It’s not the Calcutta Cup, in other words.)

I am struck increasingly these days with the way Americans refer to each other as “Democrat” or “Republican” in tones that seem to imply that the labels refer to something permanent and inbred.  (“Goodness, he can’t marry her – she’s a Republican”, sort of thing). The number of voters who actually might change sides in any given election must be very small. Which, of course, is why the parties work so hard to get their partisans to turn out on the day.

I’m terribly in favour of voting. I remember once when Alexander was in a plague-on-both-your-houses state of mind about a British General Election. I urged him strongly to go along and spoil his ballot paper rather than stay at home. But I’m also old and tired – struggling with Monmouth County is too much for me, this time.

Angel, it’s great to know you’re still reading (even if not blogging). I remember so vividly your blog post? comment here? about Town and Gown dancing together in the streets of Oberlin when Obama won four years ago. It’s different this time, undoubtedly.

And I agree with you that great racehorses probably love to run. And, surely, they must also in some sense enjoy cooperating with the man who has taught them to lie in fourth place until the moment comes to move forward. As a sheepdog patently loves to boss the silly sheep around, using the technique the man has taught him. And even more patently enjoys being of serious assistance to his beloved master.

But I also agree, Woolly Bits, that it’s hard to imagine that anyone enjoys dressage, horse, rider, or audience.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Little to report, so I’ll add some Thots.

Knitting

I left the hat and its many loose ends yesterday, and knit peacefully on with the Wingspan. It’s just what’s wanted, easy and soothing.

And I booked my train journeys to and from London for next month. (That counts as “knitting” because of course I am going down there for Franklin’s classes at Loop.) Shandy has booked our lunch at the Elk in the Woods. Catdownunder, this is unknown territory to me. For many years now, all my movements around London have been in pursuit of art. All that is to be found in Islington is the Estorick Collection. Well worth a visit, but it offers neither yarn nor (I think) lunch.

I’ll have to get to work with Google maps and the subway map soon. But I can assure you, cat, that Loop is one of the very best LYS’s in Britain, and the Elk in the Woods isn’t far away. (I’m trusting Shandy on that one.) Definitely worth pencilling in for your next visit to London, sight-unseen.

Thot (1)

There was a long and interesting profile of Mr. Romney in a recent New Yorker – I read it in Strathardle the other day.  I’m not going to vote this time – it’s sort of hard work extracting a ballot from Monmouth County, NJ, and I’m not as fired up as I was last time. Reading the New Yorker, I found myself not at all sure that a businessman might not be a good idea, for President, just now.

He’s certainly not as odious (or as stupid?) as GW Bush. He may be awfully rich, but at least it seems to be largely money he’s made himself. Unlike Bush, again. He sounds like an honourable man, and that counts for something. His lack of success as a demagogue might even be counted as an asset.

I have timidly advanced these thoughts to Rachel and to my hairdresser, both of whom slapped them down with vigour.

Thot (2)

A great British horse, Frankel by name, has just retired from flat racing after his 14th successive victory. They’re saying greatest-of-all-time, up there with Seabiscuit and Man o’War. He was trained by Henry Cecil, a big name in British racing, now near death but he was there for Frankel’s last race on Saturday, able to whisper to the microphone that he had never seen a horse like this one.

What I wonder is, does an animal enjoy being that good? Surely he must. And secondly, when the race is going on and he is galloping along happily in fourth place, how does the jockey tell him that it’s time to make the move? Use of the whip is much restricted these days. He’s standing up in the stirrups, so can’t signal with his legs as in the equestrian novels of my girlhood. Flapping the reins and shouting “giddy-up” doesn’t quite seem appropriate. But horse and man clearly know each other’s minds.

Here’s Saturday’s race. You’ll see. Frankel leaves it so late I got worried even watching again this morning.

Now he retires to stud. We had an interesting article in the New Yorker on that subject a couple of years ago. Artificial insemination is not allowed for thoroughbred horses. Frankel will be busy all day every day. He must be worth as much as a Picasso.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Bloody Sunday again. I must be brief.

I blocked the jacket, and remembered as I did so that the book warns, at the very end of the pattern, that it showed some signs of a tendency to stretch and that therefore an i-cord edging all around the periphery might be a good idea. (That’s what one loves about the Schoolhouse – real people knit things, and report on the experience. It’s not all done by outworkers.)

I did such an edging for the Round-the-Bend jacket a couple of years ago. It’s not nearly as trying an experience as you might think. And it would solve the front-fastening problem, if there turns out to be one. So I will reserve the left-over yarn for the moment.

I then went on and finished knitting the hat. When I got to that point, I was in a fairly frazzled state, and proceeded at once to cast on the Wingspan scarf, using a KF sock yarn. (That is indeed what it’s called -- Wingspan. Thanks, Anonymous.) I’ll pull myself together and go back and deal with the ends today.

While I was knitting the hat – I think I’ve told you that solid geometry is not my forte – I didn’t grasp that the side facing me would be entirely concealed by the folded-up rim, and that therefore all the many loose ends (thanks to the moths) should be there in front of me. They’ll have to be poked through.

It is very gratifying to finish something that needs no sewing, and two such finishes in one weekend – the jacket and the hat – are really rather special.

The Wingspan has started well. It will clearly be easy to master the shaping, and I don’t think I had grasped in advance that it’s done in garter st, a welcome plus.

I was frazzled because I had been wrestling, unsuccessfully, with a document my husband had created in an unbelievably ancient version of Word Perfect. That program, functioning under DOS, normally serves him  well. It’s brilliant with footnotes. But this particular document contains parallel columns. I grasp/can vaguely remember how to set them up and write them – but how do you edit them, when you have no mouse to move the cursor from one to the other? One wrong keystroke, and the formatting collapses.

I’ll have to return to that question today.

I meant to mention the other day that I did a quick refresher course on the Strong-Fleegle heel before we set off to the hospital on Wednesday. (And, in fact, I didn’t get as far as the heel while we were there, but never mind that.) I have a lot of reference material, including the original issue of Knitter’s and several books which include it.

But I found that Fleegle’s own blog pages were the quickest way in and the clearest exposition. It’s an easy one, and I mean to settle down with it for toe-up socks at least. I think I’ll have it memorised soon.

A fashion writer in yesterday's Telegraph shows a grey cabled watchcap -- she calls it a beanie, but I would reserve that term for something without a turned-up brim -- with a bright red bobble on top. It looked pretty cute, and cost nearly £70. I'm just saying.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Oh, Shandy, yes: The Elk in the Woods it is. I agree about the wallpaper, and I wonder if one is encouraged to slip a couple of those elk-headed table knives into one’s knitting bag? Probably not. I read within the last few days that Jamie Oliver loses something on the order of 30,000 napkins a month from his new Edinburgh restaurant. Fancy his even serving that many people! The E in the W must lose quite a few knives, but we’ll be good.

I like the fact that the menu has a section – as delicious-sounding as the others – called “Smalls”. I find I can’t finish a huge plateful these days when I’m het up. Should we actually book?

The cardigan I was thinking of in Madeline Weston’s Traditional Sweater Book is the “Eyelet Cardy” in the Shetland lace section – page 120 of the (hem hem) first edition. It was designed by Margaret Stuart, I notice in the small print, so it may actually come from Shetland. It is worn by the (pencil-thin) model as I imagine it, comfortably loose even when buttoned.

It was from that book, for the record, that I first knit a shawl – the hap shawl, not so named, on page 128. I notice that that, too, comes from Margaret Stuart.

I finished off those loose ends yesterday and hope to get the mitered jacket blocked today. I then returned to the Cousteau hat and am within a few rounds of finishing that. The ends will take a moment or two, on that one, because it is knit of the oddballs the moths left behind.

That will leave me with a skein and a yard or two more. The beanie on the cover of “Weekend Hats”?

But the immediate next-project will be that little scarf done in sock yarn. I thought it was called “Windmill” but it clearly isn’t. That’s OK; I’ve downloaded and printed the pattern, and can tell you tomorrow what it’s called.

I’ve had an email from Jimmy Bean, wondering whether the 9 skeins of madelinetosh sport-weight “Firewood” they have in stock are too divergent – would I rather wait for the next shipment? No, I wouldn’t, but it was nice of them to ask.

Non-knit

Here’s the famous postcard. The kind seller sent it special delivery, which wasn’t in the contract, because it had cost me so much. That was kind of him.


It was posted in 1927. We always greatly prefer postcards which have been used.

I still need to do some figger’ing about exactly where we are. We are clearly looking across the river to the school (that two-storey grey building) and, above and behind it, the Menzies’ house, and behind that the spire of the Free Church which was abandoned before we got to Kirkmichael 50 years ago. It’s still there, physically.

But everything in the foreground of the picture, except the white house where Mrs Blair lives, is gone. What puzzles me slightly is the level – Mrs Blair is well below Main Street. You look down on her house and garden as you cross the bridge towards the school (and towards us). The bridge must be just out of sight to the left of this scene.  

Friday, October 19, 2012


I finished knitting the mitered jacket yesterday. Ends still to be dealt with, and of course blocking, and then the decision about a front fastening, if any. But, progress.

In a brief burst of energy, I have ordered the Fair Isle book from the Shetland Times – “The Known Work of Robert Williamson”, mentioned here the other day – on the strength of the excellence of “A Legacy of Shetland Lace”.

In the latter, before I leave the subject, I am greatly drawn to the “Laureya Cardigan”, named for the designer’s granddaughters. Lace-weight yarn, straightforward all-over lace pattern, v-neck, 12-stitch elegant moss stitch border up the front, round the back of the neck, back down again. It looks like the sort of thing which, faultlessly knit in pale grey or beige, one could wear every day for the rest of one’s life. There is something similar in Madeline Weston’s “Traditional Sweater Book” of 1986.

While the burst of energy lasted, I also ordered the yarn for Ed’s gardening sweater from Jimmy Bean – madelinetosh sport weight “Firewood”. I won’t actually be able to start until I have measured a favourite sweater of his, and that won’t happen until next month. Plenty to do in the meantime.

My husband has decided, wisely, not to attempt London. Rachel will come here to hold the fort while I go down for my classes with Franklin on November 18. I’m scared, now it has come to the point. I think Alexander and Ketki will come over for the day on  Saturday the 17th, too.  

No doubt you’ll hear a lot more about this before it happens. And after.

eBay

Skeindalous, I think it’s a perfectly fair tactic to bid at the last moment. I’ve done it more or less myself, in my pursuit of Vogue Knitting Books, although I have never used a sniping program such as you mention, Gretchen, and I’m too scard-y to leave the bidding to the utter end. The point is not to give the opposition time to re-group and bid higher. My opponent in the Expensive Postcard Contest this week had the opposite difficulty – he hadn’t left himself time to raise his bid.

He beat us a couple of times recently for cards which showed the hotel, and I wondered if he could actually be my cyber-friend Angie who owns it. The village owes her a lot: the hotel had stood empty for five years or so. Dereliction threatened, and it would have ripped the heart out of the place, visually, if the hotel had gone. She converted it into self-catering apartments which are, wonderfully, available by the day. We use them a lot for overflow family.

There is an internal balcony on the first floor, looking down to the lobby, and she has enlarged some old postcards and displayed them there. I asked her recently – when nothing was happening on eBay – whether she was buying postcards. She said no – the ones she has, came with the hotel when she bought it.

So I sent her the link to the one I have just acquired, and told her yesterday that I had won. She promises to keep her ears open in search of the identity of the Mystery Buyer. She’s probably much better placed to find him out than I am. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Not much knitting yesterday. I’m getting old, too. Trailing out to the hospital, sitting around all afternoon, trailing back, bidding for that postcard: it all takes it out of you.

I got the card, for which I had to pay a truly preposterous amount of money. The astonished seller must be planning a holiday in Benidorm this morning. It was the same pattern as with other cards we have lost recently – everything is coasting along nicely with the bid standing at £3.50, and then in the last seconds my wealthy mystery opponent makes his move. This time I was ready for him, and had bid so absurdly high that all he succeeded in doing was to cost me a lot of money.

[That’s the way eBay works – no matter how big a bid you’ve entered, you only actually pay one bid above the competition. If there is any competition.]

I’ll scan it for you when it gets here. The seller is in Edinburgh, so it shouldn’t be long.

Despite my failure to accomplish much, there’s knitting (and knitting-related) news.

“A Legacy of Shetland Lace” arrived. It’s a gem. It comes from the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers. All the designers have donated their work; all profits will go to the work of the Guild. Each of the designers has a little biography attached to her pattern – it is interesting to learn how much goes on up there in the way of workshops and demonstrations. Clearly, if I ever get to Shetland, I’ll have to contact the Guild first.

There’s a delicious page early on of “Shetland words associated with knitting”. I particularly like “spret” – “when things go so wrong that you need to pull out the knitting needle and take back the last rows of knitting”. That doesn’t make it clear whether the word is a noun or a verb or an obscenity.

And “sok” means “a piece of knitting”. “Tak dee sok” means, “bring your knitting”.

I wondered about that one. I found no hint of it in the OED under “sock”. That word derives (it says) from the Latin “soccus”, a low, slipper-like shoe. It appears in various forms in the northern languages, Old Icelandic and Middle High Dutch and that sort of thing. But wait a moment – if it derives from the Latin, why doesn’t it show up in the Romance languages?

My first thought, seeing the Shetland meaning, was that “sok” originally meant “a piece of knitting” and came to mean “sock” because that was what, so often, was being knit. Who knows?

The patterns in the book are largely named for the village or the croft the designer came from. I am particularly drawn by the “Cuckron scarf” – “Sue named the Cuckron Scarf after her family’s croft. Cuckron is the sound made by the burn as it runs past the house.”

Our little house  in Strathardle also stands by a burn, and the constant sound of it, when one is outdoors, is a substantial part of the pleasure of being there. The Romans put the sound of water high on the list of desirable features for a country residence. It’s a nice little scarf, too – “designed for an elderly aunt who wanted a light scarf to keep the draughts off her neck”.

I’m seriously tempted.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Thank you for the link, Anonymous, to those brilliant Harvard people reading both the Latin and then Dryden’s English of the passage from the Aeneid I mentioned the other day [comment, Monday]. What a wonderful start to my day!

A busy one it will be. We have a routine diabetes app't at the Royal Infirmary which will in effect take all day, by the time we get there and get back and slot in lunch and sit about for quite a while in the diabetes dep’t itself. Back to the Zauberball sock – I have forgotten almost everything I learned from those months of sock-knitting earlier in the year. In this case, I’m not very far past the first toe (it’s toe-up) of the first sock. It is destined to have a Strong-Fleegle heel but I will have to remind myself how to do that.

In the early evening, a gem of a Kirkmichael postcard is coming up on eBay. Most of the charm of old Kirkmichael postcards lies in the fact that the village looked just the same as it does now, 100 years ago. But this one shows a corner of the village, with people and picturesquely  squalid business premises, which has entirely vanished.

Twice recently we have been outbid in the last few seconds by someone willing to pay serious money for old Kirkmichael postcards. This time, I’m going to bid very serious money.

As for actual knitting, I did finish the second sleeve of the mitered jacket yesterday, and started its garter stitch border. The provisional cast-on was a struggle. For the border of the first sleeve, I used the one I think of as “cat’s cradle”. Last night, I couldn’t get anywhere with the instructions in my new “Cast On Bind Off” book. The back pages of “Knit One Knit All” came to the rescue – and interestingly, the instructions were different. COBO has you hold the two yarns in your left hand in the slingshot position with the waste yarn below, over your thumb, and the working yarn above.

KOKA reverses the positions of the yarns, and it was only that way that I succeeded in doing it. I think I’ll revert to the crochet cast-on next time.

And THEN I discovered that I had entirely overlooked a W when I was doing the border on the first sleeve – “Join to WS of sleeve by working k2tog tbl", it clearly states.  I don’t think it’s what we call in computing a Fatal Error. I am, of course, attaching this second border to the right side, as I did the first one, pictured below. It doesn’t look too bad, does it? The join is smoother on the reverse side and this explains my puzzlement, mentioned earlier, about how to slip the first stitch of the return row, purlwise or knitwise. But I think the chain on the right side can be claimed as a "feature".


General non-knit

My hair looks very nice, thank you, and I feel five pounds lighter.

We heard much of the debate, in the night. The President seems to have woken up. It all seemed awfully predictable.

I have much else to say, about Archie and the Aeneid and your kind encouragement to buy knitting books. But I think it’s time to move forward with Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Early hair appointment today -- a big morale boost, but it leaves no time for early morning thinking.

This week's big job is to decide, at last, whether we are both going to London in mid-November or whether, as I would increasingly prefer, I will go alone while Rachel comes here. I put off raising the subject yesterday, but it's time to face up to it.

Archie reports from Athens that the dog remembers him -- I thought he would, but Archie was worried about it.

I've got about 10 rounds of sleeve knitting to go before starting the final garter-stitch border.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Saturday, I took Archie to the airport. Sunday, I cooked lunch for Lizzie. You probably figured that out. All went well. Archie survived his DoE expedition – “The worst experience of my life” -- and seemed in good spirits. Lizzie is enjoying American studies at B’ham University, and will soon be given the list of possible American colleges to attend next year. My husband and I both look keenly forward to advising her on that subject.

I told Archie Aeneas’ famous line, somewhere in Book I of the Aeneid. He and his men, fleeing the sack of Troy and on their way to Italy to found Rome, have pitched up on the coast of North Africa, cold, hungry, wet and miserable. “Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit,” he says to them. “Maybe one day we will enjoy remembering even this.” Archie liked it, and wrote it down in his telephone.

And knitting is going well too. I have begun the crown shaping of the Cousteau hat, and have run out of little balls of yarn. I wound the final skein, wondering if the moths had prepared some more for me, but it turned out to be intact, so I have gone back to the jacket.

Here it is. I’m very pleased. I have just bought Ann Budd’s “Top-Down Sweaters”, a book of basic patterns with some embellishments. She starts off at the very beginning by saying, “Knit with yarn that you really like”. It’s good advice. This is a good pattern, it has been a lot of fun to work out, but it’s the madelinetosh yarn that really does it for me.


I’ve also got the fiendishly clever Nicky Epstein’s “Knitting in Circles” – haven’t started on that one yet. And I have ordered “A Legacy of Shetland Lace” from the Shetland Times, and am tempted by their book of Fair Isle patterns “reproducing the known work of Robert Williamson”. Same link.

And by the “Sock Yarn Studio” book that Queer Joe reviewed with enthusiasm yesterday. I don’t need more books, I need more time.

It will be a particular pleasure to put “Knit One, Knit All” back on the shelf having knit something from it and thus having added it to a rather small and very choice subsection of my books.

Comments and miscellany

Thanks for “fewmets” (=deer dung). That’s a good one to know. And for advice on fencing, and on hoping for some broccolini in the spring.

Lou, thanks very much for the link to the Edinburgh yarn bomber story. Somehow or other, we managed to miss that one when it was printed in the Scotsman. I would like to have had it for my Knitting Oddities file. Maybe it only appeared in the Evening News. The trams are universally abhorred by the citizens of Edinburgh.

James and his family have decided to name their new cat “Mimi”. Apparently that is Chinese for “miaow” and also a homonym for “lost” or “stray”. Am I entirely sure I know what a homonym is? I think the cat’s problem will not be learning to go outdoors when he finally gets to Sydenham, but explaining to the other cats there why he is named Mimi. 

Friday, October 12, 2012


A new follower! Welcome back, Jean!

We are safely home, with no more to worry about than a low-blood-sugar episode on Tuesday evening, and not disastrously low, at that. Wonderful weather Tuesday and Wednesday. I planted my garlic patch, and got some – not enough – weeding, forking, manuring, and covering done. If someone would discover a culinary use for the creeping buttercup, our problems would be at an end.

The deer have been back (if they ever went away). The grass is dotted with their dung – no doubt there is a Correct Technical Word for it. Vegetable-growing will have to be re-thought from the beginning.

They haven’t jumped into my new vegetable cage. The broccoli still looks happy, with little flower buds in the axils where I have cut the main stem. If they survive the winter cold, I would expect them to produce a second crop.

One of my catalogues offers a mesh “pop-up vegetable cage”, 50x50x36 inches, I think it was. Two of those would accommodate courgettes and salad greens and perhaps some spinach, with mange-tout peas and broad beans crammed into the bigger cage. No brassicas? Oh, dear.

We could have the whole area deer-fenced, at enormous expense, but my husband says that that would be a bit like living in a concentration camp.

The pinus bungeana looks very happy, with not a needle lost.

What follows will be, for us, an exciting weekend. Archie has been on a Duke of Edinburgh outing with his school. He will come to us by taxi this evening, and I will drive him to the airport tomorrow for his two-week half-term break in Athens. [The more you pay for education, the less of it you get.] I don’t know what the Duke of Edinburgh Award involves, other than extreme discomfort out-of-doors. The DoE phrase is very familiar, and I look forward to learning more.

Archie is not an out-of-doors man, and Helen is seriously afraid that this will be the end of his previously happy relationship with the school. My money is on Archie, and on Merchiston. Being utterly miserable out-of-doors is one thing; being utterly miserable out-of-doors with your mates, quite another.

And then another grandchild, Rachel’s daughter Lizzie, now at Birmingham University, is coming to lunch on Sunday. That will mean rearranging our Mass-going for the weekend. We were in Birmingham for 25 years -- it will be interesting to hear how the University is getting on.

Knitting

I devoted the Strathardle knitting-time to the Cousteau hat, and will press on this evening, and tomorrow if need be, to finish it. I am using the small lengths of yarn the moths so kindly cut off. I started with a largish ball, but soon realised I was in one of those situations – 140 stitches, ribbing – where you can knit on forever without getting anywhere. But what I could do, was finish one of those wee balls and start the next, even if the knitting itself was stuck obstinately at 1 ¾”. So after grasping that,  I just dipped my hand into the bag and took what came. And of course the glow of virtue, for turning those useless little balls into a cosy hat, is beyond compare.

Monday, October 08, 2012


Not much done – Sundays tend to be unproductive. The second sleeve cap is finished, though.

So we’re on our way north, despite anxiety. I’ll try to knock off a Cousteau hat while we’re there. I should be back here on Friday, insh’Allah.

L’s comment yesterday has solved the problem of how to pick up stitches forever.

Miscellaneous-literary

n      We are now reading “The Good Soldier” at bedtime, and I am galloping forward with “Parade’s End” during the day. Either might be said to be Ford’s masterpiece. They are extraordinarily different.
n      You will remember that my credit card was replaced recently. This has had the pleasant side-effect of unsubscribing me from a couple of things I had long meant to unsubscribe to. They keep sending me anxious emails and all I have to do is not reply.
n      James and his family have decided to keep their new cat indoors in Beijing (wisely, I think) and are worried about whether it will subsequently be able to cope with outdoors in Sydenham and Strathardle. I think it’ll manage.
n      We are suddenly being made aware of what a remarkable year 1962 was. The 50th anniversary of the first Beetles single is much in the news at the moment. We were reminded at Mass yesterday of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the 2nd Vatican Council. And next month is the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

It would be an exaggeration to say I can remember every moment of that week – but I can remember a lot of them. I was scared. I had three small children and was substantially pregnant with a fourth. It was impossible to run, even if there had been anywhere to run to. We didn't even have our little house in the country then. The Glasgow Herald still had small ads all over its front page, like the Times, in 1962. I remember the little front page box, on one of those days, saying that all the nuclear submarines from the  Holy Loch – [they’re still there] – had put to sea.

My mother was in Dallas that week, where her own mother was gravely ill. She didn’t notice what was happening, and in later life confused the Cuban Missile Crisis with the Bay of Pigs. I have long wondered whether that was because family anxieties trumped even the fear of annihilation, or whether Texas was –is – so far away from anywhere that the danger felt less acute.

Next summer will be the 50th anniversary of our purchase of the house in Strathardle.

Sunday, October 07, 2012


Not much achieved yesterday, but I finished the first sleeve of the mitered jacket, including grafting, and picked up (the right number of) stitches for the second. When I was young, a long time ago, the problem with picking up stitches was to find as many as the pattern specified. Now, it’s all the other way:  the difficulty is to get around the circuit in no more stitches than the number allowed. Me? Old age? Or a subtle shift in pattern-writing?

It remains less than my favourite knitting activity.

I wound the final skein (as far as the jacket is concerned – one more remains unwound). No breaks – all the more remarkable because I could swear I saw a third end for a moment as I was arranging the skein for winding.

I got in a bit of a panic yesterday about all my fine plans. Ed’s sweater! The Cousteau hat! A great big scarf! A couple of Wingspan shawls! Where do I think the time is coming from?

We’re planning to go to Strathardle tomorrow. I’m scared, but I have pretty well decided the only thing for it is to go on going there as long as it can be done. If we have a medical crisis while we’re there, we won’t be (much) worse off than any other elderly couple in the village in a similar plight. I was surprised, sorting through photographs the other day, to see how often we were there last winter. My husband must have gone downhill since then. So have we all.

Anyway – to resume the train of thought: I had been thinking of bringing the Japanese shirt back here. It is not progressing very briskly, and deserves better. This is the perfect moment, with the Mitered Jacket about to be finished, since I can’t start Ed’s Gardening Sweater until (I have the yarn and) I have measured a comfortable sweater of his, and discussed necklines – and that won’t happen until the  Franklin-Loop-husband’s-birthday weekend in November.

But at the moment, I’m thinking, on the contrary, of taking a Cousteau hat up there: a pile of moth-eaten oddballs, and the pattern. I’ll do that. And probably bring the shirt back, as well. The great thing to be said for Christmas is that it speeds us through the worst weeks of the year (=clocks go back until winter solstice) in a panic about getting everything done. Oh, catdownunder, I feel so sorry for you, speeding perforce through the best ones.

Non-knit

I still consult Zite and Flipboard on my iPad, without, somehow, finding much of interest these days. But today I was led to buy Nicky Epstein’s “Knitting in Circles”. Either I hadn’t seen a notice of it before, or I had confused it with another book, also current, about circular knitting, which I modestly think I have mastered.

And Flipboard led me to Alexander’s Facebook page, where he has posted this:


I think we can safely conclude that it is the work of his sons. Alexander is a superb and meticulous cook; he provides the family meals. It has been observed before that the boys – close in age, and brilliant at playing together – pay a great deal of attention to what is going on around them.

Saturday, October 06, 2012


All continues well. I’m within a few rows of polishing off the first sleeve of the mitered jacket.

Liz, I think the easiest provisional cast-on is the one where you crochet provisional stitches directly onto the needle. Indeed, watching Lucy Neatby demonstrate it, I wonder why I bother with anything else.

Mary Lou, thanks for the help on ssk and k2tog. And I’ve sort of figured out the answer to my other question, namely why such different results from slip 1 knitwise and slip 1 purlwise, at the beginning of each row (the inside beginning, where the garter stitch border is hitched to the live sleeve).

It’s not the orientation of the slipped stitch that matters. The difference is because – this will have been perfectly obvious to everyone else for years – when you slip the first stitch, the yarn has to travel across it to get to the second stitch and start knitting. The side you pull it across on shews a tidy little knot. That pleasant chain is on the other side.

And Kristie, yes, isn’t EZ amazing? She was fond of mitred corners in garter stitch -- the design of this one has something to do with the Baby Surprise, and even more with Round the Bend which she worked on with Meg fairly late in her life. Round the Bend must have led her mind on to this, which she didn’t finish.

And as for the brioche stitch hat – great minds think alike. I was in John Lewis yesterday, on a brief visit to the yarn dep’t after picking up a prescription at Boots, and thought of what a comfort it was in recent years to knit those big scarves in the dark weeks which are right in front of us now – one for Thomas-the-Elder, one year; one the following year for James, both in Rowan Cocoon. And I thought, all I need to do, really, is find a big, soft yarn I like and set off in brioche stitch. One doesn’t need a pattern.

I’ve knit that hat you mention. I think I just cast on twice as many stitches as she says. I love her description of the stitch as “fruity” – perfect word! Meg has figured out how to do brioche stitch in the round. I attempted that once, and failed. Back and forth is easy and wonderfully soothing – just what’s wanted in November.

While I was there, I noticed that Kaffe is coming. He’ll be in the John Lewis cafĂ© one evening towards the end of November, reading from and signing his new book. Thursday the 29th, very likely. The event costs £10. You have to be pretty good for people to pay to come to an event at which they can buy your book.

Joe, thanks for the comment. I think you’ll have fun with the jacket.

And Hat, thanks for the Jacques Cousteau hat (Ravelry link). Perfect. I’ve downloaded it, and will soon print. I love the way the ribs behave on the top of the hat.

Family news

The Beijing Mileses have adopted a cat



Friday, October 05, 2012


All well. I finished the st st part of the first sleeve of the mitered jacket – and determined that I had done so, somewhat short of the measurement given in the book, by trying it on. There’s something to be said for this top-down business.

And I’ve started the garter stitch panel which finishes things off. The provisional cast-on went smoothly enough on the second attempt, although I wonder whether I have done it quite right. But there are stitches there which can be reclaimed somehow-or-other for the final graft.

The first attempt was too loose. I proceeded for a few rows before deciding, no. When in doubt, take it out, is an invaluable general rule which applies to more than knitting.

So now I’m knitting along, attaching the garter stitch band to the sleeve stitch by stitch and realising there are things about the smallest details which I still don’t understand.


(The sleeve isn't bloused. The border will go all the way around, with both border and sleeve remaining flat.)

The book says to join the last border stitch to the next sleeve stitch with a k2tog tbl. What’s the difference, if any, between that and ssk? The book says to begin each row (at the back, at the sleeve edge, just after joining and turning around) with a slip 1 kwise. I noticed this after I had already done half-a-dozen slip 1’s pwise, and switched, and then switched back The purlwise slips produce the familiar chain effect, which I like and have retained. Slipping the stitch knitwise results in a sort of knot. The total effect would be tidy, and less of a feature than the chain.

You can perhaps even see how I have recently done two attachments with a slip 1 kwise, before reverting:


I ought to know more than I do about such things.

I’m going to have a complete skein of yarn left over, plus a substantial collection of little oddballs thanks to the moths. Watchcaps? I had a look at Ravelry this morning. The ones most to my taste are those with deep, deep ribbed turnovers, for keeping ears warm in serious situations.

Miscellany

I finished my trashy book, “Breed” – not really as good as “Rosemary’s Baby” after all, but very skilful – and found I had no idea where to turn next. One thing Kindle can't supply is the experience of wandering around a bookshop reading a page here and there.

So I am reading “Parade’s End”. We didn’t persevere with the television series, but I found, like you, Shandy, that having seen even the first episode got the characters and start-off situation straightened out for me. Now I’m getting used to the way Ford proceeds, and enjoying it a lot. But it's not for bedtime reading.

We saw a bit, a very little, of the presidential debate on the news last night. The president looked tired, and a lot older than he used to be. I am sure the function of every presidential organ is constantly monitored, so he couldn’t be ill. He must just be weary. It was a bit worrying, though. 

Thursday, October 04, 2012


Miscellany

We woke in the night, as hoped, and turned on the presidential debate. It acted, at least on me, fully as efficiently as “Moby Dick” on Mary Lou -- (see her comment here on Tuesday’s post, as well as the blog entry to which I link) – with the result that I heard very little. Commentators are unanimous this morning that Romney did much better than Obama.

[Mary Lou, “Moby Dick” is a biggie that we have never attempted for bedtime reading. We had been talking only recently about having a go – you may just have inspired us to make the effort. “Good Soldier” next, though, definitely. Fenimore Cooper is another author I have never read a syllable of. Lake George, where I went to Camp Stitches in ’99 and ’00, is, I think I remember being told, the very heart of Natty Bumppo territory. That’s another maybe we should try. I think my husband read both in his youth, but that doesn’t disqualify them for bedtime. We’ll have finished Lewis Grassic Gibbon by the weekend, not before time.]

We – me and his parents in Athens – had a touching email from Archie yesterday about his first CCF lesson (that’s the army for schoolboys, essentially). They dressed in camouflage, including their faces, and learned to crawl like soldiers. It was really fun, he said. Archie has not been very enthusiastic about the active life in recent years. The school is clearly doing rather well at getting him to move about. Last week it was Scottish country dancing.

Knitting

Thanks for the nice comments about the mitered jacket. EZ was a true engineer of knitting: reconstructing this one from her sketchy notes (which is what happened) was a most appropriate act of homage. It’s a lot of fun.

All goes well with the sleeve. I might even finish the st st bit today. It ends in a garter stitch band, knit sideways. Another provisional cast-on (by now, I have forgotten everything I learned about that subject earlier in the year), knit around attaching it stitch by stitch, another graft.

The whole thing is beginning to look and feel like a garment. I like, among other things, the weight of it. I wonder if sport weight yarn might not be too thin for Ed’s gardening sweater. On the other hand, London always feels surprisingly warm, when one steps off the train from Edinburgh in Kings Cross.

That’s the nice thing about not having ordered the yarn yet – I can go on thinking about it.

Thursday is moving on without me – I must go.