Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dies Atra

A busy day, yesterday. I start this gloomy one, rather tired, and oppressed by the news of the bizarre accident in Glasgow during the night.

To begin with, the picture wasn't by what's-his-name. The owner, a thoroughly nice man, was understandably disappointed. It's big, and relates to a picture in the Tate. The owner of this one thought – had been authoritatively told – that it was a preliminary study by the artist's hand, My husband said it was a near-contemporary copy, and a good one, but not ipsissima manu.

(I have myself developed a certain awareness of this artist, over the years, and I agreed. There was a deadness about it. However, I kept out of the conversation, you will be glad to hear.)

My husband (understandably) was unable to explain the reasons for his verdict to the owner's satisfaction. I think in the end connoisseurship comes down to something like recognising your mother's handwriting on an envelope. Another few years, and that analogy itself will be unintelligible as mothers will correspond only by email.

Mercifully, the owner had also brought along a small drawing – and it was thoroughly good, in every sense.

The postman brought the eagerly expected something-to-pay card, certainly relating to the yarn for the Sensible Christmas Project. I sat down to pay on-line, as often before, and failed. I kept getting an error message telling me to try again. I think something must be wrong with the Royal Mail website – something to do with privatisation? So today I'll have to call in at a sub-post office and pay in cash. Another day lost.

It's possible, of course, that a Bad Man has stolen all our money. Also possible – and rather more likely – that I will find I have paid the charge four times, once from each of the different cards I tried. And now I'll pay it a fifth time, in cash.

On top of all this, “The Knitted Shawls of Helga Ruutel” turned up from the Schoolhouse. It is a collection of lace patterns, each presented in a photograph and a chart. I haven't spent much time with the book yet, but I don't think it contains instructions for actually using the patterns in a shawl. You're supposed to know how to do that. It's in Estonian and English. There are lots of nups.

In the introduction, Helga offers this, from an Estonian poet I love it:

“I left papers on the desk.
Guests read them.
They asked if I wished to publish them.
I answered that I had no such wish.
Guests said that
no-one would publish them anyway.

Friday, November 29, 2013

It was good of so many to take time on so busy and happy a day, to send good wishes to our niece F. at the beginning of her cancer story. Lou, I hadn't even thought about a chemo cap, and will certainly keep the possibility in mind. My track record isn't very good – when I knit a chemo cap, they live just about long enough to write the thank-you letter. But, hey! we're not superstitious around here.

A shawl is another good idea. I knit one for her elder sister after their mother's death, lacy, bright red. Maybe this is the moment for that lap rug in Jared's new collection.

Chemotherapy may not come into the story this time. F. said in her first email that some tissue will be taken on Monday as well as the lump (?lymph nodes?), and if the news comes back good she will go straight on to radiotherapy. Does that affect hair?

Shandy, walking is a good idea, too, although it's hard to get up half an hour earlier in these dark days. Was it just a year ago? or two? that we met in Islington for Franklin's class at Loop? It seems forever.

(It is worth following that link to see Shandy's very beautiful cabled throw.)

It sounds as if Lizzie had a grand Thanksgiving with extended family. It was feared that storms would make her journey east prolonged and tedious, but even that didn't happen.

My brother-in-law is on the right above; the others are Extended Family I can't name.

I got some space cleared for Christmas card writing yesterday. It's a start. My husband has taken over the dining room table – he says it's warmer in there than in his study. That is my usual card-writing-spot. The lack of it will be even trickier in January when I do the income tax.

Suddenly Christmas has reached the screaming stage.


Not much, but forward on both fronts. I am starting the panel of upside-down yowes, on the Rams & Yowes blankie, and knitting the upper front of Milano/Relax3. A man is coming today to show my husband some pictures he owns by his [=my husband's] artist. That will be interesting for him, indeed for both of them, but I must tidy the sitting room somewhat this morning before his arrival, The knitting of simultaneous projects each using multiple shades/colours of wool makes for a lot of balls of yarn.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

I hope you're all having a nice Thanksgiving – and Hannukah. I learned on the radio this morning that they coincide this year, for the first time in millennia.As for me, I'm afraid I'm sunk in gloom. It's always like this: I trot on through early November thinking, this isn't so bad, what's the fuss about? and suddenly find the Black Dog waiting at the kitchen door.

Yesterday's unsettling news is that our youngest niece has breast cancer. My husband's only sib, his younger sister C., died of colon cancer two and a half years ago, as many here will remember. She had three daughters – the eldest, another C., lives here in Edinburgh and it is with her that I go for walks from time to time. That relationship, as it has developed since her mother's death, means a lot to me. The middle daughter, A., is a chronic invalid, also Edinburgh-based. The youngest, F., the peacemaker since her earliest years, lives in Glasgow. She is the subject of the bad news.

She will have a lumpectomy next week. (Sixty years ago, I met the man – Geoffrey Keynes – who pioneered that operation as an alternative to radical mastectomy.) I had a very upbeat email from her this morning – she went to the hospital for some pre-op prepping yesterday, and disgraced herself by walking up ten flights of stairs thereby distorting heart-rate and breathing. She has been told to take lifts in future.

She has done a lot of charity walking and, I think, marathon-running, for cancer research since her mother died, and feels that her own diagnosis is rather unfair.

Lots of people get away with it, these days. Lots more have years of excellent health before the damned thing comes back. But we've now got to live with the shadow of extra anxiety, at best. And F. has pain and fear on her immediate agenda.


I'm using Open Office here on my new computer. It works fine, saving things as Word documents and communicating with the outside world. I thought I could bring Excel databases over with the same ease. Not so, I discover. My Christmas list! My income tax files!

Alexander and Ketki, like Archie, were not sanguine about my chances of porting programs across from the old computer. I decided to get a Man In, instead of sending for Laplink. I must do that today.


Back to the routine, yesterday. Three more rounds of Rams & Yowes – half of a little filler pattern between the boys and the girls. Yarn then re-attached to the left back shoulder of Milano and that task polished off. I now have several peaceful evenings ahead knitting the front before more shaping will be required.

It's time the yarn for the Sensible Christmas Project turned up – especially as it is likely to be delayed another day or two by the need to pay VAT.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Here we are back. All is well at Loch Fyne. I've got some pictures of ducks for you, but they will have to wait. I have had unsettling news (that, too, will have to wait) which has, apart from anything else, consumed most of my blogging time this morning.

The ducks are fine, as is the family. Despite the cold and the dark, they are producing three or four eggs every day (there are four ducks). If Alexander and Ketki were selling eggs at the gate, they would be slightly in profit as against the cost of duck food. Since we were last there, a pond has been installed for their use, but they have discovered Loch Fyne and seem to prefer it.

Not much knitting got done. I accelerated a bit in the car on the way back yesterday, persevered in the afternoon as I waiting to bring my husband home from his podiatry appt, and kept on going in the evening – with the result that I am around the heel and nearly done with the gusset decreases of the Pakokku sock which has been in the background for a long time.

Now that we don't travel, and efficient systems have cut down waiting-room time, I'm going to have to institute Sock Weeks if I am to get anything done. I did the School Walk with Alexander and Ketki and their Little Boys on Monday and Tuesday – half a mile or so to the place where the bus picks up five local children. One of the mothers, remembering that I am a knitter, told me that she suffers badly from Second Sock Syndrome. That's one which has passed me by entirely.

When we got back here last night, I found that copy of Knitscene I recently ordered from Interweave, Winter 2012. I couldn't remember why I had sent for it but it didn't take long to figure it out – Cotton and Cloud's shawls. I could have done with one to wrap myself in last night – not terribly cold, really, but dank.

But there are other things I like there too (the Lucy hat!) and I like the tone and the format. I will have to set myself to figure out how to cancel my subscription to the British “Knitting” and replace it with this.

Here is a picture of Ted LeC in Washington, wearing his bsj and a pair of leather boots from his cousin Helen in Greece. Now we all want a pair of boots like his. Helen is actually his first cousin once removed. I love working out that sort of thing.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


You'd think they knew.

I had trouble turning Old Slowcoach on this morning, to record my weight. I succeeded in the end, and made copies while I was there of Quicken, Lotus Organizer, and some important Excel files, namely “Xmas” and the folders “Tax13” and “Tax14”. OpenOffice ought to be able to manage the Excel files. But, oh dear.

(more) Non-knit

I am sorry about the premature Thanksgiving wishes. I should have known. In my youth, there was still confusion about fourth-Thursday and last-Thursday. (They coincide this year, of course.) I think opinions divided on party lines. I can't remember which party was on which side, but I think the Democrats -- Roosevelt and then Truman were in charge in my youth -- must have been the fourth-Thursday people.. We have the same problem in Kirkmichael, where the Games are always on the Fourth Saturday (of August) but even old village hands get confused when that falls on the 22nd or 23rd. “Why have they changed it?”

There's something in Swift somewhere, I think, about the question of which end of the boiled egg to open for one's breakfast.

This year, Thanksgiving is really distressingly near Christmas. Have a great day anyway, y'all! Lizzie is to travel eastwards to celebrate with my sister and her husband and some cousins on the paternal side whom I scarcely know. (They – more specifically, by now, their parents -- didn't get on very well with our mother.)

And we are off to Loch Fyne. Alexander says he can't be here to fetch us until 1pm or so, which means we don't even have to suffer much stress about getting ready. 11 am is manageable but tough; 1 pm should be relatively easy. I'll be back here on Wednesday, insh'Allah.


Carol Sunday's “Oak Park” yarn kit turned up yesterday – through the letter-box! Hers is the one American website I know – as I mentioned recently – which is aware of the charges levied on the innocent European knitter. I think my escape this time is largely due to the fact that she addressed the package by hand. All the necessary documentation is there, but it doesn't look particularly commercial. I haven't yet emailed my thanks, but I will.

And it's beautiful.

But – we're never satisfied – if it had been the Sensible Christmas Project instead, I could have taken it to Loch Fyne and pretty well polished it off. As it is, I'll take the Pakokku socks, which rarely get an outing these days. I don't get much time in the sock-knitting zone – no travel, efficient waiting-room-time systems in hospitals and dr's surgeries. As I said, we're never satisfied.

I had a look at Sock Sizes while I had Lotus Organizer perilously open just now. The difficulty here is that Pakokku doesn't seem to do its trick except on 64 stitches, and only Greek Helen and Ketki and my sister, amongst my female sock recipients, have feet that big. All three have had recent socks.

I have big feet too, of course, but I don't wear socks much.

As for the domestic scene, I did indeed finish the central panel of the Rams & Yowes blankie, but I managed only one shoulder of the back of the Milano/Relax3. There was time, I could have polished off the other, but by then I was only fit for dead-easy. And there was none to hand. There's something to be said for Multiple WIPs.

I have to confess that, on proofreading this, I found a misspelling in one of the its-s. Either a misplaced apostrophe, or the lack of one where it belonged. I won't go so far as to tell you which.

Until Wednesday, then, when you can expect  pictures of ducks.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving. It's one I'm always glad to miss – too much celebrating too near Christmas. But it's a lovely holiday, for being happy and thankful with family and friends without anything else except football and the washing-upl. You don't have to give them anything, or even go to church.

And today we can think abut JFK. I watched a New Theory program the other night. Interesting, but not very likely. It didn't even mention the Grassy Knoll, although we actually heard one of the witnesses say that the President's head snapped back when one of the bullets hit.


The external hard drive works fine with the new computer, so that's OK. For the moment, at least, I need Old Slowcoach for recording my morning weigh-in and for balancing bank statements, so I have now set the two machines up at opposite ends of the room. (Figures from past Lents indicate that the third week of abstinence from cider – that's where we are now – is when real results begin to show. And sure enough.)

I was tempted yesterday to just go ahead and order Laplink for the transfer of data and programs to the new computer. but it makes sense to wait until I have talked to Alexander and Ketki. A Man might have the advantage that he could be induced to promise in advance that he could move programs over, not just data, and not have to be paid at all if he failed. Maybe.


All's well. I might even achieve a double today, by finishing Chart C in the middle of the Rams & Yowes blankie, and finishing the back of Milano/Relax3.

It's time some of my November stash-enhancement turned up, the Carol Sunday scarf and the Sensible Christmas Project.

ProvisionalKitchener, I was interested in your anxieties about the pattern CustomFit produced for you. CustomFit is high on my mental list for 2014. Herzog herself has illustrated at least a dozen sweaters which are said to have emerged from the system, on a good range of body shapes. But what we want is independent testers.

There's a Ravelry group, I find, with 1600 members or so. Herzog herself is there, of course, but there is a lot of independent stuff, including a thread from a poor soul who hasn't been able to achieve her own gauge. An illustration, perhaps, of what the counsels of perfection often advise, to wash the swatch as you eventually will the garment. I've never done it, but maybe this time I will.

People sound enthusiastic – especially about the fact that the row gauge in the pattern now matches reality. I'm clearly not the only knitter in the world for whom that never happens.


Here is a this-week picture of my great-nephewTed LeC in Washington, aged three weeks. He's clearly doing well. I may have to accelerate Rams & Yowes – he won't want it in a DC summer and by next winter he'll be too grown-up to be pushed about in a pram under a blankie.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I am enormously grateful to Southern Gal and Holly for the time and trouble they took with my computing problems yesterday. I don't understand much of what was said, except for the kindness which shines through. I will certainly try the external hard drive with the new computer today, to make sure that the trouble doesn't lie there.

As for my dear old programs – re-install? You mean, from disks? In some cases, notably Quicken and Word Perfect, I know I don't have disks. They were downloads. In most of the others, I've probably lost them. It's been a long time. In the case of Quicken, it doesn't even seem possible to buy a new copy – Intuit abandoned GB a long time ago; eBay and Amazon offer endless American copies, nothing else. It would cost rather a lot, but I could get a new Lotus Organizer.

Google seems to offer two programs which claim to do the job of moving programs across (not just data) – Laplink and Zinstall. Laplink is cheaper, priced in pounds, and I have happy memories of using it for simpler tasks decades ago. It would cost less than getting a Man In -- unless it didn't work, in which case I would have the expense of the Man plus the cost of Laplink.

For the moment, I will do nothing except, I hope, for tidying up this desk and its immediate environs in case I wind up getting a Man In. I'll seek advice from Alexander and Ketki this weekend. They both know their way about computers, even though Alexander has gone over to the Dark Side (=uses a Mac).

Knitting (a much pleasanter subject)

I learned about herringbone stitch from Franklin on Craftsy yesterday, and have decided that I can go on to the next lesson without trying it out. If I ever want to use it, I can go back. Knitted-on edgings are much more my thing, and that's what comes next.

I've reached the shoulder shaping on the back of Milano/Relax3. It didn't even occur to me until I got there that the stripes will add an interesting new element to the short-row section. We shall see. I think the effect will be acceptable.

And I'm well along with the final rank of upside-down rams, on the Rams&Yowes blankie.

I had a considerable struggle wuth myself yesterday about that cabled cardigan (No. 22) in the new VK and the heavenly Poems Silk yarn it requires. I think November is my dangerous month for reckless stash enhancement. But I think I'm going to be able to hold out. Viewed in this mrning's cold light, the result is a bit too colourful for me, and risky to knit for someone else without prior approval.

That was an interesting remark of Barbara Walker's, in Meg's article in the new VK, about the difficulty of finishing: not in the sense we usually use the word, but simply getting things done. I know what she means, I used to have LOTS of WIPs, but I don't think things are quite as bad as she says, overall. Maybe we all get more sensible with age. Her own knitting career must be unique – starting so comparatively late, rising so high, abandoning the whole thing for other pursuits.


Thanks for the help with weaving rubber bands. The granddaughter in question is one of the ones in Beijing – I don't know her well. It sounds from your comments as if it might be prudent for me to think of something else for her.

One disk I think I do have is the one for the camera.Soon we'll have some pics beamed to you from the new computer.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


The speed is delicious. There are probs to be solved, but I still hope all will be well in the end. The main difficulty yesterday was that I couldn't get the old computer to read the external hard drive. It can “see” it, all right. It is called G: and has several files on it, including a user manual. But I can't get hold of any of them, or copy anything to the disk. “i/o error”, it says. Is this a USB2/USB3 compatibility problem? They told me in the shop that there wouldn't be one.

My next step, I discover from some Googling, is to install a program called Windows Easy Transfer on both computers. It's available from Microsoft, free I hope. It is just possible that that program will solve the i/o problem. If not, I have to go on and get an Easy Transfer Cable and hope that works.

I really, really need to move Quicken, and I want Lotus Organizer, too, which has a lot of knitting stuff.

Advice gratefully received.

James' wife Cathy wrote this morning advising a wireless keyboard and mouse and – ahah! – a little side table to put the laptop computer on while I work with an external monitor, I plugged the old monitor in yesterday and it works fine, but the laptop was in the way.


  • It occurred to me yesterday that Herzog's CustomFit could be considered as an extension of EZ's EPS: fundamentally the same idea of freeing the knitter from the tyranny of “getting gauge” by making the pattern come to you.
  • The new VK surprised me by turning up yesterday. Some nice lace shawls – but a shortage of things I want to knit in lace is not the problem around here. I like No. 22, a cardigan in Wisdom Yarns Poems Silk, a new one to me. The link is to good old Jimmy Bean.
  • And the local knitting continues well. I have finished the second rank (of three) of upside-down rams, on the Rames&Yowes blankie – so the end of the whole centre panel isn't far off. It will remain to do another small filler pattern, and then the upside-down Yowes.
  • I took advantage of all this delicious speed to go back to Craftsy yesterday. I re-watched Franklin's bit about mattress stitch, and then I went and did it on the little sample we are working on in class – so now I am free to go on! Herringbone stitch comes next. And then I have all my stashed Craftsy classes to look forward to – Eunny on lace, and Alasdair Post-Quinn on double knitting, and the rest of Herzog on fit, Buttonbands and Buttonholes, a free little class about wool... I wish Craftsy would sign Franklin up for his new real-life class about putting zips in.

I've been meaning to ask you: looms on which one somehow weaves coloured rubber bands into bracelets for one's friends suddenly seem to be cropping up everywhere. I must be referring to Zite. I love things like that. But my youngest granddaughter is now a teenager – she has just turned 13. Would that be too infantile a Christmas present? I feel I really need an eight-year-old.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Today is my husband's 88th birthday. That's old. Celebrations, such as they will be, are to be postponed until we get to Loch Fyne at the weekend. He wants a cupcake.

I bought a new computer. Archie and I fell into the hands of a talkative salesman who persuaded me to spend a lot less money than I was prepared to part with. John Lewis has a small Sale table for machines which -- as the salesman put it -- people have brought back because they didn't like the colour. If there's anything there that suits, you get it for a substantial reduction and you get everything except the box, including the normal two-year guarantee.

So I gave up my idea of a new desktop with terabytes of memory (the salesman and Archie agreed that I didn't need them), and bought a Toshiba portable, with a touchscreen and all. I'm getting on fine, so far. Open Office and Google Chrome and Feedly have been re-established. Dropbox will be next. I bought an external hard drive, which I will eventually pass on to Archie. The salesman said I didn't need to pay a man from John Lewis to come and do the transferring. So soon -- maybe today -- I will have to try to use it to move actual programs over -- Quicken and Microsoft Office and Lotus Organizer (where I record my weigh-in every morning), to begin with.

I didn't buy a monitor. I will first try plugging in my old one. I find I don't like composing on this one. And I badly need a mouse. Archie says my old one won't do.

So that's exciting.


We had a nice time with Thomas and Lucy, although I didn't take the promised picture of her with the Princess veil. We found a moth hole in it, so that's a job for soon. Wretched creatures. They admired the Silly Christmas Project, which is lying about on the coffee table waiting for surgery on its stuffing. Thomas seems magically older and graver under his new responsibilities, Lucy funnier and happier now that she is a member of the family.

My other two projects continue well.

Craftsy had a blog entry about gauge the other day. Try this, try that, it said. It made me think, yet again, what a good thing Herzog may have invented with CustomFit. You knit your swatch, of course, and then the pattern comes to meet you instead of the other way around. She's doing a knit-along at the moment. I'm not knitting, but am following the progress of swatching and design with great interest. It's one of my ambitions for 2014.

Now that I've got a computer that can hack it, I must get back to Craftsy.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

17079 steps yesterday – four times my usual total! We walked half of the Pencaitland Railway Walk, doing about seven miles in all. We’ll have to do something more challenging next time. A walk isn't a walk without the potential for taking a wrong turning. The railway existed mostly for getting coal to market – we saw stones marking the demise of at least six pits along the way. Nothing to do with Mrs Thatcher – they closed in the 50’s or 60’s, some earlier.

I was flagging at the end, and am stiff this morning – but I did it. All those expended calories had no effect whatsoever on this morning’s weigh-in. Patience, patience.


Dawn, I should have thanked you yesterday for your most kind offer to translate the Veenstra introduction. Will the book open far enough to allow legible copying? I won’t take you up on it yet, life is too frot with little tasks. But I will keep your offer on mental file, for the weeks when the light begins to come back. It goes on for several pages, I must warn you.

Patience has guessed what my Sensible Christmas Project is going to be, from the ad on p. 77 of the new IK. The extraordinary thing is, if you go to the advertised website and click through to the item specifically advertised, what do you find? Top of the list? Out of alphabetical sequence? This must be kismet. Maybe Camas Creek is in….


Life gets exciting today. Alexander and his family are planning to call in at midday, making a loop on their way to Murrayfield. They are ardent rugby followers. Their team is Glasgow Warriors, who do well. But they also, often, come over here to watch the national team. The Little Boys have never seen Scotland win, and I don’t think they’re going to break their duck today.

Archie was meant to be here too. He’s having an exeat – a long weekend – planned for spending with his other grandmother. But he was ill on Friday morning, and cancelled the trip south. He was perfectly fine, he said, when he phoned here on Friday afternoon, and we made plans for his spending today with us. However, the same pattern recurred yesterday (undulant flu?) and we can’t risk exposing my husband (88 on Tuesday, with bad lungs) to any unnecessary risk. That’s sad, both for Archie and for me.

It’s time I did something about replacing this slowcoach of a computer. I hope Archie will be well enough to meet me in John Lewis’s computer department tomorrow. The idea is to buy an external hard disk at the same time, which will be Archie’s once the data transfer is complete.

This afternoon Thomas-the-Elder and Lucy will arrive, the central figures in the Wedding of Twenty One Fourteen. And we’ll inspect the Princess shawl. I didn’t take any pictures yesterday, but if Lucy’s verdict is favourable, I’ll try to get one today with the shawl in her hands.

I probably won’t write tomorrow, as they’re staying the night.


I did a bit more, yesterday evening. All went well.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

I’m going for one of our walks with our niece today – the Pencaitland Railway Walk, along an old railway trackbed. Nice and flat, and impossible to get lost. It will be interesting to see how much I can do – and how many steps it will put on my pedometer. I’ll be unhappy with fewer than 10,000.

I’ve stuffed the Silly Christmas Object. It’s lumpy and misshapen. I thought I was good at stuffing. My husband has several plans for its improvement, including a stiffener in the base so that it will stand up better. He’s certainly right about that, and after a couple of days to recover I’ll have to unpick the top and try again. He thinks I might get a better shape if I line the whole thing with tissue paper before stuffing. I wonder. Maybe use the too-soft acetate?

Any moment now, knitting will have to take second place to Christmas Card Writing. My usual scene of action for that job is the dining room table, but recently my husband has commandeered it with his new portable computer. Books and paper cover all the visible surface. It's warmer than working in the study, he says. Maybe I can find some table space in there to do my cards, but those flat surfaces are equally obscured by books and paper.

Shandy, I suspect you will neither love nor hate my new Sensible Christmas Project. It will be more a case of “Ahah! Of course!” as it was with me when I saw that ad in IK. Let’s hope the kit gets here quickly.

Having stuffed the SCP unsatisfactorily, I got on with the other things last night. I’ve finished the first (of three) rows of upside down rams on the Rames & Yowes blankie. And it’s time to start measuring the Milano to see how near I am to the back shoulder shaping.

I’ve just ordered “The Knitted Shawls of Helga Ruutel” from the Schoolhouse. It’s Estonian.

Now I must go. I can’t go for a walk without first eating my porridge.

Friday, November 15, 2013

On we go. The Silly Christmas project is ready for stuffing. And it occurs to me that I haven’t sold my soul to the authors of the book – I could stiffen it with cardboard, if the acetate I bought doesn’t seem stiff enough. I think I can guarantee that this thing will never be washed.

Yesterday’s progress was clumsier even than usual – I was sewing panels into/over holes. The colours of the panel and of the material surrounding the holes were radically different and whichever colour I tried to use for the sewing, the stitches showed. Still, it’s done.

And I moved forward on both of the other projects.

The new IK turned up yesterday. I was a bit disappointed – I had high hopes of the new editor on the basis of the last issue (her first, I think) but there’s nothing in this one I want to linger over. I am mildly interested in the Ojo de Dios shawl – I like that sort of thing. But only mildly. I won’t pursue it.

If I had to specify a grumble, it would be that everything looks sort of snug and bosom-hugging whereas I’m in Relax mode these days.

However, all is forgiven. There on page 77, lower advertisement, is the answer to one of my previously unsolved Christmas problems. I ordered the kit at once, and heard back from them before the end of the day that it has been dispatched. If it turns up in reasonable time, I should have comfortable time to knit it before Christmas. We can call it the Sensible Christmas Project. The yarn is Brown Sheep so it ought to be OK.

(Have you noticed how often, with a substantial Christmas list, you find yourself thinking easily enough of three or four possible presents for the same person, while others languish? It’s not that some people are easier to please than others, because the easy ones change places with the hard ones, year by year.) (The Sensible Christmas Project is aimed at one of 2013's relatively hard ones.)

The other thing that has turned up is the Dutch book of Loes Veenstra’s work. She is the eccentric – from Rotterdam, I think – who has been knitting sweaters for 50 years or so and keeping them in boxes. I don’t know how they were unearthed., but a video has been made of hundreds (literally) of people wearing the sweaters, dancing in the street while Loes V. sits among them enthroned. There was an exhibition – Stephen West went to see it in January. Scroll down – the early part is about West’s journey to Rotterdam.

And there is this book. No text, except for an introduction in Dutch. Page after page of sweaters. She’s good – inventive with colour. There are a few semi-circular shoulder shawls, and a few vests. But mostly sweaters, plain in shape.

The other news is that I have heard from Let’s Knit magazine, who want to mention me amongst other blogs on their Bookshelf page. This is a great honour which I have long coveted, but it also makes me feel that they must be desperate. I must look out a picture for them.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I have little to report, but at least can offer illustrations. Today's excitement is taking my husband to the dr's office for some "bloods" -- sounds trivial, will occupy the whole morning.

I’ve just started knitting the second set of rams’ heads upside down, and am finding it unexpectedly difficult. Things should get better.

And here is my beloved Milano/Relax3, from the front.

Three projects at once is at least one too many, but the Silly Christmas Project now doesn’t need quite so much concentration, so I divided the time more equally yesterday. The SCP has had most of its loose ends dealt with, and has been pinned together. I’ve cut the acetate stiffeners. The acetate isn’t nearly as stiff as I expected. I wonder if I’ve got the right stuff.

Ivy, I was delighted to hear that you’ve got Milano – and the Oak Park scarf as well. Your mother-in-law is very lucky indeed to have you at home with her. And you’re absolutely right, about old age.

Carol Sunday runs the only American (yarn) website I have ever seen which warns British purchasers that they are likely to have to pay VAT at 17.5% and be charged £8 for the Post Office’s trouble on top of that. Full marks to CS!

Helen’s husband David sent this from Thessaloniki this morning – he spotted it as he was walking to work. It is heartening to know that Greece, for all its troubles, has time and strength – and yarn! – for a spot of bombing.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Today is Hellie Ogden’s birthday. She’s Rachel’s elder daughter and I can’t even tell you exactly how old she is. It is only this year that I noticed that all four of my children produced a child of their own in the 15 day period between October 30 (Archie) and today. In different years, of course. I don’t think there is anything to be concluded from that fact.

Great news: I did that embroidery on the Silly Christmas Project, and it’s looking good. Not that it’s particularly good embroidery, but that it does the job – the eye accepts it at once for what it’s meant to represent. Three separate tasks: lettering, the free-hand rendering of a small object, and outlining. How I wish I could show you a picture! There will be plenty in the end.

That leaves the loose ends to deal with (there are lots of those). Then I must cut pieces of the acetate stiffener to fit, and finish assembling the whole, and stuff it, with the stiffener inside. Mercifully, it doesn’t have to be attached. The stuffing is meant to hold it in place. And finally, put the lid on, with a separate piece of stiffener of its own.

All that I am confident I can do. I have crossed the pons asinorum and am gambolling about on the farther shore!

And I touched base, again, with the other two projects.

I have lots of cheerful news about patterns this morning, too. Kate Davies has a new pattern out, called Firth o’ Forth, combining the best features of a shawl and a cardigan, with a delicious stitch pattern to boot.

And Jared has produced a new Look Book, No. 6. Wonderful photography, as always. It makes me homesick for a dream America. And wonderful patterns, too. I am particularly taken with a heavy shawl/lap robe/bedspread called Tree Rings – a pi shawl.

And – this is entirely your fault, Else, for that encouraging comment yesterday – I ordered Carol Sunday’s Oak Park scarf kit. It’s been at the back of my mind ever since I saw it some weeks ago. I revisited the website this morning – the clincher was the discovery that there is enough yarn in the kit for two scarves.

I’ve sort of run out of people on the Christmas list who might like a great big (red) scarf. But then I thought, Nov-Dec-knitting-to-cheer-me-up doesn’t need to result in a Christmas present. It could be a birthday present for someone in ’14. Or it could just be a scarf, to cheer me up.

We’d better have pictures of Rams & Yowes and Milano tomorrow, since the Silly Project is out of bounds.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nothing, I fear, this morning.

The new Polish cleaner is even more of a fiend than the previous one. Polish Cleaner No. 1 played volley ball for Scotland in her spare time. This one, evenings and weekends, cleans offices. Two hours once a week with her will soon put us to rights.

I have sewed (sewn?) the three little pieces of the Silly Christmas Project in place. It took longer than I expected. They look well. Even my husband, who has been dubious every step of the way, thinks they look well. So, today, embroidery. I wonder if I can find a swatch lying about that I could practice on.

And I wonder if I should start with the difficult bit – the lettering that I am worried about? Get that right, or near enough, and the rest falls into place.

I did only one round of Rams & Yowes yesterday, and not much Milano, but at least I touched every base.

The SCP will be made or broken in the next fortnight, at the worst. That would leave time for another piece of Christmas knitting if I want to attempt it. What? Someone whose blog popped up on Zite this morning thinks that people would like Arne&Carlos Christmas tree baubles. I’m dubious, when it comes to my list, fond as I am of A&C.

(Why don’t they publish a sweater book? I finally had the wit to look on Ravelry, and, sure enough, there are a few sweaters there, published by good old Dale.)

Anyway, I don’t want anything fiddly. A big red cosy scarf in Rowan Cocoon or Thick ‘n’ Thin is more the thing.

Monday, November 11, 2013

We have a new Polish cleaning woman  this morning. The last one got a well-deserved proper job with Scottish Widows (not a charity supporting indigent gentlewomen, as might be supposed, but an insurance company) and gave up cleaning. The new one has hit the ground running.

I finished knitting the Silly Christmas Project yesterday – three little pieces, red, white and green. I have pinned them in place on their panel. They look satisfactorily convincing. Today’s job is to sew them down and perhaps begin embroidering. The first and easiest of the embroidery assignments is to outline the three little pieces in dark green.

QuiltLady, thank you for your advice about marking for embroidery. John Lewis has a good haberdashery dept – I will consult them, if I can get up there in the next couple of days. The great thing with this project is to keep going – like walking a tightrope.

I also did the first two rounds on the second half of the Rams & Yowes blankie, and a couple more rows of Milano. That one is making the least progress, but that’s all right because I love it the most and can trust myself not to abandon it.


I’m still enjoying Reginald Hill. I looked at the whole list on Amazon yesterday – the Kindles are in a distinct minority. I’ve moved on from “Midnight Fugue” to “The Death of Dalziel”. It may be just as well that I am prevented from hoovering up the entire oeuvre.

Mary Lou, there is no religious motive in my current abstinence from cider – just vanity and a search for well-being. I had long noticed, in Lent, that I tended to eat more sweeties when I wasn’t drinking cider, and had long ago figured out that I was doing it to substitute for the missing carbohydrates. The year Theo and Jenni got married  -- when was that? it must have been ’09 – I had already started thinking about clothes when Lent began, and was not pleased with the silhouette. Previously, I had avoided contemplating it.

So in Lent that year, I forbade myself sugar as well. I was astonished at how smoothly the pounds slid off without any further effort whatsoever. When Lent was over, I went on drinking cider on Sundays only and wound up an astonishing two stone lighter. Since then, there have been Cider Phases and Virtuous Phases. Some of the weight has crept back on – by no means all.

And the great thing, as I said the other day, is that the scales respond to virtue promptly. If they are to be believed (and of course they aren’t, entirely) I am 4 ½ pounds lighter this morning than I was last Tuesday.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I ordered the copy of Knitscene with the Sideways Shawl. I hesitated over the digital version. It would have saved a lot of time and postage. But I don’t like digital knitting magazines, and I’ve never seen Knitscene. It’s nice to know, KayT, that I have the Toulouse pattern to look forward to as well.

I have noted that if I ever actually knit that shawl, I’ll need the errata on the Ravelry pattern page.

Lots of the people who have knit it seem to think that 320 stitches is a lot. (They soon decrease.) I’ve been knitting my beloved Milano round and round on 372 for ages, and recently increased at the underarm to 420. Now I’m whizzing back and forth on 210.

I was tired last night, and sat down late, and was tempted to go straight to the Milano and skip the rest. But then I reflected that that’s how things turn into UFO’s – not that they’re abandoned, just that I’ll get back to them tomorrow. So I stuck to the straight and narrow: I reached the halfway point of the Rams & Yowes pattern. I tacked down the 7th piece of the Silly Christmas Project, and embarked on the 8th.

This one is knit with fine yarn on 2mm needles and I find myself very clumsy. Knitting a whole shawl on a million stitches is easier than starting with only 5. I got about halfway through it. Is the yarn too fine? I could always try again holding it double. The yarn specified is Rowan Fine Lace. I saw it in John Lewis, and it looks very fine indeed. I would have bought some – no expense spared, for this ridiculous project – if they had had it in the colour I needed. But they didn’t, and I knew I had some lace yarn of the right colour in my stash.

Stephen West has been turning sweaters into pants (tights, they’d be called here in Britain). My husband has recently abandoned a good Fair Isle that I knit him decades ago – but I don’t know anyone who would be remotely interested in prancing about in a pair of Swants.


Foggy Knitter, I don’t know the “Fantastic Mr. Fox”. I’d better have a look, for the sake of the character who lived on cider. I weigh about what I weighed this time last year – but that’s as much as half-a-stone more than the point I was at this time two years ago, and three. I must press on with abstinence.

I continue to enjoy Reginald Hill. I suspect I’m going to have to buy that book with “Beulah” in the title even though it’s only available on paper.

Sunday presses, I’m afraid.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

A good night’s sleep, and what a difference it makes! I hope you had one too, Foggy Knitter.

The great thing about laying off cider is that, like any other diet, it produces instant results for the first few days. (I think I’ve already reached the first plateau.) Maybe next time I could try living on Weston’s Vintage Cider and giving up everything else.


All continues to progress well. I like this tripartite knitting life – one Difficult, one Fiddly, one Blissful. Three is too many – once the Silly Christmas Project is done, however, I might go on with two.

I should reach the mid-way point in the Rams & Yowes pattern today. I knit the 7th piece of the Silly Christmas Project last night, although it still needs to be folded along the purled hem line and sewn in place before I go on to the Really Tricky Bit. I have 3/4s decided not to decorate the back at all. If I can get the front right, that’ll be enough.

I did a bit of googling on embroidery stitches last night. I have, in my day, done back stitch. Perhaps I can just stick with that. Will it be possible to make faint marks on the knitting to guide my needle? Embroidery is bad enough – but free-hand?

And I have divided the Milano/Relax3 and am now knitting the rest of the back. The stripes will count my rows for me, so getting front and back precisely equal won’t involve the slightest effort.

I found this little shawl on Zite this morning, by our old friend Cotton and Cloud.. The blogger who knit it (a) wishes it were bigger and had wings she could wrap around herself and (b) knit it with madelinetosh pashmina! Size-wise, I like it as it is. But would it stay on? Would one’s chest get cold? As often, too many of the Ravelry knitters show it spread out on the floor. I want to see people-wearing. Someone wears it with a shawl pin, but I don’t think that entirely works.

I might try to get hold of that copy of Knitscene.


I have, for the second time, suddenly abandoned the Cazalets. I did that in Volume Two, couldn’t stand any more English middle class sensibility. When I went back, months later, I was surprised to see how well I remembered the rather complicated family relationships.

I’m now in early Volume Four. The war is over. I saw the other day that Elizabeth Jane Howard, now 90, has just published Volume Five.

I’ve actually been reading Reginald Hill, inspired by that list of the Ten Greatest Thrillers. I’m rather impressed. The one that made the list – a short title with the word “Beulah” in it – isn’t available in Kindle, alas. With Hill, some are and some aren’t. I read The Woodcutter, and enjoyed it, and have now embarked on Midnight Fugue, a Daziel & Pascoe. It starts extremely well. I think I had D&P mixed up somehow with Cagney & Lacey.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Yesterday on the supermarket run, I made a loop to the relatively smallish Marks and Spencer in the Craigleith shopping centre. At least, I think it’s called Craigleith. There were no chocolate Brussels sprouts there, either. Then when I got home I found your comment, Foggy Knitter, and ordered some from Britstore. Many thanks.

I wonder why Google couldn’t find that site for me? They don’t often fail. I put the word "Brussels" in my search, and the site just calls them "sprouts" -- but that shouldn't stop Google. I searched both with and without "Marks and Spencer".

 I’m sorry to hear about your insomnia. I usually sleep as soon as head hits pillow, but had a bad night last night and then (of course) woke up late this morning. You have all my sympathy.


I got the Silly Christmas Project assembled – at the point where the pieces needed to fit together, they fit. I feel quite encouraged. I picked up the necessary 30 stitches for the 7th piece, but the process was a bit of a struggle and I didn’t get very far with knitting it. There are worse struggles to come.

And I did three rounds of Rams & Yowes and have now finished the third rank of rams and am embarking on the diamond pattern in the middle of the blankie after which the rams are repeated upside down. Nearly halfway, therefore.

And there is only one more underarm increase to do on the Milano/Relax3, so that was a good evening all round.

Not Exactly Knit

I have had a message from someone at Homecrafts to say that I have been listed among the Top 50 Craft Blogs for 2013. They have sent a link which will allow me to paste a badge into my sidebar if I apply myself. I am wary of such honours – will I be asked for £50 to have my name included on the Roll of Honour? But that’s a curmudgeonly response – thank you to anyone who nominated me.

Not knit at all

This from Meg W, on Facebook.

If you lift your right foot from the floor, right now, as you sit at the computer, and start rotating it in a clockwise direction, and then draw the number 6 in the air with your right hand, your foot will change direction. Does this work for left-handed people? I tried it with left hand and foot. The foot just seemed to get confused.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Marks and Spencer was right out of chocolate Brussels sprouts.

It was sort of depressing – the 6th of November, and a special Christmas item already gone. The shop may be getting more in, but it is not very often I can muster the strength to walk up Dublin Street these days. I put 7000 steps on my pedometer yesterday – the usual is about 4000. But had nothing else to show for my effort.

They are chocolates that look like Brussels sprouts. I tried googling, later on in the day – maybe I could order them from somewhere. No luck. All I found was my own blog entry, and a number of terrifying references to real Brussels sprouts coated in chocolate. It is difficult to think of anything more disgusting.


…was a comfort, as always, after all that fruitless walking. I was tired after my exertions, so I let Rams & Yowes go after the minimum two rounds I require of myself. I then knit the whole of the sixth piece of the Silly Christmas Project. Tonight, I must begin to assemble it.

It looks easy, at first. I must sew three of the six pieces together, and then pick up stitches from the assembled object and knit another piece. After that, the real fun begins – decoration, including three more little pieces of knitting, on fine needles. And embroidery, which I don’t know how to do. Best of all – the instructions are fairly detailed for decorating the front of the object, but for the back, I am just told to wing it, using a real-world exemplar as a model.

This evening I might even finish the underarm increases for Milano/Relax 3 and proceed to divide for front and back. Tomorrow, surely. It continues to be a mighty end-of-day solace.


The little book from the Shetland Museum turned up yesterday. I’m sure I’ve never seen it before – so there is no duplicate to send anyone. It simply illustrates some of the gems of the collection, and pretty wonderful they are.

Franklin has a new blog entry on the Lion Brand site. I would miss these if Zite didn’t pick them up. You already have to scroll down to find this one, although it’s dated November 6. Here’s his latest for Knitty, this time with a Franklin-specific link, just in case you missed it.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The fifth piece of the Silly Christmas Project was not only bigger than the four preceding, it also involved more fancy footwork. I got about halfway through it last night, and polished it off this morning during the hated half-hour I have to wait after my osteoporosis pill (Wednesdays only) before I can have any coffee or even lie down. I could, of course, have been blogging.

I love the way this thing is looking – if only I can do it justice in the assembly and embroidery. I’ve got to go back up to St James Centre today to dispatch a birthday present to a grandchild. I think I’m far enough along that I can allow myself to buy a couple of skeins of embroidery thread.

This kind of book – “Knit Your Own Britain” by Jackie Holt and Ruth Bailey – requires not only a good deal of ingenuity from its authors, but also ruthless accuracy. I can tell you that page 114, at least, is perfect.


I read in one of my magazines yesterday that Marks & Spencer are selling chocolate Brussels sprouts. Now that I am seriously engaged with the dreadful holiday to come, I might as well walk along and see if I can get a few of those.

My sister and her husband are in DC, getting acquainted with their long-hoped-for grandson. My sister says he is a calm baby, good at eating. Theo sent this picture yesterday of his father and his son. Grandparenting is hard work.

Thanks for your comments about my Strathardle problem, and about longevity. This week was relatively clear and has now filled itself up; that’s good. I’ll let things drift until my husband brings the subject up again. He is often calm and sensible, and may have some ideas of his own on the subject. November has the advantage that he would be outdoors only for a couple of hours, at most, at midday. By the time he gets up from an afternoon nap, it’s too dark to venture far from the fireside.

But of course it’s November itself, and the darkness, which increase my sense of foreboding.

I was interested in your comment, Barbara M., about your anxiety when you were the age at which your mother died. This has long been a theory of mine – that passing through the age at which one’s parents died or had a major stressful event can be a hard time. My husband’s father died young of a brain tumour, and being that age himself was hard on my husband. I had a bad year when I was the age at which my parents divorced. I’ve seen it in others.

Back to knitting

…although there’s little to say. The second rank of rams is done, on the Rams & Yowes blankie – I should reach the half-way point on the patterned centre by the end of the week, or nearly. Milano needs four more every-other-row underarm increases. It remains a great comfort at the end of every day.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Feels like zilch, today.

I inched forward on all three projects again yesterday. That was good. The rams of the second rank are finished on the Rams & Yowes blankie, and a fourth piece of the Silly Christmas Project. The next two (identical) pieces are a bit bigger and more complicated. Then begins assembly and fiddliness. I was up at St James Centre yesterday – grand for my pedometer score – and bought the acetate sheet for stiffening. Alas, I had to buy a packet of acetate sheets. This thing is turning out not only silly but expensive.

Soon I'll have to go back and buy some embroidery thread, if I don't give up in disgust.

Milano keeps getting put back until the end of the evening, where I’m happy to have it remain forever. I’ve passed the halfway point on the underarm increases.

I’m worried about this Shetland Textile book (I wonder if it’ll arrive today). I really don’t think I have a duplicate. Now I want to buy an armload of them to distribute to you.

Non-knit & miscellaneous

 -- Rachel had a reunion lunch the other day with eight contemporaries from her old school in Birmingham – women (it is a girls’ school) of Rachel’s age (55) now settled in London and detached from Birmingham. She was surprised and rather alarmed to discover that she was the only one of the nine to have two parents living – never mind whether they were living with each other.

That seems a bit unlucky. Both my parents were alive when I was Rachel’s age. 

 -- My new credit card turned up yesterday. The old one expires at the end of this month. Three years ago, as I remember, the replacement arrived in the hands of a nice FedEx man, after dark on the 30th. I was just beginning to get into gear for worrying about this one, and it’s particularly nice not to have to. One needs one’s credit card, this time of year. The telephone call to activate it was tedious but eventually successful (I hope).

 -- My husband said the other day that it’s time we went to Strathardle. Should I tell him I’m really scared? Let things drift on until it’s too cold and snowy to go? Or just go? I would like to consult my sharp-witted and sharp-tongued sister-in-law, now in her third year of being dead, if only to do the opposite of what she advises. But I can’t even hear her voice in my head any more.

We have arranged to go to Loch Fyne for a weekend later this month. That will be fun, and good for my husband. And we can catch up with the news of William the Duck. 

Monday, November 04, 2013

Ted comes home. Isn’t that lovely?

Leslie, yes, Rams & Yowes is described in the pattern as a blanket, 3’ by 3’, just the size for Ted if I can finish before he’s ready for college. I’m not going to line it. We talked about this when we were on Shetland – Kristie says she will line hers.

I weave as I go, and I don’t think (a) that there’s anything here to endanger tiny fingers, especially after blocking; and (b) that it looks at all bad.

You’ll remember that Rachel’s son Joe was with us a couple of weeks ago, doing some energetic tidying of nature in Strathardle. I noticed as he left to go up to the station that he was wearing the Grandson Sweater inside out – an affectation? Or carelessness? I didn’t ask. It looked fine.

(That's Joe, when the sweater was new, trying -- rather successfully -- to look Scandinavian like the man in the book. Sometimes I suspect them of getting sweaters out from the bottom of the drawer when they know I'm going to be about, but that one, I am sure, has had several years hard wear since that picture was taken.)

I was indeed wondering only yesterday whether it is possible to weave-as-you-go if you are carrying both yarns over your left index finger (or whatever). I discovered the technique from a passage in Mary Thomas’ Knitting Book, sometime in the late ‘60’s. It depends, at least as executed by me, on having one yarn in each hand. It was that discovery which launched me on my Fair Isle career. It meant that I could weave without letting go. I'm sure you could find it on the internet nowadays. How our lives have been transformed!

And – don’t tell Kate Davies – not only am I not going to line the blankie, I’m not going to secure the steek. This yarn is nature’s answer to Velcro, and anyway knitting doesn’t tend to unravel sideways, and anyway the cut edges will be secured inside the hem. I was worried about the armhole steeks in Joe's Grandson Sweater -- see above. I can't remember the details. But they have held up fine.

As for actual knitting, I moved forward on all fronts yesterday. The idea is to do three rounds of Rams & Yowes before anything else. Then I knit the next piece (third of ten) of the Silly Christmas Project – how I wish I could tell you what it is! How I hope I will one day have a picture to show you! And then, the cherry on the cake, some more Milano.

I have decided, for the purposes of the progress bars, to assign six percentage points to each of the ten pieces of the SCP, regardless of size. That leaves 40% for embroidering, assembling, and stuffing.


Here’s another nice pattern for you. But it worries me slightly that so many of the pics on Ravelry by people who have knit it, show it from behind or being spread out for admiration. What’s it like to wear?

You’ll have noticed from yesterday’s comments that Kristie fears I may already have the little book about the Shetland Museum textile collection which I ordered from them yesterday morning. She says she got hers in the museum shop that day. All I can say is, I have no memory of it. We went to the museum on the first day, and surely I would have read such a book before supper on one of the subsequent evenings? And it’s not with my carefully preserved Shetland Papers.  Who would like a copy, if it does turn out to be a duplicate? 

Sunday, November 03, 2013

I’m putting on weight again. Cider will have to be curtailed.

Not much time this morning. Zite came up with Ella Gordon’s blog – she works for Jamieson & Smith, for Heaven’s sake. So first I had to endure the slowth of this computer to add her to my Feedly list, then to order the Guide to the Shetland Museum Textile Collection which she mentions – if they had had it in the museum shop, I’d have had it already.

But after all that, here I am.

And knitting proceeded well enough yesterday. Here are the Rams & Yowes – another 20 or 21 rounds will bring me to the centre point of the patterned part. It looks awfully small, but I think that will change when it is sliced open and edged.

And the comforting Milano glides forward. I’ve done five of the twelve underarm increases.

And I knit a whole other part of the Silly Christmas Knitting. I meant only to cast it on and get started, but there is a horrible fascination to this sort of thing, and I finished it. There are ten parts to knit in all, two now done -- some so small that they’ll be done in minutes, others needing an hour or more. And then comes embroidery, assembly including stiffening with acetate, and stuffing. This is madness

Saturday, November 02, 2013

La Fete des Morts

Dia de los Muertos, in Spanish. I think the modern celebration of Hallow'een must be a sort of displacement for this day -- the real thing.

Lots of knitting today. In the order it was done:

n      I finished the first rank of rams’ horns on the Rams & Yowes blankie. Assuming I get a couple more rounds done today, so that the first rank is free of the needle and visible, we’ll have a pic tomorrow.

n      I finished off the BSJ and will today, I hope, dispatch it to DC for Ted LeCompte. I’m not enormously enamoured of it, but it’ll do until the blankie is finished.

n      I knit the first little piece of my Silly Christmas Project. My husband thinks I’ll have trouble stuffing it – but I’ve done Sam the Ram, and those Arne&Carlos ornaments. I’m not afraid of stuffing. It’s fiddliness we have to worry about. The first instruction was to cast on 8 stitches and join in a round. I suppose it would have been a good moment to practise Judy’s Magic, but that would have slowed things down even further, and the little hole in the middle doesn’t matter at all, here. The next piece is straightforward. Then fiddliness resumes.

n      And I had time for a couple of peacefulness-restoring rounds of the Milano, increasing for the underarm.

Kate Davies’ latest is another good one. It is about a pattern called Layter, not one of her own but by a friend. Wonderful natural-coloured stripes. It wouldn’t do for me or for any woman I knit for, because those sleeves would be nothing but a nuisance. But I love it, nonetheless. And the discovery of Blacker Yarns for breed-specific wool is one to go straight into Evernote.

 I managed to watch a bit of the Norwegian knitting program on my computer last night. It wasn’t what I expected – I thought they were just going to show us eight hours of people sitting about knitting, as a taste of existential boredom. But the bit I saw, was much more like a program about knitting. We had an interview with a woman who does miniature knitting for tiny dolls, interestingly (there was commentary in English) on super-small needles she had ordered from England.

And we met a man knitting a large Norwegian sweater for his large self. He used a circular needle, and carried two colours over the index finger of his left hand, picking at one or the other as required. He was very fast. I think that is essentially what the Shetland knitter was doing, who demonstrated the use of a knitting belt for us.

And I think I saw Arne&Carlos’ names whizzing past at the bottom of the screen – perhaps people were tweeting messages to the TV station? I wish I could have seen more. 

Friday, November 01, 2013

The Athenians are gone. All is quiet. The really good thing about Christmas is that it fast-forwards us through these, the toughest days of the year. The Athenians will  be back soon. I emailed Helen last night with preliminary thoughts about what bird to order for Christmas dinner.

The idea will be to keep everything as simple as possible. No cake... 

Buy a pudding. But after that, simplicity becomes difficult. I want to make an American-type stuffing with breadcrumbs and celery and no meat. And one can’t buy in cranberry sauce! Or brandy butter! Supermarkets may, however, come up with some ready-to-cook potatoes and sprouts.

The new second cousin, Ted LeCompte, has been added to my Lotus Organizer calendar. What a cluster of birthdays we have this time of year! Between October 30 and November 19th, four grandchildren, a husband, and now a great-nephew.

So, November. Forward. Maybe I’ll knit the first little piece of my Silly Christmas Knitting Project today. But I also want to finish the first rank of rams’ horns, on the Rams & Yowes blankie, so that I can show you how it’s looking.

For my progress bar – and I know, it’s not rocket science nor meant to be – I am allowing 80% for the patterned centre, 20% for the edging of this thing. That may not be quite right. There’s a lot of edging; it’s knit double. That is, you knit it outwards and then you put in a fold line and knit it inwards. There’s a lot of picking-up-of-stitches and of securing the edging, one way or another, to the back of the blankie at the end. But there’s no colour work. We shall see.