Saturday, February 28, 2015

Today's excitement is very pleasant and thoroughly unstressful – Alexander and Ketki and their Little Boys plan to look in before the rugby. Murrayfield is on the western edge of the city (and they come from the west), so it's a considerable extra loop for them on a busy and exciting day, to come on into the city centre.

Scotland ought to win. Everybody beats Italy. But we've lost the services of several good men to injury and misbehaviour, and Italy aren't as dire as they used to be, so it could be interesting. It could even end badly.

England will play Ireland in Dublin this weekend – that should certainly be a good one. Both teams are unbeaten so far. I just heard two mighty ex-players, one from each, talking about he tournament on the radio. Both have still to play Scotland, in the two weekends remaining. The Englishman simply assumed that England will win the Calcutta Cup. The Irishman referred to Scotland as “resurgent” and thought it might be a tough game. I don't think I need to tell you who I'll be cheering for in Dublin.


As hoped, I finished Archie's second sleeve, including the hemming of it, and went on to get the body stitches started again. That wasn't quite as straightforward as hoped. I had put them on two extra-long dp's for the most recent try-on and one had pulled partly out, resulting in a lot of picking-up and a fair amount of repairing ladders. All is well – the stitch-count right and the fabric smooth. Madelinetosh is good that way.

Reading ahead, I thought I had a problem I needed to consult you about. At the very end (except for sewing on buttons – ugh! – and blocking) one is to knit a little edging at the neck. There is a ribbed placket for the buttons, the two strips of which of course overlap – so the neck edging is knit back and forth. The instruction is “With RS facing...beginning at centre neck edge, working along neck shaping, pick up and knit...”

Reading that last night – indeed, reading it now – I took “centre neck edge” to mean the middle of the back. Quod absurdum est, when you think it through. The pick-up has to begin just inside the ribbing of the placket on the wearer's right-hand side. That point can be considered as the (front) centre of the neck edge, if you imagine the neck edge as an oval and ignore the placket.

Or are you meant to include the top of the placket in the edging? Sitting here typing away, I now think that must be what's meant. It could have been better expressed.

I had imagined doing the whole edging in the red of the inside hems, but I now see that the edging, too, although narrow, is folded and hemmed, so I'll keep red for the inside. It'll be visible enough when the placket is worn open as, surely, will often be the case.

Greek Helen will be here at the end of next week – I wondered for a while if I could have it finished in time to give to Archie then. He will surely come here, or she will go there. But I don't think it's possible – it'll need a day or more to dry after blocking, apart from anything else. Before then, some knitting time will have to be devoted to winding a final skein. But we might manage a final try-on.

New knit-related topic

My new iPad doesn't segregate mail the way the laptop does, and the old iPad did. At first I thought this was a nuisance, but now I think it's a good idea to have the briefest of looks at the ads as I delete them. (Somebody is pestering me to let them preserve my on-line identity from identity thieves. They seem to think I am Jean Miles of Old Saybrook, CT, so I am not too worried.)

In this way I discovered that Loop has a DK called Juniper Moon, a silk and merino blend in rich, deep colours including what looks like a navy blue. I think I might order a ball, with pocket squares in mind.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Today is Alexander's 55th birthday. No wonder my husband and I are coming apart at the seams.

Dr Who

Tom Baker, of course – the Dr Who with the scarf. Thank you, Liz. And thank you, Jean, for the anecdote about him in the bookstore. I knit one of those scarves once, too – can't find the pic, alas. Very soothing knitting, very comfortable garment.

The Peter Davison role I remember fondly was not Dr Who or All Creatures Great and Small, but A Very Peculiar Practise, about a university student health clinic. There were four doctors: Davison, representing sanity; a fierce, rather butch woman; a self-absorbed and self-important bore; and a drunken Scotsman who might well have been played by the man who plays the undertaker in Dad's Army, but wasn't. It was filmed at Keele, I believe, and was extremely funny.

I've just been Googling it. I see there's a DVD available. I'm tempted.


I've finished Archie's second sleeve, all but a few minutes and then the actual hemming. I'm about half-way through the red inner hem. I should be back at work on the lower body this very day.

And I've suddenly run dry. A computer man is coming soon who will try to help my husband through Microsoft Word to sanity. For now, he's just coming to suss things out. So I'd better sign off here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Jennifer, thanks for the link to your Relax, knit in madelinetosh Whiskey Barrel. It looks as if it's going to be exactly the colour I want. It's a nice Relax, too – link in yesterday's comments.

Eddie Redmayne is all over Zite this morning. The actor I was trying to think of yesterday who went on from Fair Isle vests to Dr Who, is Peter Davison. I haven't looked up the one in VK who never went on to anything that I ever heard of. I think his surname might have been Budd. I do agree that Rowan maintains a particularly high standard in male models.

As it happens, someone turned up in Zite this morning who has knit all the Dr Who's plus a Tardis and some daleks. Alas, the only one I can recognise for sure is what's-his-name in that scarf. Not Peter Davison nor Peter Capaldi nor even David Tennant.

I enjoyed my extra day yesterday, and in the evening finished the decreases in Archie's second sleeve and am now speeding towards the finish. And it is indeed going faster now that I am using fewer needles and not thinking/fussing about the next decrease. Might even finish the sleeve tonight. And I am enjoying the endgame all the more for thinking about that whole new whiskey-barrel-coloured madelinetosh project winging its way towards me.

The blocking of the Unst Bridal Shawl now has to be firmly pencilled in. It's not exactly knitting – it requires to be done earlier in the day. Maybe one day when our dear Polish cleaning woman is here and I am hanging about feeling de trop.

I also learned this morning that Nancy Bush has done a Craftsy Class on Estonian lace. That's rather tempting – maybe I could even learn to love nupps. And now that our friend has fixed the router, I could sit there peacefully in the sitting room watching it on the new iPad. I think I've got a couple of un-viewed Craftsy classes stashed, too. I haven't been there for quite a while.

Judith, thank you for the link to those pocket squares (comments, yesterday). They're beautiful, all right. Not knitting patterns, cloth squares. For a moment I thought, I can buy them these if I don't finish knitting the squares. I'll go for a set of the silk Paisley ones, I thought. Then I saw the prices.


The neighbour's production company came around yesterday with a belated contract for me to sign (for being photographed sitting in the sitting room looking pensive). It has filled me with terror at the thought that Age Concern Scotland might want to use it on television, what with Easter coming and all. They wouldn't show it in England so James and Rachel are safe. And Alexander doesn't have television on the shores of Loch Fyne. And Athens is far away. But oh, dear.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Here I am!

I phoned the hospital, and this time spoke to a man, the sex I think I prefer to deal with in such a situation. I did explain, I'm afraid. He was most helpful and sympathetic, but soon established that the dr in question didn't have any appts ever after 10 a.m. Golf? Surely not. We had been referred to him specifically by the rheumatologist we usually see and whom we like a lot.

So the man at the hospital went off to email the dr and a couple of hours later someone phoned back with a perfectly suitable appt time in April. My husband has been living with this long enough that he can wait a little longer. He's perfectly cheerful about it.

So that was great. I feel as if I have been given a whole extra day of life (today). I think I'll go to Waitrose.

Filming was interesting. I just had to sit there, occasionally turning my head or wringing my hands. There was a directress and two photographers and sometimes the neighbour whose operation it is and who had asked me to do it in the first place. I am promised a copy of the finished thing, a promotional video for Age Concern Scotland. I will try to figure out somewhere I can park it in the cloud so that anyone who wants can see it. It is going to be exquisitely embarrassing.

It took a couple of hours and all I had to do was sit there. The experience left me in a whole new dimension of tired.

My husband is unhappy about accepting a performance fee for helping out a neighbour, and I can sympathize. But I feel the sitting room has earned its location fee.

As for knitting, there are only two more decreases to do on Archie's second sleeve. Then I'll switch to four needles (from five) and whiz on down to the wrist.

I allowed myself a browse amongst the madelinetosh dk's at Webs. The abundance was deliciously overwhelming. I have ordered eight skeins of Whisky Barrel, grey shot with dark brown I hope – it's hard to tell on a computer screen. It looks browner on the iPad than on the laptop, and browner is what I want. Anything by madelinetosh is going to look pretty good. This for the Sous Sous, of course.

I learn from Zite that Eddie Redmayne, who just won the Best Actor Oscar, once modelled for Rowan. The article says that the same is true of Kate Moss. I have a leaflet in my archives somewhere, Patons perhaps, showing a man who went on to be Dr Who among other things. His name escapes me at the moment. And I can remember a spread in a very late old-school VKB with an actor, name also forgotten, of whom nothing was ever heard subsequently. Knitwear modelling is clearly a useful money-spinner for a hungry young man (and Kate Moss).

My husband is developing very cold feet about the prospect of going to London for a week while I go to Athens at the end of March. Fortunately Greek Helen will be here for a couple of days quite soon, and can take the matter in hand.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Here's where the horrors begin – Tuesday.

I saw the film people yesterday. They wanted to import an old boy called Harry and film him in our kitchen in the afternoon. I said no: my husband spends much of the morning having breakfast in there, and a good part of the early afternoon having lunch. I don't know why Harry can't be done in his own place, like me, but in any case I have refused to have him.

We are said to be getting a huge fee for this -- one for appearing,another for providing a location. My husband can have his iPad Mini and I the Tokyo shawl. I just want it to be over.

That leaves the hospital appt to worry about. An energetic friend came around yesterday determined to straighten out our wi-fi extender. The iPad could see it, but couldn't use it. It kept saying that I was entering the wrong password, which proved to be a lie, or at least a false hare. She dealt with that, fairly briskly, so now we have wi-fi over a substantially larger fraction of the house.

The iPad froze again this morning, while I was looking at my mail. I rebooted without difficulty – but I feel it shouldn't keep doing this. The lost one never did, in 2 ½ years.

She offered to phone the hospital and deal with them and I sort of wish I had let her. I'll have to ring them back this morning in the intervals from my film duties. The appt is for 9:45  tomorrow and the hospital is not more than 15 minutes drive away. My anxiety will sound absurd to them, and to you. My husband has never been any good at getting started in the morning. His career as a university teacher was kind to him in that respect. He is now very old, very slow, and, of course, diabetic. He can't just skip the morning insulin routine, and having done that, he can't skip eating.

I'll have to tell them this, and perhaps plead my own misery as well

But I had a nice time thinking about Sous Sous. Sizing is difficult to judge, as the pattern implies. It comes in three sizes and I have chosen the middle one – but will order an extra skein, giving me enough yarn for the largest. Loop is out-of-stock for a lot of the delicious shades they list, and have only one or two skeins of a lot of others, but they still seem better stocked than other UK suppliers, and I think I have chosen my shade. It's called Thyme.

But maybe I'll have a wee look at the American suppliers before I take the plunge.

Archie's sleeve continues well. Two more sessions – maybe one – should finish off the decreases.

And Lent is moving along all right, too. Quite apart from the increase in holiness, I feel somewhat more sprightly, and I lose weight, in a teetotal regime. Last year, at an equivalent stage, I was a whole five pounds lighter than I am now: a great incentive to press forward with determination.

If we go to the hospital tomorrow, I won't try to blog. But maybe we won't.

Monday, February 23, 2015

All well, with relatively little to report.

A busy week dawns, pleasantly so except for Wednesday. My husband has an early hospital appt that day. Earlier in his life it would only have been uncomfortably early; now, I fear it is impossibly so. I phoned the hospital last week, but it couldn't be changed. Apart from the very considerable stress of getting there, it is a long appt and we have been having trouble lately with low blood sugar at mid-day. I'll have him inject less insulin that morning, of course, but even so it will be an added anxiety.

He didn't feel very well yesterday – nothing specific, no fever, not much loss of appetite, just sort of limp. If that persists this morning, maybe I'll cancel the appt. It is to inject cortisone into his rheumatic right hand in the somewhat remote hopes of making it more comfortable and usable. Maybe we could even see the dr privately at a more convenient hour.

Apart from that major anxiety, the week's events are pleasant enough. Tomorrow the photographers are coming to make that video of me for Age Concern. I must tidy the sitting room and plan my costume.

Here are some pics. The Strathardle Inn posted these on Facebook, a day or two ago, of a fine sunset in the glen:

My husband planted that clump of trees with the crenelated top, in the upper picture. They are marked on the latest Ordinance Survey map. There's glory for you. I can't quite orientate myself on the lower picture.

My sister and her husband have been in DC, enjoying their grandson and sussing out retirement communities, among other things. Goodness, how Ted has grown since I saw him on November 1, Thomas' and Lucy's wedding day! And notice that my sister seems to be able to wear an open, unfastened cardigan without it slipping off her shoulders:

But we're here for the knitting.

Archie's sleeve continues well. I counted stitches again last night and it seems to be as it should be: number-of-stitches-on-the-needles minus number-still-to-be-decreased-according-to-Sirka equals number-I'm meant-to-have-at-the-end. Remarkable. I'll still check the length carefully against the other sleeve when the decreases are finished. Another four inches should remain to be knitted straight, at that point.

I printed the Sous Sous pattern successfully, rather to my own surprise, and have been contemplating it. I'll try to have a look at the knitalong on Ravelry today.

...I just did, without finding much that helped. I did find, looking through the Projects pages on Ravelry, that the design looks pretty good on all shapes and sizes. That's a big plus. And I was surprised to note that it scores slightly below 50% on the Difficulty bar. That's a plus, too. I do love cables, and haven't done any for a while.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

 All is well.

The iPad just needed to be rebooted, as several suspected. Including me. To reboot, you need to press the on/off button. I have never turned an iPad off in my life, but the page about rebooting on the Apple website shows it, on the right-hand edge near the top. “iPad: the Missing Manual” confirms this position. On mine, it's on the top, near the right-hand edge. So I was pressing the wrong thing.

“Switching to the Mac” says “Apple is always consistent with its placing of the power button: it's different on every model.”

The nice young man in Lewis's rebooted for me and showed me a couple of tricks and downloaded a basic manual although that won't be much use if I can't get into the machine. He didn't even ask to see the receipt.

“iPad: the Missing Manual” turned up in the post yesterday and I'm leaning a lot. It says that this machine can take dictation. I will certainly have a go at that today.


I'm whizzing down Archie's second sleeve. It occurred to me yesterday that I can probably finish the whole thing without stress in time to take it to Athens at the end of next month. If small adjustments turn out to be necessary, they can be effected. later The last try-on showed that we want a bit of ease in the torso, nothing that blocking can't achieve on so large a garment. But I think, when I finish the sleeve, I will add an inch or even an inch and a half on the bottom to accommodate it.

The final finishing detail, after the flaps at the bottom are hemmed, is an edging of a couple of rows around the neck and down and up the plackets. I mean to do that in red, like the insides of the hems, and Archie may be horrified. If so, I'll take it out.

And then, of course, buttons. They'll be a sober grey.

One of you most kindly gave me the Sous Sous pattern – the one Norah Gaughan did for Loop. This happened just before disaster struck in the form of the disappearance of the old iPad and I have been too agitated and distressed to think about it since.

But yesterday I finally downloaded it, and will try to print today and begin to contemplate size. It has lots of positive ease – I like positive ease – and a rather alarming note at the beginning about judging size from the upper arm measurement. Once that is done, I can move on to the delicious task of choosing a colour. This is madelinetosh DK again. Apart from its own beauty, it's one of the rare yarns that make my knitting look good.

And, speaking of cups running over, one of you has been in touch with the Pakokku people and has been assured that they will be bringing “Vampires of Venice” to Maryland Sheep & Wool in May – where my cyber friend will get some for me.

Alexander made a brilliant Found Poem oflines from this blog for my 80th birthday in 2013, and had it printed on tea towels. We framed one and it hangs on the wall. One of the lines is: '”Vampires of Venice” alas is gone.' Wonderful, after all this time, to be proved wrong.

I copied out the whole poem here. It'll be in late August, 2013, the first blog post after the birthday gap in mid-month. It's brilliant – I've already said that.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

I will be brief.

The iPad died on me yesterday. I opened it and found the screen totally unresponsive – no fingerprint, wouldn't let me type in the code, couldn't press Cancel. Nada. I left it for awhile to think about things, and when I looked again the screen was blank. Blackness.

I charged it (and it made that sweet little responsive noise when I plugged it in), although I think the battery was about 30% full. I looked up Apple's help pages and tried to follow the instructions for Restarting and then for Rebooting, to no avail. So I'm going up to John Lewis now before the Saturday crowds get there and while I still have some puff.

Friday, February 20, 2015

I finished the Pakokku sock! The first one was un-Kitchenered, so I also did that. It will take only a few moments to polish off the second today. First FO of 2015, I think. So now all I have to do is wind the next skein, cast on, and knit a round or two – and I'm ready to go to Athens. As I remember – but it's been a long time – Pakokku won't perform on 56 stitches, the number I use for my daintier-footed recipients. Maybe I'll try again, just to see.

I did a bit of Googling yesterday – the yarn doesn't seem very widely available. Even the Loopy Ewe doesn't have any, and people with stashes on Ravelry, for the most part, aren't selling. It does seem to come directly from the makers. Maybe I'll get a couple more. But there is still no sign of Vampires of Venice (a colourway), and the shades available at the moment are too blue for my liking.

They seem to make another sock yarn called Meridian, too.

I was rather struck, in the same Googling session, with the Pigeonroof sets of little skeins of yarn in graduated shades of one colour. Loop has them. But what to do with them? I'm not as clever as the Socklady, and I don't want ends to deal with. Sock-knitting is for repose of mind.

KayT, many thanks for the thumbs down on Rowan Fine Art. I think I'l start a new collection today for the charity knitters in Strathardle – that skein can be the first one in.

I had another nice day with my new iPad. The more I hold it in my hands, the odder it seems that I could have put the old one down somewhere so unfindable. It has to be me – my husband wouldn't have moved it. Could there have been a thief after all? But how? Someone would have had to get in the front door and go straight through this messy house to that precious object and out again without disturbing anything else.

I made a note on it about something yesterday, and was astonished to find all my old notes just as I had left them. I have a vague idea as to how that might have happened – indeed, I think the nice man in John Lewis said that it would – but it seems like black magic, pure and simple. It means that Steve Jobs, up there in heaven, knows exactly where my old iPad is.

I've ordered not ...for Dummies but The Missing Manual. Not that I'm having any difficulty, but I feel I am underusing the capacities of this truly astonishing machine. Even my husband is beginning to think he might like an iPad Mini.

Carolina22, thanks for the info on how to recover my Kindle books. I was halfway through A Passage to India, and also had just discovered Anne Tyler.  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Well, the big news is, I got my iPadAir2. Goodness, it's wonderful. I should be doing more adventurous things with it – watching movies, or making them. Would iPad for Dummies help?

Even with the Post Office gone, and staying out of Poundland, I had a lot of errands to do up the hill yesterday. John Lewis was part of the circuit, and there were the iPads, and I trust their service, so I just bought it there. The man at the till offered to set it up for me for £20 – there were notices up about that option– but I declined so he offered to set it up for me for free. I am pleased to say that I didn't disgrace myself by forgetting my identity or either of the necessary passwords.

The set-up included registering it so it ought to be findable now with the Find-My-iPad app.

So I still haven't seen the Apple Shop.

I've reinstalled Zite, after a bit of password fuss, and it remembers my “magazine”. I've got Kindle-for-iPad, too. The cloud is full of my old books, sure enough, but I think the ones I had on the Device aren't there any more, understandably. I bought a book, just to see whether Amazon would deliver it to the missing iPad, but no, Amazon has automatically named the new one “Jean's 2nd iPad” and the book came there.

(It is “This House of Grief”, a real-life account of an Australian murder trial, very well reviewed lately and with lots of stars on Amazon. It starts with a disconcerting jauntiness but may settle down.)

As for knitting, I went on with the sock. There are about 20 rounds to go before the toe shaping.

I was right – I have two more skeins of Pakokku “Into the Whirled”, Brandywine and Gwydir. And also a skein of Rowan Fine Art. I thought that one was all natural, and therefore perhaps not tough enough for socks, but it has 25% polyamide like everybody else, and should do fine. On the other hand, is it sightly finer than other sock yarns?

I now need to put my husband's socks and shoes on for him which has given me a new and interesting viewpoint on socks. I remember trying some variations of fit for him, but my notes, alas! don't make it clear which variation applies to which pair of socks. Some are distinctly better than others.

I like the way the Oliver shaping fits, although I now can't remember how it's done. It should be easy enough to recover. For at least one pair, I used 72 stitches insead of 64 for the leg, and then narrowed down for the foot in the course of the gusset shaping. I think that's too floppy. Perhaps I could try counting stitches the next time he's wearing a sock that really seems to fit smartly.

Non-knit, weather

I'm sorry to hear America is still having so much winter – my sister says the same of CT.

Groundhog Day used to puzzle me as a child. Of course there are six more weeks of winter on February 2. I have since learned that it originates as a belief in the north of England, rather like the one about St Swithin's day later on in the year, no mention of groundhogs but the same idea – a dull day means spring, a bright one, more winter. It makes much more sense, here. Either might happen.

February 2nd is the Feast of the Purification. The groundhog effectively removes any religious connotation which might offend American sensibilities.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

That was Shrove Tuesday. Here's Ash Wednesday.

Archie has a school friend with him in Athens for the half-term week. They are doing a certain amount of sight-seeing. Here is a picture of Archie, looking rather embarrassed, with the Kouros of Sounion. You will remember that Professor A.R. Burn of Glasgow found an 8” piece of his – the Kouros' – hair but didn't know what he had until a classmate of mine told him. Greek Helen says that the broken bit of hair is just above the left shoulder, which sounds about right.

And here are some Greek cats on the Acropolis. They must be the greatgreat...greatgreat grandchildren of the cats I met there sixty years ago.

Podiatry went well yesterday. (=We got there, I found a place to park, we got back.) I didn't get much sock knitting done because I had to spend most of the time untangling, so I went on with it in the evening and am whizzing down the foot. A couple more sessions should finish off this pair. And, indeed, if I am to go to Athens at Easter, as is the plan, I will need a fresh pair of socks to knit.

Arne and Carlos? No – I've got plenty of good unknit socks in stash, including at least one more Pakokku skein.

Alexander and his family are coming over to Murrayfield to see Scotland v. Italy on the 28th. Rachel seems to be afraid that the Curse of the Little Boys will strike again – they have never seen Scotland win. I am more confident. As you say, Knitlass, we are playing well. Our new coach is working wonders. I am more afraid that we will win the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham on March 14 and involve me in yet more knitting.

There should be some prescription pills to pick up at Boots (I email the dr, he sends the prescription there by post) and if so I may well go to the new Apple shop on Princes Street this morning and get a new iPad. That would be exciting. Picking-up-pills-at-Boots is about the farthest I get into the real world these days, unless you count Waitrose and hospital appts.

I find that I continue to hold two contradictory beliefs simultaneously – I think my dear iPad is gone; I don't think we have had a thief in the house.

It is worth mentioning again that the Polish cleaning woman is blameless – I had it when she was here on Tuesday, now a fortnight ago. I had it on Wednesday and Thursday and (I think) Friday morning. She has never had a key to the house. She remembers it – I showed her some wedding pictures on it, and she also remembers it lying in the place where it belongs. She had a good look the last time she was here, to no avail. She didn't come this week, being on holiday in Poland with her family.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Knitlass, at least, will have spotted yesterday that I wasn't paying all that much attention to the rugby. Wales scored what seemed to be – what proved to be – the winning try just as our friend, arriving for tea, rang the doorbell. We kept the television on, with the sound down, but I entirely missed Scotland's try in the last moments, its conversion, and the question of whether there was time to restart for one more play. There seemed to be time, but the referee said no and blew the whistle. Scotland lost by three points.

Not only that, but yesterday's newspapers said that one or perhaps even two Scottish tries were disallowed although the evidence seems to be that they were good.

We wuz robbed, in fact.

These things happen. Rob Wainwright wrote in the Financial Times once about a famous Calcutta Cup match in which a penalty was awarded to England in front of the Scottish goal right at the end for “hand on the ball in the ruck” (or something like that – I don't really understand rugby) and England kicked it and won the match and poor Gavin Hastings was reduced to tears and couldn't face the press afterwards. There was a hand on the ball, Wainwright said, and he should know as he had been in that ruck. It was an English hand. Rob Andrews' hand.

I reported this to Alexander who took it calmly. These things happen.


Kate Davies published an on-line interview with Gudrun Johnston recently. She used so pale a typeface that I read it with difficulty but was interested in Johnston's book “Shetland Trader Book 2”. I wasn't entirely clear as to whether it is a book of knitting patterns, or of bespoke clothes that you could order. It turns out to be the former and I want it, if only for the photography. They stayed at Burrastow when they were there for the shoot – that's where we stayed!

But pop-up ads and mis-clicks have defeated me this morning.

Elizabeth, no, I didn't know that Arne and Carlos had signed up with Regia for a line of designer sock yarn – that's exciting news.

It set me to thinking about how little knitting I seem to get done these days. With Archie's sweater, it's a bit like Penelope and her loom. I suspect myself of dragging my feet because I don't want to finish. But overall, I begin to think I am slowing down. Maybe it's just winter. My husband has a podiatry appt today which should advance those poor Pakokku socks a bit.


The pho was good, although the final dish was something of a disappointment. The broth is delicious, although not as complex as I would have expected. There's lots of it – I think I should have reduced it while all the stuff was still in it, before straining. And there's also lots of splendid poached chicken left. The recipe is in the current issue of Delicious magazine – does anybody else want to try? It's not difficult. It's not even time-consuming except in the sense of taking three days

Monday, February 16, 2015

Wales won. It was a good match, close until the very end, played in broad daylight in fine spring sunshine. Rugby like everything else – baseball being the saddest – is becoming a game of the night.

An old friend came to tea yesterday, filling the hours at the end of Sunday afternoon when I had hoped to get back to the pho. How does anybody ever do anything? Most people have lots more friends than we do.

It was grand to see her, and there's still time to have the pho for lunch, if I get cracking. Next I must dismember the chicken, shred the meat, cut up the bones and put them back in the broth for further stewing. And after that, add some other ingredients – ginger, shallots, spices which themselves have to be cooked in one way or another before being added. Finally noodles.

Virtually no knitting yesterday – a couple of rounds of Archie's sleeve. Today's job is to send the satisfactory-looking Cotton Glace square to London for comment.

Thank you for your help with the iPad. My brief acquaintance with the Apple website had led me to believe that the choice was between an iPadAir and an iPad Mini – you make it sound as if older, cheaper, kludgier versions, more like the Dear Departed, might still be available. But maybe by now I want an iPad Air. I don't think the Mini is of interest to me. I can see how it would be, if I were still at work.

CKP, Tile sounds like a very good idea – but I doubt if my absolutely basic mobile phone can run an app. Will I one day capitulate and get an iPhone? I am deterred by the idea of an ongoing monthly charge. I will certainly ensure at once that any new iPad knows about the MacBook, and vice versa, so that I can use the Find My iPad app. And it's very good news that my Kindle library is waiting for me in the sky.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

I finished the Pocket Square, due in part to watching the rugby. Ireland beat France; it was a rather good match, especially at the end. Today Wales play Scotland here in Edinburgh. That could be good, too. Both were beaten last weekend, and both are cross about it.

I even dropped a stitch, and laddered it back up over three bars, without leaving behind a Messy Patch. This yarn (Rowan Cotton Glace) really is magic for garter stitch. Now I'll send the square to London and we can discuss requirements – size, colour, texture, laciness – with something concrete in front of us.

My friend came yesterday to look for the iPad but soon gave up in the face of endemic disorder. If it's here, it's somewhere I put it. But where? I am pretty far down the road towards buying a new one. It's going to be pricier than I expected but I can't go on like this. I think what I miss most is the Kindle app: I wonder if a new iPad will have access to my library of ebooks in the cloud? I miss lots of other things, too – my lists; looking up recipes; Zite. But I really don't want to go back to cluttering up the place further with paperback-buying. And I am afraid I like abandoning a book if I'm not enjoying it,  and not having it lie there accusing me.

Thank you for your comments yesterday, which helped clear my mind. I do want fingerprint recognition – my friend who came yesterday has that. I had not previously known about it. Wow! [Ridiculous, in my case.] And I don't need fancy connectivity, just plain vanilla wi-fi.

The non-knit, non-iPad topic I keep meaning to mention is the brilliant exhibition currently on at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. They have had one of their masterpieces copied from a digital image by a Chinese consortium which goes in for that sort of thing, and they have hung it in place of the original. The exhibition is called Made in China, and your job is to spot the fake.

The whole thing, including shipping, cost them less than £200 – less than my new iPad – and will bring in hundreds of viewers, I am sure. They will have to go about the Gallery looking hard at the pictures – no use reading the labels. I hope no smart-ass newspaper columnist spoils the fun. I wish we could get there – we always used to enjoy Dulwich, and I am sure my husband could spot the fake without difficulty. Alas, he doesn't think he could totter about even if driven to the door. We really must investigate wheelchairs.

The other thing to look at if you go there, is their metasequoia glyptostroboides, not far from the front door – one of the first in Britain. It is one of those familiar stories; I'm sure I have told it here before. It was a Japanese scientist I think who identified it from a fossil during the late war and gave it that less than snappy name. After the war when academic papers again circulated freely the Chinese said, oh, yes, we've got that, down by the river.

It's also called Dawn Redwood. It's a deciduous conifer. We planted one to mark James' and Cathy's wedding. Ours has struggled, because we planted it on a slight slope and the soil is very light and it really prefers to have its feet wet. A few yards nearer the burn and it would have been fine. But it's hanging in there. Whereas the Dulwich one, put in not long after the war, is splendid.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day all round!

My remarkable facility with garter stitch continues. I turned the square around on 62 stitches, and so far the declining edges look as neat and satisfactory as the ascending ones. It should be ready for dispatch to London by Monday. This is the Rowan Cotton Glace version of the Pocket Square, mentioned yesterday.

The new IK shows several buttonless cardigans, hanging free with 4”-6” of wearer visible between the edges. They look very neat and comfortable – but does it work? Or does such a garment slip off the wearer's stooped and care-worn shoulders?

And that's about it, for knitting. In the absence of Zite – gone with the iPad – I've been catching up on long-unread blogs. Both the Harlot and Annie Modesitt seem to be in good nick. Best of all, the Socklady, miles from anywhere, moose in the yard and wolves howling at night, no salad for weeks when she is snowed or iced in as at present, living alone and knitting those amazing socks. Sometimes the links in my sidebar don't seem to work so I've put one in the text.

Someone needs to explain to me what “negative interest” is.

I am making a Vietnamese pho chicken soup from a recipe in one of my magazines. Yesterday I poached a whole small organic chicken for ten minutes and then left the pot in the spare room for the rest of the day to cool. Today I am bringing it back to the boil – lovely crystal-clear broth, but the chicken is far from tender. Today it is to simmer for half an hour. Then it must cool again. It is only on the third session that one cuts up the chicken and adds flavouring and finally ingredients (noodles, bean sprouts). Good fun.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Another day. A dear friend – the one whose dog I hope to knit when life calms down – has offered to come and look for the missing iPad. I have to agree with her that either it is still here, or we have had a thief in the house. Not a pleasant thought, and I still believe it unlikely.


Mary Lou has sent me a beautiful skein of Shibui linen in a good navy blue. I would have cast it on last night when I finished the silk square, but that as so often I was tired and chose the line of least resistance. I cast on the ball (already wound) of Rowan Cotton Glace which I bought that day when I also got the Rowan linen.

And I am full of enthusiasm. Cotton Glace makes my garter stitch look good – that's little short of a miracle. And the colour is right (I think). It would be a bit small if I made the square to the pattern, so I will enlarge to six or six and a half inches and send to London for comment.

I am using an utterly basic pattern which a cyber friend suggested – and which I had on the iPad last Thursday evening, the 5th, when I embarked on this adventure. Cast on 4. Knit 2, YO, knit to end. Repeat that row until you have 44 stitches (or until you decide it's big enough). Then knit 1, k2tog, YO, k2tog, knit to end. Repeat that one until you are back down to four stitches. Cast off. It's a washcloth pattern, and a good one.

London may want something fancier. This will give us a basis for conversation. And who would have thought that I could knit garter stitch?

The new IK turned up yesterday. I don't think there's anything to push ahead of anything else in my HALFPINT queue, but I like the little faux-gansey on page 39, and was most interested in the article about Coopworth American gansey yarns.

I have knit with Frangipani (see p. 16) – a pink gansey for Ketki using Beth Brown-Reinsel and “Mrs Laidlaw's pattern” from Gladys Thompson's marvellous book. It appears to fit well. She (Ketki) wears it sometimes to rugby matches where I suspect it serves as excellent armour against the weather – just what a fisherman needs.

The whole issue left me feeling that spring is stirring, and a new year begins here.

Non-knit, and very local

For my two or three readers with access to Broughton Street: Mr. Bee, of “Something Fishy” at the top of the street, is soon to retire. We have been buying fish there for the 20 years we have lived in Edinburgh, because Mr. Bee, and his brother who kept the shop before him, can fillet a fish. In Birmingham where we used to live, we were constantly picking little bones out of our mouths and didn't attempt fish very often.

The good news is, there is to be a new Mr. Bee, nephew of the current incumbent, son of the previous one. He will be the 5th generation of the family to be an Edinburgh fishmonger. He is tall and handsome. The down side is, he has no previous experience of fish-filleting. I told him yesterday that he was following not one but two grand masters.

“No pressure, then”, he said.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

I've just put the newspapers out for recycling, for the first time since Disaster Struck in the form of the disappearance of the iPad. I was very, very careful.

Thank you for all your suggestions, I wish we could remember exactly when my husband found that hat in the bedroom – I think it was before the iPad disappeared, but I'm not at all sure. We didn't attach much importance to it until Gosha disclaimed it on Tuesday, day before yesterday. I don't think it could be Archie's, but I'll ask – too small, not his style, he wouldn't have been wearing it in the house.

I couldn't have left he iPad at the neighbour's – that was Wednesday, anyway, and it didn't vanish until Friday. I took my knitting, at her instance, but didn't actually knit. It's not in the knitting bag.

Helen rang up from Athens yesterday after reading the blog, urging us to change the locks. My husband had mentioned that possibility.

The situation seems to me thus:

a) I don't reeely believe that a Malevolent (supernatural) Force took the iPad. But I could be wrong.

b) I do believe that it is gone, not just in some perverse place where I laid it down. Really gone. But I could be wrong.

c) I don't reeely believe that a Bad Man let himself in with his own key while I was out shopping last Friday morning and my husband was in the bathroom, took the iPad from the west end of the house and went all along the passage to the east end where he threw his hat into the bedroom before leaving without disturbing anything or taking anything else. But it's odd.

d) I can't explain the hat.

I ordered some pills for my husband yesterday – the system is that I send an email to the dr and he sends an actual paper prescription in the mail to Boots the Chemist in St James' Centre and I go up there a few days later and collect the pills. This time, I'll get a new iPad as well.


I have nearly finished the silk square, and am less happy with it. Viewed severely in the morning light, there are instances after all where a stitch has failed to include both of the strands of yarn held together, leaving behind a loop. It's still a very nice fabric. I can try Rowan Cotton Glace next. I could look to see whether Loop has any madelinetosh sock yarn in something like navy blue – it's hard to do that on this computer because of pop-up ads. I need my iPad.

The current issue of Knitting magazine has a long, helpful answer to a reader's letter about prayer shawls. Maybe I should write for their advice about pocket squares.

Melfina, Greek Helen sent me that link yesterday, too – about the old, old man who knits sweaters for penguins. I find it a wee bit hard to believe, but it's certainly encouraging for us oldies.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Here's an odd story, to keep us largely away from knitting for another day.

Our young Polish cleaning woman (whom I love and trust) comes on Tuesday mornings from 8 to 10, the idea being to be finished and away before my husband gets up, as he rather tends to dominate the stage. The one drawback is that the bedroom gets dustier and dustier since she can never get in there.

At Christmas Ketki came up with the brilliant idea – Ketki is very good at thinking – that we have her come one Sunday morning so that she could clean the bedroom while we were at Mass. So we did that on the 1st of February and it worked fine. She then came as usual on Tuesday the 3rd.

Sometime last week – after Tuesday, but was it before or after Friday when the iPad disappeared? – my husband came into the kitchen with a white baseball cap, and said, You have a lot to answer for. It is one of his lines. He had found it on the bedroom floor, near the head of the bed on his side. I've never seen it before in my life, I said. It must be Gosha's. He thought, indeed, that it might have been lying there a day or two before he confronted me with it, and we agreed that it was probably hers.

So yesterday (another Tuesday) I gave it to her as she was leaving, and she said she had never seen it before in her life.

We are profoundly puzzled. We had an opportunistic thief once in Birmingham. It can happen. He got in through the open back door while my husband was working in the garden and got away with his wallet from the pocket of the jacket on the chair by the bed. Pretty cool.

This time, the wallet is still there and the drawers undisturbed. The Bad Man would have had to have his own key, to have let himself quietly in while we were almost certainly in the house, to have gone to the room almost the furthest from the front door – and to have thrown in his hat before quietly leaving. With or without the iPad.

No, it's improbable. Maybe Gosha's husband came in that day – he often comes to fetch her and hovers outside. Maybe it's his. But why would he snatch his hat off and throw it on the floor? Why wouldn't Gosha recognise it?

I undoubtedly had the iPad all last week, until Friday the 6th. Its disappearance can have nothing to do with the bedroom-cleaning on the 1st.


I finished the linen square last night, and cast on one using the two balls of Jaipur silk held together. I like the result a lot. It's slow work – even with two together it's going to need more than the 44 stitches of the pattern to make a reasonable-sized square. The pattern is corner-to-corner, so I just have to go on until it's an acceptable size. And one has to be terribly careful to include both yarns in every stitch – all too easy to leave behind a loop.

But the resulting fabric is very nice indeed, firm and shiny, despite my clumsiness with garter stitch. Despite slow-th I think I could knit eight such Pocket Squares before September without stress. This could be it.

Sue posted a comment yesterday directing us to Techknitter's discovery of a way to knit Kitchener stitch. It is very interesting indeed. I don't need it myself because, as it happens, I absolutely love Kitchener-ing with a tapestry needle, but I recommend it to all needle-phobes.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I'm feeling a bit more human, and had a pleasant evening yesterday working on Archie's sleeve. I'll switch back to Pocket Squares today.

Alexander wonders if human villainy mightn't be involved in the loss of my iPad. But that's impossible – no one has been in the house. He also says that if Archie couldn't find it, it's gone.

So today I will tell you our stories of loss.

Once long ago James and I were driving from Birmingham to Kirkmichael in a cold, cold winter. Helen was there ahead of us. I can't remember where the others were. We kept stopping to telephone someone to find out the success or otherwise of James' university application. Who? Why? I can't remember.

We stopped in Blairgowrie. A drunk woman was sitting on a bench by the telephone booth. She wanted us to take her to a&e at the cottage hospital, so we did. She was clearly a regular visitor there. And when we got back in the car, we realised that we no longer had the cat. Much kittykittykitty, but we finally had to go on to Kirkmichael without her, and I had to ring up my husband, wherever he was, and tell him we had lost the cat.

He said to get up early in the morning and go back to Blairgowrie. So we did, Helen and I. James stayed in bed. I can still hear, ringing in my ears, the cry of joy which filled that dark, quiet town. She had found the cat in the Bank of Scotland car park, not far from the fatal telephone, while I was doing kittykittykitty on the other side of the High Street. We put an ad in the Blairgowrie Advertiser the next week, thanking St Anthony for a favour received.

That night it snowed and snowed and snowed. We couldn't have driven to Blairgowrie the following morning.

The other story concerns my husband's guns. They are properly licensed and certificated. We used to store the rifle by breaking it apart and keeping the stock in one place, and barrel in another, and the magazine somewhere else, under separate lock and key, so that a Bad Man, even if he found one part, wouldn't have a usable gun. The police praised our system. But then the rules changed and now we have a galvanised gun case bolted to the wall, so that a Bad Man will know at once where the guns are.

Be that as it may, we realised one year that we couldn't remember where we had put the magazine. That's a little metal bit into which you insert the bullets of a rifle. The gun was an American one, bought when we were there in 1960-61. Alexander was in America at the time– was that when he was working as a consultant in NYC, getting to know Ketki? He found a new magazine for us, not without difficulty.

And he gave it to us one day as we were all standing in the sitting room in Kirkmichael, and I said, Now, where shall we put it where we won't forget? You can see how this story is going to end. I took down a funny little French mustard pot from the top of the bookcase, something I had bought in a junk/antique shop in Blairgowrie. And there was the original magazine.  

Monday, February 09, 2015

You're not here to read about a missing iPad. I knit for 79 years without one (more or less) and ought to be able to manage it again.

Kristen, Archie himself had exactly your idea yesterday. He came over in the afternoon, fully confident that he could find the iPad. He searched the house thoroughly, likely rooms as well as unlikely ones. He lay on the floor and looked under the furniture. He shone a strong torch (=flashlight) into dark corners. He listened to my detailed account of where-I-had-it-Thursday-evening (in the sitting room, with the pattern for the linen Pocket Square on it) and what-I-was-doing-with-it-Friday-morning (here, Zite).

And we tried FaceTime. My sister did it from CT while Archie was here. I could hear her device ringing in CT while Archie went from room to room listening in vain for mine. (Is it turned off? What does that mean exactly? It goes off – usually – when I close the lid of its cover and of course turns itself off if it thinks I'm not paying enough attention to it.) We had also tried FaceTime earlier in the day – Greek Helen tried it from Athens, and again I could hear her machine ringing.

Archie both reads and writes fantasy fiction, but he doesn't believe in the supernatural. Even he was coming around to my theory of a Malign Force by the time the afternoon was over.

I showed him the progress of his sweater, although we didn't take time off the search to attempt a try-on. He approved of the red hem of the one finished sleeve.

I don't really believe in the supernatural either, but I have a leaden feeling that this baby is gone.

I'll try to do some serious knitting today.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Scotland lost to France.

And I didn't find the iPad.

I'm grateful for all your help. But nothing worked. I search in ever-widening circles, and keep returning to where-I-had-it-last and where-it-ought-to-be. Clearly, I have laid it down somewhere very unusual. No one was in the house except us on Friday. Two people came to the door, but neither crossed the threshold and anyway the iPad wouldn't have been in the outer hall. My husband suspects flesh-and-blood evil, but it couldn't be.

Friday lunchtime, when the crisis began, I came in here to check email, noticed that the iPad wasn't here as I had more or less expected, but also found that this computer wasn't connected. That problem had to be dealt with first – it turned out the router (or whatever the damned thing is called) had to be reset. Not a major problem; it has happened before, although not often.

But as the greater tragedy then unfolded, it left me feeling that the Evil Force which had come in here and grabbed the iPad had been so Evil that it disturbed the equilibrium of the router. I know this is absurd. The two events were entirely unrelated. But you can see how people get to be superstitious.

The iCloud hasn't worked, so far. It says that it can't find any devices of mine because they are all offline. I'm not entirely sure that the iCloud knows about the iPad anyway – the only thing listed was my new MacBook. That leaves the option of having someone ring me up using FaceTime. I will explore that one. Roger in CT?

Maureen, I was particularly comforted by your suggestion that I march out and get a new iPad. I will, if this continues any length of time. My universe is contracting rather briskly, but John Lewis' computer dept is still within reach.

But I began, yesterday, to try to adjust to my new life without an iPad.

The linen square is nearly finished (it needn't have taken so long). I'll polish it off and contemplate it this evening, It is very badly knit, but that's not the point. We're looking at the texture and drape of the fabric, and the process – could I bear knitting eight of them? I can well imagine that on Hellie and Matt's wedding day, I will be sitting there in my pew practising the next Pocket Square and the groomsmen will be sporting pocket handkerchiefs. (And no one will notice, on that happy day.)

Skeindalous, no, I hadn't seen Franklin's new post about the lace square. I love that sort of thing. It's very tempting. Thank you.

But maybe I'll drown my troubles in another couple of inches of Archie's sleeve, this evening.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

I have lost my iPad. I am distraught.

James gave it to me for my 79th birthday, two and a half years ago. I have never spent a day without it since. (I took it along to Thomas' and Lucy's wedding and read the new Simon Serallier book while we were there; didn't care for it much.) I have never mislaid it before, except for the occasional brief frisson of anxiety when it's not in its proper place, and then I remember I have plugged it in to recharge.

I had it here yesterday morning – I had a quick look at Zite before assuring you that there was no news from the outside world. Since then, nothing.

Ever since my keys de-materialised last summer – I was pacing about the house in Kirkmichael, clutching them in my left hand, waiting for my husband to come out of the bathroom so that we could head off to Edinburgh, when I suddenly realised that I was still clutching, but there were no keys in my hand – ever since then, I have panicked early whenever something – anything – can't be found.

This is different.

A newspaper columnist of whom I was fond many, many years ago – Paul Jennings might have been the name – devised a whole philosophical system he called Resistentialism – “things are against us”. Toast always falls to the floor butter-side down. I wish I could believe it was only that. I feel that a malign force is waiting, watching for the chance to snatch away the Things which are dearest to me.

So not much got done yesterday. I discovered the loss at midday and spent every free moment after that in the search. I didn't download and print the Sous Sous pattern, still less choose a yarn. I didn't knit much of the linen square – the yarn has got tangled to the point where it will have to be cut. One of you has sent me two partial skeins of Jaipur silk – beautiful! and I look forward to discovering what sort of fabric the two produce when knitted together. But that requires a measure of equilibrium which at the moment I haven't got.

I hope I'll have better news tomorrow. It must be somewhere (I tell myself, although I don't entirely believe it). I couldn't have thrown it in the rubbish or put it in the compost bin. The range of possible places is not all that large, because the wi-fi signal doesn't cover the whole house so the iPad never goes down to the other end. It must have insinuated itself under something, so that I can't see it.

The Six Nations tournament began yesterday with a thoroughly exciting rugby match, if I hadn't been so miserable. England beat Wales. Scotland play France in Paris today – that's usually a good match.

Friday, February 06, 2015

I spent a reasonably happy evening with Rowan Pure Linen, and knit half a square – the pattern is one of those corner-to-corner things. I used 3.5mm needles, down from the 4.5 recommended on the ball band, The yarn was still pretty slippery, the knitting well less than perfect. I'll finish the square, and perhaps try one in the Cotton Glace I also bought that day.

But the experience left me wondering whether what I want, after all, might not be madelinetosh sock yarn, in wool. And that set me remembering yet again those ads in the London Underground in the 50's with little jingles based on life and history, concluding each time “There is no substitute for wool”.

My favourite was “Boney, after each campaign/ Went home to Josephine again./ This angered Mrs Marshall Ney/ Whose husband used to stay away.” I have forgotten how to get from there to wool. I tried Googling that last night, and my own blog from two years ago came out on top – so you've heard it before. Another blogger was looking for it, too. No answers.

But then I Googled “There is no substitute for wool” – and that produced the happy information that the subway jingles have been collected into a book, with a forward by the Princess Royal. Second-hand copies are very cheap, and I have ordered one, hoping that Boney and Mrs Marshall Ney will be found therein.

But that doesn't resolve the Pocket Square question.

You're quite right that the Sous Sous by Norah Gaughan was the pattern I was groping for yesterday. I knew I hadn't found it in a book or a magazine or Kate Davies – so, where? The answer was the Loop Knitalong.

But, more than that – one of you has given me the pattern, via Ravelry, moving me to tears. It's written for madelinetosh DK and I will have a delicious time today choosing a colour.

And that's about it. Yesterday was a day without external event, as this one is scheduled to be. My appearance in an Age Concern promotional video is going ahead, it would appear. No other news from the outside world.  

Thursday, February 05, 2015

That was a successful day – the oculist could find nothing else wrong except the cloudy plastic in my right eye, which she agrees is very cloudy indeed. So I have been referred for laser treatment and we can but wait. She says the sight should be fully restored. Meanwhile the “bad” eye is clearly punching above its weight and she volunteered the comforting information that I can still legally drive – the licensing people specify the line on the oculist's chart which you have to be able to read. I'll confine my driving to supermarkets and Mass in broad daylight until I get my right eye back, however.

And I later had a nice time with my elderly friend above. She's up three steep flights of stone stairs, and there are already 13 steps from the pavement to the front door of the tenement. I don't see how she ever gets out, but she does, rather more than I do who live more or less at street level. I took the Pakokku socks along, but didn't knit.

I had another good evening with Archie's second sleeve. I am now set fair for the decreases – every fifth round 24 times. The Sirka is set. It is simplicity itself to use, just slightly fiddly at the very beginning when all the tabs are in the 12 o'clock position. It is comfortingly firm; nothing is going to slip. No pegs are going to vanish under the coffee table. It is perhaps slightly expensive for a plastic gadget, but highly recommended.

I suddenly got worried about what I am going to do when this sweater is finished – not long now. I've got plenty to do, as you know. The pocket squares. The Parson Jack Russell for our friend to match her dog. Finishing the Unst Bridal Shawl – that doesn't really count as knitting, but it's got to be done. But there are times when one needs chicken soup knitting, Jewish penicillin knitting. Archie's sweater is perfect for that and I will miss it.

One thing you could help with. Tamar, you're brilliant at this. I recently saw a sweater, the sort of thing with lots of positive ease which you drop on over an outfit. Uneven bottom hem, deep neck, interesting cables I think. What was it? Where? I even remember wondering, would there be time to knit it before I go to Greece? I could read through the blog from the beginning of the year, it's there somewhere. If I find it again, I will at least nail it into a Ravelry queue so that it doesn't get away again. I know exactly where to find the Tokyo shawl, at least.

Now, pocket squares.I am tremendously grateful for all your help.

Ellen, I've found Quince & Co “Sparrow” at Loop. There are several blues. I could always ring them up again and ask whether they think any might qualify as “navy”. And I am grateful for offers to help secure the Louet. Mary Lou, if you are satisfied with the colour described as navy blue, and could secure a skein, you could send it to my sister in CT who could bring it to me in April (comments, yesterday). I can reimburse you with a dollar check (from the account which, alas! wasn't used a year ago to buy the Woman at Prayer).

I think perhaps I'll take this evening off Archie's sleeve and use the Rowan linen to knit Grandmother's Favorite Dishcloth, a pattern which an old cyber-friend referred me to yesterday. That will tell me something of how I like knitting with linen, and if the result is worth sending to London, their reaction will tell me something about how strongly they feel about “navy blue” (which the Rowan certainly isn't) and also provide a platform for discussing how much pattern they'd like in the squares. And we'll get some idea of the fabric and its fold-ability.

Someone else has offered to send me some left-over Jaipur silk, so I can try another square in two strands of that held together.

So there's a plan.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

David is home from hospital, out there in Athens.

A neighbour helped me in with the groceries yesterday and asked me to be in a promotional video he is making for Age Concern. I think all I would have to do is sit in my sitting room looking old, for a handsome fee. I didn't quite get around to discussing this with my husband yesterday – I managed an opening sentence or two but then we got swept away on a tide of elderly concerns, as so often. If it happens, I think I'll get the Tokyo shawl. He can have a book.

Busy day today. My right eye – my “good” eye – is getting increasingly cloudy. The oculist said last time that this is because the plastic lens, inserted when I had my cataract operation, has clouded. It could be cleared with laser treatment, she said, so today I am going back to her to ask to be referred. And then in the afternoon, tea with a neighbour even more elderly than I. Many stairs to climb, and no nap.

I finished Archie's first sleeve yesterday, as hoped. I think the red hem is an excellent touch. And, Lou, I'm sorry – I didn't do anything with the yarn in advance, I just knit it. I am more than a bit bogged down in winter (much as I love this time of year) and care. All I wanted was to knit. That's why the Unst Bridal Shawl is lying there unfinished. That's why, having polished off one sleeve, I went ahead and picked up the stitches for the other one.

It didn't go quite as well as the first time. The stitches left behind on waste yarn seem to be one stitch short, although I can't see why. Having left them behind, the instruction was to cast on 22 to bridge the gap and complete the cylinder of the body. Now, I was to recover the abandoned stitches and pick up 22 along the cast-on edge.

This process threatened to leave little holes in the corners such as you get when picking up stitches along the heel flap of a sock and then knitting across the instep. On the first sleeve, I did what I did for socks – a friend in Brookline, MA, taught me this – and picked up an extra stitch from the horizontal bars in the corner, grabbing two or even three of them, and twisting before knitting. Then you get rid of the extra stitch on the first real round.

This worked splendidly for the first sleeve, less well last night. There's a wee hole on one side. Not a fatal error.

Ellen, I was enormously grateful for the comment you wrote yesterday, about knitting with linen. I have looked at the Louet website – apart from other considerations, they offer a colour called Navy Blue, which is what I was asked for. Rowan doesn't. Is there a UK source? Should I just order it?

I knit with a Louet sport-weight wool once (this is wholly irrelevant). It was a scarf pattern in IK with stripes running the length of the scarf, six or seven, which then detached themselves from each other at the ends to form a sort of fringe, being finished in different lengths. I found out somehow that the yarn was produced in England – I even wrote to ask if it could ever be purchased at the factory gate. But, no. It all went to Louet. My sister brought it in for me, a bit puzzled as to why she had to carry in English yarn.

I gave the scarf to our niece C., on my husband's urging. I think he was afraid I was going to wear it myself. I must ask her what become of it. I remember it as rather successful.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Moorecat, if you have given me that advice before – about putting Archie's sweater in the salad bowl and spinning it around on my lap – I must not have been paying attention. I tried it last night, and it works a treat. It also makes it much easier to get out from under the sweater when I've got to get up to do something, as happens fairly frequently.

I'm now within a couple of rounds of reaching the required length. I allowed myself to wind the red skein last night – that was fun. I could even finish the sleeve today.

I got up to John Lewis yesterday. I bought a ball of Rowan Pure Linen, and one of Cotton Glace. Despite the names, it's the linen that has a lovely sheen. The colour is too light and bright a blue, I fear – and the Rowan website offers nothing better. The website also says that it has a “relaxed drape” which may be too floppy for our purposes.

But I'll start the swatching there. Do I want an edging? Or just a neat six-inch square in seed stitch? I'd better browse the early pages os Walker I. Finding a yarn and a pattern is clearly going to be what takes the time here. Knitting eight of the things will be nothing, once those issues have been settled. Loop suggested a silk yarn called Jaipur. It comes in a wide range of spectacularly wonderful colours (colour loves silk even more than it does wool). It's a lace weight yarn, but I could use two strands held together – which often produces a nice firm fabric.


No more bulletins from Athens – surely good news. David was expected to be allowed home from hospital yesterday or today.

I had a nice talk with my sister in CT yesterday. They are covered in snow. It was just about a year ago that she and her husband made that valiant trip to NYC to try to buy a picture at auction for us – the one that's now in the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. We decided that they had better go down the night before and stay in a hotel – rather than add the fear of snow to our other excitements.

So the groundhog will have stayed above ground in CT yesterday, if he doesn't mind burrowing through the snow. Whereas we have been having high pressure, with clear skies and bright winter sun and bitter cold – the sort of weather that encourages six more weeks of hibernation.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Yes, I watched as much as I could of the tennis yesterday. Sunday mornings are hard work, what with getting to Mass and getting lunch ready to slap on the table when we get home, so I couldn't watch much. What I managed of the early sets was terrific. I gather Murray then sort of collapsed.

Knitting went well. I am acquiring the knack of giving the whole thing – Archie's top-down sweater – a quarter turn after each dp needle. I am using a set of my beloved Cubics. The plan is to go ahead and finish the sleeve to the length required by the pattern, including the hem which will be red. I think perhaps I will allow myself to use the red for the purled turn-line, although that is a bit bold.

Then if the length is wrong or Archie doesn't like the red hem when he sees it, I'll take it out.

Eng Lit

A new biography of T.S. Eliot has just been published. We are hesitating over whether to buy. The author has clearly been enormously conscientious in tracking down influences. “From his earliest years,” the review in the Sunday Times said yesterday, “Eliot's brain was storing away scraps of language that caught his attention.”

Well, I've got one of those – not T.S. Eliot, but Shakespeare.

In his Gallic War, Caesar describes in some detail his first invasion of Britain – eighty transports and a number of warships, an impressive armada. The British put up a stiff resistance – wearing woad, I hope – and were picking off the Roman soldiers as they waded ashore. So Caesar brought the warships around and ran them aground on the enemy's right flank from which position he could employ, among other things, slings and arrows. The words often occur together in Caesar.

I wouldn't suggest that Shakespeare had this passage consciously in mind when he wrote Hamlet's great speech. Just that his schoolboy self at Stratford Grammar School stood in imagination with his countrymen one day, as they took arms against that utterly unfamiliar sea of troubles. And perhaps even got his knuckles rapped for not knowing what fundis and sagittis were. And the image got stored away, with so much else.

You're welcome to it, if you should be writing a commentary on Hamlet.

Sunday, February 01, 2015


The news from Athens continues good. Pain is no longer a problem, and David has been detached from his tubes except for two drains, He ate some chicken noodle soup. Goodness! what an ordeal! It had better solve the problem permanently.
    We had a delicious day yesterday, C. and I. The weather cooperated splendidly, despite a savage turn earlier in the week, and grim forecasts. It wasn't exactly warm, but it wasn't icy either, no snow, no wind. The hazard, as so often, was mud. We picked our way with care, and neither fell.
We went to East Linton, as recommended in a Walk Book she gave me for my 80th birthday, and walked upstream along the river Tyne (which sounds as if it ought to be somewhere else) as far as the ruins of Hailes Castle (Mary Queen of Scots, Cromwell). The muddy path was the first half of the journey, the return was along a surfaced lane. About four miles in all, about the limit of my strength.

Along that muddy path we found sheets of snowdrops, more than I have ever seen before in the wild – as distinct from carefully managed and fenced arrangements in wild gardens. And although the path was used by dog-walkers and one unhappy mother, bogged down in the mud with her pushchair, nobody seemed to have picked any. C. took pictures with her telephone which I hope she will send me.

Then back to East Linton for cider (for me, who wasn't driving) and bacon butties.

Panic was, for the moment, completely blown away. It's back, this morning.
    C. has gone off with my passport. She it was who booked our tickets for Athens, and she says that EasyJet is enquiring about particulars. She's welcome to it – at the worst, with a certain amount of huff and puff, it could be replaced. What she can't have is the previous one, now expired of course, which contains a stamp saying “Given leave to enter the United Kingdom for an indefinite period”. They don't issue those any more, for whatever reason. I have to carry both passports to get back in.
Anyway, knitting

Despite complete, delicious tiredness I finished off the decreases in Archie's first sleeve, found I needed another four inches, calculated how many rounds that would be given the row gauge previously achieved, and set the Sirka counter accordingly. It's a wonderful gadget.

I think you may well be right, Hilde, that I could have done a lot more of the sleeve on a circular needle. I'll determine the length of the one I was using, root around to see if I have anything shorter – almost certainly not; the needles are in some sort of order – and have a look at good old Meadow Yarns.

I've had some thoughts about Pocket Squares, but no action. Don't panic, don't panic, was Corporal Jones' excellent advice.