Friday, July 31, 2015

I'm back with Microsoft this morning. There was much talk of Windows 10 during the day, what with all these boys around. I decided to go ahead. When I tried, all that happened was a Microsoft website telling me to click on an icon – which wasn't there – to get in the queue. Archie knew a way around that. I've now got it installed, and am impressed. The new browser is first-rate. And FreeCell is back! Knitting went as planned – the right side of the dog now complete, Sous Sous resumed. I'll finish the current repeat, the ninth, the last complete one, before moving on to the Tokyo shawl. That's not as much as I hoped for yesterday. I forgot how much there was to do after the last repeat. And I still haven't worked out a system that satisfies for the sidebar percentage. Literature Thank you for the link to Paul Theroux' article about Shirley Jackson, Mary Lou. Interesting. But he doesn't mention the novel I am currently reading, Hangsaman, and indeed rather implies that The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle were her only two novels. I've just finished reading them. They are superb, and very scary. Hangsaman, although itself published as a Penguin Modern Classic, is not as good, at least to begin with, and I was interested to have my hunch confirmed by this website that it came before the two great ones. She published six novels in all. Later Well, here's the first serious hitch in Windows 10. When pasted into Blogger, my prose looks as if typewritten (it was composed in Times New Roman as usual, in Open Office Writer) and is too small -- and the tT symbol has vanished, so I can't set it to large. I'll go back to the Mac tomorrow. ...And when published, the font and its size are OK, but there is no break between paragraphs. And my links are gone. I suspect it is Blogger which will have to change to accommodate Windows 10, but who knows?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

This morning I’ll try Pages, again without moving the margins. Within Blogger, I have set the text to "Large" -- but why should I  have to do that? -- and am pleased to see that Blogger has rearranged the margins appropriately.

Archie spent a lot of yesterday morning installing Windows 10 on his superior, game-playing laptop, and offered to do the same for me. After my recent struggles with the Mac, I don’t feel up to learning a new interface just yet. It looks completely different. “Windows 10 for Dummies” will probably hit the stands next week.

“…for Dummies” is far and away the best of the three Mac books I’ve bought, although the “Seniors” one is helpful at answering simple-minded questions. The file structure, for instance, is the way it has been since DOS, subdirectories within directories. Maybe there’s no other way to do it. But it took “Seniors” to tell me so in plain English.


The branch of Lloyds Pharmacy contained within my local, on-the-way-to-the-hospital branch of Waitrose, didn’t have a pill-cutting tool yesterday. I’ll try the local, Broughton Street pharmacy in a moment. But yesterday I babbled on to the pharmacist about how I was taking Warfarin and my current dose included .5mg and that’s why I needed to cut a pill — the sort of idiot conversation my husband particularly hates. “She doesn’t need to know that.

And she said that Warfarin comes in a .5mg pill, as well as the 5mg, 3mg, and 1mg sizes I’ve already got. So now all I need is a new prescription.


I’ve finished the right side of the Jack Russell’s body, all but the last row and assuming I have attached the right legs — “right” in both senses. I’ll have to unpick the last row, because when it said “p2tog, p4 (hold 5 stitches on spare needle for tail)”, I disregarded any possible significance of the brackets and put the next five stitches on hold — which meant breaking the yarn — instead of the five I had just knit. As I think you can see, below.

There’s a similar problem at the end of the row. I now see that “(hold 11 stitches on spare needle for neck)” means the 11 stitches just knit, not 11 more. That’s perhaps easier, because there aren’t 11 more at that point.

There remains a problem. There were 33 stitches at the end of the previous row. I have been over and over the text for the difficult row, and can only see instructions for 31 of them. No, cancel that — I counted again, and there are 33.

I have knit the body without brown spots, since the target dog doesn’t have any. That speeded things up no end. But I’ll include some brown on tail and head.

So my plan for today is to unpick, re-do, and then turn to the Sous Sous for a day or two — finish the back, cast on the front, work out a percentage scheme for the sidebar.


I am having a Shirley Jackson phase, perhaps not the best choice for one spending a lot of nights alone. remember reading "The Lottery" in the New Yorker when I was 15. I remember where I was (in the car, waiting presumably for my mother) and what the New Jersey weather was like (hot). And my incredulity as I read -- could it really be saying what it seemed to say?

I don't think I've read it again, since that day. Perhaps I had better, to round off the phase. I wish her well-reviewed biography was available in Kindle.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My books came yesterday, so I am attempting composition on the Mac again, using Word (and not fiddling with the margins). Word subscriptions allow five subscribers (generous of them) and I had still had one unused -- which, perhaps remarkably, could be installed on a Mac.

Perdita helps with blogging:


I knit three legs of the dog yesterday. Today I hope to knit the fourth, and establish the body with legs attached.

C. came round to get the pocket squares, to take to London at the weekend. They were still pinned to the dining room floor. I hastily undid them, and was mightily impressed. I had thought it was perhaps a bit OTT,  blocking garter stitch squares. Not a bit of it. Apart from now all being the same size, the texture has changed. The silk (15%) in the yarn is evident. They seemed both heavier and more supple. I am sure they will fold more elegantly.


Many, many thanks for all the book titles. I will store them carefully in Evernote and wait to hear from Rachel about how many more we need. I sent four books down with the pocket squares. I think I’d better order “The Bride of Lammermoor” if it can be had cheaply. We must have that, for a Scottish wedding.

Helen and Fergus went off to Strathardle late yesterday. Archie remains with me. I have spoken to her briefly – all is well, the house neither leaking nor overrun with mice. I don’t know yet, in what state she found the Summer Pudding bush.

My INR was 2.0 yesterday, the minimum acceptable. I am to add .5 mg of  Warfarin to my daily dose. That means splitting a pill. I am not good at it.

I did fine with the Mac until we got to the picture-transfer bit -- couldn't find it in my mailbox. At that point I had to revert. The text looked fine in Word, and on the Blogger "Compose" screen, but has come out rather uncomfortably small when published.

And today we get Windows 10. Archie has promised to install it for me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The errant Follower has returned, or else -- more likely -- someone else has stepped into the breach. Welcome!

Absolutely no knitting to report today. I had an echo test on my heart yesterday afternoon, and then went on to visit my husband, and by the time I got home it was time to think about supper. A vegetable curry which turned out rather well – and Greek Helen got here with Fergus in good time to eat it.

I did at least get the dog book out and put it on the coffee table ready for action. The finished dog is going to be a lot smaller than I had imagined. I was expecting something the size of Sam the Ram, but the book, on close inspection, says that it will be only 6” long and 5 1/2” high to the top of the head. That shouldn't take long.


Thank you for all the suggestions. I was particularly astonished and delighted, Knitlass, by your idea of “Wedding Preparations in the Country” – especially as the party will be in a marquee in Ketki and Alexander's garden and goodness knows what the weather will be doing. And Kafka, of all people! There is a fairly recent Penguin, and I have ordered a cheap 2nd hand copy.

Janet, I had thought of Mitford's “Pursuit of Love” but since reading your comment I think “Love in a Cold Climate” would be better (see paragraph above).

I should have thought of “Member of the Wedding” myself – and Rachel thinks she has a copy. I think I tend to get it confused in my head with Welty's “Delta Wedding”.

Jane Austin won't do, I'm afraid. The game is restricted to titles only. What a pity that first word in Munro's “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage”! Maybe it would be all right. I'll see what Rachel thinks.

Cat, I have never heard of Katie Fforde. Clearly every single title of hers would do nicely. We can keep her in reserve to compensate for any shortage.

I agree about “A Suitable Boy”. I had passed it over on my own shelf simply because it is so big that it would overwhelm any pile which had it as a member. There must be a smaller paperback edition.

And, Sarah, I agree about “The Bride of Lammermoor”. We must certainly have that. I went along a shelf of Scott's yesterday without spotting it. Perhaps we keep a rump of Scotts in Strathardle, and it's there.

There are other suggestions of highly suitable titles of which I have heard neither the book nor the author, including my sister's suggestion of “A Happy Marriage” by Iglesias. She says she'll bring it along.

Many, many thanks

Monday, July 27, 2015

I think I have one follower fewer this morning.

Sorry about late. Archie is here, off an overnight bus from London – my first duty was to feed him.

I've retreated to the old computer for today. I fiddled around with the Mac a bit yesterday. Don't change the margins, is the first thing I learned. But even sticking to good old Times New Roman 12 point, the text on the screen didn't conform. It was very small. I zoomed it larger, for the purposes of composition. But when I pasted the result into Blogger, it reverted to awfully small. I've got HTML for Dummies around here somewhere. Maybe there's a font code I can insert.

The irony of the situation is that I wanted a Mac because I was being driven mad by pop-up ads, and they have largely gone away. Either McAfee or Windows itself must have figured out how to deal with them. So now I've got an extra computer. I ordered both "OS X Yosemite for Seniors" and "...for Dummies".


As planned, I finished a broad stripe on the Tokyo shawl and started the next one, which faces the other way. It's not really difficult, but one must pay attention.

So today, dog. Here is the model:

The knitted dog won't be fluffy like that. Try a wire brush? Is that a difference between Parson Jack Russell (which this dog is) and the plain-vanilla Jack Russell of the pattern? At least he's got nice short legs.


Here's a fun game for you. Rachel phoned last night to say that Hellie, this year's bride, who is a literary agent, thinks it would be nice to have a little pile of, say, three books on each of the tables at her wedding “breakfast”. It was then Rachel's idea, I think, to have all the titles be somehow wedding-related.

Rachel gave off packing yesterday and spent the day rummaging through her piles of books (many of which will have to go into storage – no room in the new house). She's found enough for 7 of the 14 tables, she said. Pretty good going. I then threw myself into the task and have selected “Busman's Honeymoon” (Dorothy Sayers), “The Bridesmaid” (Ruth Rendell), “The Love of a Good Woman” (Alice Munro) and “Delta Wedding” (Eudora Welty). And what about “A Woman in White”?

Our niece C. with whom I recently went to Athens is going down to London this weekend, to help Rachel pack. She can take such books as I have found so far – and the pocket squares, so I don't have to trust the post office.

All title suggestions eagerly received. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

I have been struggling with the MacBook Pro my dear children gave me for Christmas. I thought I had composed a post for you, copied and pasted it as usual -- but the margins weren't right. The text spilled off the screen in both directions and nothing I could do would change it. I thought Blogger would adjust such things without being told.

So I am writing this directly in Blogger, just to let you know that I'm all right, and so is Perdita. I knit some more of the Tokyo shawl last night, and should begin the next stripe this evening, facing in the opposite direction. Tomorrow, the dog.

The new, autumn, Rowan book is out. If you go to and click around a bit, you can find a YouTube video showing all the patterns. I like that cover scarf. I mean to go up to John Lewis this morning anyway. I'll have a look.

I have a book called "Switching to the Mac", 780 pages. I've learned a bit, but feel I am drowning in it. I an seriously tempted by "Mac OS X Yosemite for Seniors" which has only 99 pages, although it would be humiliating to order such a title.

Well, that's roughly what I said the first time.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

We've got some pictures today.

Here are the pocket squares.

The differences in colour are illusory – they're all the same yarn and dye lot. They are knit from corner to corner and would look more uniform if I had orientated them for blocking all in the same way. But there are differences in gauge. I'm sure it would have been better if I had knit them all at once, one after another, instead of inserting them into odd moments of life.

At least blocking has managed to get them all more or less the same size.

Perdita was briefly admitted for the sake of the photograph, and then shut out of the room again. She actually pulls the pins out, and I am afraid she might try to swallow one. She is very naughty.

Here is the Fantoosh. Wonderful, isn't it? I don't know what to do with it. I will have the Tokyo shawl to huddle in next winter. I don't need two, and anyway the Fantoosh is more for display than huddling. Who, then?

And here is the Tokyo shawl itself.

I love it. I devoted last night's knitting to it – I find the simple pattern slightly tricky, and was afraid to leave it any longer lest it morphed into a UFO. I'm thoroughly back in the saddle, knitting stripe 16 of 29, plus there's a final edging. Somebody – it must have been on Ravelry – said she had some yarn left over, and made it a bit longer, and was glad she did. We'll see.

Blocking is going to be interesting, with all that bias.

Next week I can start the dog and fit it into the program.

Friday, July 24, 2015

New follower, welcome!

The dr's appt was brief, and on time, so here I am after all. Nothing much was achieved. He believes that minor pulmonary emboli are pretty common, being very difficult to diagnose, and might therefore indeed have been responsible for my breathlessness and misery before the collapse. He thinks I might have to stay on Warfarin forever, since my P.E. is classified as “unprovoked”. I must take care to emphasize the flights to and from Athens (as a possible cause) in future conversations with the people in charge of deciding that issue.

It's three weeks now – if this were Lent, I'd be nearly half-way through. I worked out that six months (the currently-specified period for me to continue with rat poison) is equal to four Lents, plus 8 days. That's counting the Sundays as part of Lent, making a total of 46 days per Lent. It doesn't sound quite so bad, put that way.

I got the pocket squares all nicely tidied up – it had to be slow and careful work, since there is no “wrong side” to conceal the loose ends on. I shut the cat out of the sitting room. She mewed at the door for a while, then silence, then renewed mewing. She had gone down the corridor and through the bedroom and started rattling the other door into the sitting room. That one is made of glass, so she was able to peer at me with her reproachful little face as she mewed. I thought that was all rather clever in one so young.

So I let her in. But she instantly climbed up me and jumped onto the chest of drawers where all those vulnerable things are, so I put her out again.

Zite is in the doldrums, indeed. They had an item this morning from the Faculty Meeting Knitter, whom I used to follow with interest. Trouble is, the item in Zite this morning was posted by the FMK in 2011.

Now I'll go block those squares.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I've finished knitting the pocket squares, and have even made a small start on finishing them. That's today's job; blocking probably not until tomorrow; they should be ready for dispatch by Monday. The problem looms of how to manage that. Special delivery, certainly, if they go by post. Or wait until the bride's sister is here in Edinburgh for the Festival, towards the end of August? That seems a bit last-minute. The wedding is on September 19.

Once they are dispatched, or packaged up to await collection, I think the dog can be added to the list of WIPs, to be worked in tandem with the Sous Sous and the Tokyo shawl.

I forgot to tell you yesterday that I had a same-day reply from Craftsy, about my suggestion that they enlist Franklin to teach “Snip and Zip”. It was mostly boilerplate, but: Thanks so much for reaching out to us about your fun class suggestion for a classes featuring Franklin Habit. I have actually heard from a few other members that they just love his fresh designs and his teaching style and I am happy to pass another vote along to our production team.”

As I said, it can't hurt.

The Vintage Shetland Project is on a blog tour. Here's Woolly Wormhead's contribution, with a list of scheduled stops, including ones that haven't happened yet. Might be a good way to find some fresh knitting blogs to read.


That's about it, for news. My GP practice rang up yesterday to say that my white blood cell count is a bit low. All they propose to do is to test again next month, so clearly they are not very agitated about it. I thought, anaemia! That's why I feel so tired! and then realised that a low white blood cell count is the very opposite of anaemia. I looked it up and the symptoms seem much the same, however.

No more INR testing until next week. I continue to take rat poison every day.

Tomorrow I have an early appt with our own GP, who has been on holiday lately. When I made the appt it was to discuss my feelings of panic connected with my husband's hospitalisation. I am much better now, and indeed wonder whether the panic symptoms, including breathlessness, were the outriders of the pulmonary embolism. Anyway, I'll go tell him my troubles and probably won't blog tomorrow. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A better day, yesterday. As the Knitting Hour approached, the kitten was dozing, as often, on the kitchen table. I tiptoed out of the room and shut the sitting room door behind me, and got to knit and watch my silly quiz program without interruption. I turned the corner of the final pocket square, and got all the way back down to 46 stitches. I might even finish today.

There was no pitiful mewing, but she was waiting outside the sitting room door when I finally emerged.

The Arne&Carlos sock yarn arrived yesterday. It was with difficulty that I refrained from casting on.

A flicker of life from Zite – this blog entry about the Vintage Shetland Project. The illustrations are interesting – very unexpected, very Shetland, both at once. Zite has also shown some nice hats from Wooly Wormhead's new collection, Painted Wooly Toppers.


It's all go on the house front. Rachel and Ed are downsizing, now that the youngest of their four children has graduated from university. For weeks and weeks now, they have been trapped in a housebuyers' “chain”. No one can move, and no one is assured of being able to sell or buy at the price agreed, until every link in the chain is secure. In my day, one could get a bridging loan from the bank – but the sums involved are now astronomical, especially in London, and that has become (I gather) impossible.

In the Ogdens' case, the difficulty was the woman who was selling the house which the sellers of the house the Ogdens want to move into, want to move into. On Monday it all came right, contracts have been exchanged and are now binding, and poor Rachel has to figure out how to get a quart into a pint pot by mid-August.

And that same weekend, the Loch Fyne Mileses will be moving to Glasgow. Not abandoning Loch Fyne, but putting themselves in position for their sons, the Little Boys, to start at the High School next term. A neighbour will take the ducks. All this had been arranged, and the Little Boys had sat the entrance exam and been accepted, when Alexander and Ketki learned to their dismay that Saturday morning Games are compulsory at the High School – which will make a big difference to the hoped-for weekends at Loch Fyne.

Whatever my current difficulties, at least I don't have to move house.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Perdita was bad enough yesterday that I resorted to shutting her out of the sitting room. It wasn't just that she attacked the knitting – she kept jumping from my shoulder to the chest of drawers, amongst the Little Things which a cat could enjoy disarranging or breaking. But the mewing from without was so pitiful that I gave up my quiz program and took the knitting into the kitchen. She soon fell asleep, and I got the final Pocket Square up to a whole 46 stitches – the turning point is 62.

Now comes the part where things seem slow, but I would hope to reach the turn today.

Yesterday's comments

Thank you for your help with setting zippers into knitting. I have emailed Craftsy suggesting that they try to persuade Franklin to turn his Snip and Zip lesson into a Craftsy course. Can't do any harm. I've taken enough of their classes by now that they can see I'm a serious customer.

Carla sent me this link, to a reprint of an article from IK about an interesting no-sew zipper-setting technique. I don't think I remember the article – I must have it. The article in turn contains a link to a YouTube video in which Eunny Jang demonstrates the technique. I'm a fan of hers from Craftsy. She's a great teacher.

Hat's link is to a detailed blog entry about using something called Wonder Tape which sticks the zipper to the knitting, and then melts away in the first wash.

And this must be the one you meant, Catdownunder, where it's done with blocking wires – and with the help of a cat older than Perdita, who knows that all you have to do is make yourself comfortable on the knitting and they won't dare ask you to move.

Mary Lou's suggestion, of finding someone else to do it, is also excellent. There are a couple of little tailoring shops within easy-access distance here.

After all this, I'm going to have to put that hoodie, the one that came with Kate Davies' Machrihanish pattern, on my HALFPINT list, at least. A well-set zipper makes a beautiful neat finish for a jacket. It's just that I can't do it.

Lou, that is a most kind offer, to buy things from Lucy Neatby for me. I will now go back to her website in acquisitive mode, instead of just curious.

That's about it, for knitting. Zite seems to have entered the summer doldrums.

Knitlass, I may well take you up on that offer of redcurrants. Equally, you may well be right that Helen will get to Strathardle in time to net our bush. I have a vague feeling that in times past, the birds would take some berries and leave others for us, and everybody was happy. It's a very prolific bush, despite neglect. But now the Mileses' Red Currant Bush is clearly part of avian lore, passed from mother to son. They strip it bare, and will get under the netting to do so if there is the slightest opening.

They leave the white currants, which taste almost as good to me. But those bushes are smaller, still building up from cuttings my husband's sister gave me. They probably won't produce enough for a pudding.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Again, not much. I finished the bridegroom's pearly-white pocket square (and am pleased with it) – but got an email from the Man Himself, saying that we need one more blue one, for the Master of Ceremonies. (Joe performed that function for his brother Thomas at last year's wedding, and did it very well.)

I wasn't quite sure whether the left-over ball of blue yarn was enough for a whole square, so virtuously wound another skein to avoid the possibility of extra ends. Unfortunately, Perdita had by then awoken from the nap that had let me finish the bridegroom's square, and was determined to help. She managed to break the yarn in three places. I will have to shut her out of the room the next time I'm winding. She is always where I am, the most faithful of companions, and I hate even to think of doing that. Fortunately, the first ball, before she really got going, is clearly going to be big enough to finish a single square. I'll start it today.

Yesterday afternoon, feeling hollow, I ordered a pair of socks' worth of madelinetosh from Webs in Whiskey Barrell and another in Chicory. Not madelinetosh Sock, which is pure wool, but something else – does the word “Twist” appear in the title? – of fairly recent issue, with the usual 25% acrylic. Webs didn't have Arne & Carlos, to my surprise, but I easily found a British supplier and ordered a pair of unknit socks in one of their shades, the strong, dark one.

Liz, thanks for the reminder about Kate Davies' Machrihanish. I say “reminder”, although I'm not really sure I remember it. In any case, I've bought the e-book and am now (I hope) printing it. I like the other, non-KD, pattern, too, a cabled hoodie. The knit-related skill I would most like to acquire is the neat setting-in of a zipper. What I need is a Craftsy class from Franklin. I believe he has something of the sort in his teaching repertoire.

I assumed, before I googled, that the pattern would be in Colours of Shetland, and spent some pleasant moments with that excellent book.

I'm spending a lot of time with Craftsy, these lonely evenings. Sympathy not needed; I love solitude. I have become a passionate fan of Lucy Neatby's. I am nearly finished with her class on Double Knitting – then I'll be ready to tackle Alasdair Post-Quinn. (I've just googled him, and was astonished to discover that I spelled his name right first go.) I went to Lucy's website, and was most interested to discover that she won't send things to the UK because a new EU regulation about VAT is too much for her.

I wonder if that explains that yarn store in Houston which wouldn't send any order for less than $10,000?


I took the pictures of Alyth to my husband in hospital yesterday. He was sorry, as am I, that we weren't there for the flood. Greek Helen will be there next week – next week. My husband says that I must set her to take a sequential series of pictures of the high-water mark of detritus which the flood is certain to have left in front of our house and down the commonty. An excellent idea.

Helen and two of her boys will also be here next week, before they go on to Strathardle. They are eagerly anticipated.

I saw something in some magazine the other day about Summer Pudding and realised fully for the first time, with what can only be called a pang, that we have lost 2015. Birds will have stripped the red-currant bush by the time Helen gets there – it needs to be carefully netted.

No medical news. I will have another blood test today.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

One of those days on which there is virtually nothing to report. I am waiting in for the District Nurse again, this time without anxiety – I have warned my husband that I might be late, and I don't need to get to the chemist before 1 p.m., as I did yesterday, to get the wherewithal for today's injection. When they first filled the prescription, on Friday, they gave me a packet of the stuff which was six months out of date. The nurse came in good time yesterday, and I got there to collect the replacement package. I won't have another INR blood test until tomorrow.

I still feel – not breathless, but weak. I hope they don't let my husband out until I've perked up a bit. Although maybe having him here would re-energise me, perforce.

Very little knitting yesterday, but I have turned the corner of the final pocket square. The stitch count is now diminishing. Loose ends will need to be dealt with on all eight squares, and blocking. I'll certainly show you a photograph of the white one, and at least one of the blues, at that stage. Despite a fair amount of recent to-ing and fro-ing, I can't think of anyone likely to go to London in the near future. I may have to trust the Post Office.

The Jack Russell who inspires my next WIP called around yesterday. Perdita stood up to him bravely, with the glass door in between, even when he lunged at her. He doesn't have much in the way of darker markings. Perhaps I'll do the dark ears as shown in the pattern, but omit the markings on body and tail. (The Jack Russell in Muir and Osborne's "Best in Show".)

Now that I have found a substitute yarn for the body – the Baah Aspen I'm using for the bridgegroom's pocket square – it seems even sillier to worry about finding Rowan Cashsoft 4 ply in Bark for the spots. When I was in Athens, I dragged my poor friends around yarn shops looking for Greek homespun yarn amongst all the fancies which I could have bought here cheaper. And finally found some, in an earthy brown which will do splendidly for dog.

Where does one get pipe cleaners these days? On the good old internet, of course.

I wandered around there for a while this morning, as often, seeking entertainment or inspiration. Jamieson & Smith have a Fair Isle kit which meets all my requirements (except for not being a vest) – the patterns change all the way up. It is based on something in the Shetland Museum. J&S say that the original even has different patterns front and back. They have wisely omitted that feature.

I don't like the light blue stripes dividing the wider patterns. Madder, perhaps? Moss green? Old gold?

Oh, for Shetland Wool Week!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Yesterday's INR was poor, again, so this morning I am pinned to the spot waiting for a district nurse to come and inject me. It is sort of pleasant to have an excuse not to bustle out for the newspapers and to the chemist and for weekend food. If she hasn't turned up by noon, I may not even go visit my husband. He rests after lunch.

Pocket squares always turn out to take a bit longer than I expect. The bridegroom's square is currently a couple of rows short of the turning point.

Knit-related miscellany

The current issue (July 16) of the free Waitrose tabloid newspaper called “Waitrose Weekend” has an interesting article about a pioneer yarn-bomber, Lauren O'Farrell.

A friend has spotted the interesting fact that there is going to be a Workshop at the Fruitmarket Gallery on 22nd July (that's next week, isn't it?) from 6-9 p.m., from which a “communal wool work” will emerge. You have to scroll right down to the bottom of the page to find it. Is anyone interested? I haven't been out that late for centuries.

In “Wool People 9”, Brooklyn Tweed has outdone himself. I would almost add, as usual.

Zite came up this morning with the astonishing (to me) webpage of a South African crochet designer, June Gilbank, who has set herself to learn to knit by producing 12 self-designed sweaters. She's got as far as Number 6. No patterns, no books. The good old internet for each new technique as she requires it. She is clearly meticulous about fit and about finishing detail – hidden anchor buttons, for example. Maybe that's all it takes. Throw away those piles of magazines.


The Scottish news yesterday told of dreadful flooding in Alyth, a dear town near our house in Strathardle. The burn which flows picturesquely through the centre of town, rose up and ate them.

Our beloved butcher is among the white buildings edging the flood in the upper left. He was on the television news, badly damaged. I can't quite figure out the rest, from the devastation. Is that the square where we park? Where is the road bridge to the other side?

I wondered a bit about how our own house had fared, lying as it does a few yards from the Balnald Burn. There was torrential rain in Alyth and also in St Andrews (where they were trying to play the Open). What about us? We are more or less in between. A neighbour reports that all is well. We have seen floods, in the last 52 years, but our house has never been threatened. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

I wound the yarn, I started the square, the final pocket square, the one for the bridegroom. It's looking good, with a double row of eyelets around the edge. I did a practice square while I was in the hospital, probably a good thing. It's all a matter of keeping one's wits about one. It's knit corner-to-corner: so for the first half, two YO's mean I need one decrease if I am not to increase too rapidly. And on the return journey, two YO's will require three decreases. I should finish today or tomorrow.

I went to the new Schoolhouse website yesterday and tried to order the Fair Isle Vest DVD and a couple of books, but the site defeated me. At the end, when it came to “Shipping Method”, the only option presented to me was “Ground”. I chose it, perforce, although I know the Schoolhouse prefers air for international orders, as do I. But it was no use, as the next message was that the shipping method I had chosen wasn't available. I've written to them and no doubt we will get it straightened out eventually.

The reason I didn't order the pattern is that, at the last minute, I found the issue of Knitter's which contains it. I had put it away, along with the four issues from 2000 in which Meg re-visits the EPS, on top of the knitting books on a shelf where there was a convenient slot. All I've got to do now, is not forget again.

I am reading a book called “Counting Sheep” by Philip Walling – highly recommended, although there's no knitting in it and virtually nothing about Shetland. It's a history of sheep in Britain, with lots of interesting information about individual breeds and about life as a sheep farmer. You don't want to know about fly-strike. The author used to be a sheep farmer and later became a barrister.


I liked your anecdote about the broccoli, Jean (comment yesterday). I don't entirely understand the dietary restrictions that go with Warfarin. No alcohol (or, so little one might as well not bother), no cranberry juice (they're very emphatic about that), no grapefruit. So far, so good. Clear, simple.

But then there's a list of all the foods that make up my diet: “Green leafy vegetables, chick peas, mature cheese, liver, egg yolks, cereals containing wheat, bran and oats, blue cheese, avocado and olive oil”. You don't have to give them up, exactly, but “eating them in large amounts may lower your INR result”.

When I was summoned back late Wednesday afternoon for an injection because my INR result was low, I confessed to the dr that I had eaten an avocado the day before. He seemed relaxed about it. The thing to avoid is sudden, radical changes of diet, like going paleo, he said. I might have another avocado today.

The other thing that worries my about that list, is that I can't detect a common thread. They are all foods containing Vitamin K which encourages blood clotting which, at the moment, is what we don't want. But I can't see what sort of food contains Vitamin K. If chick peas, what about other pulses, for instance?

I didn't have an INR test yesterday, just an injection. Today, both. Except for olive oil and some coriander in the salsa verde, I don't think I ate anything from the list yesterday. I am enjoying myself eating a nearly vegetarian diet of things my husband wouldn't like, and going to bed early. Enjoying it, perhaps, a bit too much.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I've got to go off errand-running in a moment. But can at least make a start here.

My INR score was bad yesterday, too low, so I had to go in for an injection and will have another today and one tomorrow.

It sounds from your comments as if testing it (the INR) is well ahead of the NHS in the US and Canada.


Yesterday's news is that the skein of Baah Aspen in the shade La Perla turned up from Webs. No duty  to pay– perhaps one skein is beneath the Queen's attention threshold. This is for the bridegroom's pocket square. I hope to wind it and cast on today.

It's a 100 gr skein, so there'll be lots left over. I will use it for the dog. It would be ridiculous, even for my extravagant self, to look for anything else. Right colour, right weight, lovely stuff (merino, silk, cashmere). Gauge doesn't matter. The dog can be slightly larger or smaller than the pattern-writers intend, and no one will know.

Here is the Sous Sous, with eight repeats done. I love it. I've read the pattern again with more care. The model might even be wearing the smallest size – one does nine full repeats for the middle size (which I'm knitting), then most of a 10th, then shoulder shaping begins but goes on so long that there'll probably be an 11th cross. Whereas the model only has ten. I feel more cheerful.


A woman in a bed opposite in the Assessment Ward (something very painful wrong with her back, and she also had long-standing heart trouble) was doing an interesting piece of needlework. There's a website somewhere – there is bound to be – where you can send in a photograph and they will turn it into a needlework chart and, I think, print it on canvas.

She was working the image of a beloved dog. She was nearly finished, and it was very good. She showed me the original photograph. The interesting thing was that the colours in which the work was done matched the image precisely. The website must have provided the threads as well. How is it done? Maybe I should search them out and work Perdita onto a cushion.

Perhaps the thing is to stop here and get this posted and then set forth for my errands.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I've got to go off for an early-morning blood-letting soon. Lou, the GP told me that they are about to bring in a system where the blood can be tested with a finger-prick producing immediate results, like a blood-sugar test. This should be in operation before my six months are up, and will save a lot of time and effort on both sides. Is that the way you do it? At the moment a little vial of blood has to go to a lab somewhere.

Thank you for all your help. Mary Lou, the Rowan Cashsoft 4ply I particularly want is 433, Cream. I've heard from Nottingham – they don't have any left. They suggest what I am sure would be a perfectly satisfactory pure wool alternative. I'd also like 432, Bark but the particular Jack Russell I hope to imitate in knitting doesn't have much in the way of markings. Surely I can do that from stash. The pattern says I need 20gr of Cream – so if it comes in 20gr balls I suppose I'd be happier with two. I wouldn't care to repeat the nervous tension involved in finishing the Fantoosh any time soon.

Beverly, yes, I'm sure that Ravelry page must be the Swansen Fair Isle vest I'm looking for. I had misremembered it as female. I see I can have the pattern for $3, and indeed can have a DVD which might be useful – so don't worry about finding Knitter's 48. I knit something once – perhaps Around the Bend – to the accompaniment of a Schoolhouse DVD. It was a lot of fun.

It'll be interesting to attempt corrugated rib again. I did it at least once, and gave up because there was no elasticity in my result. Now I discover that nobody gets elasticity in corrugated rib – it's not meant to be elastic. It keeps the bottom edge from curling, and looks nice.

However, all this must come after that dog.

Speaking of DVD's, I got Hazel Tindall going yesterday, at long last. I had tried in the past, both on the computer and on the television, and totally failed, but last night it worked, and it's delightful, and I mean to go on today. You never know – I might even learn something about knitting faster.

As for actual knitting, I'm halfway through the cable crossings for the 8th repeat, of 9, on the back of the Sous Sous. I've completely forgotten how I used to assign percentages for the sidebar.

Tamar, I forgot to thank you yesterday for passing on the Harlot's suggestion of fixing that maddening mis-stitch in the 7th cable crossing with a duplicate stitch. I'll do it. The crossings are 5 over 5, and get a bit tight. You have to knit them in pattern by keeping your wits about you, rather than by reading your knitting, just for those few stitches. And the cables themselves are k1, p1, k1 rather than the solid k2 or k3 one might expect. I'm sure that's how it happened (that my wits failed me).

Perhaps a picture tomorrow. As soon as this repeat is finished, I will re-address myself to the Tokyo shawl.

Social services are tomorrow going to deliver the equipment which has been requisitioned for us. That news should cheer and encourage my husband. And Greek Helen will be here soon for a summer visit of decent length. It would help a great deal if she could be here when he is finally released. I'm still pretty nervous about it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A knitting-heavy post today.

I'm moving forward. I got the Tokyo Shawl all sorted out yesterday – I couldn't find a divided container, but I have packed all the yarns in order into a box where they fit snugly, and put it in a fairly kitten-proof place. I also made notes about what each colour looked like. The pattern identifies them by number only.

The Sous Sous is slow – there are lots of stitches, and no st st whatsoever. I am ready for the big cross-over of the 8th repeat. The redeeming feature, apart from the delicious pattern, is the absolute wonderfulness of Madelinetosh DK in Whiskey Barrel. And I mustn't forget that they now do a sock yarn. Whiskey Barrel will make grand socks.

My current Craftsy class is Mary Jane Mucklestone and a Fair Isle vest. Reminding me that I mean to knit one – I still have the yarn I bought for that purpose at Jamieson & Smith. The Craftsy pattern won't do, because it repeats on the way up. I (think I) know that the proper way is for each pattern stripe to be different, but not very different – you have to look closely.

Meg has designed one such for Knitter's. When I got back from Shetland, I retrieved the relevant issue from my pile and put it in a Safe Place. It is no longer there. It has not been put away with the yarn. I am inappropriately distressed – I can perfectly well design a Fair Isle vest myself. Meg sells a leaflet – it's for a man's vest in sub fusc colours but they could be brightened. What am I worried about?

More thinking for the even-nearer future: as soon as the pocket squares are dispatched, I mean to add a Jack Russell terrier to my WIP list. The pattern is in Muir & Osborne's “Best in Show” and the specified yarn, Rowan Cashsoft 4ply, is, predictably, out of print. I may have found some of the base colour in Nottingham – email for availability, it said, and I did. I found the contrast colour in Houston, TX but when I tried to order a ball, it said I had not reached their minimum order level of $10,000. No kidding. There seems to be some in Singapore, as well. And in some Ravelry stashes, but nobody's letting go.

I've looked at the pattern on Ravelry. Dozens and dozens of people have done it, using whatever came to the surface from stash. There is no need for me to fuss. But I want to get it right.

I was discharged from Ambulatory Care at the hospital yesterday, into the arms, so to speak, of the GP. And today, for the first time, will have neither an injection nor a blood test, just rat poison. Tomorrow I go to the GP for more blood-letting. I gathered, when I made the appt, that this stuff is pretty common.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The day after Wimbledon is always sort of sad. It was a good final match, not perhaps quite the titanic struggle I had hoped for. Djokovic dominated throughout. I was disappointed to see Mme Federer chewing gum. Rachel said in a rain-break phone call that she even blew a bubble with it. She didn't seem to have it for the final set. Maybe somebody told her.

I got a bit done yesterday. Maybe I'm getting better. For weeks and weeks now, there has been nothing but winding up to the daily hospital visit and then winding down from it. I got some tidying done in the sitting room, with Perdita undoing everything I achieved, and I got the Fantoosh blocked, with her help:

I can't figure out how to zoom the iPad camera back.

I realised halfway through the process that I was blocking it upside down – that is, wrong side up. I decided it didn't matter.

When I laid it out, unstretched, the wingspan was slightly longer than predicted by the pattern, so I pinned it down without stretching. The central spine has to be blocked to ½ the length of the wingspan – that required some tugging which provided some tension for the whole. And there are, effectively, scallops – each losenge has to be pinned out. But there aren't all that many of them, compared to the scallops around a Shetland shawl.

So it's not blocked to within an inch of its life, as Shetland lace would be, but I think it's fine. I'll try to contrive a picture soon to incorporate the whole thing.

For actual knitting, during the match, I found that the Sous Sous was the only thing I could just pick up and go on with. Well, socks I suppose. It's coming on well. I'm doing the 8th of 9 repeats on the back – my good old Sirka counter remembered where I was, all this time. One of its many merits is that it clings tenaciously to its setting.

I wonder why I am knitting the middle size? The model – surely a wisp of thing – is wearing the largest one: she clearly has 10 pattern repeats up the back. But I'm not sure I intend this for myself anyway. I have lots of granddaughters in lots of different sizes.

I found a maddening mistake, a dozen rows back: a single mis-stitch, probably a purl that should have been knit, in one of the cables. I was about to drop it off and ladder down, emboldened by my Craftsy lessons with Lucy Neatby on “Fearless Knitting”. Then I remembered that I would have to twist alternate rungs of the ladder on the way back up, because the cable stitches are knit tbl on the front but not on the back.

And I decided that that was a bit dangerous to attempt.

Today I'll get to work on identifying those Tokyo Shawl yarns, although I'll go on with the Sous Sous until I finish this repeat. That's a good idea, Tamar, to find something compartmentalised to keep them in.

Zite has come up with a knitted version of Princess Charlotte's Christening, in a Norfolk church. It's not really a top-flight example of that sort of thing, being largely assembled from squares.

And – guess what? I have been tending of late to toss incoming mail onto a handy chair and leave it to mature. Yesterday I sat down with a week's worth – and found a note from Kate Davies, wishing me good health!

You'll all have seen on her blog by now that she and Tom are about to get married.

Cute kitten picture, not very well lit. She refuses to pose for more:

Sunday, July 12, 2015


There might be enough yarn left for one more row, there might not. The great thing, of course, is that I finished the entire pattern and bound off loosely. I have also dealt with the ends. That's the Fantoosh, of course.

Blocking remains. It occurs to me that I might take advantage of my solitary occupation of the house, move some furniture about – some useful tidying-up would inevitably have to be included – and block in front of the television set this afternoon. Perdita can help. Today's Gentlemen's Singles Final could be an epic match. My money would be on Federer, I think, and it is certainly he I will be cheering for.

I used to have blocking wires but I never liked them, and wound up giving them away. I prefer crawling around on the floor with pins. Since the edge of the Fantoosh isn't scalloped, it shouldn't be too monumental a job. Should it?

Yesterday's match was good, but not great. There were frissons of excitement from time to time when Serena faltered, and the Spanish girl kept her nerve and played some good tennis. I was interested, needless to say, to be reminded afterwards that Serena had a pulmonary embolism some years ago. Reading about it, I begin to grasp how serious this is. During the time when sudden death was a real possibility – I gather it usually happens fairly promptly, if it's going to happen at all – I was so sure that nothing was wrong except stress that I was spared worrying.

I am much taken with your theory, KayT, that my feelings of stress and anxiety before the crisis were, at least in part, outriders of the general condition. Several blood clots are involved, I gather, in both lungs – they couldn't all have alighted at once, could they?

Once the blocking is done, the next job is to re-align the yarns for the Tokyo shawl. I had them all lined up in order under a chair, but Perdita has seen to that. The shawl is far enough advanced that all have been used at least once, so it shouldn't be impossible to re-identify them from the loose ends, and to line them up again somewhere kitten-proof. Nor would the sky fall if I got it wrong – some of those dark colours are hard to distinguish.

Susan Crawford has now got all the crowdfunding she asked for, and more, for her Vintage Shetland project. She says she'll use any extra to hire another photographer, to take pictures of the photo-shoot being shot. That's always fun. And to have more samples knit for trunk shows.

Someone has posted “13 unusual knitting patterns” on the Craftsy blog. I love that sort of thing, and there are some good ones here. I am particularly taken with the idea of “Adventure Knitting” – you start out, and then choose which path to take. Like those children's adventure books where you are given options for the subsequent action and turn to the appropriate page to read on.

I'm not clear as to whether you know where you're going, in Adventure Knitting, or whether you make your choices in the dark, so to speak. It sounds fun, in either case. Oh! for more time.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Alexander says she loves her climbing frame:

I have a very inferior arrangement for drying clothes indoors – I'll have to think of upgrading. I'm sure Perdita has grown since I saw her a week ago. I'm pretty sure I knit those socks, although I can't remember what they are. In 2012 I did Regia's “Bedroom at Arles” for Alexander and “Restaurant de la Sirene” for Ketki, from their Van Gogh series. Maybe one of those? The green plastic insect has come home with her, a new toy.

...That much yesterday morning, and then the events of the day supervened. James is here, and he had orders to take me to a GP. Ours now offers an “open access” system first thing in the morning. Off we went. I don't know that much was accomplished, but we had a good talk with a nice dr (a stranger to me) and at least the practice is aware that they will have to start monitoring my blood and my rat poison consumption soon.

Here is Perdita, home again, the knitter's kitten:

Zite produced this yesterday – you may already know about it. Susan Crawford (“A Stitch in Time”) has re-created 25 patterns from the Shetland Museum – not “after” or “inspired by”, but the actual patterns, stitch by stitch. The book will be published later this year. She is raising funds by “crowdfunding” for the costs of photography and publishing.

You may be too late already. When I got there yesterday morning, she had about half of the £12,000 she was seeking. By the time I made my contribution later in the day, she was only £1500 short of the goal. By now, she needs less than £500 pounds – with two days gone of the 30-day campaign.

I would have put in a bit more, but larger contributions are to be rewarded not only with the book, but with yarn to knit one of the projects and the last thing we need around here is more yarn.

So that's one to look forward to.


Nearly there. The top border is ten rows deep – seven of near-st-st, with a few yo's and k3tog's to provide a finish for the lozenges; and three rows of garter stitch. Yarn was running out, and there was a real temptation, after row five, to leave out the next two long rows and go straight to the garter stitch. I decided to be brave and to trust Kate.

And it's come out all right (I think). I am now casting off, using the yarnover cast off for stretchiness as you warned me to do. It must use twice as much yarn as a normal cast-off. I'm more than half-way along – it's slow work – and I think I will finish with inches of yarn to spare. The Women's Singles Final this afternoon should see it done. I don't see how Serena can lose.

I continue to feel pretty well, and much less anxious than before all this started, My poor husband is resigned to his fate, and much less disagreeable than before. My visits are shorter than they were. I think that's a good idea. James and I had a conference yesterday with dr and OT and a silent oriental. The strong advice was to leave things as they are until the care package is ready – not to try to get him home earlier with private care.