Saturday, April 29, 2017

It was a tough day, my husband not at all well. We can but hope that the antibiotic kicks in more smartly tomorrow.

I decided – and, oh dear! I fear this is worse than what I did with the sleeves – to sign off the Tannehill un-blocked. It looks very good on him. A pic, perhaps, when we have a more cheerful day.

So I turned to Mary Lou’s Polliwog (“Drop Dead Easy Knits”) and found, to my considerable surprise, that the Sweet Georgia yarn I bought for it at the EYF was too fine, sock-yarn instead of sport. I thought I had all that worked out before I tackled the market.

My first thought was just to cast on the no of stitches specified for the largest size and hope it would fit somebody. But the sight of my husband, however droopy, in his well-fitting (and swatched-for) Tannehill sort of inspired me. So I am nearly finished with a Polliwog swatch.

I have something – I feel I’ve mentioned it before – called a Pony Knitting Calculator. It claims to be able to translate a pattern to a different gauge. Discs revolve, with numbers on them. We will soon see.

I felt, again, in the midst of all this, a great yearning for a yoke sweater. I got Kate Davies’s “Miss Rachel’s Yoke” out but of course found that KD is extremely fierce about swatching so I was no further forward.

Friday, April 28, 2017

I’ve now hit a Freecell that is worse than anything. Maybe I’m cured!

I’m sorry about last night’s silence. My husband suddenly, in the late afternoon, developed an infection of some sort – high fever; cold, clammy skin; violent shaking. Mercifully, Helen dropped by just as I was reaching the your-blood-sugar-is-low-please-eat-your-supper-dear stage. We tested his blood sugar, and it was low, but Helen also google’d and diagnosed an infection. We phoned 111.

We’re working on the assumption these days that my husband wants to stay at home at almost any cost, and also under the shadow of the fear that if our “care package” is interrupted for too many days, it will be withdrawn.

The NHS as it presents itself in real life is totally different from the collapsing institution of the media. Omitting from my narrative various alarums and excursions, the emergency dr said that he needed intravenous antibiotics. They act much faster than pills, apparently. He needed hospital, she said. So we decided to let him be taken away.

He was getting stronger before even he left. Helen went with him, bless her, and was there until 2 a.m. – Perdita and I went very gratefully to bed. He was much better this morning, and is coming home in the next couple of hours, with oral antibiotics. And Kelly and Bill will come to put him to bed, as they did yesterday. And all is well – or, at least, as well as it was before.

As for knitting, there is not much to report. I finished the neck ribbing for the Tannehill, but haven’t finished tidying up. This afternoon during hospital-visiting-time, I cast on a pair of socks. I wound the skein into a ball so long ago that I can’t remember what it is – conceivably, Into the Whirled. It's rather nice. I got a couple of rounds done.


Isabella, Comment Monday, I love the idea of a cat being taken to the rescue shelter because he was “boring”. That’s fully worthy of Thurber. I’ve told Perdita she needs to sharpen her repartee.

Shandy, we need to talk about sleeves. Tomorrow, I hope.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kirsten, I thought yesterday and earlier this evening that I had encountered the Freecell layout that I couldn’t win. I wished it had had a number, as under the old system, so that I could have told you and we could both have been free of the curse.

But then I cracked it. There is nothing that can help us except self-discipline.

Here’s the Tannehill. I’m very pleased:

When the picture was taken, the sleeves had been sewn in (rather lumpily – I’m counting on blocking to work wonders) and the sleeve seams pinned. By now I have done them, all but an inch or two. That leaves tidying, the neck ribbing, blocking: three more days, insh’Allah, and I should have another FO. A useful one.

I had a very happy moment, in the course of all that. I have been knitting sleeves lately, as you know, and had for the moment forgotten that the body was knit around until being divided at the armpits. So – no side seams! It was a real moment of surprise and delight.

Alexander came to see us today, as often on a Wednesday. I had him try on my husband’s madtosh sleeveless v-neck Whiskey Barrel vest, which looked very well on him. I thought that was a simpler way of establishing size than tape measures and gauge calculations. But the fabrics are so different – Fair Isle sort of stiff, plain-vanilla madtosh adapting itself more cheerfully to the human form.

So the Fair Isle vest should be ever so slightly smaller? Perhaps next Wednesday I’ll employ a tape measure. He approved of my plan of knitting a comparatively sub fusc vest for him now, and a brighter one for his wife when Scotland next win the Calcutta Cup. If any of us live to see the day.

We could go on talking about our cats forever. And what fun it would be! You need to know that every comment is read and treasured.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Today is Perdita’s second birthday. She is not an entirely satisfactory cat – my husband would very much prefer someone who would sit on his lap and talk to him; but she is a valuable third personality to have in the house and by now she is a member of the family, like it or not, satisfactory or otherwise.

I finally finished that sleeve cap. The Tannehill is knit, except for the neck ribbing – but it remains to be seamed. I got the shoulders done, and even pinned the first sleeve in place. Pic tomorrow.

How long has it been since I set in a set-in sleeve? What was I thinking of, to do it this way instead of a good old EPS raglan? The answer to that second question is easy: I wasn’t thinking. The first sleeve seems to fit well into its socket: that’s something.

The general impression at the moment is that this sweater is going to be really good, and fulfill its intended purpose to something like perfection.

It leaves me, just now, with nothing to knit, until the seams are done and I can start that neck ribbing.  Uncharacteristically, I don’t even have a pair of socks on the go. I could wind the skeins I bought at the EYF and cast on Mary Lou’s “Pollywog Popover” from “Drop Dead Easy Knits” – it's going to be next anyway – just for something to knit in the dead hour at the end of the day when mindless television and mindless knitting are all that spirit can manage  – certainly not, the setting-in of a set-in sleeve.

But I am afraid, if I do that, that the Tannehill might lie about in the form of disjecta membra forever. No, I must press on.


Flipboard seems to have given up trying altogether in its “Knitting” category. Alas, again, for the death of Zite. Does anyone have a suggestion?

Poor Susan Crawford is trying to work, but finding her mind clogged with “chemotherapy-induced cognitive dysfunction”. It sounds thoroughly unpleasant. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

I’m sorry for last night’s gap – sometimes I feel I am sinking beneath the surface or life, not waving but drowning. But essentially, everything is all right and here I am.

I am shaping that final sleeve cap, but I should be further forward with it by now. Tomorrow, surely, will see it done.

Here, at least, is the long-promised pic of the swatch-scarf, not showing up quite as well as I would have hoped. The two rows of lozenges at the top are the ones I am ready to pass off as OK. The two third and fourth up from the bottom, are the calmer ones Alexander prefers.

Shandy, yes, I saw Jen’s comment here and was very grateful for it. I seem to be having trouble getting into Evernote – I mustn’t let that one get away. I think your problem about the bisected lozenges can be resolved by the fact that they are offset in every other row. But thinking about things like that makes my mind hurt.

I am enjoying thinking about the future, even as I toil ever so slowly on with that sleeve cap and contemplate the seaming to come. I incline rather a lot towards KD’s “Miss Rachel’s Yoke”, which I’ve got. Call it the Veenstra syndrome – I don’t terribly want to wear it, it would get dirty too quickly, I do better in washable rugby shirts; off-hand I don’t know who else might want to wear it. I want to knit it.


Archie came to see us for a while on Sunday morning. The conversation turned to Ozymandias, King of Kings. It was my husband who brought him up. I wondered who had written the line. Archie said, without (metaphorically) looking up from his knitting, “Shelley”. My husband said, with some emphasis – and some plausibility, I thought – “Coleridge”. So we looked it up.

Archie must be learning something. Much of his classroom time at Lancaster is spent in Autonomous Learning Groups, a phrase which passed immediately and derisively into our family vocabulary. It means what we used to call “seminars”, but without the presence of a grown-up. Helen is indignant that universities charge more money than good private boarding schools and offer substantially less tuition.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

It has been a difficult day – my husband sleepy, characteristically disagreeable, uncharacteristically low on appetite. The cat is fine, and I not much behind, although when life contracts like this to the immediate situation, it’s hard to say how one actually feels.

Kirsten, what are we to do without Freecell, after such a day?

Knitting, then.

I have broken my promise to you, to take a picture of the swatch-scarf. I have knit forward with the Tannehill, but not as far as I expected. I’m still a very few rows short of the beginning of the shaping of the second sleeve cap.

“Knitter” arrived today, not yet sufficiently digested, but including an enthusiastic piece about the LYF by Jen A-C. I was struck by the pic of Lucy Hague’s Durrow shawl, which reminded me of the Dunfallandy blankie I knit for great-granddaughter Juliet.

They’re very different. Looking up the links just now for you, I am really rather impressed with how different they are. What they have in common is cables which snake from one square to another, and possibly – but this depends on orientation – horizontal cables. Which Dr. de Roulet, designer of the Dunfallandy, unvented.

The Dunfallandy squares are knit from corner to corner, with the horizontal cables in the middle. Whereas Hague’s squares are knit either centre-out or centre-in so the horizontal-looking cables must have been formed differently.

I think I remember chatting to Lucy (you know how it is) at the launch of KD’s and Jen A-C’s Haps book, and asking whether she knew the Dunfallandy blankie which I was then – or had been recently – engaged with. She didn’t. Elderly memories are not to be trusted.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Kirsten, I’m sure you’re right, that cold turkey is the only answer to our Freecell problem. Once, long ago, in a burst of piety on Ash Wednesday, I deleted it (or something equally obsessive, but I think it was Freecell) from my then-computer. But that wouldn’t work nowadays, would it? when it is beamed down to us from heaven and isn’t even here on earth to be deleted.

I never allow myself to lose, ever since Mary Lou told me about Ctrl-Z. And the “Undo” button on the new manifestation of the program does as well. Every so often I hit a nasty layout and think, Great! I’ll never be able to do this one so the problem is solved.

But I always go back to nibble at it, and so far, I’ve always won.

Equally, I sometimes hit a sequence of easy ones, and think, this is really rather boring. But then I meet one of the nasties.

Let me know how you get on.


I have, reluctantly, laid the swatch-scarf aside and resumed Tannehill-knitting. I am very close to the second sleeve cap – another day or two will launch me on to seaming.

Stranded knitting is awfully cosy, and my swatch-scarf, being a tube, makes it doubly so. Or quadruply, depending on how you look at it. That means that a Dr Who scarf, length-wise, is not a good idea. It currently measures 33”, not quite enough by any measure – but it won’t need much more.

I am sorry I didn’t get a pic taken today. Tomorrow, promise. Both Perdita and I, and perhaps my husband as well, felt slightly under par today.