Monday, September 17, 2018


A pretty good day. I have employed Archie to make a start, at least, on sorting through the papers in this house, of which there are an alarming number, many of them unsorted since we left Birmingham a quarter of a century ago. If only we lived in a castle, we could put them all up in the East Tower and they would be of enormous interest in a few hundred years. Archie is taking a year off university, and as soon as we get back from Italy will try to find a real job. Meanwhile he shows some talent as an archivist. He found, today, a popular newspaper, preserved by my husband, announcing that Princess Margaret wasn’t going to marry Group Captain Townsend.

I have finished the yoke chart of the Kirigami sweater. The needle I have been using all along proved adequate for the final number of stitches – it’s a fairly wide neck. But I’ve found a smaller one which I think will do for the ribbing. And I’ve wound the final skein, leaving another one unwound. I could have knit a larger size. I hope that won’t turn out to have been a Fatal Error. We’ll know soon.

Tonight is Jamie Oliver’s Italian cookery programme, which I am enjoying enormously. That should advance things a bit. I still haven’t solved my “Killing Eve” problem – the BBC continues to advertise it on prime-time television, saying that it is to be watched on “BBC Three iPlayer” but I still can’t figure out how to get that on the television set. There doesn’t seem to be a “BBC Three” in the enormous list of available channels.

And watching on the iPad is a good deal less conducive to knitting, But perhaps tonight, when I’m only ribbing…

One of you has written to me with the solution to my Googlemail problem. I’ve now got the option of “more labels” back. But it came with the threat that in a fortnight, I would again be subject to an upgrade…

My cleaning woman came this morning. I needed to absent myself from the kitchen while she brought it back to the gleaming state in which she always leaves it -- so I went back to sorting knitting books. I think I'm nearly finished. I have established a socks-scarves-hats section, and a worldwide-miscellaneous, and one for Shetland. "Marlisle" turned up, but there's still no sign of Lucy Hague.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


I couldn’t be wrong twice – this must be an Andrew-and-Andrea week.

I didn’t achieve much today, suffering from the usual post-Italian-lesson exhaustion. I should have gone for a walk, and didn’t.

I’m doing round 43 of the 48 in the Kirigami yoke. Any minute now. There’s nothing to do after the yoke chart except a few rounds of K2 P2. Next problem: can I find a nice short circular of a slightly smaller gauge?

Then I must get back to the Calcutta Cup vest, before the Cup is contested for again. Fortunately I will soon be having lunch with one of you who is a master Fair Isle knitter, currently in Shetland for Wool Week, maureenfromfargo. I am counting on her to raise my flagging spirits.

An outpost of the V&A Museum has opened this weekend in Dundee as a museum of Scottish design. I wondered if that would include knitting, and apparently it does. There is at least one Fair Isle sweater. Fair Isle sweaters have been produced since the 17th century, according to the Scotsman newspaper last week, and traditionally incorporate four colours. Are those statements true? The sweater illustrated looks as if coloured by plant dyes, which is a good start.

I’ve got two technical problems for you today.

I often label important emails in Googlemail and then archive them. Until recently, there was an option on the left-hand side of the screen to reveal the names of all my labels. I could then click on the one I wanted, and see all the emails archived there. That option has vanished. Emails can be labelled and archived, but not readily retrieved. Something to do with the update that was forced on me last week? I’ve archived all the receipts and e-tickets for Archie’s and my great Italian expedition.

No great disaster – the iPad still preserves the old system. But I’d like to get it back here.

Second:  I watched the opening episode of a rather silly but rather thrilling thriller a couple of days ago, called Killing Eve. The remaining episodes, I was told, are available on BBC iPlayer (presumably meaning they won’t be shown on normal television). That is bad news for nervous old ladies living alone. I can’t figure out how to get BBC iPlayer on my television set (which is fed by Virgin cable). Again, no great disaster – I can easily watch it on the iPad. What would I do without it?

Saturday, September 15, 2018


Progress on all fronts. I’m fairly cantering around the Kirigami yoke now – round  37 of 48, and no more k3togs in the decrease rounds ahead. It won’t be long now.

I bought the Foldlines pattern. Under “gauge” it says to knit one of the pattern squares – a simple and wholly brilliant idea. I’ll do that, might even wash and block it, and then ought to know whether or not to invest in a whole lot more madtosh DK. It’s not cheap, especially if I am to be charged to import it. I'll know not only the size of the square, but whether or not it's any fun to knit.

And I booked some more of our Italian jaunt – successfully but disappointingly. To go by train from Reggio Calabria to Catania, we have to change and wait around somewhere, although when the waiting is over the second train will indeed take us on the ferry. Still, waiting even several hours in nowheresville.it is better than waiting in an airport.

I knew that the flight home from Catania would also involve a change. I didn’t know that it would be so expensive. We’ve wound up on Air France, not my fave. Still, the point of the expedition is to spend-the-kids’-inheritance. Might as well do it thoroughly. If I could have done it differently and more economically, perhaps you’d better not tell me.

That leaves a hotel for four nights in Catania, and a car and driver to take us to Piazza Armerina, still to be booked.

Indeed, Mary Lou (comment yesterday), il Gattopardo almost certainly didn’t have any knitting with him, and he also didn’t break his journey at Reggio Calabria to see the Riace bronzes which were still lying peacefully in their bed under the sea.

Jean and Anonymous, yes, I think K3tog may well be harder with a fine lace yarn. There was an Amedro pattern long ago which eventually drove me to use a different decrease, disregarding the matter of which stitch would wind up on top.

Friday, September 14, 2018


A fairly successful day. I’ve reached round 31, of 48, on the Kirigami yoke – that means that I have done the second major decrease round. We’re fairly whizzing along. The decrease rounds involve K3tog’s, a stitch I have had trouble with in my lace-knitting history. The three stitches stand there, yessir, nosir, and then as soon as I move away it turns out that the middle one wasn’t really part of the group and it skips merrily away. That hasn’t happened here, so far.

I’ve allowed myself to browse Jimmy Bean’s madtosh DK page. I haven’t been there for a while. And I’ve found the one I want for “Foldlines” – “Farmhouse White”. I had a moment of thinking that there’s still time to have it sent to my sister to bring to me – but there isn’t. She will set out on her travels any moment now, although not reaching us until the end of the month.

Still, they could send it directly. And I could take it along and knit Italy into it. I’m sure you know what I mean. But it would be a bit bulky for travel knitting. Better to stick with socks.

I got further forward with booking things. We’re now in Reggio Calabria, with a hotel. I even had the presence of mind to make sure that the Archaeological Museum – where the Riace bronzes live – is open on Monday. I feel slightly less anxious – the two days of rail travel (although they killed Il Gattopardo) should be restful interludes, as well as extremely interesting. My first job tomorrow will be to book the second one, Reggio Calabria-Catania by rail. I hope I am right that it’s possible – the former is on the continent, right down in the toe of the Italian boot. The latter is a town on the east coast of Sicily.

I am very grateful for your concern about my health. Yes, oxygen saturation was fine, the last time I saw a doctor. That’s one I know the numbers for, after hovering over my husband for so long. Tamar, sleep apnea is one I hadn’t thought of. My brother-in-law suffers from it. I can discuss the possibility with my sister when she’s here.

And energetic daily walking around the garden is a very good idea. Sometimes I do it, but not often enough.

Thursday, September 13, 2018


Well, I’ve done it. Booked EasyJet from Edinburgh to Naples on October 11. The die is cast, as Caesar once remarked. I’ve got a hotel in Naples, too. The rest – two train journeys, two more hotels, a car and driver to take us to Piazza Armerina, a flight home – will have to wait until tomorrow. I’m exhausted.

Alas, Shandy, I am not massively energized. You are misled by my sparkling prose. My sister will be here soon, about a year after her last visit – I wonder if she will see the decline I feel. Today started with the dentist (just a hygiene visit). He’s very near here, but up a very steep incline. I was prostrate by the time I got back.

I phoned Boots – they don’t have my new pills; a letter has gone astray. There was no point in going all the way up to the Apple shop if I was going to have to do it a week later for the pills, so I just set off for the top of Broughton Street. At that very moment Greek Helen came driving past, and gave me a lift up the hill. I got the fish, and the oatmeal, and the wedding-wrapping-paper, and had only to walk back downhill. I was very seriously tired when I got back. Naples is probably crazy.

But I will take your advice, Shandy, and order my Wedding Garment before I sign off tonight. I’ve just heard from Grandson Thomas that his daughter Camilla will be baptised on October 27 in London: so that will be a second outing for it. (Archie and I will be back by then, if we survive.)

Knitting

Very much less stressful, and less strenuous. I’ve done more than half of the yoke rounds for the Kirigami – which means a good deal more than half the yoke, when the decreases are taken into account. I am tremendously impressed with the pattern, with the way the decreased repeat which I am now doing sits on top of the previous repeat with no hint as to how it was done.






Lots of people on Ravelry have taken better pictures than these.

I grasped today that this pattern, as well as Gaughan’s “Foldlines” which I keep talking about, are both written for Brooklyn Tweed “Arbor”. I’ve never used it; it’s probably wonderful. But that means that, unless the Kirigami turns out a disaster, I could use madtosh DK for Foldlines. I love it above all yarns. I feel that everything is nudging me towards that pattern.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


What I should have been doing today, but wasn’t, was booking my next Italian jaunt. I’m sort of scared. I was all revved up to do it a couple of weeks ago, but held back on Helen’s instructions (in her role as Archie’s mother). He is very keen, and she is reasonably so – for our original dates in about a month’s time. Now all I’ve got to do, is do it. Starting with EasyJet from Edinburgh to Naples. Once I've booked that, I'll have to book the rest -- three hotels, two trains, the flight home.

Tomorrow morning will make serious demands on strength – an early-morning dental appt., and then the ascent to Princes Street to consult Mr Apple about my telephone which will no longer hold a charge; to pick up a new batch of my blood-thinning pills from Boots (my branch doesn’t deliver); to go to John Lewis for wedding-present-wrapping-paper; to buy some tasty fish and some pinhead oatmeal (separate shops, opposite each other) on my grateful way down the hill.

I doubt if that will leave much strength for anything else.

OK: Friday and Saturday.

I must also decide whether I am going to get anything new for the wedding (next Saturday, the 22nd) and, if so, order it right away.

However, this is about knitting. I have done the first serious decrease row in the Kirigami yoke. I have also polished off another skein – now that I’m not worried about running out, that’s good news. The yoke is eating up much more yarn than I expected, but I still think I’ve got plenty.

I looked up “Kirigami”. It is like “Origami” except that you are allowed to cut the paper. Maybe you knew that. The discovery makes me feel all the more strongly that I must knit Gaughan’s/Brooklyn Tweed’s “Foldlines” very soon. Folded paper (remember Alison Watt) is clearly what’s happening on my knitting scene. Maybe I should move it above even Stronachlachar on my to-do list, although I think the latter would be more useful.

Maureen (comment yesterday), that’s a first-rate idea, to get back to Library Thing and to note position with each new arrival. I didn’t get any forrad-er with book arrangement today, either. “Marlisle” remains missing – it’ll be somewhere obvious, under a pile of paper. I’m also missing Lucy Hague’s “Celtic Cable Shawls”. That’s been gone for awhile -- two years? But it must be here somewhere.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


Not Andrew and Andrea at all, of course, this week. It was only a week ago that we had that splendid interview with Norah Gaughan and I ordered the collection of her VK patterns and it wasn’t published yet, then it was, and I’ve now got it. A busy week.

The Kirigami progresses well. (Yoke sweaters knit themselves at this stage.) The pattern is a 10-round repeat. I’ve finished the first and started the second, offset by half. There are more than 300 stitches so it’s not really terribly fast. At the end of this second iteration, and every time thereafter, we have a decrease round. Then things will speed up considerably.

The pattern is very pleasing to the eye, but would scarcely show up for a camera, the yarn being so dark. I hope it will be more photograph-able after the offset repeat.

Norah G. advises not reading a pattern through to the end before you start. All will become clear when you get there – and she’s certainly right, in this case. It’s one of those lengthy Brooklyn Tweed patterns and it all seems crystal-clear now that I’ve embarked on the chart.

The only difficulty, of course, is when you are doing a set of increases or decreases and suddenly discover, a couple of paragraphs in, the dread line At the same time…

I did some more book-arranging, today creating the how-to-knit-and-design section. I spent some anxious hours wondering where Odham’s Encyclopedia of Knitting was – it was an important book in my own evolution as a knitter, first encountered in a library in Leicester in the late 60’s. I wished I had never started re-arranging books; I could have died without knowing it was missing. But then I found it.

So far I haven’t moved Barbara Walker into the stitches-and-techniques section, where she certainly belongs. I thought I’d leave her where she has always been. Now I think I’ll move her tomorrow. (This is fun, all these decisions.) My husband brought the first two volumes back to me from New York at some point, perhaps in the 70’s or early 80’s. I had never heard of her. “Now you will never need to buy a knitting pattern again,” he said.