Monday, November 12, 2018


That was a more productive day.

My dear cleaner was here, so it behoved me to keep out of the way. And knitting in the morning is an especial pleasure this time of the year. I’ve finished another OXO on the Calcutta Cup vest. The decreases are making themselves felt. It is time to go back through my (largely unintelligible) notes and to consult patterns and tape measures and decide precisely where I’m going to stop.

I had help:



I thought of the famous photograph in the Museum in Lerwick. I hope that cat’s gene pool is being carefully preserved.



Thank you for your comments, as ever. I think you could be right, Beverly, that I could block even the Princess with Archie’s help. I will write to Becca and say so. Shandy, you can’t imagine how slow and dopey I have become. I think the attempt to knit another shawl would just lead to unimaginable stress and the possibility that I would still be removing blocking pins as all stood up to welcome the bride.

(On the other hand, Rachel has another daughter, and there are two more granddaughters behind that one. It might well be worth attempting a third shawl, at leisure – even if I don’t live to finish it.)

Mary Lou, I had another look at the Tomten. Do you include the hood? It looks too complicated for me, with or without. I then went on to re-read Knitting Without Tears. EZ really did have to re-invent the wheel, without the help of the Internet. It is no wonder she sounds a bit bossy sometimes.

Non-knit

And I got quite a bit of Christmas shopping done, thanks to the Internet. I’m sure I have passed the age at which my mother regularly launched this trying season with a letter saying that she wasn’t going to do anything about Christmas this year. She didn’t have the Internet either, and it’s probably just as well in that case.

Sunday, November 11, 2018


I promised you a proper blog entry, and will attempt it, but there is shamefully little to report.

We have had a very sombre day, 11/11. What can it mean to young people, all this fuss for a war that ended a century ago? I went this morning with Greek Helen and our niece C. to an exhibition of very modern art at the Gallery of Just That. We got there a few moments before eleven, and sat in the car to listen to the Silence on the car radio. Helen said that when she was walking her dog on Carlton Hill this morning, there was a lone piper up there. I think that was part of the programme.

The knitting of the Calcutta Cup vest can scarcely be said to be even inching forward, but I am doing a few rounds from time to time.  It is progressing.

I have ordered the Schoolhouse Press’ “Complete Surprise” book, thinking of my cleaner’s forthcoming baby. Up until now, I have knit the pattern supplied on a mimeographed sheet by the Sunday Times many years ago – you had to send in a(n) sae. That dates it.

It’s a double-breasted version which I don’t think I’ve seen elsewhere. The trouble with it is that when you pull it across the chest to button the double-breast, the side seams are pulled forward out of line. I’ve got EZ’s original, in whichever of her books it appears, but I thought it would be interesting to see all the modern options. Or I could knit a Polliwog.

But the big news on the knitting front is that next year’s bride thinks she might want to wear one of my veils. The wedding is next July – Rachel’s younger son Joe to his Becca. There would scarcely be time to knit her one of her own, but I would be terribly happy to see her in one of the others. Lucy, who married Rachel’s elder son Thomas, wore Sharon Miller’s Princess shawl, the work of years. Rachel’s daughter Hellie had another Miller shawl, substantially smaller. If Becca goes for that one, I could block it again. Blocking the Princess requires clearing the dining room of furniture and crawling around on the floor for quite a while. I’m not sure I’m up to it these days.

Non-knit

I’m glad you’re interested in my cats, especially Ron. They are remarkably different people despite being half-sisters and having been brought up similarly (=same furry mother, same human family, translation to Drummond Place and to me at the same age). They both came to bed again last night. I go to bed alone. When I get up to pee in the night, I find Paradox/Persia on her blanket. And this morning, when I woke up at dawn and stretched out my right hand, I felt fur. Perdita had joined us,

Saturday, November 10, 2018

I trust you all realised that I have reached the stage in life where all excitement is too much for me. It was grand to have James here. Yesterday, his son Alistair (now a graduate, gainfully employed in Glasgow) came over and we all(=Helen, Archie, Helen's youngest son Fergus)  shared a delicious take-away. Alistair and Archie are first cousins, and seem to be good friends as well. Alistair told me that Archie said that our recent Italian trip would have been impossible but for my knowledge of the language.

This isn't true -- although it is true that I used Italian a lot more this time than I had in Palermo in January. But it was enormously gratifying to hear that Archie thought so.

I will try to write properly tomorrow.

The two nights James was here, I have had both cats in bed with me. Paradox -- we are trying to change her name to Persia, but I don't think it's going to work -- always sleeps on a folded blanket at the foot of the bed.  Perdita, on the rare occasions when she joins us, curls up next to me. The trouble with that arrangement is that when I get up for a nocturnal pee, as I often do, and then try to snuggle up against her again without disturbing her, I find there is a gap in the duvet which allows an icy blast down my spine.


Wednesday, November 07, 2018


I’m sorry about yesterday. Archie and our niece C. came to lunch – we ate augmented Mindful Chef – and we had a good time, I think. But then I actually fell asleep during Pointless, and went to bed shortly thereafter, for a restless night of American elections.

Two bits of news yesterday: James is coming tomorrow to talk to a man at the Royal Botanic Gardens here about Chinese plants. This is in pursuit of a news story of some sort, but should also be interesting – James has become a passionate gardener since retiring to suburbia. I wouldn’t mind going along to listen.

And I learned that my dear cleaning woman Daniella is not only pregnant, but six months pregnant. So  maybe I’ll be knitting a red Baby Surprise. And oh dear, as far as cleaning is concerned.

Here is the present state of the Calcutta Cup vest. 


At least it has advanced since the photograph in my header was taken. A rough measurement, taken as it was lying there on the chair for photography, shows it to be exactly the measurement of Alexander’s chest, namely 39”. Can blocking produce another 2” for ease? Worst case scenario is that his wife Ketki will have to wear it.

Fruity Knitting this week. Even Andrea can’t interest me in button-making, I’m afraid, but it was wonderful to “meet” Carol Sunday, a great heroine of mine. And I haven’t even finished with the episode yet.

Monday, November 05, 2018


I continue to steam forward with the Calcutta Cup vest, as long as you understand by “steam forward” the achievement of perhaps five rounds on a really good day. Little and often, however, gets the job done. It’s looking good, although I don’t know that I don’t prefer the Swatch Scarf, where the arrangement of each motif was chosen simply because I hadn’t tried it yet.

I got out an old (moth-eaten) sweater of my husband’s this morning. The vest stands up to it pretty well, size-wise. Alexander is coming over to see me on Wednesday, I think. I’ll measure again from shoulder-socket to shoulder-socket.

The Autumn VK turned up today (with the promise that the Holiday issue, containing various interesting-sounding goodies, will be published tomorrow). This one doesn’t offer much. If you sat me down with a pistol to my head, I’d knit Amy Gunderson’s yoke sweater, but I’d rather not.

There is an affecting introductory article by the editor bemoaning the end of Classic Elite. She almost has me rushing to order madtosh for the Foldlines sweater and KD’s Stronachlachar, both, to support the knitting yarn industry. I may yet do it.

Jenny (comment yesterday), you’re right about colour. KD’s Buachaille in “Highland Coo” looks distinctly orange (as does a highland cow). I find the website a bit difficult to manage, colour-wise. The page with the kits gives colour-names without examples, and by no means all the names are as expressive as “Highland Coo”.  You have to go to the yarn page to find out what’s what, and even there it isn’t entirely easy.

But I now know that I want “Macallum” – a “raspberry red”.

Non-knit

“The Little Drummer Girl” is one of my favourite books. I made the mistake of re-reading it recently (good as ever) in preparation for the television series --  which seems, after two episodes, flat and rather boring. Any adaptation is likely to be thinner than the source, I guess, but then, remember the BBC "Pride and Prejudice".  I still remember my keen disappointment, as a child, going to see “My Friend Flicka”. I really thought I was going to see on the screen the images of that dear book as they lived in my head. Not so.

Sunday, November 04, 2018


I have done no knitting yet today, but hope soon to hunker down with some. I should soon -- perhaps even this evening – finish the underarm decreases for the Calcutta Cup vest, and be in position to see pretty clearly how wide the shoulders will be. Moment of truth.

I’m sure you’ve noticed the storms in Italy. The newspapers here have concentrated on the usual flooding of Venice, but it’s far worse than that. The excavations at Pompeii closed, people swept to their deaths by flood waters in Sicily. Archie and I were very, very lucky in our timing.

The clocks have gone back, and I have begun to think of the Cheerful Knitting which becomes essential as darkness closes in. (First, I must finish the vest.) “Foldlines” in an off-white doesn’t qualify. I think the next thing in my mental queue is Kate Davies’ Stronachlachar. The yarn is her Buachaille, which I have used and liked. There are two possible reddish colourways – red, I think, is what Cheerful Knitting depends on – and of those, I think I’d go for Highland Coo.

Another, or an additional, possibility is the Slouch Hat Kit that Loop of London sells. I knit two of them, three or four Christmasses ago, and can testify that it does fine as Cheerful Knitting and also results in a well-received gift. So that’s a possibility, too.

Saturday, November 03, 2018


I’m making real progress. There was a rugby match on television this afternoon, just interesting enough to keep me from having a nap (Scotland lost to Wales). I finished the OXO I was engaged upon when I resumed work on the Calcutta Cup vest, and am now well into the ensuing peerie. Soon I must choose colours – and the pattern itself – for the next (the final?) OXO.

Some will remember, if you haven’t drifted off long ago, that the patterns for the OXO’s are derived from what I call the “Museum Sweater”. Jamieson & Smith offers it as a kit. It is based on an original in the Shetland Museum and the gimmick here (perhaps unique?) is that every OXO is different. Jen A-C charted it for Jamieson & Smith from the original in the museum. And my friend Maureenfromfargo has actually knit it.

I’m not attempting anything nearly so ambitious. All my OXO’s remain the same all the way around, although each round of them is different. That’s the usual way.

The next thing I must do, now that everything is going so well, is to count stitches again and deal with minor discrepancies.

Shandy, thank you for your comment about Fair Isle necklines. I do indeed remember the bit from the interview with Hazel Tindall. I have done that sort of thing myself in the past, boldly cutting out the neckline I wanted from a too-high one. I can’t entirely remember whether I paved the way with basting and/or machine stitching. My experience of life suggests that Fair Isle knit fairly snugly with proper Shetland yarn – which is very “sticky” – scarcely needs such precautions. It won’t unravel.

I must now write an account of my recent Italian adventures for my tutor. I have sent her the account which you have seen, but she says not to try to translate it, but to start afresh and tell the story in Italian. Oh, dear.