Saturday, December 08, 2018


Nothing to report.

I forgot all about Kate Davies’ club launch yesterday, until 8 p.m., three hours after the crucial moment. (What was I doing?) The expensive version was all sold out by then. I signed up for the lesser one, which is much more suitable for me anyway. She’s a brilliant saleswoman.

Italian went fairly well this morning, Skype-wise, but was, as always,  a tremendous mental strain. Archie came to lunch (“Tagliata” from “Nigelissima”) which was soothing. Then after my nap, Helen and David – he’s here from Thessaloniki for the weekend, as often – turned up and that was pleasant, too. But no knitting. And tomorrow I must prepare for Monday’s invasion. Helen will come and help in the afternoon, not that there’s much to do except worry.

Tomorrow launches a pretty fraught week, what with relatives and a dr’s appt and new spectacles at the oculist’s shop and a new cleaning woman who will replace beloved Daniela when she leaves soon to wait for her baby. Even with all that, not nearly as fraught as Theresa May’s week is going to be. I wish her well.

Friday, December 07, 2018


I have come to a mini-skein I don’t have, for the stripey hat. If they were threaded on a leather thong, like last time, I would know for sure that it was missing to begin with. This way, I strongly suspect it was mislaid by the furry Rumpelstiltskins who sometimes come to help in the night. There are various available work-arounds. No panic. 

The lower edge is curling badly. One can only hope that blocking will help. The instructions asked for a cable cast-on but I found I wasn’t enjoying that and reverted to the good old long-tail. Now I learn from KD’s “Heids” that the cable cast-on is employed specifically to avoid curling. Live and learn. Learn and forget, more likely, in my case.

The new VK tuned up today, and is a winner, in my opinion. I’m keen on brioche anyway, and it’s a major feature of this issue. I hadn’t known that Nancy Marchant actually unvented increasing and decreasing in mid-brioche, allowing it to swirl. I’ve got a substantial Koigu stash, if the moths haven’t eaten it away from below. Could I divide it into light and dark and knit Unjung Yun’s wrap?

I’m also very keen on Norah Gaughan’s cardigan (no surprise there) although I think I would liven up the colour a bit.

And there’s much else, and interesting articles. I hadn’t known that textiles were such a bone of contention between the American colonies and the crown.

Non-knit

As I was last Friday, I am confronted with an early Italian lesson tomorrow. I think instead of doing much homework tonight, I will work on how-to-explain, in Italian, that I am wearing temporary glasses while the lenses (including the one badly scratched when I fell in Reggio Calabria) are replaced in my proper ones, and reading isn’t easy. Lots of useful vocabulary in the explanation, not to mention moods and tenses.

If Wikipedia is right, Tom Lehrer is still alive, only five years older than I am. Back in ’54, he was grown-up and I was only Jean. That’s good news, anyway.

Thursday, December 06, 2018


Not much knitting – a few more rows on the stripey hat.

I’m enormously grateful for all your kind comments on the Calcutta Cup vest. I don’t think I’m going to block it, in the full crawling-about-on-the-floor sense of the word. The fit is so good, that I’ll try first to see what can be achieved with a damp tea-towel and a cautious steam iron.

Long ago, Ketki posted what must have been the image above to Instagram or some such, and the Scottish Rugby Union responded by saying, do let us know when the vest is finished. I’m sure she’ll follow that up. We have at hand all the knitting I’ve done on this theme since 2000 except for 2010 which was a draw: I knit a hat for Alexander and Ketki’s elder son that time, shewing half the Cup: but he lost it. A photograph exists.

I entertain occasional mild elderly daydreams of being photographed with Chris Paterson or Greig Laidlaw and Alexander in the vest, but on the whole, as with any other FO, I’m just looking forward to the future. The Stronachlachar package isn’t here yet. Rachel said it was a good thing Scotland won while I was still able to knit such a thing – an uncomfortable reminder of the nearness of the grave, but she’s right.

A draw would require some thought, should it happen in 2019. It would be a substantial moral victory, since it would happen in London; and it would mean that the Cup would stay in Edinburgh for another year. It won’t happen, but it’s worth thinking about.

When I come to add up the achievements of ’18, as I will soon, high among them will be the facts that I met the Duke of Palma, the model for “Tancred” in “Il Gattopardo”; and that I’ve seen the Calcutta Cup.

Non-knit

I’m delighted to learn that so many remember Tom Lehrer. I heard him sing in the flesh, in the winter of ’53-’54, when I was with some Oberlin friends in NYC. Indeed, until that evening, I had never heard of him. I’ve been a fan ever since. I’ve had “Wernher von Braun” playing in my head all day. “That’s not my department, says Wernher von Braun”.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018


Howzat!? As they say on the cricket field:



Perfect fit. Gregor Townsend’s triumph (Scotland’s newish coach), and mine as well.

Kate Davies’ “Heids” is here, full of good things. And I’ve read her blog post about the new club. I agree, Southern Gal, that the price of the fancy subscription is daunting. Also, I still have all the colours of Milarrochy Tweed from last year’s club, in their special bag, so it would be extravagant to sign up for them again. “Heids” is of course ideal for their employment. But I’m tempted…

Mary Lou, I do like your knit bud’s hat

We’ve all got a couple of days to think about it. I like the notion of the Guide to Creativity which is called “Do Nothing” – but we get that with either subscription.

Non-knit

Greek Helen came around this afternoon, full of gloom about global warming. I don’t think I am capable of worrying about it as much as she does, having survived those years of worrying about nuclear annihilation. That could happen at any moment (still could). I was heavily pregnant with her, the week of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Global warming advances slowly, and ours is a most ingenious species.

I told her to find Tom Lehrer on Youtube, and listen to “We’ll All Go Together When We Go”, to understand that fear. I also recommended “Werner von Braun” and “National Brotherhood Week”. He was (is) a funny man.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018


Today’s ordeal was an eye appt., at the extreme outer edge of my walking-range and also just at the time when I like to sink into bed for a nap. But I did it, and even got back in time for a brief snooze before Pointless. When I fell in Reggio Calabria, the left lens flew out of my glasses and was seriously scratched. I hope I will be able to retain it as a souvenir. It’s plastic, thank goodness.

Knitting-time was happily devoted to the stripey hat. I’m slightly more than halfway through the initial, slouch section. What follows are the crown decreases. It is ideal solstice knitting, as I thought.

I must get Rachel’s socks moved from the WIP section to FO. The toes have been kitchener’d – all I have to do is to tidy the cast-on ends, and turn the socks inside out to make sure no horrors lurk within. She is coming up next week, with her daughter Hellie (everybody is named Helen around here) and her daughter Orla. Now it turns out that Thomas, Rachel’s elder son and my eldest grandchild, is coming too, with his daughter Juliet. I will have to take to my bed for the duration.

KD says that the “Heid” book has been dispatched – good news. She has posted a long blog entry about a journal which will be part of next year’s club. It sounds attractive, but I can’t think how it could fit into my life. I’m not a designer. I don’t have ideas.

It’s time to begin thinking about the page in Lotus Organizer on which I list my hopes for the year to come. I don’t seem to have done it last year – the first gap in a long while. This time it will be Stronachlachar and Foldlines and, if we win the Calcutta Cup, some splendid Gaughan cables, probably for one of Alexander and Ketki’s sons. We won’t win, because the match is in London and we never win there, so I don’t need to plan the sweater in too much detail.

Monday, December 03, 2018


Full speed ahead.

I’ve finished the Calcutta Cup vest, except for blocking. I was tempted to do that this afternoon, in the hopes of having it dry and ready for Alexander if he comes on Wednesday. But it would be foolish to block before a try-on, in case the size needs tweaking. He says, a propos the weekend FT, that nobody in Cairndow will know whether it’s cool or not.

And I’ve cast on a stripey hat, which is clearly going to be compulsive knitting of the just-one-more-stripe variety. Last time -- ?two years ago – the mini-skeins were all threaded on a leather thong. I sort of liked that. This time, they are bunched like a bouquet of flowers. This has the advantage that, once you’ve found the one you want, you can pull it out and off you go. With the thong, you had to keep threading them off and then threading them back again.

I emailed the Kate Davies shop yesterday about my desire to buy a Stronachlachar kit in the Macallum colourway. I had a very prompt reply – late on a Sunday afternoon – from Melanie, who said to go ahead and order and then to email her and she would mark my order to be Macallum and not the colour I had ordered. I did that this morning – asking for “Highland Coo” which wouldn’t be a total disaster – and she acknowledged my email promptly, again, saying that I’ll get Macallum. That’s service, if it works.

Today is my sister’s birthday. She’s almost as old as I am (although much stronger), and catching up fast. Happy Birthday, Helen.

Sunday, December 02, 2018


I am sorry about yesterday’s silence. Manaba and I much enjoyed the Open Day at Helen’s studio, but the experience involved a lot of upstairs-downstairs both indoors and out, and I was flattened thereafter. I think Archie must be right that I am continuing to lose strength.

I have finished knitting the Calcutta Cup vest, and am now diligently employed on tidying it up within. You may have noticed that nothing was done for those steeks except for clipping them open. I am confident, as I’ve said, about the tendency of proper Shetland yarn to stick to itself, but am nevertheless overcasting the cut edges and tucking them in. Slow work, but I’m nearly finished. They certainly look much tidier this way, and are possibly more secure.

Neither Kate Davies nor Andrea would be satisfied with such an expedient, I feel sure.

That still leaves a million loose ends, where colours were joined and abandoned. I hope to have the tidying finished by Wednesday, when I may see Alexander again and we might have a try-on before I go on to blocking.

The Weekend Financial Times – my only newspaper, these days – often has a supplement called “How To Spend It”. It is hard to believe that a certain element of tongue-in-cheek isn’t involved in its production, but it is undoubtedly a splendid and stylish display of expensive things for rich people to buy.

Today’s issue is about clothes, and includes an article about “Fair Isle” for men, which is apparently “cool” this season. I would confidently toss Alexander’s vest onto a pile with the Balenciagas and Ralph Polo Laurens illustrated. But he won’t want to appear “cool”.

I have been toying with the idea of going straight on to KD’s Stronachlachar, and find to my horror that her “West Highland Way” (where the pattern is) is not where it belongs on the shelf. I can’t buy a kit from her website because the yarn-colour I want doesn’t seem to be on offer in a kit, although there’s plenty of it on the “yarn” page. But I can buy the pattern separately; that’s something.

And meanwhile, I’ve got stripey hats to knit.