Wednesday, March 20, 2019


A fairly productive day. Archie and I unpinned the veil. It looks greatly refreshed after its blocking. The stash cupboard refused to reveal the left-over yarn from its making, so I went to Cathy’s Knits around the corner to get some. It’s too white, and too thick, but the mending is inconspicuous. So that’s done.

Lucy Hague was there at the shop, with a display of her beautiful shawls. I gave up and re-bought “Celtic Cable Shawls” – I know I have a copy, but it’s been missing for three years at least. Maybe it will now come to the surface.

She remembered my telling her about the unvention of the horizontal cable, as employed in the Dunfallandy blankie, when we met at the launch of Kate Davies’ Hap book. She has looked it up, but hasn’t attempted it. I forgot to tell her that I have knit her “Uncia” pattern from that book.

Despite the time needed for hole-mending I have done a bit more Dathan hap. The new longer needle arrived from Meadow Yarns and is much more comfortable.

I've printed Mary Lou's "Overlap Baby Sweater", to take along to the EYF. But the unsuccessful search for lace yarn in the stash threw up a very nice (unlabelled) skein of sock yarn which might do the trick. 

Non-knit

FibreClaireUK, I’m still not entirely with you on “Lady Anna”. Everybody is having such a miserable time. There is none of Trollope’s usual lightness of touch, no comic clergymen. I haven’t far to go.

Here are some cat pictures to cheer us up. Julie, they were firmly excluded from the sitting room while the blocking was in progress. They didn’t like it, either.













Tuesday, March 19, 2019


A pretty good day. I had an early appt with the dentist (routine, expensive cleaning), straight up Dublin Street. “Up” means “up”, in that case. I thought that might do for exercise, but later in the morning went out for my walk as usual.

And on with the Dathan. I have corralled another 25 stitches on each side, 450 altogether, plus 5 in the central spine. We’re getting there.

I remembered that I have some super-long circular needles. They’re left over from the Dunfallandy blankie of a couple of years ago. For the edging of that one, I had to pick up all the stitches all the way around, all at once. That required three super-longs (150 cm), I think -- two for picking up, one for knitting with. But they are 3mm needles, and I am knitting on a 3.25.

Maybe that would do. “Knitting is forgiving stuff”: EZ. But in the end I ordered a 3.25 from Meadow Yarns, and paid for first class postage, and have had an email from them saying that it has been dispatched. So maybe tomorrow, and in any case I ought to be able to struggle on.

Alexander phoned. He says that his son Thomas, not long after the final whistle, asked what this year’s Calcutta Cup knitting was going to be, and claimed it for himself. I feel touched and flattered. I told Alexander to ask him his feelings about a long squishy cabled scarf. I need to know by Friday.

“Foldlines” is sinking further and further below the horizon. I never expected Calcutta Cup knitting in 2019. I will look at Jared’s “Arbor” yarn at the EYF, but won’t buy. The scarf will be expensive enough, and I will also be hunting for a good sock yarn for Mary Lou’s baby pattern – the ’19 Calcutta Cup is now history, it'll wait for me, but great-grandchildren don’t stand still.

I think I referred to it with a feminine pronoun the other day. But I don’t know what it is. I just said that because all my great-grandchildren are girls. Hellie, when she rang up to tell me the news, said that the scan-operator refused to tell her.

Reading

“Lady Anna” is a rather glum book so far, but I can’t stop now.

Monday, March 18, 2019


I’m recovering, I guess. I went to my butcher’s on Broughton Street this morning, and spoke to my rugby friend among the men who work there. He had had Saturday off and had been able to watch the whole match, and was delighted with it. “The greatest come-back in history!” Which I guess it was. But I wish we'd won.

I have made some progress on the big-scarf idea. I looked through cabled scarves on Ravelry, and concluded that I want to make it relatively narrow, as long as I have enough stitches for the half-cup and the date. I think this one deserves the complete date, “2019”. I have pretty well decided on No. 100 in Gaughan’s book for the cable pattern.

And I am edging forward with the Dathan hap. I corralled another 50 stitches on each side today – I now have 200 marked off on each wing, plus another 30 or so loose stitches in the middle and at the wing-tips, outside the markers. I’ll spare you the arithmetic, but I think I have to do 13 more 4-row pattern repeats. It doesn’t sound so bad, expressed like that, but it represents an addition of nearly 200 more stitches. Is my present needle long enough to hold them? I had better address that problem soon.

Archie and I got the wedding veil blocked. It’s got some holes, as you can see. I hope I’ll be able to find the left-over yarn, but if not I can probably get some at the EYF. I think Jamieson and Smith are going to be there. The holes won’t show anyway, the way she is going to wear it, attached in a bunch to the back of her head.



I have hitched up with another member of my Shetland Wool Adventure who plans to arrive, as I will, on the ferry from Aberdeen. (How did we manage, before the Internet?) She has a car, and will drive us to the b&b. I have found out their email address from another member of the group, and have written to say that I will want to lie down on arrival. The programme doesn’t start until 6:30 that evening. I'll cheerfully pay for another day if need be. So that’s progress.

Reading

I have embarked on Trollope’s “Lady Anna”. I started it last year, on paper, and took it along on my cruise but didn’t read it there. The great thing about Kindle (where I am reading it this time) is that I can enlarge the type when I want to knit and read, and scrunch it down again with ease when knitting is laid aside.

The beginning is sort of complicated. The characters in the book are as confused as I am. I think it will simplify itself soon.

Sunday, March 17, 2019


I’ve cheered up a bit, I guess. The sun came out. I did my walk, after my Italian lesson. I fetched Gaughan’s “Knitted Cable Sourcebook” from the shelf and began contemplating a big squishy cabled scarf to commemorate yesterday’s events.

Alexander will probably be here on Wednesday as usual. I can show him Gaughan’s suggestion for such a scarf and discuss whether it is the sort of thing (minus, I think, the fringe) any of them would ever wear. And then, two days later, the EYF. It would be expensive, but what happened yesterday will be long remembered in rugby circles and deserves an appropriate commemoration. And yet it doesn’t quite deserve a Fair Isle vest.

The trouble with your idea, Tamar, of commemorating the other recent draw at one end of the scarf – which I will bear in mind – is that that was a run-of-the-mill event, and it has already had its knitting, in that lost hat. Alexander has a photograph, at least.

I phoned Rachel, who was at Twickenham yesterday with her husband Edward. She says they thought of leaving at half-time, just as I thought of not turning the television back on. There were lots of empty seats at that point, she says.

I’ve had a kind and helpful email from Maureen, encouraging me to be braver about the Shetland Wool Adventure.

I’ve done a couple more rows of Dathan Hap, and finished the third pass through the 15 different yarns. I hope to do a bit more this evening.

Reading

I have finished “He Knew He Was Right”. Trollope is wonderful, even when not on top form. I am very tempted to go on with him. I have read a few pages of “The Late George Apley” but I think I’d be happier staying in the 19th century just now.

The FT is very enthusiastic this weekend about Sadie Jones’ “The Snakes”. But the negative reviews on Amazon, of which there are quite a few, are sort of off-putting and I need comfort and uplift, which Trollope can be relied on to provide.

Saturday, March 16, 2019


It was a draw (which means that the Cup stays in Edinburgh for another year).

It was one of the greatest Calcutta Cup matches of all time. What can I knit to commemorate it?

Half-way through, England were leading 31-0. That’s a lot. I switched off and went to the corner shop for the Financial Times and some consolatory chocolate, I am sorry to say. It was a depressing day, and I felt depressed. I didn’t get my walk – and didn’t get to show Drummond Place Gardens to James, himself a keen gardener, because it was sleeting. Helen and her boys came to lunch. She brought sad news of an unexpected death, in her generation. She will go to the funeral.

I almost thought I wouldn’t bother to turn the television back on, when I got home. But I did. Scotland scored try after try, and tied the score. Then they scored another one, and were leading as the clock ticked down. But then England scored another, at the very very very end. I am still breathless, and still somewhat sad. I think the man said that Scotland have never before – and the Calcutta Cup goes back a long way – scored that many points when the match was played in England.

The last time the match was drawn -- ?2010 – I knit a hat with half a cup on it, for Alexander and Ketki’s son James. He lost it, unfortunately. Shall I knit him another? Perhaps a scarf would be harder to lose. Perhaps an epic match deserves a whole vest.

Knitting

The rugby was fairly productive on that front. The Calcutta Cup was preceded by Wales-Ireland, an unexciting affair which Wales won with clinical precision. Is today St Patrick’s day? And the first half of the Cup match didn’t require close watching, either. It occurred to me that the dimensions of the Hap might be mentioned somewhere, even if they weren’t recorded on the schematic. And, yes! there they are on page 1 of the pattern.

The central spine is 25”. Mine, alas – another cause for gloom – is only 17” so far. Every row now takes forever, since there are more than 400 stitches. And – further gloom – Helen brought the Northmavine Hap with her, and I discover that I wove in the ends that time. I fear there is no escape. It’ll be a week’s work, at least.

I have been sent the programme for my Shetland Wool Adventure in May. I seriously wonder if I am strong enough. More gloom.

Mary Lou, thank you for that pattern. I’ll knit it for the forthcoming great-granddaughter, and I will shop for it at the EYF. The Calcutta Cup will just have to wait.

Friday, March 15, 2019


James is here, talking to some students about China. Helen and her boys will join us for a sandwich lunch tomorrow.

And tomorrow is Calcutta Cup day. The match is at the end of the afternoon, not good, but at least I can be sure that the excitement will be over and James on his way to London, and I can watch it uninterrupted. James is not even mildly interested. England will win decisively, I am afraid. The cup will go south again, perhaps for a long, long time. I’m glad I finally made the effort to see it.

I didn’t get much hap-knitting done today. I’ve asked Helen to wear the Northmavine tomorrow, so that I can see how I finished the loose-end edge.

I had a thought: Archie comes twice a week and does chores for me. The chore that is beginning to press rather heavily on my conscience is the re-blocking of Hellie’s wedding shawl so that this year’s bride can wear it. I should have done it before now. Today’s thought was: Archie can do it.

I will, of course, stand over him, and warm the water on my own wrist. But he can do all the tedious moving about and most of the pinning while I boss him about. I think we’ll have to do it on a bed. I usually use the dining room floor, but of late the cats are based there with their food and litter tray (ever since they were thrown out of the kitchen by the reconstruction).

Cats and lace-blocking are incompatible. Perdita tries to pull the pins out and I am terrified that she will swallow one. So it will have to be on the spare room beds, pushed together, or else perhaps the double bed and I will sleep in the spare room for a night or two. It will be good to have that job done.

Thursday, March 14, 2019


My computer – a by-now-relatively-antique Toshiba portable – has just inflicted one of those involuntary updates on me, with the result that everything takes much longer than before. Archie says that modern computers (there is a three-letter-acronym involved) turn on immediately, like computers on television. Tempting.

Sharon has most kindly written to me quoting my own words from April, 2017, about the re-sizing of my first Pollywog so as to knit it in sock yarn. I was surprised to find that it was so recent – but, of course, it has to be, since its wearer is not very old. The solution, as I had dimly remembered, was to cast on the no. of stitches for the largest size, and knit the dimensions for the smallest. It worked that time.

The blog says that I did some of the calculating with my “Pony Knitting Calculator”. I have no memory whatsoever of such an article. And a preliminary scrabble on the shelves where I keep knitting implements has revealed no such thing. But it didn’t reveal my knitting belt, either – and that must be there.

Nothing in my sock yarn collection seems quite right. But, hey! I’m going to the EYF next week.

I had another good day with the hap. I was wrong when I said yesterday that I had 200 stitches in each of the wings. I do now, though. Nancy’s idea of counting out blocks of stitches and marking them off makes constant counting easy – because I just have to count the odd stitches at either end of the row, and then add in the others. This is a great comfort, with so many stitches involved.

Some of the balls of yarn are beginning to look a bit depleted. That’s encouraging.

I have done nothing at all, so far, with all those loose ends. I knit KD’s Northmavine hap (from “Colours of Shetland”) once, for Greek Helen. That won’t have had quite as many ends, but it must have involved a good few. I’ll have a look to discover how I finished that edge, the next time I see her wearing it.

Reading

There’s an article in today’s New Yorker about John Williams. A lot of the article was over my head, but I have read Williams’ “Stoner” and “Butcher’s Crossing”, both highly recommended. I think the article has inspired me to re-read “The Late George Apley” when I finish Trollope.

I thought Penguin was going to send me a short list of novels every month from which I could select two or three to read or re-read. That doesn’t seem to be happening, but the impetus provided by that first list has, for the moment, wafted me away from thrillers.