Monday, February 28, 2005


Well, Ireland won, and it was a grand game, very exciting. But even I feel that the referee was hard on England. It'll be interesting to see what the papers say this morning.


I've heard from my sister, from London. She and her husband (and my alpaca yarn) are safely in London, on their way to southern Africa, except for the yarn. Roger is most helpfully setting up a wireless network for my daughter's household which has, for the moment, cut them off from the outside world entirely. I want to ask Rachel to ask her stylish 18-year-old daughter Helen to have a look at the Chapotis pattern and tell me what she thinks. I've got enough yarn in a Cheery Tree Hill merino-and-silk DK and am itching to get started. Perhaps I'll just knit it and then see who wants it. The colorway is rather bright: peacock, in fact. Not me, I feel.

Here's the Fair Isle jacket:

Distinct progress Posted by Hello

I'm rather pleased with it. The shoulders are grafted. I decided, after re-reading both Starmore and Meg, to do the sleeves top-down. Starmore suggests having a good look after an inch or so, to see whether one has picked up the right number of stitches. Is it flaring outwards? or, alternatively, puckering? It might even be worth threading stitches onto waste yarn and having a real look. I think I've got it right -- there are 74 rounds of pattern above the armhole. I've picked up 70 stitches each way, up and down. Fair Isle stitches are much closer to being squares (=row gauge same as stitch gauge) than plain st st, because the colors pull the stitches in. But not quite.

The other thing I did on my free afternoon on Friday was to re-block the wretched ribwarmer. I think I've got it now, although I'll hit it with the steam iron this morning. My shape leaves a lot to be desire, viewed dispassionately in a full-length mirror.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Not Disaster, After All

I finished the body of the Fair Isle jacket yesterday. I thought I owned at least four sets of double-pointed needles in every size known to man, but a search of the box failed to reveal any in the size I want for knitting the sleeves. (I've got a short circular for the top, and plenty of the necessary size for the ribbing.)

So I thought I'd have to do it from the top down after all, starting with the circular and buying some dp's on Monday. (Although on reflection I can just occupy myself with the wrist ribbing today.)

So I cut the steeks with intrepidity and set to, to graft the shoulders. And discovered that there were fewer stitches in the front sections than I expected.

Thinking about it while cooking supper, I figured out that that could only be because there were fewer stitches to begin with, in the front than in the back. Had I placed the gussets and the sleeve steeks wrongly? Would I have to rip back to the point where the gussets start? (=most of the sweater)

Thinking about it when subsequently doing the washing-up. however, I remembered that there are supposed to be fewer stitches in front, to allow for the button band. And counting stitches in my head in the wakeful stretches of the night, I find that all has gone to plan -- except that if I had been fully on top of the problem when planning the neck, I'd have made it narrower. I can always fill it in with some extra ribbing.

So today I'll graft the shoulders and start a sleeve, from one direction or the other. There's always the two-circular method of circular knitting, after all. Maybe I don't really need more needles.

Other Topics

Here's a picture of Rachel's Koigu sweater, as it has been left behind in the country:

Rachel's Koigu sweater Posted by Hello

Five-row stripes are utterly delicious to knit. For the ribbing, I seemed to go round and round without getting anywhere, nearly forever. Now I'm whizzing forward in a way easily measurable to the eye. It's glorious. A picture of the prototype, and the pattern, namely James-the-Younger's Koigu sweater, are on my website at's%20koigu.htm.

I've done some updating of the website, although I'm not finished yet. The Alexander Mileses and the Beijing Mileses are updated, but the Thessaloniki people are yet to do. And I don't seem to have any recent pics of Rachel's family. My main problem is not knowing how to degrade photographs into fewer pixels to make them easy to download. Maybe I don't need to worry; maybe everybody's got broadband. The Beijing Mileses went to Angkor Wat over the Chinese New Year holiday. They sent me some mega-pixel pics, nice ones, which I've posted at -- if anybody has the patience to wait for them.


We had last weekend off. Yesterday, Scotland beat Italy in a scrappy and highly unsatisfactory match -- both teams were boo'd for boring play. And Wales beat France, in Paris, in a well-played thriller. Both France and Wales were so far unbeaten yesterday morning, and both had beaten England, the Big One, so both could reasonably hope for an unbeaten season. France did it last year, Wales, most recently, about 25 years ago. (Scotland did it in 1990, Ireland not for 100 years.)

So Welsh hopes live.

Meanwhile, however, England play Ireland in Dublin today. And the Irish, too, are so far unbeaten, although their victories are over the tiddlers, Italy and Scotland. But they're riding high, and they have home advantage, and England are cross and out-of-sorts due to two unexzpected losses. It could be a good one.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Wallaby Revisited

More comments! This is wonderful!

Incorporating pictures into the text seems to be working well enough (...goeth before a fall) inspiring me to hope that my earlier problems were due to some aberration of Blogger's which they have now corrected.

Here, from last week, is a picture of Ketki with her son Thomas-the-Younger, wearing the Wallaby I knit as a Christmas present in 2004 for his cousin Fergus. Fergus will be three in ten days' time. T-the-Y is 3 1/2 months.

Ketki and Thomas-the-Younger Posted by Hello
Ketki is wearing a gorgeous alpaca sweater which her husband Alexander bought for her in NY. Peruvian Connection?

I had an unusual free afternoon yesterday, and feel that I got a lot done. Some ironing. Looking out scraps of grey Shetland yarn for the ribbing of the Fair Isle jacket -- I will probably start the first sleeve this evening, and the point of this enterprise is to do it all from stash. Buying even one more skein is forbidden. Tidying pictures into folders and saving them to CD to relieve both camera and computer of clutter. Working on my website (which remains, however, as yet unbeamed into cyber-space).

Just a couple of more rounds to go on the body of the jacket. My (very inadequate) notes on one I knit a decade or so ago, suggest that I knit the sleeves top-down. I'm going to do them bottom-up this time, so as not to have to keep twirling the whole heavy thing around in my lap. I read a comment on some mailing list recently from someone who had trouble making the sleeve fit, doing it that way. Careful attention to gauge (ha!) should help, and careful calculation. Not my forte.

Friday, February 25, 2005

The Jacket, again

So exciting! I looked down through the Blog just now and found a COMMENT, from Brigid! She's not the first to have commented, but she is the first to have done it through Haloscan in a way that makes the comment visible to other readers, and answerable by me. How grown-up can you get?

I have been corresponding with Judith about the Clapotis scarf. More about that soon. I'm really taken with the idea.

My sister and my alpaca yarn will be in London this weekend, and I should receive the latter next week. That's exciting, too.

But to the main business of the day. You will remember that our daughter Rachel and some of her family were here last week. Here is Rachel with her potential jacket:

Rachel with her jacket Posted by Hello

I am slightly worried about length. I calculated 17" to the armpits, and carefully figured out where to start the sleeve gussets so that I would have 25 stitches in the gusset when I reached 17". But with only 23 gusset stitches, or was it 21? I found I had my 17", so I started the sleeve-hole. Now, when I come to measure that same distance, I can scarcely get 16". (So my original gusset calculation was right.)

I am sure I can recover the missing inch in the blocking, but I am making the sleeve-hole a bit longer than planned, too. I will finish the neckline decreases today, and will then add an extra inch. It'll just have to be a low neckline.

That's the trouble with knitting. It keeps squirming around like a small child, and measurements aren't to be trusted.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

It was Cold

...but we had a nice time.

The weather was the hardest it has been all winter, but until yesterday, also rather lovely. The contrast between the winter weather and the waxing spring sunshine was rather like a hot fudge sundae. Yesterday, however, we left in a proper blizzard and the first 12 miles of the jmourneyb were a very uncomfortable 20 mph crawl. Driving will be worse today, for ice.

I think I will make a practice of posting a picture of my vegetable garden on the first day back, each time.

Cold Posted by Hello

The red noses of the rhubarb under the pot are now visible at ground level. And I set my seed potatoes to chit. Otherwise no progress. It is hard to believe that a fortnight before, at the end of January, I was kneeling in the sunshine rooting out creeping buttercup.

Knitting, however, progressed nicely. Picture soon. I got a fair amound of firewood sawed. And I feel much happier about the eye-thing. now that I feel sure I am as safe as I ever was (except for the slower reactions of old age), driving on familiar roads in broad daylight.

Country knitting is Koigu, a sweater for Rachel on the same lines as Jamie's one. I have heard from vendor friends, and friends of vendors, that it has been difficult to get supplies recently. It sounds from what I have read as if the whole thing depends on the genius of one woman. Maybe I should think of stockpiling.

When I knit Jamie's sweater, I worked out the pattern in detail (hard work) and posted it on my website. (Address in sidebar) This time, I hope I will be able just to change the numbers and post the adult version with minimal labour. We shall see.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Going Away, Again

Let's try incorporating the picture again. It worked last time.

We're going away to the country tomorrow, to chit my potatoes and be measured for a new stair carpet and receive a policeman who will come to inspect my husband's provision for keeping firearms. I'll work on Rachel's Koigu sweater.

This picture arrived today, without accompanying text. It is of my youngest granddaughter, Kirsty, who lives in Beijing. Her appearance here does not suggest, however, the arctic conditions of northern China in February. They must have gone off somewhere for the New Year holiday. (Kirsty has younger cousins on our side of the family, but they're all boys.)

Kirsty Posted by Hello

I have lots of knitterly things to say. The Spring IK come today. Judith wrote to me about the Clapotis ( which everyone was talking about on the Knitlist the last time I was there. And, hey! I like it. When we get back I will find out what weight of yarn is specified, and examine my stash. I like the designer's Blog, too -- she writes well, and lives in Paris. But it is in very small, faint type on a white background and involves altogether too much eye-work. Not least of the things I love about Queer Joe is that he is legible.

Judith also recommended the group Knitting Beyond the Hebrides. I've joined, and like it, and hope not to be overwhelmed by the number of messages.

Meanwhile Rachel and part of her family are here. Alexander and his family drove over from the west coast today. When we get back, I will produce pictures of Rachel holding up her Fair Isle jacket; and of Thomas Miles, Thomas the Younger, wearing the Wallaby I knit for his cousin Fergus for Christmas. It shrank.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The neck steek Posted by Hello

Most of yesterday's knitting time was devoted instead to counting and measuring and thinking -- not activities I enjoy much. But the neck steek is started. I've now got to try to decrease one stitch on either side of it -- three stitches in -- every other row 10 times. Slightly confusing, while changing colours and keeping the pattern straight.

I've heard from Candace Strick (mentioned yesterday). Her beautiful Merging Colors yarn (a new venture) is dyed in color-lengths specific to the project, so I can't just buy it and hope to make a jumper. I was afraid of that. More patterns are planned, she says, including a jumper (=pullover), and I think my wisest course is to try to wait. It's not as if I didn't have plenty to knit.

The London crowd (daughter and some of family) are arriving this evening. I muist spend the day making beds and tidying away enough of the yarn which festoons the sitting room to make it feasible for everyone to sit down.

I got a leaflet yesterday from Knitter's -- they can move things swiftly through the post when it's in their interest -- about the Irish holiday they are running soon. I've nothing against Ireland, which I have seen too little of, and which I am sure is beautiful and interesting. But the Knitter's tour seems remarkably short on knitting.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The jacket, inside-out Posted by Hello

The Internet seems to have straightened itself out, thank goodness.

Here's a time-filling picture of the inside of the Fair Isle jacket, looking much like the outside. I should start the neck steek this evening -- the last few rounds seem interminable. I've decided to solve the design problem by restoring the unwanted colours (pink, bright blue, bright red) for the first few inches of each sleeve. On the ever-sound design principle: if you can't disguise it, make it a Feature.

Its intended wearer, Rachel, rang up from London yesterday proposing herself and husband and two youngest children for a lightening half-term visit, tomorrow through Saturday morning. So I'll be able to show it to her, and measure her for the sleeves.

I got an email yesterday from Strickwear, Candace Eisner Strick's on-line source for yarn and designs. She's taken to the dye pots, and the result, in the form of a shawl called Adagio, is achingly beautiful. See for yourself:

But I've got a drawer-ful of shawls I enjoyed knitting and rarely wear, especially now that I no longer go to Stitches events. When I do wear them, they make me look like a crazed social worker, according to my husband. But what if Candace' "merging colors" yarn could be knit into a perfectly plain pullover? I have made enquiries.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The 50's Lace Leaflet Posted by Hello

I've got Internet problems this morning. Will this message ever see the light of day?

If it does, above will appear a pic of the leaflet I mentioned yesterday, supplied by Jamieson and Smith. There are three full-scale lace masterpieces in it, and a few lesser items. I find, to my surprise, that I can't remember which of the three I've already knit -- it'll be there in the archives, but I'll have to look. They now look incredibly daunting, but that's probably a good reason to tackle one of them. They're written for cobweb yarn, but gauge doesn't matter much in these realms. Call it a stole and give it to my sister-in-law.

Another inch forward with the jacket. When I start doing lace again, the daily reports will be even more boring. One little excitement looms: I amuse myself by keeping a spreadsheet record annually of yarn-in and yarn-out. It's a pretty inaccurate measure of what is happening to the stash, since it is possible to do a lot of knitting without ever actually finishing a ball or skein. As witness the Fair Isle jacket: so far, not a single ball has been consumed. In fact, in 2005, I have so far dispatched only one, a Debbie Bliss "Maya" at Kirimichael, on the ribwarmer.

Well, the looming excitement is that all five background shades are getting distinctly low and will expire more or less simultaneously in the predictable future.

Monday, February 14, 2005


On Saturday, all was predictable. Wales thumped Italy and Ireland did the same to us. Yesterday, however, England were leading France by a satisfactory-seeming margin at half-time and France went on to win by one point. It was not, I think a very good match from a conoisseur's point of view, but it was so exciting it left me breathless. So now both England and Scotland have lost their opening two matches -- a gloriously preposterous state of affairs.

The Rest of Life

I've been using some of the time free'd up by the blessed absence of the Knitlist to go back to work on my website, sadly neglected in recent months. The address is in the sidebar, but don't look now. It's a mess. The youngest grandchild isn't even there yet.

Less than two inches to go, on the Fair Isle jacket, before it will be time to start the neck steek. Another picture promised then.

Marian Poller of Luvfairisle ( -- mentioned on Saturday but spelled wrong -- wrote to suggest a lacy scarf as a suitable project for the Chinese yarn mentioned and illustrated on Friday. A simple and elegant idea. There's a lot of the stuff. I could knit a scarf and go on to do a tee-shirt, if I wanted to. Jamieson & Smith in Lerwick used to sell, I hope they still do, a reprint of a 50's-looking booklet of Shetland scarf patterns, some of them very challenging indeed. I'm not a passionate lace-chart person, but when I did one from that booklet, I found I simply had to chart it, row-by-row as I went along. Otherwise there was only a long grey row of instructions which would have been impossible to knit without someone to sit there and read them aloud to me. The booklet is meticulously proof-read. Somehow one knows that, just looking at it.

Another good knitting blog, re-discovered as I was tidying my Internet Favourites yesterday, is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's "The Yarn Harlot" -- The current post, about the death of the family goldfish, is most affecting.

The Comment situation doesn't seem to be entirely resolved yet. There are now two systems -- Blogger's own, in tiny print, comes first. It allows messages to be visible, for the first time, if you click on it, but they're still anonymous from my point of view, unless, I gather, you have a Blogger Blog of your own. Bouquets to Kathy for the first ever visible comment. Then comes the system I laboured to install last week, where it says "Comments" and "Trackback" (what does that mean?) in larger type. That one wasn't working yesterday, but now is. It's an independent system from Haloscan as used by grown-up Bloggers like Queer Joe. I think that's the one to go for. Maybe I can use my new-found daring to get rid of the Blogger one.

Today I'm going to defy fate and drive our car to the supermarket.


Saturday, February 12, 2005


I can't think of anything to take a picture of.

I had a great time yesterday -- I found the very mailing list I want to belong to. Isn't the Internet wonderful? It's called Allotments are publically-owned (usually) sites of otherwise waste land in cities, which are rented out in small plots at a nominal rent to gardeners, almost entirely for the purpose of growing vegetables. My London son-in-law, Rachel's husband, has one. I was worried when I saw how inactive the list was -- only one post in the last week -- but I am stirring it up in true Knitlist fashion with a lively discussion of potato blignt.

I've pretty well decided to give up knit-related list-reading altogether, sadly, because the Knitlist has been a big thing in my life. Being in touch with fellow-fanatics, after a lifetime of knitting alone... And I have made, through it, important flesh-and-blood friends and other, trusted cyber-ones. But it's not like that now. Tedium has taken over. Knitflame is no better, although the posts are shorter. I'll struggle on with UKhandknitters for a while, perhaps.

Blog-reading will have to supply the lack. There's plenty of tedium to be had from that source, too, but some treasures as well. My faves being: -- as I keep endlessly remarking. -- this one is called "Livfairisle" and is written by a long-standing cyber-friend (of Knitlist origin) called Marian Poller. She lives in Israel and travels the world. -- Annie Modesitt's blog. She's a professional, so this one is especially interesting. -- Marilyn Roberts is the Knitting Curmudgeon. Funny and provocative.

It's not exactly a blog, but an old Knitlist member whose name anyone will remember who has ever read the list, namely Judy Sumner, sends out a periodic report on her experiences teaching knitting in a chain store. She used to post these to the Knitlist. The moderators got worried about "advertising" because she often mentioned the name of the store. They told her not to, and she stopped, but Knitflame kept on about it and the moderators decided -- over my strenuous protest -- to make her stop sending the reports altogether. So she sends them privately, still, touchingly, not mentioning the store by name when she can avoid it. She's and I am sure she'll be delighted to add you to her listif you write to her. (She works for A.C. Moore-- there! I said it!)

Further suggestions gratefully received. There are hundreds out there, too many of them in small type on white backgrounds, difficult for my old eyes.


Ireland are here in Edinburgh today to play Scotland. Brian O'Driscoll their handsome captain was injured last week and isn't playing. I suppose, given our performance last week, plus home advantage, plus no O'Driscoll, that we have a ghost of a chance. Wales should beat Italy without much difficulty. Then tomorrow France play England in London. England are not often beaten, and almost never when they play at home -- although Ireland did it last year.

Just so you're warned.


Friday, February 11, 2005

Chinese yarn

A daring experiment today -- I am trying to incorporate the picture IN the post. In the earlly days, when I did that, the picture, previously successfully sent to Blogger, tended to disappear when I re-posted it with text.

I think I've improved the Comment situation -- just when Blogger itself announces that _it_ has. One way or the other, I hope I can now reply to comments, and that other people can see them.

I felt happy all day yesterday about Prince Chjarles and Mrs PB.

Well here's the pic (or not):

Chinese yarn Posted by Hello
It shows some yarn I bought in Beijing nearly two years ago.

In the shop, I thought it was Shetland jumper weight, to be merged with my extensive stash, but when I got it home I found it was distinctly lace-weight. No label at all, gorgeously soft, conceivably even cashmere? Never mind -- the question is what to do with it? and I remain pretty devoid of ideas. Shawls are fun to knit but nobody wears them. Would a side-to-side tee-shirt shape work, like the "Simple Stripes" in KF's "Glorious Knitting"? How does knitting drape when knitted side-to-side?

I've been wondering what to read, now that I'm clear of the Knitlist. (I'm still a member, but I doubt if I'll ever read it again. Too much, too boring.) Maybe I'll give up knitting lists altogether, and just read blogs. I wonder if I could find a vegetable growers list?

The Fair Isle jacket progresses -- unfortunately, that's all there is going to be to say on most days, now, until we get to the next exciting development which will be the neckline.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Fair Isle jacket -- latest Posted by Hello
Gusset and Steek Posted by Hello


I exchanged emails with my sister (who is a doctor) all day yesterday about eye-replacements. I am much comforted by all she says.

My seed potatoes arrived yesterday. Now we'll have to face up to deciding about Strathardle -- am I fit to drive there? My husband seems to think, yes. His own eyesight is acute, and although he doesn't drive, he backseat-drives from the front seat, constantly. He'd know, I think. But not today. I'm tired.

The jacket progresses, as you see. The upper picture is more faithful to the colours, and you can see what I'm worried about -- the change in the effect when I took the pink out, and made other, lesser changes. The lower picture purports to show the sleeve gusset on a stitch-holder, with a sleeve-opening steek replacing them. I found Meg's writings on neckhole steeks, and will certainly try. I also thinki I'll do it her way and knit the sleeves independently and join them at the top. My notes don't say which way I did them on the prototype jacket 12 years ago. Top-down, probably.

When I worked on the Knitlist, I was a member, with the other moderators, of a small private Yahoo Group to which we all posted all our messages to each other about Knitlist business, so that there would be a common archive. Today I got a message from someone who thought I was still a Listmom. I forwarded it to that address, and it bounced, because it seems I'm not a member any more.  Meaning, of course, that someone has gone in and thrown me out. I feel more than slightly miffed. I had thought to remain on the scene as a slightly tetchy elder statesman. I shudda been told, at least.

Oddly, perhaps, I found I was still a Moderator of the Knitlist, according to Yahoo. I figured out how to undo that status myself, so have had the small satisfaction of laying down my commission before it was stripped from me.

The latest issue of the British magazine "Knitting" turned up the other day -- it's now monthly. I have never knit anything from it nor been seriously tempted to. but I'm glad it's here. Now, according to the UKhandknitters group, there is to be another British magazine, starting in March. So all we need are some yarn shops, and we're all set for a renaissance.

While we were in Kirkmichael last week, I got this year's Games programme, and my heart sank. The two knitting categories are 1) a poncho and 2) best use of 100 grams of yarn. I refuse to knit a poncho. I suppose I could use exactly 100 grams for a pair of socks, if I did them toe-up, but I don't want to do them toe-up. The baking categories which granddaughter Lizzie might enter looked similarly dismal. What are "petticoat tails"? That was one of them.

But a second reading proved more cheerful. In the handicrafts section there appears "Hat-- any craft". So I'll knit my friend Janis Witkins' hat from the latest Knitter's -- or do I gather that there's another one just out? Anyway, Janis Witkins' hat. And Lizzie can try for the Jublee Rosebowl: a recipe for coffee-and-pecan cake is included. Everybody has to use the same recipe. It sounds delicious, even if she doesn't win.

The oddest thing about living in the antipodes, even odder than having to walk about on your hands, must be observing Lent in the diminishing light of autumn.



Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Ash Wednesday

Perhaps, after all. no illustration today.

The eye news is as bad as feared. I'm really not safe on the roads, and will have a (very expensive) cataract operation at some point in the next couple of months. I won't, at least for the moment, go in to the tedious reasons for why-not-immediately. Waiting for the National Health Service would get me the operation free, but would mean waiting all summer.

I had thought a cataract operation involved peeling off a cataract and revealing, anew, the world. My man says that it involves, on the contrary, OPENING THE EYE (mustn't shout) and replacing the lens with a plastic one. I will even have some imput, as we say, on choosing how myopic my new eye is to be. Could this be true? Is the man sane?

I am fortunate that my life is a fairly structured one. I cannot fall upon the floor and shout and scream. There are beds to be made and meals to be cooked and a general understanding that too much fuss is not to be made. But oh! dear.

I don't know what we'll do about Strathardle. Take a chance, I suspect, when my seed potatoes arrive and need to be set out to chit; perhaps pick a moment when we can stay a whole week; and then, once we're safely back here,  wait. My eye man says that in some American states it is possible to get a restricted license, allowing one, for instance, to drive in broad daylight but not at night. I think he thinks I'm more or less all right for that sort of thing. But the Worst Case Scenario is when something happens and the insurance company says, you-didn't-tell-us-your-sight-was-that-bad.

Enough of that. I've resumed knitting the Fair Isle jacket. I was wandering around the internet yesterday and discovered that the Knitting Curmudgeon ( recommends the book "Sweaters From Camp" for its pages of technique. I own it, and got it out, and indeed it's pretty good. I will soon need to know how to deal with steeks. I'll need to cut (and secure?) the armhole steeks, in order to knit the sleeves. Even before that, how to shape the neckline? I had thought that I would switch, at that point, to knitting back and forth, cutting the yarn after every row and starting again at the other end -- I've done that at some point in my past, and I believe that that's what they do on Shetland. What I (and the Shetlanders, as I understand it) refuse to do, is purl.

But Meg says in "Sweaters from Camp" that a steek will work at the neckline, too. I don't quite see how, but I'll think about it. I have, in my day, knit a sweater right up to the neck, defined a v-neck with first basting and then machine stitching, and then cut it out. Worked fine.

I've been in touch with a website which offers commenting facilities (and is used by both Queer Joe and the Curmudgeon). I've copied the necessary code, and I've printed out my template to CONtemplate. So maybe that's progress.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Our new refrigerator Posted by Hello

Fat Tuesday

It always distresses my pedantic soul when the word "carnival" is applied to anything except today. The word means, of course, farewell-to-meat, and even if Lent is not to be observed with quite that rigour, "carnival" ought to imply, I think, a day (or days) which precede a period of fasting of some sort. Merely prancing about the streets and singing and shouting doesn't entirely qualify, in my view.

Be that as it may...

The refrigerator arrived promptly, and looks much like its predecessor. It's not as tall as I expected (that's good)  We were distinctly anxious in advance about whether it would fit between the hanging cupboard and the next wall. We measured and measured and measured, and we were right -- but we weren't sure of that until it slid back into its place. Curiously, the photograph seems to suggest that it stands forward of the wall cupboard, but that is not the case. Now there are far too many refrigerators around here. The City of Edinburgh will eventually remove our old one, if we can't find a deserving charity in the meantime. I hate throwing away a functioning machine, however elderly.

Today is the day of my ordeal with the oculist. One thing which has always been a comfort to me, when visiting my Eye Man, is that, whatever he says, it's not going to be a moral issue. No matter how bad my eyes turn out to be today, it won't be because I didn't floss, or didn't eat enough fruit and vegetables, or didn't exercise enough. Not that I accuse myself of any of those faults.

I have had a most sustaining message from my long-time cyber-friend Marion, who knows something about eyes. I'm still scared.

The Ribwarmer

I finished edging it for the third time. I think it's fine, although it could probably do with being blocked again. For the moment I've just stuiffed it in the cupboard. Now back to the Fair Isle jacket. I'm concerned, again, that the transition from the part where I was messing around with colour, to the part where I am happy with my selection, is too great. Picture tomorrow.

Monday, February 07, 2005

A Groundhog Posted by Hello

I was going to leave this one un-illustrated, but my sister sent me that nice groundhog from Essex, CT.

I stumbled on an interesting blog yesterday: It's called "Baghdad Burning" and purports to be the diary of a resident. It sounds genuine. She must be either a native English speaker (probably) or have spent some years in Britain or America. Time may tell.

Back at the Ranch...

Today's excitement is -- should be -- the arrival of a new refrigerator. All being well, there will be a picture of it tomorrow. We bought the outgoing one 30 years ago.

Tomorrow's excitement (on the other hand) is a visit to my oculist. I am frightened. My eyesight is getting worse. It's fine for most purposes -- I can read, and knit, and cook, and walk about without bumping into things. But am I still safe on the road? When I discussed this with my Eye Man a year ago, there was a certain amount of sucking in of breath through teeth, although he wound up saying I was OK. We could live happily enough (and more cheaply) in Edinburgh without a car -- but we couldn't get to and from Strathardle. Last year I thought, well, I won't go see him in '05 until the crops are in. But then, the other day, I decided that that was irresponsible. I gather that a cataract operation might extend my driving life -- not a pleasant thought, although those who have been through it speak highly of ithe results. My husband could drive, if push came to shove. His eyesight is excellent, despite diabetes. He's out of practice, but still licensed and insured.

Well, of that you will hear more on Wednesday.

The Ribwarmer

I got the old binding off last night. It had to be replaced -- the stitches around the edge looked raised and knit-into, and couldn't be left to themselves. I'm now about half way around. I used extra-big needles for the lower front corner, and did four or five unattached rounds among the attached ones. We shall see. It may need to be blocked again.


I got a wonderful message from Julianne yesterday about the France-Scotland match. She (like the Scotland coach) thought we wuz robbed. She sent her message as one of those Anonymous comments, but included her email address in the text and thus could be replied-to. That's another way of doing it. (The other being to email me directly:

To finish off the weekend, Ireland beat Italy in Rome yesterday. Ireland are favoured by some to come out on top this year. I think on the whole I will cheer for Wales when those two nations meet, although it is hard not to be in love with the Irish captain, Brian O'Driscoll.




Sunday, February 06, 2005

Boring! Posted by Hello

The picture above shows my progress with the ribbing of the newly-commenced Koigu sweater for daughter Rachel. I'm nearly finished with that bit, and on our next visit the fun will start. On his visit last week, James was wearing the prototype. It was interesting to observe from the actual sweater (as I had noticed in photographs of it) that the coloured stripes appear to be wider than the black ones, although each is in fact five rows.

I had a nice message from Serena about the problems of Listmom'ery. I wrote a substantial reply without realising that her message had arrived as one of those anonymous comments that I can't reply to. If you'll write to me at I'll dig my reply out and send it again, Serena.

I decided yesterday that I have reached the armpits of the Fair Isle jacket -- 17". Even though the gussets only have 21 stitches instead of the 25 I was aiming at. So I put the gussets on stitch holders and cast on steeks above them, and now, alas, I am honour bound to do as promised and turn my sttention back to the blasted ribwarmer with its too-tight edging. It won't take long. Let's get it done.

I wrote the following paragraphs last night. I think I'll leave the tenses unchanged. Think "Saturday":

The sock needles I ordered from Queer Joe a week ago astonished me by turning up today. No customs duty, either. I am delighted with them. I sat down straight away and knit the current travel-sock (destined for grandson Thomas the Elder) onto the new needles. Later in the day, this year's international rugby season began. The opening day proved very exciting, and no knitting was possible except the simplest sock, so the new needles got a good workout. They are made of an Indian wood called "surina", according to Queer Joe. He says they are less brittle than the Brittany birches which have been my favourites up until now, and I can believe it. They are sharper than the Brittany's, too. And a wonderful, soothing colour. -- click on Doublepointed. Highly recommended.

[There are Six Nations in international rugby-- England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Wales, to list them in alphabetical order. Everybody plays everybody and the best team is declared the winner, but there are various frissons along the way. Each of the other five, for instance, are especially pleased when they or anyone else beats England, because England are so good. Italy has never done it. Wales did it today. We in Scotland cheer for France, in honour of the Auld Alliance, except when they are actually playing us, as they were today. They won, alas -- but it was a thriller. Scotland are universally agreed to be rubbish, down there with Italy; France were last year's winners. The match was in Paris -- playing at home is worth at least one extra man on the field. We were ahead until the last 15 minutes.]

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Snowdrops Posted by Hello
My vegetable garden Posted by Hello

Home again, again

A week of astonishing weather -- it must have frightened the Groundhog, because it's deteriorating now. Not only was the air temperature vernal, but the ground was unfrozen and more or less workable. I turned the first spadefuls of earth of 2005, and pulled up some noxious weeds. (Creeping buttercup is my worst enemy.) The joy of working in February is that it'll stay done for a while -- unlike May, when it all has to be done again the following week.

We had a jolly visit from Alexander and Ketki and their sons, but I didn't take any pictures. Thomas the Younger is nearly three months old, and at the most enchanting stage of babyhood, smiling and gurgling and joining fully in the conversation, but immobile. I made a good start on the grown-up striped Koigu I am knitting for daughter Rachel. The tedious initial ribbing, three inches,  is nearly finished -- a picture was taken of that, which will follow soon.

We hope to visit the Alexander Mileses at their new house in the west, later this month. I'll take pictures then.

Today's pictures are (a) snowdrops, on what we grandly call the West Lawn. We've got lots more, but these particular ones were put in by me last spring. (Snowdrops, unlike other bulbs, are best transplanted with their leaves when they are active.) I'm pleased with the result. We don't have any drifts of snowdrops, however, such as we saw everywhere by the roadside as we drove home yesterday. Maybe, in time.

And (b) my vegetable garden, as viewed from the house. The flowerpot-thing is there to force some rhubarb. I had hoped that the first shoots might be making some progress, in this mild winter, but there's no sign of them yet. More pictures of this happy scene will follow, insh'Allah, as the year unfolds.

I am free of the Knitlist, and, at the moment, not even reading it. So there's no excuse for not getting to grips with HTML and improving the Blog out of recognition. And bringing my poor neglected website up to date. Last year on Ash Wednesday (which looms again) I deleted Freecell from my computer. The time thereby free'd up vanished almost at once, and I fear the same thing will happen again.

The Fair Isle jacket is now virtually at the armpits. It looks, indeed, rather long -- I'll do some calculating today. A picture of that, too, will follow soon.