Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The weather forecast I heard in the night made it sound as if March is really going to come in like a lion this year. Maybe we won’t get to Strathardle on Thursday. Cold, we’re up to, but deep deep deep snow is not such fun in old age.

I’m occupied with row 45 of the Princess. The difficulty lies in tearing myself away from it long enough to tidy up the (very few) loose ends of the Nudibranch, or think about how to knit a lacy Calcutta Cup.

Studying my six-year-old notes and swatches, I see that I knit a horizontal line of stitches which stand proud of their background, as the base of the Cup. I half-remember doing it. It explains some of the vagueness of my chart – I’ve just drawn a squiggly line to represent that bit.

I think I remember that Margaret Stove herself, who visited here that year, taught me how to do it. But I can’t find any record of the technique, either in my books – would it be called “chain stitch”, perhaps? – or in loose notes.

It must be a form of travelling stitch – create an extra stitch, knit it across the row by twisting the real stitches behind it, get rid of it. Sounds plausible. I mean to try it this evening. But if anyone has the faintest idea what I’m talking about, I’d be really grateful to hear. jean at milesandmiles dot demon dot co dot uk.

Amongst the stuff I’ve kept relating to Kirsty's shawl, I find a letter from Thomas-the-Elder (Thomas-the-Only, in those days) thanking us for a Christmas subscription to Rugby World. He must have been 15, and writes: “Rugby is a game which involves 15 players and an oval ball, the object being to score ‘points’ or ‘tries’. I’m not sure if you have rugby up in Scotland, but I’ve certainly never heard of your national team.”

It would be more useful to have notes on chain stitch.

Here’s the Nudibranch, with our reclycling stuff in the background. The Maya yarn turned up yesterday. I’m still waiting for the Malibrigo. Last week when my sister-in-law came to lunch, I tried to explain what a “shrug” is, not being entirely clear myself. She thought it sounded dreadful and that I should knit something else for the Games.


Knitting a Calcutta Cup into your forthcoming Fair Isle is not a bad idea, Alexander, and means that I’d have to get it well started before this time next year. It would definitely be cheating to knit the Cup into anything while the Cup itself was in Twickenham.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Blogger isn't doing scanned pictures these days -- let's try it this way.  Posted by Picasa
Well, I’ve calmed down somewhat. Lorna, I’ve emailed the SRU to ask if the Calcutta Cup will be on public display, and then, in what I thought was a stroke of genius, emailed this to the letters page of the Scotsman: “Are there any plans to put the Calcutta Cup on public exhibition? Photographs would suggest that it's quite an interesting object.”

We shall see.

As to knitting it, Laurie, you’re a mind-reader. A friend had already asked if I were going to do another shawl, and I put in a bit of time yesterday with that theme to my background-thinking. There’s no realistic prospect of a baby on the horizon, so a shawl per se is out. My first thought was to run up a fisherman’s-gansey thing for Alexander’s son James with the Cup and “2006”, translated into a purl-on-knit pattern, in the plain bit between welt and pattern. There were drawbacks to that idea – the transitory nature of a child’s sweater, the fact that my knitting programme for Ought Six is already pretty full.

Then I had what I think is the answer: set it into the Princess Shawl. The shawl is so big that it won’t be distressingly conspicuous. I will create a lacy frame around a little box in one of the outside panels of the border – which I am actually knitting at the moment – and simply drop it in, the Cup with “2006” beneath it.

To this end I got out my notes for Kirsty's shawl. They are distressingly sketchy – I presumably thought it couldn’t possibly happen again in my lifetime – but there’s something there, and I remember that the curved handles of my lacy Cup, which presented the greatest problem, are based on Pattern 63 in Susanna Lewis’ “Knitting Lace”, and her subsequent development of what she calls an “intriguing diagonal faggot pattern” on page 145.

I would have to re-draw the charts anyway, because I will be knitting bottom-up and the other time it was top-down. Reversing lace can throw up unexpected problems. I’m afraid I’ll actually have to swatch it.

This plan may mean that Thomas-the-Elder won’t let his bride wear it on her wedding day, but that’s up to him. By then England will have won the Cup so many more times that maybe he won’t mind.

The Cup itself figured in many a photograph in yesterday’s papers, and is even more interesting than I had remembered. The three handles are pythons, and the surface is covered with engraving. It’s quite big. I’d really love to have a close look.


Neither of my newly-ordered yarns turned up on Saturday, so I’ve still got them to look forward to.

I did row 43 of the Princess Shawl border last night, and turned around and made a start on 44.

Beadslut, I was delighted to hear that you downed a celebratory draft in Edradour – that’s our local distillery when we’re in Strathardle. The smallest in Scotland, I think.

Swapna, I can’t phone Rachel. However sollicitous and motherly I tried to appear, she would know that I was seething with happiness and I would know that she was miserable because the men she loves are miserable. We’re hoping to go to Strathardle later this week, when I would hope to finished her striped Koigu. We’re hoping to go to London in mid-March, so I could take it to her.

Alexander is 46 today. He was born in a Leap Year and has never been entirely forgiven for not holding out for the extra 48 hours.

I’ll try to get a decent photograph of the finished Nudibranch today.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I’m still tingling, to an extent that it’s hard to think about knitting. The tension was incredible. The last time we won the Calcutta Cup – by a very similar score – England were beaten and demoralised at the end, as I remember it, and although it was exciting, it was bearable. This time, England were ferocious – and brilliant -- to the very last moment. The possibility was alive and real, right up until the final seconds, that they’d get the ball and get through our line. Alexander rang up just after the final whistle to say that he had nearly vomited.

I spoke to Rachel before kick-off. She lives in a house full of rabid Englishmen, and she said she actually hoped that England would win, so miserable would her men-folk be otherwise. I haven’t dared approach her since.

The Scottish Rugby Union will never know what it owes to my Blogreaders, but I know, and your support was much appreciated.

I wonder if it will be possible to go see the Cup at Murrayfield. I was sorry, when this happened six years ago, that I never tried to find out. It’s one of the oldest sporting trophies in the world, possibly the oldest. It’s obviously of Indian manufacture, with a sweet little elephant on top. The story is that the original contenders contributed their rupees to be melted down to make it.


I’m glad to hear that Tom Lehrer is remembered. Mama Lu, I’ll follow up that link. I had the good fortune in my youth to hear the man himself, at some NYC night spot, before I had heard of him. I later got at least one record, and knew it pretty well by heart.

Thanks for the support on the subject of sheep, too. Once I saw a Cambridge University extrance exam – they don’t have such things any more – on which appeared the question: “Could you tell which activities on Mars are games?” I often think about it, and perhaps in another ten or twenty years, I’ll be ready to write my essay. One thing is certain, although I’m not sure it’s relevant: lambs play. They get together in childish gangs as soon as they are fully mobile, and they play.


I’d better put in something on the subject.

I mentioned the other day that The Knitting Curmudgeon had offered the opinion that it is the excellence of amateur knitting design out here in cyberspace, which has driven the magazines into their current state of torpor. In her latest post, she has a useful list of on-line pattern sources. I’ve got to bookmark it somehow, or even print it out.

Thanks to commenters for the remarks on decreasing. It looks as if I’ve got the wrong Montse Stanley, for this purpose. Mine is “Knitting Your Own Designs for a Perfect Fit.” But I couldn’t find a “decrease bind-off”, as I now know it’s called, even in POK. My copy of the Vogue Knitting Book is in Kirkmichael, assisting with the collar of Rachel’s striped Koigu. I’ll look there as soon as we get back.

For the Nudibranch – which, incidentally, is now finished – this bind-off worked very well. In fact, everything worked very well. I’m delighted with the result. Lorna in the pattern instructions suggests going to Google, clicking on “Images”, and typing in “nudibranch”, to see the colourways nature suggests.

Today I’ll take some deep breaths and try to calm down and resume the Princess Shawl.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


What Pheidippides said was, "Joy. We win."

Calcutta Cup Day

Kick-off is at 5:30 Greenwich Mean Time. (Yet another honest sport has been dragged into the hours of darkness by the forces of commercialism.) The answer will be known, therefore, by mid-afternoon on the Eastern Seaboard. If the miracle happens, I will post again. Pheidippides’ dying words should suffice, and would strike an appropriate Olympic note.

More likely, I will be here as usual tomorrow morning, in maybe-next-year mode.

All week I have been thinking of the Tom Lehrer song which gladdened my distant youth: “Fight fiercely, Scotland! Fight! Fight! Fight!” Or something like that.


What’s the matter with everybody all of a sudden? It must be spring.

Annie Modesitt is a designer of whom I stand in awe, and a blogger I read regularly. Yesterday I found a picture of some sheep on her Blog: “I just love the sheep. Aren't they beautiful - isn't this an astounding photo? The colors are so rich and deep, the expressions on the faces are so frank.”

And Franklin, for whom my admiration is well-known, likewise provides a link to pictures of sheep, and proceeds to rhapsodise about them.

I’m sorry to have to say it, but sheep aren’t much better than rabbits, in the animal-kingdom scale of things. They’re smelly. They’re stupid. A field over-populated with them is unpleasant to walk through. They get into your vegetable garden when they find a weakness in the wall, or when an idiot country-lover leaves the gate open down the commonty. The expression on their faces never changes – that’s how sheep look. They’re worse than rabbits because you’re not allowed to shoot them.

Once, long, long ago I was preparing sheep's brains for supper. James, then pretty small, asked what it was, and I told him, and he said, quite rightly, “Sheep can’t think.”

The sheep we live among are Scottish Blackface, which aren’t even any good for knitting. They make nice lamb chops, but the wool is only of use for carpet-backing.

Despite all of which, I look forward to the lambs.


The Nudibranch is still not finished, but nearly. It’s wonderful. I thought, when I was well into the casting-off, that it was going to be too short, but I was wrong. It’s perfect. I want to knit another one.

The cast-off is an interesting one, and I don’t see it in any of my books:

K 2 tog
Return the resulting stitch to the left-hand needle

I think it’s probably something like the “suspended cast-off” (which I’ve never tried and don’t entirely understand), and its purpose if so will be to provide a slightly stretchy edge. I’ll have to take the matter up with Lorna, who designed it.

Yesterday I ordered both sets of yarn, as discussed in previous days. Both promised speedy first-class posting. So if both arrive this morning, does that mean Scotland will win?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Not much to report.

The Nudibranch is not finished, although today may do it. Since I am increasing as well as casting-off, the experience is much like knitting on a treadmill. I continue to be delighted with the result.

No yarn ordered yet, either. My husband’s sister came to lunch yesterday – minestrone and French bread, insouciance again after a morning of laborious chopping. She happened to be in our neck of the woods to attend a funeral at our local crematorium. We talked about where we wanted to be buried, or rather she did. It was a question that much agitated my mother in her later years.

Miscellaneous Space-Fill

Have a look at this for a record of a glorious yarn-crawl that would take years to knit.

I am taken with The Knitting Curmudgeon's idea that the knitting magazines are so boring these days because the Internet has empowered us all – they can’t compete with what bloggers are designing and exchanging among themselves.

The Guernsey Wool site is up again this morning. I wrote to her again about the pattern that failed to turn up with my order.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Calcutta Cup

With Franklin on our side (yesterday’s comment), we can’t lose. Poor England. It hardly seems fair.

Thomas-the-Elder’s girlfriend has gone to South America, or some such continent, for a few months and he is feeling sad. His mother Rachel wrote the other day, “Monica flew off today. Thomas is bereft. Perhaps a strong English victory will help to cheer him up.”

Note, “will” – not even “would”. It would be an understandable, although extreme, remark if England were playing any other Nation – France, Ireland, Wales, Italy, spring to mind. But this is Calcutta Cup week. They’re playing US. It shows the extremes to which a mother’s love can drive a woman.


Look at that – not just twirly and swirly, but a perfect spiral! I am working the combined final-increase and cast-off, and due to the involvement of a second circular needle, it’s utterly easy. I probably should have brought the other needle into play sooner.

Maya and Malabrigo

Yesterday was a day of considerable excitement, and today is likely to be one of extravagance.

Helen wrote to say that she had found “137 yards” pencilled on the label of some old Maya. Those were 100-grams skeins. Well, the Malabrigo which HipKnits has got in, is 135 yards per 100 grams. So it seems safe to assume it’ll knit up the same way, especially since both were dyed by Uruguyan peasant communes. Holly’s comment later in the day confirms the result.

But then I followed Sue’s lead in yesterday’s comment to the Get Knitted site, where Maya is being sold at discounted if not entirely cheap prices. Oh dear.

I suspect what will happen is that I’ll buy some of each. If I followed my husband’s sound principal and asked myself, “What are you going to do with it?”, I would have to reply, Well, one is for a shrug to enter in the Games, and the other is for – oh dear – stash.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I’m glad you’re listening, Lorna (comment yesterday). I’m now knitting row 9 of the Nudibranch, the third of four plain rows after the Big Increase, and things are marginally easier. The contrast yarn appears on row 10. It must have been most gratifying for you, when the prototype was recognised as a sea slug. And Kate, thank you both for “twirly-swirly-hurly across the room” and for news of the Curly Whirlies blogspot, which I hadn’t known about. There’s some good stuff there.

I looked back to the Koigu pattern I used for a couple of Christmas presents. It’s less swirly. The Nudibranch goes, roughly, from 140 stitches to 210, to 420, to 840, to 1680. I’ve got 840 at the moment (but I’m not going to count them).

Maybe I’m going to have to round this off by getting the XRX scarf book to see what Rick Mondragon’s take on the thing is. That’s where my quest started, with a photograph advertising the book.

I’ve heard from HipKnits, and it’s true that they’ve got Malibrigio yarns. She’s planning to launch them next month. She offers to let me have some now, but I think I’ll wait, and meanwhile try to figure out how much I need. I know I knit a ribwarmer with four skeins of Debbie Bliss “Maya”, which seems to have disappeared, at least from John Lewis, and which I now learn was a real Uruguyan homespun, like Manos and Malibrigio. No wonder it was so nice.

But the ball-band I have retained doesn’t say what the yardage was, so that’s not much help. And this time I want to add sleeves. Perhaps someone on KnitTalk might have an idea. I’m enjoying them.

Here’s a picture of my new Guernsey yarn. I can hardly wait to get started. I wrote to them yesterday about the missing pattern, but the message bounced. And this morning the webpage is down.


The priest at Kirsty’s Christening seemed to regard the Calcutta Cup as a perfectly natural symbol for the shawl of a child with Scottish connections born in 2000. “Maybe this will be our year to beat them,” he said. By “our” he meant “Ireland’s”, of course, and by “them” he meant “England”, even more of course. And Ireland did beat them, that year.

The England rugby team is very fierce and nearly always beats everybody and we all hate them.

More non-knit

The High Court decided yesterday that some fat-cat bankers must be extradited to the US on charges related to the collapse of Enron. There is, apparently, a new extradition law in Britain which means that the US does not even have to present a case for extradition, just to announce to the court that there is one.

I heard one of the bankers on the radio yesterday. This will mean, he said, two years in a Texas jail before trial. His legal expenses are likely to run into millions. So if he’s an innocent man and is therefore acquitted, he will have served a jail term and been bankrupted. It does seem harsh. Since the crime, if there was one, was committed in England against an English bank (NatWest), he doesn’t quite see why he can’t be tried here.

But the point of the new extradition law, apparently, is “terrorists”. If you’re a brown man who lives down a back street, the US can have you any time it wants. And then what?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sue, that is really exciting news – that HipKnits has, or will soon have, Malibrigio yarn here in Britain. I don’t mind paying a lot – it’s the knock on the door and the demand for an unpredictable whole-lot-more that I object to. It’s not on the website yet – maybe I’ll write to her today. Can I resist? I doubt it.

And while I was writing that paragraph, the doorbell rang and the coned Guernsey yarn in Herring Girls Pink arrived. It’s a good colour – less pinky than the photograph of the sweater on the website, more like the colour on the colour page. She’s forgotton to include the pattern I ordered – I’ll have to chase that up.

Here’s a picture (utterly useless) of the current state of the Nudibranch. I’m in the middle -- past the middle -- of knitting the big 'un – the row where about 500 stitches are increased to about 1000. It’s tough going but perfectly do-able. The contrast yarn arrived yesterday from Laughing Hens, a nice blue alpaca. Swirly scarves don’t look like anything until they get cast off.

More thinking about shrugs. I don’t want to knit the type of shrug which consists of a rectangle with cuffs at either end. Why not add ¾ sleeves to an EZ Ribwarmer? I am rather taken with the idea. I’ve knit the Ribwarmer twice, so I’m confident I could keep it short and make the lapel curves deep.


And here’s a picture of my Calcutta Cup mug, which I only use this one week of the year. The picture really belonged yesterday, but the camera battery failed me.

James has just wirtten to say that the tea bags have arrived in Beijing. It used to be that packages sent to China took forever, presumably while Chinese customs had a good think. They must be smartening up their act for the Olympics.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Knitting moved forward on several fronts yesterday.

1) I started the Nudibranch. I have been sort of worried about this project because (attentive readers will remember) I had to abort my first attempt at a swirly scarf, probably in November, because it was so tight that I simply couldn’t hack it. This time I must finish, for Lorna’s sake. But all is well so far. I’m nearly finished with an increase-in-every-stitch row (Row Three, it is) and two plain ones follow.

2) I heard again from the Guernsey yarn supplier – my yarn will be in the mail today. We hesitated between two and three cones: she offered to sell me two and keep one aside of the same dyelot, but I opted to buy all three. Less stressful. But it was kind of her.

3) I downloaded this shrug pattern (one of the links Judith sent me) – but on peering at it, I discovered that it is knit on Size 11 (US) needles, at a gauge of 3 sts to the inch. I feel that’s not me. So my current plan is to use this Shrug pattern generator, another of Judith’s links. I had a brief mental flirtation with the idea of ordering some kettle-dyed Malibrigio yarn, but Google failed to produce a British source and I suspect I’ve got plenty of suitable stuff in stash so I have tried not to think about it too much. There was a little story in the paper yesterday about how a lot of heroin-smuggling is done by mail these days, but there was no explanation as to how to address the package so as to avoid a customs inspection such as always seems to happen with yarn. Perhaps you have to bribe someone.

4) And I joined KnitTalk, a Yahoo group. It’s kind of fun, doing all the talking myself, but I miss the sense of community. Thank you, Barbara.


In the Good Old Days, the priest wore purple vestments at Mass, rather than green, on the three Sundays before Ash Wednesday, so one had some warning and time to rev oneself up for Lent, if desired. Nowadays, the only warning comes from the foodie magazines with their articles about pancakes.

But Shrove Tuesday (=Pancake Day) got sort of squeezed out this year. The February magazines, published in early January, were all about the Chinese New Year, and the March ones, published in early February, skipped ahead to Laetare Sunday in mid-Lent, although they’d be surprised if you told them so.

So I went to Mass yesterday really not knowing whether Ash Wednesday was this week or next. It matters, because the Calcutta Cup is this week and one would like to drown one’s sorrows in something stronger than Schweppes Bitter Lemon. I am very likely the only person in the world who has ever knit the Calcutta Cup into a Christening Gown – scroll down to the bottom of the page, if you visit it, to find out what the Cup is.

Ash Wednesday is next week, so it’s OK.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I pushed things a bit, and finished row 42 of the Princess yesterday. That’s a good place to leave it, because a Whole New Pattern-Stitch will be introduced on Row 43. Talk about excitement. So tonight it will be Lorna's nudibranch.

And IK surprised me by turning up – it always gets here much faster than Knitter’s, without seeming to have to resort to airmail. I was briefly tempted by Pam Allen’s shrug, as a possible Games entry: but decided that I was uneasy about the lacey wristlets, and uninspired by the yarn, which would have the additional disadvantage of being expensive even if the customs people didn’t catch me this time. I downloaded the pattern for the Kate Gilbert jacket, but what with eight pages of small print, and my knitting schedule pretty tight until at least mid-’07, I doubt if I’ll get around to it.

I greatly admire Kate Gilbert.

And I heard back from the Guernsey yarn people, and have placed the order for Herring Girls Pink, credit-card number and all. Maureen, thank you for the suggestion about Liz Lovick’s Herring Girls pattern: I ordered it, too, and I think it’ll be useful. What I meant by my rather snooty remark the other day about patterns, is that I tend not to buy books any more which are simply a collection of patterns. I saw a nice Jean Moss book in a charity shop yesterday, for instance, at a reasonable price, and left it there. An exception will always be made for any book by Kaffe or Candace Strick.


There was an article in yesterday’s Waffy which began, believe it or not, “The road from Pitlochry to Strathardle in Perthshire takes you through some of the most desolate and barren countryside in Scotland.” And a bit later on: “A less promising place to grow food crops it would be hard to imagine.”

It was about some folk in Enoch Dhu (within walking distance of us, if one were feeling energetic) who grow organic vegetables. Their Big Idea is to mix compost with fine rock dust, obtained from a quarry. It is supposed to restore leeched-out trace elements to the impoverished soil.

I knew they were there, and now I really will have to go see them. They have also got a lot of glass and polytunnels, by which I am not tempted. I will acquire a sack of fine rock dust from them if my husband will let me, but he won’t be keen.

I suppose when one limes one’s patch, one is in fact spreading fine rock dust. Look at it that way.

The other thing in yesterday’s Waffy was an article about the Flylady, one of whose acolytes I am more than slightly embarrassed to confess that I am. (Although you wouldn’t suspect it to look around here, I think she’s done me some good, too.) A picture of her accompanied the article, and far from being the soigne figure of my imagination, she is stout. Stouter than I am. I find this enormously endearing, and encouraging.

(I wrote the word cafe the other day, and Microsoft Word automatically adorned it with an accent. Soigne is apparently outside their vocabulary, or perhaps I'm spelling it wrong.)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Alexander rang up yesterday and said that he doesn’t want a fisherman’s sweater. He wants color. KF? No, he wants Fair Isle. Well, that’s going to be easy and fun, but for the time being we agreed – he suggested – that I forge ahead and knit a gansey for Ketki. So I have ordered Herring Girls Pink, or at any rate I have enquired of the website whether two cones is enough, and expressed an intention to order.

It is a good general rule of life, when things seem to be drifting inexorably in the wrong direction, to stand up and say so. Can’t hurt, might help.

My current thought is to go for Mrs Laidlaw’s Pattern (Thompson), for old time’s sake. No chart is provided, so the swatch can also serve as a stand-in for a chart. I also like the Snakes-and-Ladders pattern shewn on a child’s sweater on the cover of Brown-Reinsel. That’s my fallback position.

Mrs Laidlaw would have to be done all-over, I think, without a plain section at the bottom before the patterning starts. But I want a shoulder strap – I love shoulder straps. Maybe I could put a snake on it, if that’s the term – one of those cables that never crosses, as in Snakes and Ladders just mentioned. And a stand-away collar. Mary Morrison has some remarks in her post of February 2 on that subject.

And as far as a Fair Isle for Alexander is concerned, pattern hardly matters, anything, more or less, will do – colour is all. When I knit Rachel’s jacket last year, I restricted myself severely to colours which were already in my considerable stash. The stash is, to all appearances, utterly undiminished, but I think I will allow myself more latitude this time. (=order more yarn, if necessary)

Meanwhile, here’s a progress pic of the Princess. I’m working row 40, which begins to sound seriously grown-up. I have been knitting lacey chevrons all this time, moving outwards in both directions one stitch on every row. And last night, major excitement – they met, and became no longer chevrons but one long, zigzag line the length of the border. And new chevrons, which will ultimately become a parallel zigzag line, have sprung up.

It’s such fun, and so easy. I think that edging was the hardest lace knitting I’ve ever done, all 85 repeats of it. I still can’t believe how easy the border is, so far.

But talk about undiminished. I knit a thousand or more stitches a day. The 20 gram ball of yarn never changes size in the slightest.


Franklin, Janis, thank you. I wrote a comment of my own to reply to yours – attached to yesterday’s post.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The big excitement yesterday was that my seed potatoes arrived.

Normally, I take them to Kirkmichael for chitting. It’s colder there, and it’s bracing for them. But we have had mouse trouble this winter, as previously chronicled. I think we’ve dealt with the problem, and there are ways of protecting the potatoes such as balancing the trays on empty bottles, but I don’t want to risk it, this time.

Fisherman’s Sweater

I was in John Lewis’s yarn department yesterday, and – yes, I know I had been there only two days before, with Helen, but I had errands at the bank, the post office, and Boots, so it lay directly in my path. And I found this, and was tempted. (Blogger is refusing to upload my nice scanned image, so I had to photograph it -- but you get the idea.)

Why go further and fare worse? All the work done for me, no charts to struggle with, I could change the neck, colours good and the yarn delicious to handle. I bought the book, as you see (I don’t often buy patterns these days), and felt like a rabbit in the headlights. But as soon as I got home, I decided that I wouldn’t be able to stand the faux-ness of it.

Thank you for your comments, Mama Lu. Alexander is worried by that pink, too. I’m pretty sure I’m going to go for claret (colour-wise, I mean). His wife Ketki gets copies of the emails we exchange, and rarely intervenes – she’s got a bank to run. But she did step in this week to say that she’d like a sweater in Herring Girls Pink. It would suit her, too. So we may be here for a while.

[And it’s all down to Franklin. I sent the URL for his cartoon of November 9 to my four children, and Alexander replied rather sourly that it didn’t have any relevance to him because I hadn’t knit him anything for decades. Which was true.]

As to seeing my knitting, I can see anything with my new plastic eyes (after two cataract operations last year). I knit the Princess Shawl edging on something conspicuous, perhaps even ebony, and was really worried – this was pre-operation – about how I was going to see the stitches when I had to switch to a long grey Inox. No trouble at all.

The Princess is getting on fine. I don’t know when I’ve had such fun. A snail would laugh at the rate of progress – currently, row 38 – but even at that pace, motifs are completed, other motifs introduced, and I am led ever onwards as if Sheherezade herself were dictating the pattern.

My current plan – if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans for tomorrow – is to lay it aside next week (Calcutta Cup week) and test-knit Lorna's nudibranch pattern. Then I will resume the Princess at least until I finish the current chart-page (row 62), perhaps a bit more if it’s no later than April. Then lay it aside again to knit my sister’s shawl. And that may have to be interrupted to knit the shrug which will be my Games entry (4th Saturday in August). Then when shawl and shrug are finished, it’ll be Princess, Princess, Princess.

I’m enjoying the joint blog of two Princess knitters, but from the nature of the thing it isn’t updated very often.


Cat, I sent you a reply to your question about rhubarb, from your website.

Mama Lu, my edition of Thompson is the Dover one, too, but it says it’s unabridged. I remember when that book came out – it’s one of those memories that locates itself in space: where the book was on the shelf, where the shelf was in the bookcase, where the bookcase was in the bookstore. But I couldn’t afford it, then.

Janet, thank you for your work on the “jersey” and “guernsey” problem. It really does sound as if we could stop worrying.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Well, we’re hard at it, at least planning-wise. Alexander is a bit doubtful about Herring Girls Pink; it might be wiser to go for olive. And he also seems to be uncertain about the dividing line between Arans and ganseys. Good old Google came up with this interesting site first go – I have referred him there to make it somewhat clearer what we’re talking about.

Dawn, I’ve got Henriette van der Klift-Tellegen’s book – and isn’t it a wonderful name? – in English. Is that cheating? (Dryad Press, London, 1987, never heard of them.) I am glad to be reminded of it, and you’re right, it’s full of wonderful pictures and ideas. I’ve also got Mary Wright on Cornish Knit Frocks, Jean, and will bring that into play.

James’ wife Cathy is of Cornish stock, and their youngest child – the very Kirsty whose initials were recently knit into the First Holy Communion veil – was Christened there. I went down – it was a memorable occasion, just about exactly five years ago. I remember the feeling that I had travelled through winter into spring, and through England to be back among Celts again. Recalling Mary Wright’s book, I asked one of Cathy’s aunts whether the word “frock” for a sweater was familiar to her, and it was.

Tamar, I’ve found the passage you mention in Gladys Thompson's book about jerseys-and-guernseys which “differ by reason of the jersey knit…but it would take an expert in wool-craft to tell the difference.” I am inclined to suspect that perhaps the man who wrote it didn't entirely know what he was talking about, and that the two garments are the same. But I can’t find the other one you mention, about Gladys Thompson pursuing a garment and discovering to her disappointment that it was a jersey, not a guernsey. That might settle the issue.

This will be a slow business, because it’ll be done in Kirkmichael. Worse, it looks as if there’s going to be no escape from doing a substantial swatch. But I think I’ll go ahead and order the yarn. I’ve got an idea for an odd-ball sweater for some random grandchild, which I can use to fill the gap if the yarn hasn’t arrived before we next go north.


Meanwhile we’ve got rather behind-hand with the traditional return-from-Strathardle pictures, so here are both.

Since the garden was frozen solid, I thought I wouldn’t wait until the last morning to photograph it, but rather take advantage of the winter sunshine for a picture one could actually see. The pink noses of the rhubarb still aren’t visible, but I read somewhere in the last few days that you don’t need to wait, so that’s the forcing-pot in place.

And here’s Rachel’s sweater.


Mar, I had a Latin teacher too, at APHS, named Irene F Taylor. She was rather awful, no scholar, but one left her hands knowing one’s declensions and conjugations. I had what passes in cyberspace for a stand-up row with M*rg*ret V*l*rd once, over at Knitflame, about the plural of “virus”. She actually asked, “Where did you learn your Latin?” She is welcome to impugn my knitting, but that was an insult too far.

Franklin, thank you. Be careful what you pray for, they say – you might get it. It is good to be reminded that I did get it, and have no cause to be sorry.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I had a very happy day, yesterday. I met Helen in John Lewis’ – the first time I have actually encountered a Blog-reader, other than the ones I’m related to. We had coffee in their new, horrible cafĂ© which no longer has a view of Calton Hill, discovered much in common, and then inspected the new season’s yarns. I flipped through the Rowan magazine and wasn’t tempted. Sharon Miller’s lacey shrug might impress the judges (I’ve got to knit a shrug for this year’s Games) but I don’t think anyone I know and love would wear it. I bought the Main Color for the nudibranch pattern I am about to test-knit for Lorna.

Then I went to the post office and sent 480 Tetley teabags to China. You hit the nail on the head, Beadslut – it’s British grocery store teabags that James and his wife pine for. You’ve got an interesting and amusing blog, too.


Kate, I think a jumper is just any old sweater, whereas a gansey is specifically one of those fisherman’s things, square in shape, with characteristic tight knit-and-purl patterns plus a few cables.

I’ve had Gladys Thompson’s book for ages, and greatly admire it. I sort of think I tried to knit Seahouses Pattern I, Mrs Laidlaw’s Pattern, as an all-over design on a sweater for Alexander when he was about 10, and I sort of think I never finished it. I’ve got Brown-Reinsel as well (I doubt if there is a knitting library to rival mine from one end of Drummond Place to the other), but until yesterday I had never tried to get to grips with it. It’s full of good stuff, and there’s lots I don’t understand so it would be an educational experience to attempt this. And, Mama Lu and Mar, I’m sure you’re both right, the thing would be to relax on gauge. Alexander is not a sea-faring man.

Once when we were on the train to London, and I was knitting a sock as usual, a man sitting across the aisle started talking to me about knitting. He had worked on the fishing boats, and used to have a gansey, he said, which his grandmother had knit for him, which could stand up by itself. That’s the proper object, all right.

Mrs Thompson, as far as I know, was the first to go out into the field, so to speak, and document folk knitting. The first in Britain, anyway.


I think – see the last couple of days for the reference – that what those arrogant television people wanted last week was not our front door per se, but the view from the doorstep, as a background to Andrew Marr’s thoughts on the Scottish Enlightenment. I’m pretty sure, but I’m not going to trouble myself to look it up, that the architecture is well later than the period he was concerned with – but it’s Edinburgh, and rational, and beautiful.

Angel, I’m a pretty hopeless gardener, too, despite my fine talk. And pots are difficult. Do the garden centres around you sell plants for annual bedding in the spring? Annuals are likely to try harder. And in the fall you could plant bulbs. They’re pretty well guaranteed to succeed, at least once. And there’s nothing like a geranium. You could expand your collection. Some of them have wonderful leaves.

Kate, I’m from all over the States and don’t belong anywhere. My parents were essentially mid-westerners. I was born in California because they happened to be there at the time, and lived after that in Salt Lake City, Detroit (in the war years), and finally Asbury Park, NJ (hi, Mar!) from which I fled screaming. College in Ohio. We had a year in Northampton, MA when Rachel was a toddler and Alexander a baby. I liked that a lot. That was before Webs.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Well, you asked for it. Here’s our front door. The picture is gloriously out-of-date, taken at the turn of the millenium. It shows Alistair and Rachel Miles of Beijing, as well as the door – Rachel is the one who is about to make her First Holy Communion in the recently-knitted veil. In this picture, she’s wearing a hat I knitted for her.

The door can also be seen --but rather less of it -- in that signature photograph of my back.

Knittingkate, I cannot begin, cannot begin, to tell you how touched I was to learn from your website that mine is one of the four you visit daily. And that is interesting about your not having known what snowdrops looked like. I don’t suppose I did, either, until I grew up and came to Britain, but I don’t remember my first encounter with them. As you see, they’re desperately sweet, and they herald the coming year undeterred by hard weather.

Valerie, yes, the Princess continues. Thanks for asking. Currently, border row 32. I advance by such minute increments that progress is almost indetectable, but it’s happening.

That is a funny story about Russ Abbot, Mandella. I am sure even the rich and famous are not surprised by the sight of an overflowing laundry basket, but I can well imagine your mother’s distress.


I devoted a certain amount of thought yesterday to the question of what to knit next in Kirkmichael, since the striped Koigu for big Rachel has only a day or two to go. (I’ll bring it back and do the boring finishing bit here.) Generally speaking, I want something easy there, but at the moment I very much incline towards attempting a fisherman’s gansey for Alexander. There is a good British source for the yarn, which helps. Claret? Olive? I think I rather fancy Herring Girls Pink. I’ll see what he thinks.

And if the gansey proved too difficult – a proper one should be knit very tight on small needles, and it might turn out to involve more discomfort than I’m willing to undertake -- I could use the yarn to knit a sweater roughly in the shape of the store-boughten one James was wearing at the Games last year. (Alexander is wearing a KF of my manufacture, and nephew Theo, in the background, has on his Koigu.)

I’ve just had an email from James in Beijing, asking me to send some tea-bags. Next I suppose it’ll be granddaughter Hellie at Newcastle University, requesting a load of coal.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Here we are again. It was a good week. The weather was bright, and bitter cold. The earth was frozen solid. I was all the happier that I had been able to turn a few spadesful when we were there in January.

The illustrations show (a) snowdrops on the front lawn and (b) what we achieved last week – the inside of our new garden shed faux-creosoted, the new shelving from Ikea likewise, and the shelving assembled. My husband did the first two of those things, the assembly took both of us. It will never look so tidy again.

I got the second sleeve of Rachel’s striped Koigu finished and attached, the neck placket done, and the collar about half done. So I need a new Kirkmichael project now. Picture and further thoughts soon.

A funny thing happened as we were leaving here last Tuesday – I discovered a television crew on our doorstep.

We had been asked a couple of weeks ago whether our doorstep might figure in a television drama. A taxi would pull up, and actor would leap out and run up the steps and into the house. We would be paid a “location fee”. We thought about it and said no.

So I assumed that these were those people, who had just turned up anyway, and I addressed them in fairly hostile mode: what-are-you-doing-on-my-doorstep? There was a sort of embarrassed silence, in which I got the impression that they were very busy people who didn’t have time to talk about doorsteps with a shabby old woman. Maybe they hadn’t budgeted for a location fee. Eventually the youngest of the group, a pleasant girl, explained that they were making a program about the Scottish Enlightenment and our doorstep had been chosen for Andrew Marr to stand on while he delivered some thoughts on the subject.

Somewhat mollified, I told them to go ahead, and withdrew.

British readers will recognise the name. He was until recently the BBC’s Chief Political Correspondent. I don’t know exactly what he does now – clearly he’s branched out into culture. He writes a column for the Waffy which I read and enjoy.

We never actually saw him, although we stood behind the door and listened to his familiar voice talking about the Scottish Enlightenment. He kept having to start over again.

A new crisis now loomed. I had finished all the indoor pre-departure chores and any minute now I was going to have to open the door and push through them, not once but several times, carrying things out to the car. There is only one way in and out of our house, and I had no idea how long they planned to be there.

Mercifully, just when the crisis could no longer be postponed, they disappeared as mysteriously as they had come.

So we will have to watch the television schedules. It was a bizarre episode.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

James has confirmed that the veil is safe in Beijing. So that’s that job done. I’m sure we’ll get pictures of his daughter Rachel wearing it in due course. The event isn’t until April.

I’ve finished Row 29 of my Princess shawl border. The next little landmark, not far off now, will be the completion of row 31. At that point, I’ll be half-way up the current chart. There are two more pages of charts for the border after this one, and the other two have more rows than the first one, so it’s not much of a landmark. But it’ll be something.

I’ve now belatedly latched on to The Princess Diaries, the blog describing the struggles of two knitters with the Princess. I was a bit confused at first, because I somehow thought they were both working on one shawl. Now I think they’re each knitting one. They’re in the early stages of the edging, still, and I feel very superior from the vantage point of my 29 rows of border. And yet, looking at the picture of the finished thing, looking at the balls of Gossamer Merino in my cupboard – I’ve hardly started. The diary-writers think you can knit anything, one row at a time. I’m afraid, in my case, death may supervene.


We’re going to Strathardle today. Blogging should resume on Monday or Tuesday.

Lorna gave me the most wonderful collection of seeds yesterday – follow the link; she explains all on her blog, although without saying how wonderful the seeds are. Many of them are heirloom-type seeds from out-of-the-way sources. I shall first of all, I think, make use of them in my pursuit of the mange-tout pea that tastes the way it should.

My father grew them in his Victory Garden in Detroit, way back then. In those days, and for many decades afterwards, such things were unknown in grocery stores. When we acquired Burnside, in 1963, I asked him to send me some seed, and he did, and we grew them successfully in ’64, and I think the resulting peas tasted as good as the ones I remembered from childhood.

[We grew them unfenced, in ’63. There must have been a couple of rabbits about somewhere, but they weren’t the menace they are now.]

But now the taste is lacking. I’ve tried the standard seed-catalogue varieties. I’ve imported seeds from America. I even bought some in China when we were there visiting James three years ago. (The Chinese don’t really eat peas, per se: always mange-tout, or so I’m told.) Nothing quite works.

Lorna’s collection includes several varieties which are new to me. So we’ll see.

Our lunch party with the braised sausages went fine. For Friday’s friends, I’ve chosen a one-pot chicken casserole which I hope will strike the same note of insouciance.

Mama Lu, thank you for the sausage recipe, which sounds pretty wonderful. Our butcher here in Edinburgh, and our one in Alyth, are both fiercely competitive -- and prize-winning -- sausage-makers, so supplies are not a problem.

Dawn, thank you for the information about Bloglines. I knew that such a service existed somewhere, and I need it. I’ll get on to it when we get back.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Not much knitting, today.

The New Yorker review of the film “Carrie”, years ago, said that that final scene in the sunny cemetary, when everyone in the cinema first screams and then laughs [I don’t think it works if you see it at home] – that that scene sent you out of the cinema feeling as if you’d just seen your team win the ball game.

That’s how we feel in Scotland this morning, all right (except for Helen, who affects indifference). We’ve entered the annual season in which the Six Nations play each other at rugby – England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy. In recent years Scotland have been the easy-to-beat team in that list, almost as bad as Italy, the Philadelphia Phillies of rugby. So it was assumed things would proceed this year. Yesterday we astonished the world by beating mighty France, in a thriller.

And today’s non-knitting consists of the fact that a friend is coming to lunch and I need an ars-est-celare-artem sort of menu, tasting delicious but suggesting that little or no effort has been expended. I think I’ll go with braised sausages. We’re hoping to go to Strathardle tomorrow or Wednesday, and on Friday evening friends are coming to have supper with us there. Same sort of thing, and I may well produce the sausages again. The secret ingredient is a glass of Madiera in the sauce. Weeks of such strenuous social activity are very rare around here.


I just logged on to DHL. They have an all-singing, all-dancing website and it took me a while to figure out what to do – but when I succeeded, they claimed they have already delivered the veil and that James himself signed for it. It’s still pretty dark in Edinburgh, but the day is well advanced in Beijing and I suppose it’s perfectly possible. It left here on Friday morning. Chinese customs must have nodded it through. Well worth the money if true, considering the weeks of anxiety which would have been involved if it had gone by post.

I’ve reached row 28 of the Princess shawl, and I finished a ball of yarn. Mar said in a comment yesterday that two people are knitting it as a team effort, and recording their progress in a blog. I’ll now go try to find that via Google.

Thank you Cat, Judith and Aarlene for brightening my day with your comments.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

I’m now on row 26 of the Princess shawl. How on earth did I sustain the dramatic interest of this blog last summer, when I was knitting 85 repeats of the edging pattern at the rate of less-than-a-repeat per day?

The Curmudgeon is about to embark on Sharon's Wedding Ring shawl, with some trepidation, which she need not feel. She shows a ball of the Gossamer yarn supplied: it’s the same stuff I’m using. I noticed from her photograph that one 50gram ball of it contains substantially more metres of yarn than all of the Merino Lace yarn I bought the other day for my sister’s shawl -- Merino Lace being slightly finer than Shetland cobweb.

Or put it another way: my gossamer yarn is put up in 20 gram balls, each one of which is more than 1/3 longer than a 50gram ball of Merino Lace. It’s an amazing yarn, strong and easy to use. You’ll remember that the night before I resumed knitting on the Princess, I had been knitting a hat with Noro Silk Garden, yet there was no difficulty.in the transition.


The new Knitting magazine turned up yesterday. The feeling intensifies, that it’s getting better and better and will soon teach me something, or provide a pattern I’m interested in. But not yet.

And I got my new tee-shirt from CafePress. The rest of my wardrobe scarcely deserves the name, but I now have an enviable range of tee-shirts for tending my vegetables in, including my Kerry-for-President one and a Chinese one with a poem by Mao about the Great Wall. I think perhaps I’ll save Franklin's “Knitting: the New Yoga” to wear spanking new on Games Day.

This blog is now equipped with a hidden hit-counter. Readership is very slowly increasing, and hits now run at about 200 a day (most of which are from me, looking to see if there are any comments yet) on weekdays, fewer at weekends. But on Friday I had more than 300 – that was because Franklin mentioned me, and included a link.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Mr DHL arrived well within the promised time, and the veil is on its way eastwards. I hope one day we’ll get a picture of it in use – the Big Day is in April. Many thanks to the commenters who spoke kindly of it yesterday.

Meanwhile I continue most happily with the Princess. I am doing row 24 of the border – there are 220 in all. And that will by no means be the end of the matter. I loved Helen’s comment yesterday: “It is just the closest you can get to pure process knitting short of unravelling your work every night.”

One small potential landmark is in sight, however – I’m nearly finished with the current ball of yarn. I think I’ll go on knitting my Princess at least until I tie in the next one.


There’s one of those little pieces about How Popular Knitting Is These Days in the current Economist, of all magazines – page 47 of the British edition. (They move the pages around according to where the magazine is sold, but you’ll find it in the middle of the United States section. It even mentions the Stitch-and-Bitch trademark row.)

And three blogs are mentioned -- Yarn Harlot and You Knit What??, which we all know about, and knit and tonic which is new to me. I’ve added it doubtfully to my favourites list, but I can see at a glance that it’s not a patch on Franklin, whose current post, as it happens, is a send-up of precisely the sort of little Article About Knitting which we find in the current Economist.


I’ve heard from Helen in Thessaloniki about the applique animal:

"I would be v. surprised indeed if it were Persian. It was made in the tent makers quarter in Cairo where you walk down a crumbling covered alley in the heart of the old Islamic city where they butcher chickens at one end and make applique work of exquisite beauty and intricacy at the other. The word allah is indeed clearly recognisable and I assume the legs say 'wa' = and, and the bottom seems to say 'from him'. It is a lion and it is a common enough motif in Islamic calligraphy. Its not meant to be readable, it is probably a list of the attributes of god, and the point, as in all Arabic calligraphy is the beauty of it. Since the Koran was dictated directly by God, words have huge significance being not merely human tools. "

I sent her Mama Lu’s comment from Thursday, with the links to the pages on calligraphy.

Lorna: the rest of my seeds arrived yesterday, and it is as I feared: I hadn’t ordered any Indian mustard this year. I was going to grow only Salad Leaves Niche Mixed, and a couple of different lettuces, and Pak Choi and Choi Sum (which I wouldn’t dream of exposing to the rabbits). So I went back to Thompson and Morgan’s (excellent) website last night and ordered some mustard and also parsnips, which I adore but have never grown successfully. Watch this space in October or so, for a comparison between the habits of the rabbits of Glasgow and Strathardle. Habits of the rabbits…I like it.

Friday, February 03, 2006

I’m terribly pleased with the veil. DHL is coming to get it this morning, and I only had to fill out two copies of the customs form.

I got nearly two rows of Princess done last night. The next time I abandon it, I must take care to stop at a similarly manageable point. This knitting is the absolute antithesis of Olympics, and utterly blissful. The possibility of ever finishing it is pretty remote, even after the months of work I have already put in. It certainly won’t happen in ’06. That fact lifts all responsibility from my shoulders. I knit, I enjoy the yarn and the pattern it’s making for me, and the world can get on with spinning on its axis or whatever it wants to do.

Meanwhile the yarn for my sister’s shawl arrived yesterday. Sharon doesn’t waste time. Three balls of a wonderful rich blue. Figuring out how much to order took a bit of doing – I hope we got it right. I’m going to use the edging and the shape of Amedro’s Cobweb Evening Wrap, choosing my own lace patterns for the central panels. She specifies “seven hanks” of Shetland cobweb. That had to be translated into ounces, into yards, into metres, into grams.

There was an unexpected and delightful bonus which only the obsessional can share. I keep a spreadsheet, as I mentioned recently, of yarn-in and yarn-out. The score for this year now stands at 22 balls in, 1 ball out. But it could have been worse – I thought I had ordered six 25-gram balls. What I got was three 50-gram ones!


Mama Lu, thank you very much indeed for the links to the pages about Persian script. I agree, the face you mention looks very similar to our beast. I haven’t heard from Helen in Thessaloniki yet. I will recommend those links to her. Alexander intervened to say that he thought all such things were essentially prayers (and to tell me how to copy text even when the option isn't offered on the screen).

Lorna, that is an exciting thought, about growing Oriental mustard and other spicy leaves in the part of my garden which the rabbits have access to. I have learned through the years that some things are safe there; it would be wonderful to add to the list. Potatoes and rhubarb are perfectly safe. A neighbour once told me that rabbits don’t like broad beans – I wouldn’t have believed it from a lesser gardener, but it turns out she’s right. Fortunately, we love 'em. Then I read in the FT that courgettes are immune – that also proves to be true. And they don’t much like perpetual spinach. They’ll nibble it a bit in hard times, but it’ll recover in the spring. If I get away with Oriental salad stuff, I may try to write an article for Kitchen Garden magazine on the subject!

My sprouting alfalfa is now ready to eat, I think. The onion seeds only got mouldier – not a good random choice for a first attempt.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Groundhog Day

Is there something I don’t know about a link between knitting and photography? We’ve got Carla and Franklin of course (for his photography, see his other blog), Too Much Wool (scroll down to 28th January) – and now Lorna has come out of the closet. My brother-in-law recently sent me some helpful tips on photographing heaps of manure, but I doubt that I will ever achieve much.

The Winter issue of Knitter’s has turned up at last. Zilch, nada – but I’m still glad to see it. I toyed very briefly with the idea of knitting the Short-Row Ring as the shrug I hope to enter in the Home Industries Tent at the Games this year, although the magazine doesn’t use the word “shrug”. Then I decided, not.

Today’s job is to un-pin the First Holy Communion veil, photograph it, and face up to the horrors of DHL. The horrors consisting of customs forms in quintuplicate, as I remember it.

Last night I laid the Noro hat aside and picked up the Princess Shawl again, untouched since November when I started the veil. I was afraid if I left it much longer, I’d never do it. I knit Row 20 of the border – that’s a good evening’s work -- and all went well. I am at a particularly easy point, fortunately. I’ll go on with it for a few days, maybe more, before facing up to other responsibilities, such as finishing the hat.


Thanks to everybody for the comments on our Arabic beast. It looks to me as if copy-and-paste aren’t available on the Haloscan comments page, so I’ll copy out what your Jordanian co-worker said, Rosann, and send it to Helen in Thessaloniki. Thank you for taking the trouble to enquire. I’ll let everybody know what she says.


The Duchess of Cornwall wore a rabbit-fur scarf last weekend (where can I get one?) and got herself into trouble with the Animal Rights people. It must be stated clearly: rabbits have no rights. What we urgently need in Strathardle is a rabbit-predator harmless to lambs. The local pussy cats do their best, but they are hopelessly outnumbered. The Duchess would be more than welcome to come over from Balmoral sometime and join the struggle.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Not much to report. The hat progresses. I think it’s going to be good. My sister and I ordered the yarn for her shawl from Heirloom Knitting. The alfalfa is sprouting nicely. The onion seeds have made some progress but on the other hand, there are ominous signs of mould in that tray.

Thanks (but no thanks) to everyone who put me in touch with the Knitting Olympics. I read about them in detail on the Yarn Harlot’s site. I hate knitting to deadlines, and would never impose one on myself. Although Ffrankllyn's membership of Team Wales, “The Jamaican Bobsledders of the Knitting World”, would inspire me if anything could.

Joy, thank you for the link to Janis' blog for the Knitting Special Olympics. I thought it was her.

Swapna, Carla, here is a picture of our animal, unobstructed by yarn or knitting. It’s Arabic, and it really is time I knew more about it. It’s applique. I assume the lettering is also the name of the animal. It was the gift of our daughter Helen. She and David met and married in Cairo and both have a great interest in the Arabic world. They lived in Bahrain for a while, after Cairo. Helen worked hard on the Arabic language and has made herself pretty competent in it. But life has now cast them ashore in Thessaloniki and she has had to learn Greek, so there has been less time for Arabic lately.

Mama Lu, have a wonderful time in Beijing. I’m sure you will. I tried via Google to get a line on some Chinese LYS’s before we went, without success. I just kept finding myself in blogs like this one, with no specific addresses. But the Chinese are knitters, and it is much easier in Beijing than in (say) Edinburgh, to find yarn by just keeping your eyes open.