Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I’ve just read Annie Modesitt's latest blog entry. I am appalled, yet again, by the precariousness of life and the capriciousness of fate. It’s nice to have an insurance company that insists on the Mayo Clinic, I suppose.

Today is sit-still-for-half-an-hour-after-taking-osteoporosis-pill day. I finished off Sam’s tail, and he’s looking rather well. Ted has pictures of his Sam in his latest post – he (Sam) can’t stand up and he (Ted) thinks it’s impossible without “some kind of armature”. So that’s something to think about. The designer says that fierce stuffing will do it. Ted's Sam looks rather comfortable, sitting down, but I want mine to stand.

Sarah, don’t worry, he’s getting more three-dimensional by the moment. I bought the whole kit from Blackberry Ridge. The yarns are their own, and I am delighted with them. The dark yarn is flecked, so that if a little bit of the (necessarily light) stuffing shows through, it won’t matter.

Ted’s Sam looks depressingly well-knit, in my present mood. I’m sure fierce stuffing is going to show up all sorts of flaws in mine.

Natural history

Sarah, I will pursue the Handbook of British Mammals. We need it for the flora and fauna shelves at Burnside. We’ve got a Collins hardback of roughly that title from the 60’s. I doubt if it was ever cutting edge.

That’s very interesting about the squirrels of Fargo, Maureen. (And thanks again for putting me on to Sam.) Here – I’m writing off the top of my head, without reference to Google – the grey squirrel was deliberately introduced, I believe, and has gradually pushed the red to the edge of extinction. I think strenuous steps are now being taken to try to protect the last few all-red habitats. I don’t remember why they can’t co-exist. The big greys get all the food? Or carry a virus harmless to them but fatal to reds? Something.

It is depressing that the people you asked didn’t know even that much. You’re unlikely to have seen a red; they’re very shy, unlike their rat-like cousins. They have big bushy eyebrows like Dennis Healey, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer. I would like to know whether the red squirrels you have at home are the same. I suspect they’re a different species – but maybe all that we need do is round up some Scottish red squirrels and send them off to Fargo for assertiveness training.


  1. Anonymous11:44 AM


    I thought that I had read something about the decline of the red squirrel being more to do with habitat change than competition from the grey. So, I did a google search on the red squirrel in Scotland and found a report of a recent virus spread by the qrey which kills the red. It also confirmed the competition aspect. Here is one link:

  2. Anonymous5:19 PM

    My friend Frances knit a Sam the Ram a few years ago, and indeed with extremely fierce stuffing he will stand.

    As for the squirrels....your red squirrel is Sciuris vulgaris. Our red squirrel is the American red, which is Tamiasciurus hudsonicus. Yours is a regular squirrel, ours is a pine squirrel. Cute, too.

    The grey squirrel is both more aggressive than your red and carries bugs that your red doesn't. And they eat cable tv cables. And these days around here you can't even make burgoo out of them because of the chance of catching a virus the nasty beasties have picked up lately.

  3. Anonymous6:49 PM

    You might want to check the Knitting Park blog. She knit a Sam last year and has a picture of him on her blog. He is standing. Looks to me like Ted's suffers from weak ankles and would have benefitted from more stuffing in that area.

    I'm ready to declare war on squirrels. There's one who insists on digging in my flower pots on my deck. He digs up the plants and leaves huge holes by my tomato plants. What would be a predator for a squirrel?