Friday, March 21, 2008


Great excitement.

I belong to “igoogle”. It is set up so that my Home Page, as well as offering me my mail, has boxes called “BBC News” (three headlines) and another called “Top Stories” (another three) before one goes on to “Word of the Day” (an appropriate ‘arduous’ this morning).

When I sat down at about half-past seven yesterday evening, this is what Top Stories looked like:

Top Stories

Jumping eagle ray kills boater off Florida Keys
Reuters - all 183 related »
John Edwards to appear on Leno
Washington Times - all 746 related »
Transcript: James Miles interview on Tibet
CNN - all 5699 related »

We’ve printed out the thing itself, for the archives. It was introduced with a picture of our hero from one of those modern-type hyper-rectangular television screens. His face was stretched so far sideways that, to coin a phrase, his own mother didn’t recognise him. The link still works, this morning. Compare with picture in sidebar.

Later in the evening, I got an email from Helen in Thessaloniki, on another topic altogether. It concludes: "In the middle of this when boys called me...James Miles is on GREEK television. Or rather on the BBC dubbed into Greek. So, so exciting."

I believe that when a Greek wants to say, “It’s Greek to me,” he says, “Chinese”, but I can’t verify that.


I’m within a round or two of the point where I plan to start knitting the initials BHO in seed stitch into the right sleeve of Theo’s gansey, and I am in something of a sweat about it.

My original thought was that I could do the chart and then turn the page upside down. I now see that that won’t work. Upside down or right side up, I must knit the initials in the order O,H,B because I am knitting from right to left and they will be read from left to right.

So can I just knit the chart from the left? That might work for O and H, which are symmetrical (both vertically and horizontally, but not bilaterally – thank you, you clever commenters). But what about B? That’s got to be facing one way or the other.

I remember being tortured by this problem when I was knitting a First Holy Communion veil, top-down, for Rachel and Kirsty Miles, James’ and Cathy’s daughters, with their initials on it. I went to bed one night convinced I had it wrong, and woke up the next morning to find that the Knitting Fairies had put it right in the night.

I’ve knit text into shawls several times, but I think that counts as bottom-up, as I’m knitting from the outer edge inwards and the lettering appears as it will be read.

I am glad to have a weekend off from this problem, and am looking forward to starting those new KF socks on the train to Glasgow this morning. Happy spring solstice weekend to all – snow is forecast here. Autumn solstice, for people in Kate's hemisphere. Back Tuesday, insh’Allah.


  1. Well, I have heard and read the expression "like Chinese" used by Spanish speakers, so I'd be even less surprised to learn that the Greeks use that expression, too. Though I suppose they could as easily say, "It's like English to me."

  2. Anonymous11:39 AM

    The French use Hebrew as in "C'est comme de l'hebreu".
    So glad James is safe. With one son a climber, I have the "luxury" of hearing about dangerous exploits AFTER the fact, when all is well.

  3. glad James is home safe and sound. Good reporting! I live in the US But tend not to watch CNN. We get BBC news here in the evening. I find BBC better for reporting on America.

  4. Anonymous3:50 PM

    Grannypurple, that's interesting, because here in Canada the French use "like Chinese".

    Thanks for the link to James' interview. It was good to get a post-mortem (as it were) analysis of the event.

  5. I heard a long interview with James yesterday on the local PBS affiliate radio station. Very interesting and informative.

  6. Anonymous4:27 PM

    same in Dutch: that is Chinese to me

    wishing you good easter days

  7. Anonymous7:48 PM

    Hi Jean, Love your blog. As to the initials, how will the wearer be reading them? I would think you would visualize the letters for knitting in that manner. And that way it doesn't matter how you knit them as long as he will be seeing them the right way. I think you are making it harder than it really is. Read your knitting as you go. You'll be fine. Lisa

  8. Anonymous1:32 AM

    Lisa has a point: do you want the letters to be legible to anyone casually glancing at the sleeve, or to the wearer when he bends his arm?

    Here's my way: Write out the initials the way they ought to be. Pin the piece of paper onto the sleeve in the position it ought to be in. Turn the sleeve to knitting position and observe what the design looks like.

    For what it's worth, I'm told the medieval Norwegians used to say "he was speaking Irish."

  9. You're down to zero degrees of separation to someone famous - not sure how many to Kevin Bacon, though. I'm still trying to catch one of his broadcasts but Australia has a lot of journos in China and they're all dominating news bulletins. Pooh.

    For what it's worth, I would posit that if one is knitting in the round from the top down, the chart would be read as though it were a piece of string wound spirally around a stick, thus each new line would be a new row.

    Enjoy the solstice in Glasgow and light a candle for rain for us : )

  10. Anonymous8:22 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. Anonymous4:13 PM

    I don't advise clicking on the above links--the site begins scanning your computer immediately, something that could be troublesome.

  12. Where of where did you get the pattern for the First communion Veil? Or did you write it yourself? I would love to have a copy.
    Thank you for sharing life with us "over the pond."