Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One more day here, after all – my husband wants to finish off a piece of work. The weather is a bit grim this morning, although dry here in Edinburgh – the forecast is slightly better for the rest of the week. Three times in the last few days, the national weather forecaster has mentioned the possibility of ground frost here or there, with the insouciance of a man who does not try to grow tender vegetables in Perthshire.

How many of us seem to be vegetable-growers! I don’t think you have to cost in your labour, Fishwife: the question is, how much can your unpaid efforts ease the family budget? Looking at your inspiring pictures, I’m not surprised that your answer is, quite a bit. And considering that we can give ourselves 50p credit or so every time we sprinkle parsley or chives on something, maybe it adds up to more than I think.

But we all agree that the real point is the sheer happiness of doing it, with the wonderful taste a close second. I heard an “old Chinese saying” once to the effect that if you want to be happy for a day, get drunk; for a week, kill a pig; for a month, get married; for life, make a garden.

Here are my doorstep peas – a good number of pods forming. These are real peas, not mange-tout, so I’ve got to keep them watered and hope they plump up.

(and the picture seems acceptably sharp: a relief.)

Sheep, etc.

I managed to miss all the excitement about Shrek the Sheep, Moorecat. (I am very well informed about the American presidential election – most of the rest passes me by.) Thank you for that.

Donice, it’s good to meet someone who has seen “The Edge of the World”. Sharon Miller agrees with you that it’s a good film – with knitting, I gather, although no lace – and it’s available on DVD, she says. I horrified Helen of Chronic Knitting Syndrome fame the other day by telling her that we don’t have a DVD player.

…and knitting

Tamar, yes, Sharon says a good deal more about the gathers. The point is that instead of mitering the corners of the borders in a traditionally-shaped Shetland shawl, you knit them straight (working in from the edging) and then in the final rows, before starting the centre, you decrease a quarter of the stitches. That way, you don’t need to worry about incomplete patterns and matching motifs (although I always think mitred decreases look nice whatever the pattern is doing). This depends on knowing that your yarn is as “forgiving” as Shetland.

Reading this, and Chronic Knitting Syndrome’s blog, leaves me very impatient with my laceless life. I finished the second dinosaur sleeve yesterday, and cast on the back, but it’s a long way home, and two more non-lace projects loom: the swallowtail coat of a beautiful blue, and Ketki’s Calcutta Cup ’08 sweater.


  1. On the economics of gardening, I have found this year that I will leave a bag of greens in the fridge, uneaten, for months, but I will gleefully eat fresh greens from the planter on the windowsill. A combination of pluses, there.

    (The minus being that I can't seem to grow anything but greens!

  2. Anonymous2:35 PM

    Hey Jean-- I routinely shock people by telling them I don't have a TV, much less a DVD player.

    They look at me in total disbelief and ask: "What do you do?"

    I've ordered Sharon's book on the Lerwick shawl based on what you've written in the last few posts. (I was going to pass it by, but it sounds like there's some interesting stuff in it.)

  3. I love that Chinese saying. Must use it sometime.

    I am a novice vegetable gardener, having had nothing but bad luck with it in the past. This time I made a raised bed first, and amended the soil heavily before planting, in the hopes that the yield will improve. I have been plagued with pale, anaemic, frightened vegetables too many times, and I think it's entirely appropriate to blame it on the soil. If I am disappointed this year, I suppose that means I've not got the green thumb for veg, and will stick to flowers forevermore.