Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I finished the blasted hat – it’s far too small. And the youngest grandchildren are uniformly male.

I cast on Ketki’s sweater, and I did the long-tail perfectly. 276 stitches and I had just enough that I never worried about whether there was going to be enough, and have a decent eight-inch tail left. I hope that’s an omen for the future. I’m a bit worried that the colours may err on the alarming side – Ketki’s clothes are quiet.

VKB no 12 didn’t show up yesterday. Surely today.


I am very grateful for everybody’s concern.

About 15 years ago we blew my husband’s retirement lump sum on building an extension to the old house – a bedroom upstairs, kitchen and bath downstairs. After my allergic episode in October I wondered for the first time whether the trouble is there. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. There wouldn’t have been any mould at first.

During that happy week in July when James and his family were there, Alexander spent a couple of nights with us, the first of them in the new upstairs bedroom. He reacted very badly and refused to sleep there again.

So I think the next step is to get the air tested (by someone who isn’t selling air purifiers). Or maybe just get an air purifier and get on with it. I had never heard of a HEPA filter, Hester, but when I googled, there they were. Does anyone have any experience with the wearable type?

Since we’re on the subject of the extension, I will tell you about a stone.

Near Five Ways, in Birmingham, which is also near where we lived, there was a derelict Jewish cemetery. It was completely neglected, overgrown with weeds, the land was for sale. It’s probably an office block by now. Very few memorial stones were still standing, and in one corner was a pile of broken fragments. We took one.

It would be a bit less than a foot square, if it were square. It is beautifully lettered in Hebrew and in English. All I can remember is the name “Joseph”.

We had it incastrated (my husband taught me that word at the time) in the stone cladding of the extension. It’s just above the window of the upstairs bedroom. I love thinking of the article in the archaeological journal a millennium hence: “The existence of the Jewish community in East Perthshire would have remained unknown but for the fortunate discovery of the ‘Joseph stone’ near the Balnald Burn in Strathardle…”


  1. Mould in new construction is more likely than old - lathe and plaster doesn't mold, but sheetrock does. I don't know about public health departments in UK, but public/environmental health here could steer you to testing.

  2. Anonymous3:02 PM

    My sympathies about your "too small" hat Jean. Hats are my worst thing to knit for this very reason- they are either way too small or so big they hang down over my eyes. I find it impossible to look at a hat on the needles and judge its size.


  3. oh hats. they can be impossible. knitted the sunflower tam by norah gaughan and there is no way anyone could have made it to measure. my gauge was much tighter than indicated and yet it came out to fit an elephant. that is annoying.

    i like the esther williams cap though and i was so looking forward to seeing your's.

    blatant colours in november. who could blame anyone for falling for that temptation.

  4. Wearable HEPA filters are much like wearing gas-masks. Get the job done, but not terribly comfortable. That one's a quality of life issue you have to decide yourself, but I wouldn't want to spend a weekend in one.

    We use a HEPA filter - replaced monthly - in the air intake of our regular house furnace. I have asthma, and can actually tell what kind of filter we have by how I breathe. I'm not sure your cottage HAS a furnace, but if it does, make sure you replace the filters regularly with something better than suggested.

    Also, if you do wind up chasing mold, don't forget to look in any air ducts that may exist.

    You might also want to consider a stand-alone air filter in the suspicious area. They're similar to a space heater, but instead of heating, they cycle the air through themselves, and of course through a filter.

    Definitely get the air tested.

    Good luck!

  5. Anonymous3:28 AM

    Filters are a patch; if at all possible, find out what the cause is and have it removed. Air testing is the first step. Since it didn't bother you for the first 15 years, it's something new - mold, a bird's nest, a mouse's nest, whatever. I doubt that you have an air conditioner in the cottage but anything like that can be a mold factory.

    The thought strikes me that perhaps some modern materials were fine for a while but are now deteriorating. (I know some old kinds of foam cushioning disintegrate after a dozen years or so.)