Friday, July 31, 2009

Last Sunday may have been the last full day I’ll ever spend in my native land. If so -- or if not, indeed -- it was a good one.

It began with a delicious, relaxed, informal brunch at somebody's large and beautiful home. I met my host only briefly, and never learned how he fitted in to the scheme of things but it was a splendid, generous gesture. When I first heard of the idea I thought enough, already, isn’t it time they went somewhere and had a honeymoon or something? But I was wrong – brunch was the perfect coda, where we all met each other again and lounged around and talked about what a good time we’d had last night.

Bride and bridegroom left for Bermuda the next morning.

Cindersall and Seaglass (Cynthia and Sue), Princess knitters both, picked me up at the brunch. We went to the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme. The house had faintly the flavour of my grandmothers’ houses: not entirely a preposterous comparison, as I am remembering grandmothers I visited in the 40’s, and both of them lived in houses where they had been for a while. Miss Griswold ran a boarding house for American Impressionists in the first decade of the 20th century.

On the first page of the Griswold Museum website you can see pictures of Patrick Dougherty’s new sculpture there. Here is a picture of Cynthia and Sue in it:

and here am I:

Both had brought their Princesses along. Here’s Cynthia, wearing Sue’s:
And here’s Cynthia’s:

(While we’re at it, here’s mine. You can’t really see much.)

Before we parted, they gave me Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer’s “Scotch Thistle Lace Stole” pattern, some incredibly beautiful Fiesta Ballerina yarn in thistle-y colours to knit it in and enough Bristol Yarn Gallery “Buckingham” in a sort of camel-by-moonlight shade, to knit it again. It was an unexpected and deeply touching gift.

To think how few days before that happy Sunday Greek Helen and I had been ruthlessly eliminating Scotch thistles from the paddock in Strathardle!

Greek Helen peeled off later that day and went to visit old friends. I think we’ll have her back this morning, perhaps any moment now, if I’ve got things straight.

O dulces comitum valete coetus,
Longe quos simul a domo profectos
Diversae varie vias reportant.

Sorry. It’s Catullus 46 and means, roughly, that we all left home together but are coming back by different routes.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

There is a surprising amount to report on the knitting front:

Basic knitting of the Child’s Cardigan finished;
Princess blocked;
My happy outing with Cindersall and Seaglass to report;
News on the jabot front;
Lorna’s Laces yarns acquired for Adult Surprise

But I went to a wedding, and I’d probably better start there.

It was a swell (three-day) party. My pictures are few and not very good. More are promised, and should soon be flowing in on every tide.

After the ceremony, we all walked a couple of blocks down Main Street to the Connecticut River Museum where a marquee and drinks and delicious canapés were waiting. The wedding party, meanwhile, after signing the register, nipped down a side street and boarded a boat. Here they are, arriving at their party:

We cheered them in, they disembarked and circulated among us, that was it – no reception line. It was a wonderful, happy piece of theatre. The formal photography had been done before the ceremony, eliminating another major source of tedium for the guests.

Here are bride and bridegroom dancing the first dance:

The next afternoon, my sister and her husband planted a tree to mark the occasion.

The tree was tagged “Japanese Stewartia”. I have but limited access to botanical books here, but it looked as if it may have been what the Royal Horticultural Society calls “Stuartia pseudocamelia” -- these terms are fairly fluid. It was in full bud – it has the very appropriate characteristic of blooming at this time of year.


Alexander said at the Rehearsal Dinner, "You're looking very smart, Mummy." He is not a man who bandies such phrases about. That was the kurta.

But, costume-wise, it was Ketki who stole the show, in shalwar kameez, at the wedding itself.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day Four of This Week, and still nothing much has happened. I’ve had my hair done and it looks fairly alarming. It should quiet down by Saturday.

I wonder if I might not block the Princess this afternoon? I might find it calming.

In what follows, assume a DV or insh’Allah after every statement with a verb referring to the future. I won’t keep inserting them so as not to break the flow of the prose.

My husband’s train leaves at 12 noon. Lizzie’s, at the other end, doesn’t leave until 1. I’ll go up to the station with my husband this morning, and hang around until I see the wheels turning. Then come back and have a light, carefully chosen lunch with a bottle of nicely chilled cider. (Regimes don’t count this week – and anyway, I can’t drink all that much because they don’t have Weston’s Vintage Cider in CT. I hope to drink a lot of champagne, but that is famously low-calorie, the drink of jockeys.)

That leaves several hours before I go back up to the station to meet Lizzie. I need to pack, but everything has been laid out, lists made, telephone numbers noted.

Janet asked what books I’m taking: the new Kate Atkinson, “When Will There Be Good News”; Eudora Welty’s “Delta Wedding”; something about Schrodinger’s cat; and Julian Barnes, “Nothing to be Frightened Of”, about death.

The cat book is to get me up to speed on quantum mechanics and string theory. Examining it more closely after I got it back from the bookstore, I was surprised to find that it is a couple of decades old. That might mean it’s readable. I hope so. My own knowledge of physics is a good five decades old, anyway.

Professor Higgs (of “Higgs besom” fame) used to live in Drummond Place. And James Clerk Maxwell lived not all that far away, although in a different century. Why is he not as famous as Newton and Einstein, between whom he stands? I suppose because his achievements are utterly incomprehensible, whereas we can all grasp the fall of an apple and the evaporation of a city.

Lizzie and I will have hours and hours in Newark airport on the way home next Monday so I should have time to get through all that, and start again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day Three, already, of This Week. I am gibbering with terror, but I think everything is fairly well in hand. I’ll feel better once my husband is safely on that train tomorrow. Rachel is going to meet him at Kings Cross.

I have scarcely touched knitting needles lately.

We had a grand weekend in Strathardle with the Greeks. All too brief. Sunday lunch was a particular triumph:

A large organic chicken, and I got it right. Not roasted to desiccation, nor did it, with everyone sitting expectantly around the table, ooze pink juices as the carver made the first two or three incisions. With it we ate absolute gallons of mange-tout peas ( but I don’t feel on top of the question of how best to cook them) and afterwards, the 2009 Summer Pudding.

I had netted the red current bush before the previous departure, and we got the whole crop, nearly three pounds, more than enough for a big pudding. Just as well, the netting, because the birds in the interval had stripped the white currents. I thought they’d leave those alone.

The rest of the garden looks reasonably well, although the potatoes don’t seem quite as perky as they ought to be at this stage. Needless to say, there’s no trace of salsola soda. That’s not strictly true: there is one tiny plant which I think must be it. My only remaining ambition for ’09 is for it to get big enough to allow me a taste.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I did a bit better than expected yesterday at the Business of Life. Amongst other things, I made an appointment to have my hair done next Tuesday. Charles himself will do it, as the girl who usually attends to me will be on holiday – she’s going with her boyfriend to a darts tournament in Blackpool, which sounds fun.

Today has dawned wet and disagreeable. St Swithin’s day has recently been and gone and seems to have got it essentially right. Certainly right-er than the people who were so confidently predicting a sizzling summer for us.

How will I manage in CT if it’s chilly? I haven't planned for that.


I made a great discovery yesterday – I had been confusing “1” and “l” in my reading of Duchrow’s chart. It’s easily done, especially as the charts are reproduced photographically from the old leaflets. “l” means “1 Masche links stricken”, i.e., purl (I think). “1” means “1 mal unschlagen”, i.e., yo.

The jabot is full of double yo’s, with a clearly readable sign. I had assumed that all the yo’s in the piece were the same, and blithely interpreted all the “1’s” as “purl” without looking closely. This mistake is probably enough to explain all the missing stitches I have been complaining about.

I’m not going to unpick, and this may well reduce my current effort to the status of a trial sally. I’ll finish (I’m nearly done) and block it, leaving the stitches live for possible future edging.

My husband awoke to what I was doing yesterday, and thought the cashsilk too soft and droopy for wear with a dress kilt. He may be right. I have some DMC cotton somewhere (are those the right letters?) prescribed by Sharon Miller for the Princess. I think that’s what she knitted the prototype in. I bought one ball to try, but was easily diverted to her Gossamer Merino which had just then become available. I could try the cotton for jabot-knitting.

But first I must get to Kinloch Anderson and have a look. And feel.


Thanks for the help on acid-free tissue paper. How could I have forgotten Google, even for a moment? I’ll order some soon, probably from Amazon, and the postage ought not to be too bad.

Stash haus, no, I don’t need to have the blocked Princess out of the way before my husband gets home. I do need an uninterrupted stretch of time for the doing of it. No meals, no computer crises, no call for afternoon exercise. Annie M. wrote movingly the other day (July 8) about the pleasure of being alone in one’s house. It is a rare one, for me.

Dawn, thank you for the tip about how to deal with American websites that expect you to live in some state. I look forward to trying it out.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Good progress yesterday – but today is the Last One before It All Starts (= the Greeks arrive tomorrow), and that doesn’t allow time to do a third of what needs doing.

Yesterday’s great achievement was to equip my husband with a source of money while I’m away. London is an expensive city, and of course I will provide him with a wad of readies before I leave. But what if he runs out?

In normal life, he never uses an ATM. Lest that make him sound more imbecilic than is the case, I should add that he regularly and successfully uses a chip-and-pin credit card. I vaguely thot that when the bank issued his bank card, two or three years ago now, we changed the number so that it was the same as the credit card number.

But I wasn't sure, maybe that was just a good intention, and we didn’t want to try a machine which might laugh at us and swallow the card. So we went up to the Royal Bank in the big, beautifully overblown former town house they inhabit in St Andrew Square, and tried it in one of those little machines on the counter, with an employee watching. It worked.

But I think I’ll tell Rachel the number, just for insurance.

The other step forward – but this has to count as failure, on my part – was to book Amtrak from Old Saybrook to Newark Airport on Monday the 27th, to take me and Lizzie home. I got that all done, but at the end Amtrak wanted to know the billing address to which my credit card statements are sent. Fair enough. And I was allowed to choose “United Kingdom” from a drop-down list of countries. Good!

But I wasn’t allowed to proceed without choosing an American state or Canadian province from another drop-down list. “Other” or “none” were not options. Stalemate.

So my sister has made the booking and I’ll pay her back when I get there. I had a feeling, not a new one, of being trapped by American we’re-the-centre-of-the-universe-ness. That’s silly – I use the card regularly to order books and knitting materials from the US. It’s Amtrak’s fault, not the nation’s.

Anyway, knitting

I’ve come to another row in the jabot pattern where there aren’t enough stitches. This time I’m ready.

Fiberqat and Stash haus, sorry to disappoint, but no, under no circumstances will I unpick that graft and try to re-do the finishing of the Princess. I am looking forward to the blocking, which is firmly scheduled for the afternoon of the day I get back from CT. Sleep can wait.

My husband won’t get back from London until the end of Wednesday afternoon. I wonder if I could fit in a jabot-viewing expedition to Kinloch Anderson on Wednesday morning? I really can’t progress until I’ve seen one. I dropped into a junky tourist kilt shop in central Edinburgh the other day, since I happened to be passing the door. The man had never heard of a jabot.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Plans shifted from hour to hour yesterday, spreading gloom and confusion in my heart. Unnecessarily. The most immediate problem is that my husband must have the remains of a broken tooth extracted on Friday afternoon which means among other things that we can’t join the Greeks in K*rkmichael until the next day. They’re landing in Edinburgh, so we should at least see them to say hello.

And they can get started picking red currants before we get there.

It sounds as if Greek Helen and I will have a car for 48 hours in CT. That’s thoroughly good news. We won’t have to hang around waiting for our lift while merriment goes on elsewhere, and we can leave and go home when jet lag requires. My brother-in-law is hiring a bunch of cars for wedding guests from a firm called Rent a Wreck. I’m not quite sure whether that is Roger being funny, or someone with a really good business idea.

I think the time has come to start a List. It should calm me down.

Let’s think about knitting – another calming influence.

I made some advances, yesterday.

I finished off the Princess, very clumsily. Unpicking waste yarn has never been among my talents, and that one was a nightmare, spiced with the constant anxiety that I would snip the working yarn in my irritation and haste. That didn’t happen, but the pick-up of the original first row was clumsy and in the end, lace-grafting be damned, I garter-stitch grafted the two ends together and there’s a visible line.

The moth repairs – there were two holes, in close conjunction – was even clumsier. The Princess can consider herself lucky I didn’t just darn her.

But it’s done, and I don’t think these clumsiness’s matter much in that sea of stitchery. I have put her away in a drawer for the moment, hoping to wash and block the day I get back from CT. Where do I go for acid-free tissue paper?

I’ve done a few more rows of the jabot, and concluded that it was Duchrow’s fault, not mine, that I kept finding myself a stitch short the day before. I think the admirable Judy Gibson warns of the danger of mistakes in the patterns, although I can’t find the passage. It happened during a section in which the jabot was increasing in size – we started with 11 stitches, and are adding more by fits and starts. For a while each row had balanced increases and decreases, but the designer then proceeded in the next row as if she had added a stitch in each repeat.

Once I grasped this – if, indeed, I did grasp it; the mistake may still be mine – I could put the missing stitch in where it belonged, instead of discovering its lack a few stitches later on and working an awkward kludge on the assumption that it was All My Fault.

The problem only lasted for a few rows. We’re now back on track.

On top of all this, I got some cardigan sleeve done, too. I’ve finished the second-sleeve increases.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

le Quatorze Juillet

Thank you, everybody, for all the help and support on the subject of my Travel Nerves.

I like Bonnie’s idea of hiring a car – specifically, hiring one for Greek Helen to drive us around in on Friday and Saturday next week. I will want to be where the action is during the earlier hours of those days, and will want to be able to get back from time to time to the inconveniently-located hotel where she and I are bunking, to rest and change into another dazzling costume.

We’ll explore that idea. She and her family will be here on Friday – yikes! We’ll spend the weekend together in K*rkmichael, picking red currants – I’ve netted the bush to keep the pigeons off – and then picking them again off the little stems and making summer pudding and, finally, eating it. On Monday my husband and I will come back here to regroup and, in my case, get my hair done. On Wednesday he goes to London, and granddaughter Lizzie comes here. They ought to be able to wave to each other when the trains pass.

On Thursday Helen’s husband David will drive their sons to Wales to see his mother, dropping Helen off at Edinburgh airport on the way.

Where she will be joined by me and Lizzie. Fortunately David is a man after my own heart, a worrier and a getter-to-places-earlier-than-strictly-necessary (unlike the man I married) – so I know Helen will be there in good time. (That's not David in the picture, though.)

And off we’ll go.

Knitting, mostly

I didn’t touch the Princess yesterday, and didn’t do much of the cardigan sleeve, either, being wholly obsessed with the Duchrow jabot. I don’t know whether this is a swatch or a trial run or an actual jabot. It’s certainly a lot of fun. (Jared says swatching is comparable to a first date – rather a good image, and one which should encourage all of us to do more of it.)

It’s pretty easy. The unfamiliar chart symbols are soon learned. The only difficulty at the start was my misunderstanding of a symbol which means, wrap the yarn around the needle twice. I thought that meant, create two new stitches, but it soon became clear that it doesn’t – it means, create one biggish hole. I’ve been having a bit of trouble in recent rows with a shortage of stitches but in general it’s going very smoothly.

I am terribly pleased with myself for making some use of this book. When I first saw the Duchrow set I thought, never. They are just here for the sake of bibliographical completeness. And here I am, knitting Duchrow!

Yesterday was largely spent (that’s my excuse) at the Royal Infirmary, accompanying my husband to a routine appt for his breathlessness. We saw an unfamiliar dr named MacDuff, which was wonderful enough in itself, who strikingly resembled next week’s bridegroom in both appearance and manner.

But today promises greater calm. No excuse for not grafting the Princess.

Monday, July 13, 2009

This is my 1,500th post.

It’s rubbish-collection day, and the gulls are making an almighty mess of Drummond Place. So far I have protected our own black plastic bag by rushing angrily out the door from time to time, but I can’t keep it up all morning.

Nor is it conducive to blogging.

So, guess what? I cast on a Christine Duchrow jabot in Cashsilk yesterday. Heavenly stuff, finer, I think, than the Princess’ Gossamer Merino, but so far I can handle it. I didn’t even try to rechart the pattern. It occurred to me that I am not attempting an historical reproduction, I am trying to knit a jabot for James. So it doesn’t matter if I misunderstand the chart here and there, as long as I proceed symmetrically and plausibly.

I used to have a reading knowledge of German – that helps somewhat. But it wasn’t Knitting German, it was Ancient Historical German, so it doesn’t help all that much.

Tamar, there are people who have knit the Princess twice. Like climbing all the munros in Scotland again, after you've climbed them once. But I don't think it's for me. The Unst Bridal Shawl and the Wedding Ring Shawl, as written, both require purl rows in the border -- not for me, either. If I knit one of them, I'd wrap a stitch and turn around at the starting point. I've done that once -- it leaves a line.

And the Queen Ring Shawl, as written, has lots of sewing at the end.

So I'll confine myself to the jabot for the moment, and think about that stole in Heirloom Knitting.

I didn’t get much further with the cardigan sleeve. And today is the day I mean to tackle lace-grafting and finish the Princess, if I can keep my eye on the ball.

Vegetables (reprise)

The Fishwife was right. The opium poppies have appeared among my vegetables. And MaryLou is right, too – it isn’t a bumper year for poppies. A few fell to the hoe last week, but I tried to preserve as many as possible.


I am almost paralysed by fear now that the CT adventure is so near. We drove back to Edinburgh last Saturday, as you know, and summer Saturdays are great days for weddings. It was easy to spot the Wedding Guests in pairs in the streets of Blairgowrie – the elegant, uncomfortable clothes; the slight air of anxiety – they clearly weren’t going shopping; and, a dead giveaway, him in a kilt.

After all these years of co-dependence, am I capable of acting independently? is part of my anxiety. The other part is, how are we all to move around Old Saybrook? From hotel to sister’s-house to Griswold Inn to wedding-venue to breakfast-picnic-on-the-beach? It’s not like K*rkmichael, where you can walk from anywhere to anywhere. There will be a lot of “us” with few if any cars – three of my four children, 9 of 12 grandchildren, 2 spouses, and I think one girlfriend and one boyfriend. And, no doubt, an awful lot of everybody else. I remember taxis as rare and unreliable, in that part of the world.

The thing to do on that one is to print out some Google maps and start calculating the distances which could be walked if need be. I’m good for five miles or so, as long as I don't actually have to walk to the wedding looking anxious in my new clothes.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Here we are home. Good week – although not much knitting, despite resolutions, and the garden is far too dry.

Funny, because Perthshire had newsworthy flash floods the day before we drove up. We passed sandbags in Milnathort (which had featured in the television news), and in Strathardle itself (a short strath, as straths go) there was a “Police Slow” sign followed by 100 yards of streaks of mud on the road. But we were, and are, bone dry, and the burn is very low. The weather kept promising rain during the week, and then wandering off and forgetting to do it. It was only on Friday that I really hunkered down and started carrying gallons of the stuff to my poor vegetables. It’s heavy.

Freed of grass-cutting (at an expense which continues to horrify my husband) I find plenty of strength for vegetable-growing, and again spent the time digging weeds out of long-neglected corners and edges and reveling in the tidiness of the result.

There is still much disappointment – a row of carrots and another of beets so sparse (thanks to the slugs, I’m sure) that neither will produce even a plateful. And, of course, no salsola soda whatsoever. I re-sowed, although experience teaches that seeds-in-July rarely if ever succeed.

On the very substantial other hand, the garden is on stream. We’re eating. The lettuces I bought in last time have flourished. We had daily salads, augmented with my own rocket/arugula. We had another sorrel soup. We had two meals with mange-tout peas. Next weekend, when the Greeks are here, we should have real peas, and will certainly have the wherewithal to attempt a summer pudding. (Recipes are all like the one in the link – but my husband is adamant that the fruit should be red currants only.)

The climbing beans are climbing – and the runner beans are in bloom. Surely there will be some beans by Games Day? I usually enter the “collection of four vegetables” class (took a Second, once) and the object is to be able to do it without including potatoes. That I rarely achieve, but with runner beans I might make it.


Despite sloth, I am well advanced with the second sleeve of the Child’s Cardigan, and should advance still further today. I must have knit most of the Princess under the influence of cider, but don’t feel that lace grafting is compatible with it now. That’s for tomorrow.

I was touched to find how many people have been following her progress. I don’t feel any exultation in having nearly-finished. I miss her. Those last few repeats were like coming to the end of a book – my first reading of “Brideshead Revisited” is the example I can think of – which you want to go on reading forever.

I must have some lace, and I think James’s jabot is the direction to go. The cashsilk is here. Far too busy a week looms to think of going to Leith and looking at jabots at Kinloch Anderson, but I could try charting a Christine Duchrow jabot in modern terms and having a wee shot at it.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

There you are. Finished. Four years and two months.

Not an FO yet, of course. There’s the grafting of the End to the Beginning to be done, and the repair of that moth hole, and loose ends to be tidied, and finally the blocking. I must do the grafting and moth-holing next weekend when we get back from Strathardle, while the edging pattern still precariously lodges in my mind. And I think I see a window of opportunity for the blocking: I’m due back from CT on the morning of Tuesday the 28th. Granddaughter Lizzie is going straight on down to London. My husband won’t return from London until the next day. That should leave me an unencumbered afternoon, on one of those days or the other, even allowing for sleep.

And my job in Strathardle this week, apart from my dear vegetables, is to knit the cardigan with single-minded fury.

Thank you for the advice about those sleeves, Lorrie. I always found when my children were small, that designers made sleeves too long. Or else my children had exceptionally short arms. And they (the children) weren’t terribly clever about rolling sleeves. Don’t worry here. If I shorten at all, it will only be by an inch or so, and shouldn’t be obvious to a judge as a design peculiarity.


Yesterday’s excitement was the arrival of my driving license.

We oldies have to re-apply every three years, and a good thing too. My old license expired, I think, at the end of June. I applied in April. My honest answers to the medical questions prompted them to send a supplementary medical questionnaire, which I answered in detail (with names and addresses of medical personnel) in May, on the day it arrived. All about eyes and Retinal Vein Occlusion and laser treatment.

So I’ve been anxious lately, hearing nothing, the more so because one of my magazines (cooking, not knitting) has recently failed to arrive. But here is the license. All is well. And the publishers are sending another copy of “delicious”.

So, we’re off to Strathardle and the vegetables. This is the big one: success or failure will be obvious, and it's essentially too late for remedial footwork. It was a long, cold, dry spring on the whole. When we left a fortnight ago, things were in great need of some warm weather to let them put on a growth spurt taking them forward to a stage where the slugs could wound but not kill. We got it (the warm weather) but so dry as to be thoroughly alarming – see the Fishwife’s report. These last few days have been warm and showery, perfect growing weather. What will I find?

Opium poppies grow as weeds among my vegetables – they seek out bare, cultivated ground as unerringly as pussy cats do. I love them, and always let a few grow and bloom. And wither in situ, so that there’ll be seeds for next year. (They’d probably get through even if I tried to root up every one, there are so many.) This year, I haven’t seen a single one. I know the tiny seedlings well and can recognise them from a very early stage.

Climate change?

See you Sunday, insh’Allah.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Wimbledon men’s final was as exciting as you could ask a tennis match to be, and Mr Roddick was gracious in defeat, an over-used adjective here well-deserved. So that’s that for another year.

And where am I? The first sleeve of the Child’s Cardigan is about 10” long, out of a prescribed 14 ½”. I may shorten that a bit, as is my wont with children’s sleeves. The Princess is where we last saw her.

The vegetables on the doorstep are growing at an alarming pace. The “before” pictures were taken on June 23 – less than a fortnight ago.

The Fishwife warned me that the tomatoes (her gift to me) would have to be staked. I hoped they could hold out until we got back from Strathardle at the end of this week with some proper sticks, but they are growing at such a rate that I have tried to hold them up with skewers.

What will I find when we get there? Not growth like this, I am sure. I can only hope that the slugs have left me something.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

I was suddenly gripped last night by one of those panics. Three weeks from today I should be in CT, and the wedding will be over.

Thank God for the Internet. This morning I have ordered from Artyarns the skein of Lang Jawoll Silk I will need to finish the pair of socks which have been designated as airplane knitting. I located it long ago, but never actually got around to ordering. I have also booked my husband’s rail ticket to London, for Wednesday the 22nd, and bought from Amazon a copy of “How to Beat Your Dad at Chess” which I hope to work on in Strathardle with my Greek grandsons next week.

So I feel a bit better.

FiberQat, thank you for your congratulations to Thomas-the-Elder. I am told that his picture will soon appear on the Chambers website, but it doesn’t seem to be there yet. He had to have one taken before the decision was known, striking the right note of youthful competence without overdoing it. I look forward to the result, and will let you know.

And don’t worry too much about my weight (yesterday’s comment) – the point here is that I have been following a maintenance diet ever since Feb., not too hard, as Janet says. And weight has been coming off. I’m never hungry, or if I am, I eat, having given some thought in advance to laying in a stock of not-too-damaging snacks. A small tin of Green Giant sweetcorn, eaten straight from the tin, is a favourite. No calorie counting, no hunger, no bad temper (an under-reported side-effect of Real Dieting). It will be interesting to see what the final plateau is, weight-wise. I miss my cider sometimes, though.

But, hey! it’s Sunday!


Don’t worry, FiberQat, the Princess will be finished, and soon, although little was done yesterday and less, probably, today, what with cider and the men’s tennis final. I zipped along with the cardigan sleeve yesterday. I hope I can finish the basic knitting this week in Strathardle. That will leave considerable making up and edging and perhaps collar-ing to be done.

One more thing for me to order might be the yarn for Cully’s Hat from Schoolhouse Press. The two knitting categories for the Games this year, you will remember, are Child’s Cardigan and Knitted Hat, and it might be fun to try that one. I am finding it extremely hard to keep two deadlines in mind at once. I don’t have to finish the cardigan before the wedding; I have grasped that. But how much time does that leave? The Fourth Saturday of August is on the 22nd this year.

That’s any minute now.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Fourth, everybody. As a general rule of life, I much prefer it not to be a holiday, but as holidays go, the 4th of July is a good one. You don’t have to love anybody, or buy them anything, or even cook for them. And there are fireworks.


That was disappointing. I had been looking forward to sipping tomorrow’s cider as I watched him lose to Federer. I wonder again, as I did when he went out to Nadal last year, whether he’ll ever get quite to the top. He’s very, very good – but, great?

Rachel’s younger son Joe is working at Wimbledon – a rich source of temporary employment for the young of south London. (Joe is third from the left, in the bright blue sweatshirt, in the Grandchildren picture in my sidebar. He has just finished his first year at Nottingham University reading politics.) His job, as far as I understand it, is handing out champagne and canapés in one of the hospitality suites. He phoned in some excitement last night to say that he had met Virginia Wade, and she’s very nice.

Next time I see him, we'll be in CT. Joe is to be a groomsman at the wedding.

My blameless life

A new landmark at this morning’s weigh-in. I started off, you will remember, at x stone 12. This morning, I reached w and one-half stone: w stone 6 ¾, to be precise. (There are 14 pounds in a stone.) I think it is now permissible to say that I’ve lost 20 pounds, especially as the regime began on Ash Wednesday, a week before the weigh-ins started. No-one seems to have noticed, but the results are beginning to be very slightly perceptible.

The profile view in the bedroom mirror remains unappetising, but no longer terrifying. Waistbands have eased. There’s less of an obstacle between me and my shoelaces.

If I can continue to live blamelessly (lo-cider, no sugar, careful with the fat) forever, and I don’t see why not, really, I might hope to dispatch another 10 pounds. Below that looms scrawniness.

I wonder how QueerJoe is getting on? He reported a 10-pound loss in early April, using McKenna’s book and an MP3 player, but hasn’t mentioned the subject since.


Interesting what you say about the Kinloch Anderson jabot, Tamar. I must get out there and have a look. I went ahead and ordered a skein of Cashsilk yesterday – if I can’t knit with it (cf Franklin and that DMC cotton) I can revert to the leftover Gossamer Merino from the Princess.

I’m halfway through the penultimate edging repeat. I could finish today, I suppose. I don’t want to.

I also got a cardigan sleeve started during yesterday’s tennis. I mean to take it along when we go to Strathardle next week, and this time I mean to knit.

Friday, July 03, 2009

“Pshaw!” I remarked yesterday to my fishmonger. “World No. 1 and I have never heard of her? Venus will blow her away.”

Mr Bee begged to differ, but I think he may have had Safina mixed up with the beautiful and formidable Dementieva. (You couldn’t make up a name like that.)

One of the many things I like about the Williams sisters is the slight air they have, in those little interviews, of finding the whole thing rather ridiculous.

I didn’t get to watch much yesterday – my husband abhors all sport except the most boring one of all, the Boat Race. And besides, he won’t go out if I don’t totter along with him, and he needs the exercise. And besides, again, there were things that needed doing in town. Today is another matter. Providentially, we’ve got to wait in for the delivery of some computer paper.

Knitting went well yesterday, too. I did a repeat and a bit of the Princess edging – only two rows and two repeats to go. And finished the body of the Child’s Cardigan, back and fronts, this time with the shaping correctly placed. The most we can hope for today is to cast on a sleeve.

I think the next thing to do is to order some Cashsilk and start messing around with jabot-design. Clearly, there is no single way to do it. The set (jabot and cuffs) offered by Kinloch Anderson looks particularly fruity.

Big news on the family front: Thomas-the-Elder has finished his Pupillage at 4 New Square and become a full-scale barrister with a tenancy there. I don’t know what most of those words mean, but I know that this is a major event. No more hurdles to leap. Now he just has to win cases.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

In some haste – all well here. Mr Murray won, and briskly enough that he had all yesterday evening to recover, as well as all day today. (In the Good Old Days, even the players at the top went on out to the outer courts and played doubles after their singles matches. Today’s breed must be a feebler lot.) But Mr Federer also won briskly, looking more dentist-like than ever. I don’t see how Murray can beat him – although he has done it in the past.

The whole nation is involved in this. It’s rather sweet. The Queen is here in Edinburgh doing various boring things, but it was reported that she got home to Holyrood Palace yesterday afternoon in time to watch the match.

I have, for the moment, finished my struggles with the Palm. I think it might be a good idea to bring it back for a file-squirting session once a week or so, just to keep it on its toes.

Knitting has been slow, but not entirely neglected. I discovered last night that I had put the neck shaping on the armhole edge of the first front of the cardigan. Blame Wimbledon. I remember doing exactly the same thing on a v-necked school sweater for Alexander in Leicester in the 1970’s. What you see here is the second front finished, and the first one taken back to the point where I must try again. The yarn is fine, crisp stuff, easy to pick up.

It'll be fatter and shorter after blocking.

But I will also press on with the Princess. I sat down just now to finish the 4th-repeat-from-the-end, but my hands got too sweaty to proceed after six rows. I’ll be back.

Don’t miss Helen C.R.S.’ account of a wonderful day at Woolfest.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Palm is back in operation – for the moment. Again, thanks for advice and sympathy.

As I said on Monday, I tried deleting everything from Documents to Go and starting again, letting it create “handheld versions” of each file as we went along. That seemed to be helping, but it wasn’t enough.

So I took a deep breath and deleted everything from the Palm. But instead of squirting files into the empty space, Documents to Go found ghostly copies of the deleted files there, and declared itself surprised and pained before aborting the HotSync.

So I thought of doing a hard reset of the Palm and starting again from scratch. Couldn’t figure out how to do it. But I did figure out how to delete “Documents” from it, and off it went, taking its ghostly files with it. Then I reinstalled it, and now we’re in business. When I have re-introduced another 80 to 100 files to Documents to Go -- it's slow work -- and done another HotSync, we’ll be back to where we should have been on Sunday afternoon.

Another little crisis yesterday evening when I caught my foot in some of the Palm wiring under the desk – it plugs in to the electric socket as well as into the computer -- and pulled it to the floor during a HotSync – and then couldn’t re-establish the connection.

I knew that the computer knew the Palm was there, because it gave that little two-note sound it gives whenever I pushed or cancelled the HotSync button. But Documents to Go stood there with its arms folded across its chest and refused to acknowledge it. I solved that one by re-booting the computer.

So I feel pretty pleased with myself, although this doesn’t explain what went wrong in the first place.

Cathairinmyknitting, it sounds as if the “Treo” you mention may be the new version of the Palm I discovered on the internet. It sounds great.

Lisa, I have a kludgy Palm of my own, the gift of a dear knitting friend who was upgrading to something more Third Millennium. I simply love it. Like you, I never try to HotSync it, for fear, in my case, of confusing the computer which needs to keep its mind on my husband’s one. It is especially useful for information which I need to write down and remember and know where I put the note – the name of the new woman at Cr*ft of Dounie who grows vegetable plants for sale, seed ideas for next year, books I read reviews of and want to remember, the opening hours, month by month, of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh; all manner of things.

Well, this is supposed to be about knitting. I’m down to the last four (rather like the tennis) Princess edging repeats. I think I am dragging my feet a bit, for fear of finishing. We hope to go to Strathardle next Tuesday for a last wallow in solitude, silence and squalor before the summer invasion. I think I will aim to have the Princess finished by then, the lace grafting done and that moth hole mended. Then I can think about blocking: can space be found here? Or will it have to be done there?

Meanwhile I have finished one front of the cardigan and made a good start on the top part of the second. I like it a lot – but will the judges think it too big? I am aiming for an 11 ½-year-old granddaughter, and I think it’ll fit well. But it looks more small-adult than child when smoothed out on the floor.

I have plugged the Palm into the USB port usually reserved for the camera – so no illustrations until the current phase of that eternal job is finished.