Monday, February 20, 2012

Here we are. It was a successful trip. Spring is not far advanced in Strathardle, but it’s on its way and we had two days of perfect outdoor weather.

I pruned the unproductive apple tree, and weeded and manured it like a New Testament parable. That’s a bit harder than it sounds because it means struggling with the wire netting, and extirpating really viscous grass. I should have taken a Before picture.

And I harvested the artichokes, made a very successful soup, and re-planted the little ones. That's their spot, to the left of the tree. I suspect there were lots more unharvested, but I couldn’t find them. Maybe when they all start to grow this year I’ll be able to expand the patch, as is my ambition, by moving some. The books say you can never find all of them. Nigel Slater’s idea in his big vegetable book is to make a virtue of necessity and have a permanent artichoke patch.

I also made contact at one remove with the K*rkmichael Session House knitting group, and handed over quantities of yarn. I’ve got the phone number of the woman in charge, and before we go north again I hope to discuss with her the question of whether they can use lace yarn. When I take yarn to Alyth I just drop it in a corner shop and never get to talk to anybody.

And I’ve got the Games programme – the Knitting categories are (a) a snood and (b) best use of 100 grams of yarn, any ply.

Snood? When I was young (late 40’s) the word meant a mesh sac into which one’s hair could be confined if one were Rita Hayworth. But a bit of Ravelry’ing and Googling reveals that the word is now synonymous with “cowl” and cowls, of course, are everywhere. So I suppose I can do one of those. I might mention that Shandy gave me a cowl pattern a year or so ago when I was in the knitting doldrums, and I knit it in Koigu, and I’ve had a lot of wear from it this winter.

I’ll find something – and it won’t take impossibly long to knit.

I made a little progress with the Japanese shirt, including finishing the first skein and winding the second, no small achievement. It’s unspeakably beautiful – madelinetosh sock yarn “Cosmos” -- and progressing rather slowly. Maybe I’ll bring it back here at some point.

I relied on the camera for the Sky Scarf. In future, I’ll take the whole kit along where feasible. Having to catch up when one gets home – can’t knit today’s row until it’s been done – adds a frisson of anxiety and stress to an otherwise delightful daily obligation.

But it was a sad visit as well. As we shuffle about here in Edinburgh, our gradual decline goes almost unnoticed. There, where visits are relatively rare and where much time is spent out of doors trying to do things, the markers are conspicuous, the things we could do a year ago, six months ago, that we can’t do now.  I worry, too, about how I could cope with an emergency, so far from help. 


  1. Anonymous5:46 PM

    Jean, I recently ran across the snood/cowl situation in Ravelry. The Deramore's group has a new Knit Along, using a free Rowan pattern named Lazy Lace Snood. I looked at the pattern photo, and it is not what I have always known as a snood. It is a cowl! I thought that perhaps what we in the U.S. know as a cowl is termed a snood in the U.K., but you have now changed my mind on that thought.

    Mary G. in Texas

  2. Is there mobile 'phone access up there? If so, could knit yourself a mobile 'phone cover with a long cord to wear around your neck and carry it with you all the time? - a bit like the call alarm my father (reluctantly) wears when I am out. It sounds so lovely that it would be sad indeed not to go as long as possible.

  3. Your pictures show you advancing into spring much quicker than we are here in BC. I am glad you found enough Jerusalem artichokes to make a good soup.

    I have been giving some thought to your dilemma of finding it difficult to keep up with your Strathardle home. Would it be possible to divide some of the needed work up amongst your children and grandchildren? If you made a list of the jobs you are having trouble with, and maybe categorized them by the season, those that are able could sign up for a time to come lend a hand. I am sure they all enjoy it there too, and would love to help. And by dividing up the work it would not put too much responsibility on any one person.

    This doesn't solve the problem of what you would do if there was an emergency situation though. I like Catdownunder's idea of keeping a cell with you at all times.

  4. It is often hard to focus on what you can still do, rather than what has been lost, especially if you are a person who dislikes change. I am constantly surprised by your accounts of what you have tackled on a day by day basis. We are some weeks away from digging on our allotment, for example.