Saturday, June 30, 2012

We’ll attempt Strathardle today -- back towards the end of next week. Perhaps it’s just as well we missed Thursday’s storm. And a box of ground cover plants arrived yesterday to fill a bed in front of the house which we had a Man dig out recently. If we had been away, they would have languished in the care of the post office for a week, like my poor broccoli.

So I’ll have to plant them, and sort out the other kind of beds upstairs for the coming visits, and hope a bit of time remains for weeding vegetables.

Thank you for your messages. My sister and her husband have gone to Washington for the weekend. She is deeply upset. It will be good for them to be together. Jenni’s mother is there (her father is dead) – she got there in time to see her grandson alive. My sister has seen a picture, “all arms and legs”.

Shandy, no; he had no name. I think it a pity. Perhaps, in the circumstances, they didn't want to use whatever name they had chosen. But it was common enough, in earlier centuries, to re-use the name of a child who died.

Lumping Theo in with his Miles cousins, we have now had 15 pregnancies resulting in 12 living people, two of whom were born with serious birth defects. Jewish tradition, I believe, tends to avoid the presumption that a pregnancy will end well. After David and Helen lost their first son, they bought nothing at all during the next pregnancy. David rushed out from the hospital, once Archie was safely with us, and got some Baby Gro’s, and Rachel came with an armload of things her children had outgrown.

The idea of a baby shower chills my blood – did so, even before this week.

As for knitting, I am around Alexander’s second heel and going full speed ahead. And I am the proud owner of Socken von Welt. Some good stuff there – thanks for the offers of translation.

So Mr Murray will have to get through his next couple of matches without my help, if he can. I’m glad Federer turned his match around yesterday – we need him to stand up to Djokovic. On last night’s form, he hasn’t much of a chance of doing that, but you never know.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Jenni and Theo’s son was born on Wednesday, in the 23rd week of her pregnancy. He lived only a few hours.

Here we still are.

My husband woke up that morning feeling “off” – not like him – and spent most of the day in bed. My sister phoned, very early CT time, to say that Jenni was in labour. I felt disinclined for adventure, and anxious to be near a telephone. Even when my husband is in what passes for the pink of condition these days, I worry about being in the country with him, far from help.

He was much better yesterday. We’ll probably attempt Strathardle tomorrow. The weather has been most peculiar – really very nice in Edinburgh and (clearly) London yesterday, apocalyptic between and above. The radio said this morning that some – how much? – of Tayside is without electricity. That’s us.

I’ll print the pattern for the Joseph’s Coat cardigan and take it to the K*rkmichael knitters with the yarn, hoping that it will wind up on the back of a precious Perthshire baby this winter. For Jenni and Theo’s next child, I’ll start again with something else.

In the course of all this, I’m nearly around the heel of Alexander’s second sock. Toe-up heels seem to involve much more knitting than top-down ones – I have decided that that’s because, in the normal way of things, one feels that the heel is done as soon as it has been turned and the stitches picked up for the gusset. The gusset decreases themselves slide down painlessly into the foot.

And, apart from the weather, wasn’t yesterday’s news extraordinary? BBC radio this morning seems curiously uninterested in the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare. I’ll go across the square in a moment and get the papers. And Nadal is out of Wimbledon! As far as I can understand the draw, Federer and Djokivic will deal will each other and Murray, if he gets that far, will meet one or the other in the final. He had a tough match yesterday (which I got to watch), but not as tough as Nadal’s.

Let’s end on a cheerful domestic note. I give all my children New Yorker subscriptions every year, which I think they all enjoy. I know that Thomas-the-Elder reads his mother Rachel’s subscription on his iPad, while she has the paper copy. The Greek subscription comes here, and I send them on in batches when the spirit moves me.

Greek Helen sent this picture recently, with the message, “The New Yorkers have arrived”. We spoke on the phone on Wednesday, and I thanked her for it – she said the boys dive for them. That’s Archie in the foreground, Mungo (presumably) behind.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We’re off to Strathardle today, back at the weekend or early next week. The weather forecast is pretty gloomy. I am going to move on to saag gosht with Good King Henry for the saag. (Slugs recoil from Good King Henry as do everyone else – it is the utterly ideal vegetable, except for tasting like that.) And there’s always hope of another sorrel soup. And not too late (although it soon will be) to cut rhubarb.

Today’s Puzzle of the Day at (a vice of mine) is knitting. I didn’t do very well.

Jared has produced a new collection – you probably know that already. The idea, a simple and brilliant one, is, let’s go on knitting with wool all summer long. You’d think he was an Englishman. Lots of lovely, loose, wearable things with all the irregular hemline I could ask for.


You embarrass me, Cat. “Knitting Socks from Around the World” – your comment, yesterday – is of course “Socken von Welt” which I bought yesterday from Amazon. My one comfort is that I don’t already own it. suggested it, in the insidious way they have, when I was looking for something by Donna D. about Lithuanian socks.

They don’t normally, if ever, offer foreign language books, and I assumed – oh! never assume! – that it was a German work of such outstanding merit that they had made an exception. The only explanation I can think of now is that is stuck with too many copies.

I used to have a reading knowledge of German, and I’ve got that little book of Knitting Languages. I should manage, more or less, although for the ins-and-outs of a tricky heel I would be happier in my native tongue.

Tamar – you know everything! – I will look at Therese de Dillmont when we get back, for heels, and such few other early books as I have. It might be a subject worth pursuing in the Rutt archives. I hadn't even thought of looking in that direction.

Woolly Bits, The Sock Knitter’s Handbook (link in your comment yesterday) is very good indeed. It’s the one I’m mostly relying on, so far. Not without flaws, but good. And I agree with you about carnivorous plants (your blog). Nature is amazing.

Else, thank you for straightening me out about genus and species – not my strong suit, although that’s no excuse for not trying. And perhaps this specific example – the question of where to fit the species deodar – may help keep things clear in my mind.

And I’ll have a look at Nancy Bush again, too, when we get back. Just because she doesn’t call a technique “Lithuanian” doesn’t mean it isn’t practiced there. She is the very first entry on my electronic page of heel notes, but since then I have been swept out to sea by the sheer quantity of ideas and instructions. Why don’t I put her book into The Box and take it along to Strathardle?

And as for


I did finish Alexander’s first sock, as hoped. And Murray won his first-round match, as easily as Federer did his, and rather more so than Nadal. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I spoke too jocularly yesterday. Yes, the deodar is a cedar, but it used to be a pine, and my Googling this morning suggests that it has also spent time as an abies. I learned a great new word while pursuing the subject – “basionym”. When a plant is moved from one species to another (if “species” is the word I want, there), the original classification is said to be its basionym. However, this splendid formation is not in the multi-volumned Oxford English Dictionary, so will have to be regarded with suspicion.

I’ll look the deodar up in our Great Big Tree Book (also multi-volumned) when we get to Strathardle, in hopes of finding some history of its classification. We’ve got one down the commonty, planted for Alexander and Ketki and their family because it’s a Himalayan tree, regarded as sacred by Hindus. It’s doing very well but my researches yesterday and this morning have produced some rather alarming information about its hardiness. Ours came smiling through the savage winters of ‘9-’10 and ’10-’11, and surely it gets pretty cold in the Himalayas.


More taxonomy. Thanks for the pointer to the Knitting Daily pitch on Lithuanian heels, Dawn. I’ll never know for sure about those heels, because $35 is too much (even for me) for a DVD which might not run here in Edinburgh. The short-row heel sounds like Candace Strick and Wendy’s short-row heel (the ones that start with a provisional cast-on), at least inasmuch as toe and heel are said to be the same.

“A little triangle at the bottom of the heel flap” – one of the other Lithuanian heels – sounds like the one I am doing at the moment, the upside-down French heel. Mine has got the triangle, anyway, although of course I don’t know what the Lithuanians do next.

“The T-shaped heel”? Does it sound a bit Dutch? It certainly sounds interesting.

Oh, dear – will I have to buy that video, for the sake of completeness? Maybe Donna D will write a book about Lithuanian socks.

If you Google “Lithuanian socks”, as I did just now, you get pages of Donna D., but I didn’t see any source except the DVD. Would it run here? Schoolhouse Press DVD’s run fine. I tried Amazon. Donna doesn't seem to have published anything about Lithuanian socks per se. I fell for a book called "Socken von Welt" hoping that German thoroughness would include every heel known to man.


I’m about half-way through the ribbing on Alexander’s first sock, and will try to press to the finish today.

The big news is that we have a date for a new dining room ceiling – Monday, July 9. They say they can finish the whole job, including decorating, in a week. Is it possible? Won't the new ceiling have to dry for a while? For now, let’s just relax and enjoy the thought. James and two of his children are arriving on Sunday the 15th, in the hope of going on to Strathardle with us the next day. So the timing is perfect. (Cathy and the remaining child will join us at the end of that week.)

And it also means that we can go to Strathardle tomorrow or Thursday, and get some vegetables weeded – assuming the slugs have left me any.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sunshine! Wimbledon!

In the 20th century, I used to set up the ironing board in front of the television.  I’d look at the screen whenever there were 30 points against the server; otherwise iron. Piles of accumulated ironing melted away as if by magic, as if Rumplestiltskin had come to stay.

But my husband doesn’t care for tennis, and anyway needs to get some exercise in the afternoon, and won’t go out without me, so it doesn’t work like that any more.

Another thing we don’t do any more is live in Birmingham, where we often used to take a morning train to Stratford and have lunch in a pub and catch a matinee. Last night BBC4 showed the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “Julius Caesar”. I didn’t get to see all of it, not even very much, what with football and my husband wanting to watch a western.

I may have to buy the DVD. For, gosh! it was good. What a wonderful language we speak, and what a pleasure to hear it spoken intelligently by good actors!

I'm glad you liked the football, tandemsandy (link yesterday). You make me very envious, about Woolfest.


I’ve started the ribbing on Alexander’s first sock. I do lots of ribbing, 50 rounds, so it’ll take a couple of evenings.

I’m inclined to think I’ll stick with the Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. I feel no need for further experiment on that front. But on the other hand, I like the sound of the Tubular Bind-0ff in Wendy Johnson’s book. It involves a k1, p1 rib (which I normally don’t do), then the stitches are separated onto two needles, knits to the front, purls to the back, and grafted together. I might have a go at that one day.

Knitting08816 , all I meant about the Sweet Tomato Heel's being in a class by itself was that – so far – it didn’t seem to resemble any other heel. Although maybe stacked wedges could be considered a special case of the Strong-Fleegle heel?

When I was young I think I vaguely believed that the genera and species of plants had been assigned by Linnaeus and had stayed put ever since. But, no – it is not uncommon for a plant to shift about. Is the deodar a pine or a cedar?

I am not as ambitious as that, when it comes to classifying heels, but I find myself  wanting to group them into categories. As I’ve said, I mean to go back to the Sweet Tomato for my next effort. I will contemplate it anew.

I tried to read Candace’ book yesterday to compare her revolutionary sock with the short-row toe in Wendy’s book, but I got bogged down. I’ll have to experience it. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My sister sent this delicious link to a reprise of Saturday’s big game.

I spoke to Rachel last night. She had – was still having – a nice birthday, but didn’t get the present we sent first class on Thursday. I had been looking forward to her pleasure in it.

Thanks for the link to Stephen Colbert, Theresa. Presumably I could find some of him on YouTube? Did he ever do anything about the Ravelympics, to earn his socks?

And thanks for the video about the crochet cast-on, Judith.  I should have thought that there would be such things somewhere. I have added the link to my lengthening electronic list of sock-y things-to-do. Next must be Judy’s Magic Cast-On, but next after that, the crochet chain. At a very cursory glance, Candace’ revolutionary socks (which require a provisional cast-on) look similar to the short-row toes & heels in other sources. It will be fun to tease out the differences.

Part of the delight of this project is studying similarities and differences – the taxonomy of sock-knitting. Pairing up the Strong and the Fleegle heels was a great moment. So far, the Sweet Tomato seems to be in a class by itself.

I tried Alexander’s sock on my husband, and it fits snugly, a great comfort. So I have recovered the stitches and should, even allowing for the usual Sunday inertia, get somewhere near the ribbing today. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Today is Rachel’s birthday – the celebrations last week were premature. She is 54, two-thirds of my own lifetime. The-first-day-of-the-rest-of-your-life, for both of us, that midsummer morning in Glasgow in ’58.

And Scotland won another rugby match!


I’m still worried by the size of the foot on Alexander’s first sock. I am becoming quite enamoured of toe-up knitting, although I would be very hard put to say why. I love grafting; most of the people I knit for aren’t around to try socks on as they progress; and it’s hard to imagine myself in a knit-until-I-run-out-of-yarn situation.

So none of the reasons people keep advancing for toe-up, really apply to me.

And here is a situation which is another big plus for top-down. If the foot length is wrong, it is easy to correct after the event. Just undo the toe.

I’ll have to give that one some hard thought today. Perhaps try it on my husband, whose feet must be pretty comparable to his son’s. I am now nearly half-way up the bit between heel and ribbing, but it's never too late to rip if ripping is what needs to be done.

Wendy Johnson’s “Socks from the Toe Up” turned up here yesterday – how did we manage life before Amazon? It’s a worthy addition to my now-substantial sock library. And I have resolved to master that crochet chain thing for a provisional cast-on. It would be a small thing, but  a useful addition to my list of new skills.

I’ve been saying that I can’t do it, I need to be taught by an actual knitter here present. But maybe that’s not true. Maybe if I crochet a few little chains and try, try again, I can get it. So that goes on the list.


Thanks for the link to the Harlot’s thots, Knitlass. I think she’s being a little too kind – although I suppose it does her credit. If she organises a brilliantly successful “sock summit”, as I gather she did, and then someone else stages a “sock summit”, the someone else is cashing in on Stephanie’s hard work and success and sock-knitters could well be misled. But the Olympics belong to the world, alas. And no one seeing the word “Ravelympics” could possibly be misled.

Is Ravelry taking money out of athletes’ pockets by infringing USOC’s trademark in a partial use of the word? Arguable, I think. Can you trademark a word? How did that lawsuit between the Beetles and Apple turn out – over the word “apple” itself?

I think the Mason-Dixon idea of a lifetime’s supply of hand-knit socks for Stephen Colbert (whoever he may be) in return for laughing at USOC (did he actually do it?) is a much better approach.

Friday, June 22, 2012

All’s well.

You see what I mean, about the brightness of the yarn. And it's perhaps slightly too large, in the sense that’s there’s not much if any negative ease, but I’m not going to double back. The heel was perfectly straightforward, and rather interesting in that there was no short-rowing. It sort of turns itself.

Once the gusset increases are done, you take the centre 16 stitches and knit a wedge back and forth by decreasing at the beginning of every row until 4 stitches remain. That's the little yellow bit. Then, right side facing, knit across those 4 stitches, pick up 14 down the edge of the wedge, (knit across the instep stitches), pick up another 14 up the other edge. Those 32 stitches now form the heel flap, which is knit back and forth taking in one from each side on each pass until you are back down to the original number.

Those numbers are for a 64-stitch sock.

I don’t think this is one I want to add to the repertoire, but I’m glad to have done it. It looks very neat, I think – and there’s no sign of that maddening little hole in the corner between heel flap and gusset.

I thought I had nothing else to say today, but I’ve just stumbled on this in Mason-Dixon Knitting. Can it be true? I’ve spent a moment with Ravelry, and the answer seems to be, yes. Here’s the full text in all its astonishing absurdity. I’ve got the tee-shirt for a similar (but less serious) silliness some years ago – Free to Stitch, Free to Bitch. I’ll have to get this one, when it’s issued.

I thought I disliked the Olympics as profoundly as they could be disliked – London bus drivers are on strike today because they aren’t getting enough extra lolly for driving during the Games. But this adds an extra notch.


Was that Midsummer’s Day, yesterday? Nothing colder, wetter or darker can be imagined. I love this time of year, except for the dread it breeds of the darkness to come. This is the view from our kitchen window on Wednesday evening, just after 11 as I was finishing the washing-up.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The decision was, to try again.

Armed with Dawn’s comment, and the links I posted yesterday, I’m having another go at a Reverse French Heel. I’ve nearly finished the gusset increases. I think I have a picture in my head of what I’m trying to do.

Another very odd thing about the Schurch & Parrott instructions – perhaps the oddest of all – is that the heel isn’t centred between the lines of the gusset increases. Normally, with a cluster of “mistakes” like this, I would suspect there to be one line somewhere which I had misunderstood, from which all subsequent confusion flowed. I think you are thinking along the same lines, Tamar.

(I am a devoted follower of William of Ockham. He has rescued me from many a jam. His basic idea – Occam’s Razor -- is that one explanation is better than a cluster of them – pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate, in other words.)

But in this case, I can’t find it. So I will centre the heel between the gussets, and knit the heel flap until I have decreased down to the original number of stitches. And we shall see.

Thank you for pointing me to WendyKnits, Teresa. She was only a vague name to me – what an interesting and prolific designer! I didn’t find the exact guidance I needed among her free sock patterns, probably from lack of persistence on my part. I found one with gussets followed by a heel turn, but no flap.

I have ordered her book “Socks from the Toe Up”. In for a penny…

I sort of toyed with the idea, this morning, of ordering some Poems sock yarn. But I found – Google found for me – a little video about it from Jimmy Bean, in which I learned that it is unplyed, like Zauberballs (but unlike Crazy Zauberballs). So I think I had better knit an unplyed Zauberball first, and see how I like it.

Catmum, I mean to go back to the Sweet Tomato Heel for my next pair of socks, having started them with Judy’s Magic Cast-On. Then I must find out what Candace Strick is up to. And there's still the Afterthought Heel to try. There’s no end in sight.


I got back to work on the dining room ceiling yesterday. ChemDry pronounced it dry last Thursday, a week ago today, but the news has yet to reach the contractor. It has to travel up the chain through the loss adjuster to the insurance company, and then back down again. I didn’t get anywhere. The dining room is full of scaffolding, so they can’t just abandon us.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


That seems to me a most extraordinary coincidence, Barbara M and Grannypurple, that you should meet on the Queen Mary II like that. I have about 300 readers a day – it’s not as if  I were Franklin or Queer Joe. Go figure, as they say.

And it was interesting, too, to learn that Good King Henry is growing at the Cloisters. Those people at Plymouth-spelled-funny never did answer my email about the taste. (They were quoted in the NY Times as saying it is bland. It is not.) Mine is doing splendidly, by the way. Pests from slugs on up to deer clearly recoil from it like Kristie from a lima bean. And cooking it with spices is the way forward.

My mother said once that she was glad to have been born late enough in history to travel by air. I rejoice, on the contrary, to have come along early enough to have travelled from America to Europe and back by sea when that was the way everybody did it.


Well. I got badly stuck on that Reverse French Heel last night, and am at the moment somewhat less far forward than I was at this time yesterday. I blame Schurch and Parrott whose Sock Knitter’s Handbook I am following slavishly.  I think they’ve got something wrong here.

Essentially, one begins with the gussets; then one turns the heel; then one knits the flap. The reverse of the top-down procedure.

Two things are peculiar about the instructions.

1)      After the gusset increases, they have you put most of the stitches on holders and turn the heel on the remaining 16 (of 64). When that is done, and you are ready to start the heel flap, you suddenly “work across instep stitches in established pattern”. What about those holders? This is a trivial complaint – I used a very short circular to hold the stitches, and knit across without difficulty.

2)      You work the heel flap by knitting across and doing an SSK with the first stitch on the holder, and then purling back and doing p2tog with the first stitch on the other holder. Well and good. But it says to go on doing that “until you have 1 st left on each holder”. Wouldn’t that mean that the entire sock now consists of the 30-stitch heel flap?

My thought last night when I got to that point was, this is too much for me, I’ll do a peasant heel (= EZ’s “afterthought heel”, I think). So I ripped back to where the gusset increases began, and then got bogged down on the question of how long to make the foot, previous calculations having been based on a different heel.

I’ve done some Googling this morning. Answers are not abundant. Some websites just do the heel in the usual way, upside down. (Schurch and Parrott mention that possibility.) My own totally useless blog post of yesterday comes on the first Google page. But I found this, and this. – Judy Gibson’s solution.

I don’t know what I’m going to do.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

An early dental appt this morning, with the fortunate coincidence that I have nothing much to say.

I’m half-way up the gusset increases for my upside-down French heel. I don’t understand all of the instructions which follow, but trust they will become clear.

The Bedroom at Arles yarn is rather bright. I discussed the project with Alexander in the jolly atmosphere of our Easter holiday at Loch Fyne, when I gave Ketki her Restaurant de la Sirene socks. The Restaurant is a similar colour scheme, but duller. Alexander thought he could wear a related pair. I now wonder, but I’m sort of stuck.. The current sock started with a Restaurant toe. The Bedroom has now been deployed and looks brighter with every stitch. 

If he can bear it, it’s an appropriate choice. When he got his place at Oxford, Rachel sent him a Bedroom at Arles card – I hope we’ve still got it somewhere – suggesting that this was typical accommodation at his college. “Notice the bare floorboards, the ill-fitting window, the door which won’t quite close.”

On with life.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Today’s adventure should be the Upside Down French Heel – that is, the plain vanilla heel-flap-heel-turn-gusset I’ve been knitting all my life, upside down since I’m knitting toe-up. I’m nearly there.

Here is Lizzie in her Hundertwasser socks, with which she seems pleased:

Rachel and her husband Ed have birthdays two days apart. They have got into the way of celebrating with a family picnic. This year they had it in the garden so that they could scoot indoors if necessary. But it didn’t rain after all.

Thomas, Joe, Hellie, Lizzie, but no sign of the Birthday Boy and Girl. 

Helen wrote from Athens yesterday predicting the outcome of the Greek election:

“It’s election day here and it’s hard to think about anything else. The most likely result is a half hearted win for New Democracy who will cobble together a weak and unpopular government with Pasok and Greece won’t be kicked out of the euro but it will stumble on in this current state of self loathing and ineffectualness and nothing will change.”

I am reading “Raven Black” by Ann Cleeves, a rather good thriller set in Shetland. The detective is named Jimmy Perez, a Fair Isle man, descended from one of the Spanish sailors who survived the shipwreck of El Gran Grifon – that’s the ship from the Spanish Armada which was wrecked off Fair Isle. There are those who credit the shipwrecked sailors with teaching the islanders both their two-handed knitting technique and their colourful patterns.

Historians are skeptical, but never mind. It provides the detective with a pedigree which Lord Peter Wimsey himself can’t match.

But I doubt if the author is a knitter:

“She could knit a pair of stockings in an afternoon, a plain jersey in a week. She was known as the best knitter in the south, although she’d never enjoyed doing the fancy Fair Isle patterns. “What point is there in that?” she’d say, putting the stress on the last word so she’d almost spit it out. “Will it keep dee ony warmer?”

The author is characterizing the knitter as a not-nice person, of course, but even so she (the knitter), if she was that good, would have known that Shetland and Fair Isle colour knitting do indeed keep the wearer warmer, being a double fabric, and also form a stronger fabric than the soft Shetland wool produces on its own.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

We had a grand walk, the weather not nearly as bad as forecast which is not to say it was good. We went to Peebles and walked upstream along the Tweed for a while, following an itinerary our niece had downloaded from the internet. The landmarks described therein revealed themselves every half-mile or so, like a child’s game. Best was Neidpath Castle, a third ruin, two-thirds inhabited castle, looming above us. We didn't see the ghost.

The first half was easy, as the path ran along the river-side. We could see that the opposite bank was steep and wooded. After we had crossed the river, and a tributary, sure enough, we ascended briskly, aged parties puffing somewhat. Then a path descended through the woods which were, alas, criss-crossed with paths. But just at the point where we realised from the contours of the land that we must be walking upstream again, we met some people we had passed earlier, who put us right.

On some walks one simply has to walk out for a while, and then turn around. That is much less interesting, of course, but it also misses out that glorious moment at the end of a circular walk when one is beginning to feel that another half-mile would really be rather difficult and one or the other says, Look! There’s the car park!

We were too damp and muddy (I fell twice) to appear in public so went back to Morningside for bread and soup. A glorious day.

And in the evening, I made some progress with the current socks. I think I’ll knit our niece a pair next.

Sunday presses.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Brief today – I am going for a walk with our niece, C.’s eldest daughter, as we occasionally do. The weather outside the window at the moment is pretty dreadful, and the forecast for the rest of the day, horrendous. Especially as we plan to head south, towards Peebles.

But we are tough cookies, and it’s June for heaven’s sake, and I long for that delicious tiredness as opposed to the everyday drag.

I was still working Alexander’s second sock on two circulars yesterday, and found I had a different number of stitches on the two needles, and that the difference seemed to increase the more I tried to make modest adjustments, so I ripped it all out and started again. Started again twice, I think.

My final effort is brilliant, if I do say so. A lovely smooth band of knitting wraps the toe without a beginning or an end. Fleegle says the Turkish Cast-On is the one she always uses, and I can now see why. Once you’ve got it, it’s quick and easy, too. I must now move on to Judy’s Magic one, with Candace’ provisional-cast-on sock in the more distant future, but the Turkish Cast-On can join the Sweet Tomato and the Stong-Fleegle heels in the category of things-I’ve-learned-that-I-wouldn’t-mind-going-back-to.


China Doll, I phoned the contractor yesterday. He hasn’t yet had the all clear on Dryness from ChemDry. I’ll pursue the matter next week. I wonder if a water-proof layer would be possible? I will certainly ask. And as a fellow double-cataract-operation-experiencer, I sympathise. I have been near-sighted since childhood, and was very used to being able to take my glasses off and hold work up close and see it clear and enlarged. Doesn’t work, with plastic eyes.

Catdownunder, fancy there being anything at all to do in the garden at midwinter, which is where you must be! Thanks for your very kind remark about tidiness – my patch looks pretty awful to me.

Angel, in that brief period when we were considering leaving the old ceiling up and just re-papering it, Mr ChemDry came and said they deal with two or three Edinburgh ceilings a year which just suddenly descend – as your parents’ one did. And the reason is always a previous inundation, neglected. So we went ahead. I’m glad your parents are OK!

Snood Knitter (hi!), it’s funny how gardens differ. I put in some runner bean seeds to replace the plug plants which were delivered too early and promptly perished. They’re up, looking a bit chilly but untouched by the sinister slugs which have made off with smaller seedlings, lettuce predominantly. Whereas you’ve got courgettes – I assumed mine fell to cold, but slugs are also possible – but no runner beans.

And Knitlass, yes, it’s best to keep trying. I sowed some kailaan earlier this week, a miracle oriental veg with which I have completely failed two or three times. I thought it might like going in at midsummer. We’ll see.

Now I must press on – and this post is as long as usual, although link-less.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Two new followers! Most welcome on a grey morning!

Here we are. I can’t show you much of the dining room, because I daren’t advance into the room, still thick with plaster underfoot. But all went well. The rest of the house is no dustier than usual. The cornice is OK, and the walls won’t need to be redecorated after all. And ChemDry came yesterday afternoon and said that everything is dry so we can go ahead with a new ceiling. That pipe across the battens once supplied gas to the gas lighting, they told us.

It turns out there isn’t much of a deafening layer. ChemDry could reach up through those battens and touch the floorboards above.

Alexander did a sterling job. It was good to see him, however briefly. He is now back with his family, only slightly delayed by a motorcycle accident between Tarbert and Arrochar – that’s the road to Rest and Be Thankful, his lifeline to the outer world. Forewarned, he went over the hill on an unmarked road past an unnamed, closely guarded Facility where we suspect n*clear w*apons are stored for the nearby nuclear submarines on the Holy Loch. Who knows? That took him directly to Arrochar, bypassing the accident.

He said the road was only closed for three or four hours, and that means the motorcyclist survived. A fatality closes it for eight hours, at least.


We worked hard and got a lot done. This is the moment in the year when the cuckoo falls silent and Nature, smiling, turns over her cards. Slugs! Rabbits! Deer! Caterpillars! Pigeons! American Gooseberry Mould! Creeping buttercup! Encroaching grass! Weather!

It’s War, in other words, and I’ve already lost.

But I did get the Summer Pudding Bush securely netted, I hope. Last year I just tossed some netting over it and the pigeons stripped it anyway. This year I pegged the netting down all around. We shall see. There’s a good crop, as usual – that bush positively thrives on neglect. The berries have not yet begun to turn pink, so the netting is a bit premature, but we thought we saw some pigeons sizing things up.

The main thing was how cold it was. You can’t expect vegetables to make much progress when they’re cold. The little courgettes I grew on the windowsill are gone, and the seeds I planted directly haven’t come up. So, no courgettes this year. We won’t much miss eating them, but growing them is a lot of fun. The potato haulm doesn’t appear frosted. In fact, the potatoes are fine.

Here is my vegetable cage, planted with the plug plants which came by post and remained there for eight or nine days – some broccoli and some lettuce, the latter protected as you see with unorganic slug pellets. Slugs especially love lettuce. 

And here is a general view. The Summer Pudding Bush is in the upper right-hand corner of the cultivated bit, behind the vegetable cage.


Little to report here. I knit a couple of rows of the ever-patient Japanese shirt while we were away. I did a second Turkish cast-on for Alexander’s second sock last night, without a video or a book and despite weariness. It went fine. So that’s that skill temporarily mastered.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Here we are, about to leave for Strathardle and the dining room ceiling about to come down. I am anxious and depressed, needless to say. Some sunshine would help. But everything seems to be about as much in order as it could be under the circumstances. Alexander will be here tomorrow evening, remaining until Thursday afternoon when we should get back.

I spent a moment yesterday rolling up the rugs between the front door and the dining room, and stowing them out of the way. They leave behind an emptiness which, added to the now long-standing emptiness of the dining room, my husband and I find unexpectedly delightful. Maybe we need to go off and be anchorites.

Lisa R-R, write to me at the address in the sidebar. Income tax is far too delicate a subject to discuss in public, and I have never mastered that trick of adding comments of my own to particular comments. I need to get back to that one.

On the principal topics of life, there is not much to say. I finished off my sister’s socks, and hope I will post them from K*rkmichael, where access to a post office is a good deal more convenient than it is here. Alexander’s first toe progresses nicely.

Suzanne, thanks for the link to the video about square needles (comment yesterday). I did some Googling just now – all comments are enthusiastic. Somebody called Kollage (new to me) makes square metal needles, including circulars with a soft cord, ideal for magic loop-ery.

Fishwife, thanks for the help on mushroom compost. My husband tends to disparage such expenditure, believing that plants should be made to get on with their lives without coddling. I agree on the whole, but vegetables are a bit different. I’ll find a way.

Our soil, although basically sandy when it has to be classified, has been much improved over many years before ever I started scratching around. I don’t think lime would leech out too quickly. But it is another factor to consider, undoubtedly.

Back here Friday, insh’Allah.

Which reminds me – Pakistani mangoes are in season. Not in your supermarket, either. You need a corner grocer. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

All went according to plan yesterday – is that a first? I finished my sister’s socks, except for the briefest of tidying of ends. I did a Turkish cast-on for Alexander early in the day, in front of the video. It isn’t the neatest of jobs, but I think I’ve got the idea. At least, I understand what the book means when it asks me to rotate the work. I’ll do the next one fairly soon, once I’ve made a good start up the foot.

And next time I will, I hope, follow your advice, Leslie, and rip it out again and again until I can not only do it, but do it neatly.

In furtherance of this goal, I have bought myself another set of 2 mm KnitPro Cubics. No use giving you the link – I bought the last set in the shop. I love those needles. I would be very hard put to say why. I am not sure my fingers are even aware of their squareness while knitting is going on.

I cast on the new socks with Ketki’s yarn, and hope there is enough to do both toes. She likes a long sock, so not much remains.

Thank you for the dizzying compliment, Elizabeth, about the ribbing. No, I use the same size needle throughout, always have for socks. Maybe it's the Cubics!

And, Ron, I love your airport story.


Some Welsh onions I had ordered arrived yesterday – perfect timing, as we are going north tomorrow. They look very sprightly. The lettuce and broccoli plants which – you will remember – spent a week in the care of the post office recently, have recovered fairly well. Certainly not a total loss.

On the first six of the days after our last return from Perthshire, frost was forecast for the highlands five times. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention, on the sixth. “The highlands” doesn’t have to mean “Strathardle” (but it might). A brief frost probably wouldn’t do much harm, except possibly to the little courgette plants. But it could carry off the apple harvest, as it did last year.

Fishwife, I do lime my plot, but haphazardly and with no reference either to a soil test or to what is going to be planted where, next year. Also, the lime is very old. Can it “lose its savour”, as salt is improbably said to do in the New Testament? All that will now change.

I have ordered a fertilizer called Perlka, mentioned in my newest book. It’s got lime in it and can be used right now for the beetroot and brassicas.

I like the idea of mulching with mushroom compost. Where do I get it? (Look it up, Jean.)

Non-knit, non-vegetable

Rachel sent this picture this morning. It was presumably taken early in the afternoon of the Jubilee regatta, before the driving rain set in. That’s Hellie on the left, who works for a literary agent, and Joe, the recent graduate, on the right.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

I’m within 10 rounds or so of finishing the second toe-up sock. You are so absolutely right, skeindalous, that the finishing of a sock is a thoroughly satisfying experience. The difficulty here is that my Sock Project requires sudden bursts of Learning Experience at inconvenient times of day. One can scarcely interrupt one’s soap opera to go off to the computer and study a video.

So today, I think, I must

(a)    have another look at the instructions for Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. I’ve done it, it’s easy, it works – just a matter of reminding myself what to do;
(b)   take some time out during the day to sit down in front of the computer with needles and the cast-on yarn for Alexander’s socks and fire up a video and do a Turkish cast-on, knitting it far enough that I can pick it up during the soap opera and glide pleasantly on.
(c)    determine which yarn to use for Alexander’s cast-on, Bedroom at Arles or Restaurant de la Sirene? Decisions, decisions.

I had a look at my sock yarn situation yesterday:

The stripey one just behind the Zauberballs is the Italian flag, from Regia's "world ball" series. I'm looking forward to that. I'm looking forward to all of them -- but that’s something close to a year of knitting you’re looking at, most of them fairly recent purchases. And Alexander's Van Gogh yarn isn't even there. And I found I had another 100 grams (one ball) of Hundertwasser. That was truly silly – I not infrequently buy 150 grams for gents’ socks, so as not to have to change yarns for the toe. But 200 grams of a yarn that can only be knit for ladies, is ridiculous. I’ve put it in the Box to go to Strathardle and be given away.

Oh, dear.


I thought, in a burst of mental energy, that I might be able to face up to soil chemistry. I have recently taken on board a mnemonic which allows me to remember which sort of soil is “acid” and which is “alkaline”. That’s a start.

I tried the widipedia entry on acid soil this morning, and all seemed to be going fairly well. It was pretty chemical and technical, but I could see the shape of things. For a while. There is a list of calcifuge (=lime-hating) plants from the presence of which you can be pretty sure you’ve got an acid soil. Lots of old friends, including lilac. Fine. That’s what we’ve got – I knew that anyway.

Then – this can be viewed on the same screen – a list of plants with their pH preferences. And sure enough, the ones I can grow come in at pH 6-6.5, or lower, and the ones I can’t prefer pH 6.5-7. It’s all beginning to make sense – until I see that lilacs prefer the highest alkalinity of all, 7.1-8.

This is just wikipedia, and is obviously a mistake, one way or the other. But it’s sort of depressing for one  struggling to get a foothold.

And something else I need to know – why does spreading manure (which I do) make soil more acid?

Friday, June 08, 2012

I did pretty well with Life, yesterday, except for not sending off the driving license application. That will have to be top of the list today.


I lack but five rounds before the ribbing, so two more sessions should see this job finished. Here are the socks, a bit blurry, and I’m pretty pleased with them.

Thanks for the suggestion about using a contrast yarn for the ribbing of Alexander’s socks, Roobeedoo. His socks are to be Van Gogh’s famous Bedroom at Arles. Ketki’s were the much less famous Restaurant de la Sirene. I had planned to use her leftovers to finish off his socks, the colour ranges being not dissimilar. I’ll get the leftovers out and look at them with the new yarn – if you can’t hide it, make a feature of it.

If you follow the link to Roobeedoo’s blog (well worth doing), you will find a link to the Sock Report, news to me and so wonderful that I have put the link here as well. A Twist Collective for socks.

I did bake the moth-y madelinetosh yarn last night, successfully at least inasmuch as it doesn’t look or smell scorched. I’ll put it away today in one of the ziplock bags my husband keeps for his sweaters. Moths seem particularly fond of him, as well – I agree – as having a sense of which yarn is expensive and beloved. He wears the green madelinetosh I recently knit him pretty well daily. When he lays it aside, it will be as well to wash it and put it away very promptly.


Thank you for the vegetable-growing comments, Mary Lou. It is indeed worth remembering that nature – and the weather – are capricious. I have looked carefully at the soil requirements for the “easy’s” which defeat me (onions, beets, kale), and see that all need lime, whereas the “easy’s” that I can grow, don’t. I think I had better pay a lot more attention to alkalinity.

I spent a jolly half-hour just now trying to find some skirret seed. It sounds just my sort of thing. I think I have finally succeeded in ordering some from Germany.


I got on well with the dining room problem yesterday. It has been obvious for some time that it is far easier to deal with the firms which actually do things than with the ones where people push paper around. I count eight separate organisations in this game so far, starting with our insurance broker. No wonder insurance is so expensive.

At any rate, both the putting-up of scaffolding and the knocking-down of ceiling will happen on the same day next week, namely Wednesday (freeing us to go to Strathardle on Monday, I hope). The knockers-down will come in first and put down protection on the floor from front door to dining room, before the scaffolders move in. Alexander will be here to make them tea and to seal off the rooms at the far end of the house which neither he nor they will need access to.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

I mean to take life by the throat today – apply for my new driving license; make some phone calls about the coming-down of the dining room ceiling next Wednesday; make a list, at least, of other pressing tasks.

I’m half-way from heel to ribbing.

I feel terribly sorry for poor Helen C.K.S. who has let herself finish something without thinking what to do next. The most bereft of feelings. I mean to go on to socks for Alexander. My first thought was that he would have to wait, because I only have 100 grams of his yarn and that means the toes will have to end in something else and I’m having my toe-up phase at the moment. I can hardly switch yarns on him half-way up the leg.

But, on reflection, there is really no problem. I can start with the something-else. There are top-down socks in my husband’s sock drawer, knit in the fashion just mentioned, which will give me a good idea when it’s safe to switch to the main yarn.

It will be hard to leave off Zauberball-knitting, even for a little while.

A dreadful thing: I found moths this week on the madelinetosh yarn which will eventually become my Effortless or Vitamin D or that twisted-front thingy from VK. I got rid of them and the yarn is in the freezer, filling an uncomfortable amount of space. It has been there three days. Is that long enough? I must take it out soon – I need the space for food – and make sure it’s dry and then put it in a chest where I think it will be safe.

I mention this because there was strong evidence that the moths were (like me) particularly enthusiastic about madelinetosh and ignoring other pure wool yarns equally accessible nearby. Colour? – the way birds will strip the red current bush while ignoring the white currents? Or what?


I got “Fruit and Vegetables for Scotland” yesterday, by Kenneth Cox and Caroline Beaton, ordered on the strength of a review in the Scotsman last Saturday. I was afraid the authors wouldn’t know that Scotland is a big place with a lot of climatic variation, but they do – it’s a good book.

It makes me determined to master some of the easys – notably kale, but also spring onions and beetroot. My sister and I have been corresponding about her parsley, which wasn’t doing at all well until moved to another part of the garden. I have no idea what was wrong – that never hinders an exchange of opinion between sisters. But my own pontificating has left me convinced that there must be a reason why the three things just mentioned come up, for me, and then just sit there, an inch and a half high, for the rest of the summer.

The two authors write separate parts of the book, rather than collaborating on the whole. I particularly like this, in the pages on rhubarb: “With a nod in the direction of Nigel Slater, Caroline recommends baked rhubarb served with crispy fillets of mackerel. I can’t think of anything worse, myself.”

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

I was all primed to get up and go out with my bucket of water to try to see the transit of Venus at 4:30 this morning. But the cloud cover was solid, and I was not entirely sorry to go back to bed. Despite the Beijing haze, James, who is something of an amateur astronomer, managed to see it – which makes up for any disappointment I might have felt. (Bucket of water = to look at the sun, reflected, briefly.)

I’m not sorry for the end of the Jubilee and the restoration of postal services, either. Enough is enough. A message from the Queen herself was inserted into the television schedules at the last moment yesterday. I expected it to be live, but it wasn’t. Despite being very brief – thanks to everybody – it wasn’t even done in a single shot. Framed photographs from the recent royal wedding were artlessly/artfully displayed on a piece of furniture behind her.

I had a sudden Wonderland moment – “‘Who cares for you?’ said Alice (she had grown back to her full size by this time); ‘You’re nothing but a pack of cards!’”


Thank you for the link to the PBS item with the interview with the Dunkirk survivor included, Janet. It was good to be assured that one was there.

Shandy, there was a Plan B, at least to some extent. The Queen’s coat and dress were wool. And she went on board carrying a shawl, which, by the end of the trip, she had deployed. What if it had been a sizzling hot day? Those uniforms must be heavy.

And Knitlass, yes! The most unexpected of victories (Scotland over Australia at rugby yesterday)! It hadn’t happened in Australia for 30 years, and Scotland have been rubbish lately. The weather looked appalling, just like our glorious Calcutta Cup victory in 2000 when we came within a whisker of winning both the Calcutta Cup and the Wooden Spoon in the same season. Italy, alas, snatched the latter glory by having more points-scored-against.

(Sorry for that, but it was a wonderful victory.)

Still with comments, but segue-ing into knitting: follow the link to Knitlass above for a splendid bit of yarn-bombing, even though it is croch*t.

Dawn, thank you for reference to the Wendy Johnson toe, now pasted into my electronic Filofax.

And thank you for your interesting comment about the satisfactions of work, Woolly Bits. I’ve never had time – I’ve never taken time? – to immerse myself in knitting. But I wonder if you’re not perhaps right, that it would be as demanding and as wearying and as satisfying as any other work, if I did it. I think it would have to be complicated lace, as you imply.

And, everybody – follow that link to Woolly Bits’ blog, and have a look at the “Fuchsia Cottage” socks, 26 May. Not to be missed.

Me? I’m round the second Strong-Fleegle heel and steaming up the leg.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012


Stashhaus, there has been lots of criticism of BBC coverage of the flotilla. I gather the wretched Mr Murdoch did better. And in particular, as you say, we needed to hear more about the little boats. Was anyone there who had taken part in the Dunkirk rescue? If not, there was surely a son or daughter. We saw some Venetian gondoliers, and some Maori canoeists – but there must have been lots of other significant boats. It wasn’t a random collection of anything that floated.

The boat with the bells was a splendid idea. Full marks to the English Theo LeCompte who came up with it.


I’ve started the second Strong-Fleegle heel.

I am beginning to feel thoroughly overwhelmed, in a happy and excited sort of way, about how much there is to explore in sock-knitting (as in sock yarns). I haven't even started thinking about toes. Is the Sherman sock the same as the Strick? How do they compare with the provisional-cast-on short-row toe-ups in The Sock Knitter’s Handbook and the Gibson-Roberts pattern in Sock Knitting Master Class? I haven’t the patience to read knitting patterns and think things through in the abstract, but once I have knit one such sock, I think I will be able to grasp how others differ.

And I can’t – or won’t – do that until I have nailed the Turkish cast-on and then Judy’s magic one.

Dawn, I have added Wendy Johnson’s short-row toe to the list in my electronic Filofax. Never heard of it. How does it fit in with the ones mentioned above? I have despaired of the crochet-chain provisional cast-on, until I can at last get to a knitting jamboree (Knit Nation 2013?) and have it demonstrated by a human being, but there are work-arounds for that.


My sister sent me a link yesterday (I've lost it, I'm afraid) to a Financial Times columnist who discovered upholstery-making after falling through a mesh chair and who says that the secret of life is not to find oneself but to lose oneself in work. With which I would agree. The work has to be autonomous, she concludes – you’re your own boss; has to offer mastery – something you can get progressively better at; and purpose – a result.

So knitting should qualify. I feel that it doesn’t, entirely, because it’s so easy, so pickable-up and put-downable. It can soothe an anxious hour or speed a tedious one and provide a sense of doing-something in the weary hours at the end of the day. But it doesn’t exhaust (thank goodness). One can’t – I can’t – “stay focussed for hours” on it.

Whereas gardening, at which my sister excels, ought to fit the bill. I would locate perfect happiness somewhere in the garden (after human relationships, anyway). But she says not – too many failures, too many weeds, too many mosquitoes.

Are we all going to have to take up upholstery?

Monday, June 04, 2012

Rachel and Ed went to the river-bank yesterday. They waved to the Queen, and she waved back. Everyone had a splendid time, Rachel reported, including the police.

The weather was much more regatta-like in Edinburgh, bright and breezy all day. But the effect wouldn’t have been the same on the Water of Leith. Ed is glad to be able to stop watering his vegetables for a few days.

We watched most of it on television. As far as I could see, the Queen (86) and the Duke of Edinburgh (91 next Sunday) were on their feet the entire time, although thrones had been provided.


Here is my first toe-up sock, and the beginnings of my second. I’m happy with them. I’m beginning to take the wonderfulness of Zauberballs for granted. I'm about half-way from toe to heel with the second sock, bearing in mind that Strong-Fleegle involves a lot of knitting and it is important to start on time. 

I am thinking about the next pair of socks. They will have to be toe-up, so that I can practice the Turkish cast on. But that still allows some latitude in the shaping of the toe (I think) and, of course, in the choice of heel. The main candidates there, at the moment, are another Sweet Tomato – that’s a technique I want solidly in the repertoire; and a basic whatever-you-call-it heel, flap and gusset, upside down. Might as well master that. 

Some of the heels I wrote down at the beginning of this project are beginning to group themselves. Fleegle and Strong are nearly identical, and Andersson is not much different (I think).

This morning I looked up Sherman, and found to my pleasure that there is a good tutorial by Mel himself. But “Sherman” is a total sock concept, and requires a provisional cast-on. Will it prove similar to Candace Strick’s revolutionary idea? I have got far enough with her to discover that she, too, requires a provisional cast-on, and that, as with the Sherman, her toe and heel use the same technique.  Many excitements to come – but first, that Turkish cast-on.

Joe has been knitting a baby blanket. Gosh! I had never heard of Poems sock yarn, and am beginning to feel that the discovery of ever-new and ever-more-wonderful sock yarns will last forever. And the pattern is free on Ravelry. I haven’t been paying much attention, as Joe posted progress reports, except to admire, but now (with a baby looming in DC) I am beginning to wonder. Perhaps I’ll trawl back though his recent posts.

So much one would like to do.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

You are too charitable, Jenny and Fishwife.

On the day of C’s funeral, my husband and I left the party fairly early, when he could bear no more. Alexander and Ketki and their sons went back to Loch Fyne, Rachel’s children caught a train to London. But Rachel and her husband Ed stayed on, and wound up finishing the funeral baked meats, and the wine, with the cousins. That’s when one of them announced that she wasn’t going to give the deed to the grave back to my husband.

Rachel told us, when she got back to Drummond Place, as no doubt was intended. There was more, but that will do.

My husband very rarely mentions his sister, and hasn’t mentioned the deed since that day.

We had a good lunch yesterday, although Botanic Garden CafĂ© food seemed dull to me this time. My husband enjoyed and appreciated the occasion. C’s feelings about him were complicated, and not untinged with resentment. I wonder whether he was even resented, at the end, for having more life than she got. His love for her was – is – simple, uncomplicated, protective. The closest he can get to her now, is to be with her three daughters.

Fishwife, the link above is to your gardening blog, which makes me weep with embarrassment, to call my efforts “gardening”.


I finished the first sock. The Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off is easy and surprisingly stretchy.

Then I tried to cast on the second sock, and came completely unstuck. I was trying to do another Turkish Cast-On, using the paragraph in Schurch & Parrott’s “Sock Knitter’s Handbook” which had guided me the first time. I couldn’t understand it. Weariness? Stress? Stupidity?

I thought I had succeeded, on the first or second attempt, and found that I was knitting round and round a largish hole. You’re meant to achieve a seamless start. On the fifth or sixth go, I got it, or at least, got something. There seems to be a bit of a ridge there, and there shouldn’t be, but it’s liveable-with.

So that means that the Turkish cast-on has to be added to the list of skills I need to acquire, before I even get on to Judy’s Magic one. I’ve watched a video this morning, and I think I get the idea. It might be better, next time, to go on with two circulars for a while, switching to five dp’s only when the toe increases are nearly finished.

It makes E’s suggestion (June 1) of getting the cast-on done for both socks early on, all the more useful. Master the Turkish cast-on, and then reinforce one’s mastery by doing it again a few days later – and then knit the socks.

I might add that when I finished the first sock last night, I felt quite pleased with the whole toe-up concept thingy.


The news from Washington is that Jenni and Theo are expecting a boy.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Very little to say, this morning. Both packages mentioned yesterday had arrived by the early afternoon: that was something. Only one contained plants, broccoli and lettuce. Despite a full week of incarceration, I am hopeful that the majority will pull through. I have heeled them in amongst the pansies and herbs in troughs on the doorstep. They are pale and wan, but haven’t flopped over.

I could do one of my day trips to Strathardle next week – am I still strong enough? Or wait until the ceiling comes down, the week after, when we will certainly be there.

The other package was a big heavy art book. I was expecting some red Welsh onion plants from someone called Vegplugs, ordered May 17. I emailed yesterday, asking where they are. I keep sowing seeds of Welsh onions – including some this year, and they have come up. But I don’t seem to be getting anywhere. The Finnish “walking onions” I bought as plants last year are in fine fettle, and I feel it is time to adopt the same approach to Welsh ones.


The socks are still un-bound-off. I’ve got eight rounds to do – I should certainly reach the bind-off today. I am much encouraged by your enthusiasm (comments yesterday) for Jeni’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. It  looks like something that will be easily grasped and internalised once I get started.

E., I greatly like your idea (comment yesterday, again) of starting a sock, knitting half the foot, and then starting the other one, so that all that fiddly toe business would be behind one. The only drawback in my case is that I have only one set of the square Knit-Pic needles of which I have become very fond.

But that’s easily remedied.


Sarah JS, your warning is a timely one, about today’s lunch party. C. died on March 21 last year – when we met on June 2 to celebrate her 80th birthday, we were all still in shock at the sheer unlikelihood of Death, and all enjoyed ourselves. It could be trickier this time, when old subterranean tensions have had time to regroup.

C’s and my husband’s father died young. His parents (C’s and my husband’s grandparents) had the grim task of organising his funeral. The title deed to the plot in Mt Vernon cemetery, here in Edinburgh, was left to my husband by his grandfather. When C. decided that she wanted to be buried with her father, my husband handed the deed over to one of her daughters. It has never been returned.

We have no future use for it. At least, I don’t think he wants to be buried there himself – his dust will be far separated from mine, if so. (Our grandson Oliver is in the little graveyard in K*rkmichael: we will be able to point out for him our house and fields while everybody is standing around in the general confusion before the Last Judgment. And we will be among old friends -- think "Our Town", if you've ever seen it.) But the deed belongs to my husband, and its non-return rankles. I don’t think he would bring the subject up over lunch, but he might.