Wednesday, February 13, 2013

So, here we are. Lent. The weather has turned ugly, and worse is forecast for later today. Our walk in the spring sunshine on Monday seems little short of miraculous.

I had an email from Cathy just now (James’ wife, in Beijing) shamelessly promoting her short story “Takeaway” which has just been published as an eBook. It costs £0.77. I’ve had a look at and find that it’s also available there for an equally modest sum. I am sort of bogged down at the moment, reading-wise (Simon Serrailler, I need you!), and welcome the idea of something short.

Today I must get to grips with the mathematics of my projected tee-shirt. I got 25 stitches to the inch on that swatch with sock yarn on a 3 mm needle. The design is written for sport weight yarn and aims at 23 stitches to the inch – fair enough – on a 3.6 mm needle. (How Japanese can you get?)

So first I must decide how big I would like it to come out – i.e., which of my existing tops to measure for size? And then decide how to achieve that. Shouldn’t be impossible. But best done early in the day.


Thank you for them, as always. Meezermeowmy, I love the idea of Benedict giving up the Papacy for Lent! Anonymous, I don’t think you can decline to be elected Pope once you’re locked into the Conclave. It really is an offer you can’t refuse. The only safe course would be to turn down being made a cardinal in the first place.

I agree with you that the experience of John Paul II’s suffering and incapacity at the end of his life must have influenced the present Pope, who was there and saw it all.

Our local Cardinal has been ill lately – a fierce attack of gout, is the rumour in the pews. I had thought, too, that he might be too old to vote for the next Pope. But it turns out he is only 74 and he has apparently risen from his sick bed with alacrity and started packing for Rome. So that’s good news. I like him.

In the old days (=when I was young) only the European cardinals had any hope of getting to Rome in time for the Conclave. That’s at least partly why they always elected an Italian. Nowadays, does every Cardinal have to tidy his study and answer all his emails before he leaves for the airport, just in case he doesn’t come back? They don't give you a week to settle your affairs. You're instantaneously the Pope.

If you want something to worry about, look up the Prophecy of Malachy. It’s either a 12th century prophecy or a 16th century forgery, almost certainly the latter, giving a list of little phrases to be applied to each Pope in turn. They are so unspecific they can be turned to fit anyone. The present Pope is “Gloria olivae”, “the glory of the olive”.

The worry consists of the fact that the next Pope will be the last one. The end of the world is nigh. Malachy gets trotted out whenever we have a Papal election – you’ll hear of him soon if you haven’t already. I find this a good deal more serious than that Mayan thing we survived recently. 


  1. Anonymous2:26 PM

    I'm a tight knitter and I don't think I could manage 25 st/in on 3 mm needles. Maybe you meant 25 st/4 in? Don't want you making a ginormous tee shirt due to a math error.....

    Beverly in NJ

    1. You're absolutely right, of course, Beverly -- 25 sts to FOUR inches; similarly for the designer's gauge. I'll leave the mistakes unedited, though, as a dreadful warning. Many thanks.

  2. Thanks for letting us know about your daughter-in-law's e-book. I just bought a copy for my Kindle. The link you gave only works for, but a search for the book on leads to a copy that can be purchased on this side of the pond.

  3. If you are stuck for reading matter let me know and I will e-mail you one of my (as yet) unpublished efforts for children. It will probably send you scampering back to "real" books in no time. I am not sure where Simon is but his creator has been researching domestic animals of late so there may be a new one on the way.

  4. How fun to see some of your spam. So creative and complimentary

  5. Jean, the complimentary quality of your spam reminds me of this -

  6. What polite spam you attract! It must drive you mad.

  7. Fascinating to see your spam! Some of it has obviously been through a translator or two.

    Yes, I looked at that stitch count and wondered. I've never been quite sure what sportsweight was, but I imagined knitting that fine on stocking stiitch. It would take forever.