Tuesday, June 10, 2014

 Safely back. We had a grand time, and all went well.

The country changes, in a fortnight. Our resident deer has abandoned the paddock. We didn't see any deer. Rachel saw a fawn, down in the larches on the way to the commonty. It sat so still and regarded her so calmly that she thought it was injured, but when she started to take its picture it jumped up and bounded away.

The cuckoos have fallen silent. Why do cuckoos do that? Everybody else, in the June sunshine, is twittering and singing and croaking and cawing. Alexander, consulted by email, thought they had skipped town. But I have found a mildly interesting project studying their migratory habits. They are fitted with tags and then tracked by satellite. All the British cuckoos are still here. Unless they have figured out how to deceive the satellite, like heroes of a Dan Brown book. I wouldn't entirely put it past them.

The bats are still flying strongly. The midges are moving into position. I got a bit of gardening done, and we ate some more Good King Henry. Is the taste becoming stronger, as the season progresses? It seemed to need more tweaking with butter and lemon juice and soy sauce than before, as well as that preliminary soak in salted water. But we ate it.

Things are looking good on the doorstep here, on the whole. I decided last week that the salad leaves (mild) were equivalent to salad leaves (boring) and took them out. I have put carrot seed in their place and hope for some finger-length tinies before the season is out. The pot of sorrel, sown last year, clearly wasn't getting anywhere so I took it to Strathardle and planted many of them in my vegetable patch – they were terribly pot-bound; no wonder they weren't growing. We managed a rather feeble sorrel soup. I filled the pot with good Perthshire soil and will today put in beetroot, hoping for golf-ball size results to be eaten with their leaves.

I wish I had been feeling better in the early weeks of the year which ought to be devoted to one's seed catalogues.

There has been one interesting disaster here. The courgettes are developing true leaves. One of the two in the tripod has had its heart pecked out. The seed leaves are still there (and have grown big). I don't need that plant – there are two in the tripod, and there is only going to be room for one (if that). The other would have had to go anyway. But I will leave it as long as possible, to see whether it is possible for a plant to recover from such an attack.

One doesn't really expect to have to deal with wildlife on one's doorstep.


There is a fair amount of news on this front, too. I am 3/4's of the way around round 122 of the borders of the Unst Bridal Shawl – the round that finishes off the last motif. Fourteen rounds will remain, but from here on out alternate rounds are plain garter stitch.

And I made good progress with Carol Sunday's scarf, while we were away. I took a set of dp's along and started again. There are 17 colours, so much of the knitting time went to skein-winding. Sixteen of them are variations of grey and brown and beige. Four-round stripes alternate between lightish and darkish. The 17th skein is a brilliant red. The effect is terrific.

The dp's I took were too long for the job, and awkward to knit with. I have ordered some KnitPro Cubics, and look forward to using them next time. What a lot of the pleasure of knitting depends on having the right needles for the job! Much of my delight in the Unst shawl derives from having got that right in the end – I hope my records will show what the wonderful needle I am using actually is.

Pics next time, including the poor courgette on the doorstep here.


  1. I would add to your expression of pleasure in having the right needle for the job and say that we are spoiled for choice with all the varieties of needle now available, and isn't it grand!

  2. Glad you enjoyed your time away. I would love to know how you get on with the cubics. I always imagine the stitches to come out square, for some reason!

  3. Sounds like a fine time was had by all. Isn't late spring grand? I do envy you the presence of bats. Here in New England the bats have all but vanished due to the White-nose Fungus.

  4. Welcome back. I do appreciate being able to have a variety of needles. I encourage beginners who are having a hard time to set aside the heavy aluminum needles they inherited from Aunt Myrtle and try some others. They are always surprised at the difference. I have so many and yet, there are new ones to try. I do like the cubics, and may order a circular one to see how that goes.

    We are having rabbit troubles with our young greens, with more rabbits that I've ever seen here in the city. Where is Mr. McGregor when I need him.

  5. A rhyme from my childhood:

    The cuckoo comes in April
    Sings a song in May,
    In the middle of June, another tune
    And then he flies away.

    I've no idea where he flies to!

  6. =Tamar7:58 PM

    Assuming you haven't changed them since March 30, they should be Addi Rundstricknadeln.