Sunday, October 26, 2014

Well, here we go – with panic approaching a state of meltdown. The wedding guests are beginning to gather frae a' the airts.. Theo and Jenni and baby Ted are already in Paris, getting over the jet-lag bit. Greek Helen and her youngest son Fergus will be here tonight. Everybody else will be on the move soon. Rachel and Ed and their son the bridegroom will drive north on Wednesday. I think I won't try to write tomorrow – back here Monday, November 3, insh'Allah.

As if I wasn't spooked enough already, I looked at the calendar just now, in happy anticipation of a visit from one of you in early November, and find that on the 12th we have an appt at 10:40 -- that's early enough that getting my husband there won't be easy: and I don't know where it is or what it's for. “squiggle DS” my handwriting seems to say. Not podiatry, that's on the 6th. Not flu injections, the nurse is going to make a house call on a date as yet undisclosed; not dentistry, his teeth are better and we are to ring up if there is further difficulty; not diabetes or rheumatology or respiratory, those are all somewhat in the future. What else is there? If the Good Lord had meant us to worry, He'd have given us things to worry about – my very favourite line from Fawlty Towers.


All well again yesterday. I did a scallop on the Bridal Shawl. Perhaps I will record the event here, the next time I do one that I regard as perfect. It was pretty good last night, but on row 6, an inward row, I found only one stitch before the half-way faggoting, where I was supposed to do a k2tog. Twelve little rows – perfection must be possible.

And Archie's sweater progresses nicely. Should I take it along to Strathardle tomorrow? It is very satisfactory, after all this lace, and even after Rams and Yowes, to be knitting something that progresses. The button bands for the front placket have been established, and the first buttonhole knit.

“Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook” turned up in the post yesterday. It's brilliant on colours, translating things you like looking at, into knitting. I am less convinced by the parts about charting, but maybe I need to study them more closely. The book is beautifully photographed and produced. Kate Davies was involved as editor and friend-of-the-author. Her blog post on the subject is delightful, and will certainly send me back to work a bit harder before I consign it to its pile on the floor.

Life's Problems

Ivy, I love your idea that agitation and anxiety are to old age as surliness and bad decision-making to adolescence. I don't know what SSRI is, but I will ask my GP. And I love your account of the Haiti Benefit Dinner (link above)– please, please blog some more.

Beverly, I think you may well be right that occasional help for my husband would be a good idea. If someone could come even once a fortnight to help with a bath, that would advance things a lot. It's a very precarious and tricky business, because of the constant danger of falling, and we don't tackle it as often as we should. I will discuss this with Greek Helen, who is nothing if not energetic and organised. She doesn't get it from her mother.

Ellen, you're absolutely right that Seasonal Affective Disorder comes into the story. Vitamin D is meant to help with that, I think. And, Knitalot, your suggestions are all good. Rachel and Alexander and their families decided when holiday-ing together this year that we would stop giving Christmas presents to each other. Wonderful! But unfortunately the parameters were never discussed. Surely it's all right to renew magazine subscriptions if I know the recipients enjoy them? And I wouldn't dream of not sending them all the New Yorker, which doesn't even count as a magazine subscription or as a Christmas present. And surely the Little Boys on Loch Fyne deserve a little something? But there's the nucleus of a helpful notion there.

And FoggyKnitter, thank you for reminding me of the Jesus Prayer.

There was some unexpected and rather interesting knitting in the Financial Times yesterday (in the magazine) but I have been here too long and must leave that for next time.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

No further news from Strachur.

The hair-do was a success. At least I now look sane.

Panic continues. I am grateful for your advice. But Cat, the sensible approach doesn't work – I'm not frightened of anything in particular, just frightened. Well, perhaps of my increasing inability to cope with my husband's increasing frailty. But nothing can be done about that – indeed, the longer we can continue to slide down the familiar grooves, the happier for both.

I got a few things done yesterday, not including silver-polishing. But whatever is accomplished, two or three more chores spring up in replacement. I have a good deal of sympathy for Hercules' difficulties with the Hydra.

Yesterday I re-read the brilliant “found poem” Alexander constructed from this blog for my 80th birthday and printed on a tea towel. The link is to the blog itself, when I copied the poem out for you. We have had the tea towel framed; it hangs in dark corner with some old samplers. And it clearly shows that the notes of anxiety and fear go back a long way. This time of year is always difficult, with the encroaching darkness. I am drinking soothing herbal teas.

Will I feel better if I find my keys in Strathardle next week? Or will I just cling to them hysterically?

Valerie, thank you for the report on The Knowledgeable Knitter. I've ordered it.

Knitting went well yesterday – I did a scallop for the edging of the Unst Bridal Shawl before returning to Archie's sweater. It is getting on nicely – madelinetosh produces a beautiful, smooth fabric. I am about to start the ribbing for the neck placket (top-down, remember). I don't think there's any hope of reaching an easy bit before we head off for the wedding – less than a week now. Greek Helen will be here tomorrow. But once the placket is established and the interval between buttonholes determined, it may prove easy enough.  

Friday, October 24, 2014

Panic continues. It's worst in the morning. Tamar, I'll check on Vitamin B. I have a half-feeling that it was much touted during the war – perhaps recently discovered? I take Vitamin D in quantity during the dark months but I've forgotten what its virtues are supposed to be. And, Weavinfool, you're quite right that panic and happy anticipation are remarkably similar – I remember feeling something like this the morning I set forth to Shetland, and, long before that, the day I went to the Calcutta Cup on tickets I had won in a newspaper competition.

This is worse, I think. I got Rams & Yowes wrapped up and tagged yesterday. That hasn't helped. The wedding present is silver and I need to polish it. I hope I'll get to that today. And today is when I'm having my hair done. That should lift the spirits.

We had a grand time having lunch with our niece. That helped for a while.


My swatch of madelinetosh DK measures just a whisker over 20 stitches to four inches – not even 20 ½, just a whisker. So I'm calling it five stitches to the inch and proceeding on that basis, but remembering, as I often do in this sort of situation, Major Erskine in Evelyn Waugh's “Men at Arms”: “Major Erskine...was strangely dishevelled in appearance. His uniform was correct and clean but it never seemed to fit him, not through any fault of the tailor's, but rather because the major seemed to change shape from time to time during the day.”

The pattern is one of those with tables of numbers – you have to find your size and your gauge for every instruction. I hope it's not going to be too instruction-intensive for wedding-knitting. It's top-down, a novelty for me, and the neck-band isn't going to be added until the very end – so it curls. I'll have to do quite a bit before Archie can get much idea. It's knit circularly below the armpits, but it'll be a while before I reach those sunny uplands. I made a good start yesterday, leaving the Bridal Shawl aside despite my firm instructions to myself.

Here's something from Zite about knitting and the Yes campaign for Scottish independence. Woolly thinking of the worst sort, pun intended, but I thought you ought to see it.


Do you like numbers? Alexander emailed yesterday to say that his son James – the elder of the Little Boys on Loch Fyne – had been set the following sequence as his homework from Strachur Primary School, with instructions to find the next four numbers in the sequence:


The best Alexander and I can do is to assume that “8” is a mistake, and that the sequence required is 4,16,5,25. But James found this solution, which his doting grandmother regards as little short of brilliant:

64, 63, 3969, 3968

I'll let you know what they say about that in Strachur.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The feelings of panic are as bad as ever – so they clearly have nothing to do with dental appts or delivery of packages of yarn. I got nothing whatsoever done yesterday except breakfast, lunch, tea, supper, a little expedition with my husband, and sewing some elastic into the cuffs of his bed socks which had become dangerously loose.

Today our niece is coming to lunch and to pick up Archie's old computer. I may have mentioned that transaction – he has acquired a big, heavy, fancy one for advanced game-playing, in anticipation of his 18th birthday next week. Our niece's one is tottering towards the grave, so she will now have Archie's (which is not really “old” at all). A happy arrangement.

It should cheer and steady me to see her. She is a wedding guest, too – the bridegroom's first cousin once removed, indeed – and she still has to go shopping for a dress whereas I just have to wrap up presents. She hoped to wear one out of the cupboard, like me, but says it doesn't fit any more. Hard to believe – she doesn't carry a spare ounce.

Jan, your report about the church where the wedding will be, is wonderful. I will forward it to Rachel, along with the article about Hilda and Michael. Some of my children read this blog some of the time, but Rachel, I think, least of all.

I finished Archie's swatch yesterday, and today will take meticulous measurements and – why not? – cast on. I also did another scallop for the Unst Bridal Shawl, and mustn't be tempted to abandon it. It was hard to start again after finishing Rams & Yowes. One a day will get me there in plenty of time – but I mustn't slacken.

Now, VK.

I would be terribly grateful to have your verdict on the Knowledgeable Knitter, Patience. (And I love writing to you, because P. is my favourite Gilbert & Sullivan, closely followed by the Gondoliers and Trial by Jury and the good old Mikado and you are the only real-life Patience I have ever known.) There are some other mildly tempting titles on the VK book page, especially, perhaps, Mucklestone's Fair Isle book.

There are lots of really good cables in this issue. I'm having serious trouble locating the item-number in some cases, but I think I'm right in saying that I love the little, cropped No. 2 and am extravagantly impressed by both 7 & 8. Indeed, if Archie thinks the madelinetosh Composition Book Grey is too purple, I can see it winding up as one of those. Five stitches to the inch, for both. I ought to be able to achieve that. Maybe I already have.

The cover pattern, No. 22, by Marie Wallin in Rowan Kid Classic, is also wonderful. The effect is brocade-like (as it says) and I had to look at the chart carefully to see whether it obeys the Fair Isle limitation of having only two colours per row – but I think it qualifies. I have often admired Wallin's patterns for Rowan, never knit one. This pattern, as given, looks too close-fitting for my taste (love my Relax) but that doesn't mean the stitch pattern couldn't wind up as a vest.

And in the pages showing yarns in the skein, I loved this one from Ancient Art Fibres. A Bluefaced Leicester – I knit with that once, and it is indeed delectable. How does this one look when knit? Is it strong enough for a sock without any reinforcement? Lots of nice things to think about.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Yesterday went well, except that I am increasingly assailed by feelings of anxiety bordering on panic, for no credible reason at all. Much like my mother in her old age. Yesterday, to begin with, a new cleaning woman came from the agency – I like her a lot and I think things will go well, but preparing the kitchen for an 8 a.m. knock on the door is still slightly stressful.

Then my husband's dental appt – getting him to any appt is hard work. But not that hard, and I'm used to it. The wind was strong and fitful and he was worried about balance as we started back, but we were rescued and carried home by the kind friend who drove us to the Referendum vote not all that long ago.

I was worried about whether ParcelForce had tried to deliver my package during our hour's absence. No, that was all right – it turned up an hour later. The yarn is beautiful – this is the madelinetosh DK in Composition Book Grey.

Then I couldn't find the book “Knits Men Want” which contains the pattern Archie had chosen. I've got a lot of knitting books, many in piles on the floor where I have exceeded my shelf space. I rarely have any trouble finding a particular one. But this one had been taken from its home-space to show to Archie, and then left lying around waiting for the yarn. I could pretty well have recreated the pattern without the book – it's fairly basic. But then I found the book.

None of that sounds worthy of anxiety bordering on panic, does it? I think the approach of the wedding is weighing on me.

In the evening I started Archie's swatch. I had nicked the index finger of my right hand and the little wound kept opening and bleeding a bit, quite painlessly. But I couldn't risk blood on the Bridal Shawl, could I? So I devoted the evening to the swatch. Wonderful stuff, this yarn.

One of you warned me that it's really more purple than grey, and that's true. But the idea of taking it along as wedding-knitting -- a comment from someone else; I'm sorry to be so vague -- is perfect. There's time to do enough before then that Archie can judge the fabric, and anyway I can take the swatch along. But not too much time -- I can still back-track at that point. I think he'll like it, but it's best to be sure. My husband didn't recognise the concept of “composition book grey”. British education must proceed along different lines.

And then, talk about cups running over, the new VK turned up. It's a stunner.

Does anyone know the book called “The Knowledgeable Knitter”? It's all about getting gauge right and not casting off the ribbing too tightly at the neck and things like that. It sounds good. Do I want it, or do I know it all already?

And speaking of books – Kristie sent me a link just now to the Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook, privately published and sold by the author. That one I'll go for.

There's much to be said about the new VK – I could knit from it from now until the next issue comes out and be nowhere near the end of the things I admire. More tomorrow.


Rachel sent this link yesterday, no message, with the subject-line “It's Real!”

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I talked to the postie yesterday (about Archie's yarn) – but ParcelForce and the Royal Mail are two separate things, so she couldn't help. She said to leave a note – they don't like taking a parcel away any more than we like not getting it. We've got a bit of that hurricane this morning. It will be hard to leave a note that won't blow away.

The Economist seems to be off the hook (see yesterday). The phrase that alarmed me is “...the transport links that shuttle virus from villages to the town and back into uninfected country”. In a leader about Ebola, of course. But apparently “virus” is not a plural, there – “the” has dropped out.

I achieved two more scallops on the edging of the Unst Bridal Shawl yesterday. It is getting harder and harder to remember where I am from minute to minute. I'll take it along to the dentist today.

Something very peculiar has happened to all my pictures – but here's a new one. Mungo got an Outstanding Achievement Award at his Athenian school yesterday for getting A* in all his GCSE's. No one else in the school did that. Here he is receiving it. He is there on his half-term break from his new Scottish school. Helen will bring him back on Sunday, and then come here to look after us for a few days – including the wedding the following weekend.

Anyway, Mungo:

I think the trouble with that NYTimes article (yesterday, again, with comments) is that the author was trying to write light-heartedly about two different things – the decline of Home Ec, and gender-specific crafts. I think gender-specificity is declining, at least to some extent and in some places. Grandson Alistair showed great promise as a knitter but couldn't pursue the subject in China because boys simply didn't. It was very sad.

And I wonder if Home Ec will come back. Archie's all-boys school teaches Man Skills such as ironing in the final year, and cookery is available throughout as an optional activity. They couldn't be the only school to do it. But on the other hand single-sex schools are something of a rarity these days. Cookery might be hard for all but the boldest of boys, if the class was full of girls. It's an interesting topic.

Monday, October 20, 2014


It looks to me as if the Economist has wandered into the minefield offered by the question of the plural of “virus”. At least they avoid the odious “viri”. The word is never used in the plural in ancient Latin – it means “venom” or “slime” and doesn't really need a plural. I think the only possible English is “viruses” but I've had trouble defending that corner in the past. It's a neuter noun, so the strictly correct Latin plural would be “vira” which is obviously impossible. I've emailed James.

Hilde, thank you for your comment. I had got as far as the House of Bruar page of sizing instructions before I read your message, and had grasped that 38 was a European size. I was hesitating between 40 and 42 for the replacement – you have decided me. 42 it will be.

Sarah, I don't know Susan Crawford, and will now watch for her new book rather attentively.


Not much else to report. I applied the principles adumbrated yesterday to the Northmavine Hap, and got on well. It's now at a point where I can leave it. I got another scallop done on the edging of the Unst Bridal Shawl.

I've just grasped that tomorrow's post, with Archie's yarn, is likely to arrive when we are out for yet another dental appt – my husband's new gnashers are still not comfortable. I'll try to have a word with the postie this morning, if I can catch her,

My sister sent me a link to an NYTimes article “Knitting Backward”. It froze my computer but this morning it turned up on Zite, so I have read it and it left me mildly cross. The author is a woman who started life as a boy, and she is writing about gender roles and “home ec” and the inability of anyone, nowadays, to sew on a button. The climax comes when her mother teaches her how to knit – but only after she has turned into a woman.

So, men and boys don't knit? My husband's mother taught him, without waiting for a sex-change operation. I suspect the author of the Times article didn't go on to become a knitter, after that initial lesson.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Dear Friends!

Hazel Tindall left a comment here yesterday – for Saturday, October 11. Kristie, don't miss. I cannot think of another honour to compare this to.

And, Kristie, you asked about Meg's Fair Isle Vest pattern. Here's the Ravelry link. I like the idea of using it as a template, Mary Lou. One of my books – “Fair Isle Knitting Patterns: Reproducing the Known Work of Robert Williamson” – has a simple paragraph about choosing patterns: firstly, with a number of stitches that divides evenly into the number of stitches you've got; and secondly, all in the same “family” so that they line up vertically on top of each other. A “family” of patterns, if I've got this right, all have a common factor in the number of stitches in the repeat – 3,6,12,24 or 4,8,16 or 5,10,20,40.

This promises to be rather fun. I'll probably wind up knitting Meg's vest as given – it fulfils the basic requirement of having different patterns all the way up. Perhaps I could do something slightly more exciting for the peerie patterns.

The big news here – second only to the comment from Hazel – is that Archie's yarn has turned up. In the sense that I've had the notice about the “import VAT” to be paid, and I've paid it, and delivery is promised for Tuesday.

Last night I struggled on with the Northmavine Hap. I think I will have to alter my approach, and perhaps get rid of some of those markers in favour of looking at the knitting, as EZ recommends. The pattern is a simple feather-and-fan. I can do that. The triangle is expanding by means of yo's hither and yon. I must master the system, and make sure it doesn't trip me up by changing pace at any point. And then I ought to be able to knit fairly peacefully without all this counting and struggling with markers.

I also got one more scallop done on the edging of the Unst Bridal Shawl. Keep at it, that's the thing.

I tried on the new clothes yesterday – a skirt and two shirts and a little suede vest. Everything's fine except for the vest, which is absurdly small. The other things are size 14. The vest is 38. 38 whats? I'll have to figure that out in order to ask for the right size. There's still time to get the replacement before I set off to the wedding, as long as I get down to the post office tomorrow morning.

Greek Helen phoned and offered to do all the driving for our little outing to Strathardle next week, Monday to Wednesday, just before the wedding. It would mean a lot of scrambling about for her, driving boys to school and then back to Edinburgh or Strathardle, as appropriate, to fetch us. But it might relieve my absurd anxiety somewhat. I'll feel much better if I can find my keys, as I keep saying.

I have finished reading “Do No Harm” and have plunged straight into Atul Gawande's “Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End”, perhaps unwisely. He writes often for the New Yorker, and is a fave of mine, but this one cuts close to the bone. By “end” he means “end”, the part of life that awaits too many of us, when we start falling down and the retirement community is no longer secure enough.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Another new follower! Welcome!

Mungo got to Athens.. Of course he did, but one worries a little. Travelling alone is (at least relatively) new to him, all that business of boarding passes and finding the connecting flight in the horrors of Heathrow.

And I got my package from the House of Bruar, but there's still no sign of Archie's yarn. I haven't looked at the new clothes yet. Must do that.

Knitting yesterday was a bit hit-and-miss. I did a scallop and a half of the edging of he Unst Bridal Shawl and decided that I was tired enough that it would be wise not to go on. The Northmavine Hap, unfortunately, is still at the stage where there seem to be more markers than stitches. I'm hoping it will be easy and soothing soon, but not yet. After a bit of that, I retreated still further to the heel flap of the second Pakokku sock.

Mary, thank you for the pointer to the Feral Knitter and to the Nahanni Fair Isle Vest. Lovely, I agree. I have been dimly aware of the Feral Knitter but don't visit often – and didn't even know that the name derives from a non-knitting friend's mishearing of “Fair Isle”. I love it, and will be back often.

I have enjoyed wandering among the patterns on her website just now – maybe Ron Schweitzer's Flowers of Life is the sort of thing I want. But on the other hand, I have half-a-dozen bright Fair Isle-y colours bought at Jamieson & Smith that day – I want to accommodate them.

Goodness, I envy you Meg's workshop, Mary. And we all wish we had been at Shetland Wool Week.

Knitting tidbit: we watched a real-life program called The Kitchen a day or so ago, not cookery but cameras set up in six different kitchens watching what people do there. The Silly Old Fools, the Gay Couple, the one with Lots of Children, the Sikhs – I can't remember any more. Maybe there were only four. I don't think we'll go on watching, but I wanted to tell you that the man who was half of the Silly Old Fool pair was a knitter, with vests and socks as brilliant as the Socklady's.

Non-knit: The computer has resumed its errant ways. And today is the day the Apple Store opens on Princes Street.

Friday, October 17, 2014

No yarn, no clothes. Otherwise yesterday was a rather successful day. A school coach brought Mungo to Edinburgh – his school is in the wilds of Perthshire somewhere – and he found us without difficulty. He seems in good form, and we had a pleasant evening watching The Apprentice with our lamb-and-quince stew on our knees. The taxi came on time this morning (6 a.m.) -- I heard the telephone -- and Mungo no longer seems to be here, so I can only assume that the first stage of his journey went well. He has to make a connection in London.

Odd bits of knitting yesterday – not much of anything, but on the whole successful. I embarked on the heel flap of the second Pakokku sock while queuing for a parking place at the Western Infirmary. I managed only half a scallop on the Unst Bridal Shawl. It seemed wiser not to press on, under the circumstances. I started the Northmavine Hap and have done the first few rows. The stitch count is approaching 20 and the work bristles with markers. It'll get much easier pretty soon but for now is count-intensive and not suitable for company.

I am overjoyed to learn that I have tempted you into lace, Melfina. I've never done Orenburg myself, although I've got all the books. The secret of life is to have what someone on the dear old Knitlist once referred to as Locational Wips – something by the telephone for those interminable waits, something in the car, lace for the rare peaceful hour at home. Although I do now take the Bridal Shawl along to my husband's dental appts – there's good light in the waiting room, Radio Five Live, few people.

I spent some time yesterday thinking about a possible Fair Isle Vest project. It needs thought, I'm afraid. I'm not terribly fond of thinking. I am most tempted by the dust jacket of Sheila McGregor's Traditional Fair Isle Knitting (not the Dover edition). It looks like a simple all-over design in five colours – white and gold for the pattern, red, blue, and black for the background. The more you look at it, the more complicated it gets. It's a museum piece – what does NMAS mean, exactly? – knit in about 1900. Maybe I should start trying to chart it.


Archie asked as we were driving to the airport last Friday whether I thought I was getting more forgetful. An ominous question – has he been reading something? I honestly don't think so, although I am certainly getting more anxious and agitated, just like my mother in old age, and not helped by no longer having my beloved key fob to cling to for comfort. At the moment, in particular, worrying about getting to Strathardle in a fortnight, when Greek Helen is here in the days before the wedding. Am I strong enough for both? But my husband, of course, is eager to go – and I need to look for my keys.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Today's excitements are all post-meridian – I am free to spend a moment here, now, in the morning. My husband has a physiotherapy appt for his rheumatic right hand in the middle of the afternoon (NO NAP) and shortly after that, Mungo will be here – Archie's next younger brother. He'll stay overnight and then catch an early flight to Athens for his own half-term break, which (as you see) doesn't correspond with Archie's. They'll overlap for the weekend.

Waitrose had some quinces when I was last there, a rare treat. I'll make Mungo a middle-eastern-sort-of-stew with caramelised quinces and shallots. He used to be interested in food. He used to cook, indeed. Archie always asks “What's for lunch?” even last week when we drove from his school to the airport, nowhere near Drummond Place and the lunch table. He also invariably asks, “What are you reading?”

The answer to that, at the moment, is “Do No Harm”, the memoirs of a neurosurgeon named Henry Marsh. Recommended, if you like that sort of thing. The early chapters are largely and predictably accounts – and he writes well – of difficult and successful operations. The book gradually darkens: accounts of some of his failures; of his mother's death, with reflections on the deaths that await us all; of his fury with modern NHS hospital administrators.

He is an angry man. I have often reflected that my husband's bad temper – when, for example, he is supervising the hanging of a picture – has the salutary effect of keeping us all on our toes. We might err through clumsiness or stupidity (as he clearly expects us to do), but not from carelessness or inadvertence. Maybe anger works as well in neurosurgery.

Anyway, knitting. Here is the Bridal Shawl as it gradually emerges from the needle. I don't need to tell you that you are not seeing the Messy Corner:

It looks rather small. It will be better when it is entirely free, and much better when blocked.

I think I did 2 ½ scallops yesterday. No yarn arrived from Eat Sleep Knit, or clothes from House of Bruar. I laid out the yarn for the Northmavine Hap (Kate Davies: Colours of Shetland). It is a semi-circle, and begins with a little garter stitch tab. I met that technique in Steven West's Craftsy class. But I haven't done anything about it.

Lying in bed this morning, I thought of my fourth and final acquisition at Jamieson & Smith that happy day in Lerwick – their wonderful Shetland Heritage yarn, bought with a Fair Isle vest in mind but without guidance from a specific pattern. Meg Swansen's one in Knitter's, Fall '97, might be a useful starting point. I might expand that thought.

[The other three acquisitions were Rams & Yowes, an 80th birthday present from Kate herself; some Shetland Supreme 1-ply Lace Weight, later supplemented by a further order and now emerging as the Unst Bridal Shawl; and the Northmavine Hap.]

Lots of nice things in Zite this morning– had I but world enough and time.


I am for the moment completely nuisance-free. Thanks primarily to Cam, who got rid of the endless pop-ups from McAfee, Potentially Unwanted Program Blocked. That left the pop-up ads (despite AdBlock) which were all the more maddening when they were the only irritant. I got rid of them (for the moment) by restoring Google Chrome to its original settings. I notice that that operation has swept AdBlock away. That happened once before, when I reset Google Chrome, but when I noticed the absence of AdBlock that time, I thought the pop-up ads had eaten it, as viruses can disable virus protection. Live and learn.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Another non-day -- my wonderful cleaning woman is here, and I have used up all my blogging time tidying in advance of her,

The answer to yesterday's arithmetical question is that there are 200 scallops around the edge of the Unst Bridal Shawl. I'm just about halfway around; therefore, roughly two months remain at the rate of two-a-day. I must have been brisker in January. I think I got 3 1/2 done yesterday, but maybe it was only 2 1/2. After the first one of each session, the sameness and easiness become an obstacle and I begin to forget where I am in the pattern, or even which way I'm going, inward or outward, let alone remembering how many I've done.

That's the moment in the day when I need something easier to knit. No luck with Archie's yarn yesterday. It will probably announce its arrival by way of a card saying that I've got a great deal more to pay.


As several guessed, "patriculture" was meant to mean "care of one's father" by analogy with "horticulture", care of one's garden.

Kristie, I was enormously cheered by your reflection that Hellie won't be getting married in Shetland!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Here are the pics of Rams&Yowes. Yes, knitting08816, I could probably improve the side, steeked, edges, and strengthen them while I'm at it, with a crochet hook. But I have reached and indeed passed the That'll-have-to-do stage. All I'm going to do is to wrap it up.

I'm worrying away about how the Unst Bridal Shawl will look when I pin it out for blocking. Its history has been exciting. As I remember it, the centre is OK, the pick-up for the borders to be knit outwards didn't go smoothly, there was that episode when the needle broke and 30 or 40 stitches shot off into space, the problem of the Messy Corner was never solved...

Hazel Carter says that blocking makes one acutely aware of such issues but that nobody else will notice. I'm not entirely sure. I sent the original edging off to Hellie yesterday, unblocked, explaining that it would serve only to let her and her dressmaker know the exact shade of whiteness of the yarn. I think it's more what the House of Bruar calls “winter white”.

If the yarn for Archie's sweater doesn't turn up in the next couple of days, I shall begin to worry. I need it. I am perfectly happy with the edging of the Unst Bridal Shawl and must keep at it, with the aim, perhaps, of finishing early in the New Year. The original edging took me just over a month. Have I deteriorated that much in 2014? It's a pretty easy 12-row pattern but I find even so that I don't entirely trust myself with it late in the evening when I am seriously tired. Two repeats of the edging pattern and then switch-to-Archie would make better use of time.

I must make an educated estimate of how many repeats remain and of, therefore, how long it will take at two-a-day.

Meanwhile I could cast on the Northmavine Hap...


Rachel phoned last night and extended an invitation from Thomas to his eve-of-wedding supper party. It's not a Rehearsal Dinner – I don't think we have them yet. I remember that my husband's sister was profoundly baffled by the phrase when I got back from Theo and Jenni's wedding five years ago and tried to describe to her their wonderful one. This one will be Thomas' immediate family and best man and ushers – plus Alexander and Ketki, to supervise the Little Boys who will somehow figure in the wedding; and me.

Rachel said that Lucy has threatened to intervene if the party becomes too raucous or prolonged.

It will be held at Middleton Lodge. We seem to have the whole place for the whole weekend – perhaps that's how it's always done. I accepted with alacrity, not least because I will be able to slip away and go to bed early, a rare treat last enjoyed at Burrastow.

Meanwhile everybody else – Greek Helen and her family, sister Helen and hers, James's family except for James, will be making merry somewhere else, the Salon des Refuses. I am sure they will have a jolly time too, all the better for being a bit more relaxed, but if I had joined them I would have had to be driven back to Middleton Lodge, or put in a taxi. It's better to be able to walk to bed.

I've got to write an essay on patriculture for James. I mustn't leave that too late.

Monday, October 13, 2014

You win some, you lose some.

To start with the (relatively) bad news, I took some pics of the finished Rams & Yowes blankie for you this morning – and I don't know where I put the camera. It'll turn up soon, and we may even have the pictures tomorrow.

I didn't block it, in the end. Just applied the steam iron. It looks nice, but I'm not entirely satisfied. The patterned centre bit is fine, in fact rather good. The pick-up for the border is rather less fine along the steeked edges – I seem to have darted inland from time to time, presumably when the going seemed treacherous. The border is slightly, but only very slightly, wavy – and that's after calculating gauge and reducing the specified number of stitches considerably.

The good news is that I found something I had lost. (Maybe the same will happen with those keys.) I went out shopping and errand-running last Wednesday and returned laden and very weary. Over the last few days I have thought of one thing after another I acquired or had that morning that I couldn't find – tomatoes and mozzarella for a salad I didn't make, silver polish and furniture polish from Lakeland, a list of my husband's prescriptions, a pay-in receipt from the bank.

I deduced that they all must have been in the same carrier-bag. Where was it? Not here, apparently. Had I left it behind on the last stop?

Then last night in bed, half-awake, very tired, I figured out the answer. And there it is! [Two carrier bags hang from hooks in a funny little cupboard off the kitchen, providing storage each for a different, little-used category of thing. What I realised as I lay in bed was that, the last time I opened that cupboard, there were three bags hanging up.]

So I don't need to go back to Lakeland this morning. I do need to go to Boots for the pills – they weren't there, on Wednesday.

I got the House of Bruar order in yesterday, not without difficulty. They wouldn't take the credit card. Have I been hacked? Did the credit company decide that the yarn for Archie's sweater was extravagance enough for October? (But they usually ring up when they do that.) I bought a Jane Gardam (“After the Funeral”) for the iPad this morning, and that went through all right. Then the card for our current account wouldn't work either – I think that was because I put in the month the card expired as “4” instead of “04”. But we have another current account, left over from when we switched banks and I didn't finish the job. That one worked. This all took a fair amount of time.

So I did a bit more of the Unst Bridal Shawl edging last night, successfully enough.

The Edinburgh Apple store opens on Saturday – and it's at this end of Princes Street! Jan, your experience with your MB Air is very like mine with my beloved iPad. I saw the MacBook Pro when I went shopping with Archie that day recently – very small and neat. Very tempting.

I found the camera.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

It wouldn't work, Mary Lou – if I told my husband that blog readers were egging me on to get a MacBook Pro. It would, indeed, make things worse. The only possible argument is, Because I'm worth it. And it's probably worth going ahead with that while we're still in this pre-wedding, money-doesn't-matter bubble.

That's going fairly well. I've made a hair appt. I hope to order from the House of Bruar today. My husband is keenly looking forward to it. Not “When you're away...” but “When James comes...”

Cam has most kindly sent me careful and detailed instructions for downloading Malwarebytes and setting it to work getting rid of these endless “Potentially Unwanted Program Blocked” pop-ups. I've done it, and it's scanning away as we speak. It's finding the bad guys, too – more of them than I expected. Can it get rid of them? We'll soon see. Meanwhile, up they continue to pop.

As for knitting, I finished tidying Rams & Yowes. There wasn't much more to do. If I can block it today, I can wrap it up in pretty paper tomorrow or Tuesday and sign it off altogether. Hard to believe!

We were waiting for three packages this week – some short wellington boots for my husband to wear in the country, on the theory that they will be easier to put on than his great big ones; the second volume, recently published, of the biography of David Hockney; and the yarn for Archie's sweater. The boots and the book are here...

So I went on with the edging of the Unst Bridal Shawl, and have rounded the second corner. I couldn't remember how many rows I left unattached at the first corner. Sharon says to do a whole repeat on each side of the corner attaching only alternate return-rows – that would be three unattached returns each side. I settled for two.

Breaking news: The Malwarebytes scan is finished, the computer re-booted, and the “Potentially Unwanted rogram Blocked” pop-ups have stopped! I'm still getting pop-up ads (despite having installed – and paid for – AdBlock) but they can be endured. I think the anti-virus programs are going to have get to grips with this problem if they want to stay in business. Meanwhile – bless you, Cam!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

I got through my busy day yesterday rather successfully, including a whiz around Waitrose on my way back from the airport thus dealing not only with lunch but also with most of the weekend shopping. Maybe I should make an effort to do more – but I think not; I felt as if I had been hit by a wrecker's ball, by bedtime last night.

This is very exciting news, Catmum, about Hazel Tindall's DVD and download. Thank you for alerting me. The little sampler on the website is enchanting. I am slightly surprised that we didn't run into her when we were on Shetland last year – we found Oliver Henry sorting wool at Jamieson & Smith, and we stumbled upon the woman who knit the Fair Isle sweaters for those ponies. It's that sort of place. She was most kind and hospitable, and demonstrated the use of a knitting belt for us. How did Hazel Tindall (the world's fastest knitter) manage to elude us?

Now that I want to reply, I can't find the comment about storing yarn in pillowcases. It sounds like good advice, and I mean to put it into practice (if it isn't too late). I've still got two more projects backed up from that happy day at Jamieson&Smith – the yarn for Kate Davies' Northmavine Hap (from Colours of Shetland) – that was entirely your fault, Kristie -- and some of their vibrant Shetland Heritage colours to make a Fair Isle vest, pattern yet to be devised. Those yarns are still in the carry-bag I had to buy to get them home, but I think they deserve to be divided into separate pillowcases today.

So are stashes formed. Here I am waiting with bated breath for the madelinetosh yarn for Archie's sweater. Surely by now I can begin to hope?

Knitting of the Unst Bridal Shawl edging went well last night, despite exhaustion. Hand and mind and eye cooperated nicely. So I feel I can lay it aside safely today and finish tidying Rams & Yowes. I'm just about ready to turn the second corner with the edging – that doesn't mean half-way, because I started somewhere along the first side so that the final join will be in an inconspicuous place. But it does mean that I'm moving along nicely.


And, yes! LizM. I heard that the Apple shop on Princes Street is at last about to open. Apparently Apple make a speciality of not announcing the date much in advance. Edinburgh has been holding its breath since August. It has also occurred to me that I'll do better domestically coming back with a MacBook, if I haven't been shopping with Archie. My husband is hostile. Archie is remarkably cheerful and patient, but it's hard on him. Archie is also rather emphatically anti-Apple, but that is a nuance likely to be lost on my husband.

So – it can still happen.

Friday, October 10, 2014

I'm going to try to have it all, today:

Take Archie to the airport, collect the spare computer, back in time to go for a walk with my husband (what about lunch?), and then -- the killer -- instead of a delicious little nap, tea with an elderly neighbour -- even more elderly than I am. She lives three stories up, directly above us. The climb is arduous.

So I mustn't linger here.

I went on with the Bridal Shawl edging last night. My mind has got itself back into gear with the pattern, but fingers continue to have trouble. Rows kept turning out to have the wrong number of stitches. I think one more evening would be prudent before I revert to tidying Rams & Yowes.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

This morning's email includes an invitation to Ted LeCompte's first birthday party, somewhere in Yorkshire on the 30th of this month. I'm his great-aunt. The date is also Archie's 18th. Alas, neither of us – neither me nor Archie – will be there, but I can now look forward to meeting Ted the next day.

Here's the picture that came with the invitation, of Ted and his mother Jenni:

I inched forward on other fronts yesterday although the endless “Potentially Unwanted Program Blocked” pop-ups continue to persecute me every few seconds. I'll have to call in a man. I hope, tomorrow, to drive Archie from school to airport for his half-term week in Athens. He has recently acquired, in advance of the birthday just mentioned, a super-duper laptop configured for high-level game playing (we all disapprove) and his former machine is to be passed on to our niece whose present one is staggering towards its grave. I hope to gather it in tomorrow and pass it on to her the following week.

That leaves the question of me and my MacBook unsolved.

The inching-forward just mentioned consisted of buying a scarf at John Lewis, and trying on my possible wedding outfit. I also bought some wrapping material for wedding present and Rams & Yowes blankie. Almost all the scarves were long ones that you wind around your neck. I had been thinking of a modest silk square, but that is not the 2014 approach according to John Lewis.  I bought a long one and tried it with the dress mentioned yesterday and a beloved impulse-buy suede jacket from some years ago.

The effect was perhaps slightly more sporty than I would like, but I think it will pass, especially when combined with nicely-done hair and the little cloche hat I wore to Theo's wedding and respectable tights and shoes. The dress is shirt-like, buttoned all the way down the front (covered buttons, my dears – I think a friend did that for me) and shapeless. I used to wear it with a belt. Unbelted, it is of almost dowager queen or Mrs Roosevelt length – no bad thing, and appropriate for a great-aunt. The jacket suggests, I hope, the position where a waist used to be.

And as for knitting, I got the edging of the Unst Bridal Shawl going again, not without difficulty. The result is not perfect – Sharon Miller would spot it at once, although the rider of that famous horse might miss it. I must keep on with that edging at least two or three days a week, so that the skill doesn't slip away again. More edging this evening, therefore, I think. Back to Rams & Yowes tomorrow.

Today's excitement is a bone density scan for me, as a result of stopping my weekly osteoporosis pill back in February. I thought they'd forgotten about me, If I drive Archie to the airport tomorrow, it will mean three days in succession with no morning walk for my husband (since I was cavorting around John Lewis yesterday). Walking is good for him, hard on me since it leaves no possibility of doing anything in the morning, other than clearing away breakfast and making the bed and cooking lunch. We shall see.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Well, I finished Rams & Yowes, as far as knitting is concerned, and made a start on tidying it. Thank you for your help on the dreadful m*th question. Once I am finished-finished, and it is all wrapped up in pretty paper, I think I will throw all the left-over yarn away, not just this ball. And before then, I might as well put the finished object in the freezer for a while – especially now that there's room for it. Thank you, particularly, for your rather alarming advice, Tamar.

And I've thought of a possible for my wedding garment – something I made myself decades ago, probably for a wedding, when I was younger and more energetic and didn't have to cook lunch every day. I got it out yesterday – the moths have spared it. It's a nice fabric, a browny Paisley-patterned viyella – and, my dears, I've lined it. It will look festive unless I'm actually bulging out of it. Perhaps add a jacket and a scarf. I'll try that soon.

I hope to go up to John Lewis today and try to find a nice empty box for the wedding present.

I took the Unst Bridal Shawl along to the dental appt yesterday. Something went wrong – a hole developing and enlarging between the edging and the body of the shawl. A dropped stitch? I've taken it back and (I think) picked up everything securely. Now I'll have to try to figure out where I am in the pattern and generally make things right.

I had a little success with the vacuum cleaner yesterday. It wasn't picking up much dirt because the brush bar wasn't rotating. I engaged someone to fix it and they were meant to come on Monday to take it away but they didn't. I fiddled with it myself yesterday and the bar is now whizzing around and picking up plenty of dirt.

Emboldened by this unexpected success, I have spent this mornng trying to get rid of the “adware” which is making my life a misery here on the computer.  I have downloaded something called Adwcleaner but I can't persuade it to install itself and I have spent all my blogging time on this unrewarding project.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

And more followers! What a week!

Thank you for all the happy messages about the wedding.

Several have suggested travelling by limo. It's a brilliant idea, which hadn't occurred to me. But it won't be necessary. If I had made a day-trip on the 1st of November, I was planning to do it by train – straight from Darlington Station to the church, wedding, a sip or two of champagne, straight home. A limo would have made a big difference. But since I am now able to travel down on the 30th of October, Greek Helen will drive, and similarly back on the 2nd. The journeys will be part of the fun.

[I think the only time I ever indulged in a private limo was the last time we were in Thessaloniki. I went to Philippi while my husband stayed behind in favour of Byzantine mosaics. Christos drove. We had perhaps as many as 100 words of common language, when my Greek was added to his English. We had a splendid day.

And there I was, where Brutus and Cassius were, and St Paul, under that very sky. “One crazy woman”, Christos said as he let me out of the car. It was a wet day and I had the place to myself. I also had one of my broken arms, I remember. Later we went to lunch and ate fish at a little place he knew. On the way back he pointed out the peninsula of Mount Athos.

I wondered afterwards if I had then been to all the places St Paul wrote epistles to – Philippi, Thessaloniki (the Thessalonians), Ephesus, Rome, Corinth. But I had temporarily forgotten about the Colossians. I don't even know where they lived.

The memory is well worth the trivial expense of the limo, whatever it may have been.]

Lynne, that is an absolutely brilliant idea, to take Archie's sweater as my Wedding Knitting. Surely the yarn will be here by then. The trouble with the Carol Sunday scarf, Cam, is all those colours and the constant changes. It would be possible to retrieve it – Greek Helen will be here for all of the last week of October, and we hope to spend two nights in Strathardle at least – finding my keys, if nothing else. James will arrive in Edinburgh late Thursday evening, having travelled up after work. Helen and I should be able to leave fairly briskly on Friday morning. I'm not quite sure how her sons fit into this scheme, but they'll be about.

I have added her to our motor insurance for that week, one thing accomplished yesterday. I also defrosted the freezer drawers and thinned them out a bit to make room for ready meals. Today won't be as productive. My husband has another dental appt concerning his still-uncomfortable gnashers.

I hope we can persuade Mungo to wear his kilt to the wedding. Archie flatly refuses. Alexander will be wearing his, as will his sons, the Little Boys. I think Rachel said that her son Joe (the bridegroom's brother) will have one, as will a couple of the bridegroom's Scottish friends. So Mungo wouldn't be the only chap in a dress.

As for actual knitting, I did yesterday's allotted portion all right, leaving only half of the final side to be furnished with applied i-cord, and the fourth corner to be rounded. I could finish today. There was one more break – and I can see more broken ends in the ball. Very rum. It will go straight into the rubbish when the job is done, although, like Meg, I normally never throw away anything.

Monday, October 06, 2014

And another follower! You are especially welcome at this exciting juncture in my life. For, read on...

More news.

James phoned last night and – after we had finished talking about Mimi – proposed to come to Edinburgh himself for the weekend of the wedding, so that I can go. I am even more tearful than I was when I thought I couldn't go. He will welcome the chance to spend time with his father, he said, and isn't much of a party animal anyway. My husband will positively enjoy my absence, under these circumstances. And James's own diabetes means that he doesn't have to have all that explained to him.

So now it's all to be done after all, except for finding clothes for my husband, and I am full of boundless energy and enthusiasm. For the moment, at least. I will write down two parallel lists this morning, one for myself (hair/dress/box for wedding present), one for them (ready meals, beer). And – what knitting to take along? I may not knit at all, but I've got to be prepared. The Pakokku socks are nearly at the second heel. That might not be enough.

It sounds as if Mimi is doing at least as well as can be expected. He can walk – that's a big one. He has been allowed to walk around the kitchen, but still spends most of the time in his cage, because he mustn't jump. He doesn't like it, that sounds good, and is eating well.

Evelyn Waugh in his unfinished autobiography, A Little Learning – which, unaccountably, I cannot find on the shelf this morning – quotes Belloc's quatrain when speaking of his Oxford years.

No one, in our long decline,
So dusty, spiteful and divided
Had quite such splendid friends as mine
Or loved them half as much as I did.

For “friends” read “sons”, and by “sons” understand “sons and daughters”, and that's how I feel this morning.

What a swell party! indeed.

Little to report on the knitting front. I didn't quite finish yesterday's assigned portion of the i-cord edging of the Rams & Yowes blankie. I haven't rounded the third corner. Still, I'm close, and could conceivably finish the whole job tomorrow.

And meanwhile that delicious madelinetosh yarn for Archie's sweater is in a package somewhere in the tender arms of the American or British postal service, making its way towards Drummond Place.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

The news is that my husband and I have decided not to go to Thomas' and Lucy's wedding on the 1st of November.

My husband is frail, and has never enjoyed large gatherings. My idea of leaving him behind and making a day-trip on my own has less and less appeal as the date approaches. I'm old too. So this is what we have decided, and I'm sure it's the right decision. And I can wake up in the morning and let the radio tell me today's date without being gripped by panic.

There are still things to do, but at least they don't involve squeezing my husband into elegant, uncomfortable clothes. I must finish Rams & Yowes, because Ted's first birthday will be celebrated in Yorkshire when the American contingent arrives for the wedding. The birthday is two days before. The blankie has got to be tidied and blocked and nicely packaged, for Greek Helen to take down.

And the wedding present also needs attention. We are giving them something from stash – not literally, of course; not a skein of yarn with or without m*ths. Once it's been freshened up, it too will need packaging.

But I can manage those things, I think.

So I looked up Crosby and Sinatra singing “What a Swell Party This Is”, as a sort of compensation. It is a more melancholy song than I had remembered.

I got the pattern-pictures of the Unst Bridal Shawl scanned for Hellie yesterday, and sent them off. I'll give serious thought to your idea of blocking a bit of the edging, Judith. I had thought just to send it with a warning about its unblocked state, to let them see the exact shade of not-quite-brilliant whiteness.

And I got yesterday's ration of attached i-cord done without any more trouble. I'm now working on the third side, having started just after a corner.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

I have spent my precious morning time elsewhere today – not much of it is now left.

The weather has turned ghastly, after a lovely Indian summer.

My attached i-cord is about to go around the second corner. More breakages. I have begun to wonder if the damage was caused not by Drummond Place m*ths but by Lerwick ones. Black is one of the colours for which two balls were supplied. I don't remember when I joined this one in, but it seems at least possible that it was faulty to begin with. On the other hand, I've had the kit for a year now. Maybe the m*ths just fancied this particular ball.

Hellie and her dressmaker-friend have asked for a scan of the Unst Bridal Shawl pattern-picture, and for a sample of the lace. They can have the whole original edging – you'll remember that I knit it first, thinking to do the shawl edging-inwards, and then, for reasons now forgotten, decided to go for centre-outwards as the pattern is written. And when I got to the edging, decided to knit one on after all because it's fun.

That's all there's time for. I'll try to do better tomorrow.

Friday, October 03, 2014

And another follower! Hi!

I got around that first corner of the Rams & Yowes blankie with my i-cord edging, and am now half-way along the next side. More breakage, looking awfully m*th-like. So I must get the Unst Bridal Shawl out today without fail and see what's happening there.

Very miscellaneous

Ellen, I've never mastered spit-splicing. Maybe I should give it another go. Kate Davies recommended it herself for use while hemming the border down. This stuff should be ideal for the purpose.

Thank you for all your help with my keys. Mary Lou, I will certainly remember to make a donation on St Anthony's behalf, if he comes up with the goods. And Catmum, I will certainly try your Hungarian grandmother's tip, turning a drinking glass upside down while thinking of the missing item. That sounds good. Ellen, I don't think “walking backwards through my mind” is going to work, although I like the idea. There were only about 20 minutes, maybe fewer, between the loss and its discovery. I walked backwards frantically during the search. By the time we get back there, the memory will have faded, having already been disturbed by frenzy.

Foggy Knitter, of course we are praying to God when we pray to St Anthony or whoever. The idea is that God will pay a bit more attention to the request if it reaches Him with the recommendation of a particular saint. Quod absurdum est, but it makes things seem more manageable and human-scale.

Rachel (the bridegroom's mother) phoned last night, sounding rather hard-pressed. She said that Hellie has someone lined up to make her wedding dress – that's for next year's wedding. So perhaps I had better try to scan a picture of the Bridal Shawl for her. There are three younger granddaughters in the pipeline, so to speak, who could wear it if Hellie doesn't want to.

Our favourite soap opera, the Australian “Neighbours”, has got a yarn-bombing thread going. It is particularly silly because only three characters are involved and none of them can knit. I mention it only because yarn-bombing doesn't often feature in soap operas.

There are some pictures of Fair Isle Through the Years in the new magazine of the National Trust for Scotland. Not much knitting visible, except for a delicious pair of sweaters on two small children who are feeding an orphaned lamb.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Here we are, for the first time in a WEEK – a day-day, with nothing scheduled. (Yesterday, the cleaning woman came.) My resolution is to do something, anything, to advance the cause of getting to the wedding on November 1.

I think I spoke too soon and too cheerfully about the applied i-cord on the Rams and Yowes. I haven't yet reached the first corner – so the time-estimate is now more like a fortnight. The yarn has broken three times – what on earth? One would naturally suspect m*ths, except that I used it so recently for the very stripe from which I am picking up stitches and everything was fine. The third break has resulted in a considerable mess. I can only be grateful to black-on-black for rendering it fairly inconspicuous.

Anyway, on we go. I shall continue to pick up stitches by day for that evening's pensum or darg.

I had a nice email yesterday from Eat Sleep Knit – two of my twelve skeins of madelinetosh Composition Book Grey look different from the other ten. Send anyway, I said.


Chris, I don't know what James is thinking about Hong Kong, although I am thinking about what he might be thinking. Actual correspondence has been devoted to Mimi the cat, who was hit by a car. He has had a protracted and expensive ordeal, but is now at least out of hospital and recovering in a cage at home from surgery to his leg. No one has had time to worry about Hong Kong.

I have had plenty of time to worry about my keys, and look forward to getting back to Strathardle and renewing the search. Four approaches –

  1. I often find, when searching for something, that it is a good idea to go back every so often to the place where it should be. That won't work in this case – my keys should have been on the north-facing kitchen counter, with my Filofax, ready for the off. They weren't, and Helen has subsequently blitzed the kitchen.
  2. I told our lunch guest on Monday about our adventures, when she and my husband had finished talking about art. She said that it pays to look in places where the keys couldn't possibly be. Like your fine story about your husband's glasses, Mary Lou.
  3. I have often found William of Ockham a help in life's crises. His medieval Latin can be roughly translated as KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid. The least complicated explanation is often the best one. I can't quite think how to apply that principle in this case, but I'm working on it.
  4. I always thought St Jude was the one to turn to, to find something lost, but a bit of googling just now suggests that St Anthony is equally or even more efficacious. I might as well pray to both of them.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Another new follower! Welcome!

And another strenuous day. I misread my own handwriting, and got my husband to the Western Infirmary at 11:30 for what turned out to be a 1:30 appt. Getting him anywhere on time is very hard work – twice in a day was almost too much. But we did it, with a lunch break in between, and he found the physiotherapy for his rheumatic right hand hopeful.

And I started applying i-cord to the periphery of Rams & Yowes. I agree, it's going to make a nice finish. If you've never done it, I would encourage you not to shrink from the ordeal. It sounds excruciatingly fiddly, but in practice is not that bad. And I hate fiddly.

I think, though, that I am going to pick up a lot of stitches today in God's own daylight. “Pick up” in the simplest sense – slide a needle through. Black on black, even under the strongest electric light we can muster, is not entirely easy.

I did about half of one side last night, therefore about 1/8th of the job, therefore a week should see it done, if I keep at it. I dreamt about that wedding last night – there wasn't enough seating for everybody and I hadn't made any arrangements about flowers for the church. It's on the 1st of November, so things are getting serious. Baby Ted's 1st birthday (and Archie's 18th) fall on the 28th of this month, and will be celebrated at the wedding venue or thereabouts. That's my target.

Archie's sweater

I've just ordered 12 skeins (all they had – somebody must have bought one since last week) of madelinetosh DK in Composition Book Grey from Eat Sleep Knit. I thought the name sounded familiar: I must have ordered from them before, because I turned out to have an account there. I put some parameters through Jimmy Bean's calculator last week, and it came out showing that I needed 13 skeins. But that was at 5.5 stitches per inch, whereas 5 is more likely; and that was for a 2XL size, 56” circumference, whereas I put a tape measure around the boy on Sunday, over a snug-fitting sweater, and the measurement was only 48” – so 52” should be enough.

So 12 skeins will probably suffice, and if not the bottom ribbing will have to be slightly different.

The pattern he likes is a top-downer, a new experience for me, so it will be possible to try it on for size before I have gone too disastrously far.

I was very grateful for your offers to go down to the shop and buy it for me, Mary and Melfina. And for your warning about the colour, Barbara. As you see, I decided to go ahead. My husband was wearing his madelinetosh sleeveless vest (as he often does) at the weekend, so I was able to point it out to Archie to give some idea of the surface quality of the yarn. So he knows it'll be grey, but not exactly.