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.


  1. Of course boys learn to knit! At Junior School, in Miss Leggo's class (age 7-8) we had one afternoon a week when the last hour was Miss reading a story and the whole class doing compulsory knitting. I hated it with a passion! I think the most I achieved was a garter square just big enough for the cradle in my dolls house. The stories were good though - that is where I first met the "Just So Stories"
    And sailors have knitted for a long time.

  2. I taught boys to knit when I was a teacher and years later one of them stopped me in the street, tugged at a hand knit he was wearing and told me proudly, "I made it myself because you taught me to knit." I purred for days!

  3. It's taught here in states at Waldorf schools. I have a nephew who is a student and have fond memory of a visit when he brought out his knitting to show me and then we knit together. Alas he is in another state so I don't see him often enough

  4. I read that article, but saw it as more of a way of her mother trying to show her acceptance and welcoming her son/daughter in to the world of women. My mother didn't teach my brothers to knit, but made sure they could cook, iron, and sew on a button. She said she didn't want to send another useless man into the world.

  5. Anonymous7:30 PM

    When I worked in local government in the early 90s a new post was created in my dept for a marketing manager (spurred on at that time by John Major's new Citizens' Charter). The lady appointed was from the private sector - very confident and glamorous! Over time, we were introduced to her large collection of hand-knitted sweaters which she would wear with high heels. Her sweaters were very colourful with lots of texture and intarsia including Kaffe Fassett and Patricia Roberts. She received a great many compliments and inspired a number of her colleagues to wear their hand-knits for work. Our part of the large open plan office was very colourful and a lunch-time knitting circle soon developed from a shared - though previously unspoken about - interest.

    Anyway, the point of this story is that all of the much-admired sweaters had been made by her Dad!

    Jan, North Yorks