Monday, November 24, 2014

A good day. I knit a scallop or so of the edging of the Unst Bridal Shawl – Sunday is never very productive. Archie came to lunch. He seemed well. His sweater fits fine – now I can relax and start worrying about whether I have enough yarn. I am not far off finishing the third skein of twelve. There's an awful lot of Archie yet to cover.

He carried two boxes of knitting books down to the cellar. I was going to ask him to fiddle with our simple DVD player to find out why it wasn't working, but when I turned it on, it worked fine. So now I can get the new Coen Bros film – the one with the endlessly forgettable name. I think we've seen close to their entire oeuvre, most of it in the cinema. “True Grit”, indeed, may be the last movie we ever properly saw.

Then Archie went back to school – he had made a whole tedious trip across town (buses are rather rare on Sunday) just to be obliging. It was much appreciated.

I spent much of the evening getting half of his sweater back on the needle. It's on a smooth, heavy embroidery thread and the operation is going well, but I think it would be going a lot better if I had used ribbon as you told me to.

Today's job is going to be applying for a Disability Badge so that we can park on yellow lines and, theoretically, get out a bit more. I've applied twice before and been refused – once because they held that my husband could walk too far to qualify, the second time, when I appealed that decision, when they said I had left it too long and could no longer appeal, I had to start from scratch again.

Friends keep nagging me about this. Today one of them, with whom I went out drinking on Saturday, is coming round to take things in hand. Much of yesterday was spent downloading and printing the application form. It has got even worse since I first applied – I must submit, for instance, a “certified” copy of my husband's passport, to guard against identity fraud. Disability Badges are highly covetable and often misused – so, fair enough, but how am I to manage that?

But then I reflected: my printer is also a copier. And the friend who is coming is a lawyer – she can “certify” the copy herself. All I've got to do is find the passport.


A propos your comment yesterday, Melfina, about colleges.

When my sister was a big shot in Washington, she was in conversation once with the Secretary of Health, Donna Shalala, and somehow or other the fact came up that the chemistry building at Mouth Holyoke is named after our great aunt Emma.

Shalala said, “I didn't know your family had that kind of money”.

Helen said, “We don't. We have that kind of brain.”

It's the sort of riposte you usually only think of  the following Wednesday.


  1. Your Sister's response was superb and only served to emphsise its own truth!

  2. I see that the brain has kept in the genes - glad that Archie's sweater is as it should be. More soothing knitting to come.

  3. Ellen1:05 PM

    I am always convinced that I am running out of yarn, although I never do, But because of that I have worked out the percentages: this vaires a lot by height, but generally if you have knitted the top part of a raglan to the sleeve divide, you have knitted about 40% of the sweater. It might be somewhat less because of the extra length that he requires, so the percentage might be somewhat less. In any event, if you have used 25% of the yarn at this point, you will undoubtedly have yarn to spare. Just knit and real!

  4. Anonymous3:44 PM

    About the oldest college giving degrees to women--
    I love your sister's comment. Mentioning Donna Shalala got me doing a bit of research. Donna went to the same college I did, Western College for Women (in Ohio). Western was founded by teachers from Mount Holyoke who studied under Mary Lyon.

    Opening and giving college degrees are two different things. Mount Holyoke opened as a seminary. It wasn't giving college degrees until 1888.

    Oberlin admitted women when it opened but didn't give them degrees until 1841.

    Wesleyan College in Macon, GA actually gave first degrees to women in 1840.

    Oberlin can still claim first degrees to women in a coeducational institution, Wesleyan first degrees to women, at least in the US.

    Pat from Chicago

  5. Wonderful quick thinking, Well done Helen.

  6. Helen must have 'that kind of brain' to think so quickly! Great news about Archie's sweater - hope you don't run out of yarn.

  7. Re films - and higher education for women - I wonder whether you might enjoy "Mr Turner", the Mike Leigh film? It features a visit, and scientific demonstation, by the redoubtable Mary Somerville. We found it very beautiful, among other things.

  8. Great answer! The way they keep changing the definition of disabled is terrible, hope the forms go better this time - do appeal at once if you need to. A good supporting letter from your GP can make a big difference.