Friday, November 21, 2014

Not a very good day, yesterday. I was peacefully knitting along, even beginning to wonder if I had produced a perfect scallop, when I found that a stitch or stitches had slipped off between the needles, without my even being aware that I was in any danger, and all was unzipping.

I had to take back a whole scallop before I got things right. The damage is not too bad, but it's visible – yet another muddle that wouldn't have happened if I had stuck with my original plan and knit the shawl inwards. There's not much scope for muddle when you are slipping a fine needle through a nicely-made edging chain. And, hell! If I had done it that way, I'd be finished by now, since I had knit the entire edging before changing plan.

I was very tired last night – some minor events which constitute a stressful day, in old age, and no nap. Maybe the moral is to leave lace alone on such evenings.

But Archie's sweater continues to progress nicely, producing a beautiful smooth smart-looking fabric. And tomorrow I get to see it on Archie!

I made him tuna and beans for lunch once (tuna has a mysterious affinity with beans) and he was mightily impressed. He eats anything, like most boys his size and age, but also takes a serious and discriminating interest in food.

I'm not sure he had ever had fresh tuna before. His mother, Greek Helen, is seriously concerned about sustainability, and anyway is virtually a vegetarian, or maybe it is just that they don't sell fresh tuna in Greece. I don't think I had ever cooked it before we moved to Edinburgh. The first time, since it looked like a slice of old boot, I stewed it carefully for a long time. It's a wonder I ever went back to try again.

But I can't remember which of my books produced Archie's lunch. I remember that the beans were the real thing, soaked overnight. And there memory stops. Like the Lost Chord. I'll have another look through the books this morning.

Knitsofacto has a brilliant blog post up about autumn dyeing. She promises more detail in future posts about how her wonderful colours were achieved. She was meant to come to Shetland with us, but an ineluctable family event supervened. It was she who found beloved Burrastow for us to stay at. I would love to have talked to her about dyes.

I couldn't do it now – one can scarcely fill the kitchen with dye pots when one has got to produce breakfast-lunch-tea-and-supper daily. But I've done some dyeing in my day – I even  found ochrolechia tartarea on a stone in Strathardle, and got a pretty good red out of it after macerating (I think that's the word) with vinegar in lieu of urine. Red is not an easy colour to achieve with natural dyes, and I would have enjoyed boasting of it to Knitsofacto. It is extraordinary that peasant dyers persevered, who had a good deal of occupation to fill their days, and no electricity to help.


Southern Gal, you're right that CT has been spared snow, so far. Roger and Helen have suffered lashings of rain, and ugly cold, but that's all. Roger seems to be making good progress with his MacBook.

Nicola Sturgeon has taken over from Mr Salmond as First Minister. She is making what seems to me a great and undignified song and dance about glass ceilings and being a role model to little girls. In a world which has already produced Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel (not to mention Hillary Clinton and a few others), it seems to me very unremarkable that a woman should be First Minister of Scotland. Better just get on with the job.


  1. I hope the lace knitting is more successful today...

    But I disagree about Nicola Sturgeon. A handful of women premiers does not mean that feminism is dead. On the contrary - the small successes of a few belie the experiences of the many. Women are still paid less than men, we are still promoted less than men, and we are told from an early age that there are things we can and can't do because we are girls.

    I am not an SNP supporter, but I think Ms Sturgeon is doing well for her party and politics. It is notable and noticeable that the three main parties on Scotland are lead (currently) by women. And, it is one reason I am a fan of devolution (if not independence) because it has allowed uk politics and politicians to break away from the paternalistic gendered and old boy system that is STILL Westminster.

    1. Anonymous5:32 PM

      Hear, hear.
      -- stashdragon

  2. About Archie's lunch: you were blogging about a bean cookbook at one point. There was more than one entry. Could that be it?

  3. Something fishy going on with your first ministers....
    Sturgeon...Salmond (salmon?) Perhaps there is a Trout or a Tuna in the wings? ;)

    Hope today goes better for you!

  4. Anonymous1:05 PM

    The New York Times has become my go to source for recipes. They have a fresh tuna/bean dish here:
    And they also have several recipes for salad nicoise using fresh tuna which is how I often prepare it.
    (Sister) Helen

  5. I just did a blogger search and March 3, 2014 discusses the tuna and bean, perhaps that will help. I made a chil's mitten last night in the wrong yarn, it doesn't even match the size of the first. Better lighting is in order these dark evenings!

  6. Rather a disparaging comment about our First Minister when none was needed. I thought her speech was excellent, inclusive and positive. I agree with knitlass, the gender gap is still there and more awareness and positive role models are needed.

  7. Anonymous2:34 PM

    That humungous quantity of snow is in the area around Buffalo and it has been caused not by a fierce storm but by the combination of air coming off the lake meeting the Arctic air sweeping down from the North. What is unusual is for it to happen at this time of year.

  8. You may yet get your chance to boast Jean, if you fancy a natter over a coffee one day. Our younger daughter recently moved to Edinburgh - she is an archivist - so I shall be headed your way from time to time. Meanwhile thank you for the complement and the link.

  9. Some evenings I have knit, discovered a mistake and ripped back all I've done (and sometimes more). It's so frustrating. Fresh tuna is delicious.