Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I've ordered Morning Rain -- Melanie Berg's lace weight yarn, mentioned yesterday. I agree, Beverly, that Sheepish looks awfully nice, too. But I am anxious that this should be a shawl-for-use, and was afraid that Sheepish might come out looking keep-for-best.

I tried to compare yardage and weight with J&S Shetland Supreme, and was stymied by the failure of the Loveknitting website to give the weight of Berg's skeins. A guess would have been right, but it's wiser not to rely on guesses at critical moments (general rule of life). I floundered for a while before I thought of Ravelry. The answer is that they are very similar -- 860 metres per 100 grams for Berg. 800 for J&S, I think, or thereabouts. That'll do. The baby is not going to take a tape measure to the result. So I ordered it.

A dear friend would like a stripey hat, and I am delighted to have an excuse to knit another. But Loop has sold out for the time being, which leaves me feeling slightly smug for having acted fast. Alas, I didn't get around to taking a picture in today's brief light. Tomorrow, I hope.

I've done the heel flap of the 2nd Kaffe Fassett sock, turned the heel, am making good progress with the gusset decreases. Loveknitting says that the lace yarn has been dispatched already -- a great incentive to press on fast. 


It's tough, but we're doing pretty well. The care package we have been waiting for, for so long, is excellent. My life is easier in some ways than it was before, now that I am not allowed to help my husband to move (although I have done it a few times, when someone else was here to help). I'm constrained, but so I was with daily hospital visiting. I'm not very strong, but can't think of any specific markers in the past year which might serve to measure my decline.. And maybe this is what being 83 is meant to feel like. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The hat is finished, without ever achieving a place in the sidebar.  I'll miss it. I'll take a picture tomorrow in the light. It was gratifying at the end to throw away all the odds and ends -- nothing left to augment the stash. Gratifying, too, to have dispatched an impulse buy so briskly. And to have another FO.

Now to finish off some socks. The current Kaffe Fassett pair is not quite as near the 2nd heel flap as I remembered; another dozen or so rounds to go.

I thought the programme about Fair Isle was very good indeed, with another to come next Monday. Not much about knitting, although it was mentioned. A good sense of the island community. I was surprised to hear that cruise ships manage to land there.

 I've seen Fair Isle, out of the airplane window. I booked my seat on the left-hand side on purpose. It was a wonderful moment. But not quite as wonderful as standing on the northernmost point of Unst, a couple of days later, and seeing the lighthouse at Muckle Flugga.

The new Knitting magazine tells me that Carol Feller has published the book about gradient yarns which she promised us during her class on the subject at the EYF earlier this year. And Marianne Isager's book of designs based on manhole covers is one I'd like to look through in a bookshop, if I had access to a bookshop. But I fear neither would make the cut when it comes to final-home, so it would probably be wiser not to buy them now. 

I'll be ordering Kate Davies' book about Shetland Oo, however, any moment now. I'll go for the paperback.

Wandering through the Promotions folder in my mailbox, I found an ad from the Yarn Collective pointing me to some very nice-looking lace weight from Melanie Berg.  I think her "Morning Rain" might be the very shade I'm looking for.

The trouble about knitting a striped shawl for the new baby, as several have interestingly suggested, is that it sends me back to the Hansel hap pattern. I love it. It was a joy to knit. I hope to knit it again (and again).  But just now, so soon after knitting it for Emmett, I feel I want to strike out into pastures (relatively) new for my own great-grandchild.

Many thanks for all your help about fudge. I will look up Hugh F-W, for a British slant on the question. It occurs to me that Alexander -- a serious cook, as I have mentioned before -- probably has a thermometer which will tell them when the mixture has reached 238 degrees Fahrenheit which = the soft ball stage, according to Mrs Rombauer. Then you cool it to 110, she stays, and start beating. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Crown decreases in progress on the stripey hat. DP needles employed.

The first of two BBC programmes about Fair Isle went out tonight – we’ll see it tomorrow. We regulate our television viewing with the Culture section of the Sunday Times. It listed something completely different for the relevant time – although we are supposed to be blessed with the Scottish edition. Poof. Fortunately, I outwitted them.

Many thanks for the help with the forthcoming baby shawl -- Vivienne, Carol, Robin, others. And I think you've cracked it. J&S Heritage lace weight 2 ply in a natural colour. Just-off-white will look too fancy-schmancy, and I want this to be a shawl for use. Both fawn and grey -- that's a really good idea -- are darker then I care for, viewed on a computer screen. At the moment, I think I'll go for fawn, as less sepulchral.

I trust we're all following Kate Davies' teasers for her new book. She's brilliant at teasers. I want a sheepskin from the Shetland Tannery for my knitting chair (yesterday). And I would have ordered yarn for the shawl from today's Uradale Farm near Scalloway, had they offered lace-weight. 

 I need your help on another matter, non-knit. My Christmas present to the Little Boys at Loch Fyne is a do-it-yourself -- Nestle's chocolate chip morsels for Toll House Cookies, and some Baker's Chocolate, for fudge. They do cookery at school, and their father is a brilliant cook so he can help. Neither of these ingredients is readily available in GB.

Toll House Cookies are easy -- the recipe is still on the package, as it was 70 years ago when I first made them. For fudge, I will have to enclose a recipe. I turned to The Joy of Cooking, virtually the only American cook book I have left, and was surprised to find it slightly strange. Grate the chocolate? I'm sure I've never done that. Looking at the recipe again, more calmly, it seems to be sound.  Mrs Rombauer is good on how to recognize the soft ball stage. Alexander's help will be welcome there. It's a valuable life skill, I feel, recognizing the soft ball stage.

But I would be glad to be pointed to a good basic fudge recipe -- no condensed milk, for heaven's sake, just real milk, sugar, chocolate, butter, vanilla. Just for comparison. And, should I really tell them to grate the chocolate?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Stripes continue well. I should reach the crown shaping tomorrow, and will be sorry to finish. This delicious hat fits in with my strongly-held view that bright-and-cheerful (and, especially, red) is what to knit during these last grim weeks before the winter solstice. It's just as dark in January, but I love the sense of light returning, and February is a strong candidate for being my favourite month. Nov-Dec are the tough ones.

Next will be to finish off the most recent pair of hospital socks -- I think I was somewhere in the vicinity of the second heel flap. And to finish-finish the other socks languishing in my sidebar (I.e., graft toes and tidy loose ends). 

And then the new great-grandchild's shawl. Colour? Not pink. Not blue. Does the 12-week scan reveal the answer to the implied question there? But if so, I don't want to know. An Irish friend told me more than half a century ago that it's bad luck to knit in green for a baby, so that's out. Red was fine for the Dunfallandy blankie for the first great-grandchild but I can't do that again. That doesn't leave much except yellow. I’ll keep you posted.


Isabella, I don't know what we're going to do. My husband is so much happier at home, and so much clearer-headed, that I don't see how I can consign him to a care home. The children are enormously supportive and ready to converge on the poor man and tell him he must go. But can I do it? My inclination at the moment is just to wait for the next crisis -- it can't be far away.

My father, whose 3rd and final wife was an Englishwoman, said once that he thought these things were better done in Britain. I doubt it, at least for the relatively affluent. A retirement community such as my mother lived in, and such as my sister and her husband have recently moved to, seems to me a solution in many ways better than what is available here.

We have retirement apartments, but they don't seem to offer the same community facilities, such as dining, and nursing care when needed, and book clubs. We buy the apartments, and our grieving heirs can sell them on in due course to other over-60’s. Whereas Americans make a massive capital payment which they lose entirely after a few years. Is it because the British are obsessed with the ambition to preserve the capital represented by the family house for their children?

In an alternative universe, I see myself withdrawing to Kendal at Oberlin, but it will never happen.

I get the impression that middle-range care homes here in Britain are closing fast -- the ones which take both private patients and the ones the Council sends along because they can no longer fund their own care. The trouble is, the Council doesn't pay very much, and it is difficult to find staff to do the demanding work required for the minimum wage (or less). Even if the care homes make up the difference, as I gather many do, by charging the private patients more than the Council pays for the others.Whereas high-level care homes, with gourmet chefs and gyms and gardens, are actually opening. Helen is going to look at one this week. 

Again, I’ll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

What is it that's such fun about stripes? I'm halfway from cast-on to crown decrease with the stripey hat and having such fun that I wonder if anyone else on my Xmas list would like one.

Fabritius' famous "Goldfinch" (as in Donna Tartt's novel) is currently on loan to the National Galleries of Scotland -- the first time it has ever been here. Our niece and I recently went to see it. Then we went to the museum shop and thought about Christmas. They were offering Fair Isle-type berets for about as much as I had just paid for the stripey hat kit. Of course, you didn't have to knit the berets, but this stripey hat is seriously fun, and I think the result is going to be rather better than machine-knit Fair Isle.

They also had some Edward Gorey Christmas cards. We're great Gorey fans around here. There was nothing I cared for, but when I got home I looked up the publisher, Pomegranate, and found this, which I ordered from them and will be sending out soon. It's called "She knitted mufflers endlessly".


The very serious trouble with this new system, is that I lack all oomph in the evening and am not able to write to you about many of the things I want to talk about. Such as, currently, care homes. Maybe there will be a day soon.

Friday, November 25, 2016

It has turned rather emphatically cold here -- not even December yet.

As hoped -- the first half-brioche sleeve is finished and bound off, the poor thing laid aside once again, ¾’s finished. And I've started the stripey hat.

It's great. It's going to knit itself. Winding the mini-skeins is delicious, as compared to yarn-winding in real life. Each one is capable of four rounds (I think), but the pattern requires attention because any particular stripe can be one or two or three rounds wide. Picture soon.

I've spent some more time with Norah Gaughan's cable book, although the prospect of a new great-grandchild has pushed the prospect of a crunchy cabled sweater rather far down my already over-long HALFPINT list. Every cable design in the book is assigned its SSE -- stocking-stitch equivalent. That doesn't relieve you of the need to swatch, perish the thought -- but it does mean that if you're designing something and have a rough idea of how many st st stitches you'll need (as is usually the case), you have a starting point for adding cables.

It's a wonderful book.

I've signed up for Kate Davies' Inspired by Islay club, and am about to order her and Tom's new book about Shetland wool. She does keep busy. My resolution for the next few weeks is to get to grips with "worsted spun" and the other one. I've never really understood. Part of the trouble is that I am not immediately sure, looking at a length of yarn or anything else, which way "s" goes and which way "z". I sometimes have the same difficulty with left and right.


We're getting on, one step at a time. Helen is a great source of strength, and Perdita helps too.

Thanksgiving must be the only American holiday which has not yet made its way across the pond -- but, oddly, Black Friday has recently done so. I'm sure we didn't have Black Friday even in the US, when I was young. I suppose the success of Black Friday here is because it has commercial possibilities which Thanksgiving, touchingly, doesn't.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Not much, today – but nobody’s got much time to read, on a holiday weekend.

I have spent a Hap-py day thinking about knitting for the new great-grandchild. Hellie has her wedding shawl to wrap it in for its Christening, so that's not needed. At the moment, I'm sort of thinking "Mrs Hunter of Unst" – the famous hap pattern which is the subject of Kate Davies' interesting essay in The Book of Haps. 

I knit it for Rachel (the new baby's grandmother) before she was born. I've got the pattern. I could knit it again the proper way -- at least, the Amedro way -- edging first, borders inward (either leaving one corner open, or wraping and turning, to avoid purling). In a lace-weight yarn (not cobweb) to provide something light enough to be a useful aid to modesty when feeding a summer baby.

I've had all the books out today without getting any further. Ysolda's "Mareel" indeed looks jolly, Beth, thank you. I'll keep that one in the Possible list. Meanwhile I must finish the first half-brioche sleeve -- only a few rows to go; tomorrow should see it done -- and knit that stripey hat. 


Southern Gal's comment yesterday has the link to AA Gill's weekly restaurant column from last Sunday's Times, telling us about his cancer. It's often the first thing I turn to in the Sunday Times -- not that we eat out all that much. His initials stand for Adrian Anthony. I learned just the other day that he was named for the two Roman walls that cross Britain -- Hadrian's, and the Antonine. I love that.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy American Thanksgiving, to all who are celebrating. I’m glad to be out of it.

It worked yesterday -- I'll try again. I sit here with my husband and my iPad, writing an email to myself, and then, later. polish it quickly off and send it on to you.  I could wish the iPad wasn't so eager to guess what I mean -- and even to criticize my prose style.

Grand news, with a considerable implication for knitting: Hellie and Matt are expecting a baby next summer. She phoned today. They've had the 12-week scan. 

(Those are my sister and her husband Roger emerging from the church door.)

So, the question is, of course  -- what to knit? I was so pleased with Gudrun Johnston's Hansel hap, recently knit for great-nephew Emmett in DC, that it's tempting to do it again. Sharon Miller has a section in her hap book offering a choice of colour schemes. But, at a glance, none seem as solidly good as Gudrun's. Or I could knit the Moder Dy -- Kate Davies' own contribution to her "Book of Haps". Perhaps using J&S jumper weight, as Kate herself did for an alternate version? Not as huge as the original, knit in Buachaille. But what's wrong with huge?

And, quite apart from great-grandchildren, you're absolutely right, Beverly (comment yesterday) -- I need to knit that sweater for my husband with the Madtosh DK you got for me. (I saw the yarn in Loop when I was down there in January; they didn't have enough; I ordered some; they eventually emailed to say that the colour was being discontinued; Beverly found some in the US and bought it for me; my sister brought it on her last visit; that's the story.) (It is -- or was -- called "Tannehill" and it's beautiful. And he needs the sweater.) 

So there's lots to think about. Meanwhile I must finish that sleeve. Not much got done today.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A new approach -- I'm writing an email to myself on my iPad, to be edited and uploaded, perhaps, later.

Well, what? We've had a good weekend in many respects -- the birthday party was fine:

It got harder when everyone (except, thank God, Helen) went away yesterday. Aspects of the last two days have been very hard indeed. I think my current resolution is to stick it out until Xmas and then decide among various unappetizing options.

Knitting -- various

The poor socks have been totally abandoned, but the first sleeve of the half-brioche progresses nicely -- I'm knitting the shoulder strap, and will soon have finished. The Whiskey Barrel DK has held out -- I won't need to order more or cannibalize the Sous Sous. I might need to knit the neck placket and collar in Roast Hatch Chillis but there's no great harm in that. I like how it's looking.

Norah Gaughan's "Knitted Cable Soucebook" turned up this morning.  It’s definitely a keeper, in the sense of being one of the books to take along to one's final lodging. It rekindles the excitement I felt in the -- surely it must have been the Sixties -- when Aran was suddenly everywhere. Now I want to knit a big crunchy Sweater.

There has been an answer from Susan Crawford about the Vintage Shetland project -- the new date is "sometime in the new year" which certainly sounds more realistic. I could wish that she had managed to broadcast a couple of sentences with this information before rather than after the deadline she had herself set, of November 14 for dispatching the files to the printer. It shouldn't have required any more effort than her endless tweets. 

(A well-known British journalist, Susan's sort of age -- one of those people you read every week and feel you almost know – told us last weekend that he has cancer: "...the full English. There is barely a morsel of offal that is not included." It's a hell of a thing.)

The BBC is showing a programme next week -- or perhaps even the start of a series -- about Fair Isle, "Britain's most remote inhabited island". That surprises me a bit -- remote from what? It's not all that far from Lerwick, in the direction of Orkney rather than further out to sea, although the crossing (by water or air) is often impossible. Certainly that will be one to watch.

Is it of interest that the two knitting traditions for which Shetland is most famous, derive from two such remote outposts, Fair Isle and Unst? No one on Unst could suggest to us, when we asked, why it had become so well-known for lace. Presumably the answer is a genius knitter who took things to new heights and whose name has been forgotten -- although that itself is odd in a place with so retentive a memory.


No one in my family has much time for Andy Murray, so I feel I must say here how pleased I am that he beat Djokovic last weekend in London and is therefore established as the World Number One at least through the new year. And we are agog -- at least, I am -- to see what the Queen will do for him in the New Year's Honours. 

I trust everybody knows that Andy Murray was a little boy in the Dunblane Primary School the day in March, 1996, when Thomas Hamilton came in and perpetrated the Dunblane Massacre. It is a bizarre coincidence, given how relatively rare such atrocities are in GB and how totally remarkable it is for a British man to be the World Number One in tennis. I can't think of any conclusion to be drawn. You win some, you lose some.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

I had a longish weekend in Madrid with my husband once, and remember the keen pleasure I felt, in the Prado, thinking, I can be here again tomorrow. That’s much how I felt yesterday – but now tomorrow has dawned, with much to be done.

I won’t try to blog tomorrow; my husband is said to be coming home early. Nor on Saturday (the birthday) or Sunday (everybody still around) or Monday (Rachel and Ed still here for a precious hour or two). I’ll see what I can do about Tuesday.

The hospital was excellent yesterday with pre-release briefings. I somewhat got the impression that they are anxious themselves about how all this is going to work, although glad to have the bed back.


I moved nicely down the leg of the 2nd Kaffe Fassett sock yesterday. I may well not go to the hospital today, leaving the visit to Helen. In that case, the sock is stuck for a while: 50 of 75 leg rounds done.

And, in the evening, I finished the  1st sleeve increases for the half-brioche. Now to choose a sleeve length – there won’t be much more to do before the interesting shoulder shapings.

I’m watching Nancy Marchant’s Brioche class on Craftsy as my good-night soporific. She’s terrific. She pronounces her name in an unexpected way. That set me to thinking of Bruce Weinstein, another favourite – both Craftsy and book. He pronounces the identical diphthongs in the two syllables of his surname differently. And that sent me on to Reince Priebus – the diphthongs are different there, and I’ve heard the BBC (I’m sure they’re careful) pronounce the name, but I can’t remember how it’s done. I want to sound them the same, in my head. Reence Preebus.


I’m reading Alan Bennett’s “Keeping On Keeping On” on my iPad – there won’t be much reading after tomorrow. It’s a pleasant compilation of his recent diary entries. He has an especially good line in overheard exchanges between elderly couples in supermarkets, who have had a lifetime to polish their barbs. I have never had much luck in that line, but I’ve got one, which I think Alan Bennett would enjoy.

We once went to see an Andy Goldsworthy exhibition at Inverlieth House. (Inverlieth House, alas, is no longer to be an exhibition site; much Edinburgh fuss.) I had never heard of Goldsworthy. We saw, amongst other wonderful things, a ceiling-to-floor curtain of autumn leaves woven together, astonishing and beautiful.

He: “All right if you have nothing better to do.”

She: “What better have we to do?”

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The answer seems to be, that my husband is coming out of hospital on Friday. I am delighted to have these extra 48 hours; he is disappointed, but sustained by the definiteness of the current arrangements. I did a big supermarket shop yesterday for husband-food (as opposed to the salads I pick at in his absence). Some of it will now have to be found place for in the freezer drawers, so that’s this morning’s job.

His 91st birthday is on Saturday. Everybody’s coming. So Friday will be a busy day, whatever. Which is great. And Helen will be here on Friday morning to welcome him home.

And as for knitting –

The second Kaffe Fassett sock is speeding along, and given this unexpected and very welcome 48-hour respite, may well have reached the heel-flap by the weekend. The half-brioche sleeve lacks but two more increases.

You don’t need to worry about that one, Mary Lou, although thank you for doing so. When my husband is home, we’ll watch some television. Not obsessively – he has a set in his hospital room which I’m sure he’s never turned on. I have looked at very little here since he has been away, except of course for the rugby. But when he’s here and settled in his chair, we’ll watch things, and I’ll knit.

Vintage Shetland Project – I found a post-diagnosis message from Susan saying that she hoped to send the files to the printer on the Monday just past, the 14th. I posted a message to the Ravelry group yesterday myself, tactfully phrased I hope, asking whether that had happened. (The answer, surely, is no.) There has been a response from an insider, promising more news soon, perhaps actually from Susan.


Our great-niece (husband’s sister’s beloved namesake granddaughter) spent last weekend in Strathardle, getting on with some essay-writing -- except when she was interrupted by this fellow out there in the garden:

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A boost in follower-numbers this morning! Bless you! and welcome.

As to my husband’s release, we don’t know where we are. I couldn’t find anyone at the hospital yesterday to tell me anything. Helen has a phone number for a Person in Charge, and will try today. I just phoned the local care office – they didn’t know anything about it. They are investigating, and will call back. I’ve also left a message with the District Nurse who will have to come in daily for insulin injections. Has she heard anything?

Poor man – Helen thinks that he is himself responsible for the idea of “Wednesday” whereas her contact at the hospital had only promised “end of the week”. He will be devastated if it’s not tomorrow. I will be glad of even 24 hours’ reprieve.

And as for knitting – I finished the ribbing on the 2nd Kaffe Fassett sock yesterday. Fifty rounds is a lot, but I like a lot of cuff on a man’s sock. The rest should go fast. And the half-brioche sleeve is doing well, too. Four more increases. Then the next job is to decide on the arm length.

My current thought is to finish this sleeve, which includes a good deal of shoulder-saddle and yoke, and then lay the poor thing aside yet again while I finish the socks and knit the stripey hat, both as potential Xmas presents.

Here we are in mid-November, when the mss of the Vintage Knitting Project is due to go to the printers. I stalk Susan Crawford these days, as we enter the second year of waiting for the book. She has finished chemotherapy (with surgery and radiotherapy to come) and is active on social media. I have found nothing at all about the book. Her Ravelry Group is where I expect to find news first – there has been nothing there for the last 18 days.

Monday, November 14, 2016

On we go. I need to talk to someone at the hospital about all sorts of things. Wednesday is the projected day for my husband’s release. How are we to manage the lavatory?

The socks are progressing rather slowly, especially given that they have but two more days. I read to my husband, now,  during my visits, which precludes knitting. We’ve finished “The Vicar of Wrexhill” and are currently engaged on “Greengates” by RC Sherriff – not as good as the “Fortnight in September”, but holding up pretty well. We started “The Hopkins Manuscript”, also Sherriff, which is about the moon crashing into the earth, but decided it wasn’t for us. We read enough to make me distinctly nervous about what the moon is doing at the moment, although I haven’t seen it myself.

The first sleeve of the half-brioche is coming along nicely, although I made a stupid mistake last night – not through watching TV or a movie on my iPad, but from setting the text at Large Print and reading a thriller in the Kindle app. When you pick up the work and find a ball of yarn hanging on to each end, the thing to do is to look at the stitches and see which ball was used for the last row, and choose the other one.

That’s what I failed to do. The result is not nearly as bad as you might think, and frogging brioche is not to be undertaken lightly.

My sister phoned last night. She will pass on your observations about that hat (comments yesterday) to her friend the knitter of it.

The book called “An Island Rooing” by Joan Grigsby has turned up – that’s the one which is said to have brought Anthony Bryer’s parents together. It’s about Shetland, and most engaging. The author isn’t particularly interested in knitting, which makes her observations all the more interesting. Women wear haps, and knit constantly.

And here’s one that really pleased me. Some background –

A few years ago, I knit a gansey for Ketki (Alexander’s wife). “Mrs Laidlaw’s Pattern” from Gladys Thompson’s book; Brown-Reinsel “Knitting Ganseys” for shape; yarn from Frangipani. The result is pretty successful – I think I remember a substantial swatch. It’s as firm as a carapace, but she often wears it to Murrayfield and for climbing munro’s.

It’s in “herring girl pink”. While I was working on it, my sister-in-law stayed with us in Strathardle and expressed some doubt about whether the herring girls – they who followed the fleet from port to port, and gutted the fish; it must have been grim – about whether their sweaters were really coloured. I tried to answer; I can’t remember what evidence I was able to muster. Maybe only what it says on the Frangipani site.

Well, Grigsby: “The herring had come to Lerwick bringing with it the fleets of some three or four nations, and with the fishermen came the fish salesmen, and finally the fishergirls from all over Scotland. The streets that were usually half deserted were now filled with fishermen in brown jersies and huge white thigh boots, while the girls in black oilskin aprons and brightly-coloured jersies to match the handkerchiefs on their heads, arm in arm marched down Commercial Street…”

Interesting, that "brown". Not blue, then?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Followers seem to be dropping off. Oh dear.

Thank you for your concern. Our “care package” will consist of two people, four times a day, to move my husband from bed to breakfast table to daytime chair and eventually to bed again. I am not supposed to have anything to do with “transfers” for fear of another fall. He hopes to be able to walk again, tottering about with his zimmer frame, but the hospital physios don’t think it likely. What about the bathroom? I trust someone will talk to me soon, as we get our ducks into a row – is that the idiom? At the moment, they seem to prefer to talk to Greek Helen, perhaps as more likely to be compos mentis.

Thank goodness for diabetes, which will ensure a daily visit from a district nurse – and they are excellent – to administer insulin and to be consulted on anything else.

My husband is still very much on the list for the care home we have chosen. I’ll phone them tomorrow with an update.

As for world affairs, our weekend newspapers seem to settling into a mode of acceptance. And Trump himself has behaved well enough since being elected. I’m glad to know he doesn’t drink. I’ve now got the New Yorker. Helen suggests (surely rightly) that they had prepared that cover for either eventuality – all that had to be changed was the headlines. Inside, they don’t seem to know the result yet.


All well. I wasn’t long at the hospital yesterday, as my husband had already had a visit from Helen and had the reunion with his cat to look forward to. I got home for the last half of the rugby. Scotland lost to Australia (again) by one point, after leading for almost all of the match, but I am not distressed. This time, Australia really won. Last time – when they put us out of the World Cup by one point – they didn’t. Knitlass will understand.

So the second Kaffe Fassett sock remains at about-halfway through the ribbing. The half-brioche progresses well. I have done 13 increases on the first sleeve, 10 remaining to be done – and, of course, the rows are getting longer. The instruction is to increase every 5 rows, which is slightly tricky as I am executing a 4-row pattern, but not entirely beyond my mental capacity.

My sister reports that a fellow-resident of their retirement community has repaired a hat I knit for her, and copied it, clearly very skilfully. I'm sure my original ribbing wasn't two-colour. How was it done? It seems to grip in a way that Shetland corrugated ribbing does not. The alternation of colours in the stripes shouldn't be too difficult, but I'm sure I didn't do that either.

I once knit my sister Vibeke Lind’s “Striped cap with decreasing at alternating angles” – page 91 of my copy of “Knitting in the Nordic Tradition”. That’s a book which will undoubtedly will be with me on my final move. But the one above was a more recent, and less exciting, effort.

Helen, lately, had been wearing a jacket I only half remember. It’s knit on the bias, and I think the idea was just to start going and knit until you have a plausible chest measurement. I must look back through the archives. The yarn is good, too. It sort of glows.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Never mind the world’s problems – I’ve got my own. My husband is coming home next week. Can I cope? Watch this space.

I had a pleasant evening in the kitchen yesterday with Perdita, watching an assemblage of interviews with Alfred Hitchcock on BBC iPlayer, and then, inspired by it, discovering that I could watch “Frenzy” from beginning to end on YouTube. I didn’t know that sort of thing was possible. My late sister-in-law often told me that "there's lots you don't know".

I was surprised (as often, reprising films) how brief were the three scenes I so vividly remembered –

a) the delay before the scream, as we watched someone entering a building where someone else had just been raped and murdered. In the cinema, that first time, the pause seemed endless.

b) the moment where the Bad Guy stands between two Tretchikoffs; nowadays, perhaps, Hitchcock would have gone for Vetriano.

c) the moment where the detective’s gourmet-cooking wife (he’d prefer steak and chips) snaps a bread stick.

All the British actors are in that film – Richard Attenborough, Billie Whitelaw, Anna Massey, Alec McGowen. I was disappointed at myself for not having spotted McGowen – he was the detective who preferred honest cooking. My mother and I went, once, in London, to his recitation of the Gospel of St Mark. It was impressive.

We had lunch, or tea, or something, in the theatre restaurant beforehand, and during one of those lulls which occasionally happen in a babble of surrounding conversation, I heard someone mention “…the best gynaecologist in London…”

And there, half an hour later, was McGowen telling us (Mark, Chapter 5) about the woman who “had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered…” How could I have failed to recognise him last night?

OK, knitting: I was most encouraged to hear from your comments yesterday that reversal-of-the-order-of-colours between balls of self-striping yarn, is not unknown. I think I’m about half-way through the ribbing for the second sock. Perhaps a picture tomorrow. If my husband is indeed to come home, this will be the last pair of socks for a while, but I should be able to make a good deal of progress in the next few days, and this is the second sock.

And I made a very good start on a sleeve for the half-brioche sweater while watching Frenzy.

Julie, I loved your comment yesterday about swamps and alligators. I hadn’t heard that one.

Friday, November 11, 2016

And after another night’s sleep, here we are picking up the load and going on with the world.

I agree with you, Jane, that we’ve got to give the man a chance. (And I wish you’d resume blogging.)

And I was grateful for your temperate comment, rosesmama, on my day-after post. I didn’t vote because it’s hard work, and there’s a lot else going on here.  I voted for Obama eight years ago, with pride. There was a website then to help with the process – I probably got connected to it because I had been raising money for his campaign here on the blog. I thought that once I’d done it, New Jersey would continue to send me absentee ballots. Not so. And four years ago, and this year, it was Just Too Much.

Yesterday, wandering around the internet, I read David Remnick’s take on the election. It’ll probably be in this week’s New Yorker – he’s the editor – but I haven’t got it yet. His views are as strong as any of you could wish.

We’d better switch back to knitting.

My hat yarn from Loop arrived yesterday. Beautiful. The difficulty in the pattern is only – but that’s bad enough – that some stripes are only one round, and others are three. I’ve wound the cast-on colour. What a pleasure to wind a skein so small! I’ll cast on soon.

I’ve finished the first Kaffe Fasset sock, and cast on the second. I was astonished to find the colours going in the opposite direction. I’m not terribly good at thinking, as I have mentioned before – and old age is underlining this tendency. It took me a while to decide whether Regia had dyed the yarn the other way around, or whether I was just knitting from the other end.

The latter is true, I’m pretty sure. But why? It is possible – but only just – that I knit the first ball from the inside. But that is not my wont, and I have knit many a sock with self-striping sock yarn before now. I think they wound the ball the other way.

I have always preferred to knit such socks as fraternal rather than identical twins. The upside down-ness of this pair will but enhance the effect. Picture soon.

And in the evening, in the cosy kitchen with Perdita and BBC iPlayer, I finished the front of the half-brioche and knit the wrist ribbing of the first sleeve. The pattern I am following is for a man’s sweater. I will shorten the sleeves, bearing in mind the simian length of a man’s arms and also the fact that I don’t like sleeves in the water when I’m washing dishes.

Here is the promised picture of the Drummond Place door which I was reminded of by the Sixties’ knitting pattern I posted yesterday:

And here, for comparison, the next-door door:

Thursday, November 10, 2016

I feel much better after a decent night’s sleep. I hope that’s true of all of us.

On Tuesday itself, the 8th of November, I watched a BBC Four documentary (now that I’ve figured out iPlayer) called Rich Hall’s Presidential Grudge Match. I don't think I had never heard of Rich Hall.  He’s good. The general idea was, there have been lots of ups and downs in American presidential history, and the Republic has survived them all. Admittedly, the punch line was, “If Trump wins, I’m coming to live in Britain”. It might even be worth my watching it again.

I was interested to discover, wandering around the internet yesterday, that the New Yorker had a cover ready for this unexpected eventuality. It's not here yet, of course. 

Last night, still on iPlayer, I watched another BBC Four documentary, this time about the history of 20th century knitting. I had seen it before, but found it worth watching again. The section on the wild sweaters worn (mostly) by TV presenters in ?the sixties or ?the seventies, reminded me of this pattern which I have long had in my archives:

I slightly surprised myself with how quickly I was able to find it this morning. I wish I had dated it.

And I next thought, there is a door, over on the south side of Drummond Place, which makes somewhat the same joke. I hope I will have the strength to go over there this morning and photograph it for you. Maybe I had better at least enter this pattern into my Ravelry queue. It would be fun to knit, and fun to wear.

As for actual knitting, slow but substantial progress. The first Kaffe Fassett sock lacks only a very few rounds at the tip of the toe. And the half-brioche, similarly, lacks only a couple of rows before the front is finished. I joined in a new skein of Whiskey Barrel last night. I think we can all agree that that feels like real progress.

I have only one more. Is that enough? I could do the placket in Roast Hatch Chillis. I've got plenty of that.

I made some sort of mistake when I rejoined the yarns to knit the second half of the top front. It’s fairly obvious on the wrong side:

On the right side, you’d have to get off that horse and look closely.

I’m not worried, but a bit cross at myself.

Loop says they have dispatched the hat. Still no Knitzi. I’ll keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

I only noticed as I was saving this message in my archives, that today is Nine Eleven, British-style.

I’d better not write too much, as I am bound to hurt feelings – and I haven’t had much sleep. We didn’t get the final result here until nearly 8 a.m.

I feel that this is much like the vote eight years ago, only different voters. We hoped, then, that everything would be different in Washington, with Obama as President. As they hope now.

I must say I always thought Ohio and Michigan – as I write, I don’t know about Michigan – would tip towards Trump.

This morning’s Times – I can’t find the page, now – says that a late Hillary rally involving Beyonce had that famous line about cookie-baking up on a big screen behind the performances. She hurt my feelings with that one at the time. I’m not sorry if it has been her undoing now.

I’ve recently bought some packages of Nestles semi-chip chocolate for the Little Boys – who do cookery at school, and whose father Alexander is a brilliant cook – and mean it (along with some Baker’s chocolate and a message about fudge and brownies) as their Christmas present.

I would scarcely have heard of Trump, before this last year, except that he spent a very lot of money building a golf course in Aberdeenshire. Then the Scottish government located a wind farm just offshore, interfering with the view.

I am rather anti-wind-farm, an unfashionable view. We have one on the road over the moors from Strathardle to Alyth, and I find it terrifying. I wish we still had Hitchcock to make a North by Northwest scene involving a wind farm.

Trump protested mightily, and the case went through various courts. Trump lost – late ’15, more recently than I would have guessed.

BBC website: “The Trump Organisation said it was an ‘extremely unfortunate’ ruling and it would ‘continue to fight’ the wind farm proposal.

“Former First Minister Alex Salmond said that the latest court verdict left Mr Trump a ‘three-time loser’.”

I never cared for Salmond much.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Second Tuesday in November

Here we are. At last – it’s today. I’m really going to miss election news as a counter-irritant to everything else that’s going on around here, but I do understand how glad all the rest of you will be when it’s over tomorrow.

At the end of the day yesterday, I sat in the kitchen with Perdita and watched, not television on the iPad, but Ella Gordon’s podcast. I’m not entirely suggesting that you do it; it’s rather long. But it’s most engaging, and interesting at least in parts. She works for Jamieson & Smith, and designed the Crofthoose Hat for this year’s Shetland Wool Week. She was there at J&S the happy day when I was, and when I ordered the yarn for my recently-completed Hansel Hap, it came with a note from her saying “Happy Knitting”. I felt very grown-up.

I did – you won’t be surprised to hear this – send for the stripey hat kit mentioned yesterday. Lisa, I am grateful for your comment and will follow it up. Joining-in-a-new-colour (or ball) is one of the (many) aspects of knitting I have never mastered. I’ve tried spit-splicing. It falls apart, for me. I can weave in a new colour a few stitches before it’s needed, as for intarsia, if I apply myself. Otherwise, I knit two stitches holding both yarns together, as a friend showed me when we were both at Hampton Elementary School in Detroit.

And there are always the happy instances when the new ball can be introduced at the end of a row.

Today, indeed any moment now, I am going up to the National Gallery to meet our niece and see Carel Fabritius’ picture “The Goldfinch” which is on loan here. It was the subject of Donna Tartt’s book (which I haven’t read). My husband fears that there will be queues down Princes Street. Maybe so. In that case, we will console ourselves with coffee and inspect a couple of Raphaels instead.

I could take Perdita. She likes birds.

I still have a few yards of the Kaffe Fassett yarn to incorporate into the foot of the first sock – it lasted longer than I expected. I’m not far from the toe shaping. And I did finish the first half of the front of the half-brioche yesterday, and attached the yarn, at least, to the second.

Monday, November 07, 2016

I shall talk wildly, to try to keep our minds off tomorrow.

Have I been the victim of a previously-unknown Literary Hacker? Mary Lou, I don’t think I’ve ever read Naomi Mitchison. I’ll be interested to hear how you get on. My only literary references yesterday, surely, were to Rudyard Kipling and R.C. Sherriff. If you have me mixed up with someone else, I’d be glad to know who it is so that I can read her too.

At first I thought Herb Caen was an equally puzzling reference – I’ve never even heard of him – but then I grasped that you were commenting on a comment, Maureen, in which he was indeed mentioned.

And, Loretta, Pat Paulsen – another I don’t think I had heard of. At least you didn’t suggest that I had mentioned him.

Now: the new VK is here, bigger and better, but can they keep it up? Lots of good reading. None of the knitting quite grabs me, except for the “Knit Kit on a String” on page 10. Loop has got it. And my Christmas spreadsheet reveals that neither of James’ and Cathy’s daughters have had a knitted hat for a good many years. I do love stripes.

Shandy, your blocked Uncia is simply beautiful, a lesson in doing-things-properly. I’ve unpinned mine, but haven’t got anywhere beyond that. For me, it doesn’t matter what it looks like draped about my person, since it’s destined for elsewhere.

Shandy, again, you’re quite right that the Carol Feller Craftsy class called Celtic Cables isn’t exactly that – it’s much more about carefully-measuring-for, swatching, planning, knitting a cabled sweater. In the episode I watched last night, she had cast on all the stitches for the cardigan (fronts and back) and knit the ribbing and then went along the long row inserting stitch markers for the pattern repeats before even attempting to knit. Not at all a bad idea.

But for actual Celtic Cables, you want Melissa Leapman’s class on “Infinite Cables”. Trust me – I’m a Craftsy junkie.

I’ve been thinking, restlessly, and without much success, about c=2 pi r. I have never cared for EZ’s paragraph in the Almanac: “Have you begun to see the well-known geometric theory behind what you have been doing? If you are a man, you will have spotted it right away. If you are a woman (sorry, lib) you probably expunged such theories from your memory the minute you finished high school…”

The point is that the circumference of a circle will double whenever the radius does. Much the same is true of a square, but squares don’t involve the mysterious entity “pi” which is the answer you get whenever you divide the circumference of any circle by the length of its radius. It was pretty clever of the ancient Greeks to work that out all those years before calculators were invented. “Pi” is an irrational number which can never be completely expressed.

Anyway, I much prefer the Harlot’s treatment of the subject in “Knitting Rules!”

Sunday, November 06, 2016

So Andy Murray got to be the World Number One without even playing any tennis yesterday. I wonder if I’ll be able to watch him play today. It made me put my Nicola Sturgeon hat on for a moment, and reflect on how he’s British at a moment like this, but more often a mere Scotsman. I thought of Kipling’s famous poem “Tommy Atkins” which I’ve just re-read. It’s not at all without interest, tennis aside.

Southern Gal, I fear the Cubs’ glorious victory cuts both ways – it’s another example of the totally unexpected wins of 2016, and it could weigh as heavily for Trump as for Clinton. And (Nicola Sturgeon hat here again) I have been sorry to see the British press far more interested in the Cubs than they were a few weeks earlier, when Hibs won the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years. (Sam has since died.)

But we need to think about knitting.

I recently sent for Pearl-McPhee’s “Knitting Rules!”. Another of those late-night, in-bed, iPad-propped-on-knees purchases, cheaper than signing up for another Craftsy class. It’s here, and it’s distinctly good, a sort of Knitting Without Tears de nos jours. She’s less dictatorial than EZ. She knows we hate swatching, and knows we must do it. And wash the swatch – I don’t think I’ve ever done that. But I will have to admit that some of my most successful sweaters have been the result of a considerable preliminary swatch.

And speaking of Craftsy, and of swatching, Carol Feller has got us through three whole lessons of “Celtic Cables” without crossing a single cable – it has all been about measuring and st st swatching so far. I have pre-ordered Norah Gaughan’s “Knitted Cable Sourcebook” which I gather, among other attractions, is good on the relationship between a st st swatch and the eventual cables.

My Kaffe Fassett sock is advancing down the foot. I will very soon finish the first ball of yarn, and must remember to pack some Whiskey Barrel with my hospital-visiting-kit, to finish off the foot. The first few pages of R.C. Sherriff’s “The Hopkins Manuscript” have gone well. Perdita and I sit in the kitchen in the evening, where it’s warm, to avoid heating the rest of the house. I knit the half-brioche and watch television programmes on the iPad and should finish the first half of the front tonight. 

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Not much, today.

But what a weekend!  If Andy Murray wins in Paris today, he will be ranked as the World’s Number One. However briefly that lasts and however little it means.

The graphs showing Djokovic-v-Murray are (alarmingly) like those tracking Clinton-v-Trump.

I’m sure you’ve heard all this before. When I had my first cataract operation, it was on the Saturday of the first Wimbledon when Murray burst upon the scene. He won the first two sets, against whoever-it-was. I can’t remember the precise sequence of events, only that I was keen while the surgeon was toiling on, for him to finish so that I could get back to a television set. I was sent up to my hospital bed, eventually – this was in the Murrayfield hospital, and we were paying privately – and lay there, blind, while he lost the next three.

I have felt a bond between us, ever since.Go! Andy!

I signed up yesterday for Carol Feller’s “Celtic Cables” on Craftsy. I’m sorry, in a way, to have to tell you that Craftsy teachers are wonderfully soporific, if you prop your iPad up on your stomach in bed. But I was also struck with the way she pronounced the word “pattern” as – more or less – “pattren.” I remember her doing that when I was in her class at the EYF in the spring.

And I also thought of that time when my husband and I were in Paris – can’t remember why; we have never travelled much; he has always been hard work – and heard a television commentator carefully refer to Wimbledon as Wimb-le-don. (Whereas we British, and the rest of the English-speaking world, pronounce it as Wim-bul-don, transposing vowel and consonant.)

That leaves untouched the subject most on our minds this morning. It’s odd to think that on Wednesday morning, the answer will be available and expressible in a single sentence, after all this time.

Except that I remember the year when Alexander sat up all night and knew no more in the morning – it turned out to be the year of Bush and Gore and the “hanging chads”.

And – oh dear, knitting, yes. I finished the gusset decreases on the Kaffe Fassett socks. I did a bit more of half-brioche and may even finish the first side of the front this evening.  

Friday, November 04, 2016

It’s very hard to think about anything else, with this election looming. What must it be for you, who actually live there?

I can’t remember ever being so swept up in an election, even for Obama, for whom I voted and raised funds. I remember ’48, and a full-page photograph in Life Magazine which was for a while infamous, showing – what was his name? Governor Dewey! – in a boat of some sort, crossing New York Harbour or some such, labelled “The Next President of the United States”. Not.

Truman (who won that election – “Give ‘em hell, Harry!”) was a Good Thing, I think. He tried, I believe, to do something about health care, back then when then NHS was being established and it might actually have been possible in the USofA. I’d like to know the story. I suppose there are books. I remember (I was 12, when the war ended) the anti “socialised medicine” propaganda, especially in the Reader’s Digest. But where did I read that? Not at home. There, I vividly remember reading John Hersey’s “Hiroshima” in the New Yorker, in ’46. Nothing about health care there.


Little.  My husband has been more demanding of late – cutting fingernails yesterday, and I fear it will be toenails today, I finished reading The Vicar of Wrexhill aloud to him yesterday – goodness! it’s good --  and will go on to R.C. Sherriff, “The Hopkins Manuscript” today. I’ll keep you posted.

But I’ve rounded the heel of the Kaffe Fassett sock, and almost finished the gusset decreases. And here at home I did indeed divide for the neck placket on the front of the half-brioche sweater last night. After a couple of rows, I became seriously afraid that I had committed myself to doing the buttonholes the men’s way (not that that would matter all that much) , but after a couple more rows I decided that, no, that decision won’t have to be made until the ribbing for the placket is actually cast on. I am a Blind Follower if ever there was one.

Tamar, I was very grateful for your comment yesterday, and your opinion that my Knitzi hasn’t really been too long absent. I’ll leave it until the middle of next week – after the election – and then start worrying again, if need be.

Here’s a delicious list of possible hats to knit. I’ll have to go back to my Christmas list, mentioned yesterday, and see who hasn’t had a hat recently.