Thursday, June 29, 2017

It’s another pretty dismal-looking day.

Joni (comment yesterday),  you solved the mail problem. I keep forgetting that I use googlemail on my iPad, accessed through Safari – but that the machine itself prefers its own mail app. There I found the Northmavine Hap. Here it is:

That picture was taken 24 hours ago. I’m not much further on – the rows are long. I counted stitches when I had officially finished the fourth repeat, and was surprised to find myself two stitches short. I am currently engaged in the first pattern row of the new repeat. Something is slightly awry.


I took Archie and his brother Mungo to lunch yesterday at Wahaca. We had a nice time. If I had hoped to learn anything about university life in Lancaster or Oxford, I failed. The conversation largely demonstrated to me how little I know about contemporary life anywhere.

There was a moment – Mungo told of visiting an Oxford friend at home on a newly-built estate in conditions of what seemed to him like preposterous wealth. (And Mungo has Greek friends who have demonstrated to him what preposterous wealth looks like.) His friend’s father had something to do with a hedge fund, Mungo said.

I said, “Bernie Madoff must have lived like that.”

And they, for once, didn’t know who I was talking about.

Helen and I are thinking of going to Strathardle this weekend. What about the cat? I want to take her there, and introduce her to freedom. But Helen has a dog. He is a very amiable dog, who pays no attention to Perdita when he is here. She pays little to him, although she is wary. But I feel his presence will add to the stress of strangeness for her.

I am sorry to have given the wrong impression in my reference to the cat yesterday. I love her dearly, and value her company – but am beginning to realise that she is almost as much of a responsibility as my husband was. I can at least go out during the day, if I can face that reproachful furry face at the inner glass door when I get home. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The courier didn’t come until late afternoon, causing some anxiety and lack-of-nap. However, eventually he turned up, and my passport is on its way to London. (Why not Edinburgh? The consulate is just around the corner.) And the world should soon be my oyster – when I’ve figured out how to dispose of the cat.

Helen had a grand time in Chicago. The course was just what she needed, she says – very technical, about grouting and such. The people were nice, and interesting, and she got to spend time with a cyber friend. She says that it cost her twenty-five dollars to visit the Art Institute of Chicago, and then they compounded the crime by asking her if she was over 65.

My husband was a life-long and passionate advocate of free museum entry, and would have been horrified.

The visit was worth-while, however. She saw some mosaics, long familiar to her from photographs, which she had thought were hidden away in a private collection. But there they were!


I continued to make good progress with the Northmavine Hap. I’m ready to start the fifth and final full 24-row repeat. I switched to a longer needle yesterday, and took a nice picture for you this morning – but I’m back to the old problem. The picture sets off with a promising “whoosh” but never arrives at its destination. The friend who helped last time will have to try to explain to me what the trouble is.

I’ve had some difficulties – getting the colour of a stripe wrong, which meant getting some more wrong before we were back on track; getting confused about which stripe was the last of one repeat and which the first of the next – that affects the position of the chevron of eyelets in the centre. Neither problem is going to make the slightest difference to the rider, even at a slow trot.

I got my Ackerworks Swatch Gauge in the post the other day. I love it. Those little teeth that bite into the fabric! I can use it on the Fair Isle swatch-scarf, and, goodness knows, there’s plenty else here to swatch for.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

It’s a really rotten day – grey, cold, sodden.

Helen should have reached home a couple of hours ago, f her mosaic week in Chicago.

My major activity yesterday and today has been applying for a new passport, essential to our tentative plan of driving from Thessaloniki to Edinburgh later in the year. It wasn’t really so difficult – I’ve got the old one; I haven’t changed my name; getting an American-style picture taken wasn’t as tricky as I anticipated. Now I’m waiting for the courier specified by the Embassy to collect the envelope and take it to London.

I knit stoutly onwards with the Northmavine Hap. I suspect I’ve got a few more stitches than I should. How could that happen? I’ll face up to a count when the fourth – the penultimate – full repeat is finished, which should happen today.


Thank you for the temptation to embark on Carol Sunday’s Pueblo Shawl, Chloe (comment yesterday). Do we buy too much yarn in the misplaced hope that we are somehow buying the time needed to knit it?

I have subscribed to the British magazine “Knitting” since the first issue without ever being greatly tempted to knit anything. But the little girl’s dress from Bergere de France in the July issue may be the pattern that breaks the mould – for a great-granddaughter next summer?

(We’ve already had the August issue – it’s no wonder one gets confused.)

Wimbledon next week!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Perdita and I had a lovely time with C. The cat was a bit surprised, and stayed a bit more closely than usual with me (while feigning not to), and is glad to be home: but she did well. I moved about a bit more than usual but still feel weak.

I took the Northmavine Hap along and am making good progress. I’m halfway through the fourth repeat, if you overlook the 36 stitches still to be added. But I discover that there are five and a half repeats to be done, not four as I had thought from a hasty reading. I wondered why I had so much yarn. So there’s a long way to go.

I am finding this simple pattern curiously hard to read. In lace as in colour knitting – and, indeed, stitch patterns of all sorts – one keeps track of what one ought to be doing by looking at what one has done already. I am finding it hard to decide which are the stitches to be knit together on the pattern rows. But the overall effect is OK.

6767                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         /’.HJ)@~?~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~H?’dr67d[1]

That’s an interpolation from Perdita, who has even contrived to add a footnote.


A new Fruity Knitting episode is promised for tomorrow! Poor Andrea is still not knitting.

Jared’s Look Book 11 is (as ush) full of good stuff. I love the Boundary Pullover. He’s got a new lace yarn.

And I love Carol Sunday’s Pueblo Stole, each colourway more tempting than the last.

[1] e

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Perdita and I are going off tomorrow to spend two nights with my husband’s niece C. in south Edinburgh. Back here Friday, I hope. Then we must think, she and I, of going to Strathardle.

I knit on. We are having what passes for a heat wave here, and Shetland jumper weight is slightly uncomfortable on the fingers. I was first in this country in the summer of 1953 and I remember my amusement at newspaper headlines proclaiming that temperatures were mounting towards the 80’s. It’s happening again.

I’m still engaged with the third 24-row repeat of the Northmavine Hap, although nearing its end. One and a half to go, after that, with each row longer than the last.

I’ll take my new telephone along tomorrow. Our niece is a mere 60, and like everyone else in the civilized world except (until yesterday) me, has a smart phone. I have ordered “iPhone for Dummies” from Amazon and since I have, for reasons recently urgent but now forgotten, a temporary membership in Amazon Prime, it’s going to be delivered this evening, between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. It’s now 8.  Dare I go to bed? We’ve got a big letter box.

Monday, June 19, 2017

There is very little to report, but that is no excuse for not reporting it.

I am well advanced with the third repeat (of 4 ½) of the 24-row pattern of the Northmavine Hap, and I sort of think I might as well plough on. Every row adds two stitches. Still…

Guess what I did today! I bought a telephone! And have thus catapulted myself into the third millennium. My dear friend G. who was at my elbow in the shop then spent at least an hour cursing and swearing in my kitchen as she tried to set it up for action.  I think she has done so. I’m sort of scared of it, as it lies there on the kitchen table. I can always give it to Archie.

I do regret the days when an expenditure of that sort would have secured an instruction book which one could read in the bath.

I have discovered an author, new to me – Salley (sic) Vickers. Highly recommended.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Sorry about yesterday. As you suspected, I was too exhausted after the lawyer’s visit – so exhausted, as it proved, that I couldn’t sleep. I remember that happening after a transatlantic flight. At any event, all well today. I went for a walk, and must keep on trying to do that.

I think the lawyer left with a good idea of my husband’s estate, and I with a good idea of what I’ve got to do. “Probate” isn’t called that in Scotland – it’s “Confirmation”. Live and learn.

There’s not much to report on the knitting front BUT a dear friend came round and solved the problem of the missing photographs sent from the iPad. It has something to do, I think, with the fact that I don’t use the iPad mail system but rather Googlemail, accessed through Safari.

And then the next problem was that the iPad wouldn’t charge. I seem to have solved that one myself by re-booting.

So, here’s Perdita on the Himalayan shepherd’s shawl:

And here’s the current state of the Northmavine Hap, at the beginning of the third 24-row repeat. I'll soon need a longer needle:

Cats: Rachel and Ed and their children used often to join us in Strathardle after Christmas, bringing their cat Romilly. She and our cat Poussin were not at all pleased with each other, but eventually adopted a modus vivendi and finally slept together peacefully enough, one on each chair on either side of the wood-burning stove in the sitting room. (Same make and model of chair, same distance from the stove.)

After Poussin’s death, Romilly moved over to the Top Cat’s chair. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Not much tonight – very tired.

Orla is tongue-tied. She’ll have her snip on Tuesday.

I can’t imagine what’s wrong with the iPad and photographs. I tried sending it again (Perdita on the chair with the Himalayan shawl). Off it went, with that nice whooshing noise. Arrive, it did not. I tried sending a different picture. I tried taking a new one and sending that.

Tomorrow I’ll try sending it to someone else, who could forward it back to me. This is a distinct set-back, as I use the iPad for all photography these days.

I finished the second 24-row repeat on the Northmavine hap, and started the third. I think the important thing is to stop (if I’m going to stop) immediately after a pattern row.

I have heard nothing from Shetland about the lace course on Unst, and I suspect I’m better without. It’s probably booked up; most of Wool Week is. My sister and her husband are coming in October – it would have been a tight fit. And at the end of the month I hope to fly to Thessaloniki and then drive back to Edinburgh with Helen.

I toyed, today, with the idea of knitting another bridal shawl. When I knit the Princess, I had romantic notions of them passing it fondly from hand to hand. But of course no bride wants to come down the aisle in last year’s bride’s shawl. For Hellie I knit the Unst Bridal Shawl (Sharon Miller, again). If I do another, it’ll have to be straightforward – Hazel Carter’s Shetland shawl from “A Gathering of Lace”? Eugen Beugler’s frost flowers from the same source? Sharon Miller’s Lerwick Lace Shawl?

It’s fun to think about, anyway.

A lawyer is coming to see me tomorrow, to get started on the business of death. Helen will be here too. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dear Friends…

What I didn’t say yesterday, was how much I appreciated all your messages of sympathy.

Here's Perdita in my husband's chair. The shawl is one Alexander brought back from a trek in the Himalayas, a shepherd's shawl, when he and Ketki were living in Mumbai. It was meant for me.

...but for whatever reason, the picture hasn't arrived here from my iPad. We'll hope for better tomorrow...

Today’s mental activity, such as it has been, was largely devoted to the appalling fire in the tower block in west London. At first, one wondered, could this be Isis? (Perdita and I sleep with the radio on, and for the most part those calm BBC voices telling us about the terrible things happening around the world are wonderfully soporific.) But it sounds now as if it was a hideous miscalculation by our old friend Helff&Safety.

Not much knitting – but by now a single row of the Northmavine Hap takes quite a while. I did a couple.

And – oh, dear! This was ridiculous – I ordered the yarn for Marie Wallin’s Lovage pattern, from

Is this even more ridiculous – no! I applied for a place at Belmont House on Unst for Shetland Wool Week. It’s expensive; you get picked up in Lerwick and taken there; a tour of that magical island and a lesson in lace knitting from a native; two nights at Belmont House; you get taken back to Lerwick.

We shall see. That would still leave me to get to Shetland, find somewhere to stay in Lerwick, get back again. I’ll keep you posted. Kristie, I need you!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

There she is – Orla K., born last Thursday, the day before the funeral. All is well. All of us, youngest to oldest – well, maybe not Juliet, who was there and toddling most engagingly about – will remember fractions of that remarkable weekend – Orla’s birth, and the funeral, and the rather extraordinary result of the General Election.

Here is Matt, facing up to his new responsibilities:

I finally resumed knitting today. On one of his last days in his chair in the sitting room – Perdita has since commandeered it – my husband: what verb to use? I’ll go for “complained” although there are stronger possibilities. OK: My husband complained about my knitting “…on and on and on.” It was a fair comment, but is not a good memory. I wondered if it were that which was paralysing my hands.

What I did was to fish out KD’s “Northmavine Hap”. It was my final purchase that happy day at Jamieson & Smith, on Kristie’s urging. I did a few rows and put it away in a shoebox.

It took me a while today to get back into the swing of things, but I’ve got it now. The pattern is a clever riff on the Shetland shell pattern, in five colours, looking like the lines a retreating tide leaves in the sand. The pattern is a 24-row repeat, and I’m well into the second one. But each repeat adds 72 stitches – it’s one of those. Altogether, there are five and a half repeats. (It’s in Kate’s “Colours of Shetland” book.)

I think I should at least finish this repeat, in the hopes of being able to pick it up again with less difficulty than I had today. You’d have to get down from your galloping horse to spot the misplaced yo’s, I think, but I would rather not introduce any more.

Then I will finish the Polliwog – so close – unless it turns out to be too imbued with death.


A new episode from Andrew and Andrea today – she’s still not knitting. I thought the previous episode (No 30) a bit dull but this one is a corker.

What has happened to the Twist Collective? There’s nothing there but the Winter 2016 issue.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your messages. My husband died on Monday evening. Helen and Alexander and I were with him, as we had been all day. He had seen, and known, Rachel and James in the few days preceding. And he was at home, as he very much wanted to be, and as he had been for the preceding six months. It was a “good death”, insofar as that is not too  much of an oxymoron.

I am doing fine, again supported by my excellent children, and my cat. Don’t worry.

I haven’t touched my knitting all week. This worries me a bit. I hope the wonderful Poilliwog won’t be overwhelmed in gloom. The birth of its wearer, Miss Kiernan, any moment now, may spur me forward. I remember an Aran sweater, probably my first, knit during some pregnancy or other, finished, pretty good – certainly a good size for the teenager next door. But I couldn’t look at it without feeling the nausea of early pregnancy, and was glad to see it out the door.

The knitting that tempts me is Debbie New’s fantastic socks, on the cover of the XRX Sock Book. I’ve looked at them often. Have I even attempted a stitch or two? Maybe I’ll try again – not to think of finishing, just to get to grips with the idea.

I have exercised my prerogative as a newly-made rich widow (I hope) by booking my cruise.

I read about them in some newspaper not long ago. When the EU Common Fishing Policy forced many West Coast fishermen out of business, two enterprising souls converted a pair of decommissioned boats and started offering cruises of the Hebrides. (The Scottish fishing industry is one group of people who welcome Brexit with open arms.)

They have had a great success, so much so that they have now had a somewhat more stable boat of the same size built for themselves locally. They make a feature of local food, including sometimes lobsters fished from the boat. They’re all sold out for this year. I’ve booked myself in for July, ’18.

The newspaper article reported the owner as saying, interestingly, that after 12 passengers, you have to go up to 50 before you make a profit again. So 12 it is, with four crew.

In all these 60+ years, I have never set foot on a Hebride. I find I could have had the Mekong Delta for about the same price, but

            a) that would have involved airports and long flights
            b) and health insurance, not easy at my advanced age
            c) and renewing my passport

            d) and anyway I have no interest in the Mekong Delta