Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A grand weekend, although an exhausting one, not helped by a protracted journey home. But here I am, and the cats are fine. And glad to see me, I think, although it’s not entirely easy to tell with a cat. The friend who came in to feed them said that sometimes she couldn’t find them. Paradox was especially unforthcoming. Whereas I have been tripping over them all day.

The Christening was a great success. Hellie’s wedding shawl reappeared as the “white garment” put on the candidate in the moments after the actual baptism. So far I don’t have a picture of that. Here’s a nice four-generational picture, taken at the (excellent) pub where we repaired for drinks and snacks afterwards.

Thomas O., our eldest grandchild; his mother Rachel; me, looking rather Zimmermann-like; Thomas’ wife Lucy; their daughter Juliet. Lucy is expecting our third great-grandchild next April. She says she is feeling better, after a rocky start. She looks well.

I was glad to see the Polliwog appear, as the afternoon grew chill. Hellie said how easy it was to pull on, compared to some of Orla’s other sweaters. Which is, of course, the main selling-point of Mary Lou’s excellent design. I took a rather muddled picture of that event but haven’t yet succeeded in sending it here from my phone.

I didn’t get much sock-knitting done, but at least a start has been made on my new Arne & Carlos yarn.

Meanwhile the friend who was cat-feeding told me that the furry P’s had been doing some knitting of their own. Sure enough. Much of my knitting time today was spent in tidying up their efforts, and I suspect that Miss Rachel’s Yoke will continue to bear the scars. I’ve nearly finished the fifth stripe. The main colour got through that one all right, but threatens to run short in its final appearance later on.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

It turns out that the picture of my husband which the Telegraph used on-line but not in print, was taken by Alexander. No wonder it’s so good. It will be used again, in print, in the obituary which will be published in the Burlington Magazine in December.

The version of the obituary which was originally submitted to the Telegraph listed Perdita among the survivors “…and his beloved cat”, but the Telegraph cut that out. She was chagrined. 

So, London day after tomorrow. I must make an actual, physical, written-down list of things to do tomorrow, most of them, but not all, cat-related. Clean litter tray. Write detailed instructions for cat-sitter. Find and pack sock needles. Helen will be back tomorrow (insh’Allah) and she and Archie will be around in the evening. To the list must be added a birthday card for him: his 21st looms at the beginning of next week.

Today, again, was pretty feeble on the knitting front. I gave up and took a picture of Miss Rachel’s Yoke in the dark. It is very remarkable what the modern non-camera can achieve. It was noticeable at the last wedding I attended (Hellie & Matt, parents of this weekend’s baptismal candidate) – how almost nobody carried an actual camera.

Nancy Marchant’s “Tuck Stitches” arrived today, not quite what I expected. I thought it was going to be Purtscher’s “Dimensional Tuck Knitting”, applied to brioche.

Not quite so – and bear in mind that I haven’t done any swatching from either book. I think what Marchant is doing, starting from machine knitting, is treating basic brioche itself as a “tuck stitch”. From there she goes in two directions. The easier one to understand is where she fails to knit or purl a sl1yo on the next row, but instead slips it again and piles another yo on top. And so on, for four or five rows.

But since basic brioche looks like ribbing, she also treats it as such, and creates the brioche equivalent of the other fabrics we make of k’s and p’s, such as moss stitch.

So I could either start swatching now, or wait until my class at the EYF in March. In either event, you’ll hear more about this in the end.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Some will have seen my husband’s obituary in the Telegraph today. The on-line version used a wonderful photograph, unknown – or, at any rate, forgotten – by me. The print version substituted a dull-as-ditchwater one, which I do remember.

Knitting progressed, although I still haven’t taken that picture.

I watched some of Feller’s short-row Craftsy class, without success, as far as double-gusset heels are concerned, but also perhaps without much perseverance.

The big news, however, is the new episode of FruityKnitting, no. 40, right on schedule. Not to be missed, free on YouTube. I sat down with it after lunch, meaning to watch a bit, and watched it all. They’re still in Shetland. There’s a wonderful passage with Donna Smith, showing the spinning of fine lace yarn.

There’s also a bit with Oliver Henry, sorting yarn in the Jamieson & Smith warehouse. How lucky I was! to see him there, doing that, and address him (and not be mistaken) and introduce myself as the writer of Gladys Amedro’s obituary.


I think they are forming a team, like Morecombe and Wise or Abbott and Costello. Both like a little morning exercise, so why not career about the house shouting obscenities in pursuit of each other, before a bit of lunch and a well-earned afternoon nap? At night, Paradox is shut into the dining room as she has always been. The first thing I do in the morning, walking along the passage from bedroom to kitchen, is to release her. She springs out and bursts into purr, just as if it weren’t I who had imprisoned her.

But meanwhile Perdita, in the evening,  emerges from wherever-she-was, as soon as I come out of the dining room, (where I have been writing my blog as well as imprisoning my kitten)  and we spend a bit of grown-up time together and then go to bed, also together. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

A bit better, today.

I’ve reached the fifth of the nine ribbons in Miss Rachel’s Yoke. The new needle arrangement helps, I think; and the decreases are beginning to make themselves felt. In any event, I kept knitting Just One More Round until it got too dark to take a picture. Tomorrow, surely. It’s looking good.

The fifth round is the second, of three, in which the main colour reappears. I’ve certainly got enough yarn for this ribbon. But there’s another to come, when even more will be required. That’s going to be a bit scary. I can unravel the swatch. I have never in my whole life unravelled a swatch. The neck ribbing can perfectly well be done in one of the other colours, I hope.

As for socks, I’m going to have to take the iPad to bed (as, indeed, I always do) and see if I can find the bit in Carol Feller’s short row class where she mentions a second gusset. I remember doing the Fleegle Heel (comment yesterday) during my Sock Phase – I don’t think that’s it, although I don’t remember what the Fleegle Heel was.


Today’s picture shows only one. After I had taken her off my lap half a dozen times, she retreated in some chagrin to the top of the chest of drawers.

She and Perdita came to blows at one point today, but I am not sure that it wasn’t at least half a game. Paradox rolled onto her back with all four paws in the Defensive Position, and the encounter didn’t last long. I think that this fairly absurd enterprise, the second cat, has achieved its main object: Perdita will be less lonely when I go away.

I’m going to London on Friday. Three more days to prepare. My hair looks very nice.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Again, there’s virtually nothing to say. Although the cats were napping, I got virtually no knitting done this afternoon. I will have to pull myself together.

One thing I have done is order some Arne&Carlos sock yarn for my journey south next week. I have some sock yarn, but nothing that’s very much fun. A&C have produced some very jolly self-stripers since I last thought much about sock-knitting. Self-striping is undoubtedly fun. I may strike a shabby and down-at-heel note at the Christening, but at least I have some knitting for the train.

I'm going to have my hair done tomorrow. That's something.

A&C have invented a simple system for knitting two socks the same from one 100 gram ball of self-striping sock wool. I don’t know if the system applies to the ball I bought. I think not. And, anyway, my philosophy is that of the Socklady’s wonderful poster of October 5. In fact, her many remarkable socks are much closer to identical than mine ever are.

Somewhere in a Craftsy lesson – it must have been Carol Feller on short rows – there was something about an extra, upside down gusset inserted into a normal heel-flap-short-row-heel-pick-up-gusset-stitches heel. I had a phase, several years ago, of knitting socks after socks with all the different heels I could find. Hence all those sock books in a pile which should, but doesn’t, include the new book of Silk Road socks. But I’m pretty sure I never encountered that one.

Does anybody know anything about what I might mean by that extra gusset? I’ll try to find it in Feller’s class, but I don’t think she dwelt particularly on how to do it. Sometimes socks can be hard to get over the heel. Even with carers to help him dress, my husband didn’t wear them at all in the last couple of years of his life. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

I wasn’t going to write tonight – but why not? I’ve got to stay up another hour at least before I can empty the slow cooker and stow the contents. No knitting today.

I miss my husband most when something happens – often a small something – which I can’t tell him about, although he would have been interested. There were two such, today – one, not small.

The dear friend who drove us (me and Sister Helen) to wrest Paradox away from her natural family, took a picture of her mother Esther. Who is also, of course,  Perdita’s mother:

The person in the background must be Paradox’ full brother or sister. That’s what most of the kittens of our Dear Old Cat Poussin looked like, plus a few ginger toms. She never produced a calico/tortoiseshell-and-white. Two years ago, when the same friend took to me acquire Perdita, we didn’t get to meet Esther. I am glad to be able to record her here.

My husband would have liked to see that picture.

The other news, the not-small one, was the accidental discovery of the death of an old friend. He died a few days before my husband did, so at least I no longer have to feel guilty about not writing to him at once. He was substantially younger than I am, and even more substantially (19 years) younger than my husband.

My husband remarked of similar news, not all that long ago (I’ve forgotten the details) that he was in danger of outliving everybody. Quite so. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Here are today’s cats. Perdita continues to growl and hiss, but without much conviction. At tea-time, Paradox actually lifted a little paw and pushed Perdita away from the plate. And she retreated, and sat watching from a few inches away, growling gently, until Paradox finished.


Jill, thank you very much for the idea that silk, in a luxurious sock yarn, will prove as strong as nylon. Now, where have I put that book? I think I remember not only deciding to put it on the pile of sock books – I’ve got a lot – in the bedroom, but actually doing it. But it’s not there, and it doesn’t seem to be in any of the few other possible places. Maddening.

Mary Lou, you must certainly watch Fruity Knitting. Start with the latest, the Shetland Wool Week episode. A great deal of the attraction lies in the careful way Andrea prepares for interviews and conducts them, but there is much else.

Jane, you’re quite right that Nancy M. mentions, in her Craftsy class (I’m doing it too) that she had given that scarf to a friend to do.

Skeindalous, I ordered Nancy’s tuck-stitch book from Ysolda yesterday, and paid £30 for it. Not cheap.

Tamar, I suspect you’re right (as usual!) about doing the required two-colour cast-on for the brioche tuck cowl – my class with Nancy at the EYF – by doing a backward-loop cast-on and then knitting the first row in the other colour from the far end, by sliding the stitches back. I’ll address this problem in the new year.


I’ve reached the fourth ribbon in Miss Rachel’s Yoke. I’ll take a pic tomorrow when the light comes back. Much of today’s knitting time was spent on needles – I thought maybe I would find yoke-knitting as fun as it ought to be, if I used a shorter one. So I did. And then discovered, when I began the next round, that there was a tiny flaw between the cable and the wooden tip which meant that the stitches would not slide.

So I had to move them all, from behind, onto another needle – a whole round of knitting, almost, for which I got no credit.

Then I decided that the work was uncomfortably tight and that, even at this late stage, I would try going up a size. I’ve done that. It’s too soon to comment.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Elaine, thank you very much for the link (comment yesterday) about how electricity came to Unst. I wondered about the RAF. And that’s most interesting, Shandy, that Unst was ahead of rural Cumbria.

Again today, knitting was much impeded by an affectionate kitten. Just when I think I’ve got the sitting room to myself, it comes trotting in, all wreathed in furry smiles. It is a pity Paradox wasn’t the elder sister – she is just the cat my husband wanted, for sitting on his lap in his last months. Perdita was useless.

Here’s today’s cat picture. The scene was not quite as peaceful as it looks, but I do think we are making progress. Milk is a rare treat.

Nor I have started reading Traditional Knitting in North Russia. There’s lots to read in the new VK, and I have gone on turning the pages of Lovick and thinking about the forthcoming great-grandchild. Lovick surprises me by suggesting an acrylic yarn for a baby shawl which is going to be used and washed. I see the point, but…

The Silk Road sock patterns are tempting. I don’t know where I’ve put that book – I thought it was on the sock-book pile. The recommended yarns are each more luxurious-sounding than the last, but none, I think, has more than 10% acrylic (I expect 25%) and several are completely natural. I can’t believe they’d stand up long to being worn on actual human feet, but I’d be delighted to be contradicted.

Fruity Knitting had a q&a session with Nancy Marchant, live for their big-hitting patrons and then available as a podcast for the rest of us. It was interesting. I learned one valuable thing – this long tail cast-on I’m supposed to do with two colours before arriving at her EYF class, does not result in alternate stitches of different colours. It just means that the stitches on the needle are one colour, and the row beneath, the other. I can probably achieve that the old knit-into-the-loop-on-the-left-thumb way.

And I’ve heard Marchant say it herself. I suspect that has saved me a lot of time and anxiety.

I also learn that she has written a new book about the “tuck” system which my class is going to be about. Amazon has never heard of it, but Ysolda is selling it. Marchant said that in the US, it’s available from the Schoolhouse.

She does all her own knitting. That's another thing I learned.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Chloe, that’s an awfully interesting question – when did Unst get electricity? I was surprised, after an admittedly not-very-strenuous search, at how reluctant the ever-helpful Google was to tell me. Shetland is still not on the National Grid. I think Lerwick got electricity at some point between the wars, like the rest of GB. But Lerwick is a long way, and two ferry rides, away from Unst. Well-off households will have had their own generators before WWII  -- at least, that’s how I imagine things.

But in any event, the amazing lace in the Lerwick museum (and the shawl here in Edinburgh, of which Sharon Miller’s “Princess” pattern is a simplification) were knit in the 19th century.

All the promised delights arrived in today’s post – plus the new VK. Liz Lovick’s book has a couple of real possibilities for the new great-grandchild. I considered knitting it the Christening dress she offers, but I think I’ll go for a more utilitarian hap. Lovick says in her introduction, as I said yesterday, that spinning was done in the winter and fine lace knitting in the summer when you could see what you were doing.

The knitting of North Russia is going to take some reading, but looks interesting. The knitting is largely bright and cheerful with fairly simple geometric patterns. I have already discovered that “sweater” is not a Russian word – they use the English, which strongly implies that they haven’t been knitting sweaters for all that long.


Here’s today’s picture.

When we lived in Birmingham, we had what I suppose would have to be called a French window in the sitting room, with glass nearly down to the floor. There was a radiator set into this window, with a little bit of space between it and the glass. In the winter, in the hours when the central heating was on, our Dear Old Cat Poussin would sit there, between the radiator and the window, warming her furry bottom and surveying her domain.

The old cat next door soon learned the secrets of the timing of our central heating, and would come to call. The sound of their caterwauling filled the house. But with glass between them, no harm was done.

I used to think this was a game of their own, but I am beginning to wonder if it might not be a cat-thing: to have a fight with the parties on opposite sides of a barrier, minimizing damage. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Today’s knitting was somewhat impeded by a purring kitten, but, on the other hand, I did make some progress. I should finish the second ribbon of Miss Rachel’s Yoke tomorrow, and have something to show you. I’m slightly worried about the danger of running out of the main colour, but I’m sure KD has more in her shop and a change of dye-lot matters little in the middle of a colour pattern.

I grumble about the pattern being so easy that it’s difficult, and so it is – but it’s a brilliant interpretation of the woven pattern KD is referencing.

I continue to enjoy the Craftsy spinning class, and I’ve also watched a few shorties on YouTube. And I’ve been thinking about Unst. The yarn for that amazing lace had first to be spun. I think (from the knowledge I have acquired in the last 48 hours) that very skilled hands might have been able to go on spinning in the dark months (and it’s very dark, up there). And leave the actual knitting for when the light came back.

I think I’ve got two knitting books arriving tomorrow: one by Liz Lovick which may contain a pattern, glimpsed on Ravelry, for a possible hap for next April’s great-grandchild; and one, completely unknown, about knitting in North Russia. Sometimes, when all else fails, I wander through the knitting books on Amazon. That’s where I found it.


Perdita was crosser than ever today, but I think that may be because Paradox is becoming bolder in offering friendship.

My kitchen door is an endless source of fun for kittens. You can open and shut it with the push of a paw, and push things underneath and rush around to the other side to see if they are there (rather like playing Pooh Sticks). Perdita has largely outgrown such childish pleasures, but I think this scene from this morning shows elements of game-playing, however much Perdita might choose to deny it.

Monday, October 16, 2017

No storm here so far, although it’s been a wet, grey, discouraging day. Radio and television have placed reporters at various strategic west coast spots, the way they do on such occasions. One of them said, on the radio news, that he had seen a sea gull flying backwards.

A better day’s knitting, today. Rachel’s Yoke is not quite as blissful as I had anticipated. Maybe after another decrease round things will begin to fall into place. It’s looking good. There are nine six-round “ribbons” on the yoke. I’m halfway through the second of them. A picture soon, when I’ve reached the third.

Here are my cats, this morning. Perdita turned around and growled and stalked out of the room shortly after the picture was taken. The object between them is a catnip rat, the gift of a dear friend to Perdita when she was a kitten. I don’t know where either of them is this evening. I may soon have to go to bed without shutting Paradox into the dining room.

Nancy Marchant’s cowl class at the EYF – the one I succeeded in getting – requires one to cast on 96 stitches with two colours, using the long-tail cast-on. The instructions with the class notes don’t suffice, at least not for me, but she does it in her Craftsy class and in her books, so I have no excuse for not mastering it. I will have to start working on it soon after the new year.

I think the grandmother who taught me to knit just showed me a backward loop. I learned the long-tail cast on, I think, from a friend at Hampton Elementary School in Detroit. I do it, as she showed me, by wrapping the yarn around my left thumb and knitting into it.

I don’t think I had ever seen the cat’s-cradle method (which everybody, including Marchant, seems to use) until the happy day a few years ago when I took two classes with Franklin at Loop, having travelled down to London on purpose. (I got to meet Shandy that day, too). He cast on something during the lesson. I was tremendously impressed. But I've never actually done it myself.

Isabella, thank you again for pointing me to Jacey Boggs-Falkner’s Craftsy class on spinning. I’m two lessons in, and enjoying it tremendously. I restrained myself with some difficulty from rushing out and buying a wheel this morning. Do you know what a Short Forward Draft is? (Well, obviously, you do, Isabella.) What a tremendous amount there is to learn and do, absolutely fundamental to knitting. I’ve left it awfully late. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Nothing to report. I dozed in front of the television this afternoon, watching or rather listening to the recent documentary about Queen Victoria and the real Abdul. Not without interest. But the little cat was asleep on my lap and of knitting there was none.

Yesterday immediately after those frantic few minutes of EYF-booking I got an e-ticket and a PayPal receipt for my Nancy Marchant class, but nothing for the other one, the drop spindle. I logged on to PayPal and confirmed that payment had been made for the second class. I thought I’d leave it for a bit until things calmed down. But there was still nothing this morning.

So I emailed them. I had a reply, and an e-ticket, within half an hour. We’re talking about 10 o’clock on Sunday morning. Those women are amazing – it’s no wonder the EYF is such a success. It was suggested, in their reply, that my other ticket might be in the Junk file. I looked, and sure enough, there it was, nestled among all the “Hello, Tanya”s. Although it must have arrived within five minutes of the Marchant one.

Isabella (comment yesterday) I am very grateful indeed for your suggestion about the Craftsy spinning class, and think I will take you up on it. I didn’t even know that Craftsy did spinning.

I’ve ordered the new edition of the book of Silk Road sock patterns. Although I don’t go in for sock patterns – I buy sock yarn, and sit back and let them knit themselves. I must get something organised for the trip to London for the baptism in a fortnight’s time. The Silk Road book will be here tomorrow.

I have long been distressed that Bruce Weinstein pronounces the two syllables of his surname differently. (He is both a cook and a knitwear designer; I’ve got him on Craftsy in both capacities, and knit Archie a sweater last year from a design in his book “Knits Men Want”.) The constant reiteration of the surname in recent days is some help to me in trying to remember how it’s done, although I heard a pundit on the midday news today saying “Wine-stine” the way I keep wanting to do it. Like Einstein. He wouldn’t have been half as clever if he had pronounced his name “Ein-steen”.

Saturday, October 14, 2017


There I was at 3:55, Nancy Marchant’s “Beyond Basic Brioche” class on the screen, finger poised on the button for the moment it went live. 4:00 came and went. Nothing happened. It wasn’t until 4:01:30 or so, that I grasped that I had to refresh the screen. The class was sold out.

I went on to the tucked cowl class, and got it, so at least I’ll meet Marchant. (And I’ve got her on Craftsy, anyway.) I also got the dropped spindle class. Then I looked around for others. TomofHolland, Donna Smith, Felicity Ford – all sold out. By this time it must have been fully 4:08.

I’m proud of Edinburgh for having such a successful Yarn Festival. Proud of the organizers for getting through all that without a system crash. I’ve just been reading through the notes on Ravelry, and find that we were clearly reminded to refresh the screen at 4.

Otherwise, little was achieved today. I got my homework done, and had a good Italian lesson. I think my sister’s presence sort of distracted me last week, even though of course she wasn’t in the room with me and Federica. My head seemed to function slightly better today.

I knit a little, but not much. Buachaille twists back on itself, as some yarns do. I don’t expect my spinning class to make a spinner of me – I’m much too old and too clumsy – but I hope to come out understanding that phenomenon, and grasping, as distinct from just reading about, the difference between woollen- and worsted-spun.


Not much progress. Paradox would like to be friendly, but bravely puts up with constantly being repulsed. Perdita no longer seems afraid of her sister, and sometimes even seems curious about her, but continues to hiss and growl.

It is interesting how different they are, born of the same mother and reared in the same human family. Paradox is almost cloying-ly friendly and purr-y. Perdita never sits on a lap and never purrs. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Tomorrow is the big day – EYF classes go on sale at 4. I will have drooped by that time of day, and live in dread of having forgotten. It’s complicated this year – there are five days of classes and only three days of market and there are lots of rules to govern the relationship between class ticket and general admittance. It doesn’t affect me – I will only want to go to the market on a day when I have a class. I hope everyone else will be so bogged down with calculation that I’ll be able to nip in and book what I want. I’ll start with Marchant on advanced brioche. You have to do them one at a time. You can’t pile them up in your cart.

Cooking with the Duchess: all well on that front. I have heard from PayPal that my refund has been received. I have heard from the Duchess that she has every hope of being able to recruit four more cookery students from among the people booked to stay in the self-catering flats carved out of the Palazzo. Most of the Trip Adviser reports on the cookery lessons are from people who were also staying at the palazzo.

Mary Lou, Italian lessons are going fine. At least, I am enjoying them. I don’t know if I’m improving. Federica is coming at 9 tomorrow morning, as every week, and I haven’t done my homework yet. I’ll have to take it to bed with me. (I’ve been keeping up with Italian, Duolingo every day; reading one of Montalbano’s adventures – just slide over the bits in dialect, is my advice; trying to watch Italian television news – I can sometimes get the general idea, but they talk too fast. But that doesn’t add up to doing my homework.)

If Federica had been a disaster, the trip to Palermo would have been a tactful point to leave off the lessons. But she’s wonderful, and I will continue, in the hopes of being granted the strength to go back to Italy again soon.

But the lesson, which lasts an hour and a half, leaves me tired and, this evening, that fact increases my fear of forgetting to be poised with finger on the button at 4 p.m. tomorrow.

I am knitting colours into Miss Rachel’s Yoke. The colour pattern is very simple, and I think I mentioned that I found it difficult when I was knitting it into the sleeves just above the wrist ribbing. I thought it might go better when it was laid out on a larger canvas, and it does. It remains a bit too easy for comfort, however.

Be careful what you wish for: I have often taken Perdita to task for not being the sort of cat who sits on laps and purrs. Now I’ve got one, and she renders knitting almost impossible.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

I’ve done the 11 plain rounds of Miss Rachel’s Yoke, and have embarked on the decrease round. It’s a bit tricky – k32, k2tog, repeat. That means a lot of concentrated counting. But the next round is in colour – worth striving for.

This and that

Joan, I think you were right to hold out for the Japanese stitch book. “Slow Knitting” is very pleasant bedtime reading, and contains some good patterns by top designers, but the Japanese book promises something special.

Hazel Tindall says “pattren” for “pattern”, like Carol Feller.

I think I told you that I booked a day of “Cooking with the Duchess” for me and Archie in Palermo. Tomasi di Lampedusa, who wrote “The Leopard”, had no children but adopted a son who is still alive. His wife does cooking days, where you get taken to market to select ingredients and then go back to the palazzo and cook them. If you are lucky you get to meet her husband, said to be the model for Tancred in the novel.

I booked this on September 1, and wrote to her to say that Archie and I could be slightly flexible as to the day. I found this message a few days ago, stuck in my iPad outbox. That happens sometimes, goodness knows why. I sent it off. I had an instant and horrified reply from the Duchess herself. She had never heard of me. She had no booking for the day in question.

I feared, of course, that I had poured a not inconsiderable amount of money into a rogue website. It’s called GetYourGuide and the Duchess had never heard of it.

All seems to be well. I am promised a prompt refund, and GetYourGuide no longer offers “Cooking with the Duchess”. And we will have our day, if she can get another four people. She doesn’t do it for fewer than six.

There’s plenty to do in Palermo, including other cooking-days with humbler hosts, if we’re determined. I’m not unduly concerned. It all seems rather Sicilian.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Where to begin?

FruityKnitting Episode 39, about Shetland Wool Week, is terrific. You can find it on YouTube. You don’t need to subscribe (although I do). I’ll watch it all the way through again soon.

Carol Christiansen of the Lerwick Museum is not at all as I expected, as so often in life. Amongst other treats, she showed us fragments of what I am pretty sure is the thing I call the Museum Sweater, which Jen A-C has reconstructed for Jamieson & Smith, and for which they sell a kit, using her pattern. The unusual thing about that sweater is that the lozenge patterns change along the rows. Is it unique in that respect? Certainly very unusual.

Dr Christiansen, displaying it, talked about the colours but didn’t mention the pattern.

Shandy, my version is still on my to-do list and my swatch-scarf is still very visible in the sitting room.

However, the prospect of a new great-grandchild has altered the schedule. I must knit something to welcome it. (I know the sex – apparently it can be determined by a blood test these days, early on, before the answer is visible in a scan. But I’m not going to tell you.) So Alexander’s vest will have to wait, and perhaps can be pressed into service as a Calcutta Cup vest next year. Perhaps. If Scotland wins.

And you can see even from the swatch-scarf that I am not going to knit different lozenges in the same row, although the lozenges themselves have been copied from the Museum Sweater.

The cat situation is much as before. Perdita continues to frown and hiss. Paradox is shut here in the dining room at night, as Perdita and I have hunkered down together ever since her kittenhood and I don’t want that disturbed until relations are smoother.

I’m enjoying “Slow Knitting” and my latest idea, based upon its philosophy, is to take a drop spindle class at the EYF, plus two Marchants. The idea being to actually learn something.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

We’ve had another good day on the cat front. Perdita still growls and hisses, but less so, and she doesn’t seem as frightened of the kitten as she was at first. Mostly she just frowns. Paradox has had a long, hard day of being enchanting and should be ready for bed soon.

The Shetland Wool Week episode of Fruity Knitting is up! – with Hazel Tindall and Burrastow House (where Kristie and Kath and I stayed) and Carol Christiansen who is in charge of textiles at the museum in Lerwick. We didn’t meet her, despite an email introduction from Kate Davies, but we had a grand time at the museum anyway.

I shall soon go to bed with my iPad and revel in every moment of it.

As I continue to revel in planning my EYF ’18. I really don’t know what to do. I doubt if I’d actually learn that much from Donna Smith or Felicity Ford on colour, although I’d hugely like to meet both of them. Perhaps I should prefer Donna, because I’ve got Felicity’s first book and will soon have her second. I think two classes with Marchant is the way to go…

It is certainly proving to be a fun week, thinking about it. The EYF is going to be Bigger and Better next year. I hope they haven’t bitten off too much.

As you see from the picture above, I succeeded in joining the pieces of Miss Rachel together. As I thought, it was a prolonged and tough counting session. The body had one stitch too many – I’ve left it in one of the underarm collections. One of the sleeves had one stitch too few – I’ve increased.

Next I must knit 11 rounds plain. That’ll take a while. Especially as I had to knock off just now to wind the final skein of the Main Colour. Those 11 rounds are just the thing for catching up on the television I didn’t watch while my sister and her husband were here. And tonight there’s something on More Four about the real Victoria and Abdul – I must record that before I go to bed. I gather, from a photograph briefly shown in the movie, that he was a good deal less handsome and a good deal stouter than Judy Dench’s Abdul.

"Slow Knitting" has just arrived from Amazon. I'll report soon.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Paradox has been leaping about and this time has affected the font.

In general, however, things are improving on the cat front. Perdita’s attitude today has been that we must be adults about this. We have been afflicted with a kitten, but that is no reason why we can’t go on living more or less as before, with occasional growling. It’s not my fault (a major concession).

I worried, a day or two ago, about not bonding with Paradox while trying so hard to reassure Perdita. No danger there. She follows the script for Engaging Kitten so strenuously (lap-sitting and purring and all) that no one could fail to bond with her.

Knitobsession, thank you for “Purradox”. It took me a long time to grasp that my husband’s P-names for cats were also puns of that sort: “Perth”, who died young in a road accident in Leicester in the late 60’s; “Poussin”, the cat with whom our children grew up; and – after a gap – “Perdita”.


Miss Rachel’s Yoke is at the exciting point where the next thing to do is to join sleeves to body. I need to tackle that one early in the day, as it involves much sliding of stitches around needles and counting them.

Tracy Purtscher’s “Dimensional Tuck Knitting” was delivered here today – I think you in the US have had it for a couple of weeks. It is extremely interesting. Going back through the EYF class list – is anyone teaching this technique? – the only one I can find is Nancy Marchant.

Tricia, could you tell me a bit more about her brioche-with-tuck class? Maybe I should switch. I’ve still got five days before the classes go live. Or, of course, I could do both! and cut out something else. What an enterprising woman! Within a year or two, there’ll be Craftsy classes on tucks and EYF classes and all. For the moment, maybe there’s something to be said for learning from the first leading knitter (other than Purtscher herself) to have engaged with the technique.

If I applied myself, even at my great age, I could probably work it out from the book. But a teacher helps.

Jane, I do admire your calm and sensible approach to brioche knitting – work through Marchant’s Craftsy class and only then attempt the Soutache. Whereas I plunged straight in.

Fruity Knitting tomorrow? Let’s hope so. Three weeks is a long time to wait.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

My sister and her husband must be flying westward as we speak – they are much missed.

All proceeds well on the cat front, although I am afraid Perdita doesn’t love me any more.bhggs2222222222222222 nnnnnnnnnnnnnnn444444444444444444444444444444444444444444n3 ,
 I went down to the Stockbridge market this morning – a good Sunday walk, just far enough to be slightly stretching. There was no anxious furry face at the inner glass door when I got back, and no sign of her all afternoon. She’s here, all’s well, but she doesn’t love me. Interjections, above and below, are from the kitten.

Each cat has its own place (with litter tray, food and water). I think I will shut the kitten in here alone again tonight. During the day, I let them loose together. Perdita, if anything, seems still to be frightened of her sister.

I think the name is going to be Paradox, my brother-in-law’s suggestion. I’m not quite sure yet, but it seems appropriate.  She’s enchanting. And she PURRS.


I’m very near the point where all will be joined together for Miss Rachel’s Yoke. Maybe tomorrow.

Thank you for your help with the EYF. Yes, I know that TomofHolland is theoretically possible. But I don’t thinaqqqqqqqqqqqqqq his classes fit. One is on Sunday, by which time I will be prostrate and the market closed. One is on Friday (or is it Saturday)  morning – but the class with Marchant on brioche which is my Big Want, is the afternoon of the same day. I’m not sure I’m strong enough for a full day’s learning. 34cu4i assssssss I’ll think about both possibilities.

I’ve been watching The Knit Show on YouTube, sponsored, I gather, by VK. They only told me about it recently, but there seem to be a lot of episodes available. It’s good, no doubt. But my heart remains with Andrew and Andrea, who should reappear this week after their appearance at Shetland Wool.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Here she is:

She is entrancing. She has every catly virtue. She’s pretty, she has a nice long tail (Perdita’s is rather short), she’s got slightly long fur, as you see; she purrs (Perdita scarcely does); she shows every sign of being about to grow up into a lap cat. As an elder sister myself, my sympathies are entirely with Perdita. She is not pleased. She growls, she hisses, and she retreats, as if she were afraid of the kitten.

I strongly believe in jealousy in animals. But can I reassure Perdita by fondling the kitten in her presence, to demonstrate that we are all one family now? Or do I need to ignore it, and fondle Perdita?

My sister and her husband have now gone off to Loch Fyne, whence they will leave for DC tomorrow. For the last two nights my sister has slept on a camp bed here in the dining room with the kitten, and has put up with quite a bit of prancing about and purring. I don’t know quite what to do tonight.


I haven’t done much this week. Such little as was achieved was added to the second sleeve of Miss Rachel’s Yoke. I think I’ll press on with that, now, at least until sleeves and body have been joined into one.

BUT the big news is that the EYF teaching schedule for ’18 has been released. I have spent some happy time with it, and have made my choices: Felicity Ford, Donna Smith, and Nancy Marchant, the last-named being the one I’ll have my finger on the button for, a week today. Alas, again, TomofHolland doesn’t fit. I’d love to take his class on darning.

I don’t know whether I’m strong enough for three, but it’s worth trying.

One Shetland class on yoke-design is advertised – not Donna Smith’s – in which, if you bring along a sweater at the stage Miss Rachel’s Yoke is about to reach, you can begin actually knitting your self-designed yoke right there in class. 

Sunday, October 01, 2017

All well.

My sister and her husband are expected tomorrow, from Iceland via London. You probably won’t hear from me again until after their visit, by which time I hope to have acquired a second cat.

The Soutache continues reasonably well. The front colour remains the same throughout, the background greys go up and down through a series of gradients. I joined in No. 3 today. If I’ve got it right, No. 4 is the one that goes around the back of the neck, so to speak, and then one counts down again, three, two, one.

That can't be right. There are five. So No. 5 must be the back-of-neck one.

I found today, to my considerable surprise, that it helps to write out a pattern row, not exactly in English, sort of in hieroglyphics with a bit of English. After all those years of transcribing lace patterns into charts….

As I’m sure you know, each row of brioche knitting requires two passes. All the exciting pattern work is done on the right-side pass of the dominant yarn. After which, therefore, you have three easy rows. Easy, at least, once you've got the hang of things. So it is only one row in four that needs to be transcribed into hieroglyphics.

But while my sister is here, I’ll retreat to Miss Rachel’s Yoke.

I’ve been thinking about the prospective great-grandchild, and can’t think of anything better (so far) than another of Gudrun’s Hansel haps. For its elder sister Juliet I knit the Dunfallandy blankie, so they (presumably) don’t have a shawl for carrying a baby around in. The other possibility would be a pi-shawl with goodness-knows-what for lace inserts.

Greek Helen’s mosaic conference is over. She will return to Thessaloniki tomorrow. Archie is still here – not going back to university until Friday. He will join us for supper tomorrow.