Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The weather continues extremely unpleasant. I phoned the Aga people this morning, somewhere in the north of England, and they seemed confident of getting here tomorrow. So I have turned off the old one and am preparing to freeze to death. I have plenty of food, though, including cat food, and good neighbours and a good friend around the corner. I’ll be fine, although I’m running low on cat litter.

It’s a good thing this didn’t happen last week, to spoil both the funeral and perhaps the Calcutta Cup. This weather is well beyond the reach even of electrically-heated trousers. No international matches are scheduled for this coming weekend.

Alexander didn’t come to be measured this morning: that gives me another week before casting on his vest. Perhaps almost time to finish the Soutache. I am finding it compelling. Brioche is a double fabric, and I don’t, yet, understand it. The slightest slip is likely to leave a Messy Spot because I don’t really see how everything fits together.

But I’m enjoying it a lot. I have finished the central bit with the lightest of the gradient yarns, and have started down the second side, using the second-lightest.

So I haven’t done any more thinking about corrugated ribbing, but am very grateful for your comment, Maureen – there speaks the master.

Wednesday is Kate Davies Day. This week’s pattern is a neat little cropped cardigan with travelling-stitch detail and interesting shaping at the shoulders. Travelling stitch is another thing I greatly like the look of and should do more of.

Stronachlachar remains, however, the West Highland Way pattern I am most likely to knit. It’s got travelling stitches, too.

I forgot to mention yesterday that the new VK has turned up. It’s all about yokes. There are some interesting sweaters, but none that quite tempts me. The patterns I am tempted by are the extremes – Maie Landra’s Viking Poncho (could I make some sort of coherent  colour scheme out of my Koigu collection?) and Laura Bryant’s Ikat (but that would mean buying yarn, as it doesn’t sound as if it would work with anything but Prism Yarn’s “Madison” as specified).

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Edinburgh’s weather hasn’t been too bad today, but worse is forecast and it sounds as if it’s blowing up a storm out there. Alexander may not be able to get here tomorrow to be measured, and my reconditioned Aga may not reach me on Thursday. We shall see. This is far and away the worst weather we’ve had all winter, and here we are two weeks into Lent, with March on the horizon.

Today, however, was the Alternate Tuesday – Fruity Knitting Episode 48 is up, and it’s all about Susan Crawford! The book will be officially published tomorrow. She has restricted her examples to the decades in which she is expert, ‘20’s through ‘50’s. Everything we saw looked slightly Stitch-in-Time-y. Fruity Knitting is about to launch a Vintage Shetland KAL. There was no reference to crowdfunding.

I am a Fruity Knitting Patron and proud to be so, but (like Knitty) it’s completely free. Just go to YouTube.

The Soutache continues well. I wound and joined in the second skein of the main colour. I’m distinctly past the halfway point, so that’s fine. The background contrast is a set of gradients. I will soon finish the double-length centre-of-scarf section and start down the far side.

Continues well: but I was distressed to discover a fairly inconspicuous mistake which must have happened yesterday, when I thought I was sailing along. Some dots of the wrong colour show through. I think I must have been knitting when I should have been purling. I am cross at myself, but am certainly not going to attempt to frog.

Thanks for the pointer to Maggie’s Rags, Chloe, for tips on corrugated ribbing, and for yours, Else, to the Techknitter. Both suggest that it may be wiser not to knit the ribbing on 10% fewer stitches, if the ribbing is corrugated. Meg does, however.

Maggie recommends Feitelson and Starmore on the subject. I’ve got both, and will take them to bed with me soon. Also the Feral Knitter’s more recent work – corrugated ribbing makes several appearances in her index. One thing I must face up to doing in the weeks ahead is disposing of some of my husband’s art books, concentrating on the big ones which occupy the extra-tall shelves so necessary for many knitting books. I’ve got far too many knitting books in piles on the floor. If I’m going to stay here, and it looks as if I am, they should be shelved.

Monday, February 26, 2018

It’s bitter cold, with the forecast of worse, including snow, to come. Our weather generally tends to move from west to east, but this time, all of a sudden, it’s blowing in from Siberia, picking up strength in Scandinavia. It’s a very good thing Ian’s funeral was last week and not this one.

It was fairly cold on Saturday. The English rugby team came equipped with battery-heated trousers (no kidding) for their substitutes to wear as they sat on the bench waiting to see if they were wanted. Had England won, as all expected, this would have been hailed as a triumph of 21st century technology. In the event, there has been a certain amount of disrespectful laughter.

The Soutache continues to advance. I have lost the ballbands and can’t remember which of Carol Sunday’s yarns I am knitting with. It is heavenly soft.

And I have thought some more about Alexander’s vest. You will notice that the OXO bands shift with each repeat, so that the centre line runs alternately between and through the O’s. Meg points out that it’s nice to start the v-neck at a point where the V fits into the top of an X. I wouldn’t have thought of it, but I believe she’s right.

It is a great luxury to have a huge swatch. All I had to do was put the tape measure at that point, decide on a length for the vest, subtract 3” for ribbing, and see where the tape measure led me. The answer is, start with a peerie and knit, in all, three peeries and three OXO’s to the underarm-neck.

I downloaded KD’s Machrihanish pattern – I own it but have never printed it – and was surprised to see both that she doesn’t bother with this refinement, and that her patterns aren’t centered. So the point of the v-neck just falls where it happens to be, not at a mid-point, and from there on up the pattern is not balanced on either side of the neck.

It’s a very nice sweater, nonetheless.

My next problem is to learn how to cast on. Meg says that the long-tailed cast-on tends to curl with corrugated ribbing. She demonstrates an alternative, but it is beyond me. I do a long-tailed cast-on by knitting into a loop on my left thumb – I think a friend at Hampton Elementary School in Detroit taught me how.

So first I need to learn the cat’s-cradle method that the grown-ups use, and then modify it as Meg demonstrates. I need to cast on a lot of stitches in a funny way with two colours for Nancy Marchant’s EYF class; cat’s-cradle may get me started on that, as well.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

It has been a busy and happy day. I have retrieved from the archives my record of the sweater I knit for Ketki ten years ago:

which includes the chart for the cup and the date. If it was ten years, of course I’ve already got an “eight”:

I find I have kept in the archives a picture cut out from the newspaper of our happy captain holding the cup. I’ll do that again – perhaps this one:

I have discovered to my horror, however, that the cup in that picture is a fake. The real Calcutta Cup is now deemed too fragile to be used for public displays of  joy. It resides -- at least, it has for the past decade -- in the Rugby Museum at Twickenham (English rugby headquarters). Presumably, now, it’ll move north.

I have also discovered that Scottish Rugby now offers tours of the premises – the dressing rooms, the television studio, and the fake (or real) Calcutta Cup. Once I’m sure I can see the real one, I’ll book myself in for that.

I started watching Meg’s “Fair Isle Vest” video. It’s good, and begins with calm, useful, Meg-like advice about charting one’s design. The OXO patterns I will be using are a full 36 stitches across, which makes it difficult to fine-tune the size. One could, of course, centre the design and have it start and stop at the imaginary side seams. I’d rather have a number of stitches perfectly divisible by 36. I won’t commit myself on that question until I have had a chance to run a tape measure around Alexander.

The Calcutta Cup chart, above, is exactly the same size. Providential! one thinks – and then remembers that a “1” will have to be substituted for “0” which will spoil the whole thing.  

I’ve also retrieved the yarns from stash. I’ll need more of some of them – I can stock up at the EYF. Jamieson & Smith are going to be there themselves this year, as well as Jamieson’s of Shetland.

As for actual knitting, I forged ahead with the Soutache. It continues to be peppered with small errors. I’ve got to get this right before I go to my class with Nancy Marchant.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Calcutta Cup 2018

It was a Sign. We won we won WE WON WE WON.  For the first time in 10 years.  It is the oldest rugby trophy anywhere, and one of the oldest sporting trophies. I will have to contrive to see it, this year. 

I’ll measure Alexander for the vest when I see him next week, but I may be tempted to cast on before then, just to practice corrugated rib. I’ve got enough Fair Isle vest patterns to let me make a pretty good guess. I’ll have to dig out my Calcutta Cup chart, and also make a chart for “8” which I don’t think I’ve ever needed before.

There is little else to report. I managed a few rounds of Archie’s sock during the match, and beforehand I got to grips with the Soutache. I think I’m back in the saddle.

Thanks for the blocking help. I’ll find out about foam core board, Mary Lou. Pom Pom, my cat trouble is that I use those pins with round coloured heads, and Perdita likes to pull them out, and I am terrified that she will try to swallow one. Paradox has never seen a blocking before – and hasn’t seen this one, since both cats are strictly shut out of the dining room. I ought to be able to unpin the shawl tomorrow.

Southern Gal, I’m sure you’re right, that the problem is resolution. The computer in question is a laptop. The way Perdita set it, resolution was so low that I couldn’t even play Freecell. I found the screen I needed, and moved the resolution up to its highest point, as recommended by the computer. That allowed me to play Freecell, but created the elongation problem. The advantage is that my children, in the sidebar, look less dumpy than previouly.

Did I mention that Scotland won the Calcutta Cup?

Friday, February 23, 2018

I blocked the shawl, not altogether straight. Now that I'm on my own, I could block on the double bed and spend a couple of nights in the spare room. I think, if I live to knit any more lace, I'll have to do that, although I'd be sorry to lose my comfortable bed, even for two nights. But crawling around on the floor is getting a bit difficult.



It’ll have to do.

I have resumed the Soutache scarf, not altogether successfully. And brioche is not very frog-able. My comfort is that I am knitting the centre part which will largely disappear behind the wearer’s neck. By the time I emerge out the other side, I should have remembered how to do it.


Here is a perfect illustration of the difference between the sisters’ tails. The floor looks like that because Paradox has been savaging a roll of kitchen paper. Perdita still growls and hisses, but without much conviction. As you see, they have reached a modus vivendi.

And here is Perdita taking her turn on the computer. She has made some changes to the settings which I don’t approve of, but can’t figure out how to change. Things are sort of elongated. She is a very clever cat.

Non-knit, non-cat

When I sit down here tomorrow evening, I’ll know who won the Calcutta Cup. The friends who drove me to the funeral will be at the match, but not Alexander, who failed to get tickets.

I have bought myself a spiralizer. A friend points out that I could probably have had it for a quarter the price at a charity shop: spiralisers were big a few years ago. Still, it’s fun, and works well. There is more spiralizing coming up in next week’s Mindful Chef meals.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

I guess you’d have to say that the funeral was a great success, although the phrase sounds inappropriate. It was a beautiful day, clear blue sky, pretty cold but absolutely still. The dreadful wind turbines on the moor above Alyth weren’t turning. (Wind turbines need their own Hitchcock to make a North-by-Northwest-type movie about them.) There was a good turnout – even the local baronet came, the man who leads the pipe band onto the Bannerfield, with drawn sword, on Games day.

The metrical psalm “The Lord’s My Shepherd” is pretty well obligatory at Scottish funerals. There is a special poignancy about singing it for a shepherd.

The burial ground is a short distance from the church, along the road towards our house. When we first came to Kirkmichael, 53 years ago, there were only two or three graves. Now, a lot of our friends are there, and our grandson, and my husband, and, sooner or later, me. If you know Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town” you’ll remember the village graveyard. It’s like that. They did that play in Pitlochry decades ago and had me in tears. Even James, aged about seven, said “It makes my eyes prickle”.

We’ll have a good time on the Day of Judgment, standing around talking to each other.

No knitting yesterday, but today I have finished tidying the baby shawl and sewing the open corner. I’m rather pleased with it, and hope I’ll get it blocked tomorrow. I’ll take before-and-after pictures for you. It’s too dark for photography just now.

So I’ll be available for a new WIP just in time for the Calcutta Cup match on Saturday. Perhaps it’s a Sign.

This week’s West Highland Way pattern is a cowl, pleasant enough but not one for my list. Meanwhile the indefatigable KD has turned her “Carbeth” pattern into a cardigan. It’s a short, easy-fitting, cosy number which has become instantly popular in its original, pullover form. The cardigan, especially, is seriously tempting. Two strands of Buachaille held together.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

I think tomorrow’s funeral is casting a gloomy shadow over this evening. I have still to make sure I can lay my hands on some decent clothes in the morning before an early departure, and to do some washing up.

It was very good to see Archie, who seems in good form, and the Mindful Chef produced one of his better efforts. I’ve still got two vegan meals to get through this week, but there’s nothing in either so perishable that it can’t wait, if I’m too feeble to cook tomorrow evening. I am likely to be too tired to post here, as well.

AND I’ve not only finished knitting that shawl, I’ve also grafted the top border to the centre. There remains at least a day’s work before blocking: I knit the borders in garter stitch by knitting them back and forth, which means that the fourth corner is still to be sewn up. And then there are the loose ends – not only the ones where new yarn was joined in, but also the ones where cats intervened.

You can scarcely move in this house for knitting books, but when I wanted to be reminded of how to graft garter stitch (it’s very easy), I google’d a YouTube video. The world moves on.


Judith, I was overjoyed to discover that my estimate of ¼ mile for the circuit of Drummond Place Gardens was not entirely wide of the mark, and I am sure the knowledge will help keep me walking. (Today I walked to the top of Broughton Street to get some things for lunch – that’s further than twice around the gardens, I’m sure, and also up hill.) Thank you very much indeed for your map-geek-ery.

Archie introduced me to Thomas Ligoti. Horror is something of a speciality of his (Archie’s). It was he who introduced me to Lovecraft, some years ago. Poe I knew, but I had never heard of Lovecraft. I bought Ligoti for my Kindle – he’s a Penguin Classic, no less. I read a couple of stories with my supper, and I think that’s enough for tonight. I’ve started re-reading Persuasion, a much safer harbour for a gloomy evening.

Ligoti is ¾ Sicilian. That island seems to be following me around.

Monday, February 19, 2018

It has been another quiet day. Helen is gone, and will be away for three weeks. The installation of my new kitchen looms, and inspires dread. Still, it won’t happen this week.

I find I have reached the final pattern repeat for the centre of the baby shawl, rather to my own surprise. I might be grafting tomorrow – when the knitting is finished, the stitches are grafted to the live stitches of the fourth border. Fortunately, I love grafting, although I’ll have to look up how to do it in garter stitch. And I could be blocking by the end of the week.

Archie is coming to lunch tomorrow. Today’s Mindful Chef – smoked trout and quinoa in a sort of kedgeree – would have been plenty for two. Broccoli cropped up again. Tomorrow is a monkfish curry. I think I’ll see if I can get a bit more monkfish, just in case; and perhaps some more black rice from Health Food opposite the fishmonger there at the top of Broughton Street.

That will do for tomorrow’s walking. Today, inspired by (or, under pressure from) Mary Lou, I walked twice around Drummond Place Gardens. I tell myself that it’s a quarter of a mile per circuit, but I am probably flattering myself. It was sad to remember how recently I used to speed-walk four circuits in the morning before going to get the papers.  

No, I haven’t seen your French detective series, Shandy (comment yesterday). My Italian one is called “Maltese” and is all about the Mafia. The first episode was on Channel Four one Sunday, but since then it is not being broadcast anywhere and one has to summon it up from somewhere in the bowels of the television set. One of Alexander’s sons showed me how to do it. It’s good, but rather unpleasantly violent.

Half-asleep, I heard a Syrian girl from Aleppo on the radio this morning. She has cerebral palsy and could not get out at all, therefore no school. She had learned English by watching American television, and spoke it brilliantly. I don’t think Maltese (or anything else) is likely to have such an effect on me. The girl is now in Germany and somehow or other, there, manages to get to school, where she is doing well. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Again, there is nothing much to report. My new food box will arrive tomorrow, and you’ll be glad to hear that I have a potato in the oven baking even as we speak. I’ve been looking at other recipe boxes on-line – Waitrose now offers one. But they all have a two-person minimum per meal, which makes it seem expensive. And I wouldn’t care to have a single meal dragging out over two days. Freezing isn’t practical, because everybody seems to depend on crunch and freshness.

I haven’t done much knitting. I watched an episode of an Italian thriller this afternoon, for the sake of the language. I was able to knit lace while I watched, without error but it was very slow. I hope to get some more done after I’ve had my potato.

I wrote a note in the Fruity Knitting Group on Ravelry the other day, asking when Andrew and Andrea were going to be in the Podcast Room (or whatever it’s called) at the EYF, as I knew they were coming. Andrea has replied, so now I need to match her reply to my class times.


Mary Lou, no, I’m not walking for Lent, although that’s a very good idea, especially as the weather eases and days lengthen. I’ve given up alcohol, and hope to shed a bit of poundage and feel more energetic thereby. Or at least to be able to visit the doctor and grumble in a fortnight or so.

Today is the first day of Calcutta Cup week. The match is on Saturday.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

I have faced up to the end-game of the baby shawl. There is one less stitch than there should be on the left-hand side, where I take in a stitch at the end of every right-side row. That will be easily fudged. And, better yet, the pattern itself comes out even, as Amedro wants. That is, I’ll finish with a complete repeat.

So February may see it done.

I feel very sorry for the people I used to meet on the Knitlist in the Good Old Days, who found themselves at a loss when they finished a major WIP. For me, one of the considerable pleasures of actually finishing, is juggling what-next in my head during these last few days. Immediately, I resume the Soutache scarf. But there should be room to add something else once the shawl is blocked and ready for the post.

Kate Davies has, as I hoped she would, written about the new West Highland Way pattern on her blog. It’s called Stronachlachar, and the blog post includes a good picture of it. I’m very tempted, except that it would mean buying yarn, an unimaginable hardship. KD used to go in for snug-fitting to a degree that I didn’t entirely like, but she seems to have relaxed a bit.

Anonymous, I cannot imagine why you failed the robot test (comment yesterday). The questions sound very difficult. I’m sure I couldn’t have managed.


Helen’s husband David, who still works in Thessaloniki, is here this weekend – they will go back together on Monday, and she will be away for three weeks, much missed. They are going to Jordon to visit their son Mungo who is learning Arabic there.

Today, a lovely day, we went walking in the Botanic Gardens. We visited the glasshouses, where I haven’t been for a long time. Four days of Lent have not proved sufficient to provide me with any oomph, but at least I stayed the course.

Friday, February 16, 2018

There is little to report. Mary Lou, thank you for telling me that those beautiful LYKKE Norwegian needles are made in Japan. You have saved me from myself. I think Loop are bringing them along to the EYF. I might just take a peep.

On Wednesdays Kate Davies gives us West Highland Way people a new pattern with an unpronounceable geographical name connected with the Way – and on Fridays we get an essay from her about the place. This week’s one is particularly interesting, about Glasgow’s water supply.

I knew Glasgow got its water from Loch Katrine, and that it is particularly good water. I didn’t know what a feat of Victorian engineering was involved, nor that it was built in response to a mid-century cholera epidemic. Maybe the essay will be available on her blog soon. Or maybe you’d have to buy the book. Hopkins’ Inversnaid makes an appearance this week, too.

The shawl centre continues well. The markers for the two final corners are getting closer.

I found the new “Shetland” (on television) rather dull, and abandoned it. It was wonderful to see the landscape, though. Tonight I will watch Nigel Slater's food programme. He's in Iran.

An old friend has died, the Kirkmichael neighbour who for many years farmed our fields. He was 93, even older than my husband. Other old friends will take me with them to Kirkmichael for the funeral next Wednesday. Greek Helen, unfortunately, will be in Greece. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thank you for the suggestion, Carolyn. Nothing like the legal mind! I did exactly as you suggested, and, sure enough! The form I filled out seems to have gone through -- I have already told Susan Crawford that my address is unchanged. So now all I can do is hunker down and wait.

Shandy, I meant to answer your question (comment Monday) about Starmore’s “Glamourie”, but I forgot. I’m afraid I don’t care for it – some of the patterns are too far OTT for me, and none of the others catch my fancy. Starmore is well represented on my shelves, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never knit one. I took a class of hers once in London, about Celtic cables.

Another thing I keep forgetting is to mention the beautiful Norwegian needles at Loop, London. It’s just as well that they don’t have the smaller-sized DP’s yet. The price is simply absurd, especially for one so well provided with sock needles as I am. I hope that by the time they are actually in stock, I will have moved on to something else. But, oh! it’s such a pleasure, using wonderful tools.

The shawl continues to progress well. I didn’t watch “Shetland” last night after all – I finished off the medical drama called Trauma. I’m not quite sure what I thought of it. It’s pre-eminently the sort of thing my husband wouldn’t have approved of. Medical dramas and cookery.

Thank you for your concern about my cat. Perdita used to sleep on that plate rack (picture yesterday) when she was much younger, and has recently taken it up again. And Paradox has now taken to climbing up there, to find out what the attraction is. I love that plate rack; it will be re-painted and replaced when my new kitchen is done. Not long now.

The news from London is that Lizzie’s recovery continues smoothly. She’s getting bored with sitting about the house: that sounds a very healthy symptom.

No rugby this weekend. We’ll all be glad of the rest.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

It has been quite an active day, knitting-wise.

The fifth ball of lace yarn finally gave up the ghost, and I have joined in the sixth to the centre of the baby shawl. I am halfway along (just), picking up one stitch from each adjacent side at the end of every row. That means that this sixth ball will finish things off. I’ll adjust the sidebar appropriately as soon as I’ve posted this.

Kate Davies’ West Highland Way pattern this week – for it is indeed Wednesday again – is another humdinger. She’s really cooking with gas. It’s a tee with another unpronounceable name, knit in Buachaille, with a travelling stitch cable pattern up front and back. It would be fun to knit, and good for layering.

AND, mirabile dictu, we have a publication date for the Vintage Shetland Project, at the end of this month. Now I can start worrying about actually getting my copy. Long ago, before her cancer diagnosis, looking forward to a different publication date, Susan grumbled about how much work it was going to be, sending out all those books. This time, we have been told that we won’t get our book unless we fill out a form confirming our address. I did that at once, but worried at the time because there seemed to be no SUBMIT button on the last page. Did she get my address? Not that it’s changed.

And “Marlisle” arrived. It’s a most interesting technique, easy to express and it should be easy to adapt. You knit with two yarns held together – two different yarns, contrasting well with each other. They will form a marled fabric. And every so often you knit a patterned, stranded section, holding the two yarns separately.

Unfortunately there’s nothing in the book, not even a hat, that I like well enough to try it out.

Some of the designs are modelled in front of an interesting-looking modern mosaic in Hackney. I showed Greek Helen, but she already knew all about it.

The final part of the new Fruity Knitting was about a shepherdess in the north of England. She doesn’t even knit!

Here is a picture of my dear cat Perdita:

Now am I going to hunker down with the first episode of the new series of “Shetland” and see if I can knock off another pattern repeat. Or even two.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Fat Tuesday

It has been an unexciting but fairly profitable day. My beloved cleaning woman and (to a lesser extent) I began clearing kitchen cupboards for the Great Excitement to come (when my new kitchen is installed). She was very firm about throwing away everything with a use-by date of 2016 or before. I managed to cling on to some unopened miso.

The soon-to-expire Ball Five has managed two more repeats of the eight-row pattern in the centre of the baby shawl, and will get me some way forward with the next one. The pattern doesn’t seem to be showing up very clearly – Amedro does it in st st; I’m doing the whole thing in garter. That may have some effect. But blocking works wonders with lace.

And today is Fruity Knitting day! It’s another good episode. We’ve had an interview with a Swedish expert in twinned knitting – where you knit with both ends of a ball of yarn, twisting them around each other stitch by stitch. I have heard of the procedure, and am not in the remotest degree tempted by it, but it’s always interesting to learn of another traditional technique. Is there a book?

The episode ends with an interview with a shepherdess from the north of England. The Fruities do an awfully good job of varying their interviews. I haven’t watched that bit yet, but it promises well.

Just at the moment the Mindful Chef recipes seem awfully fancy, and I long for a potato.

                   When you have nothing else to wear
                   But cloth of gold and satins rare,
                   For cloth of gold you cease to care –

                   Up goes the price of shoddy.

Monday, February 12, 2018

No more news from London – this time, I think we can be pretty confident that no news means relatively good news.

Rugby: it was great to hear from you, Knitlass. It was a great match, in its stressful way. A year ago, we employed overnight care for my husband and I was meant to go to Kirkmichael with Greek Helen and her family. (Half term?) But the weather was bad, as now, and instead I stayed by myself in their Windsor Street flat for a blissful 48 hours, and watched the equivalent match in Paris in which Greig Laidlaw was injured. He hadn’t started again for Scotland until yesterday.

So it was rather nice that it was he who beat them. The score was 32-26, and he kicked 22 of those 32 points.

The first kick was a magnificent conversion. As in American football, there is a supplementary kick after a touchdown, for a couple of extra points. Unlike American football (if my antique memory serves) the kick must be made from a point 20 yards out (or whatever the rule is) from the point at which the touchdown was made. Sometimes the ball-carrier is able to run along behind the line and touch the ball down between the posts. Often, however, he is beset by the hounds of hell and is glad to be able to touch it down at all.

That’s what happened on Saturday, with Scotland’s first try. It was right in the corner. Laidlaw had to kick from the sideline. Once he had done that successfully, we didn’t really need to peer through our fingers whenever  he kicked again. He’s not young, as rugby players go. There won’t be many more such glorious days for him. We may hope, however,  that Calcutta Cup Day, in a fortnight, provides at least one more.

However, we’re here to talk about knitting. I have done one more pattern repeat of the baby shawl centre. The cardboard is showing through more than ever. The cardboard, in this case, is not my doing: that’s how Jamieson & Smith send out their Shetland Supreme 2-ply Lace Weight. It wouldn’t be a bad idea at all, however, to save some toilet rolls in case one ever had to wind lace-weight oneself.

Mary Lou, what a simple and brilliant idea: pay someone to set in a zipper! I will certainly add Amirisu’s “Harley” vest to my EYF Possibles List, with that solution in mind. I did it long ago, when I made a dress for myself to wear to Helen’s wedding, and farmed it out to someone to make the buttonholes and, I think, the covered buttons.  It's still around, that dress. I wore it to my husband’s funeral. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Lizzie came home last night. Rachel phoned. She is suffering quite a bit of pain, but I think all is well. I worried yesterday because in my now quite distant past, appendicitis was a difficult thing to diagnose. I’m pretty sure my appendix was taken out unnecessarily, in wartime Detroit. And, indeed, doctors told Lizzie and Rachel that they could only be about 70% sure, with a woman – the pain could turn out to be gynaecological. But I gather they were satisfied, once they had actually retrieved the appendix and had a look at it.

This modern practice of doctors actually telling patients the truth is much to be welcomed.

And—rugby! It has been a while since I have seen so exciting a match. Knitlass, I hope you’re still here, or have come back for the occasion. Scotland won! Greig Laidlaw is back! The Calcutta Cup, a fortnight hence, is not absolutely out of the question.

I’ve knit another pattern repeat in the centre of the baby shawl. Cardboard is beginning to show through the fifth ball of yarn. Perhaps when it finally expires I’ll count the remaining stitches on each side – I am consuming one stitch from the adjacent borders at the end of each row – and get some idea of how far I have progressed. I am sure I won’t need the eighth ball – possibly not even the seventh.

I am most encouraged by comments yesterday about Anna Maltz. Perhaps my purchase wasn’t absolutely absurd. The book should be here within a few days. I’ll let you know.

The new IK, as I’m sure you know, has a section called Moto Knits. I happened to flip through the fall-winter ’16 Amirisu the other day (the only one I've got),  and saw again their sensational "Harley" vest: tightly knit, perfectly simple, with a diagonal zipper up to the left shoulder. If there’s one thing I’d like to do more than another, it would be to take Franklin’s class on closures. I can’t do zippers.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Rachel phoned this morning to say that her younger daughter Lizzie – the youngest of her four children – had an emergency appendectomy yesterday. I have heard no more since, and although reluctant to go to bed uninformed, I think that is what I will do.

Rachel was full of praise for the much-maligned NHS. Appendectomies are done by keyhole surgery these days, and she hoped to have Lizzie home today.

The other news is that England beat Wales in a fairly close and exciting match; Ireland beat Italy by an awful lot. We play France here in Edinburgh tomorrow, you will remember.

I have turned the heel of Archie’s first sock, rather neatly, if I do say so. I weighed the yarn again and still had 62 grams (out of 100) so I thought it was safe to knit my way through the match. I’ll have to check again tomorrow. I also did another 8-row repeat of the shawl centre pattern.

The new IK turned up today. There’s nothing that grabs me, and the issue is low on text, too.

I let KD persuade me to order “Marlisle: A New Direction in Knitting”. She’s very keen. It seems to be about knitting with two yarns held together, like KD’s own new pattern. I did that once, long, long ago – a cardigan for my mother of two strands of what was then called “3-ply” and would now be classed as sock or fingering yarn.

The result was very satisfactory. The fabric was firmer and smoother than a single yarn would have been. My mother wore the cardigan to death, over many years. I don’t think I have done anything comparable since, although, on the other hand, I feel I must have held two yarns together a few times through the years.


Joe-in-Wyoming: my mother went to Germany in the 20’s, her first venture abroad. She was surprised and very pleased to discover that all the cats spoke English. 

Friday, February 09, 2018

Several of you have expressed alarm at the way my WIPs are exposed to my cats in the new heading picture. I can assure you that all is well. The knitting was laid out for the purpose of photography – and you can see how the cats zero’d in on it – and then immediately removed.

But it behoves us all to remember this famous picture of the little girl on Shetland. We’re meant to admire her knitting, and her knitting belt, but I can't see beyond that wonderful Shetland cat who knows not even to think about….

I am well embarked on the centre of the baby shawl, knitting back and forth on one of the borders and picking up a stitch from an adjacent border at the end of every row. This is a process I peculiarly enjoy. Knitting an edging perpendicularly onto an otherwise finished shawl affords much the same pleasure, and goes faster.

The centre pattern is eight rows – except that it isn’t, really. It’s four rows, offset. And since the alternate rows are plain knit, there are really only two pattern rows. The difficulty to going to be remembering where I am. Ideally (as this evening) I’ll put it down only at the end of row 8, but that won’t always be possible. I hope, as matters progress, it’ll get easier to see where I am.

My thoughts for the EYF marketplace, at the moment, are Gudrun’s Kirigami (link yesterday) and Kathryn Folkirth’s “Knife Grinder’s Daughter” – but that could change. Your comment, Mary Lou, inspired me to spend another happy half-hour with “Drop Dead Easy Knits”. I must certainly knit another Polliwog for the forthcoming great-granddaughter once we’ve got her safely in our arms.


I got those papers dealt with and dispatched to the lawyer, at last. It wasn’t all that difficult, once I sat down to it.

Lesizmo, thank you very much indeed for your message (comment yesterday) about Blue Apron recipe boxes. In many ways it sounds a lot like my Mindful Chef. You have about the same number of choices over perhaps a wider range of cuisines. I agree that it’s fun to look ahead and tinker with the meals one is going to get week-after-next. And absolutely agree that the elimination of waste is a big plus of this way of life. 

Thursday, February 08, 2018

All well here, although it hasn’t been a day of much achievement. I’ve done all but one long row of the shawl borders, however – and tomorrow, surely, will embark on the centre. That’s progress. And the rugby this weekend should advance Archie’s socks considerably.

We’re playing France – that’s always a highlight of the season. England have got Wales, I think – that could be a good one -- and if so that leaves Ireland and Italy. Alexander and Ketki and their sons are coming over here for the match, and will call in at Drummond Place before kickoff. That’s on Sunday. I'll get them some of Mr Crombie's Six Nations sausages to take home. He sells them every year around this time, made with pork from Scotland, herbs from England, Guinness from Ireland, leeks from Wales, onions from France, and tomatoes from Italy. 

I’m delighted to find that my feelings about bobbles aren’t exclusive to myself. It would be perfectly possible just to leave them out of KD’s pattern – but I think it would be almost as easy to put something else into the centres of those lozenges.

I find my thoughts returning to Gudrun Johnston’s “Kirigami” from the latest Brooklyn Tweed collection: a yoke sweater again – they are such fun – but this time with the yoke done in a textured stitch rather than colours. The yarn is Jared’s relatively new “Arbor”. He’s not coming back to the EYF this year, but Loop (the London shop) will be there, and they stock Arbor in quantity. Wonderful colours. It’s one to think about.

Not that I need another project. It's just that I’d rather wander around the market with one or two possibilities in mind.  


Today’s Mindful Chef meal was Sweet & Sour Aubergine, Edamame and (buckwheat) Noodles. Not the best, not the worst. That’s all, now, until Monday – and I think I’m ready for calmer food. The Mindful Chef prides himself on never sending refined carbohydrates – white bread, white rice, pasta made with white flour. But sometimes the spirit cries out for them.

Lesizmo, I looked up Blue Apron and it sounds interesting. Does it operate coast-to-coast? I love the idea of being warned about the possible colours of cauliflower. Have you been with them long? How does it work out, over time?

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

I’ve finished the border lace, for my baby shawl. There are five more plain-vanilla rows to knit while I decrease down to the 85 stitches needed to knit back and forth for the centre. Amedro doesn’t include what I think may be called a “break row” – k2tog, yo, all the way around. I am of two minds as to whether I should put one in.

Today’s KD pattern for the West Highland Way group is a good’un. I think it would have to be called a shrug. It has many of the advantages of that “Sontag Shawl” pattern of Meg’s which I like in the Early Winter VK: warmth over the shoulders and chest, solidly anchored, minimal sleeves. In the case of the KD pattern, a shawl pin will be needed for the anchoring, but that’s not impossible. And it doesn’t involve anything like that nightmare cast-on.

The yarn, perhaps surprisingly, is two strands of Buachaille held together, not the new Milarrochy Tweed. The pattern starts out with a cabled rectangle to which various bits are added, a back, short sleeves. The cable pattern involves bobbles which are against my religion – but I am sure a substitution can be found.

It won’t do for my EYF pattern, because I think I owe it to KD to knit it in her yarn, and she’s not a vendor this year. Looking at my Ravelry Favourites list, I can see a tendency in favour of Relax-type plenty-of-ease fairly-light-weight sweaters. I think the thing to do is to choose one or two and go to the market armed with the possibility of finding sport- or fingering-weight for one of them.

People on the website are knitting EYF sweaters for themselves as if it were Rhinebeck. I hesitated for a moment – but the great-grandchild is more important.


Today’s Mindful Chef meal was less successful – too much broccoli for my liking. (“I say it’s spinach and I say to hell with it.”) I don’t really see how the recipe box idea would work in the US – it’s too big. GB is almost too big. Part of the point is “sourcing” ingredients from named farms. I would be very interested to hear how it works.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Today involved some tinking.

Easy Pattern + All-Has-Been-Going-Well-Lately = Carelessness

But the errors were retrieved, and all is well again. I am engaged with row 98, a plain-vanilla knit row. If I can keep my eyes open for some television after posting this, I’ll finish the lace aspect of the borders. It would be good to get the whole thing finished, or nearly, this month, in case the baby, due in April, surprises us.

Thank you for your comments yesterday, about two-colour knitting and dominance. I have tried to knit the Norwegian way – I even have a gadget through which yarns can be threaded. for wearing over an index finger. But I hate it, and revert always to the two-handed system. Arne can laugh at me if he will.


I had another good day with the Mindful Chef: “Lemongrass Trout with Coconut Lime Rice”. The recipes are fancier than I would choose for myself, but the website claims that everything can be done in half an hour, and I am finding that to be more or less true. It makes a tremendous difference having everything right there to hand, down to the last half-teaspoon of cumin. The recipes are clearly set forth, and I love being told: do this, do this, do that. It’s all very healthy and full of fresh vegetables, but that’s probably true of all recipe boxes.

Most days I make the recipe for lunch and can’t finish it and pick at it all afternoon, but today I ate it all up and will need to fry an egg if I want any more food this evening.

I was afraid, at the Palazzo Lanza Tomasi, after our morning of Cooking with the Duchess, that I would embarrass myself b@????????????y [Paradox is the helper these days] sending plates away half-eaten. But when white-gloved servitors are offering food, as was the case, one can take just a little for each course, and all was well.

Here is a picture of my cats, taken in the kitchen this morning. If you asked Perdita, she would say that they hate each other. But if they were full sisters, from the same litter, they still might chase each other around the house and growl. I don’t think it’s serious.

Monday, February 05, 2018

No more rugby until the weekend, so I have reverted to the shawl. I’m engaged with row 95 of the borders. The final lace row is 99, and the borders end altogether with row 107 – so this week might see them done, and the centre commenced.

What I thought about Arne & Carlos on dominant yarn – link and comments yesterday – was that the sweaters they showed were old (not Arne’s pillow, so much, however). Somewhere – I’d guess Knitting Without Tears – EZ has a passage about how time and washing smooth knitting.

Mary Lou, when I do two-colour knitting with one colour in each hand, I let the right hand do the colour with the most stitches. Back in the Dark Ages, before there was such a thing as the Internet to set me right, I used to contemplate the pattern after every round of an all-over Fair Isle and adjust the yarns and the hands as required.


Thank you for the help with spiralizers. I’m still in a quandary. Today’s Mindful Chef meal didn’t involve spirals (and there was too much lemon in the dressing –my fault). Noseinabook, I have been deterred, like you, by the customer reviews. Maybe one of those things like a potato-peeler would do the trick – it’s called, perhaps, a “julienne vegetable peeler”. But it wouldn't be quite as much fun as real spirals. 

Sunday, February 04, 2018

England won. England always wins. Italy put up quite a good fight, however, and it would have been even better if one of their tries hadn’t been disallowed because of a forward pass.

(               ( -- Try=touchdown. The last time I saw a spot of American football on television, I was surprised to see a man run over the line with the ball and then not bother to touch it down at all. In rugby, the touching down is essential, although they don't call it that.)

(          (--The glory of American football, the pass, is forbidden in rugby. The ball-carrier is only allowed to throw the ball to someone behind himself. It is often to someone to the side who is only slightly behind. That’s how forward passes inadvertently happen.)

I got on with Archie’s socks while I watched, and have now nearly finished decreasing back down to the number of stitches I started out with. I don’t go in for all this business of afterthought heels. I let the yarn behave as it will, and enjoy watching it re-establish the rhythm it established at the beginning.

Just over 60 grams of yarn remain in the 100-gram ball I started out with. Soon I will have to join in another. I am rather surprised to see that I have a sock on the go, not very far advanced – one which never made it into the sidebar -- in yarn similar to the one I am using. I could frog it, and use that yarn for the feet. Or use something Completely Different from the odd-sock-yarn bag. In either case, the discrepancy will be hidden in the wearer’s shoe. I’ve often done it that way.

Arne & Carlos (to change the subject abruptly) have a delicious new video in which they maintain that, in Norwegian two-colour knitting, there is no such thing as a “dominant colour”. If one of your colours predominates over the other -- or “pops”, in the current idiom -- it means that there is something wrong with your tension. It is done with great humour and charm.

Non-knit, non-rugby

I am eager to welcome the Mindful Chef back tomorrow.

Here is a question for you, who have so often been so helpful before: spiralizers. One of last week’s recipes asked for some spiralized carrot. I have two hand-held spiralizers, which I had never used before. I dealt with the carrot, and the result was tasty indeed – but it was hard work. I am tempted to buy one that you turn the handle of; or even an electric one – they’re not very expensive. What do you think? Advice very welcome. I gather I’m about two years out-of-date on this one.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

The Groundhog has been a good prophet so far. Snow on high ground. 

I went without a nap this afternoon, in order to watch Scotland lose heavily to Wales in the first match of the new season’s Six Nations. If (per impossibile) Italy should beat England tomorrow, in Rome, I will send a postcard to Giuseppe Lanzi Tomasi (son of the Duke and Duchess of Parma) to whom I sat next at lunch that happy day at their palazzo. We spoke of rugby, briefly, and of Italy’s hopelessness at that sport.

I hope I’ve provided you with this link before – a Six Nations promotional ad which, in the event, was never screened except on YouTube. It’s worth watching again.

Rugby doesn’t lend itself to lace, so there is no progress to report on the shawl. I did, however, knit the heel flap, turn the heel, and pick up the gusset stitches of the Arne & Carlos sock I started knitting for Archie in Palermo.


Sharon, thank you very much for your comment about jackfruit, day before yesterday. How interesting that you can buy it fresh! I enjoy shopping for food, and try to pay attention, and go to farmers’ markets when I can – I’m not aware of ever having seen it. I’ll ask Mr Hussain at my corner shop. It certainly isn’t fair to judge it by the canned version which the Mindful Chef sent. Wikipedia says that it doesn’t provide much in the way of protein despite being “meaty” in texture.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Groundhog Day

…and the sun has beamed down from a cold but cloudless sky, all day long.

The big news on the knitting front is that Susan Crawford says she has sent the Vintage Shetland Project to the printers.

Not much news here. I spent the morning gearing myself up for my lunch date, resisted the temptation to call a taxi, and succeeded in walking up Dublin Street to the Portrait Gallery where I had a nice time. Then home and to bed.

I have done a bit more shawl. I am engaged with row 87, and have finished the fourth ball of yarn.


It’s time to begin thinking about projects I would like to buy yarn for in this year’s market.

There is a thread in the EYF Ravelry group called Flash Your Stash. That’s not what people do, however. They show off wonderful things they have knit with yarn bought at previous EYF’s. That’s not stash, that’s FO’s. I am tempted (and I may yet do it) to take the thread at its word – from 2016 I have yarn for Mary Lou’s Bidwell Shawl, and for a shawl of Carol Feller’s. From 2017 I have Blacker’s Samnite yarn (brand new at the time) in a quantity selected for Carol Sunday’s “Nancy’s Vest”.

That’s what I call stash.


Kate Davies has a good post about “styling” her new Shieling Blanket, the latest pattern in the West Highland Way club. “Styling” means taking the sort of pictures you can use to promote a pattern.

She says that hands can be difficult for a knitwear stylist (as I had long thought). Not only for them. My husband and I spent a few days in Milan once, home, more or less, of Leonardo. It was interesting to see in the museum there what difficulties lesser Renaissance artists had with hands when they tried to get the Holy Family together with St Anne and perhaps an angel or two. 

Thursday, February 01, 2018

There is little to report today, but that little, good.

I passed all sorts of landmarks today with the borders of the baby shawl: (a) I turned over from page 3 to page 4 of the old mimeographed pattern which I am finding so much easier than the new charts; (b) if I were still using the charts, it would be true to say that I have finished F and embarked on G – the final one; (c) the current ball of yarn is about to expire. The yarn is wound on cardboard cylinders, so the balls never seem to get smaller – but suddenly the cardboard shows through. I should polish this one off tomorrow, if not this evening.

I’m currently engaged with row 85. Row 99 is the last one with lace in it, although, as I’ve said, some decrease rounds follow.

Otherwise it has been a peaceful day of non-achievement. I must face up to those papers I told you about finding. Tomorrow I am having lunch at the Portrait Gallery with Greek Helen and an old friend from both Kirkmichael and Edinburgh. The climb up that hill will do me good.

I have missed the Mindful Chef. It seems a long time until Monday when I will have him back again. I made myself a tasty chowder for lunch today from a recipe in the newspaper, but it involved not only a trip to the corner shop for a missing ingredient, but also (somehow, worse) having to rustle around in my own larder for a chicken stock cube and some chilli flakes.

That’s interesting that you found jackfruit to be trendy, Mary Lou (comment yesterday). I’m not aware of having heard of it either, until the end of last month. I would say it’s dull as dishwater. I can imagine that it might be sustaining if one was on a subsistence diet, but for that purpose I would vastly prefer freshly-dug potatoes with salt and pepper and – if one were lucky enough to be acquainted with a cow – a bit of butter.