Sunday, September 30, 2018

My sister and brother-in-law are probably losing height over Edinburgh at this very moment. Greek Helen is going to pick them up at the airport and bring them here. I have done the blanching and tossing for my favourite stand-by Jamie Oliver recipe – tray-bake salmon with various things, going all the way back to “The Naked Chef”. I’ll be able to feed them within 20 minutes of arrival, if need be.

I may not re-appear here until Thursday, when they’re going south, although I’ll try. I’m hoping to have lunch with Maureen on Tuesday, she fresh from the Shetland Wool Festival. I’ll bring you her news if I can.

I’m feeling a bit more cheerful about Italy (although not about computer printers). I’ve booked everything except our car-and-driver from Catania to Piazza Armerina, to see the mosaics at the Villa Romana del Casale nearby. Much googling, and even some emails, have produced nothing better than a small-group tour, pick-you-up-at-your-hotel (that’s good), going to Agrigento in the morning and on to the mosaics in the afternoon.

Alas, I’m not at my best in the afternoon. And I feel – I know I’m wrong; don’t correct me – that when you’ve seen one Greek temple, you’ve seen them all. (That’s what they have at Agrigento – Greek temples.) I’ve been to the Parthenon, in the days when you could get up close and personal. I’ve been to Paestum. This time, I want my strength for those mosaics.

So today I emailed our hotel in Catania. And had a prompt answer, offering a car and a price – not cheap, that wasn’t to be expected, but within the anticipated ballpark. There is no logical reason this should make me feel so cheerful – the anxiety is about old age and weakness, not mosaics. But it does. There are actual people living in Italy, many of them kind and helpful.

I have re-connected my computer to its printer, and, even with the new ink cartridge, the result is as impossible as before. I am tempted to throw it -- the printer -- away (3-4 years old) and get a new one, which is what you’re supposed to do these days.

No knitting news at all.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

I am sunk in technological gloom. I think I need to put a new ink cartridge into my printer -- it prints with unreadable faintness, anyway, so that’s the first thing to try. Usually it tells me when it needs a new cartridge, and guides me gently through the easy process. Now it doesn’t. I’ve looked up the manual on-line but the instructions don’t work. The cartridge-holder isn’t in the right position, and I’m not allowed to tug at it.

Now I’ve changed the cartridge, and the printer won’t respond to the computer at all…. Despair.

This activity was provoked partly by the need to print out our reservations for the Italian trip, now alarmingly soon. And there’s an article about Alison Watt by Magnus Linklater in this morning’s Times which inspires me to print out the Foldlines pattern and perhaps even to swatch. She is the one who raised the status of Foldlines from Maybe to Yes as far as I am concerned.


Beverly and Mundi, thank you for your help with the awful Kavanaugh business. My sister and brother-in-law will be here tomorrow – I will be able to read unlimited New York Times on her telephone (and maybe Roger knows about Epson printers).

Chloe, don’t worry. I didn’t take your remark (about re-buying the missing Lucy Hague book) all that seriously – and it is a solution I had been thinking of anyway. Two years is a long time not to be able to find a book.

Mary Lou, I think putting a heel flap on the toe of a sock is an excellent idea. I gave up using any reinforcement a long time ago. I don’t mind darning, and modern sock yarns really are pretty good. Please let us know how you get on.

More Italian homework tonight.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Again, there is not much to report. I am around the heel of that sock, and making good progress with the gusset decreases. The "Spanish flu" programme last night was interesting, and the answer to the question I have been asking for decades seems to be that modern medicine has considerable defenses against such a thing, but it could still cause an alarming number of deaths. I think I've got something about Darwin recorded to get me on down the foot of the sock this evening.

However, there is much going on in the world. There was a legal American couple on my Hebridean cruise – I wish I had listened to more that they had to say about Kavanaugh, before any of this fuss erupted.

What I would like to know – surely this is public knowledge in the US – is how well Professor Ford and Mr Kavanaugh knew each other before the episode in 1982. I am sure she is telling the truth – but I am not absolutely sure, despite her interesting remarks about how memory works, that she’s got the right man.

Was he a boyfriend? A friend? An acquaintance? A distant acquaintance (someone she could identify by sight but had never talked to)? Or a stranger? The answer would affect the way memory works – and someone must have asked the question.

I got up to the Rembrandt exhibition in the National Gallery this morning, with my niece C., mother of last weeks’s bride. It’s a very good show. I was alarmed at how weak I am, but I did it. Up Dundas Street by bus, around the expo (with a certain amount of sitting-down en route), down to garden-level for a coffee, back to up street-level, bus home. Is that strong enough for Naples and the rest? I’m dubious, and terrified.


Thank you for directing me to Mason-Dixon Knitting yesterday, Kirsten. That led to a YouTube video, by Jen A-C herself, about helical knitting, and that in turn to a video by the Knitmatician which was somewhat clearer. I think I’ve got the hang of it. I don’t know whether to subscribe to the e-book.

And thank you for your advice about my missing book, Chloe. I’m coming around to that conclusion. I took it from the shelf and flipped through it in bed once when my husband was in hospital. He came home in November, 2016 – the day before his 91st birthday; easy to remember – and was here for the short rest of his life. So the book must have been gone for two years, or nearly. I thought Archie would find it in the bedroom.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Again, I have little to report. I have reached the final stripe on the leg of the second of Rachel’s 60th birthday socks – I should begin turning the heel this evening, especially if I can get hold of that programme about the “Spanish flu” which we in Scotland were denied recently.

And I think I’ve decided what to take along when Archie and I set out for Naples any day now (=October 11). (Panic, panic, panic!) When we were in Palermo, I knit an Arne & Carlos sock (not a Pairfect one, just a self-patterning), intending it for him, but it turned out slightly too small. However, it was an entirely successful sock, so I might as well go ahead and knit the other one.

I keep getting interesting emails from Jen Arnall-Culliford about helical knitting, and look forward with some interest to finding out what it is. All circular knitting is, of course, not circular but spiral. I don’t entirely understand the difference between a spiral and a helix. Wait and see.

One of the contestants on Pointless last night was a passionate knitter. She and her partner got through to the final, and she said that if she won the jackpot (she didn’t) she’d go to Shetland Wool Week. Alas, the presenter didn’t pursue the subject with her.

Archie’s efforts continue to produce oceans of paper to throw away, but there were no interesting discoveries today, and there’s still no sign of Lucy Hague’s Celtic Shawl book. It’s very odd.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The programme about the Spanish flu was very good, according to this morning’s Times. We in Scotland had something about Thomas Lipton, the tea man, instead. That sort of thing used to happen more often in the past, but is annoying whenever it crops up. I trust I’ll be able to watch the flu programme on Catch Up, but tonight I’ve got homework to do for tomorrow’s Italian-lesson-by-Skype.

Tamar – see comment yesterday – thank you for that. My Italian dictionary got as far as telling me that “gattopardo” meant “ocelot”, but you have fleshed out the answer most excellently.

I am progressing well with the socks, but still haven’t re-started the vest. The socks have six fairly broad stripes in the leg – why on earth did I choose so unexciting a pattern? The colours are good, though. I have embarked on the fourth stripe, here on the second sock.

Archie found some interesting things today -- but there's still no sign of Lucy Hague. Could it have been wrongly re-shelved, even, perhaps, among the knitting books?

I’d better go do my homework.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

I have little to report. Archie is still here, mornings, toiling through piles of paper and making useful discoveries. Today’s was a book I had wanted to show Rachel at the weekend. Now it’s safely back in the first place I looked, and where I will surely expect to find it again. It could have been years before I found it in that pile.

But he still hasn’t come across Lucy Hague’s “Celtic Cable Shawls”.

I have continued to knit Rachel’s sock. Things have improved since that tedious evening spent untangling. It is rather luxurious just to carry on ribbing, with no concern as to how many rounds one has done, until the yarn changes colour. (This is the “Pairfect” system.) But I must get back to that vest. I think I’m feeling strong enough.

Beverly (comment yesterday), that is an interesting thought about my pursuit of Il Gattopardo and achieving my goal in Manaba’s headpiece. An interesting thing I learned, however, that day “Cooking with the Duchess” in Palermo, is that “gattopardo” is not the Italian word for “leopard”. That is “leopardo”, as one might expect. “Gattopardo” is an heraldic, cat-like animal, as best I can tell you.

It is a difficult subject to google, as one keeps being brought back to the book. I’ll try to ask my tutor.

There is an interesting-sounding programme on television tonight about the “Spanish flu” which killed millions in the wake of WW I. For many years I wondered whether, if such a thing should happen again, medical science would be able to mount a better defence. I gather the answer is, no. The programme should advance the sock nicely.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Here’s an excellent wedding picture:

It shows:

(a)  Me
(b) My new dress
(c)  My new hairdo
(d) Manaba’s Zulu crown (just what you were asking for, Chloe!)

The groomsmen had similar headgear. Originally leopard-skin, Manaba told me: nowadays, much more correctly, goat. They were very impressive.

From left to right, Greek Helen’s husband David; Helen herself, under her hat; Rachel. The rest you know.

Weavinfool, yes, there’s nothing like a kilt. Alexander wore one at his Hindu wedding in NYC and it fitted in perfectly. It’s a pity he couldn’t have ridden up Seventh Avenue on an elephant.

Beverly, Saturday’s bride, Christina, is my husband’s great-niece, the daughter of the daughter of his only and dearly-loved sister.

Southern Gal: no problem! The wedding was on Saturday. I was here in plenty of time for Bodyguard last night.

And I feel somewhat recovered today. I have finished Rachel’s first Pairfect sock, and have cast on the second. Not quite as easy as it sounds. The knitting is done throughout with yarn pulled from the centre. A lot, however, had come off the outside and got tangled. Perhaps not-helped by furry Rumpelstiltskins who come in the night. However, all is in order now.

I must decide, and promptly, what knitting to take with me to Italy. I see that the EYF programme for next year will be unveiled on October 13th, when Archie and I will be in Naples. That’s OK – our hotel will have wi-fi. But that date probably means that booking will go live on the 20th – our day returning with Air France, Someone will have to act for me, and will have to take it very seriously.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

It was a lovely wedding, and I stood up to it pretty well. I’ve got a couple of pictures – my telephone pulled itself together and now holds a charge as well as anybody’s telephone. My children assure me that it will fail again soon. 

Not brilliant photography, but it's got that post-wedding happiness:

Manaba is South African. His mother and brother and a couple of friends were there -- but they had had a "paper wedding" in South Africa at Christmas time, and his family was well-represented then. He did one of the readings yesterday -- in Zulu.

I had a good time with Rachel and Ed, although I didn’t have a sock ready for her. They virtually catered for themselves, arriving Friday evening with a ready meal ready for heating. I felt feeble, but grateful. They’re safely back in south London now after an uncomfortable  --weekends are never fun – but not overly-long journey.

I’ve sort of taken today off, but hope to be back in the saddle tomorrow.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Progress, I guess. My hair looks more like Germaine Greer than Theresa May, but at least it’s shorter. The hairdresser I have been going to for years retired just before Easter and I have yet to settle into a new groove.

Thank you for your kind words about the Kirigami. Its success means that I must now think very seriously about madtosh in that shade I mentioned – can I remember? – for Foldlines. First I must reactivate my printer, print the pattern, and knit a swatch-square. The printer usually tells me when it needs new ink. This time it has just resorted to printing with utter, unreadable faintness. I’m sure it’s just a matter of my pressing some buttons.

I’m getting on well with Rachel’s sock, and may still finish it for her by tomorrow. I won’t appear here again until Sunday evening, and then only if I’m strong enough. I might even have some wedding pictures for you. Rachel and Ed won’t be here until late tomorrow, but lots of preliminary tidying needs to be done.

Shandy, yes, Bakka Knitwear is indeed interesting and beautiful. I wish they offered more patterns. I like, especially, the lozenge pattern amongst their heritage scarves. I suppose I could reconstruct it from the picture, if it’s not in any of my books.

Our storm yesterday was apparently named Ali, and seems to have been worse than I realized. I still think they might have cancelled the trains before they let Alexander get all the way here. He says there was a Frenchwoman on one of his westward-bound busses who had boarded at Edinburgh Airport thinking she was being taken to the city centre -- instead of to Glasgow. She will have had a worse day than he did, he rightly concluded.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Alexander came over from Glasgow today, as often on a Wednesday, and I set him to go through the pile of papers Archie and I set aside yesterday as “interesting” – with some profit. But we had a bit of a storm today, and poor Alexander had a horrible journey home – train, bus, bus, subway. It should have been train all the way and then a short walk. It wasn't that much of a storm, either.

I finished the Kirigami. Princess Margaret didn’t quite do it last night, but this evening’s Pointless did the trick. I haven’t yet crawled around on the floor with a tape measure to see how close I got to the measurements I was aiming at, but it’s close enough, surely, that I may not even block it.

It is good luck rather than good management which has placed the lighter-coloured yarn (probably only one skein) on the arms. I didn't notice the considerable discrepancy as I was knitting. It's a risk, of course, with madtosh.

The one slight problem is that it is not immediately obvious which is front and which is back. The back was raised by quite a few short rows, so it would be as well to get it right when wearing. I’ll try to figure it out this evening and add a discreet marker.

I then picked up Rachel’s sock. I’m not far from the end of the first foot – she has small feet. She will be here day after tomorrow, for the wedding. It would be nice to have a sock for her to try on.

I'm having my hair done tomorrow. I still haven't tried on the dress.

My Technical Problems

Southern Gal, those three lines don’t appear any more in the upper left of my GoogleMail window. It doesn’t matter, as long as I’ve got “More labels” to click on. When I was struggling before, without my labels but with the three lines, I don’t think they did the trick. I clicked on everything within sight. I won’t worry for the moment. Too much else to worry about.

A dear friend came round today and got BBC iPlayer on my television set with minimum fuss. Use the zapper for the television (not the Virgin cable one); go to Home; go to Apps. There it is. Then you sign in from your iPad. Technology is wonderful when it works. When I sat down some hours later to watch Pointless, it took me a very anxious few moments, and much switching-off-and-on-again, to persuade it to show me any television at all.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A good day – except that I must get back to booking our holiday. The wedding this week sort of fills the mind. My dress has arrived from Toast but I haven’t tried it on yet. It looks OK, and the colour is good.

And I’ve finished the Kirigami sweater, except for finishing it. That I did try on, and I think it’s just about perfect. And blissfully comfortable, which is what one expects of madtosh. I may be able to get the finishing done while watching the second part, this evening, of the BBC documentary about Princess Margaret. It’s just a matter of a few ends and the underarm grafting.

And, of course, Andrew and Andrea have turned up on schedule, and who should their guest be but Lucy Hague! I haven’t watched it yet, just a bit at the beginning. The launch of Kate Davies’ “Haps” book was at Kathy’s Knits, just around the corner. Lucy was there, as was I, and I see that she has signed her Uncia pattern for me. I went on to knit it for my sister; it was fun.

I asked her whether she knew Dr. de Roulet’s Dunfallandy blankie (Knitty), which I was probably knitting at the time for my first great-grandchild. The great thing about that pattern is the unvention of a horizontal cable which makes a number of design elements possible. She didn’t.

I’ve nearly finished watching “Killing Eve” on my iPad. It continues good, although sort of depressing. I will feel rather foolish if part 2 does turn up on ordinary television  this weekend. Archie doesn’t think our television set is up to BBC iPlayer without additional gismos.

It is depressing to learn that “More labels” in Googlemail will be taken away from me again, although good to know that there’s a fuss about it.

Monday, September 17, 2018

A pretty good day. I have employed Archie to make a start, at least, on sorting through the papers in this house, of which there are an alarming number, many of them unsorted since we left Birmingham a quarter of a century ago. If only we lived in a castle, we could put them all up in the East Tower and they would be of enormous interest in a few hundred years. Archie is taking a year off university, and as soon as we get back from Italy will try to find a real job. Meanwhile he shows some talent as an archivist. He found, today, a popular newspaper, preserved by my husband, announcing that Princess Margaret wasn’t going to marry Group Captain Townsend.

I have finished the yoke chart of the Kirigami sweater. The needle I have been using all along proved adequate for the final number of stitches – it’s a fairly wide neck. But I’ve found a smaller one which I think will do for the ribbing. And I’ve wound the final skein, leaving another one unwound. I could have knit a larger size. I hope that won’t turn out to have been a Fatal Error. We’ll know soon.

Tonight is Jamie Oliver’s Italian cookery programme, which I am enjoying enormously. That should advance things a bit. I still haven’t solved my “Killing Eve” problem – the BBC continues to advertise it on prime-time television, saying that it is to be watched on “BBC Three iPlayer” but I still can’t figure out how to get that on the television set. There doesn’t seem to be a “BBC Three” in the enormous list of available channels.

And watching on the iPad is a good deal less conducive to knitting, But perhaps tonight, when I’m only ribbing…

One of you has written to me with the solution to my Googlemail problem. I’ve now got the option of “more labels” back. But it came with the threat that in a fortnight, I would again be subject to an upgrade…

My cleaning woman came this morning. I needed to absent myself from the kitchen while she brought it back to the gleaming state in which she always leaves it -- so I went back to sorting knitting books. I think I'm nearly finished. I have established a socks-scarves-hats section, and a worldwide-miscellaneous, and one for Shetland. "Marlisle" turned up, but there's still no sign of Lucy Hague.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

I couldn’t be wrong twice – this must be an Andrew-and-Andrea week.

I didn’t achieve much today, suffering from the usual post-Italian-lesson exhaustion. I should have gone for a walk, and didn’t.

I’m doing round 43 of the 48 in the Kirigami yoke. Any minute now. There’s nothing to do after the yoke chart except a few rounds of K2 P2. Next problem: can I find a nice short circular of a slightly smaller gauge?

Then I must get back to the Calcutta Cup vest, before the Cup is contested for again. Fortunately I will soon be having lunch with one of you who is a master Fair Isle knitter, currently in Shetland for Wool Week, maureenfromfargo. I am counting on her to raise my flagging spirits.

An outpost of the V&A Museum has opened this weekend in Dundee as a museum of Scottish design. I wondered if that would include knitting, and apparently it does. There is at least one Fair Isle sweater. Fair Isle sweaters have been produced since the 17th century, according to the Scotsman newspaper last week, and traditionally incorporate four colours. Are those statements true? The sweater illustrated looks as if coloured by plant dyes, which is a good start.

I’ve got two technical problems for you today.

I often label important emails in Googlemail and then archive them. Until recently, there was an option on the left-hand side of the screen to reveal the names of all my labels. I could then click on the one I wanted, and see all the emails archived there. That option has vanished. Emails can be labelled and archived, but not readily retrieved. Something to do with the update that was forced on me last week? I’ve archived all the receipts and e-tickets for Archie’s and my great Italian expedition.

No great disaster – the iPad still preserves the old system. But I’d like to get it back here.

Second:  I watched the opening episode of a rather silly but rather thrilling thriller a couple of days ago, called Killing Eve. The remaining episodes, I was told, are available on BBC iPlayer (presumably meaning they won’t be shown on normal television). That is bad news for nervous old ladies living alone. I can’t figure out how to get BBC iPlayer on my television set (which is fed by Virgin cable). Again, no great disaster – I can easily watch it on the iPad. What would I do without it?

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Progress on all fronts. I’m fairly cantering around the Kirigami yoke now – round  37 of 48, and no more k3togs in the decrease rounds ahead. It won’t be long now.

I bought the Foldlines pattern. Under “gauge” it says to knit one of the pattern squares – a simple and wholly brilliant idea. I’ll do that, might even wash and block it, and then ought to know whether or not to invest in a whole lot more madtosh DK. It’s not cheap, especially if I am to be charged to import it. I'll know not only the size of the square, but whether or not it's any fun to knit.

And I booked some more of our Italian jaunt – successfully but disappointingly. To go by train from Reggio Calabria to Catania, we have to change and wait around somewhere, although when the waiting is over the second train will indeed take us on the ferry. Still, waiting even several hours in is better than waiting in an airport.

I knew that the flight home from Catania would also involve a change. I didn’t know that it would be so expensive. We’ve wound up on Air France, not my fave. Still, the point of the expedition is to spend-the-kids’-inheritance. Might as well do it thoroughly. If I could have done it differently and more economically, perhaps you’d better not tell me.

That leaves a hotel for four nights in Catania, and a car and driver to take us to Piazza Armerina, still to be booked.

Indeed, Mary Lou (comment yesterday), il Gattopardo almost certainly didn’t have any knitting with him, and he also didn’t break his journey at Reggio Calabria to see the Riace bronzes which were still lying peacefully in their bed under the sea.

Jean and Anonymous, yes, I think K3tog may well be harder with a fine lace yarn. There was an Amedro pattern long ago which eventually drove me to use a different decrease, disregarding the matter of which stitch would wind up on top.

Friday, September 14, 2018

A fairly successful day. I’ve reached round 31, of 48, on the Kirigami yoke – that means that I have done the second major decrease round. We’re fairly whizzing along. The decrease rounds involve K3tog’s, a stitch I have had trouble with in my lace-knitting history. The three stitches stand there, yessir, nosir, and then as soon as I move away it turns out that the middle one wasn’t really part of the group and it skips merrily away. That hasn’t happened here, so far.

I’ve allowed myself to browse Jimmy Bean’s madtosh DK page. I haven’t been there for a while. And I’ve found the one I want for “Foldlines” – “Farmhouse White”. I had a moment of thinking that there’s still time to have it sent to my sister to bring to me – but there isn’t. She will set out on her travels any moment now, although not reaching us until the end of the month.

Still, they could send it directly. And I could take it along and knit Italy into it. I’m sure you know what I mean. But it would be a bit bulky for travel knitting. Better to stick with socks.

I got further forward with booking things. We’re now in Reggio Calabria, with a hotel. I even had the presence of mind to make sure that the Archaeological Museum – where the Riace bronzes live – is open on Monday. I feel slightly less anxious – the two days of rail travel (although they killed Il Gattopardo) should be restful interludes, as well as extremely interesting. My first job tomorrow will be to book the second one, Reggio Calabria-Catania by rail. I hope I am right that it’s possible – the former is on the continent, right down in the toe of the Italian boot. The latter is a town on the east coast of Sicily.

I am very grateful for your concern about my health. Yes, oxygen saturation was fine, the last time I saw a doctor. That’s one I know the numbers for, after hovering over my husband for so long. Tamar, sleep apnea is one I hadn’t thought of. My brother-in-law suffers from it. I can discuss the possibility with my sister when she’s here.

And energetic daily walking around the garden is a very good idea. Sometimes I do it, but not often enough.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Well, I’ve done it. Booked EasyJet from Edinburgh to Naples on October 11. The die is cast, as Caesar once remarked. I’ve got a hotel in Naples, too. The rest – two train journeys, two more hotels, a car and driver to take us to Piazza Armerina, a flight home – will have to wait until tomorrow. I’m exhausted.

Alas, Shandy, I am not massively energized. You are misled by my sparkling prose. My sister will be here soon, about a year after her last visit – I wonder if she will see the decline I feel. Today started with the dentist (just a hygiene visit). He’s very near here, but up a very steep incline. I was prostrate by the time I got back.

I phoned Boots – they don’t have my new pills; a letter has gone astray. There was no point in going all the way up to the Apple shop if I was going to have to do it a week later for the pills, so I just set off for the top of Broughton Street. At that very moment Greek Helen came driving past, and gave me a lift up the hill. I got the fish, and the oatmeal, and the wedding-wrapping-paper, and had only to walk back downhill. I was very seriously tired when I got back. Naples is probably crazy.

But I will take your advice, Shandy, and order my Wedding Garment before I sign off tonight. I’ve just heard from Grandson Thomas that his daughter Camilla will be baptised on October 27 in London: so that will be a second outing for it. (Archie and I will be back by then, if we survive.)


Very much less stressful, and less strenuous. I’ve done more than half of the yoke rounds for the Kirigami – which means a good deal more than half the yoke, when the decreases are taken into account. I am tremendously impressed with the pattern, with the way the decreased repeat which I am now doing sits on top of the previous repeat with no hint as to how it was done.

Lots of people on Ravelry have taken better pictures than these.

I grasped today that this pattern, as well as Gaughan’s “Foldlines” which I keep talking about, are both written for Brooklyn Tweed “Arbor”. I’ve never used it; it’s probably wonderful. But that means that, unless the Kirigami turns out a disaster, I could use madtosh DK for Foldlines. I love it above all yarns. I feel that everything is nudging me towards that pattern.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

What I should have been doing today, but wasn’t, was booking my next Italian jaunt. I’m sort of scared. I was all revved up to do it a couple of weeks ago, but held back on Helen’s instructions (in her role as Archie’s mother). He is very keen, and she is reasonably so – for our original dates in about a month’s time. Now all I’ve got to do, is do it. Starting with EasyJet from Edinburgh to Naples. Once I've booked that, I'll have to book the rest -- three hotels, two trains, the flight home.

Tomorrow morning will make serious demands on strength – an early-morning dental appt., and then the ascent to Princes Street to consult Mr Apple about my telephone which will no longer hold a charge; to pick up a new batch of my blood-thinning pills from Boots (my branch doesn’t deliver); to go to John Lewis for wedding-present-wrapping-paper; to buy some tasty fish and some pinhead oatmeal (separate shops, opposite each other) on my grateful way down the hill.

I doubt if that will leave much strength for anything else.

OK: Friday and Saturday.

I must also decide whether I am going to get anything new for the wedding (next Saturday, the 22nd) and, if so, order it right away.

However, this is about knitting. I have done the first serious decrease row in the Kirigami yoke. I have also polished off another skein – now that I’m not worried about running out, that’s good news. The yoke is eating up much more yarn than I expected, but I still think I’ve got plenty.

I looked up “Kirigami”. It is like “Origami” except that you are allowed to cut the paper. Maybe you knew that. The discovery makes me feel all the more strongly that I must knit Gaughan’s/Brooklyn Tweed’s “Foldlines” very soon. Folded paper (remember Alison Watt) is clearly what’s happening on my knitting scene. Maybe I should move it above even Stronachlachar on my to-do list, although I think the latter would be more useful.

Maureen (comment yesterday), that’s a first-rate idea, to get back to Library Thing and to note position with each new arrival. I didn’t get any forrad-er with book arrangement today, either. “Marlisle” remains missing – it’ll be somewhere obvious, under a pile of paper. I’m also missing Lucy Hague’s “Celtic Cable Shawls”. That’s been gone for awhile -- two years? But it must be here somewhere.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Not Andrew and Andrea at all, of course, this week. It was only a week ago that we had that splendid interview with Norah Gaughan and I ordered the collection of her VK patterns and it wasn’t published yet, then it was, and I’ve now got it. A busy week.

The Kirigami progresses well. (Yoke sweaters knit themselves at this stage.) The pattern is a 10-round repeat. I’ve finished the first and started the second, offset by half. There are more than 300 stitches so it’s not really terribly fast. At the end of this second iteration, and every time thereafter, we have a decrease round. Then things will speed up considerably.

The pattern is very pleasing to the eye, but would scarcely show up for a camera, the yarn being so dark. I hope it will be more photograph-able after the offset repeat.

Norah G. advises not reading a pattern through to the end before you start. All will become clear when you get there – and she’s certainly right, in this case. It’s one of those lengthy Brooklyn Tweed patterns and it all seems crystal-clear now that I’ve embarked on the chart.

The only difficulty, of course, is when you are doing a set of increases or decreases and suddenly discover, a couple of paragraphs in, the dread line At the same time…

I did some more book-arranging, today creating the how-to-knit-and-design section. I spent some anxious hours wondering where Odham’s Encyclopedia of Knitting was – it was an important book in my own evolution as a knitter, first encountered in a library in Leicester in the late 60’s. I wished I had never started re-arranging books; I could have died without knowing it was missing. But then I found it.

So far I haven’t moved Barbara Walker into the stitches-and-techniques section, where she certainly belongs. I thought I’d leave her where she has always been. Now I think I’ll move her tomorrow. (This is fun, all these decisions.) My husband brought the first two volumes back to me from New York at some point, perhaps in the 70’s or early 80’s. I had never heard of her. “Now you will never need to buy a knitting pattern again,” he said.

Monday, September 10, 2018

A good day on the knitting front.

I have embarked on the Kirigami pattern – I’m six rounds in. It’s nice and easy, so far. Knits and purls, increases and decreases. I can do that. There were two decrease rounds before I started on the pattern – 14 stitches eliminated. Not many, but it’s a start. Now it’s straight ahead for quite a while.

I spent some time this morning arranging knitting books. Some of my husband’s books have been dispatched, so there’s new shelf space – and since art books tend to be big, the newly-empty shelves will accommodate knitting. I created a section for stitch-patterns-and-techniques. The Feral Knitter and Felicity Ford are at last shelved side-by-side.

Two embarrassments: (1) I find I already have Gaughan’s “Knitting from Nature”. I put it in the section just described, where it doesn’t really belong, in order to keep Gaughan together. Her cable book undoubtedly has to be there. (2) I can’t find “marlisle” which belongs there, and which I know I have.

Next will be a section for how-to-knit and how-to-design. There’s much potential for overlap. These decisions are surely what makes it fun to be a librarian.

And then, to crown it all, the new VK turned up, with a richness of single-colour yoke sweaters, including a new Gaughan.

Two things worry me

1)    It says very early on that the next issue is “Fall 2018” (this one is “Early Autumn”) – “on sale July 10”.

2)    Page 24 has some nice snaps from their UK tour this spring. It includes a picture of “ruins of an ancient cathedral in York.” I feel sure that if disaster had struck York Minster, I would have heard about it. And you can’t have two cathedrals in one city – that’s the rule. The ruins pictured are very substantial. What are they?

Television is producing a veritable avalanche of possibly-watchable series. I’m hooked on “Bodyguard”, like everybody else in the UK. I’m skipping the one about adultery. I haven’t started “Vanity Fair” yet but I’ve been recording it. I watched the first episode of “Press” and don’t entirely understand it, but I may go on with it anyway. And tonight two more are starting up, and we are promised one very soon involving a psychopathic woman who may even be a surgeon – right up my street. Lots of knitting.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Now that I have reached this exciting stage of the Kirigami, I can scarcely keep my hands off it. I have finished the short rows – there were lots. Here is a pic (I hope):

The colours are false. I took it too late in the day. And the suggestion that I have spilled something on it is also wrong.

There are a lot of stitches crowded onto one needle – probably a 24-incher which EZ says somewhere is all you will ever need. Decreases should start soon. I cannot imagine why anyone would want to knit a yoke sweater top-down. I can see the theoretical advantages, all right, about fit. But not having all this fun at the end would be dreadful.

I have had a good time wallowing in the Norah Gaughan VK book. I don’t care much for her essays into colour-work, but that leaves a remarkable number of cable patterns which I covet. There is even a single-colour yoke sweater. Does anybody have her “Knitting Nature” book? Do I want it?

I meant to say yesterday – there’s a new KD blog post up, still no knitting, but extremely interesting. This time it’s Tom, and he has been making books. Literally, with his hands.

It’s always nice to be embarking on a week that will have Andrew and Andrea in it.

Cat, we in the northern hemisphere will soon be handing over to you this summer of record-breaking hotness. It will be very interesting indeed to see how you fare with it.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Great news! Joyce, having read last night’s blog, sent me the link to – and I have booked my place for 15-20 May next year. Anybody want to join me? If I were spry-er, I would choose their knitting-and-hiking alternative, but I’m not, and this will do fine.

They offer all that Mucklestone and Johnston offer, except those ladies themselves, and Burrastow. The first is a loss. I would like to be acquainted with both. Burrastow is a loss, too, but it’s way out in the glorious back of beyond, 10 or 12 miles from Lerwick. It will be more convenient to be in town, and good food is specifically promised – the food at Burrastow is splendid.

My next, delightful, problem is how to get there. I want to go by land. Kristie and Kath and I couldn’t spare the time. But it looks easy. Trains from Edinburgh to Aberdeen are a good deal quicker than Edinburgh to Oban (for my cruise last summer) – and the station is near the ferry terminal. And the ferry goes into Lerwick, whereas the airport is some distance away. If I can’t walk to our b&b (Lerwick is compact) there must be taxis of some sort.

The “adventure” includes Unst – I wouldn’t have wanted to go without that. I hope I can persuade them to let us have a glimpse of Muckle Flugga. It may not be possible – I gather that the RAF station on the northern tip of the island, deserted when Kristie and Kath and I were there, has been re-occupied. The splendid lighthouse of Muckle Flugga is on a tiny inhospitable island of its own, beyond. (How on earth did the clever Victorians build it?) Kath is not a knitter, and had been very patient with me and Kristie. I thought I could indulge them in a lighthouse – not a passion I share – for half an hour. The memory is a highlight of that memorable weekend.

And life here at home has not been entirely without excitement, either. I have joined the sleeves to the body of the Kirigami without any egregious mistakes as far as I can see so far. Much counting, and everything is all right on that front. Next come quite a few short rows, all across the back and around the shoulders – “like a hug”, as Amy Detjen engagingly says in her Craftsy class. There are lots of stitches. That will take a while, before the real fun begins.

And on top of all that, Norah Gaughan’s “40 Timeless Knits” has arrived. It is my policy here in later life not to buy books of patterns, with a few exceptions – EZ and daughter Meg; Kaffe; Kate Davies; Starmore (although I’ve never knit a Starmore); Mary Lou Egan. I have added Gaughan to the list. I haven’t had time to wallow in it yet. It looks wonderful. Astonishingly, all the photographs but one, she says, are old. Timeless, indeed.

Friday, September 07, 2018

I’m sorry for yesterday’s silence. I wasn’t entirely well – a sort of sub-flu. No knitting, no Pointless, not much eating or drinking, most of the day in bed. Much better today. I have advanced the second Kirigami sleeve to within two or three rounds of the final increase. There are only five more rounds after that, and I have a couple of promising television programmes salted down – so maybe tonight!

And today, I don’t know how or why, I finally got the Craftsy app to work on my iPad – previously, indeed for years, I had only been able to watch the video. Now I’ve got comments and pattern downloads and all. I celebrated by watching Any Detjen on the subject of joining sleeves to the body of a yoke sweater, with perhaps some profit.

And speaking of Famous Figures in the World of Knitting, I have had an email from Mucklestone-and-Johnston about their 2019 tour of Shetland. Alas, they seem very firm on the subject of fitness. You’ve got to be able to join in the walks. I would particularly like to go back to Burrastow, where the tour group is based and where Kristie and Cath and I stayed when we were there, however many years ago. But I can no longer walk the distances they require.

I’ll give up on trying to show you Alison Watt’s “Octavo” here but I can at least provide a link so that you can see an image of it for yourself. I was entirely deceived -- that’s what they call trompe l’oeil – when I first saw it, and even said to Greek Helen, “If that wasn’t a real piece of paper, it would have to be by Alison Watt”. She replied, “It’s not real. It is Alison Watt.”

This is, of course, a propos Norah Gaughan’s “Foldlines” pattern in the latest Brooklyn Tweed collection. That I have illustrated here, and it didn’t show up very well. The to-do list is embarrassingly long, but I think that one has found a place on it. And at least the Kirigami should be dispatched relatively soon.

There’s a new blog entry from KD, but she’s still thinking about Handywoman, not yet back to knitting. My husband had one of those turners that she is so enthusiastic about, in the last months of his life, for standing up out of his chair and transferring to a wheelchair. And it is, indeed, very ingenious and very good.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

“Pointless” is certainly serving its purpose – giving structure to that end-of-afternoon period when I sort of tend to fall apart. I’m now on the final stretch of the second Kirigami sleeve – increase every 8th round 4 times. That shouldn’t take long – I’ll be knitting that yoke by the weekend.

Alexander came over today – I hadn’t seen him for quite a while, as he had been at home with his sons during the school holidays. We went round to the Ingleby Gallery, very near, and I’m glad to say that Alison Watt’s folded paper picture was still there. I was very glad to see it again. I’ll try again to show you.

No luck -- I can apparently download the image, but it says "server rejected" when I try to show it to you.

There’s not much to report otherwise.

My portable computer, running Windows something-or-other, has suddenly taken to producing a search engine called “Ask” (possibly by Yahoo) when I type in a random question. If I want Google – which I do; “Ask” is manifestly inferior – I have first to go specifically to, and then ask my question. How did this happen? What can I do to reinstate Google as the norm?

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Shandy, yes (comment yesterday), we got through Orley Farm, and I have to agree that it’s not his brightest. Have you read “The Three Clerks”? It was recommended in a New Yorker article on Trollope, and is very interesting indeed.

It has been a grand day for knitting. I am whizzing along with the second Kirigami sleeve, and have wound another skein. I’ve got plenty of yarn – should I be regretting that I’m not knitting the next size up? There are lots of slender candidates in the succeeding two generations, if worse comes to worst.

And Andrew and Andrea arrived on schedule. A most interesting episode – I say that every fortnight. I was especially interested in the “Shepherdess” segment, not only because she is not all that far away from Drummond Place, but also because she is producing knitting yarn from Scottish Blackface sheep.

That’s what we’re surrounded with in Strathardle. I had long believed that their wool was virtually worthless nowadays (they’re reared for meat). It was once used for carpet backing, but carpets are now backed with acrylic and anyway are mostly woven in the Netherlands. I thought that sheering Blackface (necessary for their comfort) often cost more than the farmer could get for the wool.

And so today’s shepherdess was told, when she started out. But she persevered, and has produced what sounds like a very interesting line. Most are blends, but she also offers pure Blackface. My first thought was that this might be the yarn for KD’s Stronochlachar. It turns out, on examination, that they are out of several lines, and low on others. But I’ll certainly look back there when I’m ready for Stronochlachar. If Andrea can convert a Jade Starmore into a pullover for Andrew, I ought to be able to switch yarns.

And the big interview is Norah Gaughan – with the plus that you get you find out how to pronounce her name. She is delightful, and extremely interesting. All I want to do, at the moment, is to go on round and round in madtosh DK forever – but a future involving cables and travelling stitches holds much appeal.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Good old Pointless! It’s great to have it back, and I am now 2” or so above the wrist ribbing of the second Kirigami sleeve, with lots of television on tap for this evening.

Shandy,  I read an awful lot of rubbish these days, and can scarcely advise. I know exactly what you mean, about wanting to get back to one’s book. I am currently re-reading Le Carre’s “Drummer Girl” and it’s terribly good. Certainly not rubbish. I don’t even think you’d need to start off with a liking for spy thrillers. There’s always Trollope – life isn’t long enough to finish him, and even the lesser ones are interesting. He’s what my husband and I tended to reach for when we finished one bedtime book and couldn’t think where to turn next. And one can endlessly re-read “Mansfield Park”. I re-read “A Suitable Boy” (Vikram Seth) not long ago – it stands up well. You might have some ideas for me; I would be grateful.

The book that we hadn’t finished reading when my husband died was the Scott-Moncrieff translation of Proust. I’m sure it will remain unfinished. But it’s very good.

I had an email from my sister (a doctor) today. She has just finished reading “Handywoman” and found it very interesting. And Alexander bought himself a copy of the “West Highland Way” recently, although he isn’t interested in knitting patterns. KD should have me in her publicity department.

She’s offering a discount on “Carbeth” kits at the moment – I’m tempted, but must keep my eye on the ball. It’s an attractive pattern, but the next KD I want to knit is Stronachlachar and there are other things in the queue ahead of that one.

I suppose she has been too busy with “Handywoman” to have another knitting book up her sleeve to be released in instalments like the “West Highland Way” or “Book of Haps”. It’s a very nice way to be led on through the dark winter days.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

There’s not much to report this evening, either. But I have an unusually rich crop of television ahead which should last me well into the week, and should certainly advance my knitting this evening. I finished the first Kirigami sleeve last night, distributed the stitches onto waste yarn as instructed,  and am well embarked on the ribbing of the second.

Somehow, the pleasure of speeding around a wrist is not so acute this time.

I had my Italian lesson via Skype from Rome this morning – not quite as stressful as last week, because Skype behaved better, but it still leaves me mentally exhausted for much of the day. I grumbled at one point about verbs, and Federika said that when she was at school they had to write pages and pages of vado, vai, va, andiamo, andate, vanno, present indicative, etc.

I don’t remember that in Detroit we were ever drilled on what would be the English equivalent: I go, I went, I have gone; I see, I saw, I have seen, etc. Although mistakes in this area are common (at least in this country) among highly intelligent people who for that reason (the mistakes) have some avenues in life closed to them.

But I think I need to practice writing out Italian verbs.

Yes, Mary Lou, I watched and enjoyed The Night Manager, and have read it. I think the Drummer Girl is going to be even harder for television to do justice to, and look forward to it with high anticipation.

And the week we have just embarked upon is an Andrew-and-Andrea week!

Saturday, September 01, 2018

I have very little to report. I finished the increases on the first Kirigami sleeve, and am happy to tell you that the stitch count came out right. I’m going to do a couple more rounds and then sign off, leaving the sleeve an inch shorter than specified.

I’ve also finished Neil MacGregor on Living With the Gods. I have located but not yet embarked upon his “100 Object” series. That should keep me going for a while. I remain profoundly grateful to you for the suggestion, Shandy.

And – great news – Blogger has condescended to start sending me your comments as emails again. I didn’t do anything. It just happened.

This morning’s newspaper reports that we are to have a television series of Le Carre’s “Little Drummer Girl” this season. I read it awhile back and thought it remarkable. Today I decided to read it again, and had one of those embarrassing messages from Amazon to say that I already had it. And they were right, of course.

So today the Queen went to the Games, at Braemar. Judging from Edinburgh, we had better weather last week, but at least it wasn’t pouring down. I’ve tried Googl’ing “Highland games in Italian” again to see if Google spotted the answer here, but they don’t seem to have done so. (Giochi delle Highlands)