Sunday, March 31, 2019

Thanks, everybody, starting with Wilma. I’ve ordered the KnitPro blocking combs (two sets, following your advice, Kay). Report to follow. The single-coloured set is still available, slightly cheaper, but I went for the bright ones.

And knitting went – or, is going – well. The trouble with my new system is the considerable temptation, when I sit down, to pick up the baby sweater and not the Dathan hap. Today, at least, I resisted. I am past the half-way point with the bind-off. There’s about a foot to go, of weaving-in. That’s enough, on both fronts, to allow baby knitting for this evening.

I did that much this morning, watching Andrew Marr. His show is one of the perks of not going to Mass. “This is what it feels like, living through history,” he said. Yes, indeed. It’s not just Brexit, of course, but the splintering of the Conservative party and the prospect of a Marxist prime minister to follow.

There’s another post on the Kate Davies blog – Tom, this time. Again, of course, no news, but his tone suggests, nothing-to-worry-about. He is writing about the West Highland Way. I can’t find it on my shelf, which is maddening. It’s certainly here somewhere. I showed it to Alexander, who then bought one for himself, as he lives not all that far from the Way and is a dedicated walker.


There is nothing to report but a few more pages of Daniel Deronda. Saturday is devoted to the weekend FT.

Shandy, I’m glad you’re reading “The Claverings”, and agree about the delight of those horse-racing metaphors. “Doom” seems strong. It’ll be all right. Have you read “The Three Clerks”? We took on that one because of an article in the New Yorker. The final chapter is extraordinary (the whole thing is good). I won’t say more for fear of spoiling.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

I’m getting along nicely. I’m nearly halfway across with the bind-off. The ends-to-be-woven seemed to stretch out to the horizon, but when I tried folding that edge over on itself I was surprised and very pleased to see that I am nearly halfway on that one, too.

Here’s a pic of a finished corner:

KD says to block by soaking, pressing the water out, stretching out nicely, and pinning. That last seemed excessive to me, for a casual garter stitch hap. But in the issue of Knitting (the British magazine) which came today, there is a plug for KnitPro “Rainbow Knit Blockers”. A new product? We like KnitPro.

They’re sort of like combs. You buy a whole box of them, some more or less square, with four pins, others twice the size and therefore rectangular, with eight pins. It would certainly make blocking easier. And for something like the Dathan (or any other) hap, it would obviate the dreaded scalloped edge.

Has anybody used them? Am I right to be tempted?

I felt I had made enough progress with hap-finishing that I could allow myself to start the baby sweater, on the principle enunciated yesterday. The yarn I had in mind turned out, as soon as I had it in my hands to start winding, to be lace-weight. So I have chosen a nice sock yarn from my stash, a company called Knitglobal, a shade called Mountain.

The yarn is sort of greeny-grey. The sweater is knit bottom-up and circularly. I’m nearly finished with the initial garter-stitch band, and I am very pleased indeed with the way the yarn looks..

I felt a twinge of unease because, many decades ago, a friend told me that it was unlucky to knit for a baby in green. An Irish friend, at that. But then I thought of how my son-in-law Edward told Rachel not to wear old-new-borrowed-blue at her wedding to him because “God’s love is not so constrained”. I fancy the same might apply to knitting for babies.

Unless the parents would worry. Is this superstition in common use?


I learned a new Italian word this morning: mito, meaning, literally, a myth. I already knew that much. Applied colloquially to a person, it means a star, a legend. My tutor used it to describe John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons. Apparently his cries of “Order! Order!” have endeared him to the hearts of the Italian nation.

Friday, March 29, 2019

I’ve made a good start on finishing the Dathan hap.

The bind-off is interesting. I’ve done an i-cord bind-off before, and/or an i-cord edging – details are vague as supplied by memory – but I’m sure I’ve never done this one. It is: k1, k2togtbl, return the two stitches to the left-hand needle, repeat. Disconcerting, because that first k1 never gets bound off. When both are on the right-hand needle, I keep wanting to lift it over the other stitch in the usual fashion.

It’s making a very neat edge.

I’ve made a start on the weaving in of ends, too. That’s not quite as tedious as I expected, but it’s very slow.

This is going to take a while, and there’s no hurry. I’m thinking of making a start on the baby sweater, on condition that I don’t allow myself to work on it except on days when I’ve done an appreciable amount of Dathan-finishing already. The hap mustn’t slip down into UFO-dom. This evening would qualify, but I must do my Italian homework for tomorrow’s lesson.

There was a new post on the Kate Davies blog this morning – you’ve probably seen it. Not by Kate, but by another member of her team who is learning to knit. She says only that Kate is “unwell”.


Today was the great annual moment when Jersey Royal potatoes and English-grown asparagus were both first available at Waitrose. In other years, they have appeared simultaneously. This time, the potatoes were a week in advance.

I celebrated by making some hollandaise to dip them in for my lunch. Bad for the waist-line and the cholesterol. But it went off successfully, and was delicious. My father used to make hollandaise sauce on Sunday mornings. I don’t remember the breakfast – eggs Benedict? – or the taste, only his struggles with the sauce. He was by no means always successful – but he didn’t have the internet to advise him.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

597 stitches! Ce l’ho fatta!

I am currently knitting my way back to the beginning, without increasing, which is what happens on every fourth row anyway. The pattern doesn’t mention doing that, but I thought it would be more prudent to do the two-stitch i-cord bind-off with the right side facing. I really ought to spend this evening getting started on the homework for my early-morning Italian lesson on Saturday: but I suspect I’ll knit.

The computer has settled down. Eventually it ran completely out of electricity, enabling me to apply the Sovereign Remedy. I have never seen a problem quite like that one, where it would respond to some instructions but they were distinctly a minority.


“Daniel Deronda” has improved a bit, now that Daniel himself has made an appearance. In the 14 (or so) preceding chapters, there wasn’t a single sympathetic character. Or even an interesting baddie.

I didn’t really mean to suggest that Trollope and Eliot should have lived together in married bliss – just that I was surprised to find that they were so close in age. I think of him as utterly 19th century, her as looking forward to the 20th. She does have enormously long reflective paragraphs, though – perhaps even longer than his, and certainly more difficult. I keep having to stop and go back to the beginning of a sentence to try to work out what it means. Almost as bad as reading Henry James.

General non-knit

I feel I ought to be offering insights on the Brexit mess, for the edification of American and antipodean readers. I have none to offer. Do you suppose folk sat about up here in 1066 saying to each other, “I hear they’ve had a spot of bother down in Hastings”?

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

My computer is being very peculiar this evening. It doesn’t respond to most mouse-clicks, touching the screen doesn’t work, I can’t load Word to write a blog entry for you. I can’t play Freecell. (I’ve cut right down in Lent, but haven’t dispensed with it entirely.) Unplugging doesn’t seem to work — it has found some electricity in the bottom of the battery. And yet I successfully wrote and sent an email.

There is nothing much to report anyway. I am not enjoying “Daniel Deronda” very much. It is hard to believe that this is by the author of “Middlemarch”. I will persevere until Daniel himself comes on stage — we have glimpsed him from a distance — or until we reach the Jewish theme promised by Amazon.

Knitlass, I forwarded your comment to Alexander and Ketki. Many thanks.

This comes from my iPad.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Alexander posted this picture on his Facebook page the other day. He and his family are great Glasgow Warriors fans, and this cup turned up at a Warriors match last weekend, after the famous draw in Twickenham. There was no explanation. There was a man guarding it. So we don’t know whether it’s a replica or the real thing. I suspect the latter. I think there’s only one replica, and that's going to stay in Twickenham for another year. Alexander (who was here today) says it was beautiful.

That’s James on the left, Thomas (the eventual recipient of this year’s Calcutta Cup scarf) on the right.

I got on nicely with the hap today. I’m down to the point – indeed, a bit beyond it – where only 30 more stitches are needed, 12 rows, 6 garter stitch ridges. I’m finishing off, as many do, with a stack of two-row stripes. I’ve lined the colours up in the order I’ll be using them.


I finished "The Claverings". No hunting. It turns out that Siegfried Sassoon isn’t available for a Kindle, so I went on to “Daniel Deronda”. I’m sure I’ve never read it. According to the summary on Amazon, the initial plot-mover is very similar to the one in “The Claverings”. The beginnings of the two books, however, are very different. Trollope begins, bang, with the event on which all pivots. Eliot is spending chapter after chapter establishing the character of her heroine.

They might have married each other. Trollope is only four years older than Eliot. “The Claverings” came out eight or nine years before “Daniel Deronda”, however.

Thank you, Mary Lou. Craiglockhart, of course. One drives past it on the way from Drummond Place to Merchiston Castle, where Archie was at school. It’s not a hospital any more. An educational establishment of some sort, I think.

I am still sort of disappointed that Penguin isn’t emailing me a short-list of six worthy books-to-read every month, but at least the initial impetus has reduced my thriller intake for the moment.

Monday, March 25, 2019

I am still feeling very weak, but I did my two circuits of the Gardens and got some other tedious chores dispatched and feel the better for it.

The hap continues well. I am now at the point where only 40 more stitches are required – only 16 rows, only 8 garter stitch ridges. Time for the end-game, in fact. I was horrified, yesterday, spreading it out a bit on the sitting-room floor so that I could measure the central spine, to see how long are these rows I am currently knitting. The two-stitch i-cord bind-off won’t be quick.

Anna, thank you! That is my swatch on the Knitsonic Instagram page, and I would have missed it entirely but for you.


Beth, thank you. I can’t remember reading Daniel Deronda. I’ll investigate, and proceed if it’s new to me. Or perhaps even if it isn’t. And, Mary Lou, I will add Siegfried Sassoon to the maybe-next-time list. His name is very familiar, and I know he was a hunting man, and I know where the hospital was where he and Wilfred Owen were treated before being sent back to the front: but I don’t think I’ve ever read him. (I didn’t check facts for that paragraph: I could be way out. There was such a hospital, but maybe Siegfried Sassoon was never there.)

I continue to enjoy the Claverings.

Thank you, too, for help and advice on my weakness. My appt with the Geriatric Medicine people is coming up soon. There was an encouraging article about Sir David Attenborough in this morning’s Times. He doesn’t like to commit himself to work more than 2 years ahead, it said, since he is 93 and you never know. It gives me hope that I may survive to board my Majestic Line cruise in May, 2020.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

I felt very weak today, and didn’t go for my walk. I’ll have to get back in the saddle tomorrow.

C. came and got me and took me to Mass this morning. Our route lies past the Edinburgh Central Mosque, and we found its railings piled with flowers.

I got on well with the Dathan hap. I did a full 4-row repeat both yesterday and today, which leaves me only 60 stitches to add. I measured the central spine and found that I have just less than 2” to go. After a certain amount of mental confusion – 60 stitches does not mean 60 rows, or anything like; it means 24 rows (I think) – once I got that straightened out, I decided that the two measures -- inches and stitch count – will come out close to even. I’ll press on for 597 stitches.


I’m having a lovely time with "The Claverings". No one has gone hunting yet, and it’s June – but I’m less than halfway through. There’ll be plenty of time for a hunt next winter.

I can’t go on with Trollope forever. The newssheet at Mass this morning said that the parish reading group is going to tackle “Romola”. That sounds good, I thought, but when I got home and looked it up I discovered that it is historical. I am sort of prejudiced against historical fiction, as against bobbles, although my beloved “Gattopardo” would have to be classed as one, even though I sat next to Tancred at lunch in January, 2018. (See last year's blog entries for January.) 

We read “Silas Marner” at Asbury Park High School. It was the most boring book I had ever read, slightly in advance of “Ivanhoe” which was also on the curriculum. After I grew up and discovered how absolutely wonderful George Eliot is, my husband and I tried it again, for our bedtime reading. It’s still boring.

I’d be grateful for opinions on “Romola”. Alternatively, I could just read “Middlemarch” again.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Little has been accomplished, but I have at least somewhat recovered from my exertions of yesterday.

Here is the yarn which recently emerged from my stash, with which I mean to knit Mary Lou’s pattern for my new great-grandchild, as soon as the hap is finished:

It has lost its label, but it must be sock yarn and it must be machine-washable (because I buy no other sort of sock yarn) and it must be 400 yards long. Famous last words. The colour seems highly suitable for a sophisticated 21st century baby, and straddles the sexes nicely.

Here is the swatch I knit yesterday in Felicity Ford’s class:

Totally insignificant. I think I must nerve myself to throw it away. We had beautiful pictures of Arthur’s Seat on the table before us, among which we were invited to choose. Some were landscapes, some – mine – were close-ups. Mine was of pinky-red rock, with bits of differently-coloured rock showing through, and my venture was fairly successful, although meaningless without the source-photograph.

One of us said that she had grown up in Edinburgh, with Arthur’s Seat visible from her bedroom window. Then she burst into tears. She lives in Oslo now.

Felicity Ford knows the entire Jamieson & Smith range by catalogue number. "You might want to try some SQ27 there," she would cry, and then dive into a carrier bag and produce it.

I think the only other unreported EYF news is that Jamieson & Smith had a white lace hap pinned up, no fancier than Becca’s and perhaps slightly smaller – although of course free from holes – with a price tag of £450. I was pleased to see the value of knitting so well-respected. But it probably didn’t sell.

I have only knit one long row today – I’ll go and do another one or two now, before bed. While I did it, I counted and did the arithmetic in my head. I was doing row 4 of the 4-row repeat, and at the end of it I needed 80 more stitches. That means 8 more 4-row repeats, as each adds 10 stitches. That doesn’t sound too bad. Except for idle days like today, I’m still managing a repeat a day.


I’m enjoying The Claverings. A couple of the characters keep horses, and I hope we shall have a hunting chapter. Trollope does them brilliantly, and I haven’t read one for a long time.

There is an article in today’s Financial Times – the only newspaper I buy – recommending the pleasures of reading thrillers in one’s bath. I don’t read in the bath any more. I fear it’s dangerous for one as feeble as I am. But I remember what fun it was. I used to read Vogue Knitting Books there. The article recommends some books, and since I agree with the author's judgement about some that she mentions, I ventured to buy cheap Kindle copies of two I hadn't heard of.

Friday, March 22, 2019

“What’s going on at the Corn Exchange?” she asked, when I rang up this morning for a taxi. And when we got there, the driver saw us all and asked, “Is this something to do with Mother’s Day?” [In GB, it is celebrated on mid-Lent Sunday which falls this year on the 31st.]

I had a grand time, but was scarcely strong enough. Was that my last EYF?

As before, it was brilliantly organised. We class-attendees were allowed into the market an hour before everybody else. When I arrived, as in other years, there was someone to take my ticket and issue a bracelet which sufficed for entrance for the rest of the day. A nice man also took me to the head of the queue. I must have looked as feeble as I felt.

I didn’t do justice to the market, but I covered a bit of ground. Brooklyn Tweed was there in force, but I didn’t see Jared. I got to fondle their Arbor yarn, and was tempted for Thomas Miles’ Calcutta Cup scarf – but then I thought, no, it must be a Scottish yarn. I bought Jamieson & Smith’s new Croft yarn instead.

Oliver Henry was there. I didn’t embarrass him by acknowledging that I recognised him. He’s looking distinctly old, but I can’t persuade Google to tell me when he was born. As old as I am? Probably not quite.

“Colours of Edinburgh” with Felicity Ford was brilliant. It was essentially the course of action prescribed in her Knitsonic book “Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook”, much enlivened by her delightful self. I wasn’t even the class dunce. Nobody was.

One of my fellow students was wearing the Dathan pullover. The objection to it which I felt when I saw the pattern, doesn’t apply – namely, too much fabric hanging down under the arms. But it wasn’t sitting properly on her shoulders, with the result that the back was hiked up and the front slid down. The stripes were beautiful – but I’m far enough along with the hap to know that.

I looked for yarn for Mary Lou’s baby pattern, but all the possibilities I spotted said “hand wash advised” or similar. That won’t do for a third millennium baby. I did buy a yarn bowl, and used it in Felicity’s class. I keep finding that  yarn, when I’m knitting the hap, resting however securely on the table in front of me, slips to the floor and is pounced on by my furry helpers. I think I have found the solution.

I asked both Jen A-C and Felicity for news of Kate Davies, but both professed to know nothing. Is that possible? Or are they under instructions to keep schtum? Felicity promised to pass on my good wishes.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

I’m all ready for the EYF, I think. E-ticket printed and packed along with Mary Lou’s pattern and the things I need for my “Colours of Edinburgh” class with Felicity Ford. No homework, mercifully – just a circular 2.5 mm needle and some squared paper. I threw in some coloured pencils.

I’ll be carrying my “Thank You Obama” bag, and wearing my “Don’t Mess With An Old Woman Who Graduated from Oberlin College” sweat shirt, but that will be largely concealed under an outdoor jacket. I wore it two years ago: there was another Oberlin woman in Hazel Tindall’s class. What were the chances of that?

Everybody else, of course, wears beautiful knitting.

So please say hello if you see me, and feel like it.

Past visits to the EYF have contributed to what might be called my Permastash – but this time, what I buy is very likely to be knitted before EYF 2020, namely a sweater for a new great-grandchild and a Calcutta Cup scarf.

I did a bit more Dathan today (but no walk). I now only lack a few stitches of 500. That will be a milestone.


I’m glad you’re enjoying “He Knew He Was Right”, Shandy, and I agree that Miss Stanbury is a terrific character. Mr. Gibson and the French sisters are good examples, too, of what I meant about Trollope’s lightness of touch and skill at slightly comic characters. Several of the themes of that book are echoed in “Lady Anna” but in the latter case, there is no light relief. It is as if “He Knew He Was Right” were entirely devoted to the Trevellyns.

I have finished “Lady Anna” and have gone on to “The Claverings”.

The New Yorker came today. I was surprised to find Brexit on the cover. The Talk of the Town leading article says that Brexiteers would have done well to contemplate Irish prosperity. The difficulty with that contemplation is that Ireland was a poor country, and EU money poured in (as into Greece). The UK is a rich country, and our money pours out.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A fairly productive day. Archie and I unpinned the veil. It looks greatly refreshed after its blocking. The stash cupboard refused to reveal the left-over yarn from its making, so I went to Cathy’s Knits around the corner to get some. It’s too white, and too thick, but the mending is inconspicuous. So that’s done.

Lucy Hague was there at the shop, with a display of her beautiful shawls. I gave up and re-bought “Celtic Cable Shawls” – I know I have a copy, but it’s been missing for three years at least. Maybe it will now come to the surface.

She remembered my telling her about the unvention of the horizontal cable, as employed in the Dunfallandy blankie, when we met at the launch of Kate Davies’ Hap book. She has looked it up, but hasn’t attempted it. I forgot to tell her that I have knit her “Uncia” pattern from that book.

Despite the time needed for hole-mending I have done a bit more Dathan hap. The new longer needle arrived from Meadow Yarns and is much more comfortable.

I've printed Mary Lou's "Overlap Baby Sweater", to take along to the EYF. But the unsuccessful search for lace yarn in the stash threw up a very nice (unlabelled) skein of sock yarn which might do the trick. 


FibreClaireUK, I’m still not entirely with you on “Lady Anna”. Everybody is having such a miserable time. There is none of Trollope’s usual lightness of touch, no comic clergymen. I haven’t far to go.

Here are some cat pictures to cheer us up. Julie, they were firmly excluded from the sitting room while the blocking was in progress. They didn’t like it, either.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A pretty good day. I had an early appt with the dentist (routine, expensive cleaning), straight up Dublin Street. “Up” means “up”, in that case. I thought that might do for exercise, but later in the morning went out for my walk as usual.

And on with the Dathan. I have corralled another 25 stitches on each side, 450 altogether, plus 5 in the central spine. We’re getting there.

I remembered that I have some super-long circular needles. They’re left over from the Dunfallandy blankie of a couple of years ago. For the edging of that one, I had to pick up all the stitches all the way around, all at once. That required three super-longs (150 cm), I think -- two for picking up, one for knitting with. But they are 3mm needles, and I am knitting on a 3.25.

Maybe that would do. “Knitting is forgiving stuff”: EZ. But in the end I ordered a 3.25 from Meadow Yarns, and paid for first class postage, and have had an email from them saying that it has been dispatched. So maybe tomorrow, and in any case I ought to be able to struggle on.

Alexander phoned. He says that his son Thomas, not long after the final whistle, asked what this year’s Calcutta Cup knitting was going to be, and claimed it for himself. I feel touched and flattered. I told Alexander to ask him his feelings about a long squishy cabled scarf. I need to know by Friday.

“Foldlines” is sinking further and further below the horizon. I never expected Calcutta Cup knitting in 2019. I will look at Jared’s “Arbor” yarn at the EYF, but won’t buy. The scarf will be expensive enough, and I will also be hunting for a good sock yarn for Mary Lou’s baby pattern – the ’19 Calcutta Cup is now history, it'll wait for me, but great-grandchildren don’t stand still.

I think I referred to it with a feminine pronoun the other day. But I don’t know what it is. I just said that because all my great-grandchildren are girls. Hellie, when she rang up to tell me the news, said that the scan-operator refused to tell her.


“Lady Anna” is a rather glum book so far, but I can’t stop now.

Monday, March 18, 2019

I’m recovering, I guess. I went to my butcher’s on Broughton Street this morning, and spoke to my rugby friend among the men who work there. He had had Saturday off and had been able to watch the whole match, and was delighted with it. “The greatest come-back in history!” Which I guess it was. But I wish we'd won.

I have made some progress on the big-scarf idea. I looked through cabled scarves on Ravelry, and concluded that I want to make it relatively narrow, as long as I have enough stitches for the half-cup and the date. I think this one deserves the complete date, “2019”. I have pretty well decided on No. 100 in Gaughan’s book for the cable pattern.

And I am edging forward with the Dathan hap. I corralled another 50 stitches on each side today – I now have 200 marked off on each wing, plus another 30 or so loose stitches in the middle and at the wing-tips, outside the markers. I’ll spare you the arithmetic, but I think I have to do 13 more 4-row pattern repeats. It doesn’t sound so bad, expressed like that, but it represents an addition of nearly 200 more stitches. Is my present needle long enough to hold them? I had better address that problem soon.

Archie and I got the wedding veil blocked. It’s got some holes, as you can see. I hope I’ll be able to find the left-over yarn, but if not I can probably get some at the EYF. I think Jamieson and Smith are going to be there. The holes won’t show anyway, the way she is going to wear it, attached in a bunch to the back of her head.

I have hitched up with another member of my Shetland Wool Adventure who plans to arrive, as I will, on the ferry from Aberdeen. (How did we manage, before the Internet?) She has a car, and will drive us to the b&b. I have found out their email address from another member of the group, and have written to say that I will want to lie down on arrival. The programme doesn’t start until 6:30 that evening. I'll cheerfully pay for another day if need be. So that’s progress.


I have embarked on Trollope’s “Lady Anna”. I started it last year, on paper, and took it along on my cruise but didn’t read it there. The great thing about Kindle (where I am reading it this time) is that I can enlarge the type when I want to knit and read, and scrunch it down again with ease when knitting is laid aside.

The beginning is sort of complicated. The characters in the book are as confused as I am. I think it will simplify itself soon.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

I’ve cheered up a bit, I guess. The sun came out. I did my walk, after my Italian lesson. I fetched Gaughan’s “Knitted Cable Sourcebook” from the shelf and began contemplating a big squishy cabled scarf to commemorate yesterday’s events.

Alexander will probably be here on Wednesday as usual. I can show him Gaughan’s suggestion for such a scarf and discuss whether it is the sort of thing (minus, I think, the fringe) any of them would ever wear. And then, two days later, the EYF. It would be expensive, but what happened yesterday will be long remembered in rugby circles and deserves an appropriate commemoration. And yet it doesn’t quite deserve a Fair Isle vest.

The trouble with your idea, Tamar, of commemorating the other recent draw at one end of the scarf – which I will bear in mind – is that that was a run-of-the-mill event, and it has already had its knitting, in that lost hat. Alexander has a photograph, at least.

I phoned Rachel, who was at Twickenham yesterday with her husband Edward. She says they thought of leaving at half-time, just as I thought of not turning the television back on. There were lots of empty seats at that point, she says.

I’ve had a kind and helpful email from Maureen, encouraging me to be braver about the Shetland Wool Adventure.

I’ve done a couple more rows of Dathan Hap, and finished the third pass through the 15 different yarns. I hope to do a bit more this evening.


I have finished “He Knew He Was Right”. Trollope is wonderful, even when not on top form. I am very tempted to go on with him. I have read a few pages of “The Late George Apley” but I think I’d be happier staying in the 19th century just now.

The FT is very enthusiastic this weekend about Sadie Jones’ “The Snakes”. But the negative reviews on Amazon, of which there are quite a few, are sort of off-putting and I need comfort and uplift, which Trollope can be relied on to provide.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

It was a draw (which means that the Cup stays in Edinburgh for another year).

It was one of the greatest Calcutta Cup matches of all time. What can I knit to commemorate it?

Half-way through, England were leading 31-0. That’s a lot. I switched off and went to the corner shop for the Financial Times and some consolatory chocolate, I am sorry to say. It was a depressing day, and I felt depressed. I didn’t get my walk – and didn’t get to show Drummond Place Gardens to James, himself a keen gardener, because it was sleeting. Helen and her boys came to lunch. She brought sad news of an unexpected death, in her generation. She will go to the funeral.

I almost thought I wouldn’t bother to turn the television back on, when I got home. But I did. Scotland scored try after try, and tied the score. Then they scored another one, and were leading as the clock ticked down. But then England scored another, at the very very very end. I am still breathless, and still somewhat sad. I think the man said that Scotland have never before – and the Calcutta Cup goes back a long way – scored that many points when the match was played in England.

The last time the match was drawn -- ?2010 – I knit a hat with half a cup on it, for Alexander and Ketki’s son James. He lost it, unfortunately. Shall I knit him another? Perhaps a scarf would be harder to lose. Perhaps an epic match deserves a whole vest.


The rugby was fairly productive on that front. The Calcutta Cup was preceded by Wales-Ireland, an unexciting affair which Wales won with clinical precision. Is today St Patrick’s day? And the first half of the Cup match didn’t require close watching, either. It occurred to me that the dimensions of the Hap might be mentioned somewhere, even if they weren’t recorded on the schematic. And, yes! there they are on page 1 of the pattern.

The central spine is 25”. Mine, alas – another cause for gloom – is only 17” so far. Every row now takes forever, since there are more than 400 stitches. And – further gloom – Helen brought the Northmavine Hap with her, and I discover that I wove in the ends that time. I fear there is no escape. It’ll be a week’s work, at least.

I have been sent the programme for my Shetland Wool Adventure in May. I seriously wonder if I am strong enough. More gloom.

Mary Lou, thank you for that pattern. I’ll knit it for the forthcoming great-granddaughter, and I will shop for it at the EYF. The Calcutta Cup will just have to wait.

Friday, March 15, 2019

James is here, talking to some students about China. Helen and her boys will join us for a sandwich lunch tomorrow.

And tomorrow is Calcutta Cup day. The match is at the end of the afternoon, not good, but at least I can be sure that the excitement will be over and James on his way to London, and I can watch it uninterrupted. James is not even mildly interested. England will win decisively, I am afraid. The cup will go south again, perhaps for a long, long time. I’m glad I finally made the effort to see it.

I didn’t get much hap-knitting done today. I’ve asked Helen to wear the Northmavine tomorrow, so that I can see how I finished the loose-end edge.

I had a thought: Archie comes twice a week and does chores for me. The chore that is beginning to press rather heavily on my conscience is the re-blocking of Hellie’s wedding shawl so that this year’s bride can wear it. I should have done it before now. Today’s thought was: Archie can do it.

I will, of course, stand over him, and warm the water on my own wrist. But he can do all the tedious moving about and most of the pinning while I boss him about. I think we’ll have to do it on a bed. I usually use the dining room floor, but of late the cats are based there with their food and litter tray (ever since they were thrown out of the kitchen by the reconstruction).

Cats and lace-blocking are incompatible. Perdita tries to pull the pins out and I am terrified that she will swallow one. So it will have to be on the spare room beds, pushed together, or else perhaps the double bed and I will sleep in the spare room for a night or two. It will be good to have that job done.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

My computer – a by-now-relatively-antique Toshiba portable – has just inflicted one of those involuntary updates on me, with the result that everything takes much longer than before. Archie says that modern computers (there is a three-letter-acronym involved) turn on immediately, like computers on television. Tempting.

Sharon has most kindly written to me quoting my own words from April, 2017, about the re-sizing of my first Pollywog so as to knit it in sock yarn. I was surprised to find that it was so recent – but, of course, it has to be, since its wearer is not very old. The solution, as I had dimly remembered, was to cast on the no. of stitches for the largest size, and knit the dimensions for the smallest. It worked that time.

The blog says that I did some of the calculating with my “Pony Knitting Calculator”. I have no memory whatsoever of such an article. And a preliminary scrabble on the shelves where I keep knitting implements has revealed no such thing. But it didn’t reveal my knitting belt, either – and that must be there.

Nothing in my sock yarn collection seems quite right. But, hey! I’m going to the EYF next week.

I had another good day with the hap. I was wrong when I said yesterday that I had 200 stitches in each of the wings. I do now, though. Nancy’s idea of counting out blocks of stitches and marking them off makes constant counting easy – because I just have to count the odd stitches at either end of the row, and then add in the others. This is a great comfort, with so many stitches involved.

Some of the balls of yarn are beginning to look a bit depleted. That’s encouraging.

I have done nothing at all, so far, with all those loose ends. I knit KD’s Northmavine hap (from “Colours of Shetland”) once, for Greek Helen. That won’t have had quite as many ends, but it must have involved a good few. I’ll have a look to discover how I finished that edge, the next time I see her wearing it.


There’s an article in today’s New Yorker about John Williams. A lot of the article was over my head, but I have read Williams’ “Stoner” and “Butcher’s Crossing”, both highly recommended. I think the article has inspired me to re-read “The Late George Apley” when I finish Trollope.

I thought Penguin was going to send me a short list of novels every month from which I could select two or three to read or re-read. That doesn’t seem to be happening, but the impetus provided by that first list has, for the moment, wafted me away from thrillers.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

A good day. Archie came, and we disposed of some more clutter. The sitting room is beginning to look as if we were about to move out. We did my walk, too, and harvested some wild garlic which grows freely in Drummond Place Gardens. I made a pesto of it and tossed it through pasta for my supper.

Knitting went well, too – another six rows of Dathan Hap. Nancy, I put your brilliant and simple idea into practice at once. First I marked off every 25 stitches. Then I decided that that was simply too many markers to endure, and took out the intermediate ones (after much counting and re-counting) so that everybody is now grouped in batches of 50.

Moorecat, I don’t think the hap is two isosceles triangles. The number-less schematic does indeed suggest that, but in fact the wingspan from the centre point to the end is longer than the spine. I think that is attributable to the fact that there are “extra” increases every four rows at the tip of the wingspan.

If you have the pattern, look at the picture on page 2 – the first page of text – where KD is holding the hap stretched out.

It could certainly be regarded as two right-angle triangles, and Archimedes could be pressed into service. The hypotenuse is the diagonal edge; the spine is one of the sides. But that involves a lot of hard work. It’s simpler to aim for 597 stitches. I think that means 296 stitches in each wing, plus the five in that central panel. And I’ve already passed 200.

The EYF has had to withdraw Nancy Brown Reinsel's classes because of "visa problems". What on earth? Some years ago there was a knitting festival on the campus of Sterling University which nearly collapsed altogether because nobody grasped until the very last moment that anyone entering the country from outside the EU in order to teach (=work), needed a visa. But surely neither the EYF nor Nancy would have made that mistake.


There’s a whole week of Lent disposed of already. I am always surprised to find that the time slips by as smoothly as it does during the rest of the year. And the Rev. Dotchin’s meditations are indeed excellent.

“He Knew He Was Right” continues to grow on me.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Andrew and Andrea were a bit of a disappointment today – and we’ve got to wait three weeks for the next one, because they'll be at the EYF next week. Andrea told us where and when they were to be spotted. But I spoke to her last year; that’s enough.

However, there was a podcast yesterday for patrons (of which I am one), Andrea talking to June Hemmings Hiatt, author of “Principles of Knitting”. I listened to perhaps half of it, during which time Hiatt expressed her enthusiasm for Shetland knitting belts and those long, rigid needles.

And I decided to take mine along, when I go to Shetland for my Wool Adventure in May. I bought them after my previous trip there, some years ago now, and never made any headway despite trying hard.

I had another good day with the Dathan hap. I did a stitch count – I had the same number of stitches in both wings; that’s good. And I had 333 stitches altogether, more than half of the 597 needed. That’s better than I expected. Pretty soon a single row will be a day’s work, but I’ve done six rows today and hope to knock off a couple more before bedtime.

I’m very pleased with the way it’s looking. I’m sure any arrangement of those wonderful colours would look good.

Here’s a pic:

Kate Davies offers a wingspan measurement as an alternative to achieving 597 stitches – but measuring the wingspan is quite impossible without a major stitch derangement. A measurement for that central spine would be a good deal more useful. The schematic is as innocent of numbers as the famous map in “The Hunting of the Snark”.


The House of Commons is probably dividing on the Brexit question at this very moment. The answer seems pretty predictable. What is to become of us?

I am reading happily on with “He Knew He Was Right” although I’m still not half-way.

Monday, March 11, 2019

A good day, but not productive of reportable event. Archie came for a morning of useful toil. Little by little, the clutter in this house is being reduced.

I knit on, on the Dathan hap. Individual rows take quite a while now, and I haven’t even added half the final number of stitches (although nearly, I think). I didn’t count, today. Counting is a major undertaking in itself.

I did photograph the assembled Millarochies:

Except that I forgot that one of them was attached to the knitting, so it’s missing. It was a very dark blue. Is it odd that there’s no yellow, except in so far as yellow contributes to that wonderful lime green? You'll agree that the ensemble effect is dark.

For the third pass, I have abandoned randomness and arranged the colours on the table in front of me in the order I will employ them. I’ll decide on the width of each stripe when I get there.


I am pressing on with Trollope’s “He Knew He Was Right” to the detriment of “Anne of Green Gables”. I think Trollope is making it up as he goes along; it’s certainly not one of his best. Even so, the characters are varied and interesting and I am enjoying their company and their troubles. It’s a very long book – I’m not yet halfway through.

Rather like the hap.

Andrew & Andrea tomorrow! And lots of potentially interesting television this evening. I have recorded it all, and can watch in dribs and drabs while I knit in days to come.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

All well. Many thanks to the mathematically-minded for their help with my Dathan hap. Goodness gracious me. It’s like that famous conundrum about a grain of rice on the top left-hand corner of a chessboard, to be doubled on every subsequent square: 2, 4, 8, 16 – and by the time you get to the 64th square, all of China couldn’t produce enough rice.

I haven’t fully addressed myself to the reasoning, but I will remember that the comments of 9 October are where the answers are to be found. I have knit happily on, and have now finished employing all the colours for the second time.

The rules say that all 15 colours of Millarochy are to be used. I have self-imposed a rule that each must be used once only as I go through the sequence. The general impression of the entire collection of 15 is on the gloomy side. I’ll try to take a picture of them all tomorrow when the light comes back. KD’s own Dathan looks fairly bright. Broad stripes of the three light shades, and strategic employment of the wonderful lime green, should do the trick. My own Dathan is fairly dark so far, although wonderful.

I now have more than 273 stitches. I have to count the wings every so often to make sure that there are equal numbers of stitches on each side. Today the answer was 134 (plus 5 in the central band). And I've done a few rows since the count.

I got out Mary Lou’s Pollywog pattern, thinking of the new great-grandchild. I wonder if I kept notes of how I did it last time? I certainly didn’t use the prescribed sport-weight yarn. Perhaps sock yarn, good for washing? And did I cast on the number of stitches required for one of the larger sizes, and then knit the measurements of the smallest one? Keep notes, is the moral.


I am glad to see the contact details for the Suffolk Vicar repeated in yesterday’s comments. His Lenten meditations are excellent; he has clearly worked hard on them, and thought hard. I will email him soon and thank him. I am hard put, however, to know how to address him. “Dear Mr Dotchin”?  “Dear Father Dotchen”?

I spent a summer, maybe two of them, in the early ‘50’s, working for the Asbury Park Press. One of the first things they taught me was that “Rev” by itself was not acceptable as a title. Clergymen were to be referred to as “The Rev. Mr….” That was 70 years ago. Things may have changed. And maybe the rule applied only in Asbury Park. But I still couldn’t bring myself to write “Dear Rev Dotchin”.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

The universal remedy cured my computer – at least for the time being. I checked all the other connections last night, and this morning got down on my aged knees on the floor, found that the plug was tight in the socket, and tried turning the electricity off and then on again at the wall.

Yesterday’s big news is that another great-grandchild is on the way. Hellie and Matt, parents of Orla who already has a Polliwog, are expecting another child in September, sex as yet unknown.

This afternoon’s rugby – Wales beat us, but they didn’t make mincemeat of us – proved excellent for knitting and the hap is progressing nicely. I wish I could think of a way to estimate how far along I am – for my own sake, as well as that of the sidebar. The instructions are simply to knit until you have 597 stitches or until the wingspan measures 74 inches. Ten stitches are added every four rows.

I’ve now got more than 200 stitches. For a while I entertained the thought that I had therefore knit a third of the whole, but I’m not sure I believe it. Comments from mathematicians would be welcome.

I realise you never heard the latest instalment of the Foldlines story. Here are the three swatches:

The green one on the left was knit on a 3.75mm needle, the middle one on a 3.5, and the right-hand one on a 3.25. Or so I thought. I measured the needles on the metal gauge pictured, my fave, although I keep the plastic one handy, too, for days when I can’t find the other one. I have two pepper grinders in the kitchen, on the same principle.

And when I finished the third swatch, it was one of those days – and the plastic gauge said that I had used a 3.5 needle again. (When the metal gauge re-surfaced, it confirmed its earlier reading: 3.25.) The third swatch seems to be the same size as the second, justifying thereby the plastic gauge.

I will set the whole problem aside for the time being and, when the hap is finished, knit something for the new great-grandchild.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Sorry — computer’s not working. I think it’s not getting any electricity, and I don’t feel like crawling around on the floor to examine the connections. Alexander and his family will be here tomorrow, on their way to the rugby — Wales is going to tear us limb from limb, I fear — and one of them can do it I hope. I am picking this out with one finger on the iPad.

Knitting went well. The rows of the Dathan Hap are now seriously long. The new yarn arrived, the missing colours.

See you tomorrow, I hope

Thursday, March 07, 2019

No news. I saw “The Green Book” with my niece C. – got there and back by bus, too, which but confirmed my impression that I am getting weaker fast. I enjoyed the movie.

No knitting, even. I gave up “Pointless” (which usually furnishes 45 minutes of knitting time on a weekday) to make a start on my Italian homework. I haven’t had a lesson for a fortnight because of my fall, and didn’t want to leave it all for tomorrow.

And no reading.

Still, I’ve done another day’s Lent. Thank you for the encouragement, Mary Lou. The meditations based on “In This House of Brede” are arriving daily, and they are good. And there’s time for a couple more Dathan stripes before I go to bed.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

I've kept Lent for one day, If I can do that, the other 39 should be just about manageable. (In fact, it’s a few more than 40 days, if you include the Sundays.) My family is convinced that I will be ever so much more spry, without cider. The trick is to resist substituting chocolate for the missing carbohydrate. If I can do that, I will lose a bit of weight before this is over. That should contribute to spryness in itself, having less of a load to haul around.

I’ve had a grand day with KD’s Dathan hap. It’s great fun:

(It’s a top-down knit.)

Garter stitch is very demanding, for all its kindergarten reputation. Mine is pretty ragged.

I’ve got more than 100 stitches now. The target is 597. I’ve used all 12 of the original Millarochy colours. For the next pass, I’m going somewhat more random: drawing the balls blindly out of their KD carrier bag, then locating the first appearance of that colour and knitting a stripe of a different width. I’ve heard from the KD shop, that my order of the missing three colours has been dispatched. So by Friday…

I thought I didn’t like tweedy yarns, but Millarochy has won me round entirely. This is such an addictive just-one-more-row of a pattern that I think perhaps I will rush on and finish it. Foldlines will have to wait a bit.

And if Scotland should win the Calcutta Cup on March 16 – that’s next week – it will have to wait even longer. But that won’t happen.


I am very grateful for your suggestions, which I will note with care. I’m being drawn into Trollope’s “He Knew He Was Right”. Obviously, not a major work, or we would have heard of it, but the old boy never fails us entirely.