Friday, May 31, 2019

I’ve had a good day with the Spring Shawl, and have advanced from Page Three to Page Four of the pattern. That’s exciting. The patterns in the centre of the triangle are beginning to develop – not difficult; anyone can manage k2tog, YO. But confusing, because now the action is on every row, and the centre-triangle patterns don’t relate to the border mesh.

Sharon says that there was no point in charting the whole of the triangle because it is obvious how it works, once you get started. I can imagine having to chart it for myself.

I am puzzled – although I ought to be able to work it out – as to how the increases work. On the Dathan hap – you can see it behind me in yesteday’s picture – the increases stay where I put them. You can see the attractive spine they make down the centre of the hap. On the Spring Shawl, every row begins with an increase and somehow or other the new stitches are passed from hand-to-hand and wind up in the centre while the wide mesh edges remain the same size.

I’ve done a bit more Calcutta Cup scarf, too.


Thank you for your help with my literary puzzle. JennyS, I made a start on your suggestion – searching for “A Mister Wilkinson, a clergyman” in quotes. I didn’t find the two sources you mention, but I did find references, at least, to an American book about literary criticism and to something by Emerson, although I didn’t persevere to the point of finding the actual quotation in those sources. Their existence, however, half-answers my question as to how my mother got to hear of it.

I rather fancy the idea of all those bearded literary men trying to invent the most boring possible line of blank verse, and then somehow attributing it to Wordsworth.


No change. Perdita keeps entirely to her room. The door is open. She is free to move about, and Paradox is free to come in, although both Perdita and I try to discourage that. I don’t suppose counselling is available for cats.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Here’s my puzzle:

Many years ago, my mother taught me the line “A Mister Wilkinson, a clergyman” as a way to remember the rhythm of blank verse, iambic pentametre.

While I was in Lerwick, feeling feeble, I temporarily abandoned “No Name” and read Trollope’s “Miss Mackenzie” which I happened to have in my iPad. (It’s terrific, by the way.) And in it, whom should I encounter but a Mr Wilkinson, a clergyman, in those words precisely.

He is an utterly minor character, present at a dinner party with his wife, contributing no conversation, swept off stage on the next page, never to reappear.

I googled the line. I found it in that great compendium at, in very small indeed almost unreadable print, in a letter from Edward Fitzgerald (of Omar Khayyam fame) to Hallam Tennyson, son of the poet laureate, in which Fitzgerald says that Tennyson pere had claimed authorship of the line which was in fact his. Wordsworth comes in here somewhere – I think they’re laughing at him.

But there are no details. When did Tennyson claim the line? Where did Fitzgerald publish it?  His  translation of the Rubaiyat is in iambic pentametre (“The moving finger writes, and having writ…”) but without looking it up, I’m pretty sure that Mr Wilkinson doesn’t appear. And, perhaps most curious of all, how was the line transmitted to the 20th century? Where did my mother learn it?

“Miss Mackenzie” is very close in date (early 1860’s) to the letter from Fitzgerald to Tennyson fils. I feel pretty sure that Mr Wilkinson is an in-joke amongst those bearded Victorian writers. (“Did you hear that Tony Trollope has got Mr Wilkinson into his new book?”) But there are more questions to be answered.


Helen called in this morning and found me knitting:

Sharon Miller is right;  this sort of thing is addictive. Here is the shawl to date:

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Yesterday was Andrew and Andrea. A stellar episode, as so often.

Andrea has learned a neat trick for carrying the Other Colour along the back of the work when the distance is too long for normal catching-in. I trust her tutorial will be permanently available, at least to patrons. It’s a technique borrowed from machine knitting.

We saw a lamb being born, in the Shepherdess section. There was something about Japanese knitting (I think I was dozing there). And the big interview was with Beth Brown Reinsel. At the moment, we were told, she is in China conducting workshops. I had high hopes, a few years ago, that one of James’ and Cathy’s children, all fluent in Mandarin, would be interested enough in knitting to go out into the countryside and write the book we’re still waiting for about Chinese knitting. We’ll see what Brown-Reinsel comes back with.

Is Sharon Miller the only big knitting name, in the US and GB, who stays home and doesn’t teach? I made some progress today with her Spring Shawl. She’s right that this sort of knitting is addictive. I’ve reached the point where the mesh separates to flow left and right up the central triangle, and I have begun to establish the field on which the central pattern will soon appear. We’d better have a picture tomorrow. The Calcutta Cup scarf has slightly advanced as well.


I think the knitting article in yesterday’s (London) Times derived from the one you mention, Mary Lou, in the Wall Street Journal. At least the author of the London one had tried knitting himself.

Kristen, I’ve never hit it off with Inspector Montalbano on the printed page (in either language), although I adore him on television.


The cat situation is essentially unchanged. Should I put out another litter tray for Perdita here in the Catalogue Room? I think she is behaving herself, but I have largely lost the sense of smell and am uneasy.

I have a literary puzzle item to tell you about tomorrow. Be warned, if necessary, to stay away.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019


The new issue of Delicious magazine fell through the letter-box today. There’s a non-knitting article about Shetland. Three café-restaurants are recommended – we of the Knitting Adventure ate at all of them, and the two we ate at which aren’t mentioned were, if anything, even better. There is also a box about Ronnie Eunson and his Uradale farm – see the yarn-wheels above.

Archie sent me a link to Juns Kitchen not so much for the cooking (although that is interesting) as for the cats.

Archie was here yesterday, found Perdita – whom I hadn’t seen all that morning – and suggested that we feed her separately. She was touchingly grateful. I think there’s not much doubt that she’s being bullied by her younger, smaller and ostensibly pleasanter sister.

For the moment, we are living apart. Paradox has taken over (she thinks) as the Cat In Charge. She welcomes me home from the supermarket, sleeps with me in the middle of the bed, helps with the knitting.

I am more than ever worried about leaving them for 8 days when I go to the wedding in July. Arrangements can and will be made -- but nobody will be available who knows and cares for them like Archie.


Progress. I must show you a picture of the Spring Shawl soon. Like the Princess Shawl itself, it is essentially a half-hap. In this case, it begins at one corner of (what would become if you allowed it to) the central square. So the initial rows go fast, as an easy mesh is established. Soon, the mesh will divide and proceed up each side of the central triangle and a rather more complicated pattern will be established in the centre.

The Princess adopts the opposite approach. You start with the edging, then pick up stitches and knit two borders, and then -- thinking (erroneously) that you must be almost finished  -- knit the triangle between them.

There is an article in the Times this morning about knitting and mindfulness, by a man, with a thoroughly unconvincing picture. I certainly find lace knitting very conducive to mindfulness. It’s not difficult, but it needs attention.It’s going to take forever, so it’s no use thinking about what’s coming next. There’s nothing for it but to concentrate on the present moment – I think that’s what mindfulness is about.

Monday, May 27, 2019

I met Kathy of Kathy’s Knits when I was out shopping this morning. Monday is the shop’s day off, but she and her husband had been in tidying up after an invasion (profitable, I trust) from an Amy Detjen tour group. She said that Amy herself had been taken to hospital with pneumonia while the group was in Shetland, but had recovered enough to travel home with everybody else – although not enough to visit Kathy’s Knits.

I met Amy at Camp Stitches on Lake George in ’99 – gosh! twenty years ago – and have loved her ever since. I also have her Craftsy class about that yoke sweater. I’d be glad of news. I had pneumonia once; it was no fun.

On the final day of our Shetland Adventure, we went to the Textile Museum at the Bod of Gremista. A small collection with, as was the case everywhere we turned, pleasant and interesting people to tell us about it. That very morning I had read Kate Davies’ blog post about the MRI scanner appeal for Shetland’s hospital. Here’s the link – under the headline “Harriet’s Hat”.

The hat is a pattern which is being sold for the appeal. My finger was on the button to buy it, but then I thought, Damn it! Here I am in Lerwick! I’ll buy it over the counter. So I did.


I am surprised that Muckle Flugga left so little impression on you, Shandy and Knitlass. That probably confirms the wisdom of the Wool Adventure in not trying to see it through mist.

I’m sure you’ve heard this story before, but here it is again.

The other time I went to Shetland, I was travelling with two women I scarcely knew, internet friends but the actual acquaintance was based on no more than a pub lunch. Kristie and her cousin Kath. We covered a lot of ground, including Unst. Kristie and Kath were both very interested in lighthouses. After we visited the Unst Heritage Centre, they said they wanted to see Muckle Flugga. Kath wasn’t even a knitter, and she had been endlessly patient about our knit-related stops so I thought I could be agreeable about a detour to a lighthouse.

In those days the air force base on the northernmost tip of Unst was deserted. It has been re-occupied recently. I don’t remember that our walk from car to vantage point was very long or difficult. It may be different, with the air force in place. In those days, there were a few rusty notices saying, in effect, that if we took another step we would be shot. Kristie and Kath were a bit worried but I urged them on.

And that astonishing sight was, I would almost say, the high point of the whole trip.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

But Shandy, could you see Muckle Flugga through the mist and rain?

On the last full day of the Wool Adventure, we started off with another workshop with Donna Smith, this time to learn the construction of a simple hap. I finished the knitting of it – it’s in the upper right-hand corner of the suitcase above.

It started with a lace edging which we had prepared as homework. Stitches were picked up from the flat edge; four trapezoidal borders knit separately; then a central garter stitch square. We kept being told all week how economical Shetland knitters are – purling and sewing avoided at all costs. But this construction means that all four corners must be sewn. The task can be reduced by knitting two borders at once, and then the other two – leaving only two open corners. That’s the way Madeline Weston does it in “The Traditional Sweater Book” – the first hap I ever knit. Is the book called something else in the US?

If I ever knit another hap again, I’ll knit all four borders at once, with a wrap-and-turn at the end. Whether or not they approve in Lerwick.

After lunch we were bussed down to the southernmost point of mainland Shetland for some fresh air and scenery, then to Neilanell’s studio. She is an eccentric former barrister (and I’m pretty sure she used that word, although the appropriate term in Scotland is “advocate”) who now designs extravagant and unusual knitwear which is produced for her in a small manufactory nearby.

Then on to a class on Fair Isle colours with Terri Malcolmson. There had been advance homework for that one, too – ten rounds of ribbing in a harmless colour which would blend with anything else we chose. I did mine in grey; it’s in the upper left-hand corner of the suitcase. But I decided to abandon it altogether. I started again in the class, and did ten rounds of corrugated ribbing. That’s the sample just below the grey one, in the picture above.

One thing I have certainly learned from the Adventure is to bring very short circular needles, if I am ever involved in such a situation again. I don’t like them; they hurt my wrists. But dp’s around a small circumference are intolerable.

It was here that I succumbed to my most foolish and extravagant purchase. I love it:

It’s not even a kit, just a selection of harmonious yarns. I can’t imagine what I’ll do with it.  It’s in the picture at the top, under everything else.


Things are somewhat better. They’re no longer shouting obscenities at each other. But they’re still not eating properly, and Perdita is still skulking in corners.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

I’m sorry about last night’s silence. I was quite stunningly tired, and went to bed at 7.

James and Cathy are here. We had a nice lunch here in DP with their son Alistair, and also Helen and her husband David. Alistair and his parents have gone off to Falkirk to be introduced to his kitten. Tomorrow we will have lunch at Helen’s house, which means climbing her fearful stairs again.

But back to Shetland. The next day was an early start, and off to Unst. That was my one serious disappointment of the tour – it was a damp and misty day, and we didn’t get to see Muckle Flugga. I would have liked to try to discern it, even through the mist. At least I’ve seen it once in my life.

The Unst Heritage Centre was wonderful, and again we had a wonderful guide who told us about her own knitting history. Back to Lerwick in time for a lace-knitting workshop with Elizabeth Johnston. I was pleased to find that I can still do it. The result is in the foreground of the picture above. I don’t see any point in finishing it.

We had learned earlier in the day that mains electricity only came to Unst in the late 50’s – after I was married. I voiced my theory that perhaps fine lace knitting was reserved for the months of light, with spinning done in the winter. I thought maybe skilled fingers could manage that in the dark. No, said Elizabeth. Lace knitting can be done by firelight – the knitting is between you and the fire, and the light shines through.

I also mentioned my ambition to knit Sharon Miller’s Spring Shawl as a final bridal shawl for granddaughters. I still have three unmarried granddaughters. Elizabeth said that if I attempted it, there should be no other knitting while it was in progress. Knitting with a heavier yarns throws one’s tension off. That, alas, is advice I can’t take.

The other thing I learned is that Shetland lace knitters don’t use markers to separate pattern repeats.

I have cast on the Spring Shawl since my return, with the yarn bought at Jamieson & Smith, clearly visible above. It starts with a cast-on of five stitches, and progresses rapidly at first. I’ve done 40 rows, without neglecting the Calcutta Cup scarf. The shawl begins with an easy mesh pattern, lace on every other row.  (I have never mastered the terminology of “knitted lace” and “lace knitting”, and don’t intend to try.) More on this subject soon.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

OK, Day Two

No bus, that day. We walked to the Shetland Museum and had a most interesting time. Their textile collection, of course, is incomparable. The woman who talked to us was a recently-retired employee – absolutely brilliant. She showed us her own knitting, and how she had modified and extended traditional forms.

I think that is the single most significant idea I took on board last week: that Shetland knitters don’t just do the same-old-things over and over. It’s all there in Susan Crawford’s book, but I hadn’t fully grasped it.

We saw a Fair Isle jumper which incorporated a swastika as a peerie pattern. I later found two more examples in a publication – “book” is too grand a word, “leaflet” too demeaning  -- about the Whalsay Fair Isle exhibition in 2017. Wikipedia says that it used to be a “symbol of auspiciousness and good luck” in the Western world. The Wikipedia entry is worth reading. My father’s mother – Grandmother Smits – had a little silver spoon with lucky symbols on the handle – a four-leafed clover, a rabbit’s foot, a swastika. As a child, during the war, I found it fascinating. I wonder what happened to it.

But how did the symbol get to Shetland?

After the museum, we went back to headquarters for a workshop with Donna Smith. We knit a mug cosy. You can see mine in the picture above – it’s the one with the sheep. It’s Donna’s design, of course, and the glory of it is that the sheep aren’t all the same. Like many of you, I am sure, my life is strewn with unfinished workshop projects – but I am determined to finish this one.

The alternative pattern was a Shetland star. That would have involved the considerable advantage of Donna’s advice on the selection of colours. But I had fallen for those sheep.


Some of you have suggested the Feliway diffuser to make the cats happier. I used it when Paradox was first introduced. I don’t know whether it helped or not. It’s worth trying again. I think things were slightly better today, although it’s hard to say. Archie came, and we did some gardening on the front step. We kept Paradox enclosed behind the inner door, and let Perdita join us. I think she enjoyed it. They’re still not eating much.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Wool Adventure…

It was a well-structured blend of road trips and lectures and workshops. The first day, we headed into the countryside to meet some sheep

and then on to Jamieson’s spinning mill in the middle of nowhere. We had a most interesting tour, starting with the industrial revolution and ending here in the third millennium with Japanese (?) knitting machines – all hard at work. I was interested to note that the one thing a machine can’t do, apparently, is put the ball band on a ball of wool. 

I bought two balls of yarn – one of the magazines had an end-of-issue article recently about the Souvenir Skein. And the latest issue of Fruity Knitting started off with a most ingenious Woolly Wormhead hat – they are all that – which I thought I could knit with the yarn. I can see only one of them in the picture above, the grey-looking ball amongst the cobweb-weight on the right.

Then on to Uradale Farm for a delicious lunch of soup and bannocks, and more yarn. The farm is organic – not an easy status to achieve. Does that have anything to do with why the colours of the yarns are so wonderful? Perhaps not, but I bought a few because of the wonderfulness. They are the ones wound as wheels in the picture.      

Then back to Lerwick to Jamieson and Smith and a talk by Oliver Henry. I was tired, I had been to Jamieson and Smith already, I knew that Oliver was old. His talk, however, was electrifying – effectively, the history of Jamieson and Smith. I’m glad to be able to report that I didn’t buy any more yarn, although I did pick up some needles which I had begun to realise I would need later on.       


They have clearly had a stressful time. I have never heard Paradox growl or hiss until today, but she now growls and hisses at her sister. With me, she has become overly affectionate, sitting on my lap purring and bestowing whiskery kisses, weaving dangerously around my feet when I totter about. Perdita, on the other hand, is having a nervous breakdown, cowering in corners, growling and hissing and even SHOUTING at her detested sister. Neither is eating.

We’ll see how soon things settle down. I can’t stay away from Joe and Becca’s wedding because it would upset the cats, but I am worried. This time, they had Archie, who is fond of them. In July, by definition, no family will be available.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

I am safely home. It was a brilliant Wool Adventure. I’ll post links soon. Maureen, Misa was delighted to hear from you via me – as I am delighted that you recommended the experience to me.

All is well here. The cats are glad to see me, although behaving like jealous toddlers when I try to stroke one or the other.

I am seriously worn out. I am really too old (too weak) for this sort of thing. My feebleness becomes the responsibility of the whole group. There was no fall, no disaster of any sort, but it is beginning to seem unfair to put the responsibility for myself onto the shoulders of any group of strangers.

But I had a grand time, and I’ll tell you all about it, bit by bit.

The first day, last Wednesday, the ferry deposited me in Lerwick quite early in the morning. I had made contact with another Adventurer on board. She had a car, and drove us off to the b&b where we were admitted to our rooms despite the early hour. Then we nipped down to Jamieson and Smith…

It was a glorious, sunny day such as I suspect Lerwick hasn’t seen for a decade. I went to bed, nevertheless, and Trisha went off on a mission of her own. At midday, I ventured out in search of lunch.

I didn’t want to go too far, as I felt weak, and the b&b was on top of a hill. There was no pub or café in sight, but I passed a notice offering food and companionship at lunchtime on Wednesday. It was Wednesday. I went in. It was a churchly group, as you’ve probably guessed. I had a delicious plate of mince and tatties. There was a collection box, so I was able to pay for my lunch without embarrassment.

I felt as if I had fallen down a knitterly rabbit hole. They were all knitters. When the plates were taken away, out came the knitting belts on all sides. The woman sitting next to me read the Wool Adventure programme with great interest – “He’s my nephew.” “She’s my peerie second cousin.” (I think that means, second cousin once removed.) I was taken over to meet Annie, who comes from Unst. I left feeling I had met the cream of Lerwick society.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Progress, of sorts. I’ve got the knitting ready – another ball of sock yarn seleted, the numbers recorded. I am mildly interested to discover that I knit men’s socks all the same size, more or less, but women’s have delicate variations in the foot length. I’ve also discovered that there is another piece of homework to do for Shetland. I’ve found some needles and yarn for that. It won’t take long. I can do it on train or ferry. I’m too tensed-up tonight.

I was interested to see, going back to my blog entries for the beginning of last year, that I was grumbling away then about weakness in much the same tone as I would use now. Maybe I’m not going downhill quite as fast as I had thought.

And I think the requisite number of clothes are clean.

Archie will be here tomorrow morning. I will instruct him with care about cat-feeding and plant-watering. The “patio courgettes” have raised their heads above soil level!

I’ll be here with a sentence or two tomorrow night, I hope.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

This has been another day of serious non-achievement, except for a pleasant Italian lesson with a good Skype connection. My tutor hasn’t yet read “Il Gattopardo”. She has a treat in store.

(I have just been re-reading my blog entry for Sunday, January 14, 2018 – about meeting Tancred. That was a real accomplishment; one I treasure in memory,)

I had forgotten, Mary Lou (comment yesterday) that the Wild Swans had to spin nettles to make those shirts for their brothers, although I vaguely remember the story. Nettle yarn doesn’t seem so preposterous to me, Shandy and Chloe. Nettles make a nice soup, although that’s scarcely relevant. They’re suitably stringy – that might be a factor. But it’s wonderful to hear them referred to as “sustainable”. It’ll be dandelions next. (Which are good in a salad.)

Chloe, is your mink-and-milk yarn wonderful to the touch? And how is it for colour? I was bitterly disappointed when I procured some cashmere Koigu once and learned in the moment when I opened the package that cashmere doesn’t take dye as well as wool does. A valuable lesson.

I have done no knitting at all today, and will probably go to bed (fairly soon) with that statement unchanged. That will leave two days for getting ready for Lerwick. I had better get cracking.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Nothing much tonight. I should be doing Italian homework – instead, I’m going straight to bed, very weary. I’ve got a couple of questions for my tutor tomorrow, derived from Il Gattopardo – at what time of day is “pranzo” eaten? Questions are often useful in such situations.

Helen dropped in this afternoon – and found me sound asleep in front of “Pointless” – to say that they have sold their flat, and will be moving to Joppa in June. That’s good news, I guess, but I will miss their proximity.

I have finished reading “Before She Knew Him”, my first book completed in May. One of those books where one goes on reading in full consciousness that it is an unworthy soaker-up of one’s time, the MacGuffin obvious a mile off. Back to “No Name” – I’m about half-way through.

A few more stitches on the scarf. Three more days to get ready for Lerwick. That should be enough. And it’s not the end of the world (= it’s not Catania). If it’s all too much, I can turn around and come back.

I had a nice lunch with Archie today, who continues to press for a trip to Syracuse. I don’t think I had fully realised that that’s where Arethusa emerged.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Despite the NHS having bestowed its seal of approval on most of my internal organs recently, I felt very feeble today and have done little beyond a supermarket sweep. I not only need sock-knitting numbers before I go to Shetland next Tuesday; I also need clean clothes.

Fortunately, I think, Archie has been banished from home tomorrow morning because of two more Viewings (the house is on the market) and he is coming here. Lunch is the attraction. His presence will help me pull myself together.

The scarf progresses.

The new IK turned up yesterday. I like it. I am much drawn to loose-fitting summer-y things in fine-ish yarn, although I don’t think they suit me when actually executed and donned. I am particularly drawn to the Assateague pullover which “features luscious cables in a blend of merino and nettle, a sustainable plant fibre…” You can say that again! The nettle-spinners’ website offers a kit in a delicious variety of colours.

Are we interested in the about-to-be-forthcoming Interweave book called “The Art of Circular Yokes”? I love circular yokes. But I try to abstain, these days, from books which are just collections of patterns.

I am often drawn to the advertisements for, an Irish organisation which even offers tours to Scotland. But they are still advertising this year’s tours.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Yesterday, the bookies’ favourites for the Royal Baby’s name were “Alexander” and “James”. Bookies are happier, aren’t they, when favourites don’t win? At any rate, the answer is “Archie”. When our Archie was born, I think there was some discussion between his parents as to what to tell them at the Register Office – “Archie” or “Archibald”? I think “Archibald” won, and we will probably hear the answer for the Royal Baby in due course.

A nice young man in Lieth (named “Jamie”) said this morning that my abdominal organs, including the aorta, are in good order. I believed him implicitly, but later in the day began to wonder how he comports himself when he finds something less pleasant in there.

I lay awake worrying about things last night – probably, in fact, worrying about Lieth. Archie came today and we dealt with many of them. We found the street address and the postcode and the telephone number of the b&b towards which I will be bound in Lerwick, and photographed it for my telephone. We found the name and mobile number of the fellow-Adventurer who will be on the ferry with me on Tuesday night, and installed them in my telephone.

I had time, in Lieth, to knit a few stitches of the current travel-sock. It’s getting on down towards the heel flap, and I may need to take not only it but another ball of sock yarn along, I also need to remind myself of my numbers – how deep the ribbing, how many rounds after that before the heel flap, how long the foot. For both men and women, if I am indeed to start another sock while absent.

But I know where those numbers are, and will retrieve them soon. I have also laid out the first page of Sharon Miller's "Spring Shawl" pattern, so that I can choose the yarn for it at Jamieson & Smith. It looks more daunting than ever.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

There’s little to report. The scarf is getting longer. I should measure and assess it and incorporate my findings in the sidebar. I have made some mistakes -- a missing cross, I think; and a whole row in which I knit row 12 of the pattern where  should have knit row 6. But I think the very complexity of the cable pattern, and the dark blue colour of the yarn, swallow up errors rather effectivrly.

I have had an unsatisfactory day. I waited in for the Mindful Chef box and in the end found it on the doorstep – they didn’t ring the bell. Bank Holiday Mondays (like yesterday) always throw things out of sync.

Tomorrow I have to go to Lieth in a fasting state at 8:30 a.m. to have a liver scan.

Inspired by many of you, I have taught my iPad to read to me (not difficult) and set it to work on Il Gattopardo. I can’t understand every word, nor even every sentence, but I know the book well enough that I can tell where we are and what’s going on. It makes for very pleasant knitting. I wonder how I’d get on with Elena Ferrante? Her Italian is fairly simple and straightforward – but I don’t know the books. (I’ve started but not finished.)

Thank you for your concern, Mary Lou. No, Helen is just moving to Joppa which sounds very distant, but isn’t. She will no longer be within dog-walking distance of Drummond Place, but the journey will only take about 20 minutes and there’s plenty of good public transport. In London or New York, 20 minutes’ distance would count as living cheek-by-jowl.

Monday, May 06, 2019

I thot the Sussexes would have a girl. So much more chic, these days. Still, I wish them well. The poor little thing will bear the burden I have inflicted on my children – namely, that as the son of an American citizen, the IRS will have a legal – I won’t go so far as to say, legitimate -- interest in every penny he owns.

Trump promised to straighten that one out, before he was elected, but since then he seems to have had other things to think about.

We had a jolly weekend, but I am tired. Rachel and Ed got here in good order on Friday evening. The Contaldo Italian stew wasn’t as good as the last time I made it – I put in too much meat this time. On Saturday morning, my niece C. – my husband’s sister’s daughter, Rachel’s cousin – came round with her gentleman friend. It was brave of him to submit himself to the ordeal of Drummond Place, and he won the hearty approval of all.

On Sunday we had lunch at Greek Helen’s house, which is in the process of being sold. C. came, and her daughter and son-in-law Christina and Manaba (last year’s wedding). A jolly but rather vegetarian time was had by all. I taught Helen’s son Fergus the quatrain by Roy Campbell, “On Some South African Novelists”:

          You praise the firm restraint with which they write.
              I’m with you there, of course.
          They use the snaffle and the curb all right.
              But where’s the bloody horse?

That’s what my husband always said, when I tried to slip a vegetarian meal past him: Where’s the bloody horse?

Rachel and Ed went off yesterday afternoon. Archie came this morning and, amongst other usefulnesses, gave me a telephone lesson. I hope I am now up to speed with WhatsApp.

The Calcutta Cup scarf progresses. I do love the yarn called Croft, and if I survive to get to Shetland next week, I’ll see it in Jamieson & Smith. But equally, if I mean to attempt that Sharon Miller shawl (the yarn for which could also be purchased at Jamieson & Smith) I’d better get started on it. The remaining years are not many.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Progress. The first skein of Croft is finished, and the scarf is 20” long. I’ve wound the next skein. That leaves four (plus the white one) – clearly I won’t need them all. I think the scarf would have been too heavy had I made it wider.

Archie and I got a second potato-bag planted today (leaving one to do), and also got to Homebase for some more gardening essentials. My cleaner will be in Romania (whence she hails) for all of August, and I was very glad to learn that Archie won’t be in Greece. He’ll be there for a while, after Joe and Becca’s wedding in July, but only a while, and then back here.

My ill-fated thread in the Ravelry EYF group seems to have vanished altogether. Just as well, I guess.

I’ve done some Italian homework, but it would be as well to go off now and do some more. I probably won’t post again until Sunday evening, after the London visitors leave. Rachel just phoned – her husband Ed has been getting a vegetable patch going. He used to have an allotment. We can (and will) talk about vegetables when they get here tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

All progresses peacefully. I have nearly finished the first skein of Croft. The tape measure has re-surfaced, I am happy to report – so very soon I will have a fairly accurate estimate of how long the scarf can potentially be. The yardage of this lovely stuff seems to be considerable -- I think I have more than enough for any desirable length. I am grateful to those of you who answered my question as to whether or not to knit the scarf wider than the initial swatch.

Those who answered were unanimous for “wider” – and you were right.

The cables are pulling in, as expected – but of course (even apart from the improvement to be wrought by blocking) the other end will flare out to correspond with the first one. I had thought of knitting in the recipient’s initials there, instead of repeating the half-Calcutta-Cup motif. I had also thought that he might regard that idea as too embarrassing by half, but apparently he likes it, so we’ll go for that.

I remember knitting James’ and Cathy’s daughters’ initials into the lace of a joint First Communion shawl, top-down, and I distinctly remember how fraught an operation it was – to ensure that the initials were the right way up and the right way around. I did it then; I can do it again.

Reading and Life

I went to the supermarket this morning, and am all set to make that Italian lamb stew to be ready for Rachel and Ed when they arrive on Friday evening. I’ve also ensured the presence of plenty of gin and tonic, not a tipple to which I am myself inclined. Helen and her boys will be here too, for supper, I have recently learned. I’ll put extra carrots and potatoes into the stew.

I am pressing forward with Wilkie Collins’ “No Name”. I think I am about a third of the way through. Long way to go.

I ought to do some Italian homework tonight – the lesson has been brought forward to Friday, because of the weekend excitement. But I think I’ll just go to bed instead.