Sunday, September 29, 2019

I’m half way along row 41 of the Spring Shawl borders. The next target, I suppose, is row 50 – one-third of the way home.

Tamar, I suspect you’re right (whenever not?) that lace knitters probably made some sort of sketches, at least for the trapezoidal shapes of shawl borders, showing at least roughly how things were to be centred and how the pattern was to begin and end. But the notes weren’t kept because meaningless to anyone else.

Shandy, perhaps I’ll trawl back through Fruity Knittings to see if I can find the one you mention. I have the vaguest memory of such a thing myself.

I’ve had an email from the Shetland Peerie Makkers, soliciting funds, and have contributed. Do have a look at the website – they have an enchanting promotional video. Until very recently, knitting was taught in Shetland primary schools. That stopped in 2010 (talk about suicidal decisions) and since then volunteers have organised classes. It sounds as if it’s going fairly well.


I’ve polished off “The Dutch House”. It’s certainly a good read – I’m not quite sure that it gets us anywhere. There is a long, laudatory review in yesterday’s Financial Times, mentioning two other books which are also family sagas based on a house: Henry James “The Spoils of Poynton” and Anne Tyler “A Spool of Blue Thread”. I’ve started James.

We had a friend in Birmingham who died of cancer in middle age. We also had a mutual friend who was – indeed, is -- a fairly well-known British novelist. After Liz died, I learned that the novelist had been to supper and had given her his latest book. After his departure, she said to her husband, “I’ve got six months to live and I haven’t finished Henry James. How does ***** think I have time to read his book?”

That anecdote launched me into Henry James. I read quite a bit, but not this one. It’s a curious pleasure, those long, convoluted sentences. It’s rather like reading Latin – you get to the end of the sentence and you know the meaning of all the words but you have to double back to the beginning and work out what it means.

I will probably go to Kirkmichael with C. tomorrow, to bring in the apple harvest – it may take us all of ten minutes – and turn off the water and walk around a bit. So I won’t be here.


  1. A couple of years ago I thought I would try "Portrait of a Lady". I was infuriated by the ending. I like to know what has actually happened, preferably that they are all living happily ever after.

  2. I was trying to choose my next book last night, but gave up; it had been such a long day that even the Tale of Peter Rabbit looked too difficult... maybe I'll just crochet some more granny square rows until I catch up with myself!

  3. Episode 64 of Fruity Knitting has the interview that I think Shandy refers to.

  4. Despite being a fan of Ann Tyler, I wasn't thrilled by A Spool of Blue Thread. But for what I think you mean by a saga based on a house, I would recommend Barbara Kingsolver's Unsheltered.

  5. Jean, I laughed out loud at the words of your dying friend. I hope you don't mind. I have to say I am not a Henry James fan, I recall having to reread too many sentences that were lovely but convoluted.