Friday, January 31, 2020

Kirsten (comment yesterday): I’ve got that newspaper pattern for the Baby Surprise somewhere. That was back in the days when you sent in a Stamped, Addressed Envelope and they sent you a mimeographed copy of the pattern. My one is tattered and torn and has written on it the pre-birth code name of many a person now old enough to vote. That version of the Baby Surprise is double breasted, and I rather like it that way. Except that it doesn’t quite work, and the side seams (or where the side seams would be if it had such things) are pulled slightly forward. I’ll have a look.

That was when I first heard of Elizabeth Zimmerman, that newspaper article.

The 2nd Dathan is nearing its end, but I’ll go on saying that for several more days.

I spent some more time thinking about What Next. Thank you for the tip about the Anisa Wrap, ml (Comment yesterday). But what I am really looking for – what the Spring Shawl was intended for – was something for a bride to wear. I have three unmarried granddaughters. One of them has her Christening shawl so I wanted to do something for the other two. My knitting has figured more often, up to now, in the weddings of grandsons than in those of granddaughters, but I don’t have enough lifetime left to worry about that.

I have tentatively chosen something by Elizabeth Lovick which seems to me to strike the right note of impressive but not-too-complicated. I’ve got Sharon Miller’s “Nesting Shawl” pattern but it looks alarmingly complicated. I’m tempted by her “Cameron” pattern, which I haven’t got. She says she knit it in a month!

Why does everybody want to knit their shawls centre-out? Sharon says that she has copied the “Nesting” pattern from an old postcard showing shawls being dressed on Shetland. She says that the shawl on the postcard was knit edges-in (she’d know) but that she has changed it. My idea (and I think I could apply it to the Lovick pattern) is to go back where I started and do it the way Madeleine Weston does it in her Traditional Sweater Book – knit half the edging; pick up an appropriate number of stitches for two borders; knit them; leave the stitches live; do it again; knit the centre from one set of live stitches, taking in a stitch from two other borders at either end of every row; graft the final centre stitches to the one remaining border; sew the open corner seams.

Kirsten, I found my “Sweater Workshop” on Abebooks. I’ve forgotten what I paid – about £15 I fear. There is a sticker on the back saying that it cost 99p at the Goodwill Shop.

Tomorrow it will be February I have been impeccably “dry” all through January. Now what?

Thursday, January 30, 2020

FuguesStateKnits: When I started reading your comment yesterday, I thought you were talking about the Duke of York. It took more than a few split seconds before I had the message straightened out. What a lovely story! I met Andrew and Andrea when they were holding court for fans at the EYF in 2018. They are every bit as nice as they look.

Barbara-Kay, it’s nice to hear your teacher’s confirmation of my impression that Vogue Knitting Live! might be a bit too much. I wonder what Franklin thought of it. How I miss the Panopticon! I follow him conscientiously on Facebook, but it's not the same. And anyway he wouldn't say anything that might sound critical of Vogue, in any medium. I’m a trifle worried that he, like Kate Davies, seems to be drifting away into weaving.

It’s been another grey and windy day here, but not terribly cold and the light is coming back. Lest we begin to think that global warming has abolished winter everywhere, take a look at what the Socklady is currently experiencing.

I’ve had an idle day, but I had my outing. I did the equivalent of hunkering down with a box set – watching a recent television series about Jeremy Bamber. It’s an interesting case, which I vaguely remember in real life, and the ITV series is well done. And while I watched, I knit the Dathan – perfect television knitting. I have only about 10 long, long rows to go.

And I thought about What Next? If I am to go back to fine lace knitting for future family brides, I don’t necessarily have to go back to the Spring Shawl. I could continue to wait for the original to turn up, and meanwhile knit something else. I’m looking through books, and thinking. The finishing of the Dathan is sufficiently time-consuming that I don’t need to decide until I reach it.

And the Sweater Workshop finally turned up. It’s wonderful, and I’m sure I’ve never seen it before. (As far as memory can be trusted.) It’s supposed to be read straight through, and I’m more or less doing that. Fee is a passionate disciple of EZ – as are we all.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The weather has turned ugly, lowering the mood.

I’m settling nicely back in to the Dathan – and I found the other dropped stitch. After a serious stitch count, I have started writing down what the count ought to be as I finish each long, long row. (Each right-side row adds four stitches, but the wrong-side rows alternate between two and none.)  I’ll do another real count at the end, to finish it off. 500 stitches have been corralled with markers. That leaves some free-range stitches at either end, and in the middle next to the central spine. I keep counting them, as they must balance each other.

Andrew and Andrea are back from New York, and today’s episode was devoted to Vogue Knitting Live. Goodness gracious me. I am now so old that I didn’t even want to be there. Too big, too noisy. Alas for the EYF, yet again. (There’s a note on their website to say that there will be an EYF in 2021. But will I last that long?)

Fee’s “Sweater Workshop” hasn’t turned up, despite being promised for Tuesday. I allowed myself to buy a book called “Lace Knitting” by Helen James. (How could I resist an author so named? I occasionally employ a plumber named James Alexander, on the same principal.) It’s a perfectly good, well-produced and workmanlike book, but I don’t think there’s anything there that I don’t have in some other book already on the premises.


The Garden of the Finzi-Contini grows ever darker, and I have managed to restrain myself from starting anything else.

The newspapers are beginning to suggest an equivalence between Prince Andrew and Mrs Sakoolas. You read it here first.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020


It measures only 42-43” side-to-side, but it’ll do. And it beat the baby. If I ever finish the poor Spring Shawl, it’ll need something more advanced for blocking, but we can cross that bridge when we come to it.

And I’ve got the Dathan back in hand. One of the sections marked out as 50 stitches proved to contain only 48. I suspect both were dropped, although I can find only one of them. One of the very useful skills I have never mastered in a long life, is picking up and restoring dropped garter stitches, if they come from more than two rows back. I know the theory. I’ve got one of those two-headed crochet hooks. But I can’t do it.

The other useful thing I can’t do is spit-splicing.

So I will simply replace the missing stitches, and at the end, secure the dropped one. I’ve marked it with a safety pin. And look around again for the other one.


KayT, you’re right, the sweater I am wearing in a recent snap is called Kirigami. The word is related to “origami” and means, I think, a paper construction of a similar sort but you are allowed to cut the paper. I’ve had a certain amount of moth trouble this winter, but they skipped that one.

And Gretchen, you are also right. I neglected to mention yesterday that the scarf I am hesitating over, called “Gilda”, was designed by Veronik Avery and is offered by Brooklyn Tweed. Carol said in her note to me that it is not entirely easy to keep track of where you are, but otherwise a delightful knit.


Clouds continue to darken over the garden of the Finzi-Contini’s. I am accumulating other things I want to read, but I think it would be more prudent to finish this first.


Here’s your Tuesday avocado picture – not looking well. Someone suggested standing it on pebbles. I don’t have any pebbles, so I have balanced it on some broken shards from a flower pot. The idea is to keep it hydrated.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Archie and I went to Waitrose today – and the year has begun! Seville oranges (there’s no compulsion to make marmalade; use them wherever you would use lemons, the experts say), bunches of daffodils in bud, forced rhubarb.

I finished tidying the “Hansel” shawl. I hope to block it tomorrow. I have resumed knitting the 2nd Dathan hap. I think I have about 535 stitches, out of a necessary 597. By the time I get them all counted and markers secure, I should be finished.

Carol sent me an email – another failed comment! – about Jared’s “Gilda” scarf,  and I’m very tempted. Originally I thought I had escaped – on the “Gilda” page one is invited to order pattern and yarn together. The yarn colours are listed so that you can choose one – but there is no hint as to what the colours might actually be. So you go to the Vale yarn page and choose a colour and by then you have forgotten the name of the scarf. But now I know both, and the scarf Carol knit is beautiful.

Mary Lou, yes, the sweater I am wearing in that pic the other day is a pattern of Gudrun’s from Brooklyn Tweed, in a Madeline Tosh yarn. Again, I have forgotten the name of the pattern.  


I move forward, slowly, with the Finzi-Contini’s. I am more than ever convinced that I didn’t read it to the end, the first time. We are now in the winter of ’38-’39. It is cold and rainy. No more tennis. Everybody sits around talking about politics and their theses – Micol F-C is writing one about Emily Dickenson. But nobody seems frightened, or even worried, about their personal safety as Jews.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

I’ve finished (knitting) the Hansel  shawl, and have joined the ends of the edging. I thought I took a picture of it, but apparently not, and it’s too late, light-wise, now. Tomorrow I’ll hope to dispose of the ends, and perhaps on Tuesday face up to blocking.

It measures 32” across, spread out fairly casually on the floor. Shandy says that Ravelry says that it should be 54 ¾”. I don’t think I’ll achieve that, but maybe somewhere in the region of 45”. Gudrun points out in the relevant section of the Craftsy class that garter stitch has lots of yarn in it, and can be blocked severely.

I think the spare room bed will do – but it’s low. I’d have to kneel, I think.  I might be more comfortable crawling.

My niece C. takes me to Mass on Sunday mornings. Today she said that she would like to knit something for this baby. She will be its grandmother. She used to knit, but has disposed of needles and stash, Marie-Kondo-fashion. So when we got back, I gave her “Drop Dead Easy Knits” (on loan) with a recommendation to try MLE’s “Polliwog” pattern. Here we are conferring about it:

My hair is awfully wild.


Mrs Sacoolas is back near the top of our news. There has been a formal request for her extradition. There are precedents, apparently. Mr. Pompeo turned it down personally.

Some progress with the Finzi Contini’s, although nothing has happened. It seems rather long.

We were in Beijing for the Sars crisis. Fortunately, the government wasn’t nearly as efficient that time. Tourist attractions (Forbidden City and Great Wall among them) weren’t closed, just empty. Wonderful!

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Three more scallops to do, and the edging of Gudrun’s hap shawl will be finished. Tomorrow should see it done. I must have another look at the Craftsy class for the finishing-finishing, although I think I could probably figure it out for myself.

Thanks for the numbers, Shandy. I’ll nerve myself to measure tomorrow.

You’re right about the hypotenuse, of course, Moorecat, but if the shawl is orientated that way, only corners hang over the edge of the bed, instead of whole sides. Maybe the corners could be pinned to the sides of the mattress? Anyway, we’ll see.

I am much enjoying thinking about what-next. Finishing the 2nd Dathan is near but by no means on-the-doorstep. I’ve got time for thinking. Jared has an interesting scarf called Gilda. But what’s the use of a stash if you never knit it? I think starting again with the Spring Shawl is probably the best plan, but even if so, I might want something to alternate with it.

Cam (comment Thursday) I don’t think anyone except MLE and Jacqueline Fee (author of the Sweater Workshop) knows what a Japanese yarn cocoon is. I promise to tell you as soon as my copy of the book arrives. I might even knit it, if it’s knittable. I had hoped the book might arrive today, but it didn’t. It’s billed to arrive sometime between today and Tuesday, not directly from Amazon. Patience!

(I get irritating ads all the time along the side of the computer screen about things I might want to watch on YouTube. Sometimes I fall for them. This evening I had one suggesting a how-to-take-care-of-your-cat in Italian. Clever YouTube!)


I’m moving gently forward with the Finzi-Continis. I have reached the winter of 1938-39. I wonder if I read to the end, all those years ago. So far, nothing much has happened. Everybody has been playing tennis in the Finzi-Continis’ garden (they’re very rich) because they were thrown out of the town tennis club because of the Racial Laws. I remember the tennis, but nothing more.

Friday, January 24, 2020

We had a jolly birthday lunch for/with Helen today, at Le Roi Fou, an excellent restaurant near here. There’s no doubt that “dry January” keeps the final bill down on such occasions. Not much else got done – one more scallop; a bit of the Finzi Contini’s; some mending of sweaters which the moths had attacked.

Mary Lou, I can hardly wait to see the Japanese yarn cocoon, when my Sweater Workshop arrives (which should be soon). Non vedo l’ora, as we say in Italian. I am much concerned, in a very pleasant sort of way, about the question of what to do next when I finish the Dathan hap (laid aside in favour of having the “Hansel” ready when the baby actually appears).

Do I give up and start the Spring Shawl again from scratch? Or start something else, and continue to wait for it to turn up? It must be somewhere.

Shandy, I had thought of blocking the “Hansel” hap shawl on a spare room bed. I don’t think they’re wide enough – two singles, separated by a little table. But I will explore the possibility before I get down on my knees. Would it help to turn the shawl diagonally? The other possibility is to do the blocking on my bed, and sleep in the spare room myself for a couple of nights. The problem there is that there is a largish chest at the foot of the bed, and it might not be possible to reach all the sides. But, again, I will investigate.


The Oberlin Alumni Magazine turned up yesterday. Nobody I remembered is recorded as having done anything (not even died). The row with Gibson’s is referred to rather tangentially in an article by the retiring president of the Alumni Association. Tracy Chevalier, on the other hand, is made much of.

I spent some time in happy imagination, living at Kendall in Oberlin, a retirement community just off-campus. Retirees can audit classes (for free) if the lecturer agrees. I could never leave my children, my cats, Edinburgh, Europe. I couldn’t be happy having spent that much money on myself instead of leaving it for my heirs. I couldn’t face dealing with American income tax or health insurance. But Britain doesn’t really do retirement communities (partly, perhaps, because we’ve got the NHS) and it is, in many ways, an attractive way to live.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Eight edging scallops now done, of 14, on the final side of Gudrun’s “Hansel” hap.

Nancy in Wisconsin: getting someone else to block the hap is a good idea, and my local LYS, Kathy’s Knits, is just the sort of place to look for such a someone. But could I bear to hand my baby over to a stranger? My Personal Trainer was here this morning – not a knitter. I described the process to her and she seemed to think I was fully capable. We practised getting up from the floor.

I’ve taken the plunge and ordered Fee’s “Sweater Workshop”, the new edition, flesh and blood copy. I don’t like cookery books or knitting on the Kindle, although I make occasional exceptions for the former.


weavinfool, I think you can leave off War and Peace if you want to. We got through it as bedtime reading, but for that, soporific is what you’re looking for. We were well into Remembrance of Things Past, Scott Moncrieff translation, when my husband died. I am sure I will never pick it up again.

Rachel used to keep her books in alphabetical order by author (she was a librarian in an earlier life). When my husband and I went to stay with her, as we often did while he was fit enough, rather than take along our current book, we read Rachel’s in order, a random chapter from each in turn. If she had (as often) more than one book by a particular author, we only read a chapter from one of them, but that had to be the first book on offer. There is a note in my Filofax from 26/9/11 saying that we had done Garnett and were ready for Gaskell.

It was a remarkably satisfactory form of bedtime reading.

I am getting on reasonably well with Il Giardino dei Finzi Contini. I read it once long ago, but remember very little. It is about being Jewish in Mussolini’s Italy. The author tells us early on that the Finzi Contini’s were deported to Germany in ’43 but he hasn’t yet explained why he himself survived.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Nicely forward. I’ve turned the third corner with the edging of Gudrun’s “Hansel” hap – another two or three scallops a day will see the knitting finished this month. I’ve chosen a spot for the blocking. There’s no way to avoid crawling around on the floor.


Tamar, thank you for the reference about killing with noise. I still wouldn’t like to put it to the test. Sayers stuck with clever-ways-of-killing to the last, and they were clever, but I don't think that's what I read a murder mystery for.

Mary Lou, thank you for telling me that Fee’s “Sweater Workshop” is spiral-bound. I’m now pretty sure I don’t have it --the only spiral bindings in that section of my knitting shelves are Gibson-Roberts, “Knitting the Old Way”, and Hewlett and Manvell, “Secrets of Success in Knitting and Crochet”. That one looks sort of home-made and bears a sticker from Ries Wools of Holborn, a grand shop, long gone.

Tamar, again, Oberlin College wasn’t punished for students shoplifting, but for what happened afterwards in this particular case. Wikipedia, “Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College”. Racism is a feature. The damages started at $11 million, as I said, but have gone up to $44 million. The result of the appeal will be interesting.


I am beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t lay aside all this fiction and try to read something serious. I am compromising by reading “Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini” in Italian. It’s fairly tough going.


My husband’s affairs still haven’t been completely settled. I had an email from the lawyer yesterday, setting a task which I was sure would involve weeks of anxiety. But it turned out that Helen had a complete list of the necessary data, neatly tabulated. I sent it off to the lawyer. So it’s been a good day.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

I’m now within one scallop of the third corner of the edging of Gudrun’s “Hansel” hap. Here’s a pic:

It does look a bit on the small side. (I was worried about that, because of having so much yarn left over) but it’ll do, especially once it has been vigorously blocked. I have every hope of finishing the actual knitting before February starts.

While we’re at it, here’s this week’s Tuesday picture of the avocado tree, not looking so well:


Metropolitan Rebecca: I think Alexander would have liked the sweater, writing and all, if he had ever had a chance to see it. But I couldn’t go ahead after his reaction over lunch.

And, no, I thought the passages about Hallelujah Dawson were just about acceptable. He is a sympathetic character, liked by both the author and her other characters except one. And he belongs in the plot. What I didn’t like at all was the casual English anti-semitism manifested in several offhand remarks. And there isn’t even a Jewish character.

Valerie, I’ve never read any Tracy Chevalier. I think she went to Oberlin. Maybe I’m jealous. Perhaps I should start with “A Single Thread”.


Oberlin: I had one of those letters recently from my class president, wanting money. He mentioned a current row between the college and a local shop which has been there forever called Gibson’s. There’s a substantial passage in Wikipedia on the matter of the row. Currently the college has been fined $11 million or something like that, and is appealing.

Two things struck me: 

1) the row started with a bottle of wine. In my day, Oberlin (the town) was “dry” (and students were forbidden to have cars). When did that change?

2) It sounds from the Wikipedia article as if shoplifting is regarded as fun by a significant number of students. In my day, the college operated on the Honour System. Exams weren’t invigilated. I think we would have felt that the Honour System put shoplifting out of bounds. When did that change?

Monday, January 20, 2020

Guess what? I’ve finally finished that ball of blue yarn. 9 ½ scallops done of the edging on the third side of Gudrun’s “Hansel” hap. 14 required. I should have the knitting of this thing pretty well finished in January. That leaves finishing and, of course, blocking. That will be tricky.

Mary Lou: have I got the “Sweater Workshop”? The name “Jacqueline Fee” sounds familiar. Whether or no, the idea of using a change-ringing formula to determine the size of random stripes (or the colours) (or both) is brilliant, and very tempting. Another Dathan? I’ve got more than enough yarn from that bagful I bought on Shetland. I find achieving the effect of randomness actually rather stressful.

Metropolitan Rebecca, your comment has had the perverse effect of sending me to “Unnatural Death” (having finished “Nine Tailors”). No racism so far. Interestingly,  I’m pretty sure I remember what the trick cause-of-death is going to be, although the situation and the characters (except for Lord P. and Bunter and Parker and Miss Climpson) seem completely unfamiliar. I prefer later Sayers, with Harriet.

I vaguely remember Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter, and I agree with you, he wasn’t right.

Knitlass, for heaven’s sake, you must read the Nine Tailors. There are eight bells in the ring the book is concerned with. One thing I have learned from it: there is at least one system in which the position of the tenor is constant, ringing at the end of every change. I have noticed that effect often when the BBC is ringing bells for me on Sunday morning. I thought it was that my ear was too wooden to hear how the tenor was moving. So the next time that happens, I will know that it is standing still and can concentrate on watching the other bells move.

That book is my only experience of bells. Did I read it again in the 80’s? When Alexander was at Balliol I knit him a fair Isle sweater that was inscribed around the yoke rather like a bell: JMM ME FECIT GADM ME GERIT COLL BALL ME VIDET AMDG. (JMM made me GADM wears me Balliol College sees me) It was in the knitting of that sweater that I noticed for the first time that Alexander's initials are an anagram of AMDG: to the greater glory of God.

But before Alexander ever saw it, my husband told him, over lunch one day on a visit to Oxford, “It has writing on it” and of course Alexander was horrified and I had to take it out. I’m still a bit cross at my husband – he should have given the sweater a chance to speak for itself.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Onward! As EZ used to say. I have still not finished that ball of yarn, and am embarrassed for the fuss I have made about it. I have now done six scallops of edging on the third side of Gudrun’s “Hansel” shawl, and expect to join in the second blue ball very soon. I keep saying that.

I knit successfully on through the Andrew Marr show this morning. It’s all about politics, and doesn’t demand the word-for-word attention that tends to interfere with lace knitting.

JeanfromCornwall posted a comment to Friday’s blog about the article in the Travel section of Saturday’s Times about the day of “Cooking with the Duchess” which Archie and I so enjoyed in Palermo in January, 2018. I wrote a reply at once, and as soon as I clicked “Publish” it vanished into the ether, as has happened to so many of you.

The writer claims that Lampedusa is her literary hero, but doesn’t mention that the Duke of Palma (the Duchess’s husband, whom she met, whom I sat next to at lunch) was the model for Tancred in “Il Gattopardo”. She refers to the author twice as “Lampedusa”, three times as “Di Lampedusa”, once with his full name. I don’t think “Di Lampedusa” is permissible, especially not with a capital D. The title (he was a Prince, like the hero of his book) was “Tomasi di Lampedusa”. His first name was Giuseppe. “Lampedusa” is the usual way of referring to him.

I’m enjoying the Nine Tailors, I guess, although it’s awfully dated. Tamar, if you ever recall the source you read that said that that form of death is unlikely, I’d like to see it. I believe in it, implicitly. It would be easy enough to test with a laboratory rat, but that would constitute totally unacceptable cruelty to an animal, whichever answer the experiment produced.

I haven’t learned much yet about bellringing. The BBC plays a brief passage of “bells on Sunday” every week (this morning, from Australia). I love the sound, but can’t even detect the bells changing position.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The yarn has pulled that familiar stunt when it seems to be at death’s door and then discovers the secret of Eternal Youth. I am three scallops past the second corner, in my edging of Gudrun’s “Hansel” shawl, and probably have enough yarn in the first ball for a fourth. So I’ve got plenty of blue yarn. It would have been sad to have to order a third ball for the sake of a few yards.

The knitting went better today. It really does need my full attention. What about the Andrew Marr show tomorrow morning, a feature of my Sundays? I can always revert to the Dathan.

Cam (comment, Jan 15), you have sold us all on the idea of a jumper board. Jamieson and Smith? But it doesn’t solve my problem, of knitting for great-grandchildren.


James’ wife Cathy’s father has had a fall – James told me when he rang up about Kirsty’s Oxford place. That’s what we all dread at this stage of life – falling. He’s making a good recovery. My sister phoned this afternoon to say that her husband Roger – the youngest family member of my generation – has had some sudden, serious internal bleeding. He, too, is home from hospital and recovering. But oh! how precarious the whole structure is, at our age.

My sister also told me about the “Whole30” diet. I had never heard of it. I looked it up on Google – sure enough, there’s lots. But it’s not for me – no soy sauce!

Southern Gal, I’m a Sayers fan too. Inspired by you, I got “Nine Tailors” for my iPad today. (Special offer at Amazon: 99p.)  I don’t think I’ve re-read that since my youth. The death of the dead man is so uniquely dreadful that I haven’t wanted to think about it again. The book itself is, I believe, a well-regarded primer on bell-ringing which is a most interesting subject.

I can recommend Trollope for avoiding (on the whole) angst and violence. Start with Barchester Towers. I agree with you about the delights of re-reading when you know every turn and twist of the road ahead. I can remember, though, my fury – during my first delighted and astonished reading of “Mansfield Park” – when a footnote in the Penguin edition casually gave away a major plot twist well in advance.

Friday, January 17, 2020

I had a delicious Italian lesson this morning – one of the very few in which I felt I might be getting somewhere. And at the end, when we were talking about next week’s lesson, my tutor spoke a phrase I have just learned – non posso farcela, I can’t do it, in reference to next Friday. Helen’s family gave me a calendar with a phrase a day, and that was one of the first.

And I have knit onwards with the edging of Gudrun’s “Hansel” hap. I now have three bumps left to do on the second side, and I still don’t know whether the present ball of yarn will get me there. It’s very exciting.

I’m knitting very badly. Has there been a single scallop without a mistake? Most mistakes, I think, are absorbed in the blue. But the scallop I was knitting during “Pointless” just now was so awful that I ripped it out. I am particularly irritated at myself when my errors distort the line of faggotting that parallels the edge of the shawl. I love faggotting, but it's got to be done right. 

Miraculously, “Heirloom Knitting” was where it belongs on the shelf. I found Sharon’s statement that the symbols / and \ mean the same thing, namely k2tog, but I couldn’t find a discussion of the subject. I must put “Heirloom Knitting” back before I do much else, or it won’t be on the shelf next time.


We’re planning a family-lunch-out next week to celebrate Helen’s birthday. She came within a whisker (half-an-hour, if I remember rightly) of being born on Burns’ birthday. A near miss! In the draft of my Will which I wrote to the lawyer about yesterday, he had included some provision for the possibility that some of my children might not have come of age before my death. I told him we didn’t need to worry about that. Those that aren’t yet 60 will soon have that condition thrust upon them.

A letter in the Times this morning points out that Burns Night and the Chinese New Year coincide this year. The Chinese are welcoming the Year of the Rat, I believe, but I also think that smaller rodents are subsumed under that title. So, as the letter-writer suggests, we can welcome a wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie along with the Ode to the Haggis.

I’m doing fine with Lively’s “Family Album” and have made a note to look at “The Photograph” next. Thank you for that, Valerie.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Not a bad day, although I feel low. My Personal Trainer came, and we had a good time in Drummond Place gardens – we’ve had an easy winter so far (there’s something to be said for Global Warming).  The snowdrops are in full cry and there are even buds showing on the daffodils.

I wrote to the lawyer about my Will, a task which has been weighing on me of late. But of course as soon as it’s done, I become aware of the myriad other tasks awaiting. Tomorrow, maybe, after Italian.

As for knitting, I have now done seven bumps on the second side – half way across. (I’m talking about edging Gudrun’s “Hansel” shawl.) The ball of yarn is certainly less plump than it used to be. My guess is that it won’t reach the next corner. But I’ve got to press ahead and find out for sure.

I’m having some difficulty with my ssk’s, a manoeuvre I usually particularly enjoy. I think the problem arises when the second of the stitches to be slipped was a yo in the previous row. Slipping the first stitch pulls it tight and then the needle won’t go through.

Sharon Miller says in Heirloom Knitting that directional decreases don’t matter in garter stitch. I was astonished. Perhaps I’d better look up the passage. Maybe it only applies to fine yarn. I have been faithfully doing them here but k2tog would be easier in many instances. I’ve got to stick with ssk for the vital decrease that joins one more stitch of the shawl to the edging – but that one is always easy anyway.


Cats’ grasp of keyboard shortcuts is clearly a matter that deserves scholarly research. Perdita is particularly good at muting the sound effects.

For reading, I’ve settled down with Penelope Lively’s “Family Album”. I like books about families. Lively is particularly skilful, in this one, at distinguishing and characterising six separate children. Before that (and after “The Three Clerks”) I read another Ruth Rendell, “A Demon in my View”. It’s rather depressing. Perhaps that’s why I feel low. I should have stuck with Wexford.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Ever onward. I’ve turned the first corner of my edging of Gudrun Johnson’s “Hansel” hap. The blue yarn is holding out well. The big question, of course, is whether it will reach to the next corner. If so, I’ve got enough yarn. If not, not. I’ve got four balls still of Main Colour – that’s what the pattern intended for the edging. I certainly won’t need that many.

So much left-over yarn. Have I done something wrong? Will the shawl turn out to be absurdly small? It’s hard to get a sense of size since I picked up stitches around the centre square on a circular needle.

No one has spoken up to say that Shetland yarn comes up smiling from a cold wash on a modern machine. So perhaps a small child would not be the best target for my abundant leftovers.


Alexander didn’t come over from Glasgow today. His son Thomas – the one badly injured recently playing soccer – is now out of plaster and hobbling about somewhat on his own. But he’s not very mobile and he’s having exams and needs to be ferried to and from school at odd hours. Helen dropped in, however, and we walked around the garden together.

I finished “The Three Clerks”. The last chapter isn’t quite as odd as I remembered. Charlie is a reformed character with a better job, and making some money with his writing – that absurd novel that Shandy and I were bored by. He must be Trollope himself. That doesn’t explain how he could afford to remodel Surbiton Cottage, where much of the action has taken place, into “Surbiton Villa or Surbiton Hall or Surbiton House”. On earlier pages he is deeply committed to the moneylenders of London. And Katie has recovered from her deathbed – but the doctors always said that her lungs weren’t affected.

Now I need a book.

Tonight it is Paradox who is driving me to distraction, walking up and down on the keyboard where she, like her sister, knows all manner of key-combinations which are a mystery to me. She turned on a blue square which followed the cursor around and spoke to me in a condescending voice whenever it paused, to tell me what I was doing. What on earth?

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A much droopier day. No garden.

But not without event. James’ and Cathy’s younger daughter Kirstie got a place at Oxford to read English. She tried last year on maths and physics and they turned her down. It’s a funny world. Her A-level results in all three subjects were stellar.

I knit industriously on with the edging of Gudrun’s “Hansel” hap. Here’s where we are:

I have two more bumps to do before the first corner. Fortunately I have some stitch markers in the form of little plastic safety pins, so it will be possible to keep marking the corner after I have turned it, and still to remove the marker at the end.

And here’s today’s avocado picture. There is still some hope. The foil has been effective in preventing Perdita from peeing there, but I began to worry today about whether it is good for the tree to have the soil closed off from the air. Will it get muddy and miserable? Helen and her family were at Kirkmichael just after Christmas – I should have had her bring back some wire netting. All country houses have odd bits of wire netting lying around:

I’ve got some decrepit plastic netting that I grew peas up last summer on the front porch. Perhaps I’ll try that tomorrow.


“The Three Clerks” is rushing forward to the denouement, as exciting as any Ruth Rendell. Undecimus Scott remains very bad.

Monday, January 13, 2020

The yarn arrived and I have embarked on the edging of Gudrun’s Hansel hap. It was like waiting for Father Christmas. I’ve done six repeats so far. There are 14 on each side.

It was clumsy and awkward at first, getting easier now. Soon the danger will be thinking about something else and losing my place.

The edging could scarcely be simpler, but is rather wide. Eight stitches at the narrowest, rising to 16. I think it not unlikely that I’ll need more yarn. The thing is to move briskly forward, as I’ve said before, and see how long this first ball lasts. It looks very colourful, is all I can say so far. I’ll take a picture of it tomorrow, along with our Tuesday avocado tree.

Quinn, thank you for your comment, and for the pointer to your blog   I did find a couple of problems with the Craftsy pattern, although they don’t arise until the borders are finished. The pattern has been on Craftsy (or whatever it’s called these days) for years – how could mistakes have survived? Maybe I’ve got it wrong.

a)     When you finish the borders, the instructions say to leave the yarn attached. I didn’t see how that would work, since the next instruction is to cast on 8 stitches using the long-tail cast on, on a separate dp needle. And when you watch the Craftsy class, there is Gudrun breaking the yarn, plain as a pikestaff.

b)    When the borders are finished, before the decrease row, the pattern says that there are 132 stitches on each side. You then decrease with a rather nerve-wracking k1 *K5, k2tog, k4, k2tog* 10 times k1. When it came out wrong on the first side, I blamed myself. When it came out the same wrong on the second side, I went back and counted the squares on the pattern chart. There are 130 stitches, not 132. The decrease instructions don’t quite fit, for 130. But the result, however arrived at, is right: you want 112 stitches on each side. Each edging repeat eats 8 stitches: 14 repeats per side.


I walked around the garden again today, in order to take a picture of the fallen eucalyptus for you. The roots, if you can discern them in the distance, look to me as if they were broken off too short to provide any hope of resuscitation. The gardeners told me yesterday that they thought it had outgrown its strength, so to speak:

Things continue to go from bad to worse in “The Three Clerks”. You’re absolutely right, Shandy, there’s a mock novel in the middle – Charlie hoping to make his fortune with his pen. I speed-read it, this time.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

More progress on Gudrun’s hap. I have nearly finished the borders, and should be ready for the edging tomorrow if the yarn turns up. The borders end with four rounds of Main Colour. That’s what I’m doing now. I’m not entirely happy with the way they will separate the border colours from the blue edging. If I had thought this through from the beginning, I could have put the extra four rounds of Main Colour at the beginning of the borders, and done the decrease round in the final gold stripe.

Too late now.

I must now re-watch the bit of the Craftsy class in which the borders are finished and the edging commenced.


Thank you, Marilyn. I have covered the compost in the avocado tree pot with foil, and Perdita has lost all interest in the sitting room. She is purring as she sits beside the computer this evening. She never purrs. I hope she’s not ill.

I am having a dry January (not a vegan one, thank you) in the hopes of being restored to youth and vigour. There is not much sign of that, so far, but I did get out for a walk around the gardens by myself today. I usually only attempt it when I have a companion. Our eucalyptus tree has blown down. It was fine when I was there on Thursday with my Personal Trainer. I am sorry to see it go, not least because it was the only tree I could identify with certainty.

“The Three Clerks” is going well, in the sense that things are going from bad to worse for nearly all the characters. Undecimus Scott -- who is leading one of them astray -- is wonderfully like a lawyer we once had who wound up in gaol.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Progress on Gudrun’s hap. The rounds have (suddenly, it seems) become very long. The pattern rounds are interminable, but fortunately there is only one more of them ahead. I am currently doing the last ANC stripe, in gold (and I was right, I bought too much green). After that come four rounds of Main Colour, including a decrease round – and then the edging. I’m sure we are right to do that in blue.

The easy pattern continues difficult. It is not always possible to see whether a pattern row is precisely matching the one six rows below it. Big mistakes, yes, when one drifts off into auto-pilot. But I’m pretty sure there are places where I am one stitch out. There are two places in the 18-stitch pattern repeat where you can see a straight line of stitches below the needle, undistorted by increases or decreases. I have learned to keep a sharp eye on them, and mistakes are diminishing.

Andrew and Andrea turned up, at this unexpected time of the week. In the absence of an Edinburgh Yarn Festival, they are off to Vogue Knitting Live in NYC. Maybe they can interview Franklin! But, alas! for the EYF!

This time it was Nancy Marchant, of whom I am a great fan. They were talking about her book on Tuck Stitches, which I’ve got, and the one on Brioche Lace, which I don’t seem to have. (Although my shelves can’t be trusted these days. Where is Sharon Miller’s hap shawl book? And my signed copy of Glorious Knitting?)

It is, generally speaking, my policy to buy books on technique but to be more selective about pattern books. But do I want this one? I’m not the bloody Library of Congress. I’m not impressed by brioche lace, and am sure I will never knit it. The essential trouble is that lace doesn’t combine well with ribbing, which brioche essentially is. Marchant told us that she needed quite a long time to persuade herself that the technique was worth going ahead with.


Little to report. I am determined to keep Perdita out of the sitting-room so that she can’t pee on the repotted avocado tree. She is equally determined to get in, and hard to catch when she succeeds. And I am dubious about picking her up. She is a fairly heavy cat these days, and I fear falling.

She regularly  comes and sits with me when I compute:

Friday, January 10, 2020

Thank you for your help. I have ordered two balls of Jamieson and Smith’s “Heritage” jumper weight in what looks like a beautiful blue – and have heard from them that it has been dispatched. They don’t hang around, in Lerwick.

Will two be enough? I will have fully four balls of Main Colour left when I finish the borders. But (a) the specifications in the pattern – by length, not weight – are extremely generous; I already know that I have bought too much red and black and suspect that the same will prove true of green, the colour of my current stripe. And (b) I will know, as I get near the end of the first blue ball, whether one more will be enough to get the rest of the way around. If not, they can send me another – and if I continue knitting at the present fevered pace, they’ll probably have the same dye lot.

I will have almost enough leftovers to knit Chihiro Sato’s “Dream of Being a Princess” from “Enjoy Fair Isle Knitting”. I’m sure the “almost” could be brought up to scratch from stash. It’s a delicious little slipover for a child. But Shetland yarn wouldn’t be much use to a modern mother. Can the wool cycle of a modern washing machine cope? I doubt it.

I have sped onward with Gudrun’s shawl. I feel I deserve the rest of the day for myself, after a 7:30 Italian lesson.

Reading & Other Comments 

Shandy, I don’t remember spoof novels in the middle of “The Three Clerks” – but that doesn’t prove anything. I don’t remember knitting Gudrun’s hap in 2016. I’ll let you know if they turn up. I found the New Yorker article – Gopnik himself. He recommends Rachel Ray as well as The Three Clerks and Orley Farm. I’ve read that, but not RR.

Pom Pom, Willa Cather is a good idea. I don’t think I have any discoveries to make there, but it might well be time for a re-visit.

Mary Lou, I heard the end of (what must have been your) Catullus programme when I went to bed last night and turned the radio on, as always. I was sorry to have missed it. Maybe I’ll track it down.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Archie came, and got a lot done. But he’s now going back to university, and  my cleaner hasn’t returned from Rumania, and I’m going to need help of some sort. Helen will have to sort that out. I had a good session with my Personal Trainer, and tomorrow I have an Italian lesson at 7:30 a.m. 2020 has started in earnest. 

I continue to knit with vigour. Here’s the state of play:

It occurred to me yesterday that I could use blue – another of the colours of the South African flag – instead of Main Colour, to stripe with red here in the middle of the border. But I went back to an image of the flag and was reminded that it also contains white. (Does South Africa win the prize for the most colours in a national flag?) My biscuit-coloured Main Colour does reasonably well as white, so I left it.

But what about blue for the edging? It seems sort of a shame to leave it out, when I've got all the others. Or would that simply be too colourful? The pattern reverts to Main Colour for the edging, of course. Comments very welcome. The fun of knitting the edging is gradually to release the shawl from the awkward shape imposed by the circular needle.

As far as line numbers are concerned, I’m half-way through the border. But that is to take no account of the fact that eight stitches are added every other round. One great advantage of knitting such a shawl from the centre outwards – not my usual practice – is that you can increase at the mitred corners with a simple yo,k1,yo and make a pretty ladder of eyelets. Going in the opposite direction, decreasing at the corners, is much less decorative.


Thank you for your comments.

I have settled on a re-read of Trollope’s “The Three Clerks”. I think it was recommended in a New Yorker article about him a few years back. It’s good; full of energy. I will be interested to see if the last chapter has the effect I remember. I must be careful in what I say, so as not to spoil it. Unless you all read it, and then we could talk about it…

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

A pretty good day. Alexander came to see me, bringing my 2020 calendar. He makes one every year, illustrated with pictures of his two sons each taken in the month it illustrates. This is getting harder and harder to arrange, he says – there won’t be many more such calendars.

And I knit fanatically on. When I had only a gold and a green stripe on my shawl, the colours seemed gentled by the Shetland yarn. But I’ve now added the black stripe which comes at the top of the ANC flag, and the effect is a good deal fiercer. I am not far short of the centre of the border – that will consist of ten rounds alternating the main colour with red in two-round stripes. Red appears in the modern South African flag, along with the ANC colours.

I'm right that the borders are shallow. They are only 50 rounds deep. Other exemplars I have located suggest there could be as many as 80.

Thank you for your help with finding my previous hap. It was interesting to discover that I both began and ended 2017 with a baby shawl – the first was one by “Mrs Hunter of Unst”, an old Paton’s leaflet which I knit for Rachel before she was born; and I saw the year out with Gladys Amedro’s “Slett’s shawl” (I think it’s called) which I knit for Archie before he was born. Both, this time, for new great-granddaughters.

But what I wanted was my previous experience with what I am knitting now – Gudrun Johnson’s “Hansel” hap from her Craftsy class. I found out how to search my blog – Google knows everything – and a search for “Emmett” soon revealed that I knit that shawl in ’16, not ’17. A brief trawl through the blog soon answered my question – that time, too, I gave up and purled the purl rounds.

(Observe that I have now added a Search button to the sidebar.)

I was wildly enthusiastic about the pattern, back in ’16, although I seem to have been awfully slow at finishing off the edging.

I am distressed to discover how much stronger I was in ’16 than I am now – and how much more interesting was the blog. It was actually about knitting, paragraph after paragraph.

Susan Crawford has produced a book of patterns based on old Shetland ones from her previous book. She is releasing it Kate Davies fashion, one pattern a fortnight and then the whole book in June. The cover pattern is much to my taste, a bottom-up yoke sweater with a nice single-colour textured yoke. And it’s fun to get a new pattern every so often, Kate Davies fashion, especially in the winter darkness. I am tempted.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

No Andrew and Andrea, but a very good day with Gudrun’s hap. I’ve finished the border set-up rows, probably the hardest part of the whole exercise, and have embarked on the colours and the Old Shale pattern. If my zeal continues, I might finish in Feb or early March. I hate knitting to a deadline, but babies do rather impose them.

The border is rather shallow. The edging will then take a long time -- only one stitch eliminated from the body of the shawl for every two rows of edging. But it is an exercise I particularly enjoy.

I have decided to bite on the bullet (as we say) and purl alternate rounds. It’s not too bad, although obviously not as soothing as knitting.

The one problem I foresee is that Old Shale is so easy it’s hard. I had to tink a whole side just now. Worse than that – I saw the mistake when I was not far in, tinked back, and then thought, no, no, I was right the first time – and only grasped when I got to the end of the side that I was not right the first time, and would have to undo the whole thing. All is now well.

The patterning is only on every sixth row – I hope that next time, and from then on, I can be guided by seeing the pattern stack up on itself.

I wish I could remember the hap I seem to have knit for my sister’s younger grandson, Emmett LeCompte. It has completely evaporated from memory. If there ever was such a thing, it must have been done in 2017. I could flip through the blog. But that’s the year my husband died, and I am not greatly keen on revisiting it.


Here’s the avocado tree today:

I think you’ll agree that there are grounds for hope.

Having finished “Emma” I have reverted to Ruth Rendell. She’s brilliant, even when she’s a bit weak, but I need something meatier and don’t know where to turn. Maybe something Italian.

It sounds stormy out there tonight.

Monday, January 06, 2020

The central square of Gudrun’s hap is finished, and the loops along the edge of it picked up. That wasn’t quite as easy as I expected, and the stitch count isn’t perfect. The excitement should be enough to ensure that I at least knit the first round this evening, and establish the count.

I’ve been getting messages from Kate Davies about her new mitten book. I suppose it was inevitable, after haps and hats. I’m not keen on mitten-knitting; if I were, I think there would be much of interest there. Maybe I should console myself by adding her beginners’-sweater book to my shelves. I have scorned it because of not being a beginner– but that doesn’t mean the sweaters aren’t interesting. I’ll have another look.

Andrew and Andrea tomorrow, do you think? That would really mean that 2020 is underway.


Rachel rang up today to enquire after the avocado tree. She and (especially) her husband Ed provided the willing hands for the re-potting. I told her I thought there was hope, and that she would have to wait until tomorrow for a photograph.

I’ve finished “Emma”. Rachel also said that she saw a trailer for the forthcoming movie and it looked promising. Mr Elton, incredibly, is played by the actor who is Prince Charles in the most recent series of “The Crown”. I’ve seen a picture of him with Mrs Elton, and I agree, it looks promising. But can they get Mr, Knightley right? And Mr Woodhouse, indeed?

There was one of those colloquial Epiphanies in a column in the Times this morning. It never rains but it pours.

This morning I made a list of the things I must do, and I haven’t done any of them. Archie came, and we made an essential supermarket run (we were low on cat food) and restored some order to the kitchen and I sent him up the hill with a cheque to pay in, so the day wasn’t entirely wasted.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

I've had my social day – quite successfully. It’s funny how life fits together. One of my Christmas presents was a daily calendar with an Italian phrase for each day. Tomorrow’s is “Ho avuto un epifania.” I have never heard anyone use the English equivalent so I thought I would skip that one – but someone at the Epiphany Party happened to mention that that colloquial use comes from James Joyce, and C., as we drove home, said that she has heard it said in English. So I’ve learned something, in both languages.

And I got a good deal of hap knitting done during the Andrew Marr show – only a few more stitches to polish off tomorrow and the central square is done.

No progress on the Spring Shawl – it must be somewhere – but I am hopeful for the avocado tree. I mean to take a picture for you on Tuesday, a week after the last picture, and thenceforward every Tuesday until it is certainly either dead or alive.

Current Affairs

It is indeed terrifying, Southern Gal, to learn that the President took even the Pentagon by surprise with the recent assassination. I wonder who organised it. One of our news broadcasts pointed out -- I guess it's obvious -- that someone must have betrayed Suleimani. Andrew Marr had Mr Raab with him this morning, our Foreign Secretary, who was equally in the dark until after the event. He tried to put a smooth face on it.


Having started, I am pressing fearlessly ahead with “Emma”. There are certainly some good things there, including Mrs Elton. I suppose the author is trying to do something different, as in “Mansfield Park” – in that the love story between hero and heroine is not centre stage throughout.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

A better day for exercise – but no Italian or paper work. And it’s not as if the hours were so full that all these things couldn’t be fitted in.

The centre of Gudrun’s hap is now down to 53 stitches. A couple more days should finish it off. So exciting!

I’ve had a new thought about the Spring Shawl, although I’m no nearer finding it. What if my cleaner put it somewhere? Like all good cleaners – especially if they operate in a house as untidy as this one – she sometimes Puts Things Away. She’s also a brilliant finder. When I first missed the Spring Shawl, I thought all I had to do was wait until Monday when Michaela would be here again.

No luck. She, too, thinks she remembers the shawl on top of that chest, where I thought it was. But it’s just possible that she tidied it somewhere and has forgotten. But where? I’ll pursue that thought for a while.

Current Affairs

I think Qassem Suleimoni looked like George Clooney. Greek Helen agrees, but none of the news stories mention the resemblance, so maybe not.

It is disconcerting to discover how accurately a drone can pick one off, if it wants to; and how accurate the intelligence was in this case, instead of picking off a blameless Baghdad couple as they were driving home from the airport. I fear Mr Trump (and all of us) will soon reap the whirlwind.

Friday, January 03, 2020

I like this feeling of life getting back into the groove. In the Olden Days – soon I’ll be the only one old enough to remember – Scotland would have ignored Christmas, largely or entirely, and, for a Wednesday New Year, would have been entirely closed at least until Monday the 6th. There would have been parties, but after that everybody would have gone to call on everybody else over the next few days. The severest spinster would have whiskey and shortbread on offer. No fireworks. No sales.

It’s not like that any more.

I’m going to an Epiphany Party on Sunday afternoon. I can’t remember when I last attended a social event unconnected with anybody I’m related to.

I did a certain amount of returning-to-the-groove myself today. Gudrun’s hap has advanced, and is going faster and faster. I’m greatly looking forward to the borders. Will I be able to put up with purling?

I did some Italian. I changed the cats’ litter tray – my cleaner, who usually does that, has gone back to Romania because her father-in-law has dropsy (but should return soon). Not much exercise, I’m afraid. Maybe I can get to grips with that tomorrow.

And do some paper work.

We have been speculating about how fast the light comes back. It turns out – Google knows everything – to be about 2 minutes a day. That should mean that we’re edging up towards half an hour already. A precise answer turns out to be impossible because it varies at different times in the year due to the fact that the earth’s orbit is an ellipse. The explanations get complicated.

By Groundhog Day the new light is palpable.

There has been no progress with the Spring Shawl. I have pretty well concluded that it couldn’t have been the cats – when they attack knitting, the evidence is there for all to see. If it wasn’t the cats, and if the shawl isn’t in or under or behind that chest of drawers, I must have put it somewhere. I despair.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Onwards, I guess. The stitch count for the centre of Gudrun’s hap is now somewhere in the 80’s, and the rows undoubtedly go faster. The fourth ball of yarn has been joined in, and should be enough to finish the central square. I don’t think I’ve assigned the square enough points in the sidebar – that just means that things will go faster over there later on.

My dear friend G. came round today and persuaded me – without much difficulty -- to buy a new iPad. Archie went up to John Lewis and procured it. The old one is in a semi-usable state. I can give it to someone willing to bear the expense of a new screen. It must be about 4 ½ years old. We’ve got everything transferred to the new iPad. Some things, especially the Kindle app,  feel rather odd, but I’ll get used to it.

Thank you for your help with the Spring Shawl. Jenny, no, I didn’t take the shawl out of the house to show Maureen. She came here. Stella, I had your idea only today, about the drawers of that chest. But again, no. The drawers are empty – my husband fretted about whether the chest was strong enough for the weight of clutter I was consigning to it, and everything has been moved elsewhere.

I hadn’t thought the matter serious enough for St Anthony, but I’m beginning to wonder. He found our dear cat once, whom we had lost in Blairgowrie on a cold winter’s night. Long story. Helen and I went back to Blairgowrie the next morning in the dark  (Kirkmichael is about 12 miles away) – and renewed the search. Helen found her, in the Bank of Scotland car park. Her cry of joy still rings in my ears. The next night it snowed and snowed and snowed – it would have been impossible to drive those 12 miles.

We put an ad in the next issue of the Blairgowrie Advertiser – Grateful thanks to St Anthony for finding our beloved cat.

Deprived of my Kindle for the moment, I started re-reading “Emma”, my least-favourite Austen. There are some good bits, though.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

A quiet year, so far. I have been somewhat seized by melancholy; I trust it will pass.

Gudrun’s hap continues well – the stitch count is nearly down to 100 (from 144), the product lovely and cosy. I’m now using a third ball of yarn; it won’t be enough to finish the central square. I’ve found a nice, long circular of the right gauge for the next phase.

I’ve had no luck with finding the Spring Shawl. If the disappearance was the cats’ fault, the chest of drawers on which I think I left it, is far and away the best hiding place in the room, either under or behind. But it’s not there. The cats often drag knitting out from that room into the hall – but it’s not there, either, and there are no hiding places in the hall.

Perhaps I’ll try looking behind the chest again. It is a valuable principle of searching, to keep looking every so often where the object ought to be. And that’s where the empty cardboard cone was found, around which the yarn was previously wrapped. There is a ball of yarn wedged back there, but it’s orange. There is a heavy, valuable, breakable object on top of the chest, so I can’t pull it recklessly forward from the wall.

I think you are going to be proved right, Tamar, that I'll just have to start again.


I’ve been reading “Northanger Abbey” today. Goodness, it’s delightful!

Mary Lou, that Ruth Rendell in which a character notices a mis-crossed cable in someone’s knitting, is one of the ones I’ve been reading recently. Is that the same one in which Inspector Wexford suspects (rightly or wrongly, I can’t remember) that the victim was garroted with a circular needle?

I knocked my beloved iPad off the kitchen table yesterday and have somewhat damaged its display. Perhaps that is all that is necessary to explain my melancholy. I am as attached to that machine as everybody else is to their telephones. Archie is coming tomorrow and we will address the problem.