Wednesday, September 30, 2020


I watched all of the debate last night, and found it riveting. The cats got up and watched with me, but couldn’t make much of it. They knew, however, that it was the middle of the night, and nobody suggested breaking off for a bit of cat food.


What if he wins again? I was terribly reminded of the debates with Hillary four years ago (for which I also got up in the middle of the night). Everybody was so sure, then, that she would win – my sister, Real Clear Politics, Hillary herself – that party with the glass ceiling that she never, in the event, got to.


Rachel and Ed should be here any moment. This evening we’ll sit on the step and drink gin and tonic – at least they will. The weather isn't as good as yesterday, but perfectly all right. Tomorrow we will have lunch in a restaurant except that I have just had a worrying message from my sister about the inadvisability of that.


I have been making kimchi again today. I am obsessed with it, and have made inroads already into the last batch, which is still rather young. I hope this one will have time to ripen properly before I finish its predecessor. I have discovered the system, I think – in case any of you ever make kimchi. Namely, cut up the vegetables and make the gloop in the morning, then have lunch and a nice nap and only then salt the cabbage. It needs about two hours. All that remains is to rinse the cabbage and combine everything and stuff it into jars.

All terribly good for the microbiome.


I finished dealing with the loose ends of the EPS this morning (before cutting up vegetables and making gloop). All that remains is to block it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020


It’s been another lovely autumn day. No doubt the weather will turn tomorrow, when Rachel and Ed get here from London and we are forbidden to sit together indoors.


I made some progress with finishing the EPS. The underarm grafting is done, and the inevitable corner holes closed. The grafting has produced a line of purl bumps. That’s something to do, I think, with not having both sets of stitches at the same stage of their life cycle before grafting. In this case, there’s no difficulty in calling it a design feature. Here we are:


I’m terribly pleased with it, not least because I have actually used a pack of gradient yarns, and used them, if I do say so, rather well. I still have all the ends to tidy up. It’s time to start thinking about hat design. And I’ve been slightly wondering whether I could knit Carol Sunday’s Machu Picchu sweater (I’ve got the yarn, remember) as, essentially, an EPS design. I have arranged things rather badly, to have all this thinking come at the same time, with nothing soothing to pick up in the meantime.


Shandy, I agree that managing a whole sweater while knitting the sleeves would not be a pleasant experience. But the EPS system has one knit the sleeves separately. Twirling the whole sweater around while knitting the yoke is fun. I do agree with you and Karen, that this sort of thing is inappropriate for Aran. I've never been much enamoured of top-down. Indeed, have I ever done it?




This is a picture Helen took of me yesterday, outside the post office where I had just dispatched my ballot. The miserable expression is because she made me put the mask back on for the photograph. I find it hideously uncomfortable. Would an expensive cloth mask be better? A reluctance to wear one for 13 hours – a reluctance to spend 13 hours in a church basement, with or without a mask – seem to me excellent reasons not to be an election judge this year, Mary Lou. As long as somebody does the job properly:


I sort of hope I will have the oomph to get up and watch at least some of the debate tonight. It starts at 2 a.m., here. I watched them live last time. Somehow streaming on YouTube tomorrow doesn’t quite cut the mustard.




I continue to flounder there, too (as well as with knitting projects) although forging ahead with “I Malavoglia”. I thought I had mentioned it here before – Verga, 19th century Italian, Sicily. I’ve read it before. My Italian doesn't seem to have improved much in 35 years despite all this one-to-one tuition.

Monday, September 28, 2020


I’m about halfway around the three-needle bind-off on the neck of my EPS sweater. I ribbed on and on. Meg’s instruction, in Knitter’s Magazine, way back then, was to rib until the neck was deep enough and then bind off loosely. That’s no use at all to a Blind Follower like me. After 2” it was clear that I had gone too far, if it wasn’t to be doubled. Fortunately Kate Davies’ new pattern was specific: four inches. When I had done a generous three, I started the bind-off. All is well.


Shandy, are you among those – I know they are many – who believe that a sewn seam gives a sweater necessary structure? Andrea is presumably one of them. (Will she be back this week? I’ve lost count.) I don’t much mind doing it, especially once I discovered that a tidy back stitch is acceptable. I used to think, in my very early knitting years, that one was required to produce an invisible seam with something like mattress stitch. For a folded neckline, of course, the story is different. If this one works, I’ll have learned something.


However, today’s big news is that I have voted. Monmouth County, NJ, was anxious that I should not entrust the ballot to anyone else to take to the post office, and anyway I wouldn’t have wanted to deprive myself of the pleasure. Helen came this morning to take me for a walk, and we did that instead. The nice girl at the counter surprised me by saying that she had already dispatched several American ballot papers. Then Helen and I went to the famous Italian delicatessen next door, Valvona and Crolla, and that was fun too. New Jersey isn’t a “swing state”. It won’t matter. But I did it.


But how did they know when they sent me the ballot  – they didn’t – that I wasn’t dead? Many people my age are. What would have happened to the ballot paper then?




I think you are giving too much weight to yesterday’s Mitford anecdote. (a) Laughter was a Mitford trademark, and carried them through many a difficult moment. (b) Bob Treuhaft , Jessica’s husband, was a middle-aged, shrewd, left-wing American lawyer. It’s more than likely he was being funny on purpose – and perhaps making rather a good point.


My husband had tea with a noble friend once, in an Edinburgh hotel, and even he was impressed (and reported to me) how his friend had signed the bill simply “Bute”.

Sunday, September 27, 2020


I’ve got the purl bumps picked up. It’s not a perfect job, but I’ve got the right number of them. I have since tucked the needle that holds them inside and gone on knitting the neck ribbing. Not much more to do. Kate Davies’ promised Sunday essay turns out to be about the three-needle bind-off (a fave of mine, too). I had expected feminism in some form, or the beauties of nature; it was a pleasant surprise.


Otherwise it has been a pretty idle day. We are busy plotting how far we might bend Scotland’s new rules, when Rachel and Ed visit from London later this week. We are not meant to visit each other at home, although it is all right to go to a restaurant together. That is ridiculous. We’ll be fine if the weather holds. We can eat sandwiches in Drummond Place Gardens. And if it doesn’t, I am much inclined to think I will invite them in. They have had to cancel their visit to the west – Ketki is now a member of the West of Scotland Health Board and is resolved not to take a Dominic Cummings attitude to the rules.


Good news: Christina, who broke her neck 10 days ago, has a hospital appt this week. I think it is rather clever of evolution to have given us bones which mend.




I have finished the biography of the Mitford sisters. I now want to read Nancy’s letters to Evelyn Waugh, but the book is not on the shelf. That has happened too often lately.


Here is another Mitford story. When Jessica and her American husband Bob Treuhaft first visited Chatsworth – where sister Debo was duchess – he was completely bowled over. “I would have known how to behave at the White House,” he said. “At Chatsworth, I didn’t know what century I was in.” Presented with the visitors’ book, he noticed that many guests had signed with a single name: “Salisbury” “Antrim” “Denham”. So he wrote “Treuhaft” and wondered why everybody fell about laughing.





Saturday, September 26, 2020


I’ve done a bit more ribbing at the neck of my EPS. Perhaps I’ll devote tomorrow morning’s Andrew Marr show to picking up purl bumps. Kate Davies then proceeds to a three-needle bind-off, as you say, Phyllis and Mary Lou. You give me hope that I will be able to do it without things going skew.


I wish I could go on forever knitting EPS yoke sweaters of one sort or another. But I’m going to have to face up to designing an Orkney-flag hat. I wish KD’s new yarn Schiehellion had the colours, but it doesn’t. I’ve probably got them in stash.




I don’t suppose you could tell me how to wind a Blixen/Dinesen turban around my head, Chloe? I have often thought that that might be the solution. It just falls off, when I try. Then I could go on to dress colourfully and eccentrically.




You’re right in every respect about the new Cormoran Strike, Shandy. I read it so fast because I do nothing else, other than write to you and a bit of ribbing. Daniella cleans up after me. (Well, I made kimchi this week, and plan to start another batch next week. The present one isn’t effervescing all over the kitchen counter as I might have hoped, but I think it’s all right. Koreans often eat it fresh, but I prefer to wait for a bit of fermentation-bite.)


Julie, I think maybe starting with the book of their letters is the best way to approach the Mitford sisters. You gradually figure out who they each are, and get a sense of family feeling amidst all the confusing nicknames. However difficult the family situation, they kept on writing loving and funny letters to each other (except for Jessica, the communist, the prickliest of them all). The joint biography that I have gone on to, is filling in a lot of gaps.


Somewhere in all this – and of course now I can’t remember where I read it, or of whom – one of them (perhaps Diana, the beautiful fascist one) was faced with an American form on which she had to enter her father’s occupation. She had to explain that he didn’t have one, and added that the English aristocracy had made so much money with the slave trade that they never had to work again. Naughty. (And not entirely true, in case anyone is worried.)

Friday, September 25, 2020


Chloe, bless you, you saved me at the last moment from a comment-less day. Maybe that’s because there was no knitting in it. Mary Lou, yours came in while I was actually composing.


Yesterday I had reached (but forgot to tell you about) the point where the neck ribbing of the EPS was about enough to bind off – or else to knit double and then be folded inside. The trouble with that, it sounds so easy, is that I can never do it, when I try to sew it down. It comes out skewed.


So there I was this morning, about to look up stretchy bind-offs, when the first pattern in my new Kate Davies club arrived. Its name is one of those unpronounceable Scottish words that she’s so fond of. It’s rather good, except I’d have to knit it with a bit more ease, not having a Kate Davies figure. However, the point here is that it has a folded in ribbed neck, and KD has persuaded me that I can do it after all (it’s just a matter of picking up purl bumps) so I am ribbing peacefully on with that end in view.




Helen came this morning and cut my hair. I had washed it before she arrived. She was sorry, as she had wanted to take a “before” picture of me in my mad-scientist hair. “After” looks more like new-arrival-in-the-prison-camp. Now she has gone off to take her youngest son Fergus to Bristol University. This morning’s paper is full of news of the disease spreading among university students and how they won’t be allowed to go home for Christmas.




I continue with the joint-biography of The Mitford Girls, and it continues interesting. I’ve been reading today about Unity’s (and to a lesser extent Diana’s) friendship with Hitler. They were more than just groupies, but probably Unity didn’t have a full-scale affair. But golly, even so. I wish I had my parents to ask whether anyone in the US thought, in the early 30’s, that Hitler might be a good thing for Germany. It was a long way away, and they had the Depression to worry about. They probably couldn’t have told me much. The anti-Semitism was there from the beginning plain to see, even if not yet in its full horror. But a lot of English people seemed to have been willing to swallow it.

Thursday, September 24, 2020


Today’s big excitement was a dental appt. Mostly just the hygienist cleaning my teeth. She surprised me by saying, Saw you on television, and I nearly replied, That wasn’t me, that was my cat.


But of course, she hadn’t seen Perdita and the mosaics, she had seen me. Some years ago, a very few may remember, a photographer-neighbour did a thing for Help the Aged, or some such group, which featured me sitting in the sitting room looking old. They should see me now. I thought it was just for showing at the Annual General Meeting. I often see Justin walking his dogs while I am tottering around the Gardens. I will mention the subject when that next happens.  (Except that now that I have something to say to him, it never will.)


Joni, that was clever of you to work out the actual link from what I posted yesterday. For Perdita and the mosaics, see yesterday’s comment.


Then I saw the dentist, and he said he had seen me on television. He doesn’t live with the hygienist. There is some trouble in one of my teeth, but I told him that nothing was to be done until next time (if then). The problem hasn’t worsened since last time, and he quite won my heart by congratulating me on my diet – no sugar, no bread. Weston’s Vintage Cider, I may assume, isn’t bad for my teeth.




Beverly, I’m sure you’re right. I re-registered in Monmouth County, NJ, in what must have been 2008 and voted for Obama. If I had had the wit to grasp the situation, I could have gone on voting by just requesting a postal ballot each time but I thought, hearing nothing from them, that I had to go through the whole process again. This year everybody has a postal ballot and here is mine. I will certainly send it off soon. I no longer have a post office within tottering distance but something can be done. A taxi, if all else fails. This is important.




Rachel and Ed are going ahead with their visit next week. They will stay in an Airb&b and see me and Helen out of doors. Pretty grim, pretty conscientious. No news from the Majestic Line about the cruise. We’re due to leave 17th October.


I’ve embarked on Mary Lovell’s biography “The Mitford Girls”. I don’t know whether I will persevere to the end, but there were some things I wanted to get straight about childhood. Chloe, I think the level-headed one was Debo, Duchess of Devonshire. The youngest. Certainly the peace-maker. Nancy was the eldest, clever and very funny, but there were difficulties.


In the letters, towards the very end, Diana (the beautiful one) tells Debo that she ought to read more, and recommends some classics. Debo agrees that she doesn’t read and asks, “Am I too late for Proust? I do hope so.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2020


You’ll never guess what arrived in the post today, so I’ll have to tell you. A ballot!


I voted for Obama, registering at my last American address in Monmouth County, NJ. It was hard work. I sort of thought that once I had done it, I would stay registered, but no. I didn’t bother going through it all again last time – I wasn’t all that keen on Hillary. And now this!


I spoke to C. today. She and Manaba (and Christina) are having a tough time. Christina needs total care since her fall from that horse, except that she is able to hobble to the bathroom on her own once she has been helped to her feet. She is still breast-feeding wee Hamish. It is important to her to go on doing it. She blames herself for the disaster, and is suffering as much from that as from her own pain and discomfort. She will see a neurosurgeon soon and the hope will be that the shattered vertebra is mending and that she won’t need surgery.


Knitting progresses well. I am doing the neck ribbing on the EPS sweater. I switched to dp needles and then decided that they were a bit precarious – all those opposite ends for the stitches to slip off of – and switched back to a circular. The stitches aren’t under any stress but they have to be pushed around rather a lot.


Some people were here yesterday to make a rather wonderful little video of Helen as a mosaicist. Perdita has a starring role. Paradox couldn’t have done it half so well. (That link doesn't seem to work. Why not?)


I have started chopping up vegetables to make some kimchi from ingredients obtained during yesterday’s trip to Waitrose. Alas there was only one Chinese (Napa) cabbage, so there won’t be much. I hope to get it salted down this evening.




I’m now down to two Mitford sisters, all the others dead. The survivors are the Duchess of Devonshire and Diana, the widow of the British fascist Oswald Mosley. Those two seem to have been the closest to each other anyway.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020


I had a lovely time in Waitrose this morning, except that I didn’t much enjoy mask-wearing for that length of time. I felt claustrophobic and my glasses steamed up so that I couldn’t read labels on the top shelf. Archie did all the heavy lifting and then we came home to a delicious lunch, a favourite of both, a Nigella Lawson warm salad involving lamb fillet which my excellent local butcher doesn’t sell in that form although I dare say he could produce it if asked.


And its just as well we got that done, because from today we have been forbidden to ride about in each other’s cars. I don’t know how the new semi-clamp down will affect either Rachel and Ed’s visit scheduled for next week (visiting each other’s houses is forbidden in Scotland but not in England) and my cruise now only about three weeks away.


Our Leader is going to address us soon.




I decided that there was no avoiding the trying on of the EPS sweater. And I’ve done it. The sting in the tail, of course, is getting the stitches back on the needle. I’ve done that too. I think I could have managed the whole job by threading half the stitches on to a second circular needle.


The problem was that I still haven’t decreased down to 40% of K, but the faux raglan seams are 10” long and I think I read somewhere that that’s as long as you want to get. However, all seems well. The neck is, indeed, too low and too big, but I don’t see any reason why another inch will do any harm. The yarn is heavenly on the skin. I have forgotten its composition, although I remember that Ginger Twist (local indie LYS) no longer offers it.




Again, thanks for suggestions.


I’m tempted by an omnium gatherum biography of the Mitford sisters, suggested by Amazon. The collection of letters which I am reading is sort of low on event. I’ve now passed the point of Nancy’s death and I fear that things may fall apart without her.


I have on my own shelf a volume of her correspondence with Evelyn Waugh. Maybe I should go on to that. Have I read it? In the end, I finished re-reading “The Loved One”. The second half is funnier and less savage than the first. It’s dedicated to Nancy Mitford.



Monday, September 21, 2020


No exercise, again. Otherwise a good day. The EPS is ready for the fourth episode – the instructions were published in Knitter’s Magazine over the period of a year. I put in two more short rows, to lift the back, and also added two more gradient stripes, just to use up the little bits of yarn. It wasn’t entirely a faultless job.




I’m pressing on with the Mitford sisters. I think I’ve got them all straight now. The most extreme Nazi (the one most convinced of Hitler’s sweetness) shot herself unsuccessfully when war broke out. She was permanently brain damaged. Hitler (sweetly?) arranged for her to be moved to a nursing home in neutral Switzerland whence her mother was able to retrieve her. She lived for several years more, in her mother’s care. And it wasn’t easy.


That still leaves five sisters, one a duchess, one a communist, one the wife of a fairly notorious British Nazi, one a famous novelist, one a cheerful countrywoman, all apparently on reasonably good terms with each other. although there are occasional sparks. Very remarkable. At my present point of reading, they’re middle-aged, and the preceding generation is dying and it’s a bit depressing.


And, speaking of depressing, I fetched Evelyn Waugh’s “The Loved One” down from the shelf yesterday to illustrate a point I was writing to my sister, and went on reading it, for a bit. It’s very short. It’s a savage satire, and very depressing, and I don’t think I’ll finish.


That leaves the books you have recommended, for which I am extremely grateful.


And I’m greatly looking forward to my supermarket outing tomorrow.

Sunday, September 20, 2020


There is little to report. Mary Lou, I ordered the new Tana French – but I have to wait until November. I do agree with your friend who wouldn’t be surprised to hear the end of the world announced in tomorrow’s news summary.


No exercise again today – I didn’t feel entirely sound, this morning, and anyway was waiting for a delivery of some frozen food. My friend G. is going to take me to a supermarket on Tuesday. I haven’t been to one for ages, having given up the car. That will be a real treat. And now I have a delicious 48 hours to think of things I might want. It's time to make more kimchi, I think. 


However, I progressed nicely with the yoke of the EPS sweater. I have reached the stage where I was beginning to feel, uneasily, that I really ought to thread it onto waste yarn and try it on. I decided, instead, to hold it up against a finished sweater that more or less fits, and by that measure (Gudrun’s Kirigami) it’s time to put in the short rows to raise the back neck, so I’ll do that tomorrow.




I’m reading the letters of the Mitford sisters to each other. I think I mentioned it before. There are many interesting aspects, but I need something more structured. It is alarming how well-disposed most of them were to Hitler. They were acquainted, and he is referred to as “sweet” more than once. Genuinely, not ironically. I am hard-put to think of another character in history to whom the epithet seems less applicable. Genghis Khan? Ivan the Terrible?

Saturday, September 19, 2020


I am grateful to you indeed for reading so valiantly on through yesterday’s bad formatting. I still don’t know what was wrong (nor whether it is now right). I compose in Word, save, copy; and then paste into Blogger. Both programs seemed singularly unco-operative last night.


I’ve had a good day, knitting-wise and otherwise-wise, but not exercise. A dear friend whom I haven’t seen for a while came around. She has a yappy dog. Perdita sat on a windowsill and frowned at it. (Perdita does frowning well.) Paradox disappeared for hours. G. and I talked.


And the yoke of the EPS sweater is well advanced. Arne and Carlos have started doing a “Sit and Knit a Bit with A&C” podcast. I discovered that it is indeed pleasant to do just that. Both have been ill with Covid-19, Carlos severely so. These podcasts are meant to be every Wednesday, I believe. No instruction, no pattern-launches, just chat. In fact, I suspect that there is nothing else I want them to tell me about patterns. I have several of their books. I love Norwegian sweaters. But their recent designs don’t seem to add anything.




Britain’s situation seems to be getting rather briskly worse. Rachel and Ed are planning to come up from London for a visit at the end of the month, which is of course almost upon us. And C. and I are meant to be going on a little cruise in the middle of next month. Will either happen?




After my Cormoran Strike binge, I was somewhat bereft. I read Jessica Mitford’s “Hons and Rebels” with pleasure – she was the left-wing Mitford. What an extraordinary family! G. offered a title this morning which she said her mother (my age!) recommends. I'll have a look.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Don't know what's wrong. Re-starting the computer hasn't helped. I'll try again tomorrow. We had another beautiful day – it’s a bit too early, perhaps, to speak of Indian Summer. I did my lap of the garden, all unassisted. And I sped round the yoke of the EPS. It won’t take much longer. I had an early nap today, and thus caught an item about knitting on Woman’s Hour. It wasn’t very good. The famous presenter (Jenni Murray) clearly didn’t know the first thing about knitting. Susan Crawford (Shetland Knitting Project) was there but didn’t get a chance to say much. The idea was that farmers don’t make enough from selling wool to pay for the shearing. That’s been the case for years, with breeds like the Scottish blackface. Their wool used to provide carpet backing, but carpets are now backed with acrylic and woven on the continent. I would have liked to hear how farmers are getting on who grow wool that knitters want to knit with. Kate Davies’ new Schiehallion yarn, for instance, is 70% Corriedale and 30% Cheviot. (Merino sheep, I gather, have delicate chests which make them unsuitable for the British climate.) But the notion of differences in wool between one breed of sheep and another wasn’t touched upon in the item on Woman’s Hour, so the whole thing was rather pointless. Maybe I’ll have to buy a Schiehallion kit, just to do my bit for British sheep farmers. I’m greatly looking forward to our club. Politics A dangerous subject. You’re all going to want to shoot me. I’m sure you know that, in reference to the horrible wildfires on the west coast, Biden has been talking about the need to pay serious attention to climate change and Trump has recommended forest management. I’m afraid I think Trump is right. Climate change needs to be paid attention to. But doing so is not going to improve things this year or next year or for a while. Whereas getting in there and removing the trees that have died of drought in the last 10 years is likely to help right away. Meanwhile Kamala (whom I greatly admire) is complaining that air pollution affects black people disproportionately. And she’s probably right. But that’s not what we were talking about. Addressing climate change will eventually improve air pollution. But it can be improved by other means more rapidly, as well.

Thursday, September 17, 2020


All is well –I’m  just feeble, feeble. Helen and her family are in Kirkmichael. Poor C., who is meant to be looking after me and taking me for walks, just phoned to say that her daughter Christina, mother of wee Hamish, fell from a horse yesterday and broke her neck. She is not paralysed. She is not even in hospital -- at home in a brace with instructions not to move. All three (Christina, Manaba, and C.) are shaken and frightened. Wee Hamish is fine. And at least they’ve got C. to look after them.


Here they were a week ago:


The EPS has progressed a bit, but not very much. I have read the new Cormoran Strike in one gulp, a shameful confession. Under all that excessive pagination, it is an old-fashioned detective story. And the aspect that social media is fussing about – Archie says that there’s a lot of fuss -- is pretty well irrelevant. There’s not much LUV, but what there is, is brilliant.

Monday, September 14, 2020


Another day. I went back to the earliest days of this blog last night, for want of something to read, and found that I was (among other things) knitting a Koigu sweater for Mungo (Archie’s younger brother) from these very EPS instructions in Knitter's Magazine. And in that case, at about this stage, I lengthened the yoke by decreasing every three rounds instead of every two.


So I decided it might, after all, be a good idea to do that here.


How strong I was in those days! How much knitting I got done!




Wendy, thank you for the glimpse at the Wall Street Journal’s review of the new Comoran Strike. Tomorrow! I think. I don’t know which of my hypotheses of yesterday is thereby supported. And Mary Lou, thank you for the news of a new Tana French. This glum time of year is rich in new books. Including cookery. We’ve had Jamie Oliver and Ottolenghi, with (I believe) Nigella to come.




Jean and Cam, thanks for the sheep-y comments. The Boreray sheep are a cross between a primitive breed, now lost, and Scottish blackface. They have the useful characteristic you mention, of shedding their wool of their own accord, and also have short tails that don’t need to be docked. The Good Lord has clearly set them up for life on Boreray. I think, even so, that they must be visited occasionally, and excess rams removed.


I’m not enjoying the mutton stew very much, however, Helen has 3/4s made a vegetarian of me.


And no, Mary Lou, I’ve never seen “The Edge of the World” and would like to. I got to wondering today whether, if strength suffices, I could go on a Majestic Line cruise to St Kilda – but they’re all booked up for next year. Good news for them.

Sunday, September 13, 2020


The baptism was a great success. Wee Hamish behaved himself impeccably. The ceremony was live-streamed to his paternal relatives in South Africa. I’ll have some pictures soon. He wore a dress I had knit for his second cousin once removed (I hope I’ve got that right), namely James’ and Cathy’s younger daughter Kirsty.


Despite some moth holes it served him well.


And I have progressed well here. The final skein has been wound for the EPS sweater. There were several breakages – presumably more moths. The yarn has been in stash for quite a while, but there were no lapses in the other skeins. The new yarn has been joined in, the yoke counted and calculated. It may be slightly too shallow. I’ll knit on for a wee while and think again.


And I have printed Carol Sunday’s pattern for her Wavy Brioche Cowl, the pattern I had thought I might knit on next month’s cruise. Oh, dear. Am I up to it? I’ve knit brioche before. I enjoy it. It’s not that. It’s the preliminary steps, including the question of whether or not to twist the initial circular cast-on in order to produce “an infinity cowl that lies flat when worn”. The pattern says that Carol has provided instructional videos. I’ll have to get to grips with them before embarkation (although of course I will have my iPad with me – we are never separated).


Maybe I’d better take socks to knit, as used to be usual.




I’ve finished my re-read of “The Towers of Trebizond”, with much pleasure.


The new Cormoran Strike is due on Tuesday. I was mildly surprised that I haven’t found it reviewed yet. It used to be common to review books before publication date, without saying so. I have more than once presented myself at a bookstore sales counter, asking for something which proved to be not yet available.


Has that irritating practice lapsed? Have newspaper editors decided that this is just one-in-a-series and doesn’t need reviewing? Has J.K.Rowling told her publishers that she doesn’t want it reviewed in advance? I’ll never know.

Friday, September 11, 2020


A good day. I’ve finished the gradient stripes on the yoke of my EPS sweater:


And I’ve counted stitches. All is well, except that the back (or the front) has one stitch less (or more) than the other. That can be corrected. Next I must wind the new skein – I’m down to the last couple of feet – and do the maths. How close am I to the desired depth for the yoke? And how many stitches do I have, compared to the number the EPS prescribes for the neck?


Tomorrow is wee Hamish’s christening , so the answer to these questions may have to wait. I have actually ironed a skirt to wear tomorrow. Normally my beloved cleaner Daniella does all the ironing; or, failing her, I go about rumpled.


Some good news. My “promotions” file often includes cruising, and today it actually included this article about the Majestic Line. They have started sailing again! And there are grounds to hope that social distancing doesn’t entirely spoil the party. I knew from the website that they hoped to set sail at the end of August – but not whether they had succeeded in doing so.




Kirsten, do try “The Towers of Trebizond”. It’s one of my all-time faves, and your message sent me back to it today. I’m enjoying it again, but I don’t know what modern taste would make of it. I couldn’t find the book you mentioned. Did you mean “The World My Wilderness”? I have embarked on that, but got distracted by “The Towers of Trebizond”.


Maureen, yes, I read Penelope Fitzgerald on the Knox brothers long ago. Why isn’t it on my shelf? I was greatly interested in Ronald, the holy brother, and often re-read Evelyn Waugh’s biography of him.




I haven’t done much serious cooking lately. Most weeks, I subscribe to the new take-away service from our favourite local restaurant. Usually, just starters and sides, but this week I have gone for Navarin de Mouton because it is made with mutton from Boreray sheep. If I’d ever heard of them, I had forgotten.


They belonged to the inhabitants of St Kilda. And when the last human beings were removed to the mainland in 1930, the sheep were left behind on the nearby island of Boreray where they still are, living feral. I had not thought sheep clever enough to survive without care – there’s a species-ist attitude for you.


But some were removed at some point to form a small flock from which L’Escargot Bleu has purchased mutton this week.

Thursday, September 10, 2020


The good news is that Andrew and Andrea are back. The bad news is that there is going to be another gap, of unspecified length, before they reappear. I haven’t entirely finished watching the new episode, but have very much enjoyed what I’ve seen so far.


And, of course, I got some knitting done while I watched. I’m now on the penultimate gradient round in the yoke of my EPS sweater. When I finish the gradients, it will be time to measure, and wind the new background-colour skein, and alas! count stitches. All looks well.


I’ve signed up for Kate Davies’ new club. It offers some consolation for the sense of Christmas which is beginning to appear like a sense of mice in the kitchen. I often make presents of my knitting, but I would never set myself such a goal. This time of year is stressful enough without that.


If our cruise sets sail next month, I will take Carol Sunday’s brioche cowl along to knit, I think. I bought the yarn, along with yarn for her Machu Picchu sweater, in April, I think, but have never downloaded the pattern. Today I sought and found it. So that’s something done= Perdita just came and sat on my keyboard. I deleted most of what she wrote, but thought you might like to see some of it.




Weavinfool, I wonder if you could be right, about a bladder infection? I have had no contact with drs in 2020, except for a telephone consultation when I bruised my ribs that time. (There’s something to be said for isolation!) I felt marginally stronger today, and got round the garden with Helen.


No, Sarah, I’ve never read the “Forsyte” books. I remember the excitement about the television series, before we had TV at home. That’s not a bad idea. For the moment, to pad out the days before the new Robert Galbraith next week, I have gone for the Mitford sisters: Jessica’s autobiography; and the correspondence of all six, amongst themselves.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020


I felt desperately feeble this morning. Helen came, and I managed to totter all the way around the garden. Since then I have done little, except for a certain amount of knitting. I’ve reached the final round of the penultimate gradient stripe.


Kate Davies has launched her new yarn, Schiehallion, which looks very nice indeed. That is the name of our local munro (from the point of view of Kirkmichael) and it is also a mountain much associated with Robertsons – my husband’s family. I haven’t signed up for the new club yet, but I will.




I am feeling bereft, having finished my rapid re-read of “Lethal White”. I’ve ordered the new one, but still have nearly a week to wait. It’s very expensive. Surely it will have LUV in it. She has kept us waiting long enough.


But I don’t feel, for the moment, like returning to Indian history. I don’t know where to turn.




Chloe, my new shirt came from Mother of Pearl. I don't seem to be able to add the link. It’s called a Tegan Stripe Shirt, but several are called that. My one puffs out at the wrists, and the stripes on the puffed bit are  horizontal whereas the rest are vertical. I haven’t tried it on yet, but the material is seriously good.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020


All well. Another stripe nearly finished on the yoke of my EPS sweater.


I didn’t get out for a walk this morning, because of waiting in for a delivery. That happens too often, and is a serious drawback to internet shopping. But at least the delivery came. A beautiful, expensive shirt to wear to wee Hamish’s christening on Saturday. And subsequently on our cruise, if it sails. The number of Covid cases continues to rise, in Scotland as in England.


Beth, thank you for the link to Patty Lyons on German short rows. I hoped one of you would come up with something like that. Now I’m all set.


Signing-up for Kate Davies’ new club-which-turns-into-a-book starts tomorrow. It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with feminism in Glasgow, which is a relief.


And Peggy (comment, Sunday), of course you’re right – the hero of “Lethal White” is Cormoran, not Cameron. (I found a place in the text where a revolver changes into a rifle on the same page. I hope that was just in the Kindle edition.) I’ve finished reading it. Towards the end, it struck a few sparks from my dim memory. I have certainly read it before. It is a long and rather complicated book. I look forward to the new one (any moment now) and will also return to the television adaptation with greater understanding.

Monday, September 07, 2020


All well, although less was achieved than yesterday. That was Labor Day, wasn’t it? I hope everybody had a nice time.


I’ve moved on to the third gradient stripe, on the yoke of my EPS sweater. I’ve now decreased something slightly north of 50 stitches and like to imagine that it’s going a bit faster. I continue to be terribly pleased with it. I’m not much of a yellow-wearer. I can’t imagine why I bought the yarn (I’ve had it in my stash literally for years). The slight irregularity in the dye makes a big difference.


Talking-point on my cruise? I hope so, Shandy – at least in the sense that I hope we will be able to talk to each other. The companionship of the small group was a great pleasure on my previous Majestic Line cruise. I fear that Covid precautions may spoil things this time. I am also more than a little worried about the way the number of diagnoses has risen in the last two days. Will we be allowed to sail?


Short rows


In the end, I put in six. Meg just says, in the magazine article, “wrap and turn”, and so I did, although I have learned-and-forgotten several alternatives in recent years. Once the six short rows are in place, of course, one turns around and knits all the way around, knitting wrapped stitches with their wraps.


That means that one comes up from behind, so to speak, on the first three wraps-and-turns, and then encounters the final three head on. I find that the first set are close to perfect, but that there are detectable unevenness’s in the second lot. Nothing that a bit of gentle tugging and subsequent blocking won’t improve. But maybe I should refresh my memory about the alternative methods, if I am going to put in a few more short rows at the back neck.




Predictably, I have been completely lured from the straight-and-narrow by the re-reading of “Lethal White”. I meant to just read to the point the television series had reached, but when that came I couldn’t bear to stop. It’s a hefty book. I still don’t remember it.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

 There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep.


Knitting has gone forward well, and there may be more this evening, as I accelerate around the yoke of my EPS sweater. I hope to have it finished for our autumn cruise, now about a month away. Surely I can manage that, Shandy? Your pessimism surprised me.


The decreases are proving a great help in counting rounds. The first two gradient colours are very close to each other, and the first one (especially) is very close to the background colour which is (deliciously) slightly uneven in dye and the result of all that is that it can be difficult to count rows. But it is not at all difficult to see whether the preceding row involved a decrease or not.


For the first stripe, I decreased on 1,3,5 and 7 (I had plenty of yarn), and for the second, now nearly finished, it’s 2,4 and 6. And so forth.


C. and Helen were both away today. I hobbled around the garden all by myself. There were plenty of dog-walkers to retrieve me had I fallen. It was a beautiful day.




I discovered, somewhat to my surprise, that I have on my Kindle the Cameron Strike book which is currently on television. “Lethal White”, it’s called. I must have read it. I think I’ve read them all. But it doesn’t seem to have made much impression. So I’m allowing myself to re-read it (taking a day off Indian history) up to the point the television adaptation has reached so far.


She’s written a new one, too, about to appear this autumn. Very clever woman.