Monday, November 30, 2020

Dies Atra


Another fairly nice day, by November’s standards. Another circuit of the garden. I got a couple of trivial things done, too: I renewed the New Yorker, and wrote to my Italian tutor (which has to be done in Italian).


And I made  some progress on that Evandoon sleeve. I’ve decided that Magic Loop isn’t for me, after all. The only dps I can find without a Serious Search are half a millimetre too small, 3.5s instead of 4s. I think I’ll try them anyway, tomorrow. I’m about down to the elbow of this first sleeve. I’d really like to speed things up.


Kate Davies’ weekend essay this time was about patchwork, which the latest pattern strongly suggests. It is interesting, as has been the case with her essays all along.


I didn’t mean to suggest yesterday that women aren’t, often, very, very good at chess. I am proud to discover this talent among you. But they don’t yet play at the very top. My sister has suggested a Zoom meeting at the end of the week, at which she will tell me her thots on the subject. I tremble, slightly. Also, I am going – via Zoom – to a talk at her club in DC tomorrow, about Il Gattopardo. That can’t fail to be interesting.


I’ve finished Lucarelli’s “Almost Blue”. It’s the best thriller I’ve read in a while, really scary.


I’m going to attempt sourdough again tomorrow. It’s been a while. I’ve revved up my starter -- that means taking it out of the refrigerator and feeding it every day for a while, until it gets nice and bubbly. The innovation this time is going to be to make my “levain” tonight, so that I’ll be ready for the off when I get up tomorrow. My recipe says to leave it about 8 hours – that’s not quite long enough, the way I sleep. But other recipes say 12 hours, which would be fine. Advice is everywhere, and often conflicting. I feel a great loyalty to my recipe, because it has worked pretty well so far, starting from complete ignorance on my part. (Good Food Magazine, May 2020). But I think it’s time to be adventurous.

Sunday, November 29, 2020


Another nice day, in a Novembrine sort of way, heavy with mist. C. came, and we got around the garden. Andrew Marr advanced the Evendoon sleeve a bit – it is certainly a nuisance, spinning the whole thing around on my lap, and the second sleeve will be worse. And I’ve got to polish this off and knuckle down to baby-knitting. On the other hand, I am appreciating the fact that a sleeve is of much smaller circumference than a body.


Fruity Knitting has put up a question-and-answer session with Marie Wallin. Maybe I can advance that sleeve a bit more this evening. I don’t think I’ve ever knit one of her designs, but I think I’ve got a Fair-Isle-yoke kit of hers in stash.


Another thing I’ve got to do is finish off that shawl (see sidebar) and block it, possibly to give to somebody for Christmas – who would want it? -- but certainly so that it can be ranked with the FO’s of 2020.




Janet, thank you for the news that there is a blog post from the Harlot at last. And she means to post more often.


Mary Lou, I keenly look forward to your opinion of “Scoop” – and of Lord Copper.


Jenny, alas, no, I don’t think I’m strong enough to go to Italy again. And it’s sort of nice to think of never again experiencing an airport. Archie keeps pressing for Syracuse (since we’ve “done” Palermo and Catania). Who knows – I may be suddenly revitalised. I mean to do a “dry” January again. That might help. If I could only hire the Royal Yacht, and fill it with congenial souls and a brilliant chef, and sail from Leith to the Mediterranean, it would be a different matter.




I fear I may be heading for trouble here. Helen, like everybody else in the world, has been watching Queen’s Gambit on YouTube, and loving it. I’ll have to try. Helen is a devout feminist, and was slightly surprised when I told her that women don’t play chess in the same league as men. (I’d be happy to be corrected on that, but I heard the British Women’s Chess Champion on the radio just the other day, and I think that means that I’m right, at least in GB.)


Why is that? Obviously, physical strength doesn’t come in to it. Thirty or forty years ago, I might have been told that girls were brought up not to expect to be good at chess. I would have been dubious, even then. But now, when women do brain surgery and pilot jumbo jets -- and play college football with the boys, I learned today -- why not top-rank chess? Could there be something different about the male brain, after all? It may be just as well: a distressing number of top-flight male chess players have had serious mental illness.

Saturday, November 28, 2020


Another pleasant, sunny November day. Helen and I walked to the corner shop – almost as far, I think, as a circuit of the garden – because I needed ginger for some ramen I hope to make tomorrow. No knitting – this is appalling – but a new episode of the podcast Americast is up, and I hope to knit to it this evening.


So, what else has been happening? Kate Davies’ pattern this week is a terrific blanket, with stars. This year’s club really has been good value. I gather we’re near the end, and the book will be coming soon.


I’ve just watched Franklin’s video about a horizontal travelling stitch. The Dunfallandy blankie, in Knitty, had horizontal cables. I knit it for my first great-granddaughter.  I’ve completely forgotten how they were done. It might be worth looking back. Franklin is wonderful, as always.




How clever of you to get “Crape Myrtle” on Pointless yesterday, jean(fromcornwall)! Twice – or was there a third occasion? – I have thought of a pointless answer for the final – that’s over many years. One was to name a Cambridge college more than 200 years old, and I tried Rachel’s husband Ed’s college: Downing. And it was pointless. And once was Booker prize winners, and I thought of Anita Brookner, Hotel du Lac. Similarly, pointless. She was an art historian as well as a novelist, and a friend of my husband’s, so that was almost cheating. We were watching the ceremony on television the night she won. She gave a little start of surprise at the announcement, which was very touching. Everybody thought it was going to be David Lodge, that year.


Mary Lou, you have a treat in store, if you’ve never read “Scoop”.  You must tell me whether you agree with my identification of Lord Copper as Donald Trump.


I had a good Italian lesson this morning. At the end, my tutor wrote on the screen (this is Skype) some phrases from my clumsy conversation which had been wrong. They were easy enough to correct, when I saw them written down. That was a useful exercise, I think. I will write to tell her so tomorrow, and that, in itself, will be a useful exercise – writing is far harder than anything else. I am reading a rather good Italian thriller called “Almost Blue” by Carlo Lucarelli. Translation available: I think it would translate well. The title is in English, even in Italian, so to speak.

Friday, November 27, 2020


All well. Helen and I succeeded in getting twice around the garden this morning, as hoped, although it pretty well flattened me for the day. She suggests that we try to do it once a week, which is not a bad idea.


I’ve been reading Jan Morris’ diaries, hoping for some insight into the problems of old age. Not much luck. She conscientiously did 1000 steps a day, on her walks, when older than I am. I’ll have to figure out how many are involved in circling the garden. Fewer than that, I suspect.


Not much knitting, as usual. But a little. I think the Magic Loop is going to work fine.


Jeanfromcornwall, I watched Pointless this evening, but it won’t do. It must have been filmed Before. There’s a studio audience – you can see them from behind. And there’s no sign of social distancing among the contestants, not all of whom (clearly) live in each other’s bubble. Of course I know it’s not broadcast live, but back Then I could suspend disbelief enough to imagine that it had been filmed within the last week or two. No longer, and I’m afraid it’s spoiled for me. What a lot they must have up their sleeve, to be able to go on doing this.


I’ve also done a quick re-read of “Scoop”. I had an email from Penguin yesterday, with a list of books chosen for cheerfulness, including that one. (No Wodehouse on the list, which seems odd.) They’re right, it’s very funny. It has contributed “Up to a point” to our family vocabulary, and “…on a biting-cold mid-June morning” to my own private list of favourite phrases. Lord Copper is absolutely President Trump.


 Harry Dunn’s parents have lost their case in the High Court, trying to argue that Mrs Sakoolas (who killed their son by driving on the wrong side of the road) didn’t have diplomatic immunity and shouldn’t have been allowed to go back to the USofA.  If Mrs S. had any wit, she would be able to deduce from this that she will be treated fairly by British courts if she comes back here and faces the music. Pompeo refused to extradite her. Maybe, with a new administration… I’m glad the parents are fighting on.

Thursday, November 26, 2020


Another pleasant day, weather-wise. Another good walk. Helen and I are contemplating attempting two circuits of the garden tomorrow.


And I’m somewhat further with the Evendoon. The colours have been straightened out, anyway. All my life I have been congratulating myself on having a passion that required so little physical strength – I could go on knitting into extreme old age! It’s still true, but I’m not doing much. I thought today I would try watching my once-beloved quiz program, Pointless – and found I was watching a prime ministerial coronavirus program instead. Not much knitting got done.


Mary Lou, I have very little experience with the Magic Loop but it certainly seems worth trying. It used to make me feel as if I were tripping over my shoelaces.


“Knitting” magazine arrived today – the British one. There are two interesting articles about sheep farming. One is from where Wensleydale sheep (a rare breed) are raised for their wool, never for eating. The magazine is going to take us through the shepherd’s year – this article is about introducing the rams to the ewes; the next, in the spring, will be about lambing.


The other is about on the island of Colonsay, where they use the waste products from a local gin distillery as a source of natural dyes. Their yarn is too heavy for my taste. The Wensleydale yarn is better. I think I knit with it once, many years ago, purchased at a fair of some sort, made into a striped sweater for Helen’s husband David. If I’m right, it was lovely stuff to handle.


Newspapers have been grumbling again recently about how farmers have to compost their wool and spread it on the fields because nobody wants it. Newspapers don’t know that sheep bred for their meat don’t often produce much of use in the way of wool. An exception might be Shetland sheep – but they are small animals and I don’t think their meat is much exported from Shetland itself.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

 It’s hard to be entirely hostile to global warming, if it’s going to involve pleasant weather in November, this most depressing of months. I got around the garden with Helen.


I’ve cast off the body of the Evandoon, slow work, and picked up stitches for the first sleeve. I think it was you, Mary Lou, who taught me to use something slippy for the waste yarn, when stitches have to be set aside for future use. That went well, and the count is right for the size I had already decided I was embarked on. I have set boldly forth with the wrong colour, but probably not for more than 20 stitches. It will be easily put right. I’m still not used to knitting upside down.


I’m using a short circular. I haven’t read ahead, and don’t know how briskly the sleeve will decrease, obliging me to face the DP problem at last.


I did some more theoretical Christmas shopping today. Results continue depressing. I thought of some good things, and even found them on line – “out of stock”. Mugs continue to abound. The one thing to be said for the process, is that things which seemed absurdly expensive at the beginning, began to look quite possible before I was through.


Mary Lou, I’ll have a look for “Rise of the Nazis” – if it is BBC, it should be available. And maybe it’ll turn up on Netflix. It would fit right in with all that Mitford-reading I did recently.


Kirsten, I am much comforted by your thought that this is “feebleness weather”.


Have a good turkey, everybody.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020


Another day of not-much, including no knitting. Archie came, and we got some things done including a hobble around the garden – I think I must have quite a good consecutive-day thing going at the moment, on that front. We mastered paying cheques into the bank via app -- that’s going to save a lot of trouble. And of course we’re all feeling more cheerful about the world, what with Trump letting Biden into the White House (so to speak) and the vaccine situation looking good. Rachel rang up and spoke rather fiercely about Christmas.




Cat, you could write to Harry and tell him that his mother was very kind to you. It must be hard indeed for them all, “The Crown”. On the whole, it does favour Charles, but it’s fairly hard on Diana, too – all that bulimia.


Thank you for observations about my feeble health. Tamar, that is a good idea – when are your ideas ever less than good? – about keeping a diary of food consumed and watching for matches with general sprightliness. Mary Lou, I’m pretty sure I’m sleeping all right. I get up to pee a lot, but am out like a light when head strikes pillow. Paradox is almost always there, at the foot of the bed, and it is a comfort to see her. And I must tell you, although this is not strictly relevant, that it is a blessing consciously appreciated every night as I slip between the sheets, that I am not going to have to get up to look after anyone, neither a baby nor a husband; nor will I have to lie awake worrying about an errant adolescent.

Monday, November 23, 2020


Another day of great feeblesness, hard to get from room to room, but otherwise fine. Helen came in the morning and we got around the garden: an achievement. She has got tee shirts and carrier bags and iPad covers for sale with mosaics on them, on a website called Red Bubble. It’s not entirely easy to navigate. When you get there, her things are “hmmosaics”.


I had a good Zoom with my sister, midday for me, early morning for her. No news: I think the BBC is doing rather a good job of filleting DC for us. She and her husband are not going to see their son and his family either for Thanksgiving or for Christmas. I wasn’t quite sure which of the households is exercising more caution – probably it’s mutual. My sister and her husband and their cat live in a retirement community which is doing very well, so far, at keeping the virus out. I think, being a doctor, and being in the US where things are bad, that she maybe even more scared than I am. She hopes to come to see me next year, once she has been vaccinated. (And this is good news indeed, about vaccines.)


I’m poised for the cast-off round of the Evandoon ribbing. 

This morning’s Times said that if you like “The Crown”, you should watch – also on Netflix – “Diana in her Own Words”. Wow! How could I have missed it?  It consists, with illustrations, of the actual tapes she made for Andrew Morton, on which his famous/infamous book are based. My mother was devoted to the Royal Family, to the extent that I felt vaguely, growing up, that we had some sort of connection with them, although knowing perfectly well that that wasn’t true. What would she had made of Diana?

Sunday, November 22, 2020


All well. C. came today, and we got around the garden in bright, chill November weather. Helen and I got soaked, yesterday.


The Evandoon ribbing progresses well. Only a round or two to go. I counted the stitches. If the answer is to be believed, I’m knitting one size larger than I thought I was. Just as well, probably.




The great thing about podcasts, though, (comments yesterday) is that you can knit to them. I used to knit and read – and enjoyed the way my Kindle could increase the scale of the typeface when I did so. It’s not that I can’t do it anymore, but it  seems too much trouble. Whereas knitting to a podcast remains easy and pleasant.


(I don’t watch much television these days, and didn’t get much knitting done while I was binging on “The Crown” last week – but I might mention that the BBC is showing “Yes, Prime Minister” again, and I find it still laugh-aloud funny. The first episode – which mentioned Afghanistan, and something that wasn’t going to happen “until 2020” – was about how he could blow up the world if he wanted to, but there was no provision for his lunch.)


Tamar, thank you for your comment about vitamins and minerals. You inspire me to try harder.


I’ve been re-reading Jan Morris’ “Conundrum”. It’s really very interesting. It’s an autobiography, with her life-long conviction that she was really a woman as the common thread. She didn’t “trans” until she was middle-aged, in her 40’s, and when she did, she went the whole hog, surgery in Casablanca.

Saturday, November 21, 2020


Another pleasant but inactive day. I had a good Italian lesson. We talked about politics. Helen came and we got around the garden. Christina and Manaba and wee Hamish came to call. He’s a bonny baby, on the cusp of being able to crawl.


Weavinfool asks (comment yesterday) what I mean when I say – as often – that I feel feeble. It’s something like what one feels when recovering from flu, I guess. Everything is a tremendous effort. Moving about is difficult. Much of the day is spent at the kitchen table, doing nothing. That could be regarded as a moral fault rather than a physical one, perhaps. I am trying to focus on hydration. Perhaps I should take a general vitamin pill as well as my daily Vitamin D. I think my diet is more or less OK. Probably too much cider. My heart doesn’t function at a 21-year-old level – something about systole and diastole. Doctors say it’s common at my age.


I’m at the stage of the Evandoon ribbing when it seems endless, but in fact it’s moving on nicely. I’m currently winding a new skein. Still haven’t looked for the dps which will be needed any moment now.


I’m enjoying Franklin’s vlogs, although not as much as I would enjoy having the Panopticon back. I watched one today about Knitting to Fit, and was disappointed to discovered that the key to it is measuring and swatching. I thought he would reveal a magic secret.


I spent some of today Christmas shopping on-line. Depressing. I didn’t actually buy anything. The only things I saw that attracted were mugs, and one of my theories of life is that everybody already has as many mugs as they could ever want.

I loved your plan for a simple Chrustmas, Sarah. I wish I had a tree in a pot. We always used to do it that way, but the pots with their trees were in Kirkmichael. Eventually each became too big, and was planted out and replaced. One year, not too long ago, we were all set to go, turkey and replacement tree ordered, when something happened, I can’t remember what, The weather turned nasty, but that wouldn’t have stopped us. We bought a plastic tree at Poundland of which we became very fond. And a replacement turkey here: it was like the parable of the wise virgins and the foolish virgins, in reverse. I went along to our (excellent) local butcher that morning, and there were all the wise virgins queuing outside the shop in the snow for their pre-ordered turkeys, and I waltzed in past them all and chose one at the counter.

Friday, November 20, 2020


I’ve been (and I feel) fairly inert, but I got around the garden with Helen this morning. We often meet friends there, as today, and stand and talk at a safe social distance, and it’s rather nice, in these isolated times, to talk to people. 

I am planning a solitary Christmas for myself, and rather looking forward to it. I think I would be “allowed” to spend it with Helen and her family. The poor USA, apart from other difficulties – the virus raging, and Thanksgiving as well as Christmas to spread it further! I’m glad to hear that the Oxford vaccine is almost ready to join the other two.


I’ve knit a bit more of the Evandoon ribbing. (It was a comfort, Mary Lou, to learn that even you sometimes forget what size you’re knitting.)  Friday is the day when the podcast column appears in the Times. Today’s revelation was Part One of a new series about Ghislaine Maxwell, called “Hunting Ghislaine”. Very interesting. Today’s episode was mostly about her father Robert.


Friday is also Reveal Day for the new Kate Davies pattern in the current club. Again, a good ‘un. A big almost-coat with a broad Fair Isle band around the bottom, and deep pockets.


I was sorry to learn that Jan Morris has died – she was Britain’s most famous transsexual. It’s a remarkable story. She started life as James, happily married, father of five, a successful journalist. James was on the slopes of Mount Everest, and his was the scoop, that Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing had climbed Everest, which was announced to the world on the day of the Queen’s coronation. I don’t know what, in law, happens to a marriage when one partner changes sex, but whatever it is, Jan Morris and her former wife formed a civil partnership and continued to live happily ever after. She continued to write.

Thursday, November 19, 2020


A good day, although I have been desperately feeble. Many deliveries, and I’m still waiting for some cat litter. It has turned colder, but it was the right kind of cold, bright and crisp like football weather. American football weather. Helen came early, and we got around the garden.


I decided that the size of the Evandoon was probably about right, and have progressed to the final ribbing. I find, to my considerable embarrassment, that I am not absolutely sure which size I am knitting (there are lots). I  must be losing my grip. I suppose I could find out by counting the stitches. 

Podcasts really are the best thing since sliced bread, for knitters – and we now have an entertaining columnist in the Times who writes about them once a week. I’ve listened to Americast today  -- Jon Sopel claims to be in the “Crown”, as himself – how is that possible? He’s the wrong date. But they said it so often, with much laughter, that it must be true. And I watched some of Sit and Knit a Bit with Arne and Carlos. It is pleasantly tedious, I find.


The Times columnist has put me on to “Waldy and Bendy” – two art historians talking. The latest episode had a segment about the five worst public statues in Britain. I’ve never seen any of the ones mentioned, but goodness! they sounded awful. They have a segment at the end where each chooses (in imagination) a work of art they would like to live with while lockdown continues. My husband and I used to play a game like that when we went to exhibitions – which one would we like to take home? Waldy and Bendy keep choosing recondite modern artists I’ve never heard of. Like a shot, amongst all the art I've ever seen, I’d go for Titian’s Clarissa Strozzi:


We saw her in London once. 


Allison, thank you for finishing off the pursuit of Cameron Strike in the “Crown”. (Comment, Tuesday) Ah, but who is Dazzle Jennings? And in which episode does he appear? I’ll leave that for you to find out.


Thank you for interesting comments about Kindle-reading and forgetfulness. I read everything on my Kindle now, except for knitting books and cookery. Mary Lou and weavinfool, I think you may be right that part of the problem is being deprived of the memory of the physical book, and your remark, Tamar, about the recent study of students’ retention (and non-retention) of books thus read is most interesting. I will tell my friend Sylvia, who sometimes drops in here.


Thank you, too, for the information about sunrise in New Jersey. The opening shot of Queer Joe's episode 11, in which he is said to be getting up between 5 and 6, with light in the window behind the bed – was staged! I left a comment yesterday, and he has confessed that the picture was taken at about 7:30.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


I had a grand time at Waitrose. I have undoubtedly lost ground since I was last there – only once, I think, since all this nonsense started – but I managed to stay on my feet. I now probably have more food than I can comfortably eat – with more arriving tomorrow.


I am within half-a-circuit of finishing the final broad stripe on the body of the Evandoon. I ran out of yarn at just that crucial moment, and spent a peaceful few moments winding the next skein while watching Queer Joe’s new video, in which we are shown a typical Wednesday morning. Not without interest. (Is it really that light in New Jersey between 5 and 6 a.m.? I get up in full darkness, these days, at 7:15.) 

I hope to add the final narrow white stripe this evening, while watching the episode of Nigella you mention, Shandy. I agree with you about the silliness of deep-frying a chicken thigh for oneself alone. I never deep fry, in fact – not for health reasons, but because I don’t know what to do with the fat afterwards. I know I can’t pour it down the drain.


When I’ve done that final narrow white stripe, I will measure the Evandoon carefully to see how near I am to Kate Davies’ schematic. And if it more or less matches, I think I’ll press on to the ribbing without the agony of trying it on. It’ll fit somebody, as I’ve already said. Then come the sleeves – and despite all my fine talk, and all your very helpful comments and suggestions, I have done nothing about seeking out dp’s.




I read every morning a newsletter from an Oberlin friend, a sort of private blog, circulated to thirty or so friends and family. She’s a year older than I am, and a good deal spry-er. I think I’ve mentioned her before. She raised the question, a couple of days ago, of whether reading something on a Kindle makes it more forgettable. She has had the experience – which I have shared – of finding that she has read something of which she has no memory, and blames it on her Kindle. I am doubtful but it’s an interesting thought.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020


Not much knitting, but a good day. Archie came, and we got some things done, including installing an app on my iPad which should let me pay cheques into my bank account remotely. As things stand, I send Archie up the hill with them. And we got around the garden.


Tomorrow – a real treat – Helen is going to take me to Waitrose. It’s worth giving up one’s car, to have a trip to the supermarket be such a treat. The boring and heavy things will be delivered by Tesco on Thursday – cat food, cat litter, cider. Tomorrow I can prance up and down the aisles choosing a Brussels sprout here, some burrata there. I’ve spent some time today with my recipe books, imagining what I might like. I’ll have to wear a mask, of course. I truly hate them. I feel claustrophobic, and my glasses steam up.




Shandy (comment yesterday), it’s not the sore arm that worries me, but the fever. Two or three days of fever, he said.  Newspapers haven’t mentioned that, but the inventor of the vaccine ought to know. I’ll keep watching and reading. I love Professor Van-Tam. They wouldn’t approve anything that wasn’t safe, would they?


Thank you for your cat stories (comments yesterday). KnitNance, Perdita used to chase her tail in the dry bathtub when she was younger. She has rather a short tail (1/64th wildcat?) and that gave her a better chance of catching it. Nosenabook, I don’t know what sort of faces she makes when drinking from the bathroom tap – from my vantage point, all I can see are her furry trousers. I hope you get that picture.


Mary Lou, I don’t know of IMDB. Does it work over here? But I fear it would spoil the game, if I could just type in (the character’s name in The Crown) and have it come up “Cameron Strike”.

Monday, November 16, 2020


Not too bad a day. Lovely weather. Nice walk with Helen. Very weak.


I finished my “Crown” binge. It’s good to be rid of it. Some of it I found rather tedious. The one character I couldn’t “buy” was Camilla. Everybody else looked a bit wrong, or else very, but was acceptable. But Camilla – I’m something of a fan of the real-life one – didn’t seem right at all. The unknown actress who’s doing the Princess of Wales is brilliant. I got a bit more knitting done, of the final stripe of the Evandoon body.


And here’s one for you: Rachel’s husband Ed is the family expert on identifying actors when one is assailed by that where-have-I-seen-him-before feeling. Well, today I got one, and pursued it through from Don’t-I-know-you? To Could-it-be? To Google confirmation. Cameron Strike himself has a part. I won’t spoil it by telling you where.


And another vaccine! We had the husband from the Turkish husband-and-wife team who produced the first one, on the Andrew Marr show yesterday. He said that his vaccine produces a sore arm for a few days, and a fever. I didn’t entirely like the sound of that. Maybe I’ll wait for the Oxford one.




Harry Dunn’s parents don’t give up easily. The High Court heard a case last week in which it was asserted that Mrs Sakoolas – she killed Harry by driving on the wrong side of the road – didn’t have diplomatic immunity and shouldn’t have been allowed to go back to the United States. We haven’t had the court’s decision yet.


I told you the other day about how, when I am in the downstairs lavatory, Perdita comes in, and I turn on the cold tap to a trickle, and she jumps up on the basin and drinks. This happens daily. First she drinks from the water swirling around the plug hole; later, directly from the flow. And I have been remembering cats I knew in my childhood who would sit next to a farmer milking a cow, and every so often the farmer would direct the flow of milk straight at the cat, who would catch it neatly. I can only speak for the cats of northern Ohio, where I spent two summers in the ‘40’s. But I suspect this skill was shared by cats world-wide and if milking machines ever go out of fashion, I suspect they could pick it up again.

Sunday, November 15, 2020


The new series of The Crown is out today on Netflix, and I’m afraid I’ve been binging as on a big box of chocolates. Some of it is preposterous; all of it is fascinating. I didn’t even get much knitting done to compensate. I have embarked on the final broad stripe of the Evandoon, as the pattern is written, and I strongly suspect that more length will be needed. And that a try-on would be a good idea.


The difficulty will be that in the pattern as written, the final rib is the colour that the next stripe would have been -- and that matches, in turn, the colour at the top. How does Kate Davies handle this problem in her larger sizes? I think I’ll have to apply myself to find out. Although I think the only possible answer is to lengthen, keeping the stripe sequence as set, and then revert to the start-and-finish colour when it’s long enough, even though it won’t be that colour’s turn.


Today’s weekend essay from Kate is about the colour yellow, predominant in this week’s sweater pattern. I trust these essays will be in the book at the end – I am finding them very interesting.




I did a bit better with my morning walk today, with C. We set out earlier than Archie and I had yesterday: that’s probably why. Her daughter Christina, whose neck is broken, is making good progress. Doctors say that, if she weren’t breast-feeding, she could leave off the neck brace at night. Wee Hamish, who is in fine fettle, is six months old. I think she might think of weaning.

I can't believe that I'm more active than you are, Tamar (comment yesterday). No one could be more droopy than I. The circuit of Drummond Place Garden is a very scant 1/4 mile.


The weekend papers have published the first of the year’s Christmas Present Suggestions, a genre I love. I am much struck with the fact that 60 years ago, when I first began reading such journalism, I always felt that I couldn’t afford that much for a single present. And the feeling is exactly the same now, when I am so much more prosperous. The Suggestions manage to keep two squares ahead.


I am also suffering from my annual tendency to find things that I would like for myself in greater abundance than useful Present Suggestions.

Saturday, November 14, 2020


Again, little to report. Archie came, late in the morning, and we got around the garden, not without difficulty (perhaps because it was later than my comfort zone). I listened to some podcasts in the afternoon, and moved the Evandoon forward nearly to the end of the penultimate stripe. If the BBC’s “Americast” is available world-wide – I think it is – you might enjoy it. They’ve been doing it for months, reporting on the election, and in the present extraordinary circumstances, they’ve kept it going.


Alexander, a good deal better mathematician than I am, says that there is a 75% chance of getting at least one boy from our two pregnancies.


I had a good Italian lesson this morning. My speech is slow and clumsy and ungrammatical, but I can say some things. My tutor had never read “maestro-Don Gesualdo” all the way through – just snippets, at school. Now we have moved on to Maltilde Serao, of whom I have never heard.

Friday, November 13, 2020


It never rains but it pours: another great-grandchild! Thomas rang up today – Rachel and Ed’s elder son, oldest child. He and his wife Lucy are also expecting a baby in May. (They already have two little girls.) ("Also", because that is when his brother Joe's first child is expected.) The scan was slightly delayed because their nanny tested positive recently, so they were all in strict isolation. So who is going to get the boy?


I’ll have to rev up my knitting. For this one, I think, Mary Lou’s wonderful Pollywog again – the sweater which can easily be pulled over an infant head. I think I’ve done enough Baby Surprises, although it’s endlessly fun. I’d have to toil back through the blog to see what Thomas and Lucy have had in the past: the Dunfallendy blankie, I’m pretty sure, was for them. My notes in Lotus Organizer are inadequate. A shawl for the second? I think but am not sure.


Otherwise there is little to report, although that’s a lot. Not much knitting. I’ve been very feeble. Plans are afoot for celebrating the Queen’s 70 years on the throne, in June 2022. Her father died in February of that year, but she prefers not to have a party on that anniversary and anyway June is nicer. We are to have an extra public holiday. And if she, at her age, can look forward that far, I ought to be able to manage something similar. I was terribly pleased when she passed Victoria’s total of years on the throne, and became the longest-reigning monarch since William the Conqueror. Especially as Victoria inherited the crown at a younger age, and took years off to mourn Albert, and wasn’t much use in extreme old age, whereas our Queen has kept her nose to the grindstone throughout, including extreme old age.

And as for the election, it begins to sound as if a Trump's support is crumbling slightly -- a few sensible Republicans have peeled off and acknowledged that the election was lost. But there's still no end in sight, and the BBC says that White House staff are working as normal.


I’m nearly finished with Maestro-Don Gesualdo, and hope to polish it off this evening, before my Italian lesson tomorrow. It’s awfully good.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020


Every day that this goes on, it becomes stranger. Biden is behaving very well. There's an excellent BBC podcast called Americast. (Google: you'll find it.) I wonder if they have put one up yet about the current situation. Podcasts are wonderful for knitting-to.


I finished an Evandoon stripe while watching Helen last night, and was glad to see some of you there. I think the whole thing will be up soon, but I don’t have a link yet. There were some fascinating bits, including some very near here that I have had never spotted. And one near the end that look like Kaffe.


Sarah, thank you for the link (comment yesterday) to the mosaic art in the New York subway. Amazing! I told Helen this morning while we were trudging around the garden – she already knew, and was full of enthusiasm. The New York subway I remember – not all that long ago – was dirty and ugly and confusing. Much seems to have changed. Mary Lou, I’ll try her on the Library of Congress tomorrow.


Shandy, where is your blog? I have drifted away, and now very much want to come back.


And Shandy and Janet, thank you for news of the Harlot. I looked at Instagram, but it’s not the same. Does the Canadian government do anything for people like her who have lost all their income to the pandemic? The British government does, even for the self-employed, but it’s a bit capricious.




Two more stripes to go, on the body of the Evandoon, unless I lengthen it.


I gave some (mostly unsatisfactory) thought to dp storage today. I had a message from someone – I thought it was you, Tamar – about using cardboard tubes. I can’t find the message, but I thought it a good idea, and the internet didn’t seem to have anything better. Someone did offer clear plastic sleeves, divided horizontally into four or five sections per page, and closed with a zipper. That sounded good, but the cost was preposterous, even for my extravagant self. I’ll start saving the insides of toilet paper rolls.





Tuesday, November 10, 2020


The iPad has behaved itself impeccably today, but I have been very feeble. Archie came, and we got around the garden, and then he did some useful things, including coaxing this picture out of my telephone – Joe and Becca and their baby:


And here’s the Evandoon:


Helen’s podcast will be on quite soon now. I’ll advance the knitting a bit further while that is happening.


I was impressed (speaking of feebleness) with pictures of the Queen at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier last week – it is 100 years since he was buried in Westminster Abbey. She walked firmly from car to tomb, without a stick; and, perhaps even more impressive, stood there quietly while the Archbishop of Canterbury wittered on. She’s 93. I should pull myself together.


Chris, it was wonderful to hear (comment yesterday) that you know the yarn shop I was talking about, in Harvard Square. I remember that it was good. Someone must have told me – I’m pretty sure I went there on purpose, rather than by accident. And to think that you might have been there too, that day! Degrees of separation, indeed! I can’t remember why we were in the US, nor, given that, why we were in Cambridge. It must have been both of us – my solo visits were almost entirely to family, except for two blissful Camp Stitches and a Stitches proper. That one was overlaid with anxiety – I had left my husband with friends in Boston, and he was really too old to be left.


Speaking of feebleness, again: what’s happened to the Harlot? We haven’t heard from her for a long time. I hope she’s not going to give up blogging. That would leave only me and Queer Joe and the Socklady.

Marion (comment yesterday): I've just seen your comment, about dp storage, I've got something such as you describe, a dear friend made it for me. The trouble is that IU always open it upside down, and all the dps fall out.

Monday, November 09, 2020


A vaccine! This is great news indeed! Thanks, Anonymous! Light at the end of the tunnel! (The New Yorker sends me some cheerfulness every morning. Recently it was an old cartoon suggesting that the light at the end of the tunnel was only New Jersey.)


My iPad is having the vapours today and at the moment is refusing to acknowledge the internet. I feel as bereft as any teenager deprived of a telephone. The usual trick of turning the router off and then on again, doesn’t seem to work.


I’ve had a good day with the Evandoon. I listened to a couple of podcasts this morning – the iPad was in a better mood then. Podcasts are a great blessing for knitters. It’s beginning to look something like a sweater. I took a picture of it for you, but that’s currently stuck in the iPad. There are two and a half more broad stripes to go. It’s time to start looking for suitable dps for the sleeves. I’m good at storing circulars (in a hanging thing with slots which I bought, I think, in Harvard Square) but dps are more elusive.




Well done, President Bush, for congratulating Biden!

There's a scary Danish-mink story in the paper this morning. Any Covid patient who has been to Denmark recently is treated as if he had ebola or the Black Death. Clearly somebody is scared, as well as me.


Maestro-Don Gesulado continues well. I may even be inspired to write a couple of paragraphs about it in Italian. Every week I resolve to write something, and almost every week I don’t. It’s a very valuable way to learn.


Nigella’s new cookery series, to go with her new book – which I’ve already got – starts on television this evening. That will be comforting.


I was wrong: yesterday wasn’t 9/11. Today is.


I had a massive struggle with Blogger yesterday because everything was in html, as a result of that link to Helen’s talk about mosaics which I posted on Saturday. And I finally figured out how to switch back to real life. And I’ve learned something.

Sunday, November 08, 2020

The only question now is, what is Mr Trump going to do? Fascinating, and it should keep us amused for a while. It will be interesting, too, to see what Mr Biden does about the coronavirus, but since there are still two months before he can do much of anything, and the situation may have changed out of all recognition by then, it’s no use speculating.


A friend and I amused ourselves in the spring by fitting current events into an imaginary book or Contagion-type movie. Neither of us would have thought of the Danish Mink Varient, a new and terrifying twist. Clearly they’ve got a very good script writer up there. (And who would have thought that there was that much of a market for mink in this day and age?)


C. came this morning and we did our circuit of the garden in the rain. Goodness, November is depressing. And it’s 9/11 over here today, to make things worse.


 I made progress with the Evandoon. I’m doing the fourth stripe from the end (unless I lengthen it).


One of the best features of this club/book is Kate Davies’ weekly essays. As I’ve said, no feminism this time. Today’s was about the possibilities that knitting offers – top-down or bottom-up or sideways. And the difference between knitting yourself something and plucking it off a shelf (or a computer screen). A pleasure to read.


Cam, yes, Helen says her interview with her friend about mosaics (see yesterday) will be available on YouTube after the event, but we don’t have the link yet.


Reading: I’m getting on fine with Maestro Don Gesualdo. It’s most interesting. It's what I think is called verismo. The author tells us what people say and do, and we have to figure out why. Evelyn Waugh can do it. It wasn't all that common in the 19th century.

Saturday, November 07, 2020


This is the scary bit – Trump angry and wounded, with the red button under his thumb for another two months.


I didn’t achieve much. Archie and Mungo came and we had a nice lunch. I knit some more Evandoon while listening to a podcast. A good Italian lesson. I read some more of “Maestro Don Gesualdo”.


Mungo has got a job with a company that makes documentaries, sometimes selling them on to the BBC. He had two other offers – it must be worth while studying Arabic. So far he’s working from home. He did some real-time translating this week for an Arabic-speaking archaeologist who had something to tell them. He is keen to get to London where he will be sharing a house with friends from university, none of whom have jobs.


Helen will be talking about mosaics with a friend next week (Tuesday?) on YouTube – early evening here in Britain, lunchtime in the eastern USofA. You have to sign up in advance, but it’s free. This is the link: