Thursday, March 31, 2022

 (Blogger greeted me this evening with the message: "Unable to create new post". Then it relented. What's going on?)

A night’s sleep has somewhat restored me. It’s still cold (cold, but vernal) but Daniela managed to propel me around the garden. I am particularly fond of the two post-equinoctial, pre-summer-solstice months which have 31 days, namely March and May. It seems like a bonus, those two "extra" days, especially May 31.


Knitting went well. Kirsten (comment yesterday) I hope you like those needles, but I must emphasize that my recommendation is for small-gauge colour knitting. I am looking forward to a reversion to dps for the final legwarmer ribbing as I might look forward to a draught of cold water after a hike through the desert. And it shouldn’t be long now. At my current pace, I could finish the current leg in as little as two more days. I’ve finished Chart B and moved on to Chart C:ankle. I don’t normally suffer from second-sock syndrome, so I would say that things are looking good. Especially considering that I was prepared to abandon the pattern a few days ago.




Today’s word is on the difficult side, but not in a league with NYMPH or EPOXY. Today was the opposite to the usual Wordle situation: I had the last four letters and went back and forth through the alphabet without finding anything for that empty first position which yielded an intelligible English word. Then I found it. Ketki’s grid looks as if she had much the same struggle. Old-friend-Mark is today’s star: he got it in three. Alexander needed all six – that doesn’t often happen.


I have decided to forbid myself the further use of Jean-words. Henceforth everything, after my two starters, must be a legitimate guess, using any greens (of course); all browns, each in a new position; and only letters which haven’t already been eliminated.   

 I am bidding for a rare Kirkmichael postcard this evening, singularly unattractive. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow, win or lose.



Wednesday, March 30, 2022


I’m just back from an MRI scan. Nothing to fuss about, but going anywhere provokes a certain amount of nervous strain these days. C. came with me. Her friend Ian, last seen driving us to and from Oban when we went on our cruises last year, drove us to the hospital and back. The appt was on time, and the procedure was next thing to trivial. Nevertheless I feel completely bushed and will soon go to bed. It’s such a nice feeling, not to have an appointment tomorrow.


Legwarmer-knitting has gone forward nicely. The new needles make it almost fun. I’m well-advanced with Chart B: Leg Shaping.

The weather continues chilly. Indeed we had some snow flurries this afternoon. But we don't call this cold in Quebec -- punch-line of a limerick* I'm fond of -- and Alexander and I got around the garden in good order this morning.




The funny thing about yesterday is that Alexander wasted a guess on SHAWL, like several of you. I didn’t even think of it until afterwards. I got it in my usual five today. It was Ketki who scored the three.

*There was a young man of Quebec

  Who fell through the ice up to his neck.

       When they said, "Is you friz?"

       He replied, "Yes, I is,

  But we don't call this cold in Quebec."

Tuesday, March 29, 2022


Sure enough – the weather has turned. I didn’t try to go out. Bath day.


The new needles came. They are a vast improvement on a small circular – I’m going to be able to persevere and finish. It’s not exactly like the joyful Fair Isle knitting of my middle years, or even like wee Hamish’s Calcutta Cup vest (above), but it’ll do. It occurred to me that I might allow myself a bit of Machu Picchu in the evenings after a particularly virtuous day of legwarmering. Carol Sunday’s yarn is delicious on the hands and the stress-free experience would be good for shoulder and neck tightness. Alas, I couldn’t find it, although I’ve got the yarn all right.


I spent an interesting half-hour going through all the project bags I have piled up around here. No luck on Machu Picchu but I found a certain amount of delicious yarn. Then I looked around the room and there it was in plain sight, slightly elevated to keep it beyond paw-reach.


I mentioned the other day that I was worried about how tightly I seemed to be knitting the legwarmer. Today I reflected that that might be a good thing. When I was considering switching patterns yesterday, and browsing in Ravelry, I noticed people grumbling about how they didn’t stay up (different patterns, different yarns). Maybe tight Fair Isle will counteract that tendency:




Queer Joe has had a hole-in-one! That must have been yesterday, with that word that offered so many choices. He’s not likely to have used EPOXY or NYMPH (the two preceding days) for his starter word.


Ketki and I needed five this morning, Alexander four, Thomas Miles only three. He’s bright, that boy. We haven’t heard from old-friend-Mark yet.



Monday, March 28, 2022


Another grand day, forecast to be the last for a while.


I knit resolutely on. Here is the pattern (probably exclusive to Jamieson & Smith):


And here my reconstruction of it, so far:


My determination is to knit on, stitch by painful stitch, until the new needles show up. They’re on their way, I’m told. Maybe even tomorrow? If they don’t help, I may decide that I’m too far forward to change gear. Magic loop? I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. I have nearly finished Chart A: Calf.


Helen’s husband David came to see me today, back from Manchester where the whole family was briefly together with his mother. and we got around the garden. I’ve heard again from Helen, who continues to enjoy Ravenna. Her teacher, the whole object of the enterprise, has got Covid. Helen will be taught by her teacher’s sister, and seems happy with that arrangement. David is going back to Thessaloniki tomorrow. He will join Helen in Ravenna soon, and they’ll come back here together just in time for Easter.




It went to the other extreme this morning. All of us got the final four letters quite briskly (I was the slowest). But from that point, _****, there were by my count at least seven common English words, depending on what letter you chose for the empty first space. Thomas Miles and old-friend-Mark got it in four, Alexander in five. I failed altogether, due in part to a stupid choice, and so did Ketki, who doesn’t make stupid choices. I prefer EPOXY and NYMPH.


Sunday, March 27, 2022


And yet another beautiful day. For a while this morning I feared it was going to be one of those sad days when all of GB enjoys sunshine while Edinburgh remains swathed in a haar. But it lifted, and we had the sun like everybody else. C. came, and we hobbled around the garden. That’s twice in a row. The hip is very sore. Life seems much more purposeful, however, with the hour of daylight moved to the afternoon.


Helen is safely in Ravenna, delighted with her AirB&B. She sent me a picture of purple artichokes piled up in the market. They are my all time favourite luxury food. I can live without caviar and even lobsters.


I have knit stoically on with those legwarmers, but I’m not enjoying the experience, and there are still 175 rounds to go. I will press on until the Crazy Trios arrive, and then we will see. I’m not asking for great speed, just to enjoy the knitting. I even went to Ravelry and contemplated some of the legwarmers on offer. I could probably work it out for myself. Ribbing of some sort, for the sake of the fit. Decrease somewhat for the ankle. What about the kilt hose (without, in this case, the feet) which Kate Davies knit for her husband to wear on his wedding day? I’ll have a look.




I, too, Sarah, would have expected an unfinished attempt to vanish at midnight. How interesting. This is EPOXY you are talking about, yesterday’s word? When I thought of it, I wasn’t at all sure there was such a word. I typed it in expecting to be wrong.  Today’s is another toughy, and my glory is that I did better than Thomas Miles, Alexander and Ketki’s son. It took him five. I and everybody else needed four, except for Alexander who pulled it off in three. Poof, again. Again, I’m not sure I would have got there but for the feeling of group pressure. Old-friend-Mark had so remarkable a chart that I wish I could send it to you. Rachel hasn’t figured out how to join our group. She, too, got today’s word in four.

Saturday, March 26, 2022


It’s been another beautiful day. The radio says that this will end next week. Meanwhile, wonderful. Daniela got me out and all the way around the garden, to my own surprise. Much the way she is firm with Perdita when the cat tries to get out the front door. (Paradox knows that she’s an indoor cat, and stays in. Perdita likes going for walks.) My hip is still very sore and unreliable.


My 12” circular arrived – amazing! – and it does help. Things don’t get so tangled; it’s not too hard on the wrists; and the simple pattern is even simpler when I don’t have to keep stopping at every corner and switching hands and working out where I am.


Kirsten, thank you for Addi CrazyTrio’s. I ordered a set at once. I’ll keep you posted. I had a sock-knitting year once – I wonder if the blog goes back that far? – and accumulated a nice little library. Toe up, top down, magic loop, two circulars, afterthought heel – the works. I reverted to top-down dpn’s and stayed there. But Crazy Trios appear well worth a shot. In real life of course, for what time I have left, I will knit plain vanilla socks in fancy yarn, as before. 


The remaining problems are: (a) the work seems a bit tight, but another set of Crazy Trios in a larger size seems more than a bit extravagant, even for one so prone to extravagance as I. The intended recipient is very tall and enviably slim; we’ll probably be all right. (b) the colours are close to each other. Nothing can be done about that, but it makes for hard work and close peering. I’ve done 13 rounds. There are 100.


Thank you for your advice on that Japanese lace knitting book. Sharon, you sound just like my husband: What will I do with all those lace stitches? Good question. I suppose the answer would be, probably nothing, but I am vaguely trying to accumulate a knitting library, and this sounds as if it might be serious enough to be a worthy candidate.




Rachel is going to join our little group, if she can figure out how to do it. Alexander did it for me. Posting one’s result is simplicity itself, and almost instantaneous, once one is a member of the group. The app is called Signal. If my sister would succumb, she could join, but she is a stout non-Wordler so far. It's nice being in touch with people, as the iPad goes ping! ping! announcing the arrival of the separate contributions. 


I thought today’s word was rather difficult. Alexander and I and old-friend-Mark needed five goes; Ketki and her son Thomas – playing separately – got it in four. This was another day when I might have failed altogether if I had not been stimulated by group-pressure.


It’s extraordinary that two commentors should have done it in two yesterday, Mr Shandy and Judy.

Friday, March 25, 2022


It has been another beautiful day. I feel much sprightlier, but when C. came and we tried to walk, I found the left hip and leg too painful to allow much motion.


I am somewhat further forward with the first legwarmer, and grateful for your assurances that I don’t have to worry about the Calcutta Cup until next time (=the other leg), although I greatly appreciated your suggestion, Eileen, that I put one cup on each leg – 2021 and 2022 – and get the whole thing over with.


I’m having unexpected difficulty with knitting in colours on five needles. The bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes…Despite my fine collection of needles, I don’t have a circular of small enough dimension for this job. I sent for one, although small-dimension circulars tend to be awfully hard on the wrists. I normally let the yarn do the hard work, as I’ve often said. C. took this picture this morning of some socks I’ve knit in recent months and not disposed of:


The only socks I can remember where I did the hard work, were a pair of wedding socks for dear friends who got married latish in life, widow to widower. She was a French scholar and he a Byzantinist, and I remember confecting something with a fleur-de-lis and a Greek cross. She was a walker, too, so I hoped they would be useful. I remember that I knit them inside out, in the hopes that the floats thus forced around the outside, would not pull in too tightly. But I don’t remember having any particular trouble with yarn and needle-ends, and I’m sure I didn’t use a circular.


Wordle in five today. Alexander and best-friend Mark also each needed five; Ketki and her son Thomas were home in four. Helen (a non-Wordler) says this theme is getting boring, so perhaps I had better cut down on it. The world seems to be divided fairly evenly into Wordlers and non-Wordlers. Rachel has been having internet problems lately. She has been going in to work early so that she could do Wordle on her company computer before the day started. Today she wasn’t expected in at all, and wondered whether she could just go in and…. Fortunately BT turned up and she is now re-connected to the world. She got it in four.


I think this might have been a day when, in the past, I would have failed altogether. This time, after four guesses (one of them a foolish waste of time) I set myself to come up with a word, any word, which satisfied the available data. It took a while.


Do I want “280 Japanese Lace Stitches” published by Nihon Vogue last year? Now that I have allowed myself to drift away from VK and Interweave, I have no one to tell me about books. Gayle Roehm is involved in this one, so it couldn’t be entirely bad.



Thursday, March 24, 2022


Not so splendid a day. I didn’t get out, this time because I wasn’t up to it. My hip hurt, and I was generally weak. Perhaps I didn’t eat quite enough yesterday? I’m feeling a bit better now. Helen will look in soon on her way to the airport to get David. The great adventure begins tomorrow – they are all going south to see David’s mother. Helen will fly from Manchester to Venice and somehow make her way from there to Ravenna. (All by herself, and she’s only 59.)


Wordle in four again, but this time I had my new group (see yesterday). The iPad kept pinging away between 7 and 7:30 as they all contributed their results. I am destined, I think, to be the class dunce. Ketki and her son Thomas and old-friend Mark each got it in three. Alexander needed only two. Poof to him. It was interesting to note that everybody used different starter-words. I succeeded in posting my grid to the group, at least.


Not much knitting, but some. I’ve finished the initial legwarmer ribbing. I have decided to put the Calcutta Cup (design identical to Hamish’s vest, above) on only one of the legs. Would you agree?

Wednesday, March 23, 2022


Another lovely spring day. Alexander came to see me, but we didn’t walk. That was feeble on my part. My hip was hurting quite a bit and it was pleasanter to sit with the sun coming in the window, and just talk. But I mustn’t go on like this.


Wordle in four – it went much like yesterday. My two starter words produced one green and two browns. I then entered a Jean-word (can’t-be-right) omitting one of my browns and including one already-excluded vowel. It came up trumps, with two more greens. So I then had two empty slots into one of which my cast-aside brown must fit. I tried it here, I tried it there, and went up and down the alphabet in vain. Then I found it, and it was right. That’s much preferable to the Wordles where there is one empty slot which could be filled with one of half a dozen letters.


Alexander has signed me up for something like a what’s app group in which he and Ketki and their children and a friend of long standing post their results daily. One of the many charms of Wordle is that you can share the grid recording your struggle and success or failure but giving nothing away because actual letters aren’t included. I hope I’ll be able to manage it by myself tomorrow.

Another of Wordle's many charms is that there is only one a day. Cat, what happens in the antipodes? Do you get yours 12 hours ahead of Europe, or 12 hours behind? I suspect that midnight is midnight for Wordle, whenever it occurs. 


Alexander says that the decision on the legwarmers is that they should recall Scotland’s victory in the Calcutta Cup in 2021 (not 2022). I agree, although it leaves me with more knitting to do, The Calcutta Cup was not like this 20 years ago. Wins were very rare, in those days.


I pressed on with the legwarmer ribbing. Now I must locate my scheme for the 2021 cup – as in the example above.


This week’s kimchi is effervescing effervescently:


One good thing about knitting socks on five needles is that if you go to see Rachel in London and lose one of them, you can go right on knitting. I suspect I should be knitting socks for Alexander.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022


Another good day. It looked seriously nice out there, but I didn’t walk, perhaps somewhat flattened, still, by yesterday’s kimchi-making. I had my bath, and progressed with the legwarmer.


Wordle in four. My first starter word produced nothing – Alexander has comforted me in the past with the reflection that the elimination of five letters is not a negligible benefit. The second one gave me a green and a brown. That looked sort of unpromising, but reflection suggested that there weren’t many letters which could follow my green – it was in fourth place. I eventually thought of one, a real Jean-word which couldn’t have been right because it didn’t use my brown and contained an already-eliminated vowel. But, hey! it yielded four greens. It took me an embarrassing interval to grasp that all I had to do, now, was to slot my brown into the fifth place.


Goodness, this is fun. Shandy, I don’t think I want anything more taxing. Wordle as it stands is just right.


Sarah, that’s an interesting question about sock-knitting, and the answer is, essentially, that I can’t remember. In my sock-knitting heyday – all those trips to London to stay with Rachel and look at art – I think I knit the ribbing on four needles and then switched to five. Why? This time I tried to start the way I used to – casting on all the stitches onto one needle and then knitting them off, needle by needle, on the first real round.


That didn’t work because Paradox jumped onto my lap at a crucial point. The one mistake that can’t be rectified except by going back to the absolute beginning, is when even one stitch is dropped during that first round. Then I tried casting on on separate needles. That didn’t work either. Finally I cast on on a circular needle, and knit the stitches off from that. It worked, more or less, although there are some irregularities on the first and -- oddly -- the last needle.


There must be many gaps in my sock-knitting memory. I remember knitting a pair for my father when I was 12 or so. I had been brought up on books in which “turning a heel” was a feat of skill and ingenuity. I was astonished to discover that all you had to do was follow the instructions. I remember knitting a pair for my husband in the early days of 1957, when we were walking out together. It was an unbirthday present, and he was surprised and pleased. And after that I don’t remember another sock until we went to the USofA in 1995 for my mother’s 90th birthday. I was a poor traveller in those days, but discovered that I was completely intrepid if I had socks to knit.





Monday, March 21, 2022


I’ll have to try to be quick. The kitchen is full of the disiecta membra (I think that’s more or less right) of a batch of kimchi which I must put to bed before I do the same for my weary self. Everything is done except for the paste – water, rice flour, brown sugar – and the final amalgamation.

Another fine day. Another circuit of the garden.


Wordle in three, but this time it involved thought. My two starter words produced two greens and two browns. I was tempted to try TAPIR next: it’s the sort of thing I would have done a fortnight ago. Is there such a word? It’s not right. It omits one of my browns, and includes a consonant I had already eliminated. I considered how much information I would have gained – there’s always some – and then took myself in hand, thought of a word which fully qualified – and it was right.


As for knitting, no steam iron yet, but I have cast on a legwarmer and made a bit of progress.


Sunday, March 20, 2022


Another fine spring day. C. came to see me, and we got around the garden.


Wordle in five –again, a good one, involving thinking. I am trying to join an online group in which Alexander and Ketki and their children and a friend or two post results – so far without success although I think I am inching forward. It will spare you a good deal of boredom if I succeed.


Alexander sent me this link to the Italian commentary on the last couple of minutes of their match with Wales yesterday.  -- Alas, I don't seem to be able to copy and paste it. Sister Helen, you're spared.

Does this work:

You don’t need to know Italian. You don’t need to be interested in rugby. Please watch. (Sister Helen, I’m looking at you.) American watchers may want to know that a try/touchdown scores five points, and the subsequent conversion, if successful, another two.


At the beginning of the little clip, when the Italian commentator is clearly resigned to another loss – it had been five or six years since Italy beat anybody – we see a Welshman being named Man of the Match.  Then the Welsh steal the ball at an Italian lineout – further gloom. Then a Welshman kicks way down the field – we’re now counting down to the end of the match by seconds – and Sig Capuozzi gathers it in, and runs, and runs…But the try isn’t enough. They’re still one point behind. They need to kick the conversion. It’s an easy kick, as the ball was touched down right behind the posts. But there’s easy and there’s easy, with the world watching, but he did it, and then fell to the floor (as we say in sporting circles around here) and burst into tears.


What you won’t see is what happened a moment or two later, when Mr Jones – he must have been named Jones; he was a Welshman, after all – tried to give the Man of the Match medal to Sig Capuozzi as they were leaving the field, but he protested, no, no, it’s yours. I don’t know which of them took it home. It was a nice moment.


Knitting: I’ve finished the projects for both babies, but haven’t had the steam iron out. Mary Lou, yes, I was a great crochet’er of granny squares in my day, but I don’t think that would help here. We’ll see tomorrow. I found some super buttons for the Aroon jacket, but was stymied for a while because I couldn’t thread the needle. Daniella, tomorrow? Then I succeeded.


I also hope to make another batch of kimchi tomorrow. I have gathered all the ingredients together, no small achievement, so that I won’t have to wander around the kitchen looking for gochugaru chilli powder, or anything else.

Saturday, March 19, 2022


It’s been the best and warmest spring day yet. Archie rang up to say he had missed the targeted bus, so Daniela walked with me and Archie limped in later. We got some papers filed.


 Here are the sporting results: Italy beat Wales, and did it in Cardiff at that. “Home advantage” is a big thing in rugby, especially for Wales, so it was a truly major win for hopeless Italy. Ireland beat Scotland, as expected. France will play England this evening, in Paris I think. I think I’ll go to bed and listen to it on the radio.


And I got Wordle in five. It was a game involving thought, as I had hoped. My two starter words yielded two vowels, both brown. I set myself resolutely to think of a word using both vowels, in new places, and at least one new consonant. I think, in the end, I introduced two new consonants, both wrong, but one of the vowels was in its proper place, so now green, and the proper place for the other one could be deduced. So now the game was on, and eventually I thought of a word which fully qualified – but it was wrong. It yielded, however, four green tiles, and my next guess was right.


My favourite Times columnist, this morning, was writing about boring, in all its manifestations. Nothing is so boring, in his opinion, as people who post their Wordle results on social media.


I’ve finished the Baby Surprise. The neck is a bit untidy-looking. I won’t photograph it for you until I’ve seen what improvement – or not – a steam iron can bring about. Tomorrow’s job, therefore, must be to sew those buttons onto the Aroon jacket, and finish it too.


Kate Davies has posted a surprise pattern today, not part of the Argyll Coast club, called “Mooch”. It’s a yoke pattern, and I like it and it’s in Schiehallion and another yarn; and I like knitting with Schiehallion.  And here I am about to rack up not one but two FO’s….



Friday, March 18, 2022


A fine spring day. Wordle in three. The cider finally arrived, after a long, slow afternoon.


C. came, and instead of walking around the garden, we went to Broughton Street and picked up my pills from the chemist. We thought the distance was about the same, but I think it must have been a bit longer, perhaps two or three hundred steps. It left me feeling pretty flattened. Still, we got there and we got back and it was no doubt good for me.


My two introductory words gave me all five letters in Wordle (a first),  two greens and three browns. Since – if you stop to think about it – I knew, for each brown, three positions it didn’t belong in, it didn’t take long to slot each of them into its own slot. I hope I get something with more thinking involved, tomorrow. I wasn’t entirely happy with today’s word; we can discuss that tomorrow if there’s nothing else to talk about.


I’m doing fine with the Baby Surprise. I finished the basic knitting, looked up garter stitch kitchener’ing, and joined the front. It looks very tidy. Then I looked up Attached I-Cord and made a start on that, around the neck. I’m slightly short of halfway.  I’m slow and clumsy, and it was just the thing for a long afternoon of waiting.


All my deliveries seem to come in the afternoon, making napping impossible. What do these people do in the morning? This one was scheduled for the 3-5 p.m. slot, but when 3 p.m., so breathlessly awaited, finally arrived, the slot had been changed to 4:30-7:30. It came, in fact, at about 5, and all is forgiven.


Helen keeps an Instagram account going in my name, and yesterday had a little video of me knitting the Baby Surprise, with some appropriate music. You who are younger and cleverer about such things, may be able to see it.

Thursday, March 17, 2022


A nice spring day. Wordle in three – my two starter words produced four green tiles, and this time I could think of only one letter for the missing slot – it was in the central position – and it turned out to be right. And I thought of it quickly, so that was Wordle done for the day.


Then Helen came, and we staggered around the garden and she cut my hair.


Amazon says that they will deliver this month’s cider tomorrow! I wasn’t expecting it until the middle of next week. So Easter provides a delicate problem. Will they move the delivery forward a day or two next month? Or back? Perhaps I had better put some aside, just in case. We can skip mother’s day.


And I’m nearly finished with the basic knitting of the Baby Surprise. I think you have persuaded me, Sarah, to try it as a pullover (especially since you shared my experience with CATER on Wordle yesterday). That means I will have to brush up my skills in kitchener’ing garter stitch and attaching i-cord (around the neck) but I’ve done both in my time and it shouldn’t be too difficult to re-acquire the skills. It means omitting a few rows of border which would have formed the overlapping flaps for the buttons on whichever side. That in turn means omitting a few (m1, k1, m1)’s which were providing a mitered corner which may prove to have been necessary for the whole thing to lie flat. We shall see.

Be sure to read Kirsten's comment yesterday, about Japanese demons.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022


I failed at Wordle again. Again, the now-familiar situation, where I knew the last four letters of the target word and could only guess at the first one, with several to choose from. I guessed wrong three times.


Alexander (who never fails at Wordle) came over from Glasgow – an extravagance he’s not going to be able to maintain much longer – and we got around the garden in the drizzle.


And I’m further forward with the Baby Surprise than I really expected to be: I’ll have yarn left over. I discover in Cully’s book a way of finishing it as a pullover (no buttons!) and I’m tempted. I’ll have to decide soon.


I tried to look up the question of the sex difference in button placement in Wikipedia, but there didn’t seem to be anything there – although there is a long, scholarly article about buttons. Google produces a couple of pages of speculative articles, but none of the writers would appear to be any better informed than we are. Women had maids to dress them and the buttons were placed conveniently for that purpose. Men needed to conceal a weapon and draw it briskly forth. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

The Ides of March

I got Wordle in three today, with no prizes for astuteness. My two starter words produced four green tiles. No anagram-solving was involved. All I had to do was think of the missing letter and slot it in. It took me an unconscionable length of time to do so. I even wondered if it could be a word I don’t know. I resorted to a dictionary for the first time. I found a couple of letters which at least produced a pronounceable group -- I mean, obviously it wasn’t “x” or “q” – but that didn’t help. I finally gave up and started moving around the kitchen making my breakfast, and then I thought of it. When Helen came to escort me on my walk, I tried her and she got it at once. She doesn't do Wordle.


I don’t think I’m spoiling anything for anybody if I tell you that it’s a word you’ll certainly know.


Lynne sent me a comment on yesterday’s post which for some reason doesn’t appear, although it was forwarded to my mailbox. She says she got yesterday’s “smelt” in two, having started with “shite”. I think that’s pretty astute – one green and two browns. I couldn’t have done that.


So, I walked around the garden. Helen came early. And then had my Tuesday bath.


And pressed forward with the Baby Surprise. I’ve now used two of my five graduated colours. I think I’m going to come out about right, yarn-wise.


Judy (comment yesterday), it is one of the oddest facts known to nature that men and women have the buttons on their shirts on opposite sides. Has it always been so? Is it so all over the world? Is there a Wikipedia article on the subject? I can remember how surprised I was when I discovered this fact in my teens. EZ says, for the Surprise, to put the buttonholes on both sides and then, when the sex is known, sew the buttons over the holes on one side or the other.


It is odd, perhaps, for a woman who seemed so scornful of “Blind Followers”, that she revelled so in the puzzle she was setting in the pattern for the Surprise.


Monday, March 14, 2022


Wordle in five today, my ush. My two starter words gave me four brown tiles – almost an anagram problem, at which I’m no good. For guesses Three and Four I abandoned the high principles enunciated here yesterday, and guessed words that couldn’t be right, either because they didn’t use all four of my brown tiles, or because they did use one of the six letters I had eliminated, or both. Guess Three was useful, however, because it turned two of the brown tiles into green ones. Four was a complete waste of time. For Five I tightened my belt and submitted a word that might actually have been right, and it was. I will have to be firmer with myself tomorrow.


Helen is home from Greece. She came to see me this morning, and we got around the garden. She is distressed at how much the cost of petrol has gone up in the week she was away. She is going to Italy to study mosaics in Ravenna – where better? – next week.


I got the census done.


And the Baby Surprise is advancing. For those who have done it: one begins with quite a lot of stitches. One marks two of them, a quarter of the way in from each end, and begins by doing a double decrease at those two points every other row for quite a while. Then you switch to increasing at those points instead. That’s where I am, or just beyond. Cully says that that means I am at the underarm of the jacket, and he has illustrations which more or less prove it.


No button-sewing. I guess maybe that will wait until the Baby Surprise is ready. For that one, EZ says to postpone the buttons until you know the sex of the recipient.

Sunday, March 13, 2022


I got Wordle in three. That’s better. My two starter words yielded one green and two brown tiles. I didn’t let myself enter another word until I had thought of one that filled all the requirements – the green in its place, the two browns not in their original places, and no use made of any of the seven common letters I had eliminated. It took me a while to think of a word that qualified, but when I did it worked a treat.


And it’s been a pretty good day otherwise. C. and I got around the garden. That’s five days in a row. I advanced the Baby Surprise. I decided that, since I was worried about not having enough yarn, I would knit on until each of the five balls was completely used, even if it meant – as it almost inevitably would – attaching a new yarn on the wrong side. Then I began to entertain the opposite worry – what if I have an abundance of yarn, and this system means that all the colours won’t get used?


Well, in that case I’ll know before the end and the final balls can make smaller contributions. Today I finished the first ball. I’m glad I’ve got Cully’s book: after all these years of knitting it blind and bewildered, it’s nice to know where I am. There are quite a few little differences between this original pattern and the one I have been using, although the only one so far is a bit of fulness at the wrist.

I still haven't sewn those buttons onto the Aroon jacket.


This week’s Cowal Peninsula essay is a bit tendentious, to my taste. It’s not by Kate herself.


I’ve had the monthly preliminary announcement from Amazon that cider will be delivered not this week but next. That means I’ll have some on Mother’s Day which is a nice touch on God’s part. (Mother’s Day in Britain is mid-Lent Sunday, so it moves around the calendar like Easter itself.) But if I want some on Easter, I’ll have to put a bottle or two aside, because the April delivery won't be here by then. I’m quite pleased with my system. It gives me something to look forward to, which diminishes the pangs of temptation.


Saturday, March 12, 2022


Sporting results: France beat Wales last night, as I hoped, but kick-off wasn’t until 8 p.m. so I didn’t watch any of it. Today, Scotland beat poor old Italy, again as hoped but it was a distinctly undistinguished performance. Then Ireland beat England – at Twickenham, which is always harder – in an epic match but I don’t love either team so watched with some indifference. I failed at Wordle again – no excuse. I nearly got there. I should have got there.

Next week -- the final week of this year's season -- Ireland will be here in Edinburgh and on today's form, they'll win; and England will play France, in Paris I think. That could be exciting.


It was another pleasant spring day. Archie and I got around the garden, and he harvested some wild garlic for me. But I can’t try it with the nduja until Monday because Daniela brought me some food and I had better eat that tomorrow. She doesn’t come on Sunday. Today I had mussels and linguine, Archie having brought me some mussels. I thought they ought to be consumed first.


And I haven’t attached those buttons to the Aroon jacket. I knit onwards with the Baby Surprise while watching rugby. I am beginning to be slightly anxious about whether my five graduated balls are going to be enough. There’s nothing like a bit of yarn-anxiety to spur one forward. And surely there must be something, in a house so well provided with knitting wool as this one, with which I can finish it off.

I see that I have made contradictory statements here on Thursday and Friday, about whether my spell-checker accepts "nduja".  The explanation is that Microsoft Word, in which I compose, is fine with it, but when I transfer the day's prose to Blogger, Blogger objects.



Friday, March 11, 2022


Another good day. C. came, and we got around the garden. I think some of that wild garlic back by the fence is ready for picking. Archie is coming tomorrow – I’ll send him in for it. And then make that nduja and wild garlic pasta.


 I failed Wordle – how do brainiacs keep such long winning streaks going? It was one of those familiar Wordle situations where I had four green tiles, but any one of a number of letters could have gone into the empty slot. My two guesses were wrong – but I could think of at least two more, plus of course the right answer. There’s no way to choose except luck. (Unless you have a couple of guesses in hand, and can use one of them to eliminate/identify candidates for the missing slot. Perhaps that’s what brainiacs do.)


And I got the ends tidied up on the Aroon jacket. I have found – strictly, Daniela has found – my needles and thread and buttons. I didn’t proceed to that tedious task, and the blocking. I thought I deserved some knitting, so I cast on the Baby Surprise. Buttons tomorrow. I won’t dispatch the finished Aroon to London until Hellie is safely home with yet another daughter. I don’t see how people can bear to have baby showers, with all that can go wrong.


I’m awfully pleased with the Aroon. I’ll photograph it for you as soon as it’s a little bit tidier.


Kate Davies’ pattern this week is socks. Very nice indeed, but I know I’ll never knit them. I prefer to let the yarn do the patterning. In the days when we went to London three or four times a year, I got lots of socks knit.


I got a letter from my energy supplier today saying that over the next year my bills for gas and electricity will go up by £2284.97. I live comfortably, and don’t worry much about money, but I don’t think there’s that much slack in the system. Food is going up, too. I no longer drive. It’s all very well to think of wearing a heavier sweater, now as the light comes back towards the end of an easy winter. They aren’t all easy. Lots and lots of people are going to be harder pressed than I am.


Some rugby tonight – Wales v. France. It will last past my bedtime, but I’ll give it a try. (“Vive la France!”) The beginning of a Baby Surprise is ideal rugby knitting. Scotland will play Italy in Rome tomorrow. A loss would be embarrassing, but we ought to pull through. Ireland v. England in London could be a humdinger.


(The spelling checker let both “brainiac” and “humdinger” through, but objected to "nduja".)

Thursday, March 10, 2022


A good day. Daniela and I got around the garden. Wordle in five, which is about the norm for me. Maybe I’m happier not joining Alexander’s group with its daily witness of how much cleverer everybody else is. Queer Joe got it in four, and posted his grid on Facebook. Maybe he does that every day – I’ll start watching.


And I’ve cast off the Aroon. The next thing is to inspect my button (and needle, and thread) collection. I think I can face up to that, at least, this evening. I keep my wool needle close to hand – it has a usefully not-straight tip, and was given me by a friend --  but that’s no use here. I want a small pearl-type button with which I won’t have to worry about the colour of the thread.


I had a delivery today from Valvona and Crolla, a distinguished Italian delicatessen no longer within my walking range. (I have a friend who saw Princess Anne in there once.) Its website leaves something to be desired, but I navigated it at last, and am very pleased with my purchases. One of them was some nduja, a soft, spicy Calabrian sausage. I bought some in situ when Archie and I were in Reggio Calabria to see the Riace bronzes. Once I had my delivery from V&C I began to wander around the web wondering what to do with it, other than spreading it on crackers, which is delicious. And what should I find but a pasta sauce consisting, effectively, of nothing but nduja and wild garlic! The wild garlic in Drummond Place Garden is nearly ready to be harvested, so I look forward to that.


Think of the outraged howls which will go up on the day when Wordle’s word is “nduja”! But my spelling checker recognises it.


I also bought a huge and beautiful globe artichoke, which will be my supper tonight.


Tamar, encouraged by your approval, I am regularly doing a set of five sits-to-stand when I find myself sitting on the side of the bed. -- two or three times a day. You’re certainly right, that the muscles I mean to exercise, hip and knee, are the ones employed. Can’t do any harm.



Wednesday, March 09, 2022


The news from Ukraine gets more and more depressing. What is to become of us? Also, I didn’t know that Russia exported so much oil. I thot we were all dependant on Saudi Arabia.


Cloudy but dry. Alexander came over, and we got around the garden. Wordle in five – not very distinguished. Alexander has got an app on his telephone – sort of like What’s App, but not – on which he and his family and a friend share their Wordle grills every day. His son Thomas and the friend both got it in three today. I would join and be the class dunce except that I can’t remember my Apple password and the attempt to re-set it defeated even Alexander this morning.


I advanced the knitting but didn’t, as I had hoped, cast off the Aroon jacket. Tomorrow, surely.


I’ve found a set of graduated colours which I’m pretty sure I bought at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. 2019 was the last year it happened, but I think this yarn may be even older than that. I think I will knit my Baby Surprise with it, and am wondering whether to graduate the stripes, or to sprinkle them about randomly. Or have random stripes on the body of the Surprise, and graduate them on the bottom flap.

Tuesday, March 08, 2022


A better day, in that I felt normal again. I didn’t walk, because Tuesday is bath day. I failed at Wordle – I found myself in one of those familiar and irritating situations where I had four green tiles but there were a variety of letters which could occupy the empty slot, and I guessed wrong twice.


However I did finish the second sleeve of the Aroon jacket and picked up all the stitches for the long, long front binding.


When I got up to pee in the night last night – it happens often – I found my ankles entwined with knitting wool. Paradox is lucky I didn’t fall to my death -- although I'm sure she would have been all innocence when my corpse was eventually discovered. I gathered up the work, the yarn, and the ball and put them in a cat-proof place. In the morning I was pleased to find that my beautiful Lykke “driftwood” dps were all still there. I had to spend a certain amount of knitting time untangling the wool; no harm done.


However as I was having my lunch today, Paradox appeared in the kitchen carrying the Aroon again. By then it was on a circular needle, and stitches slid off at both ends. I probably should have pulled the edging out and started again but I had found the picking up of all those stitches – 150, more or less – rather tedious, so I made do and the edging is not quite as neat as it would have been without Paradox’ intervention. Clearly I must never put it down again without defending it. I should finish tomorrow, anyway (except for ends, and blocking, and BUTTONS).




JennyS, the NHS gave me a nice, high plastic toilet seat on legs, to fit over the permanent one. This has been a great help, since the permanent one is quite unusually low and was becoming difficult to negotiate. The Great Man who used to live in this house must have been very small. They gave it to me to bring home from the hospital in October or whenever it was.  After I had been home about a week, someone appeared at the door with another one which I now have over the toilet in the so-called downstairs lavatory. That one is at a normal height and really doesn’t need extra help but I thought it would be ill-mannered to refuse.


Mary Lou, thank you very much for your help with the search for a suitable yarn for that vest in the FT. I think Schiehallion is too soft and perhaps too thick but I will get some out and contemplate it. I will also investigate the other possibilities you mention.