Monday, October 31, 2022


A day of surrender…

(a)  To the Mkal

(b)  To Wordle.


We started off peacefully enough. Helen came. We got around the garden. I think my hip is getting worse. Physiotherapy in some form is coming tomorrow. I’ll have some questions for them.


Then, in the late morning, I stopped being able to download the MKAL pattern from my Ravelry library. I’ve never printed it out. One assumes at first, of course, that it’s one’s own fault. I switched my router off and on again. But I gradually calmed down and established that I couldn’t download any patterns from my Ravelry library. I google’d and discovered that there have been problems today. I didn’t go into the details. I sat back and wondered, Why am I doing this? I then sought out and re-started Fergus’ Calcutta Cup sweater. It took some time to find it – Daniela had tidied it away, not very far. Finding the book – Kate Davies on the Argyle Coast – took longer, but I succeeded. Presumably the pattern is in my Ravelry library, but…


I wish I had thought to show Fergus my Progress So Far when he was here for our take-away supper on Saturday night. It’s looking good, I think.


So that went forward nicely, and I think it is perhaps a more sensible thing to be knitting than the MKAL shawl. That is interesting, no doubt. It’s been fun. But no one will want it.


As for Wordle, my starter words gave me the same two letters (brown tiles) as they did yesterday. In despair/disgust, I typed in yesterday’s answer for line three. That yielded another brown tile. I just couldn’t bear to go on, after yesterday’s struggle. Three for Mark and Thomas; four for Alexander, Theo, and Daughter-Rachel; five for Ketki. That seems to be all. I don’t care. I don’t even know what today’s word is.


Thank you very much indeed for your help with Ott lights. More soon.

Sunday, October 30, 2022


Oh, dear – it’s dark. And it’s going to go on getting darker for a long time. Does anybody have an opinion about Ott lights?


I had a very nice time with James and Cathy here. I saw their son Alistair a couple of times. Indeed, last night we had a jolly take-away with everybody here: all five of Helen’s family, James and Cathy and Alistair and me.


Not much knitting, in the midst of all this. Not much walking, either, but this morning James and I did a circuit of the garden. Cathy stayed here – she’ll be back at the chalkface tomorrow morning, and was getting as much done as possible to prepare. She took this picture while we were gone:

I think Perdita (here at the door) often waits and worries when I am away. We sometimes find her watching at a window, and sometimes, as today, when she hears our voices returning, she starts meowing under the door.


I have started Clue Three of the Westknits MKAL. It’s the one with two long, narrow strips decorated with a travelling stitch pattern. At first I despaired. This was going to be the pons asinorum and I wasn’t going to be able to get across. Things have improved somewhat. It would be presumptuous to say that I have mastered the technique of doing travelling stitches without a cable needle, but I have made some progress with it, and the work has speeded up slightly. I am also spending less time on anxious perusal of the pattern, line-by-line. Here is where the Ott light might come in handy. Now that the clocks have changed, there’s not going to be much afternoon.


The final clue is here. It involves a lot of knitting, but it looks straightforward.


Wordle: I’ve been doing it faithfully, with reasonable scores. I failed today, my fourth failure in Ootober, despite a truly titanic struggle and a perfectly fair word. Four was the common score today: Thomas, Ketki, Mark, daughter-Rachel, Theo. Alexander had a bit of trouble: five for him. Granddaughter-Rachel and brother-in-law Roger are missing so far.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022


It was a lovely Christening. Here they are, slightly back-lit:

You can't see much of Quinn. So far, he looks a lot like his brother Hamish.


I’m pretty tired, but I’ve done a bit of knitting, including the final row of cables for the second cable section of Clue Two of the MKAL shawl. It remains to polish off a couple of rows and do the i-cord bind-off. That won’t stop me waiting breathlessly for the final clue tomorrow morning.


James and Cathy are arriving tomorrow afternoon. All is ready. You may not hear from me again until Sunday. I still enjoy cooking, although it is hard work dragging this useless hip around – and I especially enjoy cooking for more than just myself. I’ve planned a couple of tasty easy-peasies.


Wordle: I scored my much-wanted four, and felt very pleased with myself until the other scores started coming in. Almost everybody else found it easier. Two for Alexander, three for both Rachels, Thomas, Theo and Mark. Ketki got stuck and scored five. Like me, she had a guess with four green tiles and only the first letter missing. So did Theo, in fact, but he had that on line two. 

We have been trying to coax Theo’s father, my brother-in-law Roger, to join our group. He’s a keen Wordler. We learned only today that he’s suffering from a Covid-induced brain fog. I didn’t even know he’d had Covid. Roger is the youngest of the Older Generation – younger than his wife, my sister, who is in turn younger than I am.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

St Crispin's Day


I live well out of the world, to such an extent that its incursions make me unnecessarily nervous. Tomorrow is Quinn’s baptism. (Brother of wee Hamish, above.) Helen and David will come and get me and take me there. Nothing to worry about except the effort required to look fairly respectable. There will be a gathering of some sort afterwards, in the Garden Room adjacent to the university chapel. All on one level. And after that, something more prolonged at C’s house (Quinn's grandmother). She lives in a very nice flat which once formed the piano nobile of a town house, and the task of getting up (and, later, down) the stairs would be more than I care to attempt.


So if you don’t hear from me tomorrow, it is because I am prostrate, but I don’t really expect that to happen.


I slackened up a bit on the knitting today. I now have half a dozen more rows to do on the second cable panel of the MKAL shawl, followed by an i-cord bind-off. And one of those rows is a cable row.


So now we have our new Prime Minister. He has been to the Palace for hand-kissing. All the commentators were keen to explain that no actual contact of ministerial lips on Royal Hand was involved. Perhaps even the smooth Mr Sunak hasn’t mastered that wonderful dip of the head which Italian men can do so well, when offered a hand to shake. It means “I kiss your hand” without making a fuss about it.


Wordle: my two starters yielded nothing this morning except one green vowel (and, of course, nine eliminated letters). I gritted my teeth and allowed myself nothing but a possible answer, No Jean-words today. It wasn’t right, but it produced another green, and I got the answer on the fourth line. Four is my favourite score, as you know – the fours now outnumber the fives by two. Four was a popular score today, as well: Alexander and Ketki and Thomas and Mark, besides me. Theo and Daughter-Rachel needed five; Granddaughter-Rachel six.

Monday, October 24, 2022


Helen came, and we walked around the garden. She’s not in Kirkmichael at all – not until Wednesday. It was a lovely, mild, sunny day with glorious autumn colours even if not New England.


And the knitting went well. I’m about halfway through the second cabled section. That means that the difficult bits are done – picking up the right number of stitches, knitting them correctly in the return row into columns of knits and purls, ready for the cables. To my eye, so far, these cable panels don’t fit very harmoniously into the rest. There's nothing wrong with them -- they just don't seem to make overall sense. We shall see. Janice (comment yesterday) I do approve of your idea of rushing ahead to do one of the travelling stitch strips in Clue Three, in time for this week's Clue Four, before finishing Clue Two. I am the very Blind Follower EZ obviously had in mind, so I couldn’t do something like that. If my anticipated week weren’t so complicated – you’ll see, as it unfolds – I might have started on one of those strips myself before Thursday.


So we’ve got a new Prime Minister. I like him, and am hopeful. Helen disapproves because he is very rich, and his wife is richer by many multiples.


Wordle: We found it easier today. Ketki was out in front with two. (I’ve never scored two.) Alexander, Mark and Theo had three, Thomas and I four. The two Rachels, daughter and granddaughter, were the laggards: five for the younger, six for the elder. Mary Lou, it’s interesting what you say (comment yesterday) about forgetting the word you used successfully. I find – and I think others do as well – that one’s titanic struggles with Wordle are almost all instantly forgotten. I have taken to writing down each day’s word, with my score, on my iPad. It’s sometimes interesting.



Sunday, October 23, 2022


A grey, dull day. I didn’t get out – this time, not because of my own idle decision, but because I was on my own. I need help getting myself and my walking-machine down the six steps from the front door to the pavement. Even more so, to get us back up again.


That didn’t stop me knitting. I finished the first cable section and its i-cord bind off. Here’s the whole thing so far:


Those narrow travelling-stitch panels in Clue Three will be attached to the outer, narrow edge of the cable sections. The finished one is on the upper right in this picture, in the shadow, easy to overlook. Will the new panels be tied around the waist?


Comments: Chloe (Friday): It is indeed a leap of faith to embark on such a project. But it’s faith in SW, who has a proven track record. I did a mystery shawl KAL once before, different designer, and the result was so boring that I’ve never woven in the ends. It’s still an odd thing to do, and so many of us, when there’s so much knitting clamouring to be done. The yarns were chosen open-eyed, and I think I’ve done well. I agree with you, Rebecca, that some of the colour choices are bizarre beyond belief.


Wordle: I was interested to hear of your Wordle discovery, Kathy. (Comment yesterday) My one yesterday was ISLED which means apparently, when used of a place, that it’s got islands around it. I’ll never be able to use it. I remain desperately fond, however, of NONIC: a British beer glass with that characteristic bump near the top.


We found today’s word tough. Theo was best, with four. Five for Ketki, Thomas and Mark, My undistinguished six was shared by Alexander, his sister Rachel, and his niece, the other Rachel.

Saturday, October 22, 2022


A grey, warm, dull day. I allowed myself the luxury of not going for a walk. Helen’s husband David is here; they came to see me. They’re going to Kirkmichael tomorrow.


And I knit industriously on, not quite as successfully as I had hoped. There are three or four more rows to do in this first cable section. They are long rows. All the cabling is finished, however. Tomorrow should see me well into the i-cord bind-off.


People in the Ravelry group were beginning to wonder whether SW had a fifth clue up his sleeve. So far, this cable section is the only one that’s properly finished. The first section, you will remember, leaves us with those braids, open at the top end. The garter stitch wings were simply abandoned, the open stitches hanging on spare circulars. And this week’s Clue Three will produce long strips with travelling stitches – the sides are unfinished, so they curl in on themselves. I can’t remember where or how they’re attached.


But Stephen himself came on the group to say that no, next week will be the final clue.


The light was going when I stopped knitting. I’ll take a picture in the morning. That will leave you a day behind.


Wordle: I was today’s dunce, with the only six. I had again the experience – as with NONIC, recently – of typing in a set of letters which I didn’t think could be a proper word, and having Wordle accept it. The result wasn’t nearly as interesting as NONIC, however. Thomas and Mark and daughter-Rachel got today’s word in three; Alexander and Ketki and Theo, four. No entry from Granddaughter-Rachel.

Friday, October 21, 2022


All well. It was a grey, overcast day, unseasonably warm. There is something to be said for Global Warming at this time of year, and especially as we face a winter in which we’re all afraid that we can’t afford to turn the heating on. Helen came, and we got around the garden.


And the knitting, as suspected, went much better in the morning. Yesterday’s afternoon effort had attached the cable section to the wrong side. There will soon be cables over there, too, but I didn’t struggle with the question of whether my initial, wrong-side attempt could be converted into what will be needed eventually. I ripped it out and started again. Here’s where I am:

 That’s about half-way through the rather small cable panel, 14 rows done of 34. I should finish it tomorrow. Picking up stitches and casting on others is hard work, requiring of close attention. Sunday, for the other one? Once next week gets well underway, this obsessive knitting will have to slacken. Quinn is being baptised on Tuesday or Wednesday. James and Cathy are coming on Thursday afternoon, staying until Sunday. The week after that, Rachel and Ed will be here. And not long after that, my sister and her husband. (They’ll be here for Thanksgiving and I’ll take them out to lunch.) I’ve had a very virtuous year on the cider front. I think I might allow myself a bit extra in November.


You’re quite right, Mary Lou (comment yesterday). I’ve got a pair of nearly-finished socks somewhere. The thing is to find them, and ascertain exactly where I am in the second foot, and keep them handy for relief-knitting. There’s something infinitely soothing about going round and round that small circumference.


Wordle: Five for me and Thomas and Granddaughter-Rachel. It was one of those maddening days when I had the last four letters as green tiles, but guessed wrong twice about the first letter. My scores for four and five are now back to level. Alexander and Daughter-Rachel scored three, Ketki and Theo four. Nothing from Mark.


Anonymous asked on Tuesday, What’s a Jean-word? It’s one that can’t possibly be right, either because it leaves out one or more of the already-established tiles; or puts a brown tile in a position it has already occupied (which therefore can’t be right); or re-uses a letter which has already been eliminated. Such words are often very useful.



Thursday, October 20, 2022


I’m in trouble with the knitting. No picture today. Details soon, but I’ll start with today’s good news.


Not the loss of the Prime Minister. They come and they go. But:


1)    Mrs Sacoolas has pleaded guilty in a British court – by video link, of course – to causing death by careless driving. The sentence will be trivial. “Dangerous” driving would have been far worse. The judge has required that she be in court in person to hear the sentence, at the end of November. That's something. It won’t give them Harry back, obviously, but it’s a result, and a credit to the family’s persistence.

2)    Archie and I – mostly Archie – applied for a Blue Badge this morning, for disabled parking. The website had warned that it could take up to ten weeks. I heard by lunchtime that Edinburgh has awarded me one, and that it will be here in ten days. It doesn’t belong to a particular car – it can be displayed on any dashboard. My husband had one, after several rejected applications. Alexander, who registered the death, had to hand it over. Some good thinking there, on somebody’s part.


Kniting: I’ve finished the horrible purling. I’ve come unstuck – I would almost say, as expected – with picking up stitches for the cable sections which follow. I think the only thing to do is to frog and to face the problem again in the morning. I’m at my best then, which is not to say it’s very good. At the moment, in the dark, tired, I don’t think the pictures in the pattern match the instructions. More on this tomorrow, I hope.


The new instalment looks perfectly doable within four or five days, or fewer. There is an optional bit (very attractive, I admit) which I’ll be happy to skip.


Wordle: Four today for me, but I feel I cheated. My first attempt at line four was rejected: not a word. I went out into the real world and typed it in. I can’t, alas, remember the details. It was a word somewhere, and somebody (Wikipedia?) said something involving the correct word, which I recognised as such after my hours of fruitless struggle. I went back and typed it in. Ketki, Thomas, and Daughter-Rachel were also four. Theo was a brilliant two. Granddaughter-Rachel, Mark, and (most surprisingly) Alexander haven’t reported yet.


I leave you feeling gloomy and novembrine. It must be the knitting.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

 Life is frot with excitement.

 Helen came; we walked. Grey but warm, today. The Home Secretary has resigned.

 I knit valiantly on. Here’s where I am with the right-hand wing. That’s all purled:


The final short-row section, all that remains to be done, is a little bit easier because of not having to contend with a second colour being carried up the edge. Tomorrow is this week’s Big Reveal, of course. The last one for which I will feel I’m still part of the action. By next Thursday I will be doing well if I’ve finished Clue Two. Indeed, it’s unlikely. Quinn is being baptised next week and, as you see, I will soon have to take some time to wind the next skein of the main colour. There is to be a gathering at Kirkmichael to plant a ceremonial tree next week, too. I’m inclined to think that I’ll be as well to skip it. It’s getting cold. Kirkmichael is very cold.


But the excitement came from a phone call from Daughter-Rachel. Another great-grandchild (grandchild, for her) is expected in April by Joe and Becca. Their wedding, on the Isle of Wight in 2019, was my last major expedition away from Edinburgh, and will almost certainly remain so. Currently, my great-grandchildren (and Rachel’s grandchildren) consist of seven little girls in London. This one will almost certainly be the last chance of a boy to carry Ed’s surname into another generation. (Rachel and Ed have an unmarried daughter, who will one day, it is to be hoped, have children of her own; but that’s no use, surname-wise.)


I’ll have a record somewhere of what I knit for Becca and Joe’s daughter – they have only one, so far. I’ll report back. I’d be glad of suggestions for what to knit this time.


Wordle: I failed, my third failure in October. There were none in September, which was part of my 59-day Maximum Streak. Mark and Theo scored three today; everybody else got four. Nothing from Granddaughter-Rachel.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022


I am embarrassed that it didn’t occur to me to go down a needle size to compensate for loose purling, Kirsten and Mary Lou. I did so at once, on reading your messages (comments yesterday) and it looks better. Here’s where I am:


I scrunched up the central part so that you could compare the garter stitch sections – the purl one, half finished, is on the left. I’m getting used to purling, although I’ll be profoundly glad to be finished with this section. Next – still part of Clue Two – come the two cable sections. They will be attached at the top (the nearer edge, in this pic) of the two garter stitch sections. The picking-up-stitches bit sounds enormously complicated, with home-made stitches as well as picked-up ones, and brackets and asterisks. Maybe the count will match the sections of the garter stitch wing and it’ll be easier than it sounds. Maybe not.  Then when the cables are finished, there’s an i-cord bind-off of more than 100 stitches. That will be slow.


No other news. I didn’t walk because it was my bath day. It’s beginning to get cold. The sort of weather when, in a normal year, I would begin to think of turning the heating on. My man was meant to come this morning to bleed the radiators and check the system, but he phoned to say his daughter has Covid so that will have to wait a week. Rachel and Ed are coming to see me early next month, and my sister and her husband from DC later on. Effete southerners all four – I want to have the heating in a state in which I could turn it on.


Wordle: Two for Ketki, three for Daughter-Rachel, four for Alexander and Theo, five for me and Granddaughter-Rachel and Thomas, nothing from Mark. So my fives are now equal to my fours, after a happy few days in which fours edged out in front. I had a perfectly good, if rather high-brow, word on line four, but it was wrong. My starters gave me three browns and a green, and yet I used a Jean-word for line three, omitting one of the browns and employing a forbidden letter. I deserved my five.

Monday, October 17, 2022


Another fine autumn day. Another circuit of the garden, all strewn with leaves.

 Here’s the first part of Clue Two, finished.

 I have progressed a bit further than that. I’ve picked up the stitches for the wing on the other side, and purled a few rows. Janice (comment yesterday) I don’t think I know “Martyn of Knit365” and must make his acquaintance, as I am coming to suspect that my purl, too, is substantially looser than my knit. I didn’t know that. I doubt if I have ever purled a substantial block of fabric before – why would I? I hope I can tighten up, or that it’ll settle itself down. I have abandoned all thought of converting to knit.


Here is another pic, blurry but adequate:

 It illustrates carrying a second colour up the side in order to knit a forthcoming stripe with it. If you just cross the two yarns every time you start a row on that side, the one you aren’t using will bury itself completely in your knitted-on i-cord edging. Assuming you are knitting on an i-cord edging. I am delighted to know this.


I can’t keep up this pace much longer. I think I may be knitting four or five hours a day. I am still afraid that the MKAL will end and the pack will disperse while I am still far from the end, and I won’t be motivated to go on with all this silliness. Maybe I’ve done enough by now that momentum will carry me forward.


Wordle: Three for me and Thomas and Daughter-Rachel and Theo, four for Mark, five for Alexander and his wife Ketki. Nothing from Granddaughter-Rachel.


Sunday, October 16, 2022


If I continue at the same frantic pace, I should finish this wing tomorrow and embark on its twin, the one achieved by purling:


I have decided just to give up and purl. Stephen knows his craft. I suspect if there were an easy way to knit (rather than purl) the opposite wing, he would have adopted it. I’m very pleased at the way my contrast colour is working. When I saw the skeins, I thought that perhaps it resembled the two principal colours too closely, instead of providing a shocking contrast. Now I think it’s fine.


We’ve had another off-and-on day, weather-wise. C. came, and we got around the garden during one of the sunny periods.


I feel I ought to be commenting on the State of the Nation from time to time. Everything seems to be coming apart. We are all buying extra warm clothes and resolving not to turn the heating on. Those of us with mortgages, or whose children have mortgages, or both, are terrified. The NHS seems to be coming apart. Trains and the Post Office are on strike. All I can say for sure is that Kwasi Kwarteng, despite his expensive education, doesn’t know what it means when you speak of the wagons circling. He seems to think it is a hostile gesture – he speaks of wagons circling our beleaguered Prime Minister – when surely in fact it is an extreme defensive move.


I am reading – I am rather embarrassed to admit – a book about the late Queen Mother. On the cover is a picture of her with a nonic half-full of beer. I need to look it up again. I don’t know whether it is a noun or an adjective. Maybe I should say, "nonic glass". I still can’t remember the name of that Brooklyn Tweed half-brioche sweater I’m interested in (not “Stirling”) but I’ve learned “nonic”.


Wordle: Three for Alexander and Mark and Thomas and Daughter-Rachel; four for Ketki and Theo. I disgraced myself with a five.



Saturday, October 15, 2022


Here’s the beginning of Clue Two – in blessed garter stitch:


That panel goes on until there are five garter stitch wedges (four contrast stripes). Then you repeat that on the other side, ostensibly in reverse garter stitch achieved by purling. And after that there are two cable panels to be fitted in somewhere. You see what I mean about Groundhog Day. But it’s still fun, and it’s wonderful the planning that SW has put into it, the well-written patterns, the very helpful videos.


I gather a lot of you have been over to Instagram and seen me in my tatty brioche sweater, toiling away at Clue One. It’s Helen who maintains that account. She came this morning and we got around the garden. She thinks cod liver oil might help my hip, so I’ll try that.


Wordle: We were stretched out all over the track, today. Two for Ketki, the star. Three for Mark and Theo. Four for Thomas. Five for me and Daughter-Rachel and Alexander, all of whom got caught with four green tiles and any number of possibilities for the empty slot. No news from Granddaughter-Rachel.

Friday, October 14, 2022

 We’ve had rain and clouds and pleasant sunshine today. Daniela and I got around the garden. I think perhaps my arthritic hip is getting gradually worse. 

There was once – in ’55? Or ’65? Or ’70? when I heard a radio programme celebrating the anniversary of the end of the war, and one of the items was a re-broadcast of the first post-war weather forecast. There were none during the war, for obvious reasons. It was for such a day as this one, a bit of that, a bit of the other, a very British sort of day, And you could hear in the presenter’s measured tones that he was nearly hysterical with happiness. I wonder if they’d play it for me again is I wrote in and asked nicely?


I’ve progressed with the MKAL. Perhaps, indeed, I am very slightly ahead of yesterday’s projection. An I-cord bind-off is very slow and excruciatingly boring. I’m about halfway across:


So tomorrow I should start Clue Two. It begins with a wedge of blessed garter stitch once one has picked up the necessary stitches down the left side. But when that’s done, Stephen wants a similar wedge on the right side – and he thinks it has to be done in purl so as to balance the first wedge perfectly. I will see if I cannot make do with a tad less perfection and a lot more knit stitch, when the time comes.


Comments: Anna, I’m sorry you’re dropping out, Your comment set me to wondering just what I am in this for. I don’t need a shawl. I don’t want a shawl. The twists and turns – and the keeping-up – are a bit too much for pleasure. But for the moment I shall persevere. Chloe, I had your very thought: wouldn’t it be nice if SW did an easy MKAL. But it would have to have surprises. Tamar, Clue Two still leaves those loops in suspense.


Wordle: Four all round today except for Thomas, who needed six. Mark is back with us. I got two brown tiles to start off with, a vowel and a consonant. I tried and tried but could not think of a qualifying word. I finally settled for a Jean-word, with one of the brown tiles still in its original (and therefore wrong) place. That was very useful, as Jean-words often are. It gave me two more browns, and turned my original browns into greens. The right answer was not far to seek.

Thursday, October 13, 2022


It has been a lovely autumn day – just when I thought they might be over for this year. Archie and I got around the garden. We didn’t, however, succeed in fixing the telephone. Its condition is worse than before.


I finished the 11th repeat of the MKAL, as planned. It was pleasant not to press myself as hard as in the preceding few days. I finished while the light was good, so I did the braiding:


There remains one further eight-row repeat, differing from the earlier ones only in that the final steps on the ladder (or loops in the braid) are not bound off, but left to support the i-cord bind-off.


The increases are very gradual – 10 new stitches every 8 rows – but they have at last made themselves felt. Also, I am having trouble, in some rows more than others, coaxing the stitches over the hasp (if that is the word I want). I hope this is connected with all those bind-offs and cast-ons and that things will go more smoothly in the next section.


I’ve watched the video for it. There seems to be an awful lot of it. I don’t see how I can finish much before Groundhog Day.


Wordle: Everybody got four today, except for Theo who needed five and Mark who hasn’t been heard from. I had a titanic struggle, with one green and three browns, but was determined not to score five if I could help it, and finally thought of a (winning) possibility.


Yesterday’s word as IONIC. I scored a disgraceful six. I had the last four letters as green tiles, and had already tried and failed with CONIC. My lines four and five were MONIC and NONIC. I didn’t know that either of them were English words. I was desperately trying anything that could be pronounced. MONIC is a mathematical term: something to do with one-ness. NONIC is much more useful. When you order a pint of beer (or cider?) in an English pub, you often get it in a glass which has a sort of bulge near the top. That’s a nonic glass. I don’t know the etymology.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022


I got two more repeats done. I’ve never pushed knitting so hard in my life. That’s ten repeats. Archie is coming tomorrow, and we’ve got work to do – applying for my Blue Badge for disabled parking; persuading my mobile telephone to work. So my knitting ambition for tomorrow is only that 11th repeat. Then on Friday I’ll hope to do the extra bit (effectively, a 12th repeat) and start on the i-cord bind-off. I’m not too far behind. And tomorrow, the second clue!


Someone has suggested we get a tee-shit printed: I Survived the First Clue – Westknits MKAL 2022.


Here’s where I am. Slightly blurry – the light was going. And that is also why I haven’t done the promised braiding.


I am slightly concerned about how solid those two balls of yarn look, after a week of knitting flat-out. And I have a second skein of each of them. 


Helen and I got around the garden this morning. It’s been an off-and-on sort of day, with grey and blustery predominating now. The Times had a useful-sounding article this morning about clothes for the hard times coming – a very tempting  sleeveless jacket stuffed with fleece from Uniqlo, and a black turtleneck from Marks and Spencer to be worn as the first layer under pretty well anything.  


Wordle: I scored a dismal six. I had the last four letters as green tiles. I guessed two words – lines four and five – which I entered simply because they formed a pronounceable combination. I thought Wordle would either reject them or declare them winners. Then I thought of the right answer. I have now looked up my two words – I’ll tell you tomorrow. One of them, at least, is a useful addition to my vocabulary. As for the other competitors, Daughter-Rachel was the best, with three. Ketki and Alexander got four, Thomas and Theo five. Nothing from Mark or Granddaughter-Rachel yet.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022


It has turned a bit cold. Nothing is more comforting than my ratty old semi-brioche in a Madtosh yarn. Maybe that pattern we saw at Brooklyn Tweed the other day – not called “Stirling” – should have a serious place on the to-do list.


Helen is safely back from Madrid where she enjoyed herself, although she says that nourishment is a bit difficult for a vegetarian. We got around the garden this morning. And I knit remorselessly on, finished another two repeats. So that’s eight done, of eleven. Even allowing for a twelfth near-repeat, and an i-cord bind-off, I might finish Clue One this weekend. I was much encouraged, browsing the Ravelry user-group, to meet someone who professed herself a veteran of Stephen West MCAL’s and who said that this was going to be the first time she had ever failed to finish a clue before the next one arrived.


A few are considering giving up. I think they have been persuaded to suspend judgment until they have seen the next clue.


Are any of you doing it? I find that in the dread cast-on row it works better if you do the first 11 stitches with the cable cast-on, as instructed, but for the 12th stitch, knit into the 11th (instead of inserting the needle between the 10th and 11th). That makes the 12th stitch much easier to get hold of on the return journey, when it has of course become the first.  Stephen himself had a bit of trouble with that in the demonstration video.


Here’s where I am. I’ll do some more braiding for you for tomorrow’s pic.


Wordle: Theo and Alexander and Daughter-Rachel and I scored three; Ketki four; Thomas six. No other competitors. My starter words gave me a brown and a green and I persevered until I thought of a word that fully qualified, and it was the answer. That often works.


Monday, October 10, 2022

 I knit resolutely on. It was another fine October day, but I had my bath this morning and was still faintly damp of head at walking time.


I think I’ve done six of my eleven 8-row repeats. That begins to sound a bit better:

 There’s no difficulty in knowing how far one has got to go – just count the stripes. It’s also easy to see just where you are in the 8-row repeat. I have resolved to try to do at least one repeat a day, and not more than two. After that one begins to get tired and confused. With such a schedule I could finish Part One in the middle of next week. And will do doubt get farther and farther behind after that.


I wish I had discovered the Westknits MKAL earlier in life. This time next year I’ll be ninety!


I’ve signed up for Kate Davies’ new serialised book. It’s called Allover, about colour. KD instalments help to brighten this soon-to-be dismal time of year. As does a Westknits MKAL.


Wordle: four for Ketki, Alexander, Thomas; five for me and daughter-Rachel; six for Theo. Mark was today’s champion with three. No entry from Granddaughter-Rachel, but she has answered the question that troubled us all yesterday. She failed to get VIGOR, you may remember, despite having the first, second, fourth and fifth letters. She guessed wrong twice. She tried VISOR and VIZOR. Wordle accepted both, a bit oddly; but both were wrong.

Sunday, October 09, 2022

 It has been a grey-ish unattractive day, but dry and not very cold.. C. came, and we did a circuit of the garden.


And I have knit resolutely on. I’ve now finished four of my eleven repeats. (Is that all? It feels like at least a dozen.) As feared, half a dozen Ravellers have finished Clue One altogether. One of them writes in to ask if she should block it. I don’t think anybody has answered that yet. I couldn’t have done that (without calling in Rumpelstiltskin) even if I had given up eating and sleeping and blog-writing. On the other hand we had the tragic tale of the knitter who looked down at her hands and found that she was binding off one of the chevron sections instead of one of the rungs on one of the ladders. She started the whole thing again from the beginning.


Here’s where I am:

 I’ve got the hang of it now and scarcely need the pattern. That’s when you start making mistakes.


Wordle: I nearly put this at the top today, so exciting is the news. Namely, that I got the best score of all our little group. I did it in three. Ketki and Granddaughter-Rachel scored four; Mark and Thomas and Daughter-Rachel five; Alexander and Theo six. I deeply disapprove of the word.


Theo (in DC, remember) says he dreamt that we all came to see him, and discussed the puzzle of Granddaughter-Rachel’s words yesterday. The answer was VIGOR. Rachel had green tiles for positions one and two and four and five. She made two unsuccessful guesses at that missing middle letter. I certainly can’t think of any word that would qualify. (Wordle doesn’t let you type in rubbish – every guess has to be a word in its database.) I hope she can remember. One of the interesting things about Wordle is how rapidly one forgets each day’s effort.

Saturday, October 08, 2022


We had another splendid October day. Daniela and I – and her small son, who comes along on Saturdays – got around the garden. I didn’t find it entirely easy. No Daniela tomorrow, but C. is coming.


I have forged on with the MKAL. I’ve done two of my eleven needed repeats – 12 rows in all, I think. That is about capacity. I concentrated today’s pic on just one end, so that you could see, perhaps, the separate bars of alternate colours and, to the left, the way they will finally be braided together. For now, they mean slow progress. The pattern, indeed, becomes familiar, but the constant casting on and binding off doesn’t get any faster.


I thought about the point you raise in yesterday’s comment, crochet66, but I think I have finally decided to allow myself to look at part two when it arrives on Thursday. The object is to keep up the momentum. As long as I’m moving steadily forward, there’s no harm (I have decided) in knowing what comes next. But “next” is the limit. If I’m still working on part one when part three arrives on the Thursday after next, it’ll have to wait.


Needless to say, there’s an abundance of chatter on Ravelry. It’s nice to feel part of an enthusiastic group.


Wordle: I got a four today (my fave). It was a popular score: Alexander, Ketki, Thomas, Theo and Mark. Daughter-Rachel scored six, and Granddaughter-Rachel failed altogether. Her grid shows clearly that for lines five and six, she had four greens and was missing only the middle letter. Alexander comments “You know at least two words that I don’t”. And I agree – I can’t imagine what those two words could be. It’ll be easier to discuss it tomorrow when puzzle 476 is finished for everybody and I can tell you what those four greens were.