Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Today is Perdita’s third birthday.

Thank you for all your kind messages. Don’t worry about protein: meals of asparagus and Jersey Royal potatoes are an annual aberration. The Mindful Chef is very keen on protein – chickpeas in abundance if it’s not meat or fish.

I think I’m better – back, at least, to the somewhat feeble state I was in at the beginning of Lent. Tomorrow, I hope I will make a serious start on walking around Drummond Place Gardens. I was encouraged by your comment, Lisa, about how long it took you to recover from a course of antibiotics.

Alexander came over this morning, as often on Wednesday. I asked him about fermenting vegetables (see yesterday) – he is a keen cook, who has explored many avenues. He has never been down that one (although he has made sourdough bread), but he makes pickles and says that the difficulty is, everybody claims they like them but nobody actually eats them.

I showed him the West Highland Way book and offered to lend it, but he said he will buy one for himself.

As for knitting, I am at that maddening stage towards the end of the waist ribbing of the Kirigami when it comes in at just under the desired length (2”) whenever I measure it, and no matter how many circuits I then add, it still measures just under 2”.

Once I have finally embarked on the body, I will have to pause and re-start the Calcutta Cup vest. I’ve got the needle, I have decided on how far to reduce the stitch count. There’s nothing left but to start knitting.

Non-Knit

And, speaking of the Calcutta Cup…

Rachel’s son Joe, who ran the London Marathon in 3.55 on Sunday, works for English Rugby at Twickenham. Eddie Jones (Knitlass will know) told him on Monday, “That was not a bad time, mate.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


I didn’t feel very bright this morning. However I think I’m somewhat better now, after a whole day without an antibiotic pill, and..

A dear friend came to see me and I asked her about fermenting vegetables, a subject I have been rather interested in lately since you tipped me off about gut health. The friend is uninstructed, but she said that her sister, not far away, makes kimchi all the time. If I’m up to it, we’ll go see the sister soon, no farther than Duddingston.

And that same friend then went to Sainsburys and got me some more British asparagus – I rather over-steamed what I had yesterday – and Jersey Royals. So I’m all set for this evening, and Mindful Chef will have to wait.

Nor has it been an uninteresting day on the knitting front. The new Fruity Knitting is up, and is a humdinger. (I suspect I say that every second Tuesday.) Today the big interview is with Emma Boyles of The Little Grey Sheep. It is interesting on the score of sheep-breeding, and wool-spinning, and wool-dyeing, and depends, as always, on Andrea’s well-researched questions.  I rushed off, as soon as the podcast was over, to the Little Grey Sheep website --  but they’re away at a continental yarn festival.

But that’s not all. “Fair Isle Designs from Shetland Knitters” arrived from Lerwick, and it’s enchanting. That wonderful bonnet on the cover is done by knitting one way and then cutting the yarn, and knitting that way again. Not my favourite technique, but it could be endured for something so small.

One of the very best things about an excellent book is the little biographical snippets about the designers: “Linda has been knitting Frilly Pixies – [that’s the bonnet]  -- from memory for many years. She often gets asked for the pattern, so finally she managed to write down a couple of versions…”

Hazel Tindall contributes a very interesting yoke sweater. She says: “I wouldn’t dream of consciously looking at a landscape or a photo to find colours to put together. When I am asked to write something about inspiration, I make it up after the piece has been knitted.”

I must remember that when I finish the Calcutta Cup vest. The colour scheme is based on Hopper’s picture of a gas station, and seems very successful. I took a very interesting class with Hazel at EYF ’17, and I remember saying to Greek Helen afterwards – a detail I would otherwise have forgotten – “Hazel Tindall knew who I was”. Perhaps I’ll send her pics when I finish – first knit your vest, Jean.

Monday, April 23, 2018


If any of us are ever tempted to doubt the management of the universe by a beneficent providence, we have but to contemplate the fact that English asparagus and Jersey Royal potatoes come into season at precisely the same moment.

I didn’t feel terribly well today, sort of nauseous, although no actual vomiting. Well enough to totter to the supermarket this morning, and to lunch as indicated in the paragraph above. And I have now finished with those dreadful antibiotic capsules, and confidently expect to feel better tomorrow.

KD’s “Highland Way” book has arrived, and is as wonderful as expected. I am still keen to knit the Stronachlachar vest – Buachaille; simple; three twisted-stitch panels up front and back. I am going to have to light some sort of fire under myself.

I think the answer is going to be to get back into the habit of an hour or so of television in the evening. Lately, I have been crawling into bed at 8, post-blog. I have a royal-wedding programme to look forward to tonight, recorded previously; and one about Camilla (the duchess, not the great-granddaughter) for tomorrow. My husband wasn’t all that keen on royal-family programmes, just as he was not about cookery.

As for today’s knitting, I have made a bit of progress with the ribbing for the Kirigami. The bottom edge is very neat. I am glad that its excessive size has forced me to start again with the Calcutta Cup vest. When I get back to that, shall I use German Crossed for the entire cast-on, or alternate with long-tail two-by-two again?

And I must, of course, work out a system for advancing simultaneously with CC vest and Kirigami. Not to mention the socks which Rachel says she wants for her now-immanent 60th birthday. A fire is needed, indeed.

Non-knit

Joe must have survived the marathon yesterday. He covered the course in 3 hours and 55 minutes, which sounds good to me, but is not quite as good as his father’s time 20 years ago, or whenever. Here he is with his parents, presumably not long after the finish:



And here, before the off:



Sunday, April 22, 2018


I think I must be getting better – if only because I got some knitting done. There were days and days in there when I did none, but today, as hoped, I finished the cast-on and started the ribbing of the Kirigami sweater.

I always prefer, with circular knitting, to do a couple of rows back and forth first, to make it easier to join up without the fatal twist. This time, it occurred to me that that wouldn’t quite do – Gudrun must intend the knits to go into the stitches cast-on by the long-tail method, and the purls into the Crossed Germans. And the cast-on ended with two Crossed Germans.

I considered joining the circle straight away, but was uneasy. So I knit back and forth as usual, starting with two purls. But was that right? I have essentially turned the work inside out, from Gudrun’s point of view. It has now been joined up, and looks neat, at any rate.

Ella Gordon has a new podcast. She is enchanting, but her breathless, amateur approach makes one appreciate the hard work Andrew and Andrea put in.

I learned from Ella that the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers (whose lace book I have) have published a book of Fair Isle designs. With a bonnet on the cover which might be just the thing for a great-granddaughter. I ordered it at once. I am tempted, too, by Chihiro Sato’s “Enjoy Fair Isle Knitting”, if only because she is Japanese. It was published last year but came in under my radar.

Saturday, April 21, 2018


I started off well this morning, but subsided mid-afternoon. I’ll be glad when the current antibiotic is finished (two more days) and I can sink down into a quiet malaise. I take your point, Cat, -- and it’s a good one -- about not trying to do too much on the days when I feel stronger. On the other hand, and especially at my age, there’s the opposite danger of doing too little and having one’s muscles atrophy.

When I went to the Western General last week for my chest xray I saw a poster that I had never seen before -- and I am very familiar with the Western General -- urging people to get up and get dressed and totter about even when in hospital, for the sake of their muscles.

Apart from such considerations, I think I have got the hang of the German Crossed Cast-On. The passage in Meg’s Fair Isle vest video is helpful, adding a little twist of the left thumb at the end of the process. And it is always a pleasure to listen to her wonderful voice.

Part of the trouble has been that I don’t use the grown-up, cat’s-cradle system for the long-tail cast on. I’ve mentioned this before. I just do it the kindergarten way, knitting into a loop around my left thumb. So I’m not used to tensioning the cat’s cradle, which is an essential part of the process for German Crossed.

I have started casting on the Kirigami – alternating two long-tails with two German Crosseds. I achieved 50 stitches and could see that I didn’t have nearly enough long-tail to finish, so I started again. German Crossed uses more yarn. Tomorrow’s goal is to finish the cast-on and knit the first round.

Non-knit

Grandson Joe (the one who recently got engaged) is running in the London Marathon tomorrow. It’s a family thing. His father Ed did it once, and finished with a thoroughly respectable time. His sister Hellie (Orla’s mother, whom you’ve seen here recently) ran one in Paris.

London has been hot for the last three days. The forecast for tomorrow is considerably cooler. Good news for Joe.

Friday, April 20, 2018


My health took a dip for the worse today.

I did get as far, however, as an initial practice session on the Twisted German Cast-On. It’s going to need more work before I could think of using it in real life. Lucy Neatby’s video is indeed helpful, and so is one by a girl endearingly called iknitwithcathair.

Meadow Yarns says that my needles are on the way – so it will soon behove me to cast on something, somehow.

I’ll re-watch Meg’s demonstration on her Fair Isle Vest video before I head for bed.

KD says that the West Highland Way book is ready. I greatly look forward to that. Alexander would like to walk the whole thing with his sons, but they are currently sunk in adolescent apathy. Any one of them might be interested in the book.

Non-knit



My kitchen shelves went up yesterday. Helen was horrified when she saw them this morning by the utilitarian look of those supports, so they are to be exchanged for plain brackets. Perdita didn’t express an opinion.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


The dr phoned today to say. essentially, that I’m fine. Bloods good; chest x-ray clear. So I must pull myself together. I guess I feel somewhat better than at the worst. I think the new antibiotic is of some use.

And today I addressed myself to some of that to-do list. I printed the Kirigami pattern. I established that I have an appropriate needle to start off with. I wound a skein of the new yarn – Paradox helped with that, so it took a long time, but it’s done.

Gudrun, interestingly, wants me to start off with a cast-on consisting of 2 long-tails alternating with 2 German Twisted. That could be interesting. Meg recommends German Twisted (of which I have no experience whatsoever) in her Fair Isle Vest video. Since I am now planning to start Alexander’s Calcutta Vest with two or three rounds of k2, p2 (omitting the rounds of st st which I used the first time), perhaps the alternation could be employed there as well.

First I must master the German Twisted cast-on.

I also decided that I want to start Alexander’s vest on a 3.5 mm needle of which I do not have an appropriate exemplar,  so I ordered one from Meadow Yarns. Their website seems different from the last time I was there – smarter, in some senses; a diminished choice of needles.

Non-knit

All is more or less well here. Shelves were put up in my kitchen today, so it’s finished, and I must get seriously to work tomorrow about establishing a place for everything and….

Archie came over this afternoon to put my recycling out, a fortnightly job; it was good to see him.

Here is a picture of a cat (and a bottle top) in front of the new Aga.