Sunday, May 31, 2015


Not much news. Little C, the equestrienne, is still in a lot of pain. Her mother suspects a certain amount of kick-back from the painkillers, as well. She'll phone the GP and ask for a visit first thing tomorrow.

My husband was crosser and more miserable than ever yesterday, which may mean that he is recovering from his infections. I will try to arrange interviews tomorrow both with his consultant (who proved unavailable on Friday) and with the Elderly Medicine drs who are now on his case. One thing we can be sure of is that the NHS is as keen to get rid of him as he of it. If they are not discharging him, they've got their reasons. And grim as this half-life is for me, I'm grateful that they're hanging on to him.

One bit of seriously good news: Archie, who is finishing off his exams this week (with Higher Spanish, I think), will then, next week, be doing some sort of unpaid toil somewhere in Edinburgh – and he wants to come here!

If my husband is home by then, Archie is strong enough to help with night-time nursing if needed. We'll employ some sort of help during the day. Better yet, Archie knows better, I think, than anyone else in the family except me, how very disagreeable my husband can be. Well, lots of them know, but Archie has experienced it recently. And he still wants to come!

Presumably because of our blindingly fast download speeds. Never mind. And if my husband isn't here, it'll be fun to have someone to cook for.


Jean, thank you for yesterday's comment. I didn't know about the convention of the umpire holding the bowler's sweater, and am glad to add it to my limited store of cricket lore. The letter I quoted from the Telegraph the other day was illustrated with a picture of Flintoff tossing his sweater to the umpire in, I believe, 2006.

We had a dear friend in Birmingham who knew more than anyone else ever about that mysterious game. We were his guests at Edgbaston the day Brian Lara was 501 not out. The really weird thing about that day (from an American point of view) was that there was not the slightest hope at any point that either team could win. For Warwickshire (for whom Lara played) to have had a prospect of victory, they would have had to declare at the end of the previous day's play.


On with the Fantoosh. I've finished the ten-lozenge rank of lozenges and have embarked on the next one. Should I just go on? But, as you can see from the sidebar, there's a long way to go. I'm calculating the percentages from the fact that there are 156 lozenges to knit – overlooking the facts that there is a top edging and blocking to follow.

Still, for the stressful moment, on is where I will go.


Last night and the night before, I watched my favourite Coen Bros film, “A Serious Man”. It only gets better with repetition. It is the Book of Job, recast for our days.  

Saturday, May 30, 2015


Little to report. I hope that silence from Little C. means that yesterday represented a bit of progress. I'll find out today. My husband was a bit more subdued yesterday, in bed instead of drooping in his chair when I got there. The visit therefore was somewhat less stressful – but how is he?

I had tried to arrange an appt with his consultant, but neither he nor his secretary could be reached yesterday morning. (If he spent the afternoon on the golf course, he will have got hailed on.) I spoke to a dr, roughly Lizzie's age, scantily dressed, and learned little.

At one point yesterday we thought he had actually been referred to the new Royal Victoria (link yesterday). Not so, I learned, but they are talking about it. He is under the care of the Elderly Medicine Unit. That's good news. He seems so much weaker than he was a month ago when all this started. Why? They were about to whisk him off yesterday when I left, for a scan of his head. Why?


Beth, I would have thought a bit of bagginess a useful quality in a cricket sweater (comments yesterday). The new one is suspiciously form-fitting. I was glad to be reminded, jeanfromcornwall, of the tradition of including a colour stripe in the ribbing. I think the only one I ever knit was for Thomas-the-Elder (last year's bridegroom) when he was perhaps nine. It was distinctly baggy, and certainly included colour stripes. I wonder if I could find a photograph.

The Fatoosh sped ahead last night – I managed to stay out of bed until nearly nine, a record for the current ordeal. I may be able to finish off the ten-lozenge row today. Then it's back to real life and multiple responsibilities. The secret of that row in which the twisted-rib pattern for the top of the lozenge is established, is to pay attention to the chart. Now I know.

I have been having trouble with Craftsy on my iPad, for reasons undiagnosed, so I didn't get to watch any more of Eunny on lace in the small hours of last night. I've signed up for a new sock class from Lara Neel which promises perfect fit. I have been putting my husband's shoes and socks on for him for the last few months, and have gained a new appreciation of my own knitting. And I have madelinetosh's new sock yarn in my sights, in the wonderful Whiskey Barrel shade I am using for the Sous Sous.


Friday, May 29, 2015


I agree with you, Tamar. “Little C” is a healthy young woman, not given to whinging. We've all of us come off a horse in our day. The pain seems excessive. She is at home with her mother (our niece C. with whom I recently went to Athens). She needs help getting from bed to bathroom. Our niece is a teacher, currently on half-term break. She has taken next week off on compassionate leave. I'll keep you posted.

My husband's problems are much as before. His excellent background team of relatives and friends have been considering whether moving him to a nursing home for rehabilitation would help. Someone came up with this, which sounds the perfect answer. I'll press during today's visit for more information. He remains very cross.


I've finished the eight-lozenge row of the Fantoosh and have embarked on the ten-lozenge one. Rows now seem very long and progress feels very slow, but I am now on the threshold of the row I found so difficult last time, and determined to get it right. I think when the ten-lozenges are done it will be time to fit the Fantoosh into a system which incorporates all the other things I am knitting.

The other other knitting news concerns a bit of English folk-knitting which I have long felt has been undeservedly neglected, namely the cricket sweater. England recently won a Test match against New Zealand, here in London, and only after it was over did the nation (including some of the players) explode in genteel wrath about the new Official Sweater.

It's pretty bad. Starting from the bottom, there's a red stripe before the ribbing. I congratulated myself anew for putting the red stripe inside Archie's new sweater, on the facing of the hem. Then the ribbing, and the traditional cables – but only as far as the underarm. The rest is plain, presumably to leave space for the sponsor's logo which is, I am embarrassed to tell you, the name of my favourite supermarket.

There was a letter in yesterday's Telegraph from a woman who has knit cricket sweaters for three generations of her family:

“I had noticed, while watching the latest Test match on television, that the cable pattern stopped half way up. I was puzzled as to the reason. If I lose a cable needle occasionally, the first place I look is down the side of the sofa, and if it's not there I replace it with a spare one.”

Thursday, May 28, 2015


“Little C” has been released from hospital, still with a lot of pain. She was even given some morphine to take home with her. I'm sure she'll be more comfortable soon, just for not being in hospital.

And so might my poor husband be, were he fit to be cared for at home. He seemed, in a sense, much better yesterday, absolutely determined to come home TODAY. The entire visit was spent discussing that point. I dread today.


Good old Meadow Yarn came up trump with my needles, as usual, and I suppose one must nod in the direction of the Royal Mail for actually achieving next-day delivery in return for the inordinate cost of a first class stamp. And the wooden needles do indeed grip the yarn better. I have nearly finished the eight-lozenge repeat of Chart B of the Fantoosh. There will be eight more repeats of Chart B to follow, each longer than the last – and the rows have already become slightly uncomfortably long.

The other knitting news is that a Japanese book of patterns involving cables arrived from Loop. They're having a Japanese moment, as you'll know if you're on their mailing list. I can't even tell you what my new book is called, because it's all in Japanese, but the patterns are wonderful and the photography, if possible, even more so.

I had a Japanese Phase some years ago, some will remember, during which I even knit an ear-flap hat (for James' and Cathy's daughter Rachel) from a Japanese pattern. Japanese patterning is very clear and logical, and I've got all the stuff explaining it here in one place. I think I could successfully puzzle out a pattern. And there are some tempting ones in this book.

The latest issue of Amirisu (which is bilingual) has an article about Loop, and an interview with someone from madelinetosh. I may succumb, although it's awfully expensive.


Fattoush wasn't very successful as an all-day meal. It's back to bean salad for today.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


“Little C”, the equestrian, is still in hospital, still in very considerable pain, still on morphine, but so far, as of late yesterday, no broken bone or damaged organ has been found responsible.

My husband was very weary when I saw him yesterday. Visiting hours coincide with what used to be our nap time, and we both suffer. He is still on antibiotics for both a chest and a urinary infection. He no longer had an oxygen tube up his nose – he said he had told them to remove it. That might explain some of his weariness and breathlessness. I'm going to try to talk to a dr today – although I suspect the wonderful ward nurse knows more than any of them.


One of you came to the door yesterday, just before Visiting Time, and left me a lavender plant and a wonderful glossy gardenia. She had been on the calendar for a long time. We had hoped to meet for a bit of LYS and lunch had circumstances been otherwise. The lavender is of a superb dark blue – they can be awfully peely-wally – and will I hope, one day not too far away, find a home in Strathardle.

The gardenia is a sensation. I doubt if I have seen one since high school days in New Jersey. I've looked it up and chosen what I hope is the best spot for it, best-of-a-bad-job, I'm afraid, in accordance with advice from the RHS – in the bedroom with my cactuses. It can't go out on our sunny doorstep, even on warmer days than this, because it doesn't like too much direct sunlight, the RHS says.


I've simply pressed on with the Fantoosh, ignoring the calls of reason. I'm now working on the 3rd repeat of Chart B – the one with eight lozenges.

Skeindalous, thanks for the maths. I think you've left out one repeat (not that the Knitting Police would shoot you for stopping at that point). The first two lozenges are established by the Setup Chart. There then follow eleven repeats of Chart B. So I think there'll be a whole other row, of 24 units, if you knit it as written.

But you've done the hard work, and I can and will use your results in my sidebar.

One of the rather gratifying things about the pattern is that the lower, st st portion of each lozenge is knit in the rank below (that's why you need a Setup Chart to start with). So my current eight lozenges are almost finished before I begin them.

I find the first row of the twisted rib which finishes off each lozenge, rather difficult to get through. That is a great incentive, of course, to polish off these eight and see if I can get it right-first-time for the ten which will follow. I ordered the needles from Meadow Yarn, and they have been dispatched. Today? I ordered one the length of the needle I am currently using, and another the length Kate Davies specifies. Even if they do come today, the shorter one may be too short.

It's a very clever pattern, very highly recommended.


I have established a system of life where I cook something for lunch and finish off eating it when I get back from the hospital, utterly exhausted, ready to fall into bed. Yesterday it was a potato salad of Jamie's, with some smoked trout. The day before that, a rice salad. Today I think I'll attempt a Fattoush. The coincidence of name is irresistible.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Another day, another dollar.

Our niece C. came with me on yesterday's hospital visit. We found my husband much as he had been on Sunday. He still had oxygen tubes up his nose. The antibiotics were no longer attached, but the machine was still there. The male nurse in charge of things, whom we love and trust, said that OT was holding off for a couple of days. Tamar, yes, oxygen saturation is being tested and “bloods” taken. C. thought he was a bit chirpier than when she visited with me last week.

Then a couple of hours after she dropped me back here, she phoned to say that her daughter (another C., I'm afraid; this threatens to get confusing) had been thrown from a horse and was conscious and waiting for an ambulance. She phoned again later in the evening to say that the younger C. was in the other major Edinburgh hospital, in considerable pain, being given morphine, in a neck brace and a pelvic brace, but able, at least, to wriggle fingers and toes.

And she phoned just now to say that her daughter has been admitted to an orthopedic ward. Initial xrays have come up clean, but she is still in a great deal of pain, still being given morphine.


Well, Fantoosh is wonderful. If anyone is holding back – I can't imagine it, but... – you must go ahead. It's hard enough to be fun. It's easy enough to be fun.

Kate D. is right – the lozenge pattern is easy to master. I had a bit more trouble with the question of how they connect to each other, but I think I'm getting on top of that one. I've finished the set-up chart, two lozenges, and the first iteration of the “proper” chart, another four. I've embarked on the six-lozenge row. There are another ten repeats of that chart to go, counting the one I'm doing, each one adding two more lozenges to the row.

I am irritated with myself for not being able to work out a simple arithmetic formula to tell me how many lozenges there will be altogether. Obviously, I can just write down a list of the repeats – 4,6,8,10,etc. – and add them up. But there must be a snappier approach.

I love the yarn. And the first thing I must do this morning is go off to Meadow Yarns and order a new KnitPro needle or two. I don't seem to have any in the right size – not surprising, with the number of WIPs I am piling up. It's surprising I have an available needle at all. But it's too shiny, and the yarn itself is sort of slippy. I'll be happier with the slight adhesiveness of wood.

Scifiknitter, I suspect you're right that it's going to be impossible to drop Fantoosh from the Active WIP list. Here they all are:

A system will be required. The late, great Judy Sumner used to have a different WIP for every day of the week. I'm getting dangerously near that position.

(Scifiknitter, a friend called around last week to tell us that his girlfriend, a woman I suppose in her 50's, has a rare form of lung cancer. She is Dutch, living in Amsterdam, and has been enrolled in the trial of a new drug in which not many people are involved, world-wide. I wonder if you and Lieke are trying the same thing? So far, Jimmy said, she's doing well – it seems to have stopped the disease in its tracks.)

Monday, May 25, 2015

My husband was less well yesterday. He had apparently fainted, or nearly fainted, when being helped back to bed after his shower on Saturday (they didn't tell us) and again yesterday. He has been checked over from head to toe. He told me and Helen himself that he had had another chest xray on Saturday, and we were puzzled. Yesterday he was being given oxygen again, and an intravenous antibiotic. There is some infection, lung and urinary, and some fever, the excellent nurse explained. Oxygen saturation is OK.

I think “incarceration” is the word, Shandy. He certainly regards his time in hospital as imprisonment. And “rehab” will do fine as the word for the next stage. There has been some talk of moving him to a ward dedicated to that purpose, or even to a different establishment. I was told to bring in clothes for him today so that he can demonstrate to the Occupational Therapist his ability to put (at least some of) them on. I am afraid he will regard that undertaking as “social work” and be extremely bad tempered.

I am sure the NHS is as eager to get rid of him as he is of it.

Alas, that epistle about the Medes and the Elamites was badly read in Leith yesterday, as it often is, even in the cathedral we used to attend. Maybe I'll have better luck next year.


I got on well with Fantoosh yesterday. The garter tab worked fine with an ordinary, un-crocheted cast-on. I have nearly finished the set-up chart which establishes the first two tesserae. That's not the right word: the first two lozenges or tiles. Kate Davies says that the pattern is easily memorised. At first I thought she had overestimated me, but I am beginning to think she might be right. I'm afraid I'm going to have to go on to the next, four-lozenge rank.

But then I must stop and finish at least one of the other things.

I plucked Nancy Bush's “Knitted Lace of Estonia” from the shelf – it was actually in the right place. And found everything to be as she said in the Craftsy lessons. Modern Estonian knitters now sometimes knit the edging on (since the invention of circular needles) but the traditional way is to sew it on – in two long pieces for the big square or rectangular shawls. And to use a single length of yarn to do it.

The pattern of three-for-one and two-for-one as you sew applies mostly at the corners. I hadn't grasped that on Craftsy, where one progresses fairly rapidly from one corner to the next on the small sample shawl. And Bush admits that a bit of fudging may be necessary to ensure that a scallop is properly centred at each corner.

And meanwhile I'm getting on fine with Eunny Jang and lace. We started out with basic left-leaning and right-leaning meshs and have now progressed into slightly more advanced lace patterns, where the YO's are separate from the decreases. But we are still keeping the building blocks in sight. This is relevant both to the Tokyo shawl and to Fantoosh, and really rather interesting.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I got some things done yesterday – not many, but some, including winding (but not casting on) a skein of Old Maiden Aunt's wonderful yarn. Now I'm alone – Greek Helen and her son Archie are on their way back to Athens. It is fun to feed him. We had bean salad and fresh tuna for lunch yesterday, and Jamie Oliver's Pasta Peperonata for supper. No left-overs.

I won't get much done today. I have given up the practice of religion since all this started, but I think I will turn out this morning. It's Pentecost, and I love that list of all the places people came from, who heard the Apostles preaching in their own languages. Medes and Elamites...and the parts of Libya around Cyrene.

There was once an old woman who enthused to her priest about “that blessed word Mesopotamia”. That's how I feel about the Medes and the Elamites.

This will be the first time, in his second incarceration, that I have gone alone to visit my husband. I think he is half-resigned to the fact that I am not going to act against NHS opinion and try to get him out before they're ready to release him. But I am sure he will have something to say on the subject today. He is very weak. We are all hoping that energetic physiotherapy can make a difference soon.

Largely knitting

Mary Lou, I once had supper with Lily Chin, at or after Camp Stitches on the shores of Lake George in 2001 or some such year. I'm not trying to trump you – I'd much rather dine with Nancy Bush. Zite produced the video the other day of Lily crocheting that sweater for Letterman. She has weathered the intervening 15 years rather better than I have.

I remember her appearance on Franklin's brilliant list of stasher movies. For what it's worth, Safari on my iPad couldn't find that reference. I tried several approaches. Google had not the slightest difficulty.

Somewhere in the last few days I have read the words of someone – Tom of Holland? – who enjoys winding wool for the chance it gives him (I'm pretty sure it was a man writing) to get acquainted with the yarn. That's rather how I feel. I thought about colour as I was winding yesterday. This beautiful yarn is 70% alpaca, 20% silk, 10% cashmere. I believe that cashmere is not very good for colour – I believe that because I was so disappointed when I first saw cashmere Koigu. All the sparkle and glow was missing. And one certainly couldn't blame the dyers' skill.

Silk takes colour most wonderfully of all. So what about alpaca? Does it count as wool (which is of course splendid for colour)? But alpaca is sort of a goat, like cashmere, isn't it? Have I made too hasty a judgement about cashmere? The world is full of interesting questions.

I continue to keep myself company with Craftsy. When I've finished Eunny on lace I mean to go on to cables. Eunny was telling me yesterday about stretchy cast-on's for lace, and I thought of the wisdom of the system I prefer for Shetland shawls, where the only cast-on or bind-off is 20 stitches or so for the edging. (Pick up stitches for the borders from the long, straight edge of the edging; knit the borders inwards; knit the centre back and forth, taking in stitches from the adjacent borders; graft the final centre stitches to the live stitches of the fourth border. I don't mind grafting.)

But what I also wanted to mention was Bush's lesson about attaching the edging to an Estonian shawl. It's sewn on, with a complicated system of gathering in the edging to fit – 3 to 1, 2 to 1, or 1 to 1. The materials for the Craftsy sample shawl specified the sequence precisely, and needless to say, when Bush did it, it came out precisely right. It wouldn't for me, I'm sure. And it also seems unlikely that Estonian knitters have the scheme written out for them. I must look at her book.

But the thing that really puzzled me was that the sewing-on was done with a single length of yarn. You leave it attached to the ball and pull it through. It worked fine for the small sample shawl. But could you do that on a full-sized one? Again, I must look at the book.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

My husband will be in hospital for another few days. I gather that not much is wrong medically, but he is conspicuously weaker than he was during those – fairly horrendous – two days at home last week. We were present yesterday to watch him being moved from chair to bed, the space of a few inches, by two nurses. I couldn't manage with anything less than 24-hour help.

I wouldn't say that he is resigned to it, but he has realised that simple fury is not going to suffice to get him out. A physiotherapist explained to him yesterday that going home now, even with care, would probably result in his sinking further. Daily physiotherapy at the hospital for a while is much more likely to be productive of results.

Rachel and Ed were here yesterday, as well as Greek Helen. They had long planned to spend this weekend on Loch Fyne tasting possible wines for the wedding – Matt and Hellie are coming up, too. I suspect a good time will be had by all. Rachel and Ed both managed to get an extra day off work so that they could come here first to visit my husband. They went west yesterday evening. Greek Helen is still here – she and Archie (because it's half-term) are flying back to Athens tomorrow on that early EasyJet flight of happy memory.


However, that's not really the news.

It is this: one of you gave me the Fantoosh pattern, through Ravelry. I have sent a message of thanks by the same means, which I hope she has received. I have printed and studied the pattern.

And someone else has anonymously paid Old Maiden Aunt for the yarn. I've had an email from Paypal to say that my payment has been refunded. A Random Act of Kindness, the donor said.

It is impossible to express my feelings about this kindness. I showed the note from PayPal to Greek Helen this morning, and saw tears in her eyes. That's how I feel, too. Thank you and thank you and thank you.

And I think I will allow myself to wind the yarn and start the shawl this morning – although after that, I will have to lay it aside until something is finished. It begins – Kate D., how could you? – with a four-link crochet chain in waste yarn, the foundation of a garter tab.

Well, as it happens, I've done a garter tab with Stephen West. He starts by casting on three stitches. Kate Davies wants me to pick up only two from that chain. I'll try casting on – I have searing memories of crochet chains and waste yarn and agonised unpicking. Maybe casting on won't work for only two stitches, but that's what I'll try first. (You then knit six rows, then pick up stitches down the side and across the cast-on edge – or, in Kate D's case, you whip out the chain and knit the two live stitches.)

Whatever, it won't take long. I'll report back soon. If casting on doesn't work, I must have a crochet hook here somewhere. I resolved yesterday that if my husband is going to be safely incarcerated for the next few days, as appears to be the case, I must make better use of my few remaining mornings. Up to now, I have been spending them, one could almost say, huddled in terror at the prospect of the afternoon's hospital visit, and then flinging myself into bed, exhausted, on arrival home.

I've been having a very nice time with Craftsy, when I wake up at 4 a.m. after the above procedure. I've finished Nancy Bush and her nupps and gone on to Eunny Jang and lace. She's engagingly enthusiastic. Her name is pronounced “Oony”. I think I had been wondering if there would be a “y” sound in there.

Bush's sample Estonian shawl was beautiful. I'm tempted. I have something to say about the way the edging is attached, but perhaps that's better left for tomorrow.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I am grateful, again, for all your sympathy and advice. It had already (but only just) occurred to us that some sort of tranquilliser might soften my husband's mood and make life easier for all. Greek Helen is trying to consult the GP – he didn't have a telephone slot available yesterday. She will be here in propria persona this afternoon – that'll be wonderful. Something involving tofu and aubergine, I think, for supper.

I felt greatly strengthened by my day off yesterday, and Alexander reported that the visit wasn't as bad as he expected.

This afternoon someone from a private care firm is coming in to assess us. We had someone else of that sort on Tuesday – but they haven't been able to specify a starting date yet.


Yesterday evening I finally found an Old Maiden Aunt shade in the right yarn which was in stock – and which didn't bat me away when I tried to order two skeins. It's called “Hebridean” I think, and it's on its way. Now I'll have to buy the pattern and knit it!

I'm enjoying Nancy Bush's class. She's lovely, like someone I might have known in college. I like the oatmeal-y yarn she's using for the sample shawl, to the extent that I feel tempted to root around in stash and see if I could find something that might do. That would be ridiculous. I've got more than enough knitting already, with more on the way. The Tokyo shawl moved forward nicely yesterday.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Yesterday's hospital visit was very tough, despite the comforting and sensible presence of a dear friend. My poor husband, bad-tempered throughout life, has always been able to impose his will in a crisis by upping the bad temper to the top level. This time, no, and the result is distressing for all of us, himself of course included.

A care provider came to assess him while we were there yesterday. They could start functioning in the middle of next week. The NHS may be able to provide a “bridge”, the excellent ward nurse said. My husband was listening to all of this but doesn't seem to grasp that we're on his side and trying as hard as we can to get him out.

Alexander is coming over to visit again today, and I think I will stay away. It will be fully as stressful as going, and I'll pay for it tomorrow,

“Care” at its best will only be five or six hours out of the 24. I'm not much looking forward to the rest of my life. I don't mind changing sheets in the middle of the night. It's the bad temper I dread We shall see.

Somewhere, I feel, in Jane Austen, is the notion that women in that sensible century considered the temper of a man they thought of marrying, much as they might consider that of a horse they were thinking of buying. Not a bad idea. But I can't refer you to the passage.


I am progressing happily with the Tokyo shawl, much helped by my own struggles to help the one of you who wrote to me. I think, if anybody else is currently involved, that the thing is to have the markers separate out the 50-stitch section which has a YO at one end and a k2tog – or k2togtbl – at the other, and leave the 20-stitch stretch in between with no excitement. I had been thinking of it differently – k20, k2tog, k48, yo... No, it's all too confusing.

Old Maiden Aunt is clearly working flat out to dye yarn for Kate Davies' wonderful new Fantoosh shawl. This might have been anticipated, I feel. I'll keep watching. I'm hoping for something in the greeny-grey spectrum but red-ish wouldn't be despised.

I've been spending a certain amount of time with Craftsy recently. I've recently watched Gudrun Johnston's class on the hap shawl all the way through. I don't think I exactly learned anything, but I was greatly attracted by the notion of doing something simple, properly.

I was struck by the fact that in the lessons she was dropping-and-throwing much as I do. Surely she doesn't do that at home in Shetland. Presumably the Craftsy people decided that the proper Shetland way of knitting would be too blazingly fast for us mortals. This is probably the moment when I should watch Hazel Tindall's DVD, bought some time ago.

I am tempted to go on to Nancy Bush's class on Estonian lace. I regard bobbles as against my religion, and regard nupps in the same category. I can do them, well enough, it's just that – no. But Bush of course is something of a world expert in Estonian lace, and Estonian lace means nupps.

I think I'll go ahead.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

We stagger on. And, indeed, thanks largely to Greek Helen and Ketki, much progress is being made about putting together a private care package. If we wait until the NHS does it, my husband might have to stay in hospital for further weeks. Someone called Angela from a nursing agency is coming to assess him this afternoon, during visiting hours while I am there. Someone else on Thursday.

Visiting remains harrowing. Alexander and Ketki came over from Loch Fyne yesterday. Alexander found it tough going, I think, and he had seen his father only the week before during his first incarceration.


Old Maiden Aunt rivals the Cheshire Cat – or do I mean the White Queen? Jam yesterday and jam tomorrow. I've been to the website regularly, and both last night and this morning have found stock available in several more-than-acceptable colourways. But, each time, only one skein.

I went back to Kate's original blog post on the subject of the Fantoosh. Maybe one would be enough? I could knit the smaller version? But no, that won't do. I want two skeins. I want envelopment.

A bit of knitting has been going on here, not as much as you might think given the amount of (theoretical) free time. One of you wrote to me the other day about problems with the Tokyo shawl (which everybody else, at least on Ravelry, seems to regard as “mindless”; I was glad to find a friend in misery). And I do believe that in trying to think it through with her, I may have made some discoveries which will make it easier for myself.

I'm nearly halfway through, according to the pattern. You would, indeed, think I might have mastered it by now. One of the Ravelry knitters said she had yarn left over and so decided to lengthen the shawl, and was glad she did. Sounds sensible, and I will remember.


I also log on regularly to Gumtree, looking for kittens. No luck yet.

I think I have come to believe, these last few days, that if I were going to be hanged at 2 p.m. I would find the clock moving towards that moment astonishingly slowly. Whereas one might have expected the opposite. I hope the hypothesis will never be put to the test. I was horrified to learn the other day that Massachusetts – Massachusetts – still has the death penalty.

(If any of you needs persuading on the subject, read Brendan Behan's play The Quare Fellow.)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Dear Friends,

I have been enormously grateful for your messages of sympathy and encouragement.

After 48 fairly horrendous hours, my husband was taken back into hospital on Friday – not chest-infection this time, but urology. My own diagnosis, for what it's worth, is that the first set of drs sent him forth into the world seriously constipated from which resulted a number of unpleasant consequences. In My Day, drs were passionately concerned about the state of one's bowels no matter which other organ was their primary focus of interest. Nowadays, not so, according to my husband. He says that no questions were asked on that subject at all during his first admission.

James came up from London on Friday for a weekend of visiting and support. Thanks to the miracles of mobile telephony, I was able to intercept him en route and send him directly from the station to the hospital, where he found us sitting around in an assessment bay. We remained there for many hours. The NHS has redefined the meaning of the word “soon” – another observation of my husband's.

He was finally admitted to a ward, with a catheter.

Yesterday James and I found him furious that he was not being released. He is scheduled for discharge on Tuesday – not the end of the world, for heaven's sake. He thought he had agreed that he would stay in overnight, and be let out if the blood tests were no worse than the evening before.

Yesterday's visit was grim. He harangued us on this topic for over an hour. I was very glad that James was there. I phoned our niece C. last night – the daughter of my husband's beloved sister – and she happily agreed to accompany me on today's visit. (She and I went to Greece together recently – she's the one.) Alexander is coming over tomorrow, when C. will be back at work. And on Tuesday he will be released.

So that's where we are. I sort of think we navigated a bend in the river, yesterday. I can't at all say what it looks like downstream. James has gone back to London.


I finished the fifth pocket square on Friday as we sat about in Assessment – and cast on the sixth. Of eight. Serious progress.

I keep logging on to Old Maiden Aunt, but so far I have found no supplies of the yarn needed for Kate Davies' wonderful Fantoosh. When the yarn finally turns up, I'll have to order it, and the pattern, if only to commemorate this crisis in our lives.

From Zite, these knitted cactuses. I'm having a sort of cactus phase at the moment so this is particularly welcome. But I like this sort of knitting in general – although I don't like doing it.

Arne & Carlos have done a “Summer Night” yarn for Regia. Very tempting, but my next purchase of sock yarn is going to be madelinetosh Whiskey Barrel in their new sock-compatible yarn, for my husband.

Zite also had a link to the Future Museum of South West Scotland. That's a link to the knitting section of the website. Here is a much more interesting link to the section on Sanquhar knitting in particular. I've never been to Sanquhar, but I remember the turn-off sign somewhere in the long, desolate stretch between Glasgow and the Border, when we used to drive every so often from Perthshire to Birmingham. I've never attempted any Sanquhar knitting, either.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Things are tough here. We're trying to import some nursing help. I'll resume blogging as soon as I can.

It's great news that Old Maiden Aunt is addressing the problem of providing yarn for Kate Davies' wonderful Fantoosh. Slightly behind the curve, perhaps.

Less good news is that we have heard nothing back from those kittens. Perhaps the whole litter had been disposed of and they didn't bother taking the ad down.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My husband is coming home from hospital this afternoon. I am seriously apprehensive but we can't go on like this forever. A district nurse will come in twice a day, at least at first, to give him his insulin injections. I'll ring the GP's office soon in the hopes of hearing that arrangement confirmed. An ambulance will bring us home, obviating several problems.

Maybe when he is here I will be able to formulate what sort of “help” and “care” we need, if any. Other than a 24-hour resident daughter or sister or son or friend.

On a more optimistic note, we may have found a cat. There is a website called Gumtree where people advertise cats. The sort of cats which in My Day they were grateful to you for taking away and which now cost silly prices. I had visited the site several times without spotting the kitten Greek Helen saw yesterday. I have emailed the owner and am waiting to hear. It's not old enough to leave its mother yet. It lives in an Edinburgh suburb. It might be possible – on the idea several of you have suggested, of having two indoor cats to keep each other company – to get her sister as well.

Amelia, yours is a very good point, which hadn't occurred to me: that we are old, and today's kitten might well outlive us. I think I can trust our family on this point. Except for Greek Helen who has gone over to the Dark Side and got herself a dog. But it would be a good idea to speak to them specifically on the subject. (James and Cathy, remember, have moved their cat from Beijing to Sydenham at no small expense and inconvenience; they know what's important.)


I did a bit more of that Tokyo shawl stripe yesterday. Once my husband is here we will surely revert to Mindless Television – I have scarcely had the thing on since he left – and more knitting will be done.

A new post from Kate Davies! I thought maybe she was going to offer some advice and comfort to those of us who love her Fantoosh shawl and are frustrated by not being able to buy the yarn. But no! It was about her new raised beds, which are indeed enviable.

The new issue of Knitting magazine has an interesting article about Annette Bugansky who renders knitting in porcelain. I was interested to read about how and why a plaster mould becomes blurred and unusable after a number of pots have been cast from it. I have some china of my mother's, probably wedding presents – and a few of the pieces are noticeably blurred. Presumably she was replacing breakages, and presumably Lenox went on using their moulds for a little too long. It is rather gratifying to find a (possible) explanation for something that had long (slightly) puzzled me.

And, goodness, I'd like one of one of Bugansky's Yarn Ball Yarn Bowls. It probably costs even more than a kitten. The link includes an interesting video of the making of it. The finished object is clearly bigger than one might otherwise think from still photographs. You could probably get two balls of yarn in there. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My husband is much better, and will probably be released into the world today or tomorrow. Alexander and Ketki both turned up yesterday. We saw a (12-year-old) dr who said there was no more medical reason for holding on to him – lungs are as clear as they're going to be, oxygen saturation good. We saw a physiotherapist who was also pleased with him.

I remain confused as to what sort of assessment of our living arrangements will be carried out, if any. One thing we certainly achieved yesterday was to tell the nursing staff to start letting him inject his own insulin. That worries me quite a bit, wondering whether he can still manage it, and is not an issue which can be postponed for even a day.

So we shall see. They can't turn him out until I get there with his trousers.

Moorecat, bless you for yesterday's comment. Yes, I used to knit in the morning, at least during that half-hour after taking the osteoporosis pill (now stopped). One had to take it first thing, eat nothing, remain upright. Lots of people do useful things like ironing or having a shower. I used to knit. And yesterday I did again, and very welcome it was. I'm halfway through the next big stripe on the Tokyo Shawl.

It's supposed to be mindless knitting, but I continue not to find it so. The pattern is very simple: k20, k2tog, k48, yo. Repeat. But alternate stripes are reversed, and I continue to find the switching difficult. There are divagations in what should be the elegant curved lines of eyelets, and a blip or two among the easier decreases. Nothing to worry about, but I am irritated at myself.


Many thanks for comments. We have always had a female cat, and tend to believe that allowing her a couple of litters before being spayed leaves her sharper-witted in middle life. Also it's fun to have a drawer-ful of kittens. But that may be over-ambitious in old age, and the question of who is to father the kittens when we don't plan to let her out is indeed a serious one.

Getting two cats is not a bad idea.

Roman Catholicism and a love of cats were the two points of compatibility my husband and I had established before marriage in 1957 and pretty well remain the only two, 58 years later.

Monday, May 11, 2015

My husband seemed a bit better yesterday; certainly no worse. He lies there thinking about things we can do to the house, many of which terrify me. We mustn't drift, he says. Why not? Knocking through the kitchen into the small adjacent lavatory is one of his ideas. Men in! Expense! To what end? His proposed modifications to our bed are even more alarming. And he wants us to order in meals.

But he also thinks we should get a cat.

I'll work on that one. We have held back, all these years, because we disapprove of keeping cats indoors as we would have to do because our front door opens, more or less, on the street. We have very high standards and it may not be easy to find the perfect kitten. Tortoiseshell-and-white, no older than seven weeks at the very most, un-spayed.

I'll check on oxygen saturation today. I've looked at his notes, Shandy, without finding anything about estimated-date-of-release. He says I'm not supposed to look. I say – surely rightly – Freedom of Information.

Alexander is coming over today, which will help a lot. I am to ring the ward after 11 and tell them that I want to talk to a dr when I turn up for visiting. Alexander planned his visit not knowing that. It will be very good to have him there with me.


Another day yesterday of none, zilch. I feel it's rather wicked to knit in the morning. And when I get back from the hospital after afternoon visiting, all I can manage is a bite to eat, perhaps, and then blessed bed. At what my husband would regard as teatime.

I continue with my Craftsy course with Clara Parkes, however – it's all right, for some reason, to do that in the morning – and indeed am reinforcing it with her book “The Knitter's Book of Wool” which I have got but had not spent much time with. The course seems to boil down to the advice to trust the instincts you have acquired in a lifetime of knitting – I would recommend it nonetheless.

As for the wonderful Fantoosh, I think I have concluded that none of Old Maiden Aunt's colours are available at the moment in the alpaca-silk-cashmere Kate Davies prescribes. So what I'll do is choose a colour, or colour range – I've done that, actually – and go back from time to time to see if there's any yarn for me. Meanwhile, stash is not enhanced and that's a good thing.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

My husband seemed slightly less well yesterday – wearier, more breathless (but still no oxygen), slightly confused. I must talk to a dr a.s.a.p. Helen and I drew up a list of questions for him last night.  I will apply for one as soon as I get to the hospital this afternoon. She is now halfway back to Athens, if all is well with EasyJet. I miss her a lot, and it's only 9:15.

We had a nice lunch with Archie yesterday, before the hospital visit. I hadn't provided nearly enough food, though. I made a potato salad with Jersey Royals to go with Nigella's crab salad and it was delicious but he could have eaten a lot more. It was nice to sit down with him without my husband looming over the table. He is very hard on Archie.

A-S Levels for him next week. He seemed in good spirits.


I'm sorry about Mr Miliband. I like him. Rachel sent me this picture, without comment, in January, 2011.

I posted it here with the remark: “Joe is supposed to be in Nottingham, in his penultimate term at the university there. The Little Boys are supposed to be in school at Strachur, on the shore of Loch Fyne. Mr. Miliband is supposed to be leading the Labour Party. Where on earth are they? A London tube station under reconstruction? Is Mr. Miliband really that much taller than Joe? Many questions remain to be answered.”

The answer (at least to some of the questions) was that Joe was taking the Little Boys to the Science Museum when they spotted Mr Miliband in Victoria Station. His security man must have taken the picture. He has been in my good books ever since.

Having retrieved the picture, I spent a while reading my account of January, 2011. It was bitterly cold. My husband's sister was dying. I was knitting EZ's Round the Bend and was right to be dubious about my choice of yarns.

I also rediscovered this link to a Japanese game which will tell you your brain-age. I am now in my late thirties, I'm afraid. I see that in 2011 I was able to get it down to 29, with practice.

I did a little knitting yesterday, not much – a few rows of the fifth pocket square. Again, resolutions to do better today.

I think I would have taken the plunge and ordered Kate Davies' Fantoosh shawl with yarn from Old Maiden Aunt yesterday, just for cheerfulness' sake, had she had any yarn to sell, but there was none in any of the shades I fancied. I suspect she has reached the point where she has got to give serious thought to taking on some staff and increasing the scale of the operation. There is a group on Ravelry in which she posts news of what she is dyeing at the moment – the silk-cashmere-alpaca for the shawl is not part of the immediate program. And Kate's new pattern is going to bring a lot of potential customers to her door.

Both “dying” and “dyeing” in the same post – well done, Jean, assuming I've got them right.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

All continues well. I don't think there's any danger of my husband being turned out into the street before we're ready at this end. I am more concerned now about getting the “care package” started. It won't be good for him to hang around there too long.

Meanwhile nothing much is getting done here. I've had time to knit a sweater or at least write a book, but nothing seems to be happening. Our friend G came around yesterday evening after Greek Helen had been back to the hospital for evening visiting, and we had a tasty mushroom risotto (if I do say so). Helen is virtually a vegetarian. My husband, on the other hand, has long believed that he will melt away if he doesn't get animal protein to eat twice a day. We are making hay while the sun shines.


Two lovely links to follow in yesterday's comments. China Doll offers this unusual take on the election – not knitting, admittedly. I can guarantee that it won't offend whatever your politics.

And Kate Davies has published her new shawl! as Southern Gal says. What is it about shawls this week? It's a stunner. The link is to her blog entry. Not the least of the attractions is the yarn she uses – Old Maiden Aunt's alpaca-silk-and-cashmere.

And not least of the attractions of the yarn are the wonderful names for the colours. I am a sucker for that sort of thing. “Derelict daughter”, “famous blue raincoat”, “green's last gasp”.

Helen will be gone on the early EasyJet flight tomorrow. I'll miss her. I hope to get some knitting done today. She's going to fetch Archie from school and bring him here for lunch (a crab and avocado salad of Nigella's) and then to the hospital for visiting.

Friday, May 08, 2015

All continues well. Greek Helen is safely here. My anxiety now focuses on the possibility that the hospital will discharge my husband before an adequate care plan is in place, but I am assured that that won't happen. He continues better, but he's very weak and I couldn't cope.

End of War

There was memorable story in the New Yorker a few years ago by William Styron, ostensibly a first-person account of his experience on a Pacific island being prepared for the invasion of mainland Japan. It would have been awful; it is as well to be reminded. Old women would have met them in the streets with their knitting needles. At the end of the story he decides to shoot himself when the order comes to move. There the story ends. He doesn't explain why that didn't happen, why he lived to be an old man. But we all know why.

I looked Styron up after reading it. I think he never got further than California himself, about to embark. The story was fiction.

And speaking of the war, I am currently reading Kate Atkinson's new book, A God in Ruins. Very highly recommended. The thesis is a simple one, has no one done it before? (Don't worry: no spoilers here.) The hero is a good man, born in the 20's, growing up in the 30's, wanting to be a writer, knocking about Europe a bit, finally, reluctantly, following his father into The Bank.

Then the War, and he embraces with enthusiasm the chance to leave the Bank and join the RAF. Where he spends the next few years smashing up Europe and expecting every day to be his last, but none of them are. The book is about Afterwards. I think Atkinson must have talked to pilots who survived, it is so vivid.


Susan, thank you for the link to the Dreambird shawl. Gosh, yes. And, Syd, thanks for the thumbs-up on Carol Fuller's short-rows class. I'll remember. I didn't do any knitting yesterday, but I did watch Lesson Two in my yarn course. The instructor is Clara Parkes, and she's very good – like all Craftsy instructors, in my experience.

Yesterday we did protein fibres – everything emanating from sheep, goats, camelids, and rabbits.


I'm really rather pleased about the outcome of the election. It looks as if the Conservatives have a precarious but real majority – not a hung parliament after all. I wonder if it was fear of the SNP which prompted people in England to vote Conservative in greater numbers than the polls predicted. I lost my bet about Alex Salmond. Our thoroughly satisfactory local Labour MP lost his seat to a toothy girl. God knows what will happen to Scotland now.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

The news continues good. My husband was actually in the lavatory when I got there yesterday, and tottered back to his chair – not to bed – on his own feet, with the help of a nurse and a zimmer frame. And no oxygen tube. I gather the hospital occupational therapist is actually going to come here and inspect our arrangements before they let him out. And Greek Helen will be here today to take things in hand.

And today is VE-Day. I learned a lot, 20 years ago, when the 50th anniversary was celebrated. The Queen Mother came out onto that Buckingham Palace balcony, as she had in '45 with her husband. For a while alone, in '95, and then flanked by her daughters. Vera Lynn sang about the White Cliffs of Dover. And I thought, gosh, this is wonderful – what will they do in August? when the war actually ended? The answer was, virtually nothing.

It's understandable – but it was a lesson learned, for me. My husband was serving in the Far East at the time, as I've mentioned here before. He believes that the bomb that fell on Hiroshima saved his life – he was about to be parachuted into Singapore. There is a lot that he and I don't agree about (he has the Marshall Plan somehow mixed up with WWI war debt), but we both remember that the war ended in August, not in May.

A nice man I sat next to in that glum queue at the Eye Pavilion on Tuesday had travelled and worked in the US – I can't remember his position on pocket squares. He mentioned Utah, so I told him how I went swimming in the Great Salt Lake the day the war started, and how my father told me to remember the day. He wasn't born until '45, himself, and seemed flatteringly impressed that I could remember 1939.


I did a bit of knitting yesterday, although this odd life is not as productive as one might hope. I've resumed the Tokyo shawl.

I thought this would be a good time to get back to Craftsy – but I didn't want lessons that would require me to do anything. So I signed up for Know Your Yarn and have enjoyed and perhaps benefited from the first lesson about crimp and staple.

And then this morning they emailed me about the Short Rows Fantasy shawl pattern which I bought at once. As if I needed a shawl pattern, but, gosh! So maybe I'd better sign up for Carol Fuller's (I think it's her) Craftsy class about short rows.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

My husband seemed very much better yesterday, and my eyesight has been miraculously restored.

He has been moved to an ordinary ward where almost everyone has one of our names – Thomas, James, Alexander. There is also a “John”, I'm afraid, who rather spoils the pattern.

He had been shaved, and they have restored the madelinetosh sleeveless vest in which he was admitted which means he doesn't have to cower under the hospital cotton blanket for warmth – but he is also breathing and talking much more freely. He still has an oxygen tube up his nose, but, hey! one can bring oxygen home with one.

You are right – and thank you, thank you again for all the comments – that we need a good deal of help about the Business of Life before he comes back here. He seemed so much better yesterday that I was a bit afraid that they might suddenly discharge him into the void – but surely not. SisterHelen and our diabetic son James both think that he shouldn't be responsible in the future for his own blood-sugar-testing and insulin-injecting; I'll need someone (not him) to teach me about that as about much else.

He went in in hand-knit socks (of course). Yesterday he was wearing these:

My own appearance is due at least in part to the fact that rough winds were shaking the darling buds of May.

Our dear friend G magically found us in the new ward, spoke a few stern words to my husband about the need to vote for Mark Lazarovicz tomorrow (she holds his proxy), and whisked me off to the Eye Pavilion. The appt was for 4:45. The place was virtually deserted. But when we got to the appropriate corridor on the 4th floor, it was lined with a desolate queue of patients. It turned out that half of them were waiting for a consultant who hadn't arrived, the other half for laser treatment. The latter queue, fortunately including me, moved forward slowly but steadily.

None of them seemed to have heard of “pocket squares” any more than I had a few weeks ago, but they were polite about it. One of them said she used to knit but had given it up because no one seemed to appreciate hand-knitting these days. I said, they still like socks.

Dr Ali Miqdad AJ Al-Ani, when I finally met him, I liked a lot. Not a man to droop at the end of the day, nor to be diminished by Ramadan, if relevant. The treatment was brief and painless, the improvement astonishing. My “bad eye” has been carrying the load for months. One could almost hear the mental gears grinding, as we left the Eye Pavilion and the right eye took over again.

Greek Helen is coming tomorrow – EasyJet does the Edinburgh-Athens round-trip twice a week, on Thursday and Sunday. I've got to get her on to our car insurance today if I can, and also to sort out my RBS bank card which has suddenly stopped functioning. I have logged on and had a look – the money is still there. I think I'll walk up to the former bank headquarters in St Andrew's Square – before Goodwin's Folly was built at Gogarburn. Phoning the insurance people will be tedious enough. I don't like the telephone.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Thank you for all your kind messages, very much indeed.

My husband is making progress, I think, although not as briskly as I might have hoped. He is on a course of (fairly strong, I presume) antibiotics for the chest infection. That will finish this weekend, and it is entirely possible that he will feel more sprightly when it is done. I am to bring in slippers today – that's progress. He has been completely bedridden for five days now (counting today) and muscles must be wasting.

My sister was here when it all happened, thank goodness. In some ways Thursday was the worst, when he was visibly weaker than usual and lacking in appetite. I even asked if she could stay a few days longer. But on Friday morning it was obvious I had to call the dr and from there on out we were in the capable hands of the NHS.

I think we've arranged an Emergency Proxy Vote for him. It is greatly to the credit of British democracy, I feel, that there is provision for such a thing. Of course there's proxy voting, and postal voting (rather too much, if you listen to me). But there is also a special provision for people who are struck down in the last few days before a poll.

The only difficulty is, he wants to vote SNP. We've still got 48 hours to talk sense to him. I wish he could have seen the news last night. A perfectly harmless Labour election rally on the streets of Glasgow – involving their new leader, Jim Murphy, whom I'm rather keen on – had to be abandoned in the face of an aggressive-bordering-on-violent SNP attack. Then we saw Sturgeon saying it was nothing to do with her. I couldn't be the only one to have had a brief flicker in which I thought of Germany in the 30's. Austerity, financial crisis, it's-all-their-fault: the elements are familiar.

They'll probably come and get me before lunchtime.

Let's switch to knitting.

We had excellent pictures on Sunday of the new princess. Googling reveals that the shawl comes from the same firm (G.H. Hurt in Nottingham) as the one her brother was carried home in, and may indeed be the same shawl. The Mail says that one was presented to the royals when Prince Charles was born – that happened in Buckingham Palace, I think, so he didn't have to be carried anywhere. And then there was another for Prince William.

But Googling this morning produces nothing, zilch, nada, about that cap. It must be hand-knit, and it's very neat. Her elder brother Prince George was born in July and went home bare-headed. The knitosphere will inform us shortly, I'm sure. Let me know when you spot anything.

As for me, not much. Hospital visiting is enormously tiring, as you say. I come home and go to bed at 7 and then wake up in the early hours. I did a bit better yesterday (stayed up until 8) and finished off the 7th pattern repeat (of 10) on the back of the Sous Sous. Time to switch back to the Tokyo shawl.

Alexander is coming back today for another visit to his father, and today is the day for my cloudy eye to be laser-treated. It's all go.

Monday, May 04, 2015

A week is a long time in politics, in knitting, in life.

My husband is in the Western Infirmary with a chest infection. He has a chronic lung condition, pulmonary fibrosis; an infection on top of that is not good news. He subsided last Thursday, even feebler than usual, lacking in appetite. By Friday morning he was clearly in need of help. I phoned the GP. A member of the practice (not known to us, but efficient and wonderful, rather like Hellie Ogden, this year's bride) came promptly and referred him equally promptly to hospital.

Where he is making progress. But this is the fourth day on which he has been totally immobile. Getting up and on his feet again is going to be tough. A dr told him yesterday that he would be there for about a week. They told me “a few days”, and promised conversations about physiotherapy before they released him.

Clearly life is about to lurch downwards again.

Our dear friend G. emailed me last night about getting a proxy vote for my husband (=General Election on Thursday, easy to overlook). I thought it was too late, but I've google'd it and she's right, you can get an Emergency Proxy Vote right up until late on polling day, somehow or other. I've emailed them. I'll phone if they don't respond promptly. The proxy has to be a registered voter, so it'll have to be G. and not, alas, me.

G. and I agree on how the vote should be cast, namely for our excellent constituency MP, Mark Lasarowicz (Labour). It remains to be seen whether my husband can be persuaded to agree. He has never voted Labour in his life, nor would I have ever previously recommended it, but this is an extraordinary election.

Alexander says that he has never voted for a serious party in his life – I would suspect that the Monster Raving Loonies might appeal to him. But this time he will bite the bullet and vote Lib Dem in Argyll.

The point being, to vote against the SNP. There you are: I have nailed my colours to the mast.

An odd thing about this election – there is no sign of it in the streets around us here in Edinburgh, no posters in anybody's windows. For the Referendum, “Yes's” and “No's” were everywhere. For previous general elections, there was always a fair amount, including notices on the lampposts. Now, nothing. In the country last weekend – goodness, was it only last weekend? – we saw quite a bit of SNP.

As for knitting, I finished the 4th pocket square while we were in a&e at the Western on Friday, and made some progress with the 5th. I have done no knitting since, nor much of anything else.