Monday, August 31, 2015

Isn’t that nice?

It’s Fergus, dressed for the beginning-of-year service at school yesterday. His housemaster’s wife took the picture and sent it to his absent parents. (It doesn't rain on bank holiday weekends in Edinburgh, notice.)

And I finished the Tokyo shawl stint I had assigned myself. So today I must briskly revise mattress stitch and get to work on the dog.

I’ve been indulging in a bit of retail therapy this morning — Diana Henry’s new book, and a copper saucier. I saw a similar pan in John Lewis recently but it was one of those jam-yesterday-and-jam-tomorrow situations where I could only look at it, they wouldn’t sell it to me because it was on display.

The thing about cookery books is that no matter how complicated the recipe that tempts one, it’s not going to take as much time as even the simplest of knitting patterns. Jamie’s new book, however, doesn’t tempt me much. The food sounds as delicious as ever, but he has thrown caution to the winds when it comes to preparation-time (endless chopping of those healthy vegetables) and multiple-saucepan-use.

While I was with Amazon ordering Diana Henry, I accidentally discovered that Liz Lovick has been producing books hand over fist while I wasn’t looking. I’ve got her “Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting” — and now I have ordered “Magical Shetland Lace Shawls to Knit” and “Exploring Shawl Shapes”. Retail therapy, indeed.

The last-named is rather a good idea: she has collected and reproduced all the miniature shawls she uses to teach. I expect I’ll find that these books overlap each other quite a bit, and I know already that LL is no substitute for Sharon Miller. (The Heirloom Knitting site is still closed because of Mike’s illness. It sounds as if the Millers may be having an even worse year than the Mileses.)

The house is strangely empty with all those people gone. Helen phoned from Athens yesterday to confirm safe arrival.

Today is our 58th wedding anniversary. We have never observed the event, and I don’t think I’ll trouble my husband by mentioning it today. God did splendidly by us on Games Day 2007 (=eight years ago) with the Glenisla Shield for me and the Mandy Duncan cup for James’ and Cathy’s daughter Rachel (she was on the front page of the Blairgowrie Advertiser for that) and a huge family turn-out. Our children gave us a golden Scots pine which was later eaten by a neighbour’s horse.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

All well. They should be taxi-ing out for take-off any moment now.

David and Helen went out to Merchiston yesterday to spend the afternoon with Fergus, since they couldn't be at the beginning-of-year service for boys and parents this morning. They came back to say he is now happy as Larry, beginning to make friends, full of talk about what he has been doing and is about to do. He will make his first public appearance in a kilt at the service today, and wants to get to Marks and Spencer to buy a polo shirt to wear with it at a forthcoming ceilidh.

(Archie went to a ceilidh early in his Merchiston career, tripped and fell during a reel, and hasn't been to another, nor worn a kilt happily since.)

So that's good.

I got a customs charge bill yesterday, surely for the yarn from Jimmy Bean. That was quick. I've paid, but it won't be delivered until Wednesday perhaps because tomorrow is an English bank holiday. That gives me time, I hope, to finish the dog and give my husband's new sweater, whether it turns out to be Whiskey Barrel or Roasted Hatch Chillis, the dog's place in the rota.

I also got “Free Spirit Shawls” yesterday. It's good, although I really don't need another shawl book. There are a number of interesting designs, many of them neckerchief-type. Gunderson's “Heath”, for which I bought the book, is a particularly happy use of Noro Taiyo sock yarn. I need more time, and must start making better use of the time I've got.

I moved the Tokyo shawl onwards yesterday, at least somewhat. Today's target is to finish the 22nd band (of 29) –  which will be the end of the current Tokyo session.

I have been thinking of extending it, as a couple of Ravellers suggest. The pattern consists of a series of bands, alternating st st and reversed st st (so that the finished shawl will be reversible). Two broad bands followed by a narrow one.

I think this means that it takes six bands for the pattern to come back to its beginning: st st broad, reversed st st broad, st st narrow, reversed st st broad, st st broad, reversed st st narrow. So if I extend it, I should be prepared to do that much, and should ensure that I have enough yarn to do it, so that the ends of the shawl will match each other. Maybe that's too fussy, but I think it's necessary.


All the food writers seem to have discovered health simultaneously this season. I bought Jamie's “Everyday Superfood” this week, on sale cheap at the supermarket. Some good stuff, but largely too crunchy for my toothless husband. I think I'll get Diana Henry's “A Change of Appetite”. Nigel and Nigella are waiting in the wings.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

It's all go, today.

It's the final day here, for Helen and her family. She and her husband are leaving for Athens tomorrow on the absurdly early Sunday-morning flight that C. and I took at the end of March. How are Perdita and I to manage without them? Archie is back at school, and his youngest brother Fergus has, by now, spent nearly 48 hours there as a New Boy. He's not entirely happy.

The on-going sagas which have occupied the summer remain a) my husband's condition and b) the flat on Windsor Street which Helen has altered radically to prepare for their own occupancy in a year's time. It will be let again in the interval. Getting it ready to show to the letting agent yesterday has, needless to say, involved a series of major and minor crises which have left us all prostrate.

I hope to see it myself this morning, before Helen and I go to visit my husband, before she and her husband go to visit Fergus in the afternoon.

Before all this starts, I must go up the hill and buy some scallops for David and Helen's final summer-of-'15 supper this evening. It is, incidentally, the last day our dear fishmonger will be at work. I need to say goodbye and thank you. His nephew is taking over the business, the fifth generation of the family to be so occupied.

As for knitting, I moved forward with the Tokyo. I'll stop – for the moment – when I finish the current band, and move on to dog-assembly-and-stuffing.

I tried a couple of rows of Portuguese knitting yesterday, on Franklin's swatch. It went a good deal better than my attempts earlier this year at continental knitting. Yarn-around-the-neck is a bit uncomfortable. It might be worth getting, or confecting, a pin. And continuing to try a couple of rows a day. This is where the Craftsy system really scores – I can go back and back and watch the movements of the teacher's hands.

But the good old slow-and-clumsy system is what one needs for comfort.

And that's about it. Perdita's limp is gone.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Technology, this morning. (Perdita continues to improve.)

I have “migrated” Zite to Flipboard, successfully I think. I have bought Albers’ “Interaction of Color” (the app). I should have said something about that yesterday, after you sent the link, Kristen. It looks extremely interesting. The Apple App Shop is always stressful for me — why isn’t everybody as easy as the hated Amazon? Today they said that my (husband’s) credit card was about to expire and I had to update it.

Apple has forced me to use his. Everybody else on the internet is happy with mine. I knew he had been sent a new card, and that I must have put it somewhere safe since he wasn’t likely to use it. It turned out, after an anxious search, that I was carrying it. Sensible.

Then everything went haywire. After a series of increasingly odd error messages and requests to sign in to my own blog, I deduced that maybe it was time to turn the wi-fi booster off and on again. This is sometimes necessary, but the affected computers always pretend that the signal is strong and the trouble, somewhere else.

So I’ve done that, with the result that the booster doesn’t seem to work at all — none of the little lights came back on. We’re limping along with the main hub, and I won’t be able to watch Craftsy in bed unless I can fix it.

But at least the crazy error messages have stopped. That’s enough technology for just now.

The booster is in the sitting room. In my distress, running from computer to computer to iPad and to the booster and back, I left the door open. Perdita dashed in and with her unerring eye seized the ball of mohair which is carried along with every other colour in the Tokyo shawl, and dashed out of the room with it.

I took it away from her in the kitchen and, am happy to report, was able to restore it to its place unbroken. Well done, mohair.

I reached the 22nd band of the Tokyo yesterday, as hoped. I’m spending less time knitting, these days, than I used to when my husband was at home — because of not watching much television, and still not comfortable with knitting during the day, and going straight to bed after an early supper. I must press forward.

I went back over the crucial lessons in Portuguese knitting yesterday (in bed), namely tensioning and the actual movements for knitting and purling. Franklin’s swatches will be the perfect medium for practising, but I think today had better be devoted to that 22nd band.

…The trouble with the wi-fi booster turned out to be that its little On-Off button had been switched off. All is well. Full connectivity is restored. I couldn’t live without technology, but oh, dear.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

All went well. The vet agreed with my husband — he is rarely wrong, and of course, in this case, his opinion coincided with some expressed here. There is nothing much wrong with Perdita, nothing is broken, nothing dislocated. It is just a sprain, with some swelling and warmth. She will get better by herself. As indeed she is doing. She cantered down the passage ahead of me this morning at Pussy Cat’s Breakfast Time (5:45), instead of hobbling.

Here she is in her push chair, awaiting her turn at the surgery. She hissed at that dog.


I have nearly finished the 20th band (of 29) on the Tokyo shawl. The 21st is one of the little ones, so today’s target is to reach 22.

Thank you for your help with the future blocking. I’ve had a look on Ravelry. It appears to be pretty rectangular on the actual project page. Play it by ear. More than one knitter has extended the length and I suspect that’s a good idea. There’ll clearly be yarn available.

While I was there (on Ravelry) I had a look at Gunderson’s All Colors Sweater, the one we’ve been talking about. Never mind negative ease — I am alarmed to discover that it uses all the colours of Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted — “about” 137 of them! There are no ends to weave in because one spit-splices, it says: a technique I have never mastered. It’s a magnificent production but for the moment I will stand at a respectful distance.

The side-bar led me in a couple of easy stages to “Free-Spirit Shawls” to which Gunderson has contributed a nice little shoulder shawl where the colour-changes of a Noro yarn do all the work. I’m tempted.


I’m getting on nicely with “Life’s Greatest Secret”, understanding perhaps 1/8th of it. It is odd to think of all these momentous things happening while I was at Oberlin, 1950-54, and all of us unaware of any of it. I think maybe I had heard of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, but if so only because I had a friend who lived on Long Island, not because I had the faintest notion of what was going on there.

On the other hand, when Michael Ventris translated Linear B — and proved that it was Greek: I remember that, vividly.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Perdita’s appt with her new medical advisor is fairly early this morning. She’s not going to like it. I am going down with a friend who has provided a push-chair for cats. Perdita prefers to travel in the vegetable-carrier underneath. 

I knit peacefully on with the Tokyo yesterday. You’re right, Wanda, it’s beautiful. Was the one you saw in Copenhagen blocked into an ordinary, right-angle rectangle, or did the blocking respect the bias? If that question makes any sense. There’s lots of knitting involved and it’s worth keeping at it. I’ll do a few days more before I finish off that dog.

I haven’t yet attempted the new swatches for Franklin, but I’ve chosen the yarns. The temperature swatch is going to be Warm, and the chroma, as I said yesterday, blue. A “chroma” is a slice-of-pie-shaped wedge from the colour wheel. Interestingly, the spell-checker knows the word, although I didn’t.

Wednesday, that’s a stunning sweater (comment, yesterday), and you’re right, I’ve got granddaughters who could wear it. The colour pattern is one that makes one itch to get the needles out. I worry about whether it would be comfortable to wear wool so tight. Would the sweater mind being knit with a bit of positive ease to allow for a shirt underneath? That style, buttoned at the top for a bit and then hanging open, seems to be everywhere at the moment.

And, Fitz14, that is wonderful news that Arne and Carlos are going to be at McAree Bros soon. That’s very near here, a due passi, and I will certainly go along. I don’t know with quite what purpose. I could take a book and have them sign it. I could stand there and bask in their charm. I went to hear them speak at a Knitting Day at the National Museum a while ago. They are professional charmers.

Now it’s time for me to get dressed and put the cat in her push-chair.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Perdita is no better, although still perfectly cheerful. Our cleaning woman, who last saw her on Saturday morning in perfect health, has voted for the vet. Helen's husband David thinks so, too – if it's something to do with the bone, as it would appear, delay can make it worse. So that's the current decision, tomorrow or Thursday.


I watched Franklin's Lesson Three. Most interesting. I found myself, just as if I were watching the clock back at Asbury Park High School, looking at the progress of the little line under the video screen and thinking, There's no time left. He can't be going to assign any homework.

I underestimated the man. This time, we are to knit a swatch with colours all of the same temperature, and another with colours all from the same chroma. The latter will have to be blue, in my case, rather to my surprise.

This is an excellent class which Franklin has (no surprise) prepared meticulously. It's worth swatching.

As for actual knitting, I progressed a bit with the Tokyo shawl.

And I went on thinking a bit about an odds-and-ends tosh DK. I think you're right, Mary Lou, that the thing to do is to line up the HALFPINT list and consider how stripes or blocks of colour might appear. I can't find Sally Melville's Stash book. It's not in the Melville section. It's not in the flat pile of Great Big Knitting Books. I certainly wouldn't have relegated it when I was thinning the shelves recently. I'm baffled, for the moment.


My sentence to rat poison is for six months. (There is a possibility, which I won't think about, that it might be for life.) I've now done the first month, and much of the second. At the beginning, I counted the days and decided that they amounted to four Lents, taking Lent at the severest reckoning, from Ash Wednesday to the Saturday in Holy Week inclusive, no remission for Sundays, 46 days.

Well, last Friday I finished the first of the four Lents. I've lost just over half a stone. I could say, “nearly 10 pounds” but I think the first formulation is more accurate. I'm sure the rate of decline will slow down.

Monday, August 24, 2015

I wonder if Blogger’s difficulty with pics yesterday was another Windows-10-interaction. They seem to have solved the initial difficulty, where all composing had to be done in raw HTML. I’ve reverted to the Mac for this morning, and we’ll see.

Thank you for the advice about Perdita. I was enormously cheered by your comment, Anne, that kittens can hurt themselves as they throw their wee selves so energetically about. It’s not a phenomenon I had ever met, but it makes good sense as an explanation.

She is perhaps slightly better. She continues to eat and wash herself normally, and is obviously not in pain, not even when one touches the affected hip. She has incorporated disability into the daily life of a Naughty Kitten with some style. She can still jump, although it takes a bit more thought than usual. So I am going to wait at least another day before seeking medical attention. She would hate it so.

That was my husband’s advice yesterday, to stay away from the vet for now. It is distressing to see any animal in difficulty with its hindquarters, especially when it is an animal one loves.


I have finished my homework for Franklin’s second lesson, and am free to go on to lesson three.

(Bear in mind that the two swatches are not meant to be related to each other. I am doing them continuously to save a bit of trouble, and in the hopes of having a Franklin Scarf for my pains at the end.) (Picture-uploading went perfectly smoothly. I'll now go back and illustrate yesterday's post.)

And I have resumed knitting the Tokyo.

And I continue to give some thought to the using-up of all my delicious tosh DK left-overs. I’ve started through the HALFPINT folder of purchased, down-loaded and printed-out patterns. There are some very nice things there. I had wondered if Fettig’s “Effortless” would lend itself to diagonal-seeming stripes, but apparently not. It is not really asymmetrical — it’s a wrap-around cardigan which looks asymmetrical when worn unfastened and hanging open.

I haven’t tried Melville’s stash book yet. Today I will.


In my husband’s absence, I have been reading an awful lot of crime fiction, without finding anything I could wholeheartedly recommend to you. 

Worrying about the cat, however, is a whole different matter. One needs something one can mentally chew on. I have now embarked on “Life’s Greatest Secret” by Matthew Cobb. It is about the discovery of DNA — not the double helix, although that will no doubt figure, but the way genetic information is encoded. It is fascinating. 

It is particularly interesting, in the early chapters, to learn how much significant work on the subject was done during the war, in the US and England and France, although it was without military usefulness. Deoxyribonucleic acid was known, and known to be a component of chromosomes, but the majority opinion in those days was that information about heredity was passed on by proteins.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Brief, this morning. No knitting yesterday.

Something is wrong with one of Perdita's back legs or hips. She is reasonably cheerful and alert, eating reasonably. I am undecided about whether to take her to an emergency vet or wait until normal working hours tomorrow. She was perfectly all right yesterday morning.

Archie took these pictures of the Glenisla Shield yesterday, I think the best we've got, even though it takes two to convey the idea. I won it for Sam the Ram in the year of our Golden Wedding.

And Helen dug the potatoes which our gardener had put in. My poor garden! But at least that much of it has been redeemed.

But this is what Games Day boiled down to:

And on top of all my other troubles, Blogger is having trouble with pics. I'll try to add the essential illustrations later in the day. Perdita is well enough to try to help with Blogger. I think the vet can wait until tomorrow.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

And here we are, Perdita and I, in Edinburgh.

It's a good day, here at least, but with that nip in the air that the Games always bring: September is waiting in the wings, with worse to follow.

Helen and her family are there and I hope will return (tomorrow) with some worth-while gossip. The knitting categories this year are a) a cardigan for a premature baby, to be donated, pattern supplied; and b) a tea cosy. I don't feel terribly sorry at having missed out on either of those. Maybe Helen will take some pictures, but her main target for photography is the trees we have planted down the commonty. Every year at Games Weekend I photograph each tree with appropriate grandchildren. Each tree commemorates, one way or another, one of our four children and the associated family. This year Helen's sons will have to stand in for all their cousins.

There is also a tree, now, for my husband's sister, and one in the paddock for our 50th wedding anniversary. Lots of photography required on Games day.

When my time comes, I have asked for a Wellingtonia (=California redwood).

I went on with swatching yesterday, and would have finished the second swatch but for the return of All Those People from their afternoon activities. Today, I hope,I will actually finish, and then on to the Tokyo. The actual watching of Franklin's third lesson will have to wait a day or two so that I don't start feeling guilty right away about not having done the next homework.

My other knit-related task is to mend a small hole in the back of Archie's new sweater. A snag is a more likely cause than a moth. It won't take a minute – except that I can't find the odd ball (there must have been one) and was therefore reduced to winding a whole skein. The Tempter suggested taking just the yard or so that the task requires – but that's an easy way to reduce a skein of precious madelinetosh DK to a tangled mess, so I resisted, and have wound the whole ball.

I've got quite a lot of MT DK in that bag of leftovers, with Whiskey Barrel and Roasted Hatch Chillies to follow, due to chronic over-ordering. I must get Sally Melville's stash-knitting book out and see if there are any appropriate ideas there.

On a higher note, the Craftsy class on Portuguese knitting (also incomplete, despite being less dedicated to swatching) sent me to Donna Druchunas' “Ethnic Knitting Discovery” for the chapter on knitting in the Andes. They knit in the Portuguese way there, yarn around neck. Druchunas, in turn, sent me to Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' “Knitting in the Old Way”. I had quite forgotten how good that one is.

Druchunas confesses – incredible! – to not having read Zimmerman. But I can see how it might happen, after re-visiting Gibson-Roberts. She provides an abundance of schematics for various garments, with the stitch numbers expressed in percentages where the maximum girth (good old “K”) is 100%. I will keep her “Shaped Vest” pages open when the Roasted Hatch Chillies turn up.

Friday, August 21, 2015

You're right, of course, Victoria (private message). Jimmy Bean has plenty of Roasted Hatch Chillies in madelinetosh DK. In fact, I think the number you found (13) might represent the number they had in the morning minus the eight skeins I ordered.

I'm sure that's too many. The order was based on their own Yarn Calculator, and influenced by the fact that my husband has been grumbling that all the sweaters in his drawer – which I have been taking in to the hospital one by one for him to try – are too tight. I will measure him and calculate K anew when the time comes.

When it came to the pinch, Jimmy B turned out to have one skein less of Woodstock than I wanted (won't say “needed”). Roasted Hatch Chillies is clearly a more active and energetic shade than dear old Georgia O'K, which is a nearly-solid. And a somewhat lighter shade. Still, as I said yesterday of Woodstock, if my husband doesn't like it, I've got Whiskey Barrel to fall back on.

I seem to have ordered more of that than the pattern specifies – why on earth? – and the pattern seems to be consuming less than the specification. I will only just have joined in the third skein when I finish the back, and I will be nearly half-way through, I think. Front is truncated, sleeves are narrow and short. The pattern asks for seven skeins. I bought nine.

Last night I went on with swatching. I have decided that I've done enough of the first swatch, and have finished it off, and started the second, with garter stitch bands. The second swatch is what happens when you start with a colour on the colour wheel, draw a line straight across, and then, instead of using the colour you hit on the opposite edge of the wheel, you use the ones on either side of it.

There's a name for that sort of harmony but I've forgotten what it is. I'll have to re-visit Lesson Two. I sort of gathered that you can do anything you like with the colour wheel as long as you do it symmetrically.


I have decided to give the Games a miss, very sadly.

David and Helen on Wednesday were tired and cross and anxious about the state of their flat. Yesterday, they came home radiant: the builders have finished, and have made a brilliant job of cleaning up after themselves, and it all looks wonderful.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

My INR was perfection — 2.5, if the new system is to be believed. I must have achieved harmony between Waitrose Low Alcohol Cider and hummus. I don’t have to go back for a month.

Strathardle is up in the air. My husband is not happy about my going, understandably, and I am reluctant to waltz off and leave him in this mess. David and Helen continue to have problems about their flat on Windsor Street. Appointments with architects and plumbers and carpet-layers had to be rejigged yesterday with the result, as far as the Games are concerned, that we wouldn’t be able to leave here until late tomorrow. I had been looking forward to a Strathardle afternoon of doing all the things that haven’t been done this summer.

I have decided that the solution to my madelinetosh problem — if only all of life’s problems  revolved around madelinetosh! — is to order a vest’s-worth of Woodstock. (Jimmy Bean doesn’t seem to have Roasted Hatch Chillies in DK anyway.) If my husband doesn’t like it when it arrives, I’ll start his vest in the Whiskey Barrel I have here for the Sous Sous. I’m sure I’ve got too much, and since they keep saying that there are no dye lots I can start with what I’ve got, and order more.

I am sure I can find another use for a vest’s-worth of madelinetosh DK in Woodstock, if push comes to shove.

I did spend yesterday evening swatching for Franklin, and was horrified at how long it’s taking me. The two-colour patterns he provides as course material have a 22-stitch repeat so I thought I’d cast on 44, plus 4 for a 2-stitch garter st selvedge on each side, thinking ahead to my Franklin Scarf

That’s an awful lot of knitting, it turns out. On the other hand, I am finding the result rather interesting. Franklin’s Lesson Three will just have to wait, for now.

I’ve also realised that there’s not much point in having browns and greys in the Chaos Basket, because they don’t figure in the colour wheel. I have decided to open the bag in which I keep the precious J&S yarn for that Fair Isle vest. I’ll surely have to order some more of something, anyway, when I finally start that vest. So, browns and greys out; Fair Isle colours in.

Here’s the swatch, so far. Not colours I would wear, but I think the result is rather interesting. (These colours are meant to be complementary — directly across the colour wheel from each other.) 

Lizzie is coming to the hospital with us this morning. She is here in Edinburgh for some Festival-ing. She is Rachel’s youngest child, recently graduated from B’ham University. She can tell us all about the horrors of last weekend’s move, and the experience of living in the new, much smaller, house.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I must rush off for my INR test while in mid-flow this morning. Today is the great day when  my GP’s practice is meant to have joined the rest of the western world in having on-the-spot results.

Here is my “chaos basket” for Franklin’s Craftsy class:

I found it difficult to assemble. An awful lot of my yarn is sub fusc, as Franklin says all his knitting was in his youth. Then I found a bag with some colours which (in the over-used modern idiom) pop. I can’t imagine what I thought I wanted with them. There aren’t many questions and comments yet, attached to this new course, but even in the few there are, it was interesting to see how people found, when they actually began to search their stashes, that everything tended to one or two colours. Different colours for different people.

The homework for lesson two is to knit a swatch with two complementary colours, and one with three, chosen according to the principles Franklin has just been expounding. 

There are two difficulties. 1) Can I spare the knitting time? and 2) Have I assigned my balls of yarn to the colour wheel correctly? I.e, is this a true green or a yellow-green? Choosing complements depends on getting it right in the first place.

It’s all rather fun. I think I’ll take the time to knit the swatches. I can string them all together and have a Franklin Scarf when I finish.

Thank you for the interesting comments about madelinetosh. I wonder if “Georgia O”Keeffe“ has morphed somewhat in the last three years. My husband and I remember the missing sweater as green. And I’ve got the swatch: it looks completely green.

Skeindalous, I found a skein of Grey Gardens in my stash when I was composing my chaos basket yesterday. Time has completely obliterated the memory of why it is there. It is  nice, isn’t it? Or, rather, was. Victoria, I agree that Roasted Hatch Chillies looks pretty well perfect, quite apart from its wonderful name.

Alas, I took a skein of Whiskey Barrel in to the hospital to show my husband yesterday, and he likes it and wants to go ahead with that. It’s wonderful, no doubt about that, but a rather boring prospect for me to use it for something else as well as the Sous Sous.

One comfort is that a plain v-neck vest will be just the thing for practising Portuguese knitting. The Sous Sous with its constant switches from knit to purl — it would be an intolerable task in any less wonderful yarn — won’t do for a beginner. And the Tokyo shawl might be too fluffy.

Yesterday I finished the next assignment for the Sous Sous, and am now ready to start decreasing at the shoulders. That goes on for a long time. This baby is going to be a bit longer than specified. I didn’t swatch (and am very pleased with the fabric). The pattern was written for tosh DK. I won’t worry. It’s a matter of perhaps an extra inch and a half.

I think I’ll switch to the Tokyo shawl this evening. After knitting Franklin’s swatches?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Perdita has chewed through the charger wire of my iPad, so I must leave you in a moment and rush up to John Lewis in the hope of replacing it. That's the sort of thing you expect of a puppy. She likes chewing on wires — Helen’s boys keep warning me about it — but I didn’t think she could do any damage. I, of all people, shouldn’t have underestimated those sharp little teeth.

I have watched Franklin’s first lesson. With almost all of my Craftsy classes, I drift through, watching but not doing. This time, I will do at least half the homework before going on to Lesson Two — specifically, I will assemble a Chaos Basket today of yarns of different colours but the same weight, 12 to 15 of them. And print out the class materials.

So meanwhile I have started watching Portuguese knitting. She said more or less straight away that the Greeks knit like that, just as I reported yesterday. I am very hopeful that this system is going to be the making of me.

I also gave some thought to replacing my poor husband’s lost sweater. WEBS didn’t seem to have the madelinetosh shade I wanted in DK — did I look thoroughly? — so I went to Jimmy Bean. There it is, Georgia O’Keeffe, but on a computer screen the colour looked distinctly blue. It used to be green. My husband is particularly anti-blue.

If he wants green, we can have Tannenbaum, the same sort of thing as the old sweater but perhaps slightly lighter. And I rather fancy Woodstock, striking out in a new direction, a symphony of browns. If any of you have any recent experience of any of these shades, including Georgia O’Keeffe, I’d be grateful for comments. 

Now I’ll go to John Lewis….

…..Success! although it didn’t come cheap.

These days, I take the iPad to bed with me and use an extension cord to make re-charging available at all times so that I can go on  watching Craftsy or reading. I will have to stop doing that (or stop sleeping with the kitten). And she will have to be kept out of the computer room except under supervision.

She is already forbidden the sitting room, and when she does succeed in wriggling past my ankles and getting in there, she makes straight for the naughtiest thing she can do, seizing a ball of yarn and running with it, or kneading the Fantoosh with her sharp little claws. 

Soon I fear there won’t be a room in the house left for her except perhaps the kitchen.

Helen and her family were here briefly yesterday. She was delighted with the too-small Fair Isle and may keep it to wear herself. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

The big news is that Franklin has a new Craftsy class — about colour. Not what I would have chosen, myself, from his remarkable repertoire, but since I would happily pay over the odds if he were teaching the Elements of Esperanto, I have signed up.

I’ve also gone for another new class, about Portuguese knitting. I’ve got the book. I’ve tried. But as I am ever in pursuit of a way of knitting faster and more efficiently, I’ll try again. I feel that the Portuguese system (yarn tensioned around the back of one's neck) may not require the hands to do quite so much in the way of learning new movements as, say, continental knitting does. We’ll see. I saw a woman in an LYS in Athens who was knitting with a variant of the Portuguese system.

I didn’t do any knitting yesterday.

But I fished this sweater out of the drawer and took it to my husband. He can get into it, but without much to spare, and he wasn’t comfortable. He did better in a store-boughten one.

I must have knit this, many decades ago. Maybe I vaguely remember. It’s successful, in some respects, although it is difficult to believe that those armholes ever fitted properly. Now they buckle disagreeably. When I first fished it out, I thought that the pattern was unbroken over the shoulders which would be nearly impossible. (Meg might conceivably graft in two colours. Not me.) But that is an illusion.

It makes me all the more eager to get started on a new Fair Isle vest. Meanwhile this one might do for an adult-sized but still skinny grandson. I’ll see Mungo for a while today, on his way from his other grandmother’s 80th birthday party somewhere in England, to Strathardle. I’ll try him, to begin with.

This is what passes around here for an exciting day. Some removal men have come and removed a chest of drawers and a fire screen, on their way to James and Cathy in Sydenham. Mungo will appear in the early afternoon, and the rest of his family not long after. And an electrician is expected, to fix a fuse which he has already attended to once. 

And I’m now off to the hospital.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The missing follower has reappeared. Or maybe I'm imagining the whole thing.

Sarah, thank you for that most timely hint about the dog’s tummy. I was worried about the length of that piece when I finished knitting it yesterday (=seemed a bit too much), and I will certainly start sewing it in from the nose as you suggest.

I finished the ears as well — they didn't take long, as you can imagine — so that’s all the dog-knitting done. I went on to the Sous Sous, and found its long, long rows a positive pleasure after all that fiddling.

The situation there is that the first instruction is to knit the 16-row cable pattern repeat nine times. I’ve done that. Next, knit the first 14 rows again. That’s what I’m doing. Then the neck and shoulder shaping begins.

I don’t know quite what I think of this three-WIP system. Everything is in hand, and moving forward, however slowly. Nothing seems to get finished. But that’s not true — I’ve done the Fantoosh (which wasn’t in the system) and the pocket squares. It occurs to me that if no one wants to keep his pocket square for a souvenir, I could join all nine into a nice little cat-blanket for Hellie and Matt. It would come in handy if they ever get a cat.

I found my written notes for my husband’s missing vest — not as useful as they might be, but not entirely useless, either. “K” appears, so I must have been using the EPS to some extent. The computer notes give two different dates for the finish. Something must have required re-doing, and I think I half-remember that the shoulders were too wide, and drooped in an unappetising fashion over the upper arm.

The swatch is there; that’s good; and a note of the needle size. The main thing missing is a record of the number of rounds from cast-on to underarm, or even a measurement. From there on, the figures are fairly complete.

Meanwhile my poor husband is without a sweater. I’ll take him what I can find in his drawer (both hand-knit, I am pleased to see). I fear they are both too small for his expanded self; indeed, that must be why he asked me to knit the missing one in the first place.

I’ll try reading the blog for the relevant period — early 2013 — but I doubt if it will contain any numbers.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Oh, dear. We've lost a follower, I think.

The dog has now got a head facing outwards, and a tail:

Remaining to be knit is a piece called “tummy” which I take to be a strip reaching from tail to muzzle; and, of course, ears. I hope to polish those off today and then move on to the Sous Sous. When the dog’s turn comes again, it can be entirely devoted to finishing, obviously no small job. The pipe cleaners are here.

I have decided to do the Sous Sous the way it is written, rather than knitting the front like the back. It was the oddity of the pattern that attracted me ihj5rtn the first place. (Perdita is "helping".)

The vest of my husband’s which (at the moment) the NHS seems to have swallowed was knit in 2012, of a madeleinetosh DK called “Georgia O’Keeffe”, chosen perhaps partly for its art historical association, and extremely successful (as all madeleinetosh’s tend to be). That much I learn from the computer. It remains to be seen whether I have kept good written records of the actual knitting — there was no pattern.

Zite continues as dismal as ever. Why not just kill it? Almost all the knitting articles come from something called diyspecifics, elementary thoughts poorly expressed. However, they did relent to the extent of including the Harlot’s latest, an account of a most interesting expedition she made recently with her sister-in-law to buy a whole year’s yarn at once — because the sister-in-law was about to leave with her husband to work in Vietnam.

It sounds as if they approached the problem with verve and intelligence, getting everything in the same yarn but different colours, so that left-overs could be used for stripes. The sister-in-law had been collecting patterns in advance. 

Luggage space was an additional problem. The happy shoppers pretty well ignored that one. If a year in rural Vietnam should loom for me (unlikely) I would take the Queen Ring. Plenty of knitting, very little luggage space consumed. And maybe a couple of  unknit socks. Perhaps this is a signal that I should start knitting it here in Edinburgh.


Loretta, I love the idea of your husband titrating his rat poison dose to his alcohol intake. One could take the idea further, and factor in avocados and hummus (which have the opposite effect to alcohol). Don’t worry, Lou — I’m kidding.

I allowed myself half a bottle of Westons Vintage on my birthday. That’s about the two units of alcohol my booklet says it is all right to drink. And I decided that it really wasn’t worth bothering. I have become moderately fond of Waitrose Low Alcohol Cider. It contains 1/2 a unit per bottle, and I have taken to drinking a bottle of it — one only — on any day when I happen to be in Waitrose anyway. And since there is a branch between here and the Western General hospital, that is most days. 

Here is a cat picture, taken yesterday.

And another, in the same place, from a month ago. And my poor husband hasn’t even met her.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Thank you for all your good wishes, here and elsewhere. It was a lovely birthday.

It began with the finding of a book, while I was looking for something to take my husband to read. It’s called “Ordeal by Hunger” and our copy used to belong to my husband’s father, who died young. My husband gave it to my sister to read when she was visiting us in Birmingham fully thirty years ago. For the last ten or fifteen years — since we moved to Edinburgh — he has accused her of not giving it back, of carrying it off to CT.

She was sure she wouldn’t have done that, that her worst offence might have been to leave it in her room rather than handing it back. My husband constantly harped on his loss, and became fairly unpleasant about it. Yesterday, looking for J.B. Priestly — my husband had said it was blue — I drew out a blue book whose faded spine I couldn’t read, and there it was in my hand: Ordeal by Hunger.

My husband wasn’t apologetic (“Never apologise, never explain”). My sister, when I phoned her, was pleased but not surprised.

Helen and the boys came back from Strathardle and we all went out to lunch with a friend, to a (wonderful, as it proved) Dim Sum place on Dalmeny Street called Stack. The friend had recommended it. I can add my voice to the many on-line who sing its praises.

And in the evening we had cake and cards — Helen had found one which said “K is for Kittens…and Knitting” — and presents.

And God, who had already found that book, chipped in with the new VK.

I’m not wildly enthusiastic, but I very much like the cover cowl. I could imagine its appearance as Christmas knitting. I would have to practice the stitch first — it sounds as if it might be tedious, and it happens constantly, with no peaceful rows in between. I also like Rosemary Drysdale’s open-front ribbed cardigan. One would have to achieve a very good fit on that one.

As for knitting, I ripped out the poor dog’s backwards head and am halfway with the new one. It is very hard to tell, even this far along, which way it is going to face. Assuming I’ve got it right this time, my mistake must derive from the instruction: “With RS facing knit 11 from spare needle of right side of body then knit 11 from spare needle of left side of body”.

At that point, I had just finished knitting the left side, and I suspect I just carried on from there without paying attention to the full implications of the instruction. We shall see.

The only other knitting news is that my husband seems to have lost a green madelinetosh DK sleeveless sweater which he has been wearing almost daily in hospital. The hospital is tremendously good at not walking off with things. I can only surmise that it got contaminated with diarrhoea and somehow didn’t get bundled with the other clothes sent home with me to wash. I can reproduce it. I should have my size-notes somewhere, and an excuse to knit with madelinetosh is always welcome. I may even have a note of the colour-name.