Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Alexander came over from the west yesterday to talk to a man who is in charge of a private care provider. We've taken them on for three hours a day. It sounds as if everything has been dealt with except perhaps engaging someone to do the knitting. I don't understand how food is going to work – I can't just hand these people my wallet and send them off to the corner shop.

No doubt it will all (or largely) become clear as we go along. Solvitur ambulando. I will give some thought to food today, looking out soup recipes, planning a menu for the weekend. I've got a brochure somewhere – and it's all right, I know where – from someone who provides boring-sounding hospital-type meals to your door at quite a reasonable price. There's also Cook, who are pretty good. I've cleared space in the freezer.

I told my husband some of this, and he wasn't terribly pleased. He doesn't want his house full of strange people, he said, or indeed any people at all. I'm afraid it's the price to be paid for staying in it ourselves.

I think I heard the radio say that the crunch match between Scotland and South Africa will be played tomorrow. That'll make a fine last-day-of-the-old-life, for Alexander as well as for me.


A bit of a struggle, last night. The crunch point, the pons asinorum, in the Dunfallandy blankie pattern are the rows at half-way where the second horizontal cable is worked. Mercifully, the eight triangles will stop after the first one.

There are infelicities in my knitting at that point in all three squares, and they are worst in the current, third one. I think I just scrape by under the galloping horse rule. The rich, dark colour of the yarn helps. I looked at Dr de Roulet's (the designer's) tutorial last night, a bit belatedly, and I think I may have learned a thing or two which will help with the fourth square.

Last night I suddenly found my stitch count seriously wrong. For the first square, everything went perfectly in that respect. There is a marker at the mid-point which is very useful for providing assurance that everything is all right so far, up to the "sm" (="slip marker"), and a stitch count is provided for every row.

On the second square there were two instances when I had a stitch too many, or perhaps it was one too few. The mistakes were easily fudged.

Last night, I suddenly had three extra stitches on one side. I don't see how this could possibly have happened, but it did. I have, again, fudged them away but I remain puzzled and chagrined. I am now sailing happily forward through the decrease rows towards the end. I hope to finish today, and to cast on the fourth square.

Several Ravellers have grumbled at the absence of a chart. Dr de Roulet has now provided one, pointing out that there is no convention for charting a horizontal cable (a technique which she has unvented). I've printed the chart for myself as a useful overview. I won't try to use it row-by-row.

Non-knit, technical

I've done some iPad research on smart television, as well as on Dunfallandy blankies, and I think I see how to approach our new set. I'll do some experiments today. I must also try to load a picture into Blogger soon, to see if Google Chrome makes any difference. I'll take a picture of the cat for you today, and try to post it tomorrow. She is a great source of comfort and strength.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I'm glad you enjoyed the YouTube video of the wedding (link yesterday – it seems to have worked). It occurs to me that this is a great incentive for me to figure out how to take advantage of the “smartness” of our new television (or invite someone in to help). Then I could show it to my husband.

I do miss the days when things came with substantial instruction books which one could read in the bath.

“Dunfallandy” is pronounced – I love questions I can actually answer! – “Dun-FALL-an-dy”. The “fa” in the stressed syllable is like the “fa” in “fatigue”, not “fall” as in the season of the year.

When we were driving to the wedding, we relied from time to time on the GPS in C's daughter's magic telephone. As one crosses the Erskine Bridge, one needs to look for the turn signposted “Crianlarich”. The bossy woman in the telephone made a wonderful hash of that – “Cree-AN-lar-itch”, she said. Locals pronounce it “Cree-an-LARE-ick”.


I pressed on with the third Dunfallandy square, and am just short of the half-way point. It requires concentration which may be in short supply when my husband gets here, so I will continue to press on for the rest of the week.

The second half, where one is decreasing, is much easier and pleasanter than the first half. I am a bit daunted at the thought that once the four squares are done, I must knit eight triangles which will all be first-half's. Each row begins and ends with a M1R or an M1L, or the purled equivalent. For the first two squares I had to repeat Stephen West's useful mnemonic to myself every single time – “I left the front door open”, “I'll be right back”. It serves to remind one which direction the left-hand needle should take to enter the yarn being picked up for the new stitch. Now I think I've got it at last.

I am grateful for your observations on felting. I feel a bit daunted about that, too. The danger of clogging up the washing machine hadn't previously occurred to me. Arne & Carlos' book of slippers arrived yesterday, and is charming and tempting as one might expect, but at the moment I feel disinclined. I'll still go along to McAree's next week when they're here, if I am strong enough. Perhaps I'll take the Christmas bauble book for them to sign. I've actually used that one.


I neglected to say yesterday how grateful I am for your advice and help about my husband's homecoming. Tea towels and bath towels are ready in abundance. A supervisor has been promised for Friday when it all happens – I will be sure to get her telephone number. My dear Polish cleaning woman is here today. We've turned the mattress and changed the bed linen and done other useful things.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Progress. I got up the hill to John Lewis yesterday and bought the square pillowcases, and on to Thornton's for a large and luxurious-looking box of chocs. It feels like a day gained. I mustn't waste it.

Today's job is to decide on new tables, and perhaps purchase. My husband will need something better beside the bed than a chair piled high with books. We often eat in front of the television, with plates balanced on our knees. He will need something more secure for that purpose.

I left the rugby yesterday at half-time, to set out on my shopping trip. Scotland were trailing the USofA ignominiously. After buying the pillowcases I went to the electronics dept, because my husband fancies he wants a tablet. Everyone had abandoned the pursuit of electronic delights in favour of standing around the big television sets to watch Scotland score an important try. I got home in time to see the final one. Another secure win. Next we play the mighty South Africa – who were recently humbled by Japan.

Lots is about to happen. Alexander will be here tomorrow to interview a private care-provider, and again on Friday, perhaps with Ketki, for the great Homecoming. And James and Cathy will arrive that evening for the weekend, staying in Greek Helen's nearby flat and promising me a Japanese take-away (=carry-oot) from Bonsai.


I finished the second Dunfallandy square and cast on the third. I tried to spend the evening curled up with Downton Abbey and the sleeveless vest, but found it boring and went to bed. The vest is at that stage where no matter how much one knits, there is still an inch and a half to go before the underarm.

Flipboard likes to insert amongst the items relating to knitting, a list of other topics I might be interested in. I often click through to Personal Organising, just for a giggle. But I've signed up for something called 101 Days To Christmas and am trying to follow its programme. A suggestion is emailed every day, most of them, so far, irrelevant in my situation. But I have found the gift list, as suggested, and made sure it has been successfully ported over to the current computer.

And now they suggest I think about knitting things for people. They phrase it more generally: “craft”.

I doubt very much if there'll be time this year. But I remembered that I have mentioned the dread word here a couple of times, and I tracked the references down. One was the big cowl on the cover of the latest VK – the pattern stitch is too fiddly, I fear, on close inspection. The other was felted slippers from Arne & Carlos' new book, which I haven't seen yet.

Can you felt things in a front-loading washing machine? I've often wanted to try, but have never actually attempted it.

And there's that nice two-colour cabled scarf on the cover of the new Rowan book.


Here is a link -- if it works -- to a YouTube video of last weekend's wedding. I didn't spot myself anywhere, but it's first rate for the feel and look of the day.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Yes, Mary Lou, my brother-in-law Roger is the man who had a stroke just before last year's wedding. Well remembered. He has made a good recovery, as you see. There is still some slowness of speech and, alas, his fingering on the saxophone isn't as good as it was.

Your question made me reflect – Roger is roughly the age (mid-seventies) my husband was when we went to the USofA in 2000. I left him with friends in Boston and went to Stitches East for two nights and resolved – I can't entirely remember why – never to leave him again. And here is Roger, post-stroke, cycling in France and soon to make an independent trip back to Mozambique, where he and my sister used to work.

I got a bit done in the bedroom yesterday, and will shift my attention to the sitting-room today. I love solitude, but it's not good for me. I function much more usefully with folk about. The cat is not much help when it comes to rearranging furniture.

There is a certain amount of shopping to be done this week. We'll need a couple of hospital-type bedside tables. Some new square pillowcases. A big box of fancy chocolates to say thank you to the staff of Ward 71. I need not only to make lists but to assign chores to days. Of which but few remain.

I watched some of the rugby last night. No Downton Abbey after all. The experience has but added to my gloom. I left at half-time to go to bed (where I couldn't sleep, as it turned out). England were seven points ahead after two good tries and a drop goal (they're rare) and some first-rate penalty kicking. That's that, I thought. No need to sit it out.

But in the event Wales won a thriller. While I lay there fretting and could have been watching.


I am well advanced with the second Dunfallandy square, and should polish it off today.

Bertie in the Netherlands sent me pictures of her magnificent Dunfallandy. She says she picked up only 110 stitches for the borders, and wondered if that was too many. So that settles that question – the pattern, as I mentioned yesterday, prescribes a number absurdly higher.

She also says that the sewing was difficult, although there is no hint of that in her finished blankie. Every row of squares and triangles begins and ends K1. Could one use the good old “slip 1 purlwise” instead, for a chained edge?

Melfina, one of the two Ravellers who actually finished the Dunfallandy, did it your way, not casting off the triangles but holding the stitches until wanted. I think I'll follow suit.


I discovered yesterday from a q&a section of Blogger that other people are having trouble uploading pics after a switch to Windows 10, and that Blogger has no solution. I'm sure they'll straighten it out eventually. Blogger prefers one to use Google Chrome, or other, as a browser, not the new Microsoft Edge. So I'm doing that. But presumably the problem with pictures goes deeper.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

It's all change.

My sister is at this very moment about to take off for Geneva where she will re-join her husband, who has pitched up there after a successful cycling trip. Then, a few days later, they will move on to Rachel and Ed in London, and a few days after that, back to CT – where they must decide whether to accept the apartment in the retirement community in DC which has turned up earlier than they expected.

Rachel and Ed's youngest, Lizzie – the recent graduate from B'ham University, the bride's sister – is leaving today, I think, for the antipodes, where she will spend some time with friends living hand-to-mouth and seeing the world, before facing up to its responsibilities. Poor Rachel is facing the loss bravely, but it's hard.

And I made a good start yesterday at organizing this house for my husband's return. All will be well if I keep at it. I have an appt to have a key safe installed, so that I don't have to stand at the door all day letting people in and preventing the escape of the cat.


I've pretty well reached the half-way point on the second Dunfallandy square. It's hard and very fiddly, but so far, compulsively fun. This evening I think I will lay it aside and curl up with the sleeveless vest and Downton Abbey.

I'm a bit concerned about the edge. The four squares, when complete, will be sewn together into a diamond. Eight half-squares are then required to fill in the corners and bring the whole shape back to a square. Then you pick up stitches for the border – almost all of them the cast-off stitches of the half-squares.

The half-squares finish with 52 stitches each. That's 104 stitches per side. Add three perhaps for the cast-on or bound-off tip of the square in the middle of the side, and a couple of extras at the corner: but the instructions say to pick up 174.

Can that possibly be right? Only two Ravellers seem actually to have finished the blankie. A couple of squares and then the UFO basket seems its more usual fate. Both of those who finished mention trouble with the count. But the designer is so careful, and the proof-reading so meticulous, that it would seem prudent to believe her on this point. I'll think about it.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The big news this morning is that my husband’s release has at last been scheduled — next Friday, a week today. He is pleased, of course, although somewhat cross at having to wait a whole week more. I am somewhat dismayed. This is the end of Jamie’s Farro Salad with Roasted Veg as we know it, in favour of pureed soups and stewed mince.

I am glad to have the week for decluttering — there are whole items of furniture which must be cleared away from the routes he will regularly follow. My sister and I will go down this morning, as soon as it opens, to the local Aids for the Disabled shop, looking for the perfect zimmer frame and for those wheeled bedside-and-chairside tables they have in hospitals.

He is anxious to get home to the familiar squalor, he says. I think, after all this time of living with perfect cleanliness and order and an absolutely minimal pile of Things, that he will miss it after all. As I will miss Farro Salad with Roasted Veg.

I’ll keep you posted.

Celtic knitting

I finished the first Dunfallandy square yesterday, and am desperately pleased with it. I think I will knit the second straight away. For one thing, I am already unsure in which direction it was knit. This time, I’ll mark it with a safety pin as soon as I have knit enough to make that possible. The squares have got to be oriented in different directions when sewn together. 

Shandy, yes, I remember Starmore’s class on celtic knitting fairly clearly. I have never given the matter serious thought (if any) but I vaguely think that her and Lavold’s great unvention was the five-in-one increase, and corresponding decrease, which allow the cables to start and end anywhere instead of having to rise in orderly fashion from the initial ribbing.

I’ve flipped through their books this morning, and also Hague’s much more recent “Celtic Cable Shawls”. I don’t think anybody else has got horizontal cables. De Roulet’s unvention of them allows the meandering celtic cables to be firmly framed, as they are on many a stone. 

And when the Dunfallandy squares are properly sewn together, cables which escape the frame on each of the four sides will join up with each other. It’s all rather exciting. How fortunate for me that the great-grandchild should appear on the horizon at just the right moment!

[I couldn't compose on the Windows 10 machine this morning because it was determined to install upgrades now. It will be interesting to see whether uploading pics to Blogger has become possible.]

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A good day, yesterday.

The tour group had already reached Kathy’s Knits when I got there yesterday at the starting time. They were at the end of what had clearly been a very successful trip. All were resolved not to buy any more yarn, but Kathy’s brilliant stock was too much for them. I must spend more time there.

It was wonderful meeting Pattie, and seeing Maureen again. Remembering our earlier Edinburgh yarn crawl, some years ago (early ’07 is likely), I realised that she was the very woman who had suggested over coffee that I knit Sam the Ram as my entry in that year’s Strathardle Highland Gathering. The category was “knitted toy”, and she rightly said that Sam was a show-off piece who would catch the judges’ eyes. And I won not only the category, but the Glenisla Shield for the best handiwork in any category.

Patti had knitted a catnip mouse for Perdita, by which she was enchanted.

And Maureen (whose knitting, I am sure, had impressed them even at Jamieson & Smith) gave me a magnetic pin for use in Portuguese knitting and a beautiful Fair Isle cowl-neck warmer. She was wearing Meg’s cardigan from the cover of  “Knitting” and a vest by Joyce Williams from “Sweaters from Camp”. (Unaccountably I can’t find the latter book to verify.)

I don’t deserve such friends.

Amy thought she remembered me from Camp Stitches ’99. She said she is going to lead a group to Iceland next year. That’s one for everybody’s wish list.


Greek Helen sent this picture of a pocket square close up. I think that’s probably my grandson Joe, the bride’s younger brother. Good — but the best pocket square wearers, including the bridegroom, achieved visible corners.


I am well engaged with my first Dunfallandy square and having an absolutely wonderful time. It’s very fiddly and great fun. It’s getting a bit faster as I learn the code — I can now toss off a T4k2togR, for instance, without turning back to the glossary.

In the centre of the square, where I now am, there are some interesting horizontal cables. I wondered if this was a trick known to all Celtic cable knitters. I looked up the designer, Teresa de Roulet. I gather she invented them, or at the very least unvented. 

Google’s first offering, when I looked her up, was a family doctor in California, a pleasant-looking woman in early middle age. That can’t be the one, I thought, and looked on down the page.

But it was. Here’s her Ravelry page. Amongst other things, she offers a free tutorial on horizontal cables. I’ll have to have a look at that.


And Scotland beat Japan by a large score. As should happen — but Japan had beaten the once-mighty South Africa only a few days before. So we were all a bit nervous, and it was definitely a good day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I must be quick, this morning. This is just to assure you that all's well.

I've dispatched Rachel and Ed towards London with a good Scottish breakfast under their belts. Next, quite soon, I'll nip round the corner to Kathy's Knits, my LYS, where a workshop is being held with Ysolda Teague as the final event of a Knitting Tour led by Amy Detjen. Two of us are members.

When this was first set up, months ago, we hoped to have lunch together after the workshop – not the whole group, I mean; rather, me and the blog-readers. I never thought then that my husband would still be in hospital on September 23. I want to go see him as usual at midday, with my sister who is now here and in time to overlap with Alexander who is coming over for a visit. He has to get back to Glasgow promptly for kickoff at 2 – Scotland v. Japan.

But half an hour has been allowed for milling around before the workshop, so there'll be time for at least a bit of nattering. Amy Detjen was partly in charge of Camp Stitches '99 which I attended, on the shores of Lake George. A very happy memory. I doubt if she'll remember me.

The knitting news is that I've got the madtosh worsted weight from Loop at last, for the Dunfallandy blankie. It's beyond wonderful. The colour is called “Tart” but reminds me more of a rich red wine. I hope I'll cast on the first square today.

I knit a bit more sleeveless vest yesterday. It has occurred to me – I told you I wasn't keen on thinking – that all I have to do at the moment is decide on the final width for the shoulders. I will divide at the underarms and knit back and forth thereafter. The more delicate question of placing the v-neck and timing the decreases for it can be postponed until the back is finished.

A friend installed our new television. John Lewis would have charged £50. It is connected to the internet. What use am I to make of that?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Life is winding down.

The Greeks are gone – Helen and David and Mungo to Athens & Thessaloniki, the other two boys back to Merchiston Castle School. My sister and her husband and the bride's parents were all still hard at work on the shores of Loch Fyne yesterday, cleaning up. They'll all be here today except for my brother-in-law who has gone somewhere on the continent for a cycle ride.

The main cleaning-up problem, I was told, was bottles. There is a recycling bin nearby – but it serves perhaps a dozen houses, and is not often emptied. Alexander didn't feel that it was quite right to heap a wedding's-worth of empties around it, so cars were travelling all day to Inverary and Arrochar, full of bottles.

Our new television has arrived. I wondered if they'd bring my tape measure back, but they haven't.

And today, at last, I should get my hands on those packages, my husband's Old Fogey underwear and the yarn for the Dunfallandy blankie. I arranged for redelivery to the nearest post office for yesterday. It turned out to be a Mysterious Local Holiday, unbeknownst to the Royal Mail website. (I asked the butcher last week why he had notices up about being Closed on Monday. “The September weekend,” he said, in tones which strongly implied that eny fule kno that.)

But mail was delivered here, so I thought the post office would be open, and walked down there in the afternoon. Nope. Not open . I'm sure the walk was good for me.

So I had another session with the sleeveless vest. I'm not quite as near the underarm as I had thought, which was just as well because quite a lot of thinking is suddenly required. I'm not keen on thinking, but it has to be done.

I'm sure the other vest, the one the NHS has made off with, was originally too wide in the shoulder and had to be ripped back. My notes aren't very good but one thing they do record, miraculously, is the number of rows from underarm to shoulder.

I must find a quiet moment to work on those numbers today.

Random Knitting Thots

I came across the Omena pattern in Flipboard, and I like it. But I fear it is of a pattern with things in my past which are great fun to knit, and never get worn. Fortunately I've got too much going at the moment to be seriously tempted.

Jared has a new Lookbook, and a new yarn. Not much temptation for me there, but there's a good scarf and a good wrap and some wonderful cables throughout. Cables have become awfully interesting of late.


The picture I posted yesterday of bride and groom greeting guests at the church door, shows Matt's white pocket square clearly. Some of the blue ones were inadequately folded, and flopped a bit, but Matt got it right. I didn't notice at first, but my sister and her husband are also in the picture, framed by the church door.

I'm sure we'll get more pictures as the days go by. I'll try to add one from Lizzie's Facebook page soon.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Here's a how-dee-do!

I had a grand time at the wedding, and have much to tell and show you. But at the moment, I am without pictures. The MacBook insists that it's not connected to the Internet. Sorry. Can't help. Where is Archie when I need him? It was connected very recently – I emailed the pictures to it from my iPad this morning, and they're there.

And what is a wedding, without pictures?

The Internet is fine – this Windows 10 machine is connected.

I can but proceed, and hope that the Windows 10-Blogger interface will function this morning. [Answer: No, it won't.] I was very interested to hear that it works for you, Jean. (And that you are a Freecell fan. I'm going to have to ask Archie to delete it for me – I'm spending too much time there. I'm up to 92% by dint of applying the MLE System.)

[The MacBook works in the kitchen. I'll start again.]

Well, parts of the wedding really need pictures, but I can tell you that it went wonderfully and that a good time was had by all. It was an informal, even slightly hippy wedding, meticulously planned to the smallest detail. The pretty little church is tiny but we all managed to cram ourselves in, feeling slightly like a football crowd.

Here is a picture I took of a pew-ful of grandchildren with, in the foreground, Lucy who is expecting to be the mother of our first great-grandchild.

Archie and Alistair and, on the right, Alistair's sister Rachel are the most conspicuous of the grandchildren.

There was a lovely moment at the beginning of the service when Hellie came in – there are no pictures of this. Three or four strides were enough to get her down the isle, looking stunning. She kissed Matt quickly on the cheek.

I was perhaps a bit disappointed that more was not made of the Unst Bridal Shawl, but it wouldn't have suited the style of things to display it more than this:

Everybody admired the pocket squares extravagantly.

Here are some more pictures:

And Perdita is fine. The friend who was feeding her had hoped to sit here for a while for some lap-time and purring. That is not the Purrdator's style.


And I got quite a bit of knitting done on the sleeveless vest, in the back of the car and over breakfast on Sunday. I've nearly reached the underarm, which as every vest-knitter knows means, nearly finished. I didn't need the extra skein, but I reached “nearly” on that as well. I did get it wound, in the back of the car during yesterday's return journey.

This week may be a bit on-off, blogging-wise, as various family members pass through in a post-wedding wedding state, to visit my husband.

Friday, September 18, 2015


All continues well. My life has been so-much-the-same for so long that I am agitated about it all. But in fact everything is advancing smoothly.

My main concern is that I will probably have to take my overnight bag – with change of clothing – and my knitting bag, to the church with me. I will be staying with my sister and her family in the Big House, in former servants' quarters which have been made into a self-catering flat. My chauffeuse and her daughter are booked into a b&b in the village. Not at all far away, as the crow flies.

But the roads on the estate are (probably by design) rough and slow to negotiate, and we won't have much time to change.

Helen phoned from Athens yesterday. She, too, will be leaving Edinburgh early tomorrow morning, in her case with a car-ful of boys. She is worried about being late – what if the Rest and Be Thankful is closed? It happens. And she'll be driving, so it'll be her fault. I am worried about not driving – if the Sat Nav suggests something round-about or absurd, I can't intervene too rudely.

I reminded her of the great line from Fawlty Towers, spoken by Mr O'Reilly the Builder: “If the Good Lord had meant us to worry, He'd have given us things to worry about.”

As for my packages, failure.

When I went to the hospital yesterday, I left a note on the door (inviting burglars in and) begging that the packages be left. When I got back there were no burglars, thank goodness, but also no packages – only a card to say that one had been taken away because a signature was required. I have arranged for it to be redelivered to the nearest sub-post-office, which is not all that near, on Monday. I suspect that was the underwear – I would have had it sooner if I hadn't asked for next-day-special-delivery. And I also suspect there'll be another card for the yarn today.

So I knit peacefully on, on the sleeveless vest. It's continuing to look very nice. I will take your advice and take an extra skein along tomorrow.


I bought a new, slightly-larger television yesterday and seem to have left my favourite tape measure behind in John Lewis.

Elaine, it is interesting that you can't comment since you got Windows 10. I think Microsoft has a winner here – but what I can't do is get pictures into this blog. I can upload them from the computer to Blogger, but they won't make the final step from Blogger's picture platform to the actual blog. I have to do that with the MacBook.

I'm off to have my hair done. See you guys on Monday.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


We continue to be set fair. My husband approved of the idea of my going to the wedding as long as it didn't interfere with his release from hospital. And he liked the look of the Old Fogey underwear – patients don't have wi-fi in the Western General, but if I get an image on my iPad before I leave home, and don't let my husband poke at it, he can view a website.

I've tried on clothes, and have decided to wear the same thing I wore to last year's wedding. It would look better with fancy-schmancy shoes but I am not going to take those. They're uncomfortable, and if the weather is good – and the forecasts continue to be promising – we'll want to walk the half-mile from the pretty little church to the party in Alexander and Ketki's garden. I'll just have to contrive that none of the photographs include my feet.

I have a striped slub silk dress. I fell for the fabric in Liberty's long ago. I had it made for me by an actual dressmaker, a shirt-waister style. The stripes run vertically. It should be wonderful. It isn't, and never has been. It makes me look fat and matronly (even more than I am). It would be ridiculous to put it back in the wardrobe after this morning's try-on. What to do with it?


I'll take my husband's sleeveless vest along to the wedding. I'm already worrying about whether I'll need to take an extra skein. And what if I reach the armholes? Should I also take such pattern notes as exist? In fact, I'll do very little knitting, I suspect, but it's really scary to think of running out.

I've heard from Loop, just as you predicted, Imke. My package was about to be dispatched late yesterday. It will require a signature. Our normal postie can recognise a package of yarn and knows to sign for me – but will she be on duty today? Will the package go through the letter box? I'll leave a note on the door and risk bad men. And the special-delivery package of old-fashioned underwear will also need a signature, and is also likely to arrive while I am at the hospital. Plenty to worry about.

I had seen that note about delay on the Loop website. I took it to mean that they were terribly busy dispatching the book. I'm afraid I assumed (wrongly) that yarn was in a separate, special category and would be dispatched swiftly as usual.


Perdita behaved well at the vet's. Her name is spelled “Purrdator” on her medical records, which seems rather appropriate for so fierce an animal. Her carer came round yesterday evening and took some pictures. Here she is with her scratching board, a present from the carer:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I forgot to say, yesterday, that my INR score is just about perfect, 2.4, meaning blood that is neither too thick nor too thin after all this rat-poison. And the nurse gave her blessing to my proposal to drink a bit more than two units of alcohol at the wedding. I haven't deviated by a drop, so far.

The other thing I forgot to mention was Kate Davies' rather complicated (but tempting) way of launching new new yarn – the Seven Skeins Club. You've probably read about it already. You get a skein each of the seven colours plus a number of other goodies, including temporarily-exclusive KD patterns and a book. I would allow temptation to have its way if I weren't snowed under with urgent WIPs.

Still no yarn from Loop for the great-grandchild's Dunfallandy blankie. Surely today.

The other package I am now waiting for will contain (under)pants for my husband. Every day I take him a clean pair; and every other day a complete set of pants, vest and shirt; and every week or so, fresh corduroy trousers. He has never been so clean in his life. And I carry home what he was wearing the day before, to wash.

But on Tuesday when I stood in front of the washing machine and opened the package, there were no pants. Only the shirt and vest from the day before. We own only three pairs. With fewer than that, I can't take in clean ones every day since I am not there when he is getting dressed in the morning.

Distress. Our usual supplier, Sunspel, has redesigned its cellular pants into “briefs” my husband wouldn't dream of wearing.

However the good old internet has produced a website called Fogey Unlimited, aimed at people just like him, and selling, apparently, just what he wants. “Brand new old store stock” it says, which ought to mean they bought up the stock of one of those wonderful gents' outfitters which still survive in places like Blairgowrie. I've ordered some to come Special Delivery tomorrow.

And, as long as Loop doesn't send me that yarn, there is nothing for it but to knit peacefully forward on the sleeveless vest (another hospital casualty). Here it is,looking pretty good, I would say.

The new skein is slightly darker than the old – madtosh is supposed to be dye-lot-indifferent – but not seriously.

I've got to take Perdita to the vet this morning for a second injection of something I let myself get talked into when she had her previous consultation about that limp. Something to protect her from diseases acquired from other cats. I'm glad my husband isn't here to be told about it. We've never injected cats with anything before. I must find out exactly what it is before we leave.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

All continues well. The weather (although pretty awful yesterday) doesn't even seem particularly “unsettled” today. My sister and her husband are in Boston, about to begin the long leg of their journey to Loch Fyne. My chauffeur is still unsure whether we'll be travelling from Edinburgh on Friday evening or Saturday morning. I tidied up the vegetable rack and cleaned the refrigerator this morning, to spare the blushes of the friend who will be feeding Perdita. But I didn't mention the wedding to my husband yesterday – it would have been tantamount to saying, You're here for another week at least. 

Knitting continues well on his sleeveless vest. I finished the first skein, at 6”. “Knits Men Want” says to aim for 16 ½” or 17” to the underarm. I mean to be a tad generous with length so that I can block for width if need be. The nearly-solid effect of Whiskey Barrel is really good – at least, it was for the first skein. I got the next one wound, resisting the temptation to appropriate the one already wound for the Sous Sous, and unattached because I am between pieces on that one. 

Nothing from Loop – they'll probably try to deliver the yarn for the Dunfallandy blankie while I'm at the hospital at midday and then take it away for another couple of days' delay. Meanwhile, I knit on.

Perhaps I'll take the 6” of vest with me for the hospital visit today – a good moment, with no yarn attached.

One advantage of having two WIPs of the same yarn like this, ought to be less waste. I think I have noticed before that if one orders tosh DK going by the yardage specified in the pattern/yardage promised per skein – if you do that, you wind up with too much. (Why?) I have three or four skeins left over from Archie's sweater, and I certainly had too much for the Sous Sous, although not enough extra to knit a whole sleeveless vest. 

But if I go on working on both WIPs, and paying attention to where I am when skeins are finished, and using that information to estimate how much more I need, I ought to be able to get the final order somewhere close to reality.

Pictures of Perdita have been requested. A friend took these the other day, when she was walking by on her way to the post box: 

Our outside paintwork needs seeing to.

I don't have any thoughts today about the Meaning of Life, although I continue grateful for your helpful comments. I have been sidetracked by “Brimstone Wedding” by Barbara Vine (=Ruth Rendell). Goodness, she was good – this is far from her best, but one doesn't stop reading, even for a moment.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Little to report, but all's well. The Five-Day Weather Forecast on “Farming Today” this morning – a Monday morning 6 a.m. feature which I usually sleep through – said that after a week of “unsettled” weather, a “ridge of high pressure” – always an outrider of good news – would appear at the weekend. Just in time for the wedding.

Rachel phoned from Loch Fybe yesterday. She and Ed are safely there, after the long drive from London. Hellie and Matt, bride and bridegroom, will join them today.

I knit quite a bit yesterday. I'm about 1/3d of the way from the beginning to the underarm of my husband's new sleeveless vest, knit circularly. The fabric has a bit of lustre to it, really nice. I don't remember that that was true of Archie's Composition Book Grey. And the first skein is nearly finished. All this careful, fancy knitting of late hasn't produced much in the way of finished skeins, so that feels good.

I struggle on with science. Thank you for your careful message, Andrea (comment, Saturday). I think I understand what you are saying, as far as it goes. And I suspect that a lot of my trouble is an over-simplified (or just plain wrong) mental image of DNA and genes and their arrangement into chromosomes, in my own head.

How can the single cell from which we are all sprung, ever have evolved into something so clever as sexual reproduction when it would seem so much easier just to go on dividing? That's one of my questions. I guess that's an aspect of speciation, which is my main area of concern.

Glad to be rid of Dawkins, I have started reading “The Epigenetics Revolution” by Nessa Carey. It starts well. Its concerns are sort of peripheral to my main questions, but sometimes it helps to come at a problem sideways. It is very lucid, and it is very pleasant, after Dawkins, not to be harangued but to have an author who, instead, carefully explains things to me.

She has promised to tell me why tortoiseshell cats are always female, so it's worth reading on. (In fact, a male one has recently astonished science by turning up at a cat shelter in Edinburgh.)

As for the local cat, feliculture continues well, too. I have only needed to use the sprayer once more, when I was trying to tie my shoelaces this morning and Perdita was shooting out from under the bed all teeth and claws. It turns out that she not only understands “No!”, she also knows perfectly well what sort of behaviour it is I don't like. But sometimes temptation overwhelms her.

When my husband comes home, I fear she will have to be shut in the kitchen at night. Deprived of the opportunity to tear me apart, she wanders around the bedroom looking for things to knock to the floor. She is rather inventive. Then she comes and snuggles up with me and we go to sleep.

I have an INR blood test scheduled for this morning, after rather a long interval. The result will be interesting.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

All well. I'll tell my husband about my wedding plans tomorrow, or perhaps on Tuesday. And I must get seriously started on list-making. I need wedding wrapping paper, and to try on the two possible items from my wardrobe, and to make a donation to charity which is what Matt and Hellie have asked for. I already have a hair appt for Friday morning. That's not too daunting a list, even for me.

Knitting went well yesterday, on my husband's sleeveless vest. It's wonderful to be churning out st st with wonderful madtosh DK, after all those weeks of torturing it into double moss st for the Sous Sous. Not that the double moss stitch isn't a wonderful fabric, too. The yarn from Loop (destined for the Dunfallandy blankie) couldn't possibly come until tomorrow at the earliest. That should see me a good couple of inches further on.

Nothing of interest from Flipboard. They are absolutely obsessed with someone called Taylor Swift, utterly unknown to me, a fan of whose knit a sweater for her with her picture on it. Not a terribly nice sweater. One thinks of Dr Johnson's line about women preaching. Flipboard carries this story again and again day after day with always the same picture of Taylor Swift and the sweater.


I think I have found the television set for us – bigger than the present one, but not grotesquely bigger. I went up to John Lewis early yesterday but it was already Saturday and I didn't hang around to talk to a Man.

Your observations about cats and modern, slim TV's are well taken. At the moment, Perdita is not allowed in that room ever, because it is also where I knit and because she gets on the chest of drawers and knocks objets off of it. She'd be glad to knock a television set down, the bigger the better.

This can't continue, however. When my husband comes home, he will expect his cat to sit on his lap when he is watching television and make intelligent comments from time to time, not hare around the periphery of the room with a ball of yarn in her mouth.

Her biting has become so bad that yesterday I finally resorted to the ultimate sanction – spraying her in the face with a gentle blast of water from my chillie-plant-sprayer. I should have done it sooner. I was afraid she would think I didn't like her, but in fact she understands perfectly.

She is often in Mad Cat Mode when I go to bed and sit up reading for half an hour. I have often had to put her out of the room lest I be mauled to death. Last night I took the sprayer to bed with me. All it needed was one application, and that a rather feeble one which mostly landed on her shoulder. From then on all I had to do was move my hand towards the sprayer. This morning I think she showed evidence of understanding “No!”, even with the sprayer nowhere to be seen.

She sits at the foot of the bed and looks at me with those round eyes: “How could you be so beastly to your cat?” But she doesn't seem to hold it against me.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

I chickened out on the television. It's so hard to judge size in a shop – not how big something actually is, that's easy, but how big it will seem in the room. I measured hospital televisions yesterday instead, not without profit. The one in my husband's room is the same size as the one we have here. The one in the Day Room is much bigger, too big. I need something in between. I might go up to John Lewis this morning.

I think I'm set fair for the wedding. If they phone next week to say that my husband can be released, I can say, Great! let's arrange everything for Monday the 21st. There will be lots of arranging to do.

I made a good start on the sleeveless vest yesterday. Only a round or two more, and the tedious ribbing will be at an end. There's a suitable basic vest in “Knits Men Want” – the book that provided the pattern for Archie's sweater – which will be a useful supplement to the inadequate notes I made while knitting the first one.

Soon I will have to increase. The ribbing is done on 90% of “K”. Somewhere Meg has a rather fun formula for calculating increases, and I think I know where to find it. But I found this Knitulator via Facebook. It's quicker and easier, and just as much fun.

I don't know Eskimimi (the authoress of the Knitulator). I like her. The baby jacket she links to in the Knitulator page I've linked you to, is delightful. It's not entirely her own design, but her own take on it is very good. It's called Langoz. Not easy to remember. I've put it in Evernote.

And speaking of blogs, thank you, Peggy, for straightening me out on Franklin and his new Skacel blog. I've now subscribed to it. It's clearly going to be very different from what he writes for Lion Brand. I heard someone say “Skacel” out loud on a video clip on my iPad this morning – there was a totally unexpected emphasis on the final syllable.

I am enormously touched by your suggestion of all chipping in to knit the squares and triangles of the Dunfallandy blankie. A problem would be the patchwork of yarns, when I have ordered all that expensive stuff from Loop. But also I want to do this myself, for this first great-grandchild. But thank you, thank you, and thank you.


I struggle on. Dawkins was no use – I resorted to speed-reading towards the end and have now happily archived it. He talks interestingly enough about the many curious adaptations shewn in nature and in fossils. But there is only an off-hand sentence about speciation –populations move away from each other and go on evolving until their genomes are so different that interbreeding is impossible. Yes, obviously, that's what must happen. But how does it work, on the genome level? How do you evolve (for instance) a different number of chromosomes from your parents?

Alas, Ridley's “Genome” is not available for the Kindle, and I can't find my copy.

Someone has written a book called Speciation, but a) it sounds difficult and b) it's very expensive and c) it's not available for the Kindle, either.

Friday, September 11, 2015

I think I will go up to John Lewis this morning and at least discuss a new television set. We need something a bit bigger, for old eyes, and the old one has developed funny ways.

I pressed on with Dunfallandy yesterday. Beverly, I couldn't make that little map show Kirkmichael (link and comment, yesterday). The more I enlarge it, the blurrier it gets, and that's about it. I'm glad you could. But I ordered the yarn (and their book) from Loop.

The danger with such a pattern, as we all know, is that one carefully paces oneself, four squares, eight triangles, allow good time for sewing up: quite forgetting that the border stretches out to the horizon and beyond. And I've only got two-thirds of a pregnancy to go on. And my husband is keen to get his new sleeveless vest. And then there are the Sous Sous and the Tokyo shawl and Franklin's swatches...

The only possible solution is to give more time to knitting, at least while this odd half-life continues. I cast on the vest last night and am well embarked on the tedious ribbing. It will be good travel-knitting if I get to the wedding next weekend: it'll be at a stage where no thought whatsoever is required, nothing but circular st st.

And when the yarn arrives from Loop, I'll knit the first square, just to see what I've let myself in for.

Alexander made an unexpected visit to my husband in hospital yesterday. He's now based in Glasgow where the Little Boys are at school, making the distance somewhat less. He didn't know about the forthcoming baby, and was a bit hurt that its father Thomas hadn't phoned him with the news – he is Thomas' godfather.

But I had an email in the evening to explain that Thomas had phoned, the same day he phoned me. He spoke to Alexander's son James, the elder of the Little Boys, who didn't deem the news of sufficient interest to pass on.


Knitlass, yes, I am dimly aware of Be Inspired in Marchmont, but have never been there. I really must make the effort. My life is pretty circumscribed just now, but it is worth while making efforts. I'm sorry about your fall. Golly.

And, Peggy, yes, I knew that Franklin blogs for Skacel. I think of it as “Lion Brand” – easier to spell and pronounce. I should link to him more often. I read it avidly, now, especially, that he is “on hiatus” at Knitty and doesn't update the Panopticon much. Here's a link to the latest – not vintage Franklin, but every pearl that falls from his lips is to be treasured.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Plenty of excitement for one day. The Queen had a nice ride on a gloriously old-fashioned steam train, departing from Edinburgh and bearing her to wherever it was she was going to open the line. The skies above Edinburgh were thick with helicopters yesterday morning.

I had a successful, if strenuous, shoe-buying expedition. I suspect strenuous is good for me, at this stage. On the way back I walked past, and indeed into, McAree Bros., a first-class wool shop near here – not even up-hill. I don't go there nearly often enough. That's where Arne and Carlos are going to be next month. I needed precision, as I had foolishly failed to note the date on my calendar.

McAree do the big spinners (Rowan, Patons) and do them very well. They also have an excellent selection of books. Kathy's Knits, even closer in the other direction, specialises in smaller-scale local spinners and dyers. I'm sure she'll have Kate Davies' yarn as soon as it's launched.

Arne and Carlos have a new book out – slippers, just in time for Christmas. I was glad to see it, as it means there will be something for me to buy and have them sign. I reflected, as I walked the rest of the way home, how one's mental relationship to a designer shifts when one actually knits something of theirs. I made several of A&C's Christmas tree baubles a few years ago.

It's the same sort of feeling one has for a wool shop which one actually deals with. I downloaded and printed (and stapled – there are no page numbers) the pattern for the Dunfallandy blankie yesterday. It remains but to order the yarn. I notice that Loop has published the long-promised 10th anniversary book. I'll have them throw that in.

I've ordered often from them on line, but they have a special place in my heart for the day when I met Shandy and we went there to sit at Franklin's feet (metaphorically speaking) and then have lunch in a near-by pub which wasn't quite as good as it thought it was, but not bad either.

I read what people have to say about the blankie on Ravelry, and I take your point, Shandy, about the border. If necessary one could solve that problem by doubling it, like the border on Kate Davies' Rams & Yowes. The trouble with that is the difficulty in sewing the hem in place accurately. I wonder, even without doubling, if a garter stitch border might not stand up better than st st.

One of the Ravellers said that it helps not to bind off the eight smaller triangles, whose final stitches are going to be picked up for the border anyway. That sounds sensible.

I've got to go for it, for the sake of Dunfallandy. The pictures aren't very good on the site I've linked you to, but the little map includes us (unmarked) between Enoch Dhu and Ballintuim. I will have to visit it again, once the blankie is well embarked-upon. This page has somewhat better pictures.

As for actual knitting, I finished the back of the Sous Sous. It is nearly 2” longer than it should be. Not good. I wonder if anyone is going to wear this oddity and if so, who? But I'm enjoying it and will certainly press on.

Next in the rota is the Tokyo shawl, but I think duty bids me cast on my poor husband's sleeveless vest, so that's what I shall do. Maddeningly, I can't find the needle I have already taken from the needle-store in anticipation. I have plenty in the right size, but only one lovely wooden KnitPics one. That's what is missing. The current situation makes heavy demands on my needle supply – Sous Sous and Tokyo and my husband's vest and Franklin's swatch.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


All the Queen now has to do is live until tea-time, and she's got her record. And it's not one that =o;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;panyone alive on earth is at all likely to see surpassed.7 (Perdita is being a Very Great Help; she still doesn't understand that cats aren't much use at copy-editing.)

But the big news came in a phone call from Thomas yesterday. We are to be great-parents!

In March. Not the least happy aspect of this news is that he and Lucy have toiled through the first anxious weeks on their own. They've had the first scan. All appears well.

Rachel phoned in the evening, a bit concerned that the child will be born in the middle of Lent. I'm not going to observe Lent next year, so that's all right.

So – the Dunfallendy blankie from the last-Knitty-but-one, I think. I'm sorry that it's done in bits and sewn together, but one can't have everything.

Yarn and colour? The pattern is written for worsted-weight. What weight will Buachaille be? Has Kate mentioned that yet? (And was she wise to pick a name not only so difficult to pronounce but also to spell?)

Colour is a problem which her Highland Cow shade might solve – the blankie can't be pink or blue, for fear the baby turns out to be the other sex and thinks it's second best. An Irish friend (of all nationalities) told me once that it's unlucky to knit in green for a baby. That doesn't leave all that much. My current thought is tosh Vintage in “Tart”. Loop has got it, so I don't need to wait or to pay more at the door. Red is the Hindu colour of joy, the colour brides wear.

There are some tasteful pale colours on Loop's shelves – “Antler”, “Celadon”. The pattern would show up very well in one of those. But I think I prefer joy to tastefulness this morning.

I paused for a while over Jared's “Shelter” which Loop has also got. But the shop's description of it was uninviting for a baby blanket: “This yarn must be knit gently as it breaks a bit easily. It has a rustic feel to it and has some vegetable matter spun in it from the natural fleece; this is part of its nature.”

And of course a BSJ. That can be executed from stash with the application of the colour principles I will by then have learned from Franklin. I must get back to swatching.

As for actual knitting, I didn't finish the back of the Sous Sous yesterday, but it's a not-impossible goal for today.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

You're absolutely right, Mary Lou and Kristie both – a mistake of one's own making, easily if tediously remedied, is a good deal easier to bear than the discovery, late in the game, that the gauge is seriously out. I have not yet knit up all the ravelled yarn – I haven't even re-joined-in the recently-wound skein. But the shoulder decreases are making themselves felt, and I'm speeding forward. I hope to finish the back today.

The other thing that happened on Sunday (after I had ravelled and picked up all those stitches and knit back across seating everybody properly and unsplitting where necessary) is that I discovered that a whole wing, 64 stitches, had been done wrongly on the wrong side, producing single moss stitch instead of the required double.

It does matter, and it's the sort of mistake that becomes more glaring when you finish and regard the whole. It might have been quicker to frog a row and a half, but I was tired of frogging, so I worked across those 64 stitches reversing each one as I came to it and worrying, towards the end, about whether I had misunderstood the situation and was creating the very problem I was trying to avoid.

But no – all is well.

The medical staff isn't the issue – it's the City of Edinburgh. The hospital has recommended a certain level of home care for my husband, the city has agreed and put it out to tender. Nobody is tendering. Everybody seems to agree that going straight for private care at home won't work – we need the city and the NHS pulling together. We'll probably need extra private care on top of the city package when it comes, but that's a separate problem.

I asked once whether things would move faster if we settled for less care, and the hospital thought not.

So it's possible that the City could ring up, any moment now, and announce that they're ready to roll. Still, one day has passed this week without that happening. Four to go. And meanwhile, of course, my husband is excellently accommodated, in his own ground-floor room with a garden view and en suite facilities and with cheerful and highly competent 24-hour care. It would cost a bomb, in the private sector.

I need new shoes, for comfort as much as appearance. My toes are coming through. And I must have my hair done. It's to be an informal, come-as-you-please wedding so there's nothing else to worry about. Except whether I'll get there.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Here's what happened with the Sous Sous, deduced after much anxious thought:

When I laid it aside last time, I was at the point where the shoulder shaping begins. When I resumed last week, I didn't start shaping the shoulders. Instead, I repeated the last instruction: “Work rows 1-14 again”.

With the results a) that I inserted almost a whole extra repeat; and b) that the first “work rows 1-14 again” left me with an incomplete cable crossing. The pattern is 16 lines long, and the final two finish off the cabling.

So after much thinking and consulting of Ravelry and deciding to frog back somewhat and then knit the smaller size as far as repeats were concerned and worrying about the side seams if I shortened the back and couldn't figure out how to shorten the front – after all that, I actually looked and saw the extra repeat and all became clear.

“Look at your knitting”, EZ said.

So I have frogged, and am proceeding with the pattern as written. It will be very slightly longer than specified. I am now happily decreasing for the shoulders, four stitches at the beginning of every row – the effect should very soon make itself felt. Here's a link to the Ravelry page if you've forgotten what it looks like. You'll understand my anxiety about the front when you see it.

I'm getting on fine with Flipboard, at least more or less fine, as a substitute for Zite. They're very fond of the Harlot, so I'm reading her regularly. She had a piece recently about the great pleasure to be had, reserved for knitters, when you unravel something and knit it up again and reach the point where you are knitting with new yarn instead of unravelled yarn. She expresses it better than that. Anyway, I haven't got there yet.

But I hope to this evening. I am sure the only thing to do at this point is to finish the back before I go on to anything else.


Darwin himself, I gather, wondered about speciation, although the word hadn't been invented yet and he didn't even have a word for genes. He wondered why, if his theory was right, we never seemed to find species in the process of transition, either in nature or in fossils. All of us seem to be happily settled in the species we were born into.

I've read a bit more Dawkins but he gets more and more irritating. At the moment he is explaining to me about carbon dating – apparently creationists don't believe in it. Increasingly I feel that an Oxford professor ought to have more pressing demands on his time than constructing elaborate arguments against the patently absurd. I am reading “The Greatest Show on Earth”.

He promises to demolish “intelligent design” while he's at it, and I will struggle on far enough to find out what he means by that.


This week is it. If they send my husband home, I'll have to bite the bullet and welcome him. By this time next week, I think I could reasonably say, Can't he stay here over the weekend so that I can go to the wedding?