Saturday, January 23, 2016

I hoped, when I posted yesterday, that somebody would know the chemistry building at Mt Holyoke. Thank you, Pascoag Girl, for being the somebody! (comment yesterday)

Mary Lou, I had to google Eugene V Debs – but the process rewarded me with the article you mention.

The only really desperately important chore left for today is to polish my shabby shoes. But I tremble. Things which ought to be easy, never are, these days. Archie and Fergus will be here for lunch. I'll give them chilli con carne I think, easy and satisfying. It will be very nice to see them.

Then Archie will go back to school, leaving Fergus who will of course be joined by his mother, Greek Helen, tonight. She and I have a number of important points to discuss tomorrow morning such as how to help her father with his computer and how to turn the central heating on and off and how to make porridge. Even such simple conversations become tricky when the doorbell starts ringing.

I have packed all the important things already, such as yarn. I hope to finish those eternal Pakokku socks and maybe even start the next pair – I'll be taking Arne & Carlos yarn in hopes.

It would be just as well to make some progress with socks. I have retained a whole bag of sock yarn from the Slaughter of the Innocents. And on top of that, I had an email just now from "Knitcircus Yarns Web Store" saying that my order was being shipped. A moment of pure panic – what order? what on earth? But then I remembered – those rather glorious graduated socks which had to be specially dyed. And Amy Detjen signed the message!

Actual knitting, as always, has moved forward but slowly. I am nearly halfway through the final, right-side welt of the Dunfallandy blankie border. There must be well more than 500 stitches by now but that is not a sufficient excuse for this interminably slow progress.

I won't try to write tomorrow. Americans, I hope the snow is not as bad as forecast. I should be back here on February 1, with any luck, with news of Loop and of the oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

This will inevitably be largely non-knit because so little has happened. I have started the fourth and last welt on the edging of the Dunfallandy blankie and am again knitting on the right side. I have made a rough calculation of how many skeins of madtosh DK I would probably need to knit a plain sleeved v-neck pullover for my husband.

And have reminded myself that if I see the perfect yarn at Loop and they only have two skeins, it's all right, I can wait.

And speaking of waiting, I have found a communication from the Vintage Shetland Project to say that the authoress will be at Edinburgh's Yarn Fest in March, signing copies. That strongly implies that it will be published by then although if so, I have missed the announcement of exactly when. It all continues to seem a bit girly and breathless, although I continue hugely to look forward to the book.


I had a pretty good day yesterday of doing small but vital pre-London tasks, like estimating yarn requirements. Today will be scarier. Tomorrow I think both Archie and his younger brother Fergus, now both at school here in Edinburgh, will be here in Drummond Place in anticipation of their mother's arrival late tomorrow night. Lunch for boys? It's fun, but needs thought.

You're absolutely right, Mary Lou: Eleanor Roosevelt. My grumble yesterday about powerful women whose name was pre-established by some man, completely dissolves when I think of her.

I think I saw her once. My Aunt Emma was much the same age, and in some other ways similar. Aunt Emma was a distinguished scientist, professor of chemistry at Mt Holyoke. Their modern chemistry building is named for her. Both she and Mrs Roosevelt had "homely" faces made beautiful by the intelligence behind them.

I was with Aunt Emma at her club in NYC – this has to be in the late 40's – when Mrs Roosevelt walked across the lobby. She was wearing an old-fashioned "costume" with the skirt very unfashionably below mid-calf. It was an electrical moment.

Memory has suppressed all else. Why was I in NYC with Aunt Emma, to begin with? But the memory is so vivid that I trust it.

One of the major regrets of old age, for everybody, I suspect, is that we didn't make better use of our own elders when we had them. Aunt Emma is the person I most regret not having talked to at length about our family dynamics. She was unmarried herself. She could have told me a lot – and would have, I am sure, had I asked – about her sister, my grandmother; and about my mother.

As for Bernie Sanders: I get my political shirts from Cafe Press. But I should have thought of going to Sanders' own website, once I had determined on him for the 2016 shirt.

(No – I've just tried his website and got tangled up. I went back to CafePress and ordered another shirt, a black tee-shirt with "Bernie Sanders Not for Sale" on it. That's it! That's the slogan I want to keep for 2016.)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I hadn't realised that Kate Davies' Deco cardigan was a re-run. I'm not complaining: it has been brilliantly re-knit in the new yarn, and that's what we're looking for. What yarn was suggested in the original pattern? That might be a useful pointer to other patterns suitable for the new yarn.

All well here, except, not much knitting. I can't see the Dunfallandy blankie being finished this week after all. That cat actually came and sat on it and my lap yesterday – and she's not a lap-sitter, that cat – in order to stop me knitting. One thing I hope to learn in London next week is not the sex of the promised child, but whether it's expected in early, middle, or late March.

I wandered around Carol Sunday's website for a while yesterday evening, as I often do. I am rather taken with her pattern called Chrysalis, a sort of shawl with sleeves. And with her yarn called Nirvana, with a touch of cashmere in it, for knitting it with. I think the six weeks on either side of the winter solstice are the ones in which I am at my most vulnerable to yarn-buying temptations.

But I haven't bought this one yet.

I'm also rather taken with a Twist Collective pattern called Channa. Perfectly simple with what I think is called a boat neck, a feature with which I am suddenly rather smitten having seen it on the dentist's receptionist last week in dark navy with a crisp white blouse underneath.

There's plenty of knitting to do here already; I don't need reminding. And plenty more planned.


London plans are moving forward. Time enough for absolute terror tomorrow. We are going to see Guys and Dolls! I love it almost as much as I do My Fair Lady and it has the additional advantage of recalling the NYC of my youth.

I felt I ought to have a political shirt of some sort for 2016. I have a Kerry one, and an Obama of course, and I think maybe there was something before Kerry. It'll be in a drawer in Strathardle, if so. I was hard put to think who to go for this time, and have finally ordered a Bernie Sanders sweat shirt.

I'm sure Hillary will make a very competent president, but I am sad to think that the first woman to hold that office should have got in on her husband's coat-tails. No worse than Indira Ghandi and Benazir Bhutto, I suppose.

My mother would have been terribly keen on Sanders, I think, although she was also a strong feminist and might have been torn. My parents had a cat named Norman Thomas when I was born (I'll leave you to google that one) but he didn't like me and soon left.

Perdita is fine. She still walks with a slight limp when she remembers, but for all practical purposes is scampering about as before.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

At last – there's knitting to write about!

Not much, as usual, of actual knitting. I am toiling slowly on with the second reversed st st welt on the border of the Dunfallandy blankie, and doing it, as before, by turning around and knitting on the wrong side, rather than struggling to purl. It's looking good.

I've wound and incorporated the new skein. That took a while. Things might go faster today.

The big news is that Kate Davies has released a garment pattern for her new yarn. It's a cropped cardigan called Deco which I like a lot. Her blog entry to which I link is worth reading for the wonderful photographs, as usual, and for the anecdote about the tourists who wanted to photograph her, not because, gosh! that's Kate Davies, but because they thought she looked so quaint.

Could one get away with knitting the cardigan without lining the button band with ribbon? A cardigan that shape would be awfully useful.

And, LisaRR, oh! thank you for remembering my Koigu stash and providing the link to that wonderful masondixon blog post about VKLive. It's full of good pictures, good links, good ideas. I seem to have provided a link to the comments (which need to be read) but you can easily go on up to the post itself. I've put the link in Evernote for future reference for myself.


Everything is moving forward well, I guess, for my departure south on Sunday. I'm terrified, but that's by the way. My hair looks nice, and I still have three weekdays left for doing things in.

Income tax: I often find the dates confusing. The American and the German system of having a tax year be a calendar year would be much easier. Here we are in January, 2016. I have to pause for a moment over every single piece of paper – which tax year does April 17, 2014, fall in, for instance? There is now plenty of paper in the files belonging in the current year, 2015-16; that doesn't help, since part of 2015 was in the previous tax year.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Socklady sounds as if she's doing well, walking up and down the corridor and knitting a bit. It becomes ever clearer that she had a far worse time than I did – and worse hospital food, too.

I had my hair done this morning in order to look, if not beautiful, at least tidy next week in London.

As usual these days, there is little to report on the knitting front. I have turned around again, and made a start on the third of the four bands in the final edging of the Dunfallandy blankie border. As expected, the corner where I turn manifests a certain amount of messiness – but it's nothing that I (and any reasonable baby) can't live with. I should wind and join in the final skein today.

Mary Lou, I find that I quite like doing the tax in January – once it's done. The tax year actually ends on April 5. There was plenty of time to get it done earlier. I used to do it in September. You were allowed – maybe you still are – to submit it on paper if you do it by September.

But then one year things got away from me. If you miss September, the next thing you know is that Christmas takes over life and after that there is nothing for it but to file on-line (which they greatly prefer) in January. And I found it rather exhilarating. There it has remained for me, despite occasional resolutions to get it done earlier.

Why April 5? I love this one. Tax used to be due on the quarter day, March 25. When Britain, rather belatedly, abandoned the Julian calendar, in the 18th century, I think it was, everything got moved forward 11 days. Many people thought that the government had docked 11 days from their lifespan, and were upset about it. But the government did at least move the tax year-end forward those 11 days, to be fair, and there it remains.

When I was a student at Glasgow, I was on a train once and met a man who told me that in the north where he came from they celebrated the "old New Year" and I realised with a real thrill that he must mean the New Year according to the Julian calendar. (They still do.)

The calendar in ancient Rome was a real mess before Caesar. They had to stick a whole extra month in fairly frequently and it was often done for political reasons, to prolong the terms of annual office-holders, or not, to shorten the terms of others. All that boring stuff in the poetry about the stars is because country people, at least, would have had to be able to read them if they were to have any hope of getting the seeds in at the right time. Caesar must have called in the right team, for his calendar reform to have lasted so long.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Not much today, but I did write this last night:

The big news is that I have filed the income tax. They say they owe us a little bit of money. That is nice not only because it is always nice to have a little bit of unexpected money, but also because it saves me having to figure out how to pay them. I think last year they wanted a small payment and preferred not to have a cheque and it took me an anxious while to figure out how to oblige before the deadline.

So that felt great for half an hour and then I began to notice Life's Other Problems, all lining up asking for attention. I must now write out a Programme of the Day for the live-in carer and Helen.

This final section of the Dunfallandy blankie border involves only four four-row bands, two facing one way and two the other. I have finished the first and am halfway through the second. The present skein won't last all that much longer but I'm pretty sure the one that was lost and is now found will be enough to finish. Indeed I could conceivably get it done this week.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

About knitting, for a change....

I toiled on around the Dunfallandy blankie edging, purling clockwise, and decided long before I finished the round that I would purl normally henceforth.

The next round was not much better. The stitches from the first round were turned, so that the only way to proceed with any ease was to knit into the back leg of each stitch. Before I had finished going around like that, I had reached a conclusion:

Four rounds of purling, however executed, are not garter stitch, they are reversed st st. For garter stitch in the round, you've got to purl. (Well, you don't, there are work-arounds, see below, but for rhetorical purposes...) But for st st, I could just turn the whole thing around.

So I did. The worst that can happen is a small hole every time I turn, namely every four rounds, and there are ways of dealing with small holes. I finished the round, I wrapped the first stitch of the next round, I turned the work and knit very happily off in the other direction. I am not far off the moment when I turn again and resume knitting on the right side.

I remember having great difficulty with this operation when I was knitting Hellie's bridal shawl. In that case, I wanted to wrap and turn at the end of every round, to produce garter-stitch-in-the-round. I can't imagine what went wrong, to produce that Messy Corner that I kept grumbling about. It seems so obvious now – helped by the fact that I now change needles at that corner.

I wrap the stitch which would be the first stitch of the next round if I were knitting on straight ahead. I don't knit it. I turn the work. At the end of the next round, I knit that stitch with its wrap, wrap the next one, and again turn. So two stitches are being wrapped, in alternate rounds. The effect, in lace, is visible and a bit heavy-looking. But better than purling.


I have bought Queer Joe's Koigu scarf pattern, and printed it. It looks fun. It's knit sideways – you cast on the whole length of the scarf. He uses two different shades of Koigu – I may have to involve more.

Perdita is getting better. She is now putting some weight on the injured leg, hobbling rather than hopping.

I'm poised ready to go with the Income Tax. Maybe I'll even file it today. I logged on to the gov't website yesterday just to see if I could, and all seemed well.

I make porridge (thanks to Delia Smith here) by putting a pint of water in a pan, whisking in 65-70 grams of medium oatmeal (a bit more than Smith recommends) and putting the whole in a low oven for a while. Remove and season and stir when the diabetic nurse gets here, in case it needs a bit more time bubbling on the hob. I re-heat half the next day – easiest if I can leave it in the pan and just add a tiny bit more water and put it back in the low oven. But sometimes I need the pan for other purposes and have to keep the cold porridge in something else.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

I found the missing skein of madtosh "Tart", sure enough. It was a case of the Purloined Letter. It was in plain sight, on the sofa in the sitting room. The skein itself wasn't visible, but there was the bag it was in, lying there by itself. It had previously been hanging on the doorknob of the stash cupboard. And sure enough, the yarn is much darker than the new skein from Loop. I'll have to knit myself a nice red Awesome hat.

I finished the plain st st part of the Dunfallandy blankie border, as hoped, and have embarked on the garter ridges. I'm doing the purl stitches backwards as requested. When I started, I thought it wouldn't matter much since I am a slow and clumsy knitter anyway. I am about halfway around the first circuit and am getting pretty tired of it.

Here's a snapshot of the current state of play:

I continue to have a nice time thinking about London. I had forgotten the big Celtic show at the British Museum – I'll have to see that. Not many in the crowd will be actively engaged in knitting the Dunfallandy blankie. Liotard at the Royal Academy has already been to Edinburgh. It's a great show.

I'm poised to file the tax, I think. I'll try to get the spreadsheets printed today, and aim to do the actual filing on Monday. If I survive that, I might manage to get my hair done later in the week.

I must also write out the daily routine for Greek Helen and the professional carer, with asterisks against all the items (such as "make porridge" or "turn on central heating") which have to be explained or demonstrated. Not just the routine, but the one-offs. "Put the recycling out on Thursday evening." "Leave the left-hand side of the plate rack free for the cat."

Helen and I will overlap by a few precious hours on Sunday the 24th.

And I must figure out and write carefully down what yardage of dk I'd need to knit my husband a sleeved sweater, just in case I see the perfect thing at Loop.

Miscellaneous: Queer Joe posted recently about an LYS owner (if I've got this straight) who bought a single copy of a pattern of his and is distributing copies of it with yarn sales. He is irritated, as well he might be. The interest for me is that it is a distinctly nice Koigu scarf pattern. I think I will buy it myself and salt it down.

Friday, January 15, 2016

I had a hospital appt with my DVT consultant on Monday; one with a nurse at our general practice on Tuesday to test my blood clotting; a dental hygiene session on Wednesday; and yesterday I went up to Waverley Station to book my tickets to and from London a week hence.

And in all of that potential waiting time, I scarcely got to knit a stitch. Everybody dealt with me as soon as I turned up. What has happened to the world? In a normal week, I would have polished off a whole sock.

So I've got the tickets. I'm going down on Sunday the 24th. I have established that Loop is closed on Monday – otherwise I would have shot off there on the 25th. I am having a nice time thinking what (other than Loop) I want to see.

It occurred to me that I might drop in on the Banqueting Hall in Whitehall and see the Rubens ceiling. My husband and I have often remarked to each other, as we inched up or down Whitehall on the good old 159 bus, that that is something we ought to do. (I think he has seen it, long ago. I never have.)

But I have found that it is chiuso per restauro although they didn't phrase it like that.

And before any of this happens, I've got to finish and file the income tax. No kidding about that.


I am ready to finish off the first part of the Dunfallandy blankie border with the current increase round and the subsequent plain one – that will give me 19 increases amounting, if I've done it right, to 38 rounds – near enough the prescribed 40. I think I counted once and found that there are then 18 more rounds to do in the garter-band section, still increasing every other round.

Plenty still to do, but I'm getting there. The new skein from Loop, which has turned up with remarkable speed, looks rather light. Maybe I won't need it? Maybe lightness will look good as a final edging?

Here's the picture of Perdita in the catalogue room which Blogger wouldn't let me show you yesterday, demonstrating that lameness needn't interfere with a cat's activities.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Socklady reports via Facebook that she is soon to be moved to a smaller hospital nearer home. Good news. She's been in a fortnight already. She must have had it worse than I did.

Brooklyn Tweed has a winter lookbook out. Nothing that makes me want to throw down the needles and start again right this moment, but some nice things, and, predictably, some wonderful photography.

Perdita seems to have settled into life as a three-legged cat. It stops her reaching the very highest places, which is something of a blessing. She is as wicked as ever, and almost as frisky. She thinks a bit more carefully than she used to, before she jumps. We are back in her good graces.

(I've got a picture for you but Blogger won't paste it in.)

I gave up. I ordered another skein of madtosh Vintage "Tart" from Loop. Now I'll find the mssing one, no doubt. The border is very near the required 5 1/2". I'll go on with it today, aiming for the prescribed 40 rounds (meaning 20 increase rounds). I'm a couple of rounds short of that.

The pattern doesn't make clear whether "40 rounds or 5 1/2" means "whichever happens first" or "as you prefer".


Yes, I liked Arne's line about 96 stitches being just right for a hat (link yesterday). Your 100 stitches are also divisible by 4, Mary Lou – but 96 stitches are divisible by 4 an even number of times. Is that the difference? The other bit I liked was the passage about knitting with three colours. One might have expected some fancy Scandinavian fingerwork beyond the capacities of most – but no. He dropped the yarns and picked them up as needed, just like you and me.

Carol, I'm glad you like Lesperance (artist mentioned yesterday). I'd like to see her work in real life.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Flipboard came up with Ellen Lesperance this morning – a feminist artist who makes art out of, among other things, knitting schematics. I can't find a suitable link for you. Google her name and look at the images on offer. She's interesting.

With the cat, we seem to have achieved the status quo ante. That is, she talks to us as before, and we will never know whether she has forgiven me in her furry heart. As before, she puts no weight on her right front leg (although she employs it for non-weight-bearing activities, such as knocking light-weight things about) and is in heat. We're back to where we were on Monday morning, in fact, and very glad of it.

She is getting very adroit at hopping about three-legged.

I have suddenly realised that 2016 is hurtling along and that my long-anticipated respite break is nearly with us – not this weekend but next. So I must return to the income tax and get it filed. And buy tickets. And make lists.

On and on I go around the border of the Dunfllandy blankie. I've done nearly four inches, out of a projected five and a half. I finished a skein yesterday, and wound the next one, and failed to find the additional one which I remain pretty sure is here somewhere. A few miscellaneous skeins of delicious reds escaped the Bonfire of the Vanities, a.k.a. my recent stash-reduction. Could one of them be used for the final bit of border?

I forgot to recommend to all, yesterday, Mary Lou's pointer to Arne and Carlos' video about How to Make a Hat. It is not both of them, it is only Arne (I think), who is (I think), of the two, the more serious knitter. It is full of the artless charm in which they so brilliantly specialise, and includes some serious tips about hat-knitting.

I didn't get to the local yarn shop that time in the summer when they were there. Maybe you noticed. I was free to go – my husband was still in hospital then, and their appearance didn't overlap my daily visiting time. But I lacked the oomph.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Perdita hasn't appeared this morning. I hope that means that she is still somewhere in the bed. My husband's first carer will be here soon, and we'll find out.

The socklady has posted a brief blog entry from her hospital bed. She seems to be having exactly what I did last summer – blood clots in right leg and chest – and to be having it worse. I was only three nights in hospital, I think, and have been more or less tottering about on my feet ever since.

I think I need to take a picture of the Dunfallandy blankie today, for my sake as much as yours, to help me decide about border width.

Here's what I wrote last night:

It turns out that Perdita's leg is badly sprained, not broken. A great deal of expense to discover that I was more or less right to neglect her – but of course it might have been otherwise. After she came home, she spent the afternoon sitting in corners growling quietly. She would hiss and spit and strike out at me if I tried even to scratch an ear.

One of her most endearing qualities – one of her few endearing qualities – has been her fondness for human society. She has always wanted to be where people are, often assisting in their endeavours, sometimes just sleeping in their presence (on their preferred chairs, where possible). I feared for a while today that she might have lost that forever, would never again come to "kitty, kitty" or sleep in a conspicuous spot so I didn't have to worry about where she was.

But she has gone to bed with my husband so maybe we will be forgiven. Maybe she will trust us again. Poor little beast. I am supposed to take her back to the vet to be checked up on next week. I may not do that. We'll see.


Round and round I go (on the border of the Dunfallandy blankie). I will soon – maybe today – need to go on to the next skein. I feel sure that there are two more, but I can only find one. The search for the second has turned up a number of useful discoveries: things which were put neatly away to make the room tidy for Christmas -- but not the skein in question. It's not a world-shaking loss. I got this yarn from Loop, I think, and with any luck they should be able to send one more skein. And madtosh doesn't have dye lots.

We're having a series on television about Scottish Art. (I thought we had just had one – but this seems to be new.) There was a lot in the first episode about carved stones, but I don't think Dunfallandy was mentioned. I was mostly in the kitchen washing up, so couldn't swear to that.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Monday morning:

A day of achievement.

-- A friend came and stayed with my husband until professional help came.

-- The consultant said I could decide for myself whether or not to go on taking blood-thinners. She was sightly in favour.

-- I took Perdita to the vet, where she remains, being anaesthetised and x-rayed.

-- I turned off all spell checking. After a while I'll try turning it on again. Meanwhile I can rely on Blogger's own system.

Sunday night:

If it's not one thing it's another – a sound general principle of life, which you have probably already discovered for yourself.

I sat down here just now (latish Sunday evening) feeling that things were pretty well in hand, for once. And noticed, very belatedly, that tomorrow's midday carer isn't scheduled to arrive until half an hour after I will have to leave for my DVT-and-embolism appt. The appt is for 10:45. Care has been coming so regularly at 10 lately that I didn't pay enough attention when the weekly schedule turned up. Tomorrow, she's not due until 11.

I'll phone them first thing in the morning, after an anxious night.

I'll try to phone the vet about the cat, as well. She continues well, except for the distress of being in heat. She's eating well, using the affected paw to play and to scrape her litter but still (after four days) not putting weight on it. It's not deformed or swollen.

As for being in heat, we'd very much like to let her have one litter before she is spayed. We believe that parenthood instils a responsible attitude in a cat. And with what people are paying for kittens these days, we could retire. But I don't see how it is to be done, since she never meets any boys.

There is no grass at all between our front door and the street. It wouldn't be safe to let her out. This – being in heat – happened briefly just before Christmas (I didn't tell you). I even Googled “cat breeders Edinburgh” that time, without success. Someone breeds rag dolls in Dalkeith but that is too far away and they would probably turn up their noses at Perdita anyway.

Even knitting is hard to think about, with all this going on. I did some more Dunfallandy border. I'll take the sock along to the appt. I might even reach the heel, if things are running slow.

Flipboard has put me on to a rather good 31-day plan for organizing stash, published a couple of years ago on the Webs blog. (How am I possibly expected to know whether “organi?e” is spelled with an “s” or a “z” if every word I type is marked as wrong? Open Office continues with that bizarre practice.) 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

I wrote a bit last night (below) – gloomy, and it doesn't advance things much. Open Office has taken to marking every single word as misspelled and I can't figure out how to turn it off. I have never succeeded in getting “Word” onto this machine although we use it everywhere else.

I think Southern Gal's idea of phoning the vet tomorrow is a good one. (Never mind my pulmonary embolisms – it's the cat's FOOT that matters.)

I spent some time on Ravelry last night looking at what people had done with Kate Davies' yarn. There are some very nice things indeed. Everything I saw, except for one, were the little things which KD has already published patterns for. That one was an all-over two-colour vest pattern by Eunny Jang and it looked wonderful. The future promises well.

Here's what I wrote last night:


I don't know what to do about the cat. She hobbles about fairly cheerfully. She has complicated matters somewhat by going into heat, I think.

Knitting went rather better. I got around the Dunfallandy blankie border several times. I counted the stitches and found that I had the same number on each side. Howzzat!!! I'm perhaps slightly past the half-way mark on the st st part of the border, allowing for the fact that the number of stitches is increasing all the time.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

What a difference a day makes!

Social services relented and care has been restored. My husband came home yesterday afternoon, in good shape. The more huggable of our two regular carers came in the evening to put him to bed, so I hugged her. The diabetic nurse came for the evening injection – I had worried about whether the message would reach her. Everything seems to be back in place.

The cat is in a bad way, in that her right front leg is unusable. She is making a good job of hobbling about three-legged. Presumably she and the bean pot came hurtling down from that high shelf together. She doesn't seem to me to be in distress or pain when she is sitting still. She will let me stroke and even fondle the affected leg without protest. Her appetite is unaffected. I really don't see what a vet could do for her.

She seemed surprised and rather pleased to find both of us in bed last night, She has her faults, but she has always been an admirable bed-cat.

I'll re-think medical attention if she continues like this into next week, but it is a week unusually packed with event, kicking off on Monday with a visit by me to my consultant at which I expect to discuss my future vis a vis Warfarin. And I can only leave the house when a carer is here.

Perdita has always had a strong predilection for heights, and especially for high shelves on which there are things which might profitably be knocked off. Alexander and Ketki came here on Thursday, before going to the hospital. While they were here she climbed onto my shoulder and from there, jumped to the top of the door. He took this picture to show my husband.


Progress around the long circumference of the Dunfallandy blankie has been resumed and should advance steadily as I spend time sitting with him.

By now we've all presumably seen the three new colours of Kate Davies' unspellable and unpronounceable yarn (I refuse to make the effort). What we are all waiting for, surely, is her first sweater designs for it. It's lovely stuff, all right. And she's right, the colours go beautifully together,

[As we are also waiting for the announcement of a publication date for the Vintage Shetland Project. I continue to feel a bit annoyed about that one.]

Friday, January 08, 2016


Perdita has re-appeared!

She is quite severely lame -- right front paw. I am afraid she will have to suffer until at least Tuesday.(I have an appt with my embolism consultant on Monday) She is clearly chastened, or maybe just sore -- but appetite is unaffected.
All I can say is – help!

My husband is well, ready to come home and complete the current course of oral antibiotics here. Everything was going smoothly yesterday – when someone phoned social services, to re-start the care they provide, and found that they have cancelled it on the grounds that my husband had been 72 hours in hospital which wasn't even true. The whole process has to start again.

The hospital is as angry and frustrated as we are. They were going to try a phone call from a senior consultant. I don't know if that has been attempted yet, but I can't see even a senior consultant getting very far where Ketki has failed.

So the only thing to do is to see if the private company which has been providing us with some extra care all along, can cover getting-up-in-the-morning and going-to-bed, which is what social services had been doing. I'll phone them as soon as the office opens.

However, that is trivial compared to my other problem. I was sitting at the kitchen table just now, pulling myself together to face a difficult day, and Perdita was wandering around the room looking for mischief to get into. She got onto the refrigerator and then onto a high shelf and knocked off an old bean pot. It fell with a considerable crash and some breakage.

And the cat is gone.

I can understand her cowering somewhere to recover for a moment. But she's gone. She isn't responding to my calls, as she always does, especially at meal times and even if she's asleep somewhere. She isn't still up on the high shelf. She isn't lying dead behind the refrigerator – I moved it to look, and now can't get it back. She's not a cuddly cat, but she's a very social one and always prefers to be where people are. And of people, I think, prefers me.

There's no knitting to report anyway. If I am mortally ill, the first thing I've got to do is finish the Dunfallandy blankie so I'd better get back to that today.

Oh, pussy! Where are you?

Thursday, January 07, 2016

I scarcely did any knitting yesterday – and there aren't many days like that. “Scarcely” – I did take the current sock along to the dr's waiting room when I went for my INR blood test (rather high, although not disastrously so; I have to go back next week). But then I got talking to someone.

Not before I had decided that I don't entirely like the current socks. I'm knitting them on 54 stitches for one of the dainty-footed on my list (Rachel, James' wife Cathy), at at 54, it doesn't swirl. And the colour is sort of purply.

I don't get much sock-knitting done, now that we don't travel. I must make a spot for them in the rota and get them done and move on to something more exciting, like Arne & Carlos.

Later in the day, a bit weighed down with hospitals and gloom, I set myself to wondering what I would knit if I knew I hadn't long to live. Not much point in a half-brioche Roasted Hatch Chillis sweater for myself under such circumstances. I think I'd go for the sleeved v-neck for my husband.

On that score, Mary Lou's comment yesterday may have solved a problem. There is a remarkable charity here in Edinburgh, the Royal Edinburgh Repository on North Castle Street. Well worth including in any Edinburgh itinerary.

It's a charity dating from the late 19th century. It must have been very well endowed, and its trustees must have managed the money well. The idea is simple: it's a shop where makers sell their wares – knitting, crochet, sewing, baking. Every penny of the proceeds goes to the makers. The charity provides the premisses and staff and heating and lighting and taxes.

And we're not talking Oxfam in the suburbs, here. The shop on North Castle Street (within sight of the Castle) must be rather valuable by now.

The relevance to my problem is, they take commissions. In fact, I had them knit a sweater for my husband once before. What happened to that one? And when I knit a Calcutta Cup Christening shawl and dress for Kirsty Miles, James' and Cathy's daughter, I bought a pattern and some material and took it there and had someone make me a slip to wear under the dress.

Today I will take a tape measure when I go to visit my husband, and tomorrow, if I'm strong enough, I'll go to North Castle Street. I'll let the commissioned knitter use her own wool – after I have chosen the colour and thickness – and save the pleasure of knitting madtosh for myself.

My husband is reasonably well, and reasonably resigned to his fate. He's now in a neurological ward, not because he has anything wrong with him neurologically but because they have an empty bed. We're going to make energetic efforts to get him out, much as I am enjoying my little meals devised by Nigella. Alexander and Ketki are on their way over at the moment. Official visiting isn't until 3 p.m. I'll wait for that.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

I found my husband in surprisingly good spirits yesterday, and I've since then had a good night's sleep myself, so things seem brighter this morning. You're absolutely right about “one ear open”, catdownunder. It wasn't a requirement last night, for the first time in a while. All I had to concern myself with was the cat. Alexander is coming over today.

My husband is being treated for a urinary infection, not a chest one as expected, and his oxygen saturation is said to be good. Of all that he has been through in the last year, the urinary ward was probably the worst (although not bad at all, by any rational standard). But so far this time he is in the Assessment ward, with only one other bed in the room. I never got out of Assessment, myself. Maybe he'll stay there.

I have an INR blood test today and will just have to hope that ripe cheese and avocados balance out a few ciders.

Little to report else. I've increased about 80 stitches by now on the border of the Dunfallandy blankie – enough that the circuit is noticeably slower.

I'm enjoying looking at madtosh colours and thinking about a sleeved sweater for my husband. Hokieknitter, I, too, think that Georgia O'Keefe was the yarn I used for the sleeveless one that went missing. The art historical connection was attractive. But that one was green, undoubtedly, and Georgia O'K now looks blue. I must trawl back through the archives. “Fir Wreath” and “Earl Grey” are current contenders, based on computer-screen viewing, but I still hope to get to Loop soon and do it in person.

With so many wonderful DK yarns lying about, why will no one knit one or two of them commercially into plain v-necked sweaters?

Flipboard (still not a patch on dear old Zite) offers what seems to be a preview of a new winter VK, and I don't like anything of what I see. Maybe it'll look better on a printed page.

It's Twelfth Night, isn't it? Time to take the cards down, and put our dear little plastic tree away. Perdita will enjoy that.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

My husband was taken back into hospital last night - or, rather, this morning; the ambulance didn't turn up until 5:15 a.m. I think he is all right; I think the dr was being over-cautious. I am about to set off towards the hospital to find out. I am afraid I hope they'll keep him in tonight so that I can sleep.

I'll leave you with this fragment, composed yesterday:

I have had a message from Kristie “North of 49” to say that the Socklady is in hospital in Kamloops, many miles from her mountain fastness, with pulmonary embolisms just like me. She says she feels “quite rough” which is worse than me, who only felt weak and remained convinced for quite a while that I was suffering only from stress.

There is nothing of this on her remarkable website, last posting December 22, link in sidebar. Kristie says she had a message through Facebook, a medium I have never mastered. I don't even know whether Lynne, the Socklady, has wi-fi and an iPad or whatever with her in hospital. I'd be grateful for any news anyone contrives to come by. I've emailed her.

The other news, completely non-knit, is that Greek Helen (a faithful reader of the blog) emailed: “No, it's steam. Lots of it. You see it lying like a low cloud every time you drive past.”

And from her husband David, not much later: Sulphurous steam!  No doubt Leonidas and the other 299 Spartans took a dip there before the battle.”

So we've learned something rather wonderful about Thermopylae. 

Monday, January 04, 2016

Not much was accomplished today – Sundays are rarely very productive. I like to let the tax rest and simmer down for a few days anyway, if time allows, before I go back and print it all out and finally file it. The tax man no longer asks that you Show Your Working, but I try to do it as thoroughly as if he did.

I've knit about 2 3/4” of Dunfallandy blankie st st border – exactly half of what is required, if I stop at 5 1/2” as I am pretty certain I will. The not-quite-solid red is wonderful to behold.

I am sort of toying with the idea of knitting a v-necked sweater for my husband, as it is continuing to prove impossible to find the thing he wants (which Woolover used to provide). I've got all the workings-out for the sleeveless one recently finished – it wouldn't be too hard to stick on a couple of sleeves.

There is a real chance that I may be able to get away to London at the end of the month, with live-in care here for my husband and Greek Helen on hand to supervise, at least for the beginning. There's no more Goya, but I will certainly go to Loop and would enjoy surveying a range of madtosh DK's in the flesh, so to speak.

I think Tart itself (the shade of the Dunfallandy blankie) might be a possible; it's dark enough not to be too alarming. And my archives ought to tell me the name of the green that disappeared into the jaws of the NHS. My husband doesn't care for blue. Archie's Composition Book Grey isn't quite as wonderful a near-solid as Tart or Whiskey Barrel, and anyway, as we agreed at the beginning, it's got a suggestion of purple in it.

But there might be another possible grey. Or a green. Or a combination – there's one called Fir Wreath. Might be too light. In any case, it will be fun to look.

Shetland lace – yes, Kristen, three unmarried granddaughters remain. What close attention you pay! In a sense, James' and Cathy's younger daughter Kirsty already has a veil. I knit quite a serious Christening shawl for her (and a dress) from Amedro patterns – it has been put away with a note by me suggesting that she wear it at her wedding. It's not as grand as the two recent ones, but it's something. And it incorporates the Calcutta Cup which Scotland won (most unexpectedly) in the year of her birth.

You think I might have time to knit two more? I wonder. But, following the plan outlined yesterday, I could try. Starting with the edging as I plan to do, I wouldn't have to make other design decisions for quite a while.

I had the ambition as recently as a year ago, to knit Sharon Miller's Queen Ring Shawl. I now think that may be too ambitious. I think I will (if this happens at all) aim more for her Wedding Ring Shawl. I would like to attempt a framed centre, such as the Queen Ring Shawl has. And there's one described fairly fully in Heirloom Knitting, but without a formal pattern. But it might be better to aim lower and hope actually to finish.

I ordered two stripey sock sets from Knit Circus. Oh, dear.


When I first saw the Thermopylae swimming pictures (yesterday), I thought I saw steam rising from the water and I thought, indeed, hot springs. On closer inspection, I think it's foam. I will ask Greek Helen.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

I have become remiss about thanking you for wonderful comments...

Carla, for the reference to Knit Circus of which I had never heard. And Amy Detjen is on board – that must be a plus. I've got to have some of those stripey socks, even though they're already pretty expensive before you factor in Man's Time. (Carla's was a private message, not a comment.)

Lesizmo, for the wonderful description yesterday of the roasting of hatch chillis. Until I got involved with that yarn, I didn't know there was such a thing. Such a chilli, I mean. Let alone that they got roasted.

Shandy, for the pointer to Monique Boonstra and her “Shetland Stars” lace pattern. That's very exciting.

And everybody, for kind new year's wishes.

I am at least mildly inflamed with the desire to knit more Shetland lace. And you're quite right, Mary Lou, that planning is the most fun part.

I have been looking at books and trying to grasp a System, without much luck. I have decided to behave like Procrustes. I will knit an edging and pick up stitches from it to knit my borders. There may be some slight fudging necessary to make the chosen border pattern come out even with the repeats of the edging, but there won't be a radical change in stitch number (as sometimes happens in Sharon Miller's patterns, and I'm sure she knows both what she's doing and how it ought to be done.)

I will knit the borders inwards, decreasing at the corners to form mitres and keeping it all in garter stitch either by wrapping and turning or by Fleegle's system, certainly not by purling alternate rounds.

The number of stitches in the final row of the border will be the number of stitches for the centre pattern – again, slight fudging allowed. That pattern will have to be square-- that is, it will have twice as many rows as it has stitches. It will be knit back and forth, starting from one of the borders and taking in one stitch every row from one side or the other of the two adjacent borders. None of this fancy stuff about three-for-two to turn a rectangle into a square.

Then, at the end, the final row of the centre will be grafted to the final row of the fourth border.

That's how it will be done. Now all I need are patterns which can be forced into my scheme.

I had another good day with the Dunfallandy blankie – I'm pretty sure that 5 12” is going to be right for the st st part of the border, not 7 1/2” as in the text. And I had another good day with the tax. There is nothing much left to do except Gift Aid. I may even get it filed while January is still in single figures.

Here is the promised picture of Christmas dinner on Mt Pelion – Helen says it was almost too hot to sit out:

And of a swim at Thermopylae on the way back to Athens:


Saturday, January 02, 2016

Even the afternoon seems to have got away from me...

Here, however, are some Christmas pictures.

Rachel's husband Ed, decorating the tree on Christmas Eve, with Perdita's help:

The turkey. Ed carved it in the kitchen, to keep things simple. I took this picture to show my husband what it looked like. (He cannot move about easily.) You can also see the list which Rachel and I worked to all that morning:

Christmas dinner itself:

Perdita has taken to sleeping on the plate rack. It is a good spot for keeping an eye on dripping taps in the sink below, and it allows one to confront one's parents eyeball-to-eyeball when needful:

Perhaps tomorrow for pictures of Christmas in Greece.

I started the year off well yesterday, with progress on the tax as well as on the Dunfallandy blankie border. I'm no longer in a panic about finishing by March, nor about running out of yarn. I will need to wind another skein today –that always feels like progress.

This is all just as hoped – round and round in beautiful madtosh yarn, red yarn, to see me through the dark days. I toyed with the idea of doing the increases with YO's, being rather tired of M1R and M1L. And YO's would be much easier to see when I forget whether I'm doing an increase round or a plain one. But I stuck with the pattern, feeling that we didn't need another design element. The smooth corners look good, as I thought they would.

Be Inspired: You say the owner is named Mei, Knitlass. Does that mean that she's a bit Japanese? She had some wonderful Japanese pattern books. The next time I go, I will concentrate on browsing through them. I had a Japanese knitting phase, some will remember. Their wonderfully clever schematic patterns can be mastered and employed without a further grasp of the language. I even managed an earflap hat for a granddaughter one Christmas, from a Japanese pattern.

I spent an appropriately new-yearsy time yesterday wondering whether I should attempt a third bridal veil. When I knit Sharon Miller's “Princess” I imagined granddaughters passing it reverently from hand to hand. But of course no one wants to look like last year's bride.

More on this subject anon, I hope.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Happy New Year to us all! This is going to be a good one,

And thank you for all your welcoming messages.

My new plan, while it lasts, is to try to write a bit in the late afternoon (as now, with Edinburgh in Hogmanay mode beginning to sizzle outside the window), and then tweak and post in the morning – saving morning time and energy, such as it is, for the tax papers.

Doing the income tax is not really all that bad. Like many things, the worst of it is the terrified anticipation. But it does take time, and suffers from interruptions.

A dear friend rang up yesterday morning and said, why don't we go to that LYS in Bruntsfield? Pure kindness on her part – she's not a knitter. So once my husband was settled with his carer, off we went. (I've made a good start on the tax, and it's not even January yet.)

This is the one called "Be Inspired". It's a wonderful place, full of wonderful yarns, cashmeres and glowing silks, with a friendly and knowledgeable owner. There didn't seem to be enough of anything to knit, say, a sweater, but that may have meant that the serious stock was all below stairs. Art Needleworks Industries in Oxford used to operate like that.

I bought some very long circulars for the Dunfallandy blankie, and they're working pretty well. There are trade-offs – some time has to be devoted to pushing stitches along. Stitches seem particularly reluctant to slide around corners. But on the whole, things are going more briskly and I feel more secure.

I've done about an inch of border, I suppose. That augurs well for finishing on time. The final bit of edging, as I've said, involves garter ridges. The instruction for the purl rounds is to wrap the yarn clockwise. Why? What difference will it make?

I tried googling. Wrapping that way half-twists the stitch, which then reverts to normal in the subsequent knit row. “Combination knitting” comes in here somewhere. But in this case a) we're going round and round; and b) the next round is also purl-with-the-yarn-wound clockwise. How clumsy is that going to be? I'd get the garter ridge if I just plain purled. What's the advantage in going around the other way?

I really ought to swatch.

Christmas pictures tomorrow, I very much hope.