Monday, February 29, 2016

Little to report. The Knitcircus sock is good fun – but I’m knitting it for a small-footed granddaughter, and it belatedly occurs to me to worry about whether I will finish the sock before the yarn has finished doing its stuff. A picture tomorrow would be a good idea. I should be at or near the heel by then.

At home, I got nothing done at all. My husband always grumbles when I leave him – he gets about 2 ½ hours a day of me – but I come home wrung out, after 2 ½ hours of just sitting there knitting.

I did manage to engage with the question of small-shawls-for-Lucy-and-Cathy.  Evelyn Clark’s “Wildflower Lace” is indeed a good one, Anonymous. And Mary Lou has given me two of hers, The Bidwell Shawl and “Neap Tide”. I’ve downloaded, and there I got stuck. The printer is “off line”, it says. I need it for those patterns, and for printing out my admission tickets for the Edinburgh Yarn Fest (if I can find them).

Super Tuesday tomorrow.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Scotland won. We beat Italy, in Rome. Italy is universally regarded – certainly, by me – as the easiest win, but even so, it doesn’t always happen. And it was worth it, to see Vern Cotter smile. Knitlass will understand.

I switched it on when I got back from the hospital, and there was Greig Laidlaw lining up a kick. (I thought Scotland would never have anyone who could kick again, when Gavin Hastings retired; and again, when Chris Paterson did. And now, look at us! The rest of the rugby world may be a bit disdainful of Scotland, but they all must envy us Greig Laidlaw.) He’s exactly like Perdita when she calculates a naughty leap to a forbidden height, shrewd eyes weighing the knowns and the unknowns and then getting it right.

My poor husband, instead of being delighted at the firm promise of release on Wednesday, is horrified (and cross) at having to wait so long. He doesn’t understand the interlocking problems at all – social services care; district nurses visiting us twice a day for insulin; a week’s supply of pills in a bubble-pack; a two-man ambulance for the journey home, as he will need to be carried up six steps from the street. And it’s all my fault.

I finished the Arne & Carlos socks while at the hospital, as expected – but I haven’t finished-finished them yet. I cast on a Knitcircus sock, in an alarming pink. In fact, as it progresses, not as alarming as it looked at first.

This first section is actually two pinks, one very emphatic, the other paler. The combination is much more attractive than the emphatic one, alone, would have been. Is that how the graduation will progress? as the paler pink comes more and more to the fore? Watch this space.

But today I must finish the Arne & Carlos socks, and, I would hope, make a bit of progress with the Tokyo shawl. That didn’t happen at all yesterday.

I am very grateful for your help with Lucy’s Shawl. I haven’t yet picked up the ball, but will today, I hope.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Today is Alexander’s 56th birthday – Monday would have been his 14th if he had been only a little more patient.

The news is, my husband is coming home on Wednesday.

Yesterday’s visit was as frustrating as ever, perhaps slightly more so as a weekend loomed. My husband is particularly averse to hospital weekends. He thinks we could manage on our own, without carers. I disagree. After some conversation on this topic, I went off after lunch to find someone to cross-question, with no satisfactory result, as I expected. When I got back, my husband had dozed off. I knit for a while, but he didn’t wake up, or respond when I spoke, so I left.

Shortly after my arrival in Drummond Place, the nurse rang up with the good news. Maybe I’ll even get credit for it.

As for knitting, I’ve reached the toe-shaping of the 2nd Arne&Carlos sock. That won’t be enough for a day’s visiting, so I’ll have to consult my notes and plan the beginning of the next pair.

I’ve recently signed up for “40 Ways to Cast On and Bind Off” in Craftsy, with Aurora Sisneros. She starts off with the long-tail cast on (no surprise) and does it the cat’s-cradle way which I think I first saw in Franklin’s hands when I went all the way to London that time for classes with him at Loop. I have always done it –  I think I learned this from a friend at Hampton Elementary School in Detroit – by knitting into a loop on my left thumb.

It’s sort of a shame that I’ll have to cast on the next socks in the hospital today, without wi-fi access. (When I was there with my pulmonary embolisms, I was told that there are parts of Scotland which provide patients with wi-fi. But not Lothian.) Still, there will be other cast-ons.

I made a good start yesterday on Band 28 (the penultimate one) of the Tokyo shawl.

I’ve been thinking about knitting a little shawl for Lucy, the soon-mother-to-be of our great-grandchild. I want everyone to have something I knit to wear to my funeral; but even if I don’t put it in quite that gloomy fashion, Lucy should have something. Greek Helen has a little Koigu shawl which she wears (at least when I am around) sort of neckerchief-fashion. That’s sort of what I’m aiming at.

Mia Rinde’s “Cameo Flower” in the current Knitty might be the answer. “Sock-weight” means I could do it in madtosh.

James’s wife Cathy has several things to choose from, but except for cosy hats – not quite right for a summer funeral – I don’t think she has any of my real successes. Maybe another little shawl there.

Hellie’s new husband Matt has at least a pair of socks. I remember consulting you guys at the time about whether the Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater extended to socks knit by one’s grandmother. Apparently not. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

No news from the hospital, or from social services. An American friend, an Oberlin friend, indeed, wrote to ask what a “care package” is. I’m not sure I entirely know myself, but essentially, the City of Edinburgh is meant to provide my husband with the care which makes it possible for him to live at home. Rachel doesn’t think anything on that scale is provided in England.

We waited for a long time last year before it started. When it did, it was wonderful. A carer arrived in the morning to get my husband up and dressed and delivered to the kitchen to wait for the District Nurse who would help with the insulin injection. She came back in the late afternoon, and again later to help him to bed. My husband's sister had a similar "package" five years ago when she was dying. The one thing she complained about was having to go to bed so early.

We have private care as well, for three hours in the middle of the day, so that I can get out, at least to the supermarket. And we could re-jig the private care to cover what Social Services had been doing. But that would mean that I could never get out, and Social Services would re-assign us to the bottom of the list.

So that’s what we’re waiting for. When you go into hospital for more than 72 hours, you get struck off the list and have to start again.

It’s time to begin thinking about the Edinburgh Yarn Fest, too. If my husband is at home and we are jogging along as before, I can arrange to have a bit more private care on the days when it’s needed. As things stand at present, who knows? I must at least dredge my bookings out of the pile of old emails and print them off (and remind myself what, exactly, I have signed up for). And I must get to the market, even if three classes prove to be too ambitious a target.

As for actual knitting, I am nearly halfway down the foot of the 2nd Arne & Carlos sock. And I have finished Band 27 (a little one) on the Tokyo shawl. Two (big ones) to go.     

    Nbolllllllllllllllllllllllllllekiiiiiicdf478 (comment from Perdita)

Karen, I am very grateful for your blocking tip. And, Carol, to you, for the Ravelry picture of the one you blocked.


What a long time it’s been since 2008 when I was raising money for Obama here on the blog! It’s hard even to imagine such enthusiasm.

My husband is valiantly catching up on New-Yorker-reading there in Ward 15. He polished off the double issue of August 10 & 17 yesterday and sent it home with me. It contains the sentence: “Trump’s lack of interest in policy and his inflammatory rhetoric make it easy to dismiss him as a serious candidate, and it’s highly improbable that he could ultimately win the nomination.”

If only.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Maureen, that’s really exciting news that you, too, are planning to knit a pair of Knitcircus graduated socks from opposite directions. Be sure to report back here on the result.

I not only reached the heel of the 2nd Arne&Carlos sock yesterday, I got around it, gusset-decreases and all. Today, I hope to speed down the foot.

I guess the one good thing to be said about my husband’s current situation is that the slightly out-of-this-worldly Ward 15 is entirely devoted to getting rid of its patients. When I am wandering along long, mysterious passages utterly lost on my way in or out, and meet a helpful hospital employee, they refer to it as the “winter ward”. Otherwise, no news. I came home yesterday washed-out with exhaustion after just sitting there knitting for a couple of hours.

I also had a good session with the Tokyo shawl yesterday (having perked up a bit), and finished Band 26. That leaves three, of which the next is one of the little ones that pop out to make a bright accent. Then a five-row garter stitch finish, then that’s it. Blocking will be a bugger, I’m afraid. But this is an exciting moment.

It’s not only the nearness to the half-brioche sweater for myself, but also the thought of the great-grandchild and the Tiny Garments I hope to knit in only a couple more weeks. Knowing the sex in advance facilitates pattern-choosing.


We’re about to have a referendum – on Rachel’s 58th birthday – about whether GB should remain in the EU. I have never known such a political moment. We ask each other, What do you think about this? – and all confess that we simply don’t know.

Whereas in the US, all are unanimously agreed that Trump is absurd and increasingly terrifying. Who is to stand in his way? Is Hillary sufficient?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Greek Helen is on her way back to Athens – much missed, already. She has probably reached the Alps by now.

And my husband was moved yesterday from his previously luxurious accommodation to Ward 15, a holding ward, open only during the winter, for people – mostly or entirely old people – who have no medical need to be in hospital and are waiting for care (like us) or places in residential homes, or whatever.

Presumably Ward 15 will press the care-providers to get him out soon, especially as it is scheduled for its annual closure in March. It is a wonderful, light place high up in an old part of the hospital, slightly suggestive of a set for “Call the Midwife”. My husband is in a room with two other old men, who seemed pleasantly welcoming. He was happy about the change yesterday, thinking it a real step forward towards getting home. Which, of course, it isn't, exactly.

As for knitting, I made good progress with the socks yesterday and might even reach the second heel flap today:

As you see, I prefer fraternal twins for such socks as these. I have been thinking that I might move on to my Knitcircus graduated sock-yarn next:

Obviously, with such colours, a young and adventurous recipient will be required. I have been considering the idea of knitting a pair of socks from opposite directions – starting one from the outside of the ball and the other from the inside. Too weird? I wouldn’t have to decide until the first sock was finished.

I didn’t get any Tokyo shawl done yesterday. The move to Ward 15 was All Too Much.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

No progress on the big question of getting my husband home. The hospital says that re-starting a care package is usually a lot quicker than starting one from scratch. That is at least encouraging.

I made a good start on the leg of the second Arne & Carlos sock. Maybe for Helen’s husband David? She thinks he wouldn’t mind the bright colours despite working in a bank.

And I knit peacefully on, on the Tokyo shawl. Even if I don’t have it to wrap around myself against the February chill, I do have its warm and comforting presence on my lap. Like a knitted cat.

I’ve cut out Lucy Kellaway’s FT page about Shetland, of course. Oddly, it seems to have disappeared from Flipboard where I first read it. To her credit, she tried to get to Fair Isle but was prevented by the weather.

The bit that irritated me comes right at the end, where she is writing about Jamieson & Smith. “…at the back the fleeces were sorted by the same man who has been doing it for 40 years. On the shelves were the same colours I used to knit with, the only difference being that back then they were skeins, now they are disappointingly ordinary-looking balls.”

The man who was sorting the fleeces was (surely) Oliver Henry, a director of the firm. I think she might have mentioned his name.

And the colours are not all the same as they were. J&S, in conjunction with the Shetland Museum, have fairly recently put out a line of “Shetland Heritage” yarn, imitating as closely as possible the bright colours of the Fair Isle pieces in the Museum’s collection. The ballbands are signed with a facsimile of Oliver Henry’s signature. There is also an equivalent fine lace yarn, imitating handspun, wonderful stuff and far superior, in my estimation, to the fragile, single-ply cobweb yarn which used to be the only option for those wedding-ring shawls.

Monday, February 22, 2016

I am sorry for the gap. All is well here, more or less. I am sorry to have worried you.

My husband is still in hospital, ready to come home, from his own point of view as well as theirs. We are waiting, much as we were late last year, for Social Services to restore our Care Package.  Greek Helen is now here, today and tomorrow, and Ketki should be back at her desk this morning, after the half-term break. Both are forceful characters, far more than I am, and with any luck may be able to get something done.

We need to find out who, exactly, at the hospital is responsible for dealing with Social Services on my husband’s behalf.

Archie and I lived peacefully here last week, he working towards A-levels, I spending much of the day with my husband, knitting. In many ways this life, even in Archie's absence, is easier for me than life when my husband is at home and we live all day with carers and diabetic nurses coming in and a metronome always ticking: but even so, I find it hard. Hospitals are draining even when nothing happens.

So, knitting: I have resumed the Tokyo Shawl. If any of you ever knit it, and have occasion to leave it aside for what might prove to be a considerable while, I can recommend my practice: namely, knit the first row of the next band before you stop. In that way, you can pick it up and knit on before you have to make the next decision.

The colours, at least in the dark version which I am doing, are subtle and not all that easy to distinguish. It’s easier to do when you have been knitting for a bit and have regained courage. I am doing Band 26 of 29, and mean to press on to the end before I do anything else. It would be wonderful to have a Tokyo shawl to wrap around myself in this horrible February weather. No doubt, when I do finish, it will be all daffodils and lambs.

And when I visit my husband, I knit those socks. The first Arne & Carlos sock is finished, the second well started – only a round or two to go of the initial 50-round ribbing. With that done, the rest will knit itself.

I think the only other knitting news I have is Lucy Kellaway’s full page article about Fair Isle knitting in last weekend's Financial Times. It disappoints in various respects, most especially in her treatment of Jamieson & Smith – but, hey! all publicity is good publicity. I wonder if, while on Unst, she took the opportunity to go have a look at Muckle Flugga. She missed a good thing, if not.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I wouldn’t want to boast or anything, but I had an email from Kate Davies yesterday, asking about my obituary of Gladys Amedro. It was published in the Scotsman 15 years ago, but to get it from there she would have to take out a whole on-line subscription. I've copied it for her, of course. I think it was the last journalism I ever published. I am slightly horrified to see how long ago it was, and to find that I am older than Gladys Amedro ever got to be.
I  trust everybody has read Kate's recent post about her trip to Shetland – Feb 16, called “Generosity”. Amazing pictures. Her forthcoming hap book is going to be terrific.
 And I bet it’ll be published when promised. The latest news from the Vintage Shetland Project hopes for mid-April,  five months later than we were told when we cloud-funded.  She’s got to nip back to Shetland for one or two things “at the end of this month”. And that means she won’t be signing copies at the Edinburgh Wool Fest next month, another promise gone. She’ll sign book plates instead, and you can stick them in when you actually get a book.

I’m sure these delays will be forgotten in the fullness of history, but for the moment I remain cross. An English priest, now pretty well unknown, Ronald Knox by name, once said that a man’s first duty is to his plans. He was deliberately exaggerating, but there’s a germ of truth there.

 All well here. Archie is coming today, cutting his half-term holiday in Athens short by a few days in order to do some A-Level work in the National Library. I have made him chilli from Nigella’s new book, but his mother has just phoned from Athens to say that he and his cousin Alistair (James’ and Cathy’s son, computer science at Glasgow University) are meeting here this afternoon and going out to a movie. We’ll have the chilli tomorrow. It is said to improve on keeping. 

As for knitting, my fingers seemed cold and stiff yesterday, or maybe it’s that heel-turning involves a certain amount of counting and attention-paying. At any rate, I finally got around the heel of the Arne & Carlos sock and am now going full-speed-ahead down the foot. The sock odd-ball bag is gone; that was a mistake. But the sock bag contains two 100 gram+ skeins of madtosh Twist Light in Chicory. One is plenty for a pair of socks, so I wound the other to use as a toe-supplement when Arne & Carlos runs out.
It now turns out that Scotland is about to close the women’s prison. I wonder what will happen to my yarn?

And later on, I got back to the Sous Sous and have started the cabling for the fourth repeat. When it’s done, I’ll turn to the Tokyo shawl and press on until it’s finished.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I feel honoured, Aine, to have you here – you who knit for Interweave. And I was very interested in what you say about the Feller capelet. I don’t know Baa Ram Ewe except for being vaguely aware of them out of the corner of my eye – in an issue like this one, I think I assumed the yarn would be American. But it’s not, it’s English, right here on my doorstep, no duty to pay and beautiful colours. Those long rows at the end hold few fears for one just graduated from the circumference of the Dunfallandy blankie. Firmly on my HALFPINT list.

 All well here. My husband continues to improve, is off oxygen and impatient to get home. They say they have to wean him of his nebuliser yet, and, of course, get the care package started again.

I’ve turned the heel of the Arne&Carlos sock and picked up the stitches along the heel flap and am ready to start the instep decreases. And it hasn’t even been a week yet! I hope I didn’t discard the Sock Odd Ball Bag in that recent purge – I’m going to need something to finish off the toe. 50 grams isn’t quite enough, the way I do men’s socks.

One of you wrote to tell me that Loveknitting has the Regia “Istanbul Mosaic” sock yarn. I ordered it at once; it might even turn up today. I think it is an all-over melange of mosaic-y colours, rather than those self-patterning stripes that keep luring the knitter on. I’ve been browsing both Regia and Opal – you’re right, KnitWit, that the artists’ yarns I was thinking of are the latter. There are some wonderful stripes in both camps.

I got back to the poor old Sous Sous last night, but almost at once had to wind a new skein. Perdita insisted on helping, with the result that all my time got used up and the skein is wound into three separate balls.

Am I interested in Ann Budd’s “New Directions in Sock Knitting”? I had a phase, a couple of years ago, when I knit socks every which way, including toe-up with that fiendish cast-on. But I have happily reverted to same-old same-old. Is it time to rock the boat again?

On my permanent bucket list – is that the phrase I want? – are Debbie New’s “Swirl Socks” on the cover of the XRX “Socks Socks Socks” book. I’ve just got the pattern out again and find it as opaque as ever. It calls for seven colours of a worsted weight cotton, unspecified. Not a good start. I could practice, perhaps, with a single sock yarn until I figure out how the swirls are done.


A friend got me a unchewable iPad cord – quite likely to be one of the ones you mention, Southern Gal and Tamar. It looks sort of braided and also sort of steel-reinforced. My friend thinks it may deliver the charge more slowly than the Apple cord. Too soon to say. That’s terrible news about your hacked account, Southern Gal. Starbucks, of all people. I live in terror of the day the bad guys get through to PayPal. I had a “phishing” email purportedly from PayPal a couple of days ago, but it was easy to resist.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

We lost to Wales yesterday. We were ahead for much of the match and it was almost unbearably exciting.

That cat has chewed through my iPad charging cord for the second time.

My husband continues to make good progress, but also continues on oxygen. I need to get hold of someone who knows what’s going on.

I’m making splendid progress with the Arne&Carlos sock – ideal hospital-visiting material, and the patterned yarn keeps one knitting keenly on to see what’s going to happen next. The result is good, but not, perhaps, quite right for office wear. I’ll have to shop around a bit for a recipient.

The pleasure of the knitting set me to wondering whether Regia had brought out any new artist lines recently. In past years, I’ve knit a couple of their Van Goghs, and, I think, a Hundertwasser. As far as I can gather, there’s no new name (unless you count Arne&Carlos). But I did stumble across a colorway called Istanbul Mosaic. I’ve got to get that for Greek Helen and it’s not proving easy to come by.

The new IK turned up on Friday – an embarrassment of riches, so soon after VK. It's still winter at Vogue, but early spring for IK. I like this issue a lot – new editor settling into the saddle? Articles about small-scale American producers of yarn, sheep-to-mill-to-dye-pot. Some very nice small shawls. I’m rather taken with Carol Feller’s Yorkshire Capelet – extra warmth for shoulders and chest a) leaving arms free and b) staying put without needing to be tugged at.


I am in the process of being moved from rat poison (Warfarin) onto a different blood thinner. I’ll start tomorrow if a last INR test shows my blood to be at the right clotting level after omitting Warfarin yesterday and today. I’ve got the new pills, and have read the accompanying text with attention. There are lots of scary side effects – but nothing about diet. I can apparently have all the kale and all the cider I want!

Friday, February 12, 2016

My husband was up and dressed yesterday, reading a book. I’ll take him some New Yorkers today – we’ve fallen far behind. He’s still on oxygen and antibiotics.

And – another FO!

I spent the evening finishing them off, and establishing an Arne&Carlos gent’s sized sock on the needles – I’ve got to have something to carry about with me, and it works best if whatever-it-is has already been cast on. It’s too soon to exclaim in delight. Maybe after today’s hospital visit.

The Winter VK turned up yesterday, a delightful surprise.

This is the issue heavily tilted towards Bohus. There’s nothing to tempt me very seriously, but I like No. 2, where the Bohus element has been transferred to the sleeves; No 12, a feather-and-fan sleeveless vest on which the chevrons invert themselves a couple of times; and 21, another sleeveless vest, buttoned this time, in a huge yarn and a traditional Fair Isle pattern.

I must take a close look at the pattern for No. 12, to see how that inversion is achieved. And don’t miss (as you easily might, because it’s buried in her article) Meg’s Bohus-as-you-go technique. I wish the illustration showed us more of that sweater.

The other knitterly news, surely familiar to all by now, is that Kate Davies is working on a hap shawl book, the patterns largely (or perhaps entirely) by other designers, the text – which will form half of the book – by KD, “the history of haps, hap knitting, and hap wearing”.

The problem there will be that Sharon Miller has already done it, as of course KD knows. It will be very interesting to see what emerges. Beautiful photographs guaranteed.

 Flipboard has pointed me to Violet Lynx Dyeworks and their beautiful graduated cashmere-silk yarn. I seem to have become obsessed with graduation.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Real progress.

My husband really did seem better yesterday. He was up, in his chair, and at one point walked (with assistance) from chair to bathroom and, later, back. The initial course of antibiotic should be finished by now. I’ll be interested to see if they have renewed it.

One or two more hospital visits will polish off that Pakokku sock.

And the Milo Bambino pattern that Kristie suggested yesterday is the perfect solution, I think, to my itch to knit a pack of those Pigeonroof Studio graduated skeins I saw at Loop. (They wouldn’t cost £50, Shandy; only about half that. And the point here is not so much to keep the baby warm, as to gratify my wish for the yarn.) I’ve bought and printed the Milo Bambino pattern. It’ll be just the thing for a summer baby.

I won’t buy the yarn, however, until we’ve got a baby safely in hand. I think somebody told me once that it is a pious Jewish practice to buy a baby back from God when it is a month old. I’ve probably got that wrong, but I sympathize with the idea.

So last night I was about to sit down and resume the Tokyo shawl – and I couldn’t find it. I get tired at the end of the day – I picked up the Sous Sous instead and left the problem until this morning, when I hoped the synapses would be firing. And, not without a struggle, I have found it, not very far from where I thought it was.

However, I think the prudent thing to do is to finish the current pattern repeat on the Sous Sous, now that I’ve embarked on it. It makes resumption so much easier.


Here’s the promised picture of that Chinese cat in Sydenham. He rather resembles Lear’s famous cat Foss. His family has bought him one of those elaborate pieces of cat furniture which at least he has the grace to use.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Look at that! An FO!

I hope I'll have the oomph to wrap it up as soon as it's dry. A task I dislike even more than setting in a zipper.

I had a good visit at the hospital yesterday, overlapping with Alexander. My husband doesn't seem to me to be making much progress, but a dr assured me that he is responding to treatment and Alexander thought him much sparkier than when he had last visited on Calcutta Cup day.

I finished the heel on the second Pakokku sock and am hellbent on the toe. It won't take much more of such hospital visiting to finish altogether. Shall I go on to Arne & Carlos, perhaps for Alexander? Or my new graduated sock balls from They're very bright, calling out for a young wearer.

As for Dunfallandy's place in the Overall Scheme of Things, I think I will fill that with the Tokyo shawl, and press on until it's done. Then I can decide whether to alternate the Sous Sous with the half-brioche sweater for me, or with the sleeved v-neck for my husband (which would mean getting hold of some madtosh Tannehill).

What delicious deciding!

AND I may have stumbled upon the answer to the question of what to do with those beautiful graduated skeins from the Pigeonroof Studio at Loop. A set of them = 240 yards.

My friend Kristie has been knitting Milo's for various fortunate babies. The Milo pattern apparently would let you go all the way up to the 12-month size with 240 yards of yarn. The flaw in the reasoning lies in the fact that Milo is written for DK and the Pigeonroof skeins are sock yarn. I think a fudge might be possible, aiming for a newborn size.


The primaries are certainly fun, splendid stuff for diverting the mind from one's troubles. The down side is that one of these people will be President of the United States in a year's time. (Bernie's too old; so is Bloomberg.)

I am greatly looking forward to South Carolina – it's obvious why the black vote would have gone solidly for Obama. Faced with a choice between an old white man and an old white woman, will they be so dependable? Might Sanders' message about inequality not have some appeal?

But there's nowt so queer as folk – no doubt about that.

Monday, February 08, 2016

My husband was no better and no worse yesterday – still not strong enough to read, but lucid and cheerful. I sat with him for a couple of hours, and reached the heel flap of the second Pakokku sock. Round the heel today and on down the foot, I hope. I'll be glad to say goodbye to this pair.

A dr phoned in the late afternoon, while I was drinking tea with a friend, to say that my husband wasn't responding as well as expected to the antibiotic and she had therefore added another. It was a worrying call for what it didn't say, so my friend and I went to the hospital (fortunately, it's close) and found him as before, uninspired by his evening meal. I'll ring up this morning and try to make an appt to talk to a dr.

My own health continues to improve.

Thank you, Jenny, for the reminder that it was Pigeonroof Mini Skeins I saw and admired at Loop. I do like them, and would buy like a shot if I could think of anything plausible to do with them. But would there be enough yarn even for a small-size BSJ?

In the account of my London adventures, we have reached Thursday. A quiet day. I met Rachel for lunch at a humble Vietnamese cafe near her work. In the evening a substantial number of us met for supper at the Chicken Shop in Balham. The Chicken Shop is a small London chain. Proceedings were somewhat delayed because Hellie's new husband Matt went to the Chicken Shop in Tooting instead.

A fragment is quoted from the ancient poet Archilochus – six words, in Greek: "The fox knows many tricks, the hedgehog only one – but it's a good one." Well, the Chicken Shop is a hedgehog among restaurants. Go, if you can.

They sell grilled free-range chicken. With it you can have a green salad, coleslaw, corn on the cob, fried potatoes. Afterwards, apple pie or a brownie, with or without ice cream. I first heard of it at Hellie and Matt's wedding – they had Chicken Shop hot sauce on every table. I remembered the name, and tried googling. But it turns out you can only get Chicken Shop hot sauce by going to the Chicken Shop.

We had a happy evening at the Balham branch. My only regret is not ordering corn on the cob. I love it, and only abstained because it was so utterly out of season. But everything else was so sublimely good – those potato fries beggared description – that I cannot believe the magic would have failed to transform an imported corn cob.

I was sitting next to Matt. On Tuesday, at lunch, Thomas had used a subject pronoun ("he" or "she") to refer to his unborn child. It is possible that I misheard. But Matt referred to the baby with an unmistakeable noun.

On Friday I went to the Lewis Carroll exhibition – you've already heard about that. So that wraps up London. I didn't do well on pictures but I'll show you one of the Sydenham Mileses' Chinese cat tomorrow.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

We lost. It's not that we wuz robbed – it's just that we lost the match.

I'm much better. Rachel called the NHS 24 number on my behalf. A pleasant young dr eventually came. He thought I had nothing worse than a cold but left a course of antibiotics anyway. They seem to have wrought a prompt improvement.

I didn't visit the hospital yesterday. Alexander went, before the match, and says that his father was weak and breathless but in good spirits. He has been moved to the wonderful Royal Victoria building which has private rooms with en suite facilities. Good, in one sense. No sumo wrestlers or singers of Burns in the next bed. Worrying, in another – that's where he spent all those weeks last year. Alexander doesn't think there's much hope of getting him home before social services' 72-hours rule comes into effect and home help is withdrawn.

I'll go today. Perhaps I'll take that sock along with the thought of just sitting around quietly for a while.

I finished casting off the Dunfallandy blankie yesterday. Maybe I can proceed to actually finishing it today. There's not much to do.

London: now comes Wednesday. On Wednesday I went to Loop, where I met one of you by arrangement. It's a wonderful place!

I think I've found the madtosh shade I want for a basic v-neck long sleeved DK sweater for my husband. It's called Tannehill. It's dark green. I'm surprised I hadn't noticed it before. Neither Webs nor Jimmy Bean seems to carry it (I have subsequently found) – that may be partly why. It's on Loop's own website of course – the skeins I held in my hands that day were darker than they appear on screen.

Anyway, Loop didn't have enough and I've left an order. I've since found a US supplier who does have enough and am tempted to rush ahead.

Nothing else really grabbed me. They had a box of some very attractive sets of graduated colours – I wish I had made a note of what exactly they were. The title had the word "sock" in it, but the little packages didn't look as if they had enough yarn for a whole serious pair of socks, and anyway they were pure merino and I want some polyamide or whatever it's called in a sock yarn.

Sets of graduated colours seem suddenly to be everywhere. Even Koigu is doing it.

I bought Perdita some point protectors while I was there. She is obsessed with point protectors. I have a little olivewood bowl on the table in front of me when I knit, for stitch markers and safely pins and the like. I bought it in Athens last spring. She will go through it with careful paw, looking for point protectors. When she finds one, she will throw it vigorously around the room.

But eventually she will mislay it, and then we need more.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

OK: husband still in hospital, but much brighter yesterday. We hope to have him back soon, even tomorrow, and are worried again about whether social services will decide to withdraw care because he's been away too long. And I've got a chesty cough, presumably deriving from the same bugs. I'm not feverish, but my already weakened state is further diminished. Our GP offers open access first thing in the morning, I believe. I'll go on Monday if not greatly improved, to see if they think an antibiotic might help.

And today is Calcutta Cup day. We are ready; we are angry.

Let's go back to London. On Tuesday I had lunch with grandson Thomas and his wife Lucy, barristers both, in the great hall at Lincoln's Inn. Good food, too. I had thought before I went south that it was quite likely, among all those people who knew the sex of the expected great-grandchild, that someone would let slip a pronoun. Thomas himself did, over lunch at Lincoln's Inn.

There's not much more than a month to go now. Lucy looks and seems very well.

After lunch we walked down to the Strand where they handed me over to Cathy at the Savoy Theatre for the matinee of Guys and Dolls. We had a grand time. Brilliant dancing, pretty good singing. Last night I watched on my iPad the "Fugue for Tinhorns" (the opening song) and of course "Sit Down; You're Rocking the Boat". Maybe you have to be American to give it that last little bit of oomph.

As for actual knitting, I pressed those Pakokku socks forward although not quite as much as I had hoped. What with London, and sitting around the hospital on Thursday while my husband was being assessed and admitted, I am nearly to the heel of the second sock.

I'm still laboriously binding off the Dunfallandy blankie. This afternoon's sport should advance one or the other.

Friday, February 05, 2016

I'm sorry, friends.

My husband went back into hospital yesterday, with a chest infection quite probably connected with the one I had earlier in the week. The only thing to be glad about is that this didn't happen last week. I'll keep you posted, and hope to regale you with the rest of my London adventures very soon.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

My first day in London, I set off to see the Celts at the British Museum. I was a tiny bit disappointed – not enough intertwined, Dunfallandy-type stones. A lot of the show, reasonably enough, was about the ancient "keltoi", inhabitants of the northerly parts of Europe who seemed to have little connection with modern Scots, Irish, Welsh, Cornish, and Bretons.

There was an unexpected titbit of knitterly interest – if any of you are still to see the show, you can fill me in on the details of this one. There is a beautiful illuminated mss from Lichfield Cathedral in the show. The label quotes Gerald of Wales (I think), a 12th century writer previously unknown to me, saying that such manuscripts – or was he actually writing about this particular one? -- well repaid close study. He said that the interlaced decoration was "well knitted".

I assumed as I stood there that all this would be in the catalogue. The Museum has an excellent arrangement whereby, when you book online, they will send the catalogue to your home address without charge for postage. So I went for that, so as not to have to carry it about.

Well, now I'm in Edinburgh and now I've got the catalogue. But it is one of those modern "catalogues" with essays illustrated more or less with items from the exhibition, but not including the item-by-item information which the word "catalogue" conjures up for me. The mss from Lichfield is mentioned and illustrated, but there is no mention of Gerald of Wales.

But maybe I've got bits of this wrong. And, of course, G of W was probably writing in Latin (I've mugged him up in Wikipedia) and "well-knitted" may be no more than a creative 21st century translation.

Still, if I had known it wasn't to be repeated and elaborated in the catalogue, I would have studied that label for longer.

Something completely different

We are well advanced – Day Four, in fact – through Calcutta Cup week. The match is on Saturday. Alexander and his family will call in to see us on their way. The Little Boys have never seen Scotland win. There is a feeling about that we're in with a chance this year, but such feelings have a pretty low correlation with the actual result.

At some point I decided that, if we win, my Calcutta Cup knitting this year would be a Fair Isle vest for Alexander from the Vintage Shetland Project, about which there is still no news. If it happens, I have now decided that I will knit either Kate Davies' Macrahanish or Meg's vest, published long ago in Knitter's. I am punishing no one but myself thereby, but I will have found a vent for my crossness. I'll do it even if the book has appeared before I actually start knitting.

(First, win your rugby match.)

I signed up for the VSP in July, publication promised for November. The last communication was in early January. She was complaining about the weather.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

I'm sorry about the delay. I had a wonderful time in London, much to tell you, some of it even knitterly. I got home in good order on Saturday, and found all in good order here. Then on Sunday I got ill – a 24-hour flu, I think, mitigated by the fact that I have had the flu injection. I'm better today.

I'll start at the end, for London. On Friday I went to the British Library to see the Alice in Wonderland exhibition, which I enjoyed enormously. It begins with Lewis Carroll's diary open to the page about the "golden afternoon" on which he took the three Liddell girls up the river and entertained them with the story of Alice. He records it matter-of-factly in a sentence: no notion that a classic of English literature had just had its first outing.

He later, I believe because Alice insisted, wrote it all out for her and illustrated it. When it came to be published, Tenniel used Carroll's illustrations and added a few of his own. It was the first book in which illustrations and text were integrated on the page.

In the 1930's, Alice Liddell had to sell the manuscript book due, we were told, to the need to pay inheritance tax. It went to America. In 1946 it came on the market again, and an anonymous group of Americans bought it and gave it to England, to thank everybody for standing up to Hitler. The Archbishop of Canterbury was called upon to receive the gift. Why not the King?

And then – naturally enough, with Iowa only three days away – I thought of the caucus race and wondered what the phrase might have meant in Carroll's day. The answer seems to be that "caucus" is a rather mysterious word, probably of American origin and indeed probably Algonquin. It means different things in different political contexts. The idea of a "caucus race" was Carroll's own invention.

I feel quite pleased about Iowa, but nothing like the exhilaration of eight years ago when Obama won. We were snowed in in Strathardle that Tuesday, on our way back to Edinburgh. It took all morning, and the intervention of a providential car full of strong strangers, to get as far as the village. I saved up the Iowa result to think about when we finally got to Blairgowrie and lunch.

Subsequent primaries this year should be nothing if not interesting. And at least Trump is no longer inevitable.