Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sure enough, I'm having a lot of fun thinking about “pocket squares”, Ravelry offers a choice of patterns – all by men – and I like the one you liked, Lou – a little bit fancier than the others. It's knit in silk, in seed stitch. You don't need me to tell you that it is difficult to achieve perfection in garter stitch. Phyllis, I'll look at washcloth patterns. Maybe, as you say, Lou, st st would do.

Rowan Truesilk? Ideally, I'd like to buy this one over the counter so that I can see the colour, and fondle it a bit, but I haven't time or strength for much wandering about. “Navy blue” is the specification. John Lewis has a lot of Rowan yarns – do they have that one? Madelinetosh Pashmina is another possibility – that would have to come by mail from Loop. (I was sorry to see, as I pursued the matter yesterday, that Loop, in describing that yarn, uses the word “infamous” in the famously wrong way beloved of knitters. Or maybe lexicographers now consider the meaning to have shifted.)

The thing I must do is to get some yarn and knit a trial square and send it to London for criticism. Maybe I could ring Loop up, after a further study of their website, and discuss the question of yarn choice.

Archie's sleeve progresses. The bulk of the sweater is now something of a hindrance. I'm knitting round and round on five needles, and need to turn the whole thing in my lap – or else fling my arms heavenward and let it turn itself – after every needle-ful. The second sleeve will be worse. But it's looking good.

I must try to listen to that program about Shetland again before it goes away. It's really terribly good. The presenter knows nothing about knitting, but his interest is intelligent and sympathetic. There is a nice passage in the museum in Lerwick where he is being shown a case with the sort of underwear you sew yourself into in late October and remove, perhaps, in April. Then he turns to the lace opposite – I know exactly where they were standing – and says, “What about this? This isn't knitwear.”

One of the charms of the program is that the speakers have been encouraged to speak in dialect. It is generally the practice – all over the UK, presumably – for people to speak in standard English to the outside world and reserve dialect for each other. I remember once, long ago, queuing for milk at the farm door in Kirkmichael. Mr Crighton assured me that it was a cold day – it was – but I heard him tell the next customer that it was cald.

Non-knit

Thank you for your continued help with care of the elderly. We have an appt to be assessed by Edinburgh Council on the 6th of March.

My husband's sister was not an entirely easy woman to please, and the process of dying didn't improve her temper. She very much liked the carers who came to help her with washing and dressing (except for being put to bed so early). They came to the funeral. That speaks well for Edinburgh Council.

I am sure you are right, Knitlass, that my husband would prefer a male nurse. And I will look at the Carers' Support Service website, Helen, and forward the link to Greek Helen.


I think we are beginning to see a bit more light around the edges of the day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I've just finished paying the income tax on-line. When I filed the return last week, or whenever, they said we owed a modest sum. I waited a bit to see if they would condescend to explain why, but they haven't done so, so I've paid it. The nervous strain of typing in all those passwords, searching the website for the precise sum owed, and establishing my identity yet again on the payment pages, has left me prostrate. But it's done.

Knitting news:

I had an email from Hellie's lovely fiance Mat last nightt, asking if I could knit “pocket squares” for himself and the groomsmen – eight in all – to wear at the wedding. I am delighted. It's just the sort of commission I need to galvanize myself into joyful action. My friend's knitted dog may have to wait.

But what is a “pocket square”? Hellie sent this picture this morning:


and I will try googling and ravelring, but I would also greatly appreciate any advice you could give.

I wound another skein and joined it in to Archie's sleeve last night. I don't care if it's tangerine-coloured:one skein at a time, henceforth. Then I counted the stitches, and subtracted the number I still have to decrease according to the counter, and found to my astonishment that that will leave me with exactly the number of stitches required by the pattern. That doesn't often happen.

I listened to the radio program about Shetland knitting – link yesterday. It's wonderful. Don't miss. There was a nice anecdote about a meeting of the Guild. Someone had read somewhere what the world speed record was for knitting, so they tried it out and found that everyone in the room could knit faster than that. Hazel Tindall of course went on to win an official World's-Fastest-Kniter title in a public competition.


I mustn't forget, as I float out to sea on a raft of pocket squares and knitted dogs, that I mean to get out that knitting belt and Hazel Tindall's video and the wonderful Fair Isle colours I bought at Jamieson & Smith in Lerwick that happy day, and apply myself.

Monday, January 26, 2015


Neither of us felt entirely well yesterday. We spent a lot of the day in bed, punctuated by the necessary discipline of breakfast, lunch, tea and supper. Radio 4, of course, and I thought I understood them to say that today would be a Day of Knitting, beginning with a knitted Shipping Forecast.

It seemed unlikely, and today began with the usual Shipping Forecast and went on to much talk about the Greek election with no mention of knitting. (What Greece clearly needs is a good old-fashioned devaluation. It will e interesting to see if they get it.)

A bit of Googling reveals that this is what they were talking about – a knitted Radio 4 Day. Delightful.

And speaking of links, Kate Davies' blog for January 23 has this one, to a radio program about Shetland and knitting. It's time-limited, but we've still got the better part of a month. I have just found my way to it, and mean to listen with my breakfast. It begins with a line or two about the expense of raising children and you think you've gone to the wrong place.

Actual knitting went well yesterday – I finished one of the two balls of wool attached to Archie's sleeve and found, as I expected, that everything goes a lot better with only one. I should wind and attach a whole new skein today, and henceforth will not worry about colour discrepancies.

Non-knit

Thank you for your help with elderly care. A friend has directed us to the Edinburgh City Council website about Care in the Home. Greek Helen rang them up a while ago, and had hoped that someone could come round to assess us while she was here last weekend. That didn't happen, but at least the woman rang up and has made an appt to come the next time Helen is here – in six weeks' time, if all goes well with David's operation.


I don't think we actually need help quite yet. We have a good, strong, trustworthy cleaning woman who keeps the worst of the squalor at bay and does the ironing. I don't really do much besides cook (and knit). But we need to make plans for what to do if I am incapacitated, and for how to cope when my husband's needs become greater.  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Greek Helen is on her way home, on the very same early-Sunday-morning EasyJet direct flight which C. and I will take at the end of March. She seems in good form, and we had a nice time.

She made attempts to think ahead on the subject of Care of the Elderly in the Home, without making much progress. All four of our distant children would like to formulate a plan for looking after my husband if I am temporarily or permanently disabled. He must stay here. But one of the troubles with unpleasantness is that however well one prepares, it can be guaranteed to arrive in an unexpected form.

I did at least show her where, in this untidy room, the files about the bank accounts are to be found.

She has much else to think about. Her husband David will have a major operation for diverticulitis this week. I thought it was just an inconvenient and occasionally painful chronic condition – my father had it; he lived into his 90's. But David is to have a length of bowel cut out and the ends reattached.

Not much knitting got done. I hope the balls of yarn attached to Archie's sweater will finally be finished today. We didn't get to see Archie himself. He woke up with a sore throat yesterday and stayed away.

We had some more water from the flat upstairs yesterday, this time a drip through our kitchen ceiling. I was there when it started and raced upstairs. The washing machine was leaking. The drip was quickly stopped. My husband is apoplectic with rage and wants to have the kitchen replastered at the neighbours' expense. These are the same people who ruined our dining room three years ago with an inundation from their bathroom. I don't think any damage was done this time, and I don't think there's anything we can do except fume.


The Little Boys from Loch Fyne have been in Glasgow this week, taking exams and being interviewed for various schools. The elder of the Little Boys will finish primary school this summer. The plan is to send both to a Glasgow school – the family will have to live in Glasgow during the week, and I don't know what will happen to the ducks. At one of the exams, a fellow candidate was discovered in tears. Thomas – the younger of the Little Boys – befriended him. “It'll be all right. You can copy my answers.”

Thursday, January 22, 2015

We spent yesterday recovering from the stress of the day before – that dental appt – and I at least feel much the better for it. And Greek Helen will be here today, to share the load for three whole days. She is going to cook tonight and Saturday. I had a good time in Waitrose yesterday, buying the things on her list. They don't seem to stock za'atar in Tesco.

Thank you for your help with the New Yorker cartoon and the Green Bay Packers. Failure to reach the Superbowl – especially after such a thrilling game – will explain the looks of gloom. Why are the fans all men?

I know about Wisconsin and cheese – Theo's wife Jenni is from there. When Lizzie and Greek Helen and I went to the wedding – flying from Edinburgh to Newark, train to Old Saybrook, a much longer and harder day than it sounds – we were met at our hotel with a little goodie bag, a timetable of events, suggestions for filling in any empty hours – and a piece of cheese, in the shape of the state of Wisconsin. It was a nice touch.

More for the Miscellany dep't:  the owner of the Jack Russell terrier I hope to knit, sent me this link – a YouTube video of a knitted and animated farmyard. Cute.

I got on well with Archie's sleeve at the end of my recuperative day. I got out two of those mesh sleeves you sent me, Mary Lou, and put the yarn in them. It helps a good deal, especially as the balls are tending to fall apart now that we have reached the end game. But I'll still be glad to revert to knitting from only one.


I probably won't try to write anything while Greek Helen is here. Back on Monday?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Oh, Jean, that's good: the plain Jack Russell's are “without benefit of clergy”!

Pedro wasn't along on yesterday's outing. We will have to arrange a sitting. His owner says he is relatively low on markings – just around the head, whereas the one in the pattern book has spots on the body. That will simplify things. Free-form intarsia is an interesting idea, but I wouldn't welcome too much of it.

Not much real knitting got done yesterday. When we got to our appt in Restorative Dentistry we found the little waiting room full of dispirited oldies and my heart was in my boots – but they called us while I was still filling out a form about my husband's medical history, and not a stitch was knit.

Some more sleeve in the evening, but not much. I will certainly be glad when there are no longer two balls of yarn attached, winding themselves around each other as I constantly turn the work. I am still using a short circular, and will manage one or two more decreases with it. And, last night, a miracle – there on the coffee table at my knees was an unopened pack of Cubics, 7” or thereabouts, in the necessary gauge. How did that happen? Very gratefully received.

Non-knit

Here's one for you: we often find New Yorker cartoons somewhat beyond our ken these days but the one on page 58 of the current issue, January 19, beats them all – ranks of glum men with cheese on their heads. Please explain.

Janet (comment Monday), I come from a sturdy line of high-achieving women, and went to Oberlin which disputes with Mount Holyoke the honour of being the first institution in the world to give degrees to women – and which certainly introduced co-educational college education. I don't think I was ever made to feel that there was anything I couldn't do, or shouldn't bother to try to do, just because I was a woman.

But there was certainly a powerful Ladies-Home-Journal miasma about in the 50's, requiring marriage of all women as the basic test of success in life. It was my own choice to step off the merry-go-round. And I needed to get away from home, like Roz Chast ("Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?"). And, unlike her, wasn't a genius.

I doubt if life is easier for today's young women – life doesn't get easier. But at least they know they have to provide a career for themselves.


Life: yesterday was seriously stressful, hard to say why. Partly because the appt was at 1:45, our lunchtime. All went well, see above, and we got home in time for a very late lunch with no hypoglycaemia. But oh, dear, the worry. We are undoubtedly both in steep decline. Nothing is scheduled for today – bliss. And tomorrow Greek Helen will be here – double bliss.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday is Cleaning Woman day, and this one also brings with it another hospital appt – dentistry. So there won't be much here. It's the last hospital appt in what has been a busy month of them.

I'm happily knitting that sleeve. You may remember that long, long ago I came upon a skein that seemed solider in colour than the preceding ones, so I am doing what they tell you to do, and alternating it with another skein  round by round. It works fine as far as colour is concerned, but it is a nuisance, and also has the effect of making the two skeins seem absolutely endless.

I have broken them off the body and taken them with me to the sleeve. It seemed the only thing to do. I am glad to say that at last they are beginning to seem diminished.

“Best in Show” turned up yesterday, and will be a good addition to the books on my Oddities shelf. Dog-knitting looks feasible. The yarns specified are Rowan, easy to inspect in John Lewis. The dog in question is a Jack Russell. It will be necessary to get colour and markings more or less right. It's a “parson Jack Russell” in fact – that's a new one to me. The friend who owns it is going to drive us to the dental hospital.We'll be able to discuss the project a bit further on the way.


The Pakokku sock has benefited somewhat from all these appts. I'm around the second heel at last. Today should move things forward still further. Dentistry is the one speciality which doesn't involve me in the consultation.