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.

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.