Saturday, October 01, 2016

We’ve got to start with this one – The Last Day of That Part of Their Lives:

Today they all, except for Fergus (second from left) will set off for Tomorrow. They’ll drive to their other grandmother in Cheshire and then, on Sunday, one car will go to Oxford with Mungo (right) and another to Lancaster with Archie (left). Other universities have been fully functional for a week or so. Granddaughter Rachel, at Leeds, studying Russian and Chinese, already knows the Russian alphabet.

And I am horrified to see those cigarettes.


Another successful day. Five rows of Uncia is a tough assignment, but I managed it yet again. I finished the Whiskey Barrel sock – except for finishing it – and cast on a Regia colourway called “Mosaic” for Helen.

I managed two points of the Hansel Hap edging – and then counted the stitches to the end. Each point consumes seven, and apparently I am left with a remainder of four: about as bad as it could be. I’ll re-count today, and try to count how many points I’ve done since the third corner, and try to think what to do, if the first count is right: suppress four, or add three?

Flipboard came up trumps this morning, as it occasionally does, and I have pre-ordered this book  – “People Knitting: a Century of Photographs”. I wonder if it will include my all-time favourite, seen here before: that little girl, in the Shetland Museum archives, pausing to stroke the cat who stands beside her, tail absolutely vertical.

I shouldn’t go on ordering and pre-ordering books, if I ever hope to get out of this house. Twice this week, looking for something to take my husband to read in hospital, I have found things on our shelves which I didn’t know we had and which, bibliographically speaking, are probably pretty valuable (Henry Miller, Oscar Wilde). Those shelves will have to be cleared volume-by-volume.


All this talk of gardening tools has suggested to me that there is someone on my Christmas list who would make good use of the one we have been discussing. I hope I’ll order it today.

And, Shandy, thank you again for yesterday’s comment. I was too flattened, as usual, after hospital visiting, to go out in search of the Times. But Mungo and Archie came over to sit with me for a while at the end of the afternoon to say goodbye – and they bought it, on their way here. I’ll be able to take it to my husband today, and he will be very glad to have it. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Another successful day, knitting-wise.

I’m decreasing for the toe of the second Whiskey Barrel sock – nearly done. The new skein makes a distinct break from the old one, but fortunately the line will be hidden well within the wearer’s shoe. Such breaks are a danger, with madtosh.

I got my five rows of Uncia done. I would have liked to add a sixth, so as to start today with a wrong-side row. They’re easier. But it’s wiser not to press on when tired (which I am, most of the time).

And I added another point to the edging of the Hansel Hap. I would have liked to get a bit further forward with that, too, but bedtime beckoned. Prince Albert has still not appeared, although much discussed. The Queen has offered her heart and hand to Lord Melborne but he has sensibly declined them.


The big knitting news of the last two days has been the arrival of two books – “A Shetlander’s Fair Isle Graph Book”, from Jamieson & Smith; and the Feral Knitter’s “The Joy of Color”.

The Shetland Guild of Spinners etc set about to publish a book of members’ Fair Isle designs, a companion to their brilliant lace book. Then one of the group remembered that she had two Fair Isle graph books, given her by the son of the knitwear manager for Anderson & Co (a broker, still there in Lerwick, which bought knitters’ work and sold it on). She was a lace knitter herself, and had forgotten about them.

They are enchanting. Page after page of Fair Isle patterns, broad and narrow, carefully coloured in on graph paper. There is an introduction by Carol Christiansen, the revered curator of textiles at the Shetland Museum.

Interestingly, on an early page there is a row of swastikas. It is a Hindu symbol of good fortune. I have used it myself, in lace, knitting shawls for the Little Boys. But I have never seen it before on Shetland. Christiansen says in the introduction that it doesn’t appear in Shetland knitwear after 1934 – which probably helps date the pattern book. (My father’s mother had a little silver spoon with good-luck symbols: a rabbit’s foot, a four-leafed clover, a swastika. Striking, to a child – me – seeing it during the war.)

The Guild is still working on that book of members' Fair Isle patterns, you'll be glad to hear.

“The Joy of Color” is another self-published book, and another triumph. It’s not a pattern book, but a distillation of the workshops Janine Bajus – the Feral Knitter -- teaches on how to design your own Fair Isle. Meg herself contributes a forward.

I haven’t yet progressed beyond the chapter on colour, and am, as usual, feeling bogged down in shades and tones and colour wheels, as I do even when Franklin tries to help in his Craftsy class. I’ll report further.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

An industrious day, and I got it all done. The Whiskey Barrel sock must be within two or three hospital-visits of completion. I did five rows of the Uncia, a struggle, and am now ready for row 264 in Chart E. The chart ends with row 284 – that's four more days at this pace, if I can keep it up. Chart F really does look easier – considerable stretches of either knits or purls, instead of struggling with every stitch.

But that leaves Charts G and H. G, at least, is small – not many rows, shorter repeats.

And then, later on, I added another point to the Hansel Hap edging, and watched to the end of Part 2 of “Victoria”. No sign of Prince Albert yet, but he couldn’t be far away.

Shandy, what can I say? I’m not the one to turn to for advice. There must be far more competent Uncia-knitters than I. I’m finding the charts difficult, needless to say. Many of the symbols are familiar, others aren’t. I haven’t yet tried using my printer to enlarge the charts, but that might help.

One thing: a common manoeuvre turns out to be the crossing of a knit stitch either left or right, when the purl stitches which started out on either side of it, are purled together. The symbol looks like an ordinary cross-1-right or cross-1-left, with whiskers on it. I’m now used to it.

Otherwise, just the ordinary. I attach a card to the book with a paper clip, either above or below the row to be knit. I read through the right side rows before beginning, in case any fancy symbols loom.

Keep at it. Someone once said something on the lines of, It’s wonderful what we can do, if we be ever doing.

Kathy of Kathy's Knits is going -- or has gone -- to Shetland Wool Week. Will Lucy Hague be filling in behind the counter?


What’s wrong with “Oriental”, Peggy, when applied to a gardening tool? How else can you say, “of Eastern origin”? What a minefield is language! I remember how surprised I was when James told me not to say “Chinaman”.  I no longer do.

One of you wrote to me yesterday with this excellent link for an American source for the OGT.

I also remember during or just after the little lifetime of David and Helen’s eldest son, Oliver, when an old-fashioned friend referred to him as a “Mongol”. He had Down’s Syndrome, and died of various organ failures related to that syndrome, after a valiant struggle on the part of the NHS and his loving parents to keep him going. I wouldn’t have used the word myself, but it was the only available term when I was young. I wasn’t offended, and didn’t begrudge it to my friend.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Very little, today.

I didn’t feel entirely up to snuff yesterday, and accomplished little as a result. Today looks like a normal day – according to the New Norm – and I hope for better. Starting with some Uncia-knitting this morning.

I progressed down the foot of the second Whiskey Barrel sock yesterday, during the hospital visit. I’ve already forgotten how many rounds there are in the foot, and will soon be reduced to counting the first sock. I wound the second skein of the yarn during the presidential debate, so I’m ready to join it in today.

Karen, thank you for spotting that the Vintage Shetland Project is now to be published in December – just in time for Christmas! Gosh! That’s not worth much, without estimates of how much work remains to be done and how much poor Susan thinks she’ll be capable of, and when. There’s no news in the Vintage Shetland Project thread of the Susan Crawford Vintage Designs group on Ravelry.

I hope “pre-order” on the website doesn’t mean that she’s still taking money.


What you people need – anyone who’s interested in potatoes – is an Oriental Gardening Tool. The link is to a blog from some years ago. From it, you ought to be able to find a source. It’s a tool that puts you in touch with tillers of the soil through the millennia, the way it fits into your hand. I gave one to Alexander for Christmas once, and he said thank you but he didn’t think it would be much use because he didn’t do much gardening on his knees. Three or four months later, he asked where I’d bought it: Ketki wanted one of her own.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Here I am back. We had a good time. No apples – the tree has come down. Wind? Deer? It’s not dead, but all of this year’s apples are gone and many of the lower branches stripped bare. I think the problem may essentially have been a shallow soil. It might be worth our nice gardener’s time to move it into a better place.

I dug all the potatoes, and they are delicious. I was taken aback at how much effort I needed to expend on the job, and how tired I was thereafter.

I got up and watched the debate last night, as planned. I think it leaves us much where we were before, with the balance tipped slightly towards Hillary. Neither candidate disgraced him/herself.

My big problem was that the television picture was stuck in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and no amount of button-pushing could enlarge it. That didn't really matter for the debate, but the problem persisted this morning. I tried googling, and the only suggestion was to push the keys I was already pushing. I tried changing the batteries in the zapper, since that technique had recently worked so well with the mouse. In despair, I applied the ultimate sanction – I switched the whole kit-and-caboodle off at the wall, and on again. That did the trick.

No knitting to speak of – none, in Strathardle. I got my five rows of Uncia done on Saturday. I think Chart E is perhaps slightly easier than its predecessors. I’ll return to the fray today. The Whiskey Barrel sock is slightly advanced – the gusset decreases are finished, and I am steaming down the foot of the second sock. Now that I have got my television back, I can look forward to some "Victoria" and some hap-edging this evening. I’m keenly looking forward to Prince Albert.


You’re all of you right. I must have her spayed. My reasons for holding back are these:

a)       We believe, on slight but not negligible evidence, that a cat who has had kittens remains more engaged with the world thereafter.
b)      Perdita never purrs, except when she is nuzzling into my neck and pretending to be my kitten, kneading and sucking. I think, with kittens of her own, she might purr, and they would purr, their little bodies vibrating with the experience. And maybe the lesson would last, for her.

c)       That time she fell off a high shelf, and I took her to the vet several days later because she was still limping, and she was anaesthetised and x-rayed, and I tried to comfort her in the evening when I brought her home -- she hissed and spat at me. It was dreadful. Can I face it again?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Well, the secret of life – but we already knew that – is to set oneself goals.

 -- Yesterday I finished the heel flap of the second Whiskey Barrel sock, turned the heel, and have nearly finished picking up the gusset stitches.

 --  I did five rows of the Uncia, not without struggle. That is only going to be possible on days when I can do a couple of rows in the morning. Today should qualify.

 -- And at the end, I turned “Victoria” on again and added another edging point to the Hansel hap. I still don’t believe a word of it, but it’s wonderful wallpaper. Yesterday we had a "cameo" from the Duke of Wellington, whom I love more than most historical figures. Even in old age, I don't think he was like that. 

More knitting news – someone in the “Vintage Shetland” thread of the “Stitches in Time” group on Ravelry has actually had the temerity to ask for news, given that the website still promises publication for August 15. And we have been told that a new projected schedule will follow soon. Susan has finished chemotherapy for the moment, and now faces surgery.

Happier knitting news: I plod on with Flipboard, and today they came up trumps. Mason-Dixon knitting (I should read them much more often) recommend “Drop Down Easy Knits” by Gale Zucker, Kristen Kapur – and our own Mary Lou! Just the thing for one struggling with the Uncia, which surely qualifies as drop-down difficult. I ordered the book at once. Here in GB, it hasn’t been published yet.

The blog illustrates a log-cabin-type blankie which I will keep in mind for Hellie and Matt’s baby, when they get around to one. They used to say they hoped for a dozen. I’d better add it to a Ravelry list.


Helen and I hope to go to Strathardle tomorrow, returning early Monday. So, silence here for two days. No Uncia, either.

There is a basement-level flat on Cumberland Street inhabited by what we think of, on no evidence whatsoever, as the Mad Cat Lady. (It’s probably a male High Court Judge.) There is a cat flap, and a doormat in the shape of a cat, and a ceramic plaque saying “Attenti al gatto!”, and a lovely stone cat with flowers on it. Archie and I walked past it on our way home from the Gallery of Modern Art the other day, and I pointed it out and said, “I can hardly knock on the door and ask if she knows a tom cat.”

And Archie said, “Why not?”

Poor Perdita is in heat again. My husband remains very reluctant to having her spayed before she’s had one litter, as indeed do I. Yesterday I went twice to the door of the Mad Cat Lady, but no one answered. I’ll try again this morning. Courts don’t sit on Saturday.  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Here I still am, not in Strathardle – and the sun is shining, contrary to yesterday’s forecast.

Whoever-it-was rang up yesterday morning to say that they will deliver my husband’s hospital bed at some time today, between 8am and 3pm, I think it was. I told my husband, at the end of yesterday’s visit, that my appearance at his side today was somewhat uncertain for that reason. And he said that we have a perfectly good bed and that he won’t use a hospital bed.

That’s what he used to say. It was his agreement to give a hospital bed a try which has inaugurated these strenuous efforts on the part of the hospital to get him home. Sinking of heart.


On the other hand, it was a very good day for knitting. I started the heel flap of the second Whiskey Barrel sock. I’m going to need to wind the second 100 gram ball of yarn pretty soon now – that really feels like progress.

And I finished Chart D of the Uncia. I am impressed with the speed with which you have reached Chart A, Shandy. If it’s any comfort, I think A is the most difficult of the ones I have so far surmounted. But I agree with you, that the problem is, one expects to be able to anticipate YO’s and cable crossings, as in one’s previous experience of lace and cable knitting, and, on the whole, it’s not happening.

I have about 150 rows to go. That sounds like a lot. That is a lot. But it occurred to me in the night – a good time for thinking – that five rows a day will polish it off in a month, so that’s my goal.

Sharon, you’re right not to start the Haps Book with the Uncia. I had a reason to do so, eventually to be revealed. But I didn’t expect it to be as difficult as this. (Now that you’ve got a television, Sharon, you can watch the presidential debate. That’s going to be worthwhile, whatever; and my husband won’t be home yet, surely, so I can wrap myself in my dressing gown and watch, whenever.)

Later on yesterday, I did another edging point on the hap shawl while watching the end of the first episode of “Victoria”. Much better knitting-television than "National Treasure". I think I’ll persevere with it.

AND the morning mail brought me the latest issue of Amirisu. It was an indulgence (=expensive). It’s wonderful. I am particularly taken with a sleeveless vest which has a diagonal zipper, like a biking jacket. Now if only Franklin would come to the EYF and teach his zipper class…

(The class list will be up in a week or two, with registration a week later. Oh, the excitement!)