Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A good day, but not entirely a productive one.

I went for a walk this morning along the Water of Leith with a dear friend who is determined to get me into shape for Palermo. I’m sure it did some good.

But when I sat down at the computer, not all that long ago, it fired up all right and then made a little pfffft noise rather like an expiring light bulb, and expired. I went back to the old computer, and even managed to write a couple of paragraphs for you, but couldn’t figure out how to upload them (although I must have been on-line, in some sense).

Then I came back in here and found a loose connection and tightened it, and all is – it would seem – well.

I find I can’t even remember how to connect a computer to the Internet. It just connects, by itself. But goodness! how important that connection is for one’s mental well-being.

Anyway – I think all that distress is excuse enough for not having got much of anything done today.

Knitting has advanced. I’ve picked up the stitches from the flat edge of the lace, and am beginning to knit inwards. The numbers aren’t perfect yet, but nearly. It has been much more of an effort than I remember from Mrs Hunter’s shawl for the last great-granddaughter, not all that long ago. Was that one substantially smaller? I’ll look tomorrow.

The Japanese Stitch Dictionary is here, and is as wonderful as expected. There seem to be a couple more promising-sounding Japanese-derived books promised for next year. This one has more bobbles than I entirely like, but is otherwise entrancing. The only thing to do is to swatch.

Utterly non-knit

Archie came for supper last night, and I asked him about this business of trigger warnings, or whatever they’re called, when Unsuitable Material is about to be discussed in class. I had heard on the radio in the night that Ovid’s Metamorphoses had been so flagged somewhere.

I thought of that delicious passage in Metamorphoses I where Apollo is pursuing Daphne along the Peneus River. Clearly, harassment. The ground is rough, and he is worried that she will trip and fall. He calls out, begging her to run more slowly, and promising that he will, too.

Archie knew the story, but didn’t know that it happened at the very spot, in the Vale of Tempe, where we used to stop on the journey from Thessaloniki to their house on Mount Pelion, to eat delicious barbecued corn cobs and walk for a while beside the river. The path is much smoother these days. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

All well, but not a stitch of knitting has been done.  I’m ready to pick up the stitches for the borders of the baby shawl. I still can’t find the pattern – most peculiar. The advantage of the new one is that everything is charted. But I’ve knit my way through a lot of Amedro in my time, doing it her way without charts, and I’m sure I can do it again.

Archie came to supper, and seems very well.

And I got another five Christmas cards written. And various e-mail-y business attended to. The more I do of that, the more there seems to be.

It’s very cold, and in lots of other places – but not here – there’s enough snow to interfere with movement. Will we get to Palermo? Archie says, of course we will.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

As days go, not too bad, not too good.

Archie is coming to supper tomorrow, straight off the train from his university. I have made him a stew in my slow cooker – stews are always better the next day. It’s fairly tasty, but still needs to be decanted and the cooker washed. It’s cast iron, and can’t be neglected overnight like everything else.

And I got a few more Christmas cards done – including ruining one of my well-printed round-robin letters by writing a bold “Dear L. and…” at the top before noticing, in my address book, that L. died a year ago. I’m afraid that’s a fatal error – another sheet of waste paper.

I have tried to concentrate my mind, and extract the names of people from the Christmas card lists of past years – I’ve got all the lists, back until 1994 – who might not have heard of my husband’s death, and who need to hear from me anyway. About a dozen, beyond those done already. I’ll do them in the next couple of days.

No knitting yet today, but last night I got within a scallop or two of the end of the lace edging for the new shawl. If I have the strength to carry on for a while tonight, I could finish it, and even start picking up stitches from the straight edge.

At the moment – I’m sure it’ll turn up – I can’t find the new version of the pattern, which J&S sent me with the yarn. In the old version (and, I think, in the new) Amedro unashamedly does the borders in st st – that is, round and round with every round knit – and the edging and centre in garter. I must, therefore, have done it that way for Archie, 21 years ago. Nobody complained.

For Mrs Hunter’s shawl, last winter, I’m pretty sure I left one corner open, and knit the borders back and forth, thus achieving garter stitch throughout. I could search the blog if I set myself to it. I think that’s what I’ll do this time, anyway.


I happened to see your comment on Mason-Dixon Knitting, Mary Lou, and was very happy to find in you a fellow-fan of the recipe for Toll House cookies on the back of the Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Morsels packet. And, in answer to your question, I think “The dog ate my homework” is as well-known in GB as in the USofA. I’m not sure whether that extends to Italy, but my tutor seemed to understand.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

All well here. The Italian lesson – il cane ha mangiato i miei compiti – always leaves me exhausted, but I got a bit of kitchen-cleaning done, and some cooking, and a few Christmas cards written. Well, three. And December won’t be in double figures until tomorrow.

This is my tutor’s first winter in the north. She came to Edinburgh in May (and found it chilly). Like Greek Helen, she is now finding the darkness a bit much. Whereas now that I have grasped how much darkness affects me, I’m doing better.

So far today, no knitting. I should be able to knock off a few more scallops on that lace edging before bed.

There’s a great flutter in the doocot because Patreon has imposed a surcharge on patrons. I didn’t entirely understand the message when I got it at first, but since then I have had agitated messages from both Knitty and Fruity Knitting (my two sponsorships). Apparently I am to pay a bit more – they will get the same – Patreon pockets the difference. I think that’s it.

I’ll hang on. A significant number of Knitty patrons, at least, have dropped out. It’s a shame.

Friday, December 08, 2017

A fairly idle day, recovering from yesterday – and this evening, I must do my Italian homework. I do Italian every day, my Duolingo lessons and Yabla videos. But somehow the real homework always gets left for Friday night, or even Saturday morning – Federica comes at 9, but I get up early.

But I got some sit-down-y, computer-y things done today, including ordering a skirt to wear to Palermo. I think it should be pleasantly warm, Shandy, certainly compared to Edinburgh. It’s a substantial distance due south of Naples. And there will be more light. Rain is probably the danger.

And Kristen, yes, naps are planned. Our hotel is called the Hotel del Centro, chosen largely because it offers single rooms (and internet).  I’ve got a street map of Palermo and have located on it various places of interest (including the Duchess’ palazzo) – the hotel seems to live up to its name. It should be easy to get back there for a lie-down.

We’ve gone ahead and said yes to the Magnet kitchen, and I’ve found a reconditioned Aga. That will be something to worry about once I get back from Italy, just as Palermo is something to worry about once I get past Christmas.

I got three more scallops done today – better than nothing. 

Thursday, December 07, 2017

I feel a bit more hopeful about Palermo.

Today has been strenuous, by my feeble standards, but very successful. The various people mentioned yesterday came here, and ate their sandwiches, and I think the conversation has moved things slightly but definitely forward towards the publication of my husband’s magnum opus.

After the sandwiches, and with no prospect of a nap, I thought for a while that I might expire. But I revived, and here I am still in gamba at half past eight – although more than ready for my bed.

I have knit only three scallops, I think, but that was enough to take me past the half-way point on the 4th and final side of the shawl edging.

Blackwell’s have emailed to say that the Japanese Stitch Dictionary is on its way.

And there’s only a fortnight to go until the solstice.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Today was fairly productive, as days go around here. Greek Helen and I went up to Magnet to talk about new-kitchen plans. They are the people who did a kitchen for Kate Davies and Tom, when they moved away from Edinburgh to their Highland fastness. KD was very enthusiastic about their service. I have saved that blog post of hers.

Then I walked home, perhaps a mile, perhaps a bit less, and felt weary and therefore worried again about Palermo. Helen found and retrieved from Kirkmichael the sitting-stool I gave my husband. I think it will be useful, and I’ll take it along.

Walking meant I could pop in to Valvona & Crolla, a famous Edinburgh Italian delicatessen. A friend recently spotted the Princess Royal there.  I bought two presents, one of them a paperback, “Dear Francesca”, by Mary Contini, a member of the original V&C family. It is partly recipes, partly family history. I’ll take it along to Palermo as a regalino for my friend the Duchess.

Then, after a period for recovery, I gathered together photographs and correspondence related to my husband’s work – various people are coming to see me tomorrow with a view to publication. Tomorrow morning I must make sandwiches for them, so tonight I must leave the kitchen fairly tidy. It is a bond, and not entirely a trivial one, between my husband and Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, that both died before their life’s work was accepted for publication.

As for knitting, I have done three more scallops – I should reach the half-way point tomorrow of the fourth side of the edging for the new baby shawl.

The new Fruity Knitting is extremely interesting – I  think I say that every fortnight. I am a patron, and am proud to be – but it’s free for all over on YouTube. Do have a look, if you don’t know it already.

Andrea is a dazingly skilful and meticulous knitter. She showed us some interesting things, this time, about finishing steeks. I was happy to remember that Hazel Tindall said (EYF ’17) she didn’t bother – just cut them, and let them be – when she was knitting a sweater for herself. For competitions, she did a bit more.

The star attraction this time is Sue Blacker of Blacker Yarns. She looks like a Boring Old Woman – rather like me, in fact. She knows a lot about sheep and wool and spinning. For the moment, I’ve even got “woolen-spun” and “worsted-spun” straight in my head. How very wise of the Fruitys to include, every so often, an interview not with a knitter but with a yarn-producer.