Sunday, August 28, 2016

Again, little to report. And I must try to bestir myself to get things into a state which will allow Gosia – coming at midday – to get some work done.

Helen had a grand time at her mosaic workshop. For some reason she doesn’t get comments on her website (address in sidebar). But there they were yesterday, people who told her with awe, “I read your blog”. And she is reveling in being here to stay – waking up in her flat on Windsor Street, looking east at the sun rising over Edinburgh. Going to Tesco! Buying tea and sugar!

I didn’t do much, as usual, but the Whiskey Barrel socks are moving forward and I am impressed, again, with how good a nearly-solid madtosh fabric looks, like my beloved Relax. Helen went to see her father at the end of the afternoon, and found him in good form, although unsure whether I had been to visit earlier in the day, or not.

I’d better get going.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Games Day

Little to report, but it was a good day.

Helen is safely here. She enjoyed the vegetarian spread I had prepared. She is going to a mosaic workshop in Stockbridge today which is why she has preceded the rest of her family by two days. I can't imagine that Stockbridge has much to teach her, but it's always fun to be among fellow enthusiasts. And Stockbridge  is halfway to the Western General, so she will probably be able to visit her father at the end of the day.

I had a good talk with a dr yesterday. It is all much as I thought. They are aiming to get my husband home, with a “care package” involving two carers at a time, four times a day. They think a hospital bed might be a good idea. But he’s not ready for home yet. He thought, yesterday, that he might be coming home today. It’s all pretty grim.

As for knitting, I finished the ribbing of the Whiskey Barrel sock – that wasn’t so bad, after all – and began speeding down the leg. And I did a bit more on the Uncia, and am now halfway through the final session of repeat-last-two-rows-seven-more-times. There’s an awful lot of purling, and I think what is being produced, between the ribs as they radiate outwards, is garter stitch. But I also think the purling may be a necessity enforced upon the designer by the fact that the in-between bits originate as the purl stitch in a K1P1 rib down at the beginning.


A book review of “The Cyber Effect” in today’s Times says: “If mothers glued to their mobile phones no longer make eye contact with their babies while breastfeeding, how does this affect their child’s emotional attachment?”

Bugger eye contact. Breastfeeding was my one chance to read, back in those stressful days. (Rachel was not yet five when Helen was born – and the two boys were in between.) The thing I mostly regret is how fashion has changed: in those days, it was a competition to see whose baby would eat the most solid food the soonest. Nowadays, I think I could have had four or five months of blissful breastfeeding and reading before the pablum started.

The one thing I think to be deplored, is to leave a small baby with a bottle to manage for itself. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Not quite so cheerful and energetic today – on with real life.

Beverly, do include Duddingston in your next Edinburgh visit. It’s picturesque in a way that Scottish villages so often aren’t, and it’s practically in the city.

I am determined to try to find out from the hospital today, how they see our future. My husband still needs two nurses to move from chair to bed. I tried to find out yesterday, and was told that they were having a meeting at that very moment – consultants, drs, physiotherapists. It’s a rehabilitation ward. They won’t put up with him forever.

And – Beverly, again – your thought was mine. I got in touch with Gosia, my Polish friend and former cleaner, and she’s coming for a blitz at midday on Sunday. I’ll leave the spare room for her, and line up other jobs. The mattress on our bed needs turning, for instance. She’s no longer working nights at Morrisons, but instead at Costa Coffee in Edinburgh Airport. Is the airport open all night? Even if it isn’t, there may be sandwiches to be made.

And Greek Helen is coming this evening. I stumbled across a rather wonderful-sounding recipe yesterday for roasted aubergines, onions and peppers wirh a tahini sauce. I’ll have that ready for her to pick at.

Still no knitting to speak of, although I may finish the ribbing for the first Whiskey Barrel sock today. A gent’s sock involves so much ribbing – 50 rounds, over 64 stitches – that it’s no use even thinking about finishing; you’ve just got to sit there and do it. With the result that it seems to get done with less stress than the lesser knitting on a lady’s sock.

I discovered with great pleasure yesterday that there’s a new Twist Collective available. There’s even an article in it about loss of mojo, but I don’t think that’s my problem. I’ve got a fair amount of mojo, but no strength.

I wondered, thinking back over life, how closely connected are television and knitting? I’m not watching any at the moment, and therefore not knitting.  But that’s not it. We came to television relatively late, to our children’s distress: in the early 70’s. And I was knitting away, long before then, isolated of course from the world.

I can remember finding Odham’s Encyclopedia of Knitting in the Leicester Public Library (in the late 60's) and equally remember the friend who told me that what I needed was Mary Thomas’ Knitting Book. It was from the latter that I learned how to hold yarn in both hands for Fair Isle. I own both texts now, and they will make the cut when the house is broken up.  I often think with admiration-beyond-expression, of EZ, even more isolated but calmly ploughing her straight furrow.

So the problem isn’t lack-of-television. “Life is a moderately good play with a badly-written third act.” Truman Capote.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

I had a lovely day yesterday, in Mediterranean warmth and sunshine, no hospital. I’ve had no news, which I take it to mean that Alexander found things much as usual and didn’t learn anything significant.

A friend rang up in the morning and whisked me off to Dr Neils Garden on the edge of Duddingston Loch. Very nice, architecturally; lacking in plant labels. We saw an abies koreana, half the size of the one we have down the commonty but absolutely covered in blue fir cones, which is/are the koreana’s party trick. We have only a few this year. I’ve Google’d it since getting home; it sounds as if perhaps young trees have more fir cones. I’ll look it up in our Big Tree Book the next time I’m in Strathardle.

Duddingston Loch is famous for the Reverend Robert Walker, but you can’t expect to spot clergymen on the loch at this time of year.

Then we went to see my friend’s sister who lives in a splendid house nearby. In between is a pub called the Sheep Heid where the Queen recently dropped in for a bite, after a day at Musselburgh races. She very rarely dines out in public in London. I suggested to my friend that we should lunch there, but neither of us, in the event, were very hungry, so we didn’t.

On all fronts except knitting, life has been accelerating. Thomas O. rang up to say that he and his wife Lucy and daughter Juliet will be here on Tuesday. Help! The spare room is full of Archie’s things, and, with my husband away, domestic help is also lacking.

But this morning comes a message from Greek Helen in Normandy. They will be in Cheshire tonight (deo volente) with David’s mother, and she will be here in Edinburgh tomorrow. She can take charge of everything; c’est son metier.

I didn’t knit a stitch yesterday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I’ll be brief today. There were an unusual number of emails this morning needing an early-morning clear head, and I can’t sit here all day.

Here are the Vampire socks – but now I have four socks to finish-finish, and I had better get down to the job:

I cast on a madtosh Whiskey Barrel sock at the hospital yesterday, and was very pleased with the way the first ten rounds went.

But I still don’t seem to have enough oomph to knit in the evening.

Alexander is coming over for a visit today. I might give myself the day off. I haven’t decided.

I’ve joined the Susan Crawford group in Ravelry, as perhaps the best way of finding out what is happening with the Vintage Shetland Project. And, sure enough, someone named Shinybees posted yesterday to say that there will be an update from Susan this week and that, as we feared, “finishing touches” are still needed to the book. The grim diagnosis happened near enough to publication date that I had dared hope everything was ready.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

You’re right, of course. No one will notice Emmitt’s middle name, if he suppresses it. I amused myself while driving to the hospital yesterday by working out his relationship to Juliet O., above. My mother liked that sort of thing, and was good at it (as she was on grammar). James is keen on family history, but would rely on an app for the answer.

I think it’s “second cousin once removed”. Theo (my sister’s son, Emmett’s father) is a bit confusing, being midway in age between my own children (his first cousins) and my grandchildren (his first cousins once removed). It’s often difficult to remember which line in the imaginary chart to put Theo on. I kept wanting to assume that he and Juliet’s father were first cousins – but they’re not.

Mr and Mrs Hussain who run my admirable corner shop, are each other's first cousins. That means that their children are their own second cousins. There’s a thought for you.


I’m doing the toe decreases for the second Vampire. It shouldn’t take long to polish them off today. I’ve decided to go on to a pair of socks for my brother-in-law. I turn out to have two skeins in the sock bag of Madtosh Whiskey Barrel in whatever her sock-weight is called. I meant to knit them for my husband, to match his sleeveless vest. But he doesn’t wear socks any more, just slippers.

Yesterday, at the hospital, I wound the first of those skeins into a ball – a risky operation, as I had occasionally to stand up to fetch a nurse or perform some other service, and every interruption risked an impenetrable tangle. But I got it done, and am ready to cast on.

No shawl knitting, of any sort, was accomplished. While I’m at the hospital, peacefully knitting socks and chatting, my internal monologue anticipates my activities for the rest of the day, when I get home. When it happens, I feel as if I have been hit by a wrecker ball and accomplish nothing.

More non-knit

I am grateful for yesterday’s comments. With the right equipment, and a redistribution of care, we ought to be able to get my husband home, even now. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Here he is, my new great-nephew:

He weighed in at 7lb 5oz. He’s supposed to be three weeks early, but there was some confusion about the dates. Jenni had a tough time, and needed blood.

His name is Emmett Kelley L. My sister reminded me, when she phoned with the news, that that is (apart from the “e” in “Kelley”) the name of a famous American “sad” clown. I wonder if Theo and Jenni know – I think “Emmett” was chosen because they like it, and “Kelley” for family associations. But it’s more than a bit like naming your little boy Charlie Chaplin. There’s still time for a re-think.

So I must get back to the Hansel. Nothing yesterday, except that Vampire II advanced towards the toe, which I might even reach today.

Non-knit (and Comments)

Good question, Weavinfool. My husband’s goal is undoubtedly to come home to his familiar squalor and his cat. I and others are wondering, is this going to be possible? If he goes into care, the last months – however many they prove to be – of our 60-year marriage will be spent in rage and grief. We’ve got to do better than that.

Skeindalous, thank you for that interesting information about Caesarian sections. I’ve done a bit more looking, and find I am right in remembering that Caesar’s mother survived his birth by many years. It is therefore very unlikely that he was born that way, although one never knows.