Friday, September 22, 2017

Yesterday was a day of total non-achievement, followed by early bed. I am determined to do better today.

Non-achievement, but not non-event. Classes for EYF ’18 will be bookable from October 14. That pretty well means, on October 14. Last year, all the plums were taken by tea-time.

I found this announcement in my in-box early yesterday. But there was no mention of when the class list would be available. One needs time to think, so that one can be poised with finger on the buzzer. What if Franklin is coming, for instance? It’s not impossible.

I posted an anxious note to the Ravelry group, and an assurance soon followed that the class list would be announced a week before classes go on sale. They don’t miss many tricks, those ladies.

Not a third cat, but alpaca-and-Wensleydale skeins from New Leaf Yarns. 70% alpaca. Lovely and soft and they feel as if they wouldn’t droop. Now I must cast about for a hat pattern, among the hundreds of good ones.

I’ve also started thinking about the Soutache. I often lull myself to sleep by watching one of my many Craftsy classes, with the iPad propped on my knees. Last night I let Nancy Marchant show me how to cast on for two-colour brioche, and found it rather alarming. But this morning I read Carol Sunday’s instructions, which are completely different, and feel much calmer.

My sister is getting tired of being bossed around in Iceland, but continues to find it interesting. This is a picture of some knitting available in the shark museum. Alas, we have to take her word for the sharks.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I didn’t get out to Kathy’s knitting group this evening (see yesterday). I didn’t really think I would. Evenings are not my best time.

Progress, however, on the cat front. Alexander came over this morning, and went away with the cat-carrier and with the phone number of the new kitten’s birth mother (so to speak). He has emailed since to say he has made contact, and all is well. The plan is that he will come to see me next Wednesday by car, picking up the kitten on the way.

She is to be named Hermione – not for Harry Potter, but because Hermione, Queen of Sicily, is Perdita’s mother in The Winter’s Tale. I still don’t know which kitten is mine – it’s all rather like the situation in the Gondoliers. One is prettier, the other has a more interesting face, I’ll be delighted with either. The ad seems to have been taken down, so I can’t refer you there any longer  – kittens are hot property. Once she’s here, I’ll show you, whichever she turns out to be.

Thank you for your advice about introducing my two cats to each other. Cathairinmyknitting (comment yesterday) – I have ordered a Feliway kit, thank you, which should be here well before the kitten is. James and Cathy are using Feliway, too, so far without much success. What worries me today, is that, whatever system I adopt, both cats will need me. I must bond with the kitten. I must continue to support Perdita with my constant presence. Watch this space.

My sister and her husband, who have, in their time, introduced a new cat to an incumbent, as I never have, will be here next week to help with the process. They are currently on a package tour of Iceland which they seem to be enjoying. “Knitting is for sale everywhere including the fish factory.”

I had another good day with the second sleeve of Miss Rachel’s Yoke. It is now so far forward that I may have to finish the whole sweater before embarking on the Soutache.

Andrew & Andrea were splendid, as ever, and Gudrun Johnston extremely interesting on several fronts. The bad news is that we have to wait three weeks for the next episode, because they’re off to Shetland for Wool Week. The good news is that we get scenes at Burrastow [where I stayed] in the current issue, along with the news that the food is as good as ever. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Oh, dear – I’ve done it. Committed myself to a kitten. Two cats don’t quite qualify me as a Crazy Cat Lady, but I’ve never lived with more than one before, so it feels like it. And I can’t look Perdita in the eye.

Gumtree, “cats in Scotland”, look for a post that went up this afternoon in Springburn, which is part of Glasgow. Alexander will come over tomorrow and go back with my cat-carrier – and return, the following week, with a cat in it. The Springburn litter contains one ginger boy (par for the course) and TWO tortoiseshell and white girls. I’m not quite sure which one I’ve got. Our Dear Old Cat had at least four litters and never produced a single kitten worth remembering – all ginger, or black-and-white.

The (former) Beijing Mileses are having a terrible time with their new kitten. They alternately fear that their Chinese cat Mimi will leave them, or will tear the kitten limb from limb. At least my two cats are both the same sex. I think that may help.

But, oh dear.

As for knitting, I’ve finished the coloured stripes at the beginning of the second sleeve of Miss Rachel’s Yoke, and am steaming up the arm. The coloured patterns weren’t quite as difficult this time, and I remain hopeful that the yoke will be as blissful as anticipated.

I’ve been reading the Soutache pattern with some attention. There’s going to be a learning curve involved. It will be good for me.

Kathy’s Knits has a monthly meet-and-knit group, and tomorrow is it for September. I hope I’ll have the oomph to go. I’m not getting out enough. That sleeve is at exactly the right point for taking along to a knitting group. Kathy herself is off to Shetland Wool Week any moment now.

No television last night – I found a black screen with the message “No signal”. I have television supplied by cable from Virgin, so I assumed Mr Branson would be toiling all night to restore the service, but things were no better this morning. The admirable Virgin website could find nothing wrong. I had to try the nuclear option – switching off the electricity at the wall. It worked. So now I will go watch “Victoria” and knit that sleeve and worry about my kitten.

And then go to bed with my iPad and the new Fruity Knitting.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Soutache package is safely here, and very beautiful. I hope to cast on later in the week.

I have finished the first sleeve of Miss Rachel’s Yoke – I’m a stitch short, unaccountably – and have done the wrist ribbing for the second, and, indeed, have embarked on the first coloured band. I think I’ve got a new episode of “Victoria” to watch, and in a moment I’ll go do that. It doesn’t require much concentration.

And once I have finished the three coloured bands, and am embarked on the easy part of the second sleeve, I don’t see why I shouldn’t introduce the Soutache as a second WIP for alternate days.

The new issue of Knitting came through the letterbox along with the Soutache package. Some interesting news – an Addi circular needle for socks, 25cm, with one needle tip substantially longer than the other. Would that make it possible to use a circular for socks without torturing one’s wrists? Bliss, if so.

And there’s going to be something on YouTube (where it’s all happening) called “The Knit Show”, starting October 5. It sounds interesting, although I refuse to be lured away from Andrew & Andrea.

And the Purl Princess (back page) sent me off to New Leaf Yarns, a spinner of alpaca with various wools. It turns out they’re virtually on my doorstep. I’ve ordered their set of mini-skeins, alpaca and Wensleydale. Somehow, mini-skeins – of which, by now, I’ve got quite a few sets – don’t seem quite as wicked as buying yarn per se. This set can surely become a Christmas hat for somebody.

You’ll have heard that Kate Davies is launching a line of ready-made knitwear? I hope she doesn’t over-extend herself.


I have spent the day in an agony of indecision. There were a couple of sweeties on Gumtree this morning. I won’t insist on tortoiseshell-and-white this time (if I go ahead with this mad idea) although I wouldn’t mind another. I don’t want a boy, or black, or white, or black and white. (Although, oh dear! They look sweet, sitting up for the camera, with their little white whiskers on their earnest black faces.) That more or less leaves tabby.

Can I do it, to Perdita? My absences are stressful for her. What if I came back, after a couple of hours, not with armloads of groceries, but with another cat? Even a small one. I don’t think she’d like it. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

If I can find any television to keep me awake for an hour, I should easily finish the first of Miss Rachel’s sleeves tonight. The Soutache is supposed to arrive tomorrow, released from the clutches of the Royal Mail. I think I may start it, to alternate with Miss Rachel, as soon as I have finished those troublesome coloured stripes for the second sleeve.

That’s about it, for news. Andrew and Andrea have again put up a little video for patrons about the forthcoming podcast, due on Tuesday. The guest this time is Gudrun Johnston, which should be pretty wonderful. Then they’re all off to Shetland Wool Week. It sounds as if Gudrun will be staying at Burrastow, where Kristie and Kath and I stayed. With luck, there will be a glimpse of it when A&A do their Shetland Wool Week episode. They have never been to Shetland – they’ll love it.

There was a titbit in this morning’s paper to say that the RAF station on Unst, at the most northerly point of the British Isles, is to be re-opened. When K&K&I were there, we went on up, after marvelling at lace in the Unst Heritage Museum, to see Muckle Flugga, as K&K are keen lighthouse fans.

I wasn’t all that enthusiastic, but Kath, a non-knitter, had been very patient about the lace. It turned out to be a thrilling sight, even for me; a highpoint of the weekend. The lighthouse is built on an inhospitable rock, slightly north even of Unst. How on earth did they do it?

To get to our vantage point, we had to walk past the disused RAF station, past rusted signs that said (effectively) “Take another step and you will be shot”. K&K were a bit anxious, but the place was so obviously deserted that I urged them on.

I do hope that the reinstatement of the RAF (very good news for the island) doesn’t mean that earnest knitters won’t be able to see Muckle Flugga in future.


Thank you for your help and advice. I will certainly leave Perdita here when I go away (with a friend, or Helen, or a professional cat-sitter). I won’t get a grown-up cat. I’ll go on thinking about the possibility of a kitten – and watching Gumtree. I’d be sort of jealous if Perdita became so attached to another cat that she was less dependent on me – but I can’t have it both ways.

It sounds from Gumtree as if kittens are even more expensive now than they were two years ago. I paid sixty pounds for Perdita, which still seems outrageous. I might have to go up to a hundred, this time.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Federica was a huge success, and I have every hope of impressing at least Archie, if not the Palermitans, with my fluency in Italian. We conducted the whole hour in that language, she speaking slowly and simply, me floundering, but still, we did. We’ll have another, longer, session next Saturday. I need to review/revise verbs, rather to my surprise. In conversation, one skips about from first to second to third person, singular and plural, in ways I hadn’t entirely expected.

She seems to like cats.

Theresa (comment yesterday) – you have given me a dreadful idea. I could get another cat. This thought is partly prompted by the fact that the Beijing Mileses – now the Sydenham Mileses – have recently acquired a kitten, to the astonishment of all, not least of their Chinese cat Mimi. Cathy doesn’t even like cats much.

If I had two, they would have each other for company (after two or three weeks of hissing and sulking) and I could bound off to pastures new with a clearer conscience. I even had a look at Gumtree today, and there is a tortoiseshell-and-white cat (not kitten) (one year old) for sale in Inverkeithing, not far away. She is not nearly as pretty as Perdita, although designed along roughly the same lines. She has been spayed, which certainly is a fact to be set against the price.

I have always believed in getting cats young, but that didn’t make much difference with Perdita. Her character was firmly set at seven weeks.

I’m tempted.

There’s little else to report. Thinking, let alone trying to talk, in a language other than one’s native one, is very tiring. I can’t think how the Pope manages.

I haven’t done any knitting at all yet today. I’ve pretty well finished reading (partly, speed-reading) Parkes’ “Stash of One’s Own”. I would particularly recommend Debbie Stoller’s “Yarn as a Feminist Issue” at the end. The over-all effect of the book is rather sad. Except for the brisk few who have only the yarn they need for immediate purposes, all seem to be feeling sorry for the loss of their mothers. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Further progress with the first sleeve of Miss Rachel’s Yoke. There are now enough stitches that the circumference takes noticeably longer to get around, but even so, the end of the increases is in sight – and after that I can consider whether I want to knit the sleeves perhaps slightly shorter than the pattern would bid me do.

Tomorrow I am to have my first Italian lesson. Great excitement. I have bought myself a brand new notebook – taccuino? Or quaderno? Federica will have to tell me. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow, I hope.

And the day’s other event was the arrival of Clara Parkes’ “A Stash of One’s Own”, an actual, physical book, not Kindle. It is the sort of thing I resolve not to buy. I succumbed in this case – it’s not another memory lapse – because it contains an essay by Franklin. It’s a rather sad one, about the death of his mother.

I’ve only read two or three of the essays, so far, but what a revealing subject it is! One cannot write about one’s stash without exposing one’s whole self.

The Good Intentions Club turned up in my in-box this morning, and I like the idea:but I don’t think it would help much here. I’m getting slower and slower. I now try, if I buy yarn at all, to buy it with a specific project in mind and put it away in a project bag with the pattern. It just means I've got a lot of project bags.


When I go away for the Christening -- three nights at most -- I think I will ask a friend to come in and feed Perdita. That solution would be possible for January/Palermo, too. She will be sad and anxious in either case. It is hard to judge which would be worse – an empty house, or a cattery. In the latter case she would have more company, including perhaps other cats. But she would be in a cage, and she might not like the other cats. Here, she would be lonelier but free-er. I wish we could talk to each other.

Meg contributes the opening essay to the Parkes book. She says that the Zimmermanns have a whole “cat language” for talking to cats with.