The starving cat and the pizza Margherita (with a knitted back)

Cat is no longer denying himself food. He’s now so hungry that some time during the night he scaled nearly seven feet of bookshelves to hunt down the remaining half of a pizza Margherita I’d put up there out of harm’s way because there was no room in the fridge. He loves tomato, when he’s himself. Also bread. And cheese.

He must have knocked the whole thing off its perch and this morning we came down to find the board and covering on the floor but not an atom of pizza. Unfortunately I assume that, appealing though it is to think of the animals forming a cartoonesque team to predate on the leavings of humans, as soon as the pizza hit the floor it immediately disappeared into Maizy. She is certainly looking more than usually rotund today with that combination expression of self-satisfaction and hang-dog guilt that can only be seen on the face of, yes, a dog.

A final (this time round at least) trip to the vet early this morning. Another injection and a pill. He’s put on weight. He’s playing. He’s curled, as I type this, in his accustomed position on my lap with his head in the crook of my left elbow.

hmmm feeling a bit better now

His spine is still knobbly but there’s a layer of flesh, albeit thin, between it and his fur, which is back to its usual extraordinary silky softness.

So, one gets better, another gets worse. Secondspawn, who was home yesterday with a cold and sore throat, is home again today feeling worse. Still, nursing the sick is conducive to knitting. Yesterday I finished the back of the austenesque. It’s only short and aran weight wool knits up in seconds.

the back of the austenesque

On, on with the left front!

The possibility of a fur trim still remains. If Cat doesn’t stop eating outrageously expensive tins and sachets of choicest organic talking fowl hand reared by virgins in the garden of eden and get back to the dry stuff that comes in 15 kilo sacks, and soon at that, then he’s for the collar and cuffs.

Cat update (with a knitted tail)

He had three more injections at the vet’s this morning, two pills and some kaoline paste. She was encouraged that he’d eaten a little last night. Said we could hold off on the drip until this afternoon and if he ate more during the day then maybe he wouldn’t need one at all.

Eating – refused sardines this morning before going to the vet. Deigned, some hours after we got back home, to eat something resembling duck paté but only when fed to him in a small, pre-warmed dish placed on the chair under the table he was occupying having earlier refused it from his bowl at room temperature on the floor. Hg – please attempt the most humiliating caption possible, although I’m afraid this isn’t a very inspiring picture.

cat eats

Puking – zero.

Crapping – twice, noisome and viscous at best but no sign of blood.

Vet bill to date – £356.41

Chances of saving money by cancelling pet insurance – zero.

Chances of Cat living on duck paté for the rest of his life – zero.

Chances of Cat ending up as cardigan trimming if he doesn’t go back to eating cheap dried food – very high indeed.

Despite the suggestion from acb below that it is demeaning not to knit a garment purpose designed for a cat-fur trim I am still of the opinion that the current WIP (the austenesque) would be ideal for such adornment. The yarn in question is thick and warm and has a multitude of white hairs in its makeup which would be well accentuated by Cat pelt, as can be seen in the picture below.

austenesque wip back

For those of a knitting disposition – the Kochoran tension square came up at 14 sts x 20 rows to 10cms on 6mm needles, so close to that of the recommended yarn (Louisa Harding Castello, 15 sts x 20 rows) that I started in good heart on the recommended needles. It may end up a little wider than the advertised garment but that is definitely a fault on the right side.

Forty hours off-line shock, horror, misery

Fault finally tracked down to the modem. Which will now, with persuasion, talk to the ISP server and to the laptop but not to the wireless thingy. Still, being tethered by a cable is a very very great deal better than no internet at all. And the children are probably better off without it, although they of course don’t think so.

I was not better off without it. I was sad. Miserable. Bereft. When on holiday one expects not to have it. At home one does. (The internet of course. Before anyone sniggers and suggests that I’ve got those two the wrong way round.) And it is, and has long been, a very important part of my life. The internet. My social, intellectual, emotional and creative life. A necessity, not a luxury then.

Two days without being able to go online, however, meant a lot of knitting got done. The scarf is finished.

scarf finished

It was a lovely journey. We meandered through woodland of coniferous and deciduous green and rowan berry red; had a rather volcanic session with sulphurous scarlet and glinting amethyst; pottered through an iznik palette of turquoise and orange and roamed over a highland glen of heather and bracken. Amongst other combinations. The colours aren’t actually as bright as they appear on the above picture, taken on the mobile using its flash. (Still no word as to the well-being of the camera.) But it will have to do since it’s off into the post it goes tomorrow.

No excuse now not to start the Austenesque.

Another pre-Austenesque WIP

And I think the last such distraction before I tackle the garment itself. This is a scarf for a friend. I haven’t used much Noro yarn before and it’s such a joy and a delight. This uses Silk Garden. (The Austenesque is also Noro… whee heee! but Kochoran.)

The yarn is already exciting enough – individually dyed in beautiful, subtle, surprising shades to produce a melange of extraordinarily hued stripes. But what makes this scarf so exciting (and at times slightly dismaying) is that it uses not one but three different colourways, each used to produce a stripe in sequence. So I have no idea what the scarf will look like and can only marvel (and be faintly worried about whether the recipient will like some of the combinations) as the yarns dance together, their shades changing together and individually, talking to each other in different and surprising ways.

When I originally chose the yarns I wanted the predominant effect to be blue but the outlet didn’t have what I wanted in stock. So I rechose with some reservation from a more limited range and am surprised to see that the predominant effect is… purple! Or at least so far. And sometimes the three different balls come up with almost exactly the same colour at the same time so under artificial light some of the stripes look wider than others. But the dye, as it were, is cast and we shall continue our conversation together, these yarns and I, until the scarf is finished.


I am soooo missing my camera. The colours on the above picture are all wrong – too strident for a start. Must have been the phone over-compensating for the very poor light. It’s also out of focus. Anyway it’s enough to give a sense, albeit not a good one, of the general thing. There are even worse upsettingly bad close-ups of different sections here, here and here. I do hope the camera is back from the menders before the scarf is finished and despatched so I can get a decent shot of it. It’s much more subtle-heathery-furzy that the distressingly bright and shiny pictures suggest.

This is another gem from the fantabulous b r o o k l y n t w e e d which I originally came across when going through his flickr pictures and, in common with the other patterns he provides, if you search for the right tags you can find pictures of other people’s versions on flickr from which the astonishing power of the yarns used in combination can be seen. One thing is for sure, it’s very unlikely that there are two identical such scarves anywhere in the world. And of course this one will almost inevitably end up with some of my hairs knitted into it since they get everywhere.

It’s such a wonderful feeling knitting for other people. A profoundly mindful activity full of love. Highly tactile, since each inch of thread passes through your fingers as it journeys to become fabric, and that fabric will in turn touch and warm the recipient. And to see such warming in action (although I’m informed he pulls them off very quickly) check out Bernard in his mittens! aaaaaaaaaaw.

Stitching in time

bernard's mittens
Uploaded with Skitch!

Bernard‘s mittens are now ready to be despatched to the no doubt cold-handed one. Orange, as requested. With a jolly sensible cord to run down the sleeves and across the back of the warm winter garment to prevent individual and collective mitten loss. This is indispensable for small children, in my experience. For larger children, of course, it is extremely embarrassing. But Bernard won’t mind I’m absolutely sure. Click to embiggen the image and have the full Skitch experience.

I started off with this vintage pattern but found the instructions unreliable (the number of stitches didn’t add up which is always worrying), reading as though they’d been badly translated from some distant language and the result mutantly long and thin. So then I turned to this pattern and am very happy with the result. I’m hoping to receive visual evidence that Bernard is too, when they arrive.

I still haven’t started the Austenesque project because I want to run up a scarf for a friend before winter really sets in, but the yarn hasn’t arrived yet. So I’m halfway through the rather peculiar purple silk armwarmers I mentioned getting wool and pattern for back in May. The pattern calls for it to be knitted in the round but I don’t have the right needles so I’m doing them on two needles and will either graft the edges together or put a series of small buttons and loops on each side. Although that seems like a bit of a faff.

Uploaded with Skitch!

I don’t recommend embiggening that picture since it’s so naff. But you get the general idea of the outrageous ruffle even if the colour is unrecognisable (phonecam under artificial light – nasty, and purple is always difficult). I enjoyed colouring in the background pink though. Very therapeutic at this hour of the morning. I suppose I should get to bed.

Progress in work


The red light special hat (see previous progress entry for details) is coming along nicely, apart from my forgetting to check the length of the lining against the length of the body of the hat sufficiently regularly. I sailed past the point at which the two should have been knitted together and, utterly unprepared to unpick several rows of fair isle, will have to hem it in at the end.

The line up the middle of the pattern is one of the four “false seams” which are also the lines along which the decreases for the crown will be made.

In retrospect I should have ordered the colours differently – dark orange, pink and light orange. But one lives and learns.

Prejudice with buttons on

I found myself, about a month ago now, at the checkout in the enormous Asda in Dumbarton. Lying on the belt moving slowly but inexorably towards the chirpy checkout girl was:
* a bar of cadbury’s fruit and nut chocolate the size of a billiard table;
* a cut-price dvd of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly;
* a packet of hair-dye;
* a packet of tampons (assorted sizes).

My companion, A, ran his eye over the selection and remarked that, given the evidence of the pms cliché purchases before him, I was remarkably well-tempered.

I only got round to watching the film a few days ago and it stinks. It’s just *terrible*. Keira Knightly is utterly utterly wrong for Elizabeth Bennet. She appears to be aspiring to a look which is the bastard child of heroin chic and Kate Moss, whilst attempting to audition for a low-budget vampire flick advertising a particularly low-quality brand of over-applied and much smudged black eyeliner. Acting is a concept which is entirely alien to her. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Feeling besmirched by this experience I had to undertake the only possible cleansing ritual. I closed the curtains, put on the gas fire, snuggled under my favourite blanket on the sofa and watched the BBC P&P from beginning to end in one glorious life-enhancing five-hour session. Unfortunately the bar of F&N had not survived the depredations of the children but apart from the lack of chocolate all was perfect.

I’ve seen P&P so many times now I could practically recite all the parts. This time I concentrated on the costumes, and formed an overwhelming desire to possess a form-fitting, empire-line-necked, long-sleeved, bust-skimming warm outer garment such as is worn to delicious effect by the splendid heavingly-bosomed Jennifer Ehle as Eliza. See, for example, the brown garment in the second and third pictures on this page. The neckline is higher than other similar garments (ideally it would be more like that of the dress on this page) but otherwise you get the general idea.

I confided this perhaps rather unusual longing to F over coffee the following morning. I knew she’d understand. It transpired that among all her other accomplishments (I knew she designed and made hats and shoes) she also studied costume design, pattern-making etc etc and had, on several occasions, made copies of historical garments for herself. The most awe-inspiring of which must be the copy of the coat worn by the French nobleman as he escaped the terror and the guillotine.

One thing led to another and we wound up discussing haberdashery in general and John Lewis’ in particular. And how I’d had a very long-standing credit of £19 on my store card. And how I could go and treat myself to a bit of ribbon and a button or two without actually, you know, spending anything.

This is why I am now knitting furiously. Because of course there was a pattern book on the table of the knitting section in John Lewis. It was, of course, open at the page displaying a cropped empire-line-necked fitted top. With a ribbon round the waist. And lots of buttons. (Bottom left here, if you’re interested). The inevitable happened, even though they didn’t stock the recommended yarn (Castello) or even have any information about it. I substituted Noro Kochoran and am hoping tension and yardage are comparable. Shade #47, a beautiful mix of pinks and greens and mustards. And pink ribbon and buttons.

new project

See how gorgeous that Noro yarn is? entirely edible.

scrummy yarn

But the furious knitting isn’t of the cardigan in question. No, such is the scale of my WIP (work in progress) backlog and concomitant shame about it, I am rattling through a couple of things before allowing myself to start on the empire-lined goodness. First up is this scarf, now finished.


The yarn, a single ball of (I eventually discovered after having lost the label) Colinette Giotto, was purchased on an impulse when I visited Tall Girl a few months back. It’s knitted up into a beautiful scarf – amethyst, aquamarine, eau de nil and petrol blues – and I had to track down the yarn for the people who, seeing it in progress, wanted to make their own.

yarn detail

Now that’s finished I’m on to b r o o k l y n t w e e d ‘s Red Light Special hat (which is so popular it even has its own tag on flickr). I first saw the hat on R’s head on Holy Island in March this year and he pointed me to the pattern, and the superb blog on which it resides.

hat overview

I’m using up 4ply from my stash for this one so at least I don’t have yarn-expense-guilt, but I did buy two sets of circular needles for it so it’s not entirely cost-free. The green bit is the lining which will be folded under and knitted in at the appropriate point in proceedings, the outer part of the hat is turquoise with orange and pink fair isle.

hat detail

It will be very useful when finished if I continue to hold out against turning the central heating on. I’m wearing a hat indoors at the moment.

Rabbit rabbit

One of the pinnacles of my (brief) tenure as arts correspondent was covering an exhibition of knitting of which the highlight for me was “Domestic Interior” by Janet Morton. Despite the walrus-like harrumphing and spluttering of various (male) members of the newsroom the item was run at least once, as far as I can remember.

A delightful former colleague and fellow yarnivore has drawn my attention to the excellent Ming Yi Sung and her wonderful crochet which drew more than harrumphs from certain workers at the building it was being exhibited in. The video below tells the story of Public Art, Private Parts.

A certain amount of burrowing about on the internet reveals what has to be my favourite of her works so far:

White Rabbit

It puts a different spin (hook?) on Alice in Wonderland doesn’t it. I’d certainly dive down a rabbit-hole after that statuesque creature despite my history of lagophbia. I wonder what he’s got in that front-cottontail. Maybe I have a preference for bucks over does. I hadn’t thought of that before.


I am, in theory, working part time at the moment. Which means time! perhaps even time for… knitting! I have a pattern and wool for self-striping socks which I bought in Montreal and haven’t touched since their purchase in June. Tonight may be the night.

Meanwhile, and just in case it isn’t, here’s something to inspire everyone… although whether or not with horror you must watch to decide. And also just because I’ve never put video on the blog before and I rather like the idea.

Every time I knit something one or more of my hairs becomes incorporated into the fabric without my intending it. However they have usually become detached from my scalp before rather than after this happens.

Lovely video link from Marja-Leena.