Originally I was going to the opera last night. Siiiiiiiiiiigh. Of all the Met Live operas this season—most of which I have thus far missed for one reason or another—this is the one I most wanted to see. MARIA STUARDA is not my favourite opera by a long shot, nor even my favourite Donizetti opera* but I love Joyce DiDonato and I totally wanted to see and hear her sing the flimflam out of Mary Queen of Scots . . . as seen/heard through the eyes/ears of a nineteenth-century Italian who for dramatic purposes wanted Mary and Elizabeth I to meet, and so, by golly, they do.
Then about a fortnight ago Tabitha invited me to a dinner-and-live-jazz evening at her church. She takes an interest because she’s been praying for me for years** and is now visibly restraining herself from assigning me 1,000,000 books to have read and annotated by next week. I did look at my diary . . . but I wrote the Met Live dates down in last year’s diary, last spring when I ordered the tickets . . . and better than halfway through January I still haven’t got them in this year’s diary. I did hesitate, not because there was any shadow in my mind that there might be something else happening that night that I hadn’t written into this year’s diary, but because social mobs are not my thing, and while I usually like it live, jazz is not my thing either, and the dinner was almost certainly going to be stuff I can’t eat.
But this finding a community is a ratbag, since I’ve been anti-community all my life, and I haven’t given Tabitha’s church a fair trial because of location/scheduling problems, and it is one of the churches with a rep for good energy. So I stifled a sigh and said Thank you. At least if I went with Tabitha I’d have someone to sit with. . . .
Then it SNOWED.*** I wouldn’t have got to the opera anyway.
I rang Tabitha to say I WAS NOT DRIVING IN THIS† . . . but I assumed the jazz and dinner would be cancelled: even if most of the attendees are walking distance the band had to get here from elsewhere, and elsewhere was also having gruesome weather, and this is England. We don’t do serious weather here. —No, no, said Tabitha, it’s still on. And, going into carrying-all-before-her mode, which is Tabitha’s natural state, she said, I’ll see if I can find you a ride.
She found me a ride. Then follows a Comedy of Technological Errors when nobody’s fancy mobile phone picked up anyone else’s message. There were a lot of very-carefully-low-key last-minute landline phone calls wanting to know if anyone had answered anyone else and if so what did they say—?††
When we got there††† I quailed. This is the church I’ve told you about that still looks old from the outside, but inside it’s had its insides ripped out so, for example, they could take all the service chairs out and replace them with tables and turn the space into a giant candle-lit restaurant. Eeeeep. If I’d come in my own car I might have spun on my heel and fled. There were nearly 300 people there, all of them talking.
I don’t think the evening furthered my development as a Christian much but . . . it was less ghastly than I was expecting as I trembled on the threshold. And the looks on the faces of the other people at the table when, under pressure, I admitted that I wrote fantasy fiction for a living, was worth some discomfort. The accountant sitting next to me claimed he’s going to find one of my books and read it.‡
This morning the puppy crapped promptly. So I went and rang New Arcadia’s bells.‡‡
* * *
* In spite of having CDs of The Three Donizetti Queens by Beverly Sills
** Come on, God, get the lead out. This one needs you
*** It’s snowing again. I didn’t make it to Aloysius’ church tonight. Whimper. That one’s well ahead in the community search but I wish they sang hymns instead of soggy drivel.
† I’ve told you this a million times, right? Of ordinary activities, driving a car presses on the ME the worst, because of that constant hyper-vigilance you need behind the wheel. You don’t even notice you’re doing it, if you haven’t got something like ME gnawing at you, although lots of people find driving tiring. And sure, when I lived in Maine, I drove in snow. I didn’t have a lot of choice. But I also had four-wheel drive and I didn’t have ME.
†† This included Tabitha. Carrying it all before her doesn’t work with technology.
††† There was the bloke driving and his daughter and son in law, Grandma staying home with the kiddies. The daughter was wearing high heels and a frilly frock and was in danger of death by hypothermia or massive breakage caused by sudden violent contact with frozen ground. I was wearing two cotton turtlenecks, two woolly jumpers, a wool shawl and a coat—and fur-lined boots over heavy cotton tights and a long thick skirt. She admitted she was being silly but, she said, she doesn’t go out much, and she wanted to wear what she wanted to wear. I get this. She’s also young and pretty and has two kiddies under five. Her dad dropped us at the church but we all walked out to the car after, and her husband had her by one elbow and I had her by the other, and we STAYED UPRIGHT when her feet went out from under her. . . .
‡ I’m thinking he may have to take a course first. Fantasy 101. The final exam will consist of twenty multiple choice questions which will include such material as, A dragon is: (a) a flame-throwing, princess-kidnapping, treasure-hoarding scaly reptile of generous proportions (b) a large nearly extinct mutant telepathic marsupial that mostly hangs out in caves in a few wildlife parks (c) an immoral but difficult to trace tax evasion much loved by greedy creeps, especially bankers and shareholder boards; plus a choice of essay. LOTR vs RINGWORLD: would women rather be objectified and marginalised by JRR Tolkien or Larry Niven? Discuss. Edgar Rice Burroughs and H Rider Haggard: are series that go on and on and on AND ON AND ON AND ON always a mistake? Discuss.
‡‡ Well, this weather, I’m going to get desperate for a bell fix.
It’s raining. It will rain forever. And furthermore it has been raining forever, and that stuff about blue sky and light from up there overhead somewhere so bright you can’t look at it is all myth. The ONLY GOOD THING about this fribbleglomping weather is that it makes my hair fall into corkscrew curls. This is amusing, but I’d rather not have my kitchen draped in wet dog-walking kit—harnesses, leads, collars, raincoats both canine and human, gloves, shoes . . . and of course the wet hellbeasts themselves . . . and the wet towels used on the wet hellbeasts (and wet hellgoddess) themselves. And the mud all over the floor. And the water halfway up the walls and occasionally splattered against the ceiling because of course the first thing a hellhound does after he gets indoors again is shake. Violently. The hellterror is a little less destructive: in the first place she’s smaller, and in the second place her heart’s not really in it. She doesn’t love getting wet but except when I am cruelly demanding that she stand there and have a CRAP she’s not hugely fussed about the water falling from the heavy grey louring hanging overhead.* ARRRRGH. I’M TIRED OF THIS RAIN. I WANT IT TO GO AWAY.
We aren’t in a flood area (yet) and I don’t think anyone’s been evacuated from around here but if the rain doesn’t stop it’s going to happen. Our little river is running pretty much level with its built up and buttressed banks, and in places it has broken over. Well, in more places. I was complaining about carrying Chaos through/over a river-path lake a week or so ago. There’s a whole section of the standard river path that is now only passable in waders. If you’re short, water wings. It’s harder either to get into or out of bed in this weather: into because schlepping way too much stuff back to the cottage** and the final hellhound hurtle must be faced first, and out should be obvious even to normal people who keep normal hours and have normal jobs.
Mind you, contemplating purchasing snorkelling gear as adjunct to going out one’s front door is not delightful, but it still beats what’s going on in a lot of America right now. And it boggles my mind that the same storm that provided Atlanta with its first snow in eighty years is burying both my friends in the Midwest and also where I used to live in Maine.
I was sitting by the Aga in my dressing gown this morning*** staring at the driving rain and wondering how much longer the hellhounds would hold out† when Pooka chirruped. Laconic text from Southdowner, going back to Birmingham from Christmas on the south coast with her family, could she drop by? OF COURSE. —Looks anxiously at hellterror. Don’t rend her flesh or pee on her shoes or anything, okay?
I knew it was going to go pear-shaped because I did finally get my assortment of four-footed companions outdoors. It teemed down on the poor hellhounds who, even in their raincoats, straggled along humpy-backed and cranky. But it half cleared off for the hellterror . . . and we had a really unusually good hurtle where she came when she was called and didn’t hit the end of her lead (much) and (mostly) trotted beside me on a (mostly) loose lead when I said ‘walk’.
But . . . my ears aren’t burning so I assume Southdowner didn’t get home and immediately ring up Olivia and start telling her everything I’m doing wrong. She was very complimentary about what a little stunner†† Pavlova is growing into†††, although that’s just genes and dog food and nothing to do with me. But Pav did not pee on her shoes or sink her teeth in her hand, not only because Southdowner knows how to deal with young canine mania. She also said the hellhounds were doing very well, considering, and were less stressed about the entire destruction of life as they knew it than she was expecting to see.‡ And she gave me some more training stuff to do with Pav‡‡ and gave us both CHRISTMAS PRESENTS. Pav’s is a hollow knobbly object with a hole in one end, and you put food inside and roll it a few times so a few bits of kibble fall out to get the puppy’s attention‡‡‡ and then . . . stand back. Now, if I could find the frelling instruction manual/CD for my frelling little video camera. . . .
* * *
* Also when she first gets indoors she’s SO EXCITED about the prospect of either foooooood or hellhounds, or, ideally, both, that mere personal wetness doesn’t really register.^
^ And yes, I still have one of the old fleece-lined raincoats from the hellhounds’ puppyhood.+ But I’m not expecting a hellterror to need it. If it turns sleety-cold—or she starts doing misery that isn’t for effect—I’ll think again.
+ Very long term blog readers with excellent memories may remember that the second one went to Mike.
** Because I am hopelessly disorganised and I don’t know what I’m going to need either end, okay? Next question.
*** Late morning. Very late morning. Like maybe early afternoon. It’s both a good and a bad thing that Astarte’s external keyboard means I don’t have to go to my desk to work. More range and availability for work: good.^ Difficulty in taking anything I do on Astarte seriously: bad. Maybe I just need more practise.
^ The old pencil and legal pad thing was simple and barring letting yourself run out of ink or paper, pretty nearly foolproof.
† I’d managed to get the hellterror out during a break in the downpour long enough to make her crap and had sedated her with breakfast. Although food doesn’t sedate the hellterror, but she is growing resigned to the fact that I expect her to behave like it does. After mealtimes tends to be when she gets her most serious gnawing done.
†† Especially when she head-butts you
††† She said that she’s SMALLER than the two white puppies. That the two tricolour girls are slightly smaller and the whites are slightly bigger. The other tricolour is in London but the two whites have stayed in the Birmingham area and Southdowner as Roving Dog Behaviourist and Bullie Specialist has stayed in touch with all of them. Croissant’s owner is a long-time bullie owner and one of the gang, but I don’t know about the other two. Fruitcake is growing up to be something of an amiable lump, but Scone, aka 666, is extremely bright, and is already coming to Southdowner for remedial training. Southdowner looooooves her. Hee hee hee hee. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if . . . mmmph.
‡ I may even, as a result of a text conversation Southdowner and I had a few days ago after my all I want for Christmas post, be getting somewhere with convincing Pav that leaping on Chaos is counterproductive. But we were talking about Life with Dogs and . . . I have such an advantage, just being here all the time. Tales of a Dog Behaviourist will curl your hair^. But the whole bullie thing . . . in the first place, as I keep saying, my Pav’s not a hellterror at all, she’s a mutant with a bullie-shaped head. As hellterrors go, she’s very mellow, and as I also keep saying, she’s no worse than any other puppy I’ve had . . . different but not really any more insane. But some of that is just . . . I’m here all the time. Things don’t get out of hand because I can squash them before they become things. And dogs are pack animals. They’re happier hanging out with their pack.^^ Even if the tyrannical pack leader occasionally introduces a new associate without having consulted senior members first.
^ without benefit of monsoon
^^ Southdowner said, so, you’re not planning on asking me to take her back to Olivia? Try it and you will bleed, I said.
‡‡ And did not say, You haven’t done what? You have done what?
‡‡‡ I had an earlier version of one of these for the hellhounds too and they looked at it, and looked at the bits of kibble falling out of it, and looked at me politely . . . and went back to whatever they were doing.
So, you all remember Gemma shouting to Albert last Sunday service ring, ROBIN CAN BE IN THE CHOIR! —? It has not been a great week* and I managed to forget that the [local ringers’] guild Christmas ring and mince pie fest was today. To the extent that I had an uneasy sensation I might be singing in another choir with insufficient back up I thought it was next week. Now the reason I hadn’t responded to the initial email to the entire guild saying that Leandra was in charge of putting together a choir for the Christmas service was because I wasn’t going to go because I had an OPERA.** And then, last Sunday, Gemma told me that they had had NO responses—and that the choir as presently constituted were Leandra herself, Albert her husband, and Gemma’s husband and son who aren’t even ringers, but they’re both singers and they like carols.***
I have an opera, I muttered, feebly.
What time does the opera start? said Gemma briskly.
Five-forty-five or thereabouts, I said, feeling the ground crumbling beneath my feet.
You can come with us, said Gemma. We’ll get you back in time. ALBERT—!
Well, that was Sunday. Sunday was a long time ago. Leandra is an alto and the world is rotten with third rate sopranos they DON’T NEED ME. I made the mistake of not cancelling handbells on Friday and Gemma bounced through the door and said, Nicholas [her husband] has declared that we must have a rehearsal, so we’re all meeting at our house at 12:45 tomorrow.
Wha’? I said intelligently.†
For the choir, said Gemma, still bouncing.†† Remember? You’re in the choir for the guild Christmas service tomorrow.
Whimper, I said. Has Leandra found any more bodies?
No, said Gemma. But it’ll be fun, she added.
Why is it going to be fun? I said. Why aren’t you singing? I added—suspiciously.
Oh, heavens, she said. I don’t sing at all.
I stared at her. She didn’t look shifty. There are people who don’t sing at all. Niall, for example. At that moment I wished I was one of them.
See you tomorrow, I agreed broken-spiritedly on parting.
I was only about ten minutes late getting off this morning††† but . . . gridlock. Frelling frelling frelling I hate the whole commercial Christmas thing.‡ I finally arrived, raving, forty minutes late, to the comforting-but-not-in-a-good-way news that Albert and Leandra had only got there about five minutes before me, for the same reason. So we had twenty minutes of rehearsal which only proved to me that terror makes me squeak, and I already knew that. I don’t read music—I go home and I figure it out—there are way too many British versions of Christmas carols that I don’t know at all, and I can barely say my name on pitch if I’m doing it by myself and some frelling musical human is trying to sing HARMONY.‡‡
It’ll be fine, said Leandra. It’s just to make a show.
It was a beautiful day, just by the way. It would have been a beautiful day to take hellhounds on a long walk through the fields and forests beyond Ditherington or Warm Upford. I stared out the window of Gemma’s car and tried not to moan.
There was ringing first. It was a ground-floor ring with the wretched font in the middle of the circle, bristling with knobs and excrescences that you could see having a snatch at your rope if it swung too near. There were also a lot of civilians standing around watching us ring . . . and as I stood there pulling on a rope I thought, and in a few minutes I’m going to be the only soprano in a cough-cough choir of five people.‡‡‡
Well. I lived. We all lived. Leandra made Gemma come stand with us§ in the ‘choir’ because six would look better than five. True. And I heard the occasional small piping noise from Gemma’s general direction. And we had a good organist which makes all the difference, and it’s not like any of these were anthems, we were just supposed to be leading the congregation, hahahahahahahahahahaha. And, for better or worse, you could certainly hear me. I was making a noise. I was TRYING.
Because—warning: gloppy moral follows—this was finally the point. It would have been pathetic not to have any choir. I knew when I said ‘see you tomorrow’ to Gemma last night that I’d just agreed to miss the opera.§§ But occasionally you have to do something badly to do it live, you know? To be a person with other people even if that involves singing when you’re not Anna Netrebko or Natalie Dessay. To get out there and support your team. The vicar thanked us, and I thought yeah, yeah, you’re a vicar, but Gemma said later that he’d meant it: that he’d said that he would be leading several carol services and it was nice to have other people up there on stage with him.§§§ Gemma was going around with a notebook and pen and taking names for people we can hit up next year. We need a strategy, she said. The blanket email approach doesn’t work. And in the car coming home I said, and next year we are going to have a proper rehearsal . . .
* * *
* I cancelled handbells on Thursday because I was feeling so mouldy. That’s serious. But I dragged myself to choir practise. I’ve only just started again, I can’t also start missing immediately. I was even thinking I could maybe get out of it if I emailed Gordon, they are sure to be chiefly practising carols for the carol concert that I won’t be in because I have an opera that day^ . . . but I decided this was a bad idea, and besides, I like singing carols^^, so why not. So I went. And I FROZE TO DEATH^^^ but . . . it was okay. Oh, and we didn’t sing any carols. It was all about the concert next spring, which I don’t at this point have any excuse to get out of. HE’S MAKING US SING O WHEN THE SAINTS [go marching in] WITHOUT THE MUSIC. HE’S EXPECTING A LOT OF POST-MENOPAUSAL WOMEN TO MEMORISE AN ENTIRE PIECE OF MUSIC.#
^ prospective irony alert
^^ Second prospective irony alert
^^^ I brought a hat. AND I FORGOT TO WEAR IT. Well, my brain was cold. Clearly I need to knit a beret. It should be harder to forget something YOU MADE YOURSELF.
# I think the under-40s and the blokes can do this one by themselves.
** Note that I’ve already missed the first Met Live I booked for due to the exigencies of puppy digestion.
*** Also, Gemma can be very persuasive. Apparently sometimes her family also decides it’s easier to say okay, whatever.
† Niall, who is one of these people who genuinely can’t carry a tune in a paper bag^, may have snickered.
^ Although why anyone would want to carry a tune in a paper bag has never been satisfactorily explained
†† People like Gemma can bounce while sitting quietly in their chairs.
††† This TWO SHIFTS OF DOGS thing is a bogglefrag. And Pavlova turned four months old yesterday, which means she’s up to fifteen minutes of walk a day.
‡ I swear it’s worse this year. Of course this is the first year I have had to drive to my bell tower, inconveniently located in a big town with lots of shops. And meanwhile my head and heart keep exploding on account of this being my first year as a Christian. I carom from hysterical loathing of the advertising babes in low-cut Santa suits and the Make Your Own Chenille Reindeer kits^ to a sudden sharp consciousness of Jesus as a baby and . . . ::explodes::
^ There are some remarkably dire Christmas knitting projects out there.
‡‡ It was . . . even rather frustrating. I could have learnt probably any of it—even the blasted descants—this is not difficult music, it’s all very straightforward stuff for little amateur choirs—most of it I probably could even have learnt well enough to hang on to what I was doing in spite of those frellers singing harmony. But I can’t do it by sight and I can’t do it cold.
‡‡‡ Nice friendly cooperative bells though, even if the two does long to tip off the balance in the wrong direction. If I didn’t overpull this wouldn’t be a problem. But it was also a nice ROUND ringing circle, you know, circular, unlike the dratblatted ringing queues at the abbey, and I made it through a touch of bob minor and a plain course of Stedman doubles as if I knew what I was doing.
§ Nanny nanny boo boo ya boo sucks
§§ Un Ballo in Maschera. Sigh. I did listen to it on radio 3, but I would have liked to see Dmitri Hvorostovsky. And Gemma did get me back in time. But I had hounds and a terror to hurtle and the ME was already snarling at me in a decidedly unfriendly manner.
§§§ I both totally get this and slightly wonder if maybe he’s in the wrong line of work.
HE WON. HE WOOOOOOOOOON. I don’t have to move to Chiron or Vesta. I wasn’t looking forward to the difficulties of importing chocolate and champagne. Not to mention oxygen. And even if I converted to ebooks, does the signal reach far enough?
So I’m celebrating by taking a couple of nights off.* And I have the perfect excuse to take a couple of nights off because look at the FABULOUS photos Tilda took. COME BACK SOON, TILDA.**
* * *
* And working on SHADOWS, KES and . . . um . . .
** And I’ll try to see a little MORE of her next time. I almost missed her entirely today. The hobgoblin, instead of going about its secret hobgoblin chores silently as demanded by long folkloric tradition, decided to RIOT about half an hour after I got to bed last night. You can’t let a hobgoblin (or a hellterror) believe that rioting will get it attention, so you have to lie there and listen to it. Eventually I turned the light back on and read for a while. Every time I thought the little ratbag had stopped for the night . . . she’d start up again. Reasons to want a large house: so that you can’t hear your frelling puppy shredding her newspaper. ARRRRRRGH. As she finally began to settle I turned the light off again and put a pillow over my head. With the result that I slept through my alarm . . . and Tilda is an early riser and needed to get off promptly for the long drive home and I’m NOT an early riser even when I do hear my alarm. . . .
The good news is that while I expected the hellterror’s crate to be a vision of dread, despair and heavy cleaning, beyond the explosion in a confetti factory aspect, all was well. I almost forgave her. Almost.
So, I need some of this, right?
It’s Fiona’s. Fiona and I had another Yarn Adventure today. We won’t discuss how, walking back to the car, there wasn’t room on the pavement for all three of us, Fiona, Fiona’s bag of new yarn and me.* But of course I insisted on having all the new yarn in the front passenger seat with me so I could go ‘ooooh’ and ‘aaaah’ on the way home.
I went ‘ooooh’ and ‘aaaah’ over this in particular. So, back at the mews over tea, I had an idle hunt for it on line. IDLE. It’s probably only in 4 ply and I want 8 ply. And I HAVE LOTS OF YARN AND NO MONEY. But . . . it’s Artesano. Mmmm. Artesano is nice. And this is pure alpaca. Mmmm . . . Alpaca is heaven. But—4 ply. I don’t do 4 ply. Oh, I’m sure I saw it in DK/8 ply too, helpfully said Fiona, Limb of Satan.
. . . They did have it in DK. And they’ve DISCONTINUED THE ENTIRE LINE. Oh, no, wait, that’s good, I can’t buy it. Can’t. It’s not available any more, except for the odd single skein here and there.
Fiona, who is truly a demon in human disguise, managed to find the (apparently) only site in England that still has several skeins of the DK left in this specific colourway. It wasn’t coming up on my google search. It was coming up on Fiona’s.
I presently have the salient page open on my browser. I go there and refresh it occasionally. Four skeins are still available. At 300 metres per that’s plenty to do something with.***
I. Do. Not. Need. More. Yarn. †
::refreshes:: WILL SOMEONE PLEASE BUY THIS STUFF.
* * *
* Believe it or not I didn’t buy any yarn. ANY YARN. But that’s really only because the frelling shop shut too soon. I hadn’t noticed it was after five o’clock already, okay? We’d only got there . . . about two hours before.
Fiona doesn’t do as much damage on line as I do, and I headed for the pattern shelves as we walked in because I already have FABULOUS NEW YARN to purr over and pet, and to waste insane amounts of time imagining what I’m going to make with it.^ Also, while there are Good Sites and Bad Sites^^ for stuff you’ve never seen live, you do start to learn what your favourite yarns are going to be like—I’m a Rowan junkie already, for example^^^, and I also drool automatically if anyone says ‘merino and silk’ to me—but patterns are still mostly a foreign country, the amount of time I’ve spent cruising Ravelry notwithstanding.^^^^
So I marched myself off smartly to the bookshelves and studied. This is all educational you know. Educational is good.
^ I’m nearly at the end+ of Second Front of First Cardi, and then there will be only the sleeves to go before it’s time to sew it up and discover nothing fits together. I have seen patterns where the pieces are deliberately asymmetrical. . . . ++
+ I was talking to Hannah a few days ago, who was mourning the end of summer and return to a big flat on the Upper West Side from a small(ish) cabin in the woods. I asked her if she’d got any knitting done on her holiday, she being one of several people I have INFECTED with the dread virus.# No, she said, or not much, because she’d made some kind of error and didn’t know how to fix it, and had to wait till she could take it to her Knitting Guru. WHAT? I said. You knit something ELSE. You don’t stop knitting.
Oh? she said, cheering up immediately. You can do that? You can start something new before you finish the first thing?
To think this woman runs a major publishing enterprise. Or maybe that’s why she runs a major publishing enterprise.
# Fiona told me her dad had asked if I’d got my book finished. Not quite, she said. It’s your fault, he said. You taught her how to knit.~
~ I can’t wait to tell Merrilee.
++ And I DON’T LIKE THEM AT ALL. They make me NERVOUS.
^^ I keep trying to tell myself that I’m glad there are so many yarn sites with TERRIBLE PHOTOS or I’d be in even more stash trouble than I already am.
^^^ Despite their deplorable fondness for arteeeeeeeeeestic photography. I want to whap most of their models up longside the head and tell them to get over themselves.
^^^^ Also, unless you go in for the serious hardback art book end of knitting patterns, you can get drastically, irresponsibly carried away for a lot less money, buying patterns. The rush is similar, even downloading free patterns. +
+ I would like knitty.com a lot better, however, if I could learn to remember the difference between tangy and piquant. http://knitty.com/ISSUEspring08/PATTtempest.html
Can’t they just say easy, intermediate, difficult and seriously out there? Although at least they do try to warn you about the level of intensity you’re about to embark on. One of my pet peeves is knitting mags and knitting books that don’t. Now, granted, if it’s dripping with lace and cables# I will turn the page quickly, but it’s not always obvious whether something is feasible or fatal.## And while I’m complaining about the megrims of knitting magazines, what is the deal about not giving you the year of publication? This seems to be more a British thing, but it is very irritating. Is this supposed to convince you that their patterns are ageless? I can make up my own mind about agelessness, thank you###, but when you’re reading the articles about new yarns or special offers it’s nice to know if this is happening now or ten years ago.####
# People keep telling me cables are easy. Go away.
## Although difficulty level is not the only, ahem, gauge. I was looking at a very pretty long pullover pattern . . . that you knit ON TWO POINT SEVEN FIVE MILLIMETRE NEEDLES? ARE YOU FRELLING KIDDING ME? Gigantic oversized knee-length coats on 4 mm fall into the same category. I want to finish more than one knitted garment before I die of extreme old age.
### Whatever it is, it’s not. But I like vintage. I am vintage.
#### Okay, so another way to derive maximum satisfaction from your knitting budget is to hoover up back copies of magazines that your favourite knitting sites are unloading for cheap.
*** I would also be in less trouble than I am if I could get my mind off cardigans and on to . . . oh, socks or something. Hats. Mug hugs. Egg cosies.
† Oh, the worst thing about today’s Yarn Adventure? I’ve told you, haven’t I, that Fiona and I are simply covering Every Yarn Shop in Hampshire^, and There Are Way Too Many of Them? And fortunately many of them are poised in slightly alternate dimensions that require satnav, cursing and fresh black chicken entrails. But I could find this one again. This one is really easy. It’s no farther to drive than . . . oh, than say the Fustian bell tower. Fortunately Fustian is in the OPPOSITE direction.
^ Fiona, who lives in East Sussex or Somerset or something, keeps insisting that there just aren’t any good yarn shops near where she is. Uh huh. Sure, I believe that.