Slightly Sheepish

One of the more positive aspects of being suck on my posterior with a cracked ankle over he summer was stupendous progress on the knitting front. After Keith’s fancy cardi turned out well I moved on to one for myself. I was using some mill wool for the body of this that I had to twist from one to three ply (and the contrasting colour for the fair isle had to be twisted from one to four) and this was quite the labour of love in itself. Well I finally finished the project whilst over in Selkirk last week and it turned out really rather well. However, mill wool is designed for weaving and during the weaving phase the wool is unwashed and still full of lanolin or “eek”. After the cloth is woven, checked and darned it goes to the finishers where it is thoroughly washed and doubtless treated with all sorts to clean the lanolin out of the wool. Soap and water and a vigorous hand wash has proved a bit less effective than the full finisher’s treatment so when strutting out on the tiles to the pub resplendent in my new cardi I found myself trailing wafts of ewe. A couple of washes down the line this will fade but in the meantime I am probably a person of interest to any passing border sheepdog.

I am now onto a new knitting effort, but this is a cotton mix so odour free…

We have been harvesting the gooseberries and blackcurrants the last week or so. Definitely bumper crops and such huge fruit (especially the blackcurrants) it seemed a shame to just turn them into Jam so I have been bottling them in meadowsweet cordial. Come the winter I shall be pouring summer all over my porridge. This is not the weather for jam making (and it is a damn site easier when the Aga is switched on) so I have bagged up my pickings and frozen them for a rainy day in autumn. Keith, however, has seized the day and produced 5 jars of blackcurrant jam already and commenced the production of our inaugural Ruthven Cassis. The need to free up some jars for this latter endeavour led at long last to the bottling of last year’s damson, elderberry and apple and bramble gins. These seem to have suffered no harm at all for being left to potter on for a few extra months. The birds beat me to the whitecurrants this year so there will be no Whitecurrant Shrub, but I still have a few ideas up my sleeves for competitive alcoholic products for a Christmas tasting.

Lachlan is off sorting out his University flat and getting to know the lie of the land. He called me excitedly on my walk with Lyra this morning to say he had found an Ali’s Cave so the family tradition of sourcing key items there will continue for another generation. It’s just not properly studenty to go to John Lewis and the sense of achievement gained from rifling through the ad hoc items and finding a keeper in your classic Ali’s Cave cannot be overstated. This bargain hunter style was later undermined when we had a video call to show me the inaugural cup of coffee made by the new all singing and dancing coffee machine with (!) motorised lid. I do not think this came from Ali’s Cave.

In Lachlan’s absence Lyra and I have been revisiting old haunts and building up my walking muscles. Keith has even got in on the canine perambulation scene. He has been frightening the denizens of Coldstream by frequenting the river walk dressed like a scarecrow. Alas Keith still has a few lessons to learn in the art of dog walking. Apparently on the last walk he bent down to clip the lead back onto Lyra and let her run off before detaching it from his neck (around which he had it looped) and was nearly despatched to Hades in the manner of a rather down at heel Isadora Duncan.

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