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From Donna Leon’s A Uniform Justice

Brunetti thought of Parliament in the way most Italians thought of their mothers-in-law. Not due the loyalties created by ties of blood, a mother-in-law still demanded obedience and reverence while never behaving in a manner that would merit either. This alien presence, imposed upon a person’s life by sheerest chance, made ever-increasing demands in return for the vain promise of domestic harmony. Resistance was futile, for opposition inevitably led to repercussions too devious to be foreseen.

I loved this the first time I read it and still do, although I now find some repetitious use of words, and also cannot quite see how Parliament could possibly fit into the situation. However, I have the feeling Ms Leon had to get it off her chest, so it entered the book 🙂

Please discuss the passage. I’m all ears.

Ruth’s book is now available in downloadable and hard copy formats. I’ve seen the prototype hats in person and can vouch for their scrumptiousness 🙂 Run over there and get yourself a copy! The patterns are all done sideways, not the usual top-down or rim-up.

Also, we are sailing away on a holiday tomorrow, so here are my wishes for a happy holiday for all my friends and readers!

Not exactly, but that’s how it feels sometimes when I read the Lord Peter Wimsey books of Dorothy Sayers. I found a cache of them at the library, and read three in a row a few weeks ago, and got two this time around. Currently I’m reading Busman’s Honeymoon. The books are such good fun! Wimsey is a gentleman like Bertie Wooster, and even has his version of Jeeves, but is obviously much cleverer. Also, I found a reference to a quote from Alice (Through the Looking Glass) which my sister and I use regularly, paraphrased, “You couldn’t deny it if you tried with both your hands.” To which Alice tries to argue, “I don’t deny things with my hands…” “I didn’t say you do, I said you couldn’t if you tried!” (more or less). Which is unbeatable logic, don’t you think?

The Dowager Duchess says of her (elder) daughter-in-law: “She couldn’t have said anything nastier if she’d thought about it with both hands for a fortnight.

My sister and I were also gratified to read somewhere about the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, that it happens every other day. You need to find out in advance whether it is happening on a particular day or not. The White Queen tells Alice she can have jam every other day, but when Alice asks if she can have it the next day, she is told “Today isn’t any other day.” You can’t argue with that one either. My sister tells me in her Red Bus tour of London, the guide used the same phrase about when some attraction was open and no one seemed to have any questions about it.

No wonder though, that I think my mom and I were very lucky we wandered towards the Palace on a day that did happen to be an “other day”, although perhaps during the English summer, the Changing happens every day?


The Ian Rankin I read (Black and Blue)… I had to keep reminding myself this was Scotland, not the US. I kept feeling the gritty atmosphere was in North America. Don’t know if I’ll read another immediately. They need a different sort of mood.

Then I read Reginald Hill’s Arms and the Women. Had a sort of surreal atmosphere, but on the whole, I enjoyed it. Ellie gets a bit more sympathique.

Read Ruth Rendell‘s From Doon with Death, her first Wexford mystery. On Ravelry someone was saying she likes to read series in order, but on reading this, I feel quite happy not to have come upon it first. The characters seem as though they haven’t grown into their skin yet. Reading Wolf to the Slaughter now, and the impression continues. I agree that as the years (and books) pass, people change, and it might be that Rendell deliberately changed them (“grew” them). But Wexford in the latter book sounds like Andy Dalziel, not the mellow man I usually picture him as, plus he isn’t even a Yorkshireman 😉

Stephen Fry’s got a blog now and it needs concentration and a clear mind. Erika alerted me to it, I still haven’t made up my mind whether I should subscribe to it or not. My attention span isn’t what it used to be… His “blessays” are long and intellectual.

It just so happened the British Council Library in Hyderabad was having another discarded books sale and obviously, it was not an opportunity I could resist. I spent a whole load of money (my sister and I split and I paid Rs 1,000, maybe it’s the relief of knowing I could go to England and not be a pauper at the end of the trip that’s making me careless?), mostly on murder and mystery. So since last Sunday I’ve demolished two books by Reginald Hill (Under World and Pictures of Perfection), one by Minette Walters (The Dark Room), one by Monica Dickens (Closed at Dusk), one by Dorothy Sayers (The Documents in the Case, with Robert Eustace) and Ngaio Marsh (Photo-finish). Have got one more mystery and a couple of travel books to go before I see if what my sister got interests me.

First,  I’d like to mention just how good it feels to read books set in England and know I’ve been to some of the places. It’s such a warm feeling, like going home or something 🙂 Someone mentions Kings’ Cross or Tottenham Court Road or Harringay and I’ve seen those places (or heard them announced on the tube) and it’s such fun!

I still haven’t touched upon the entire trip, but the thing that makes me happiest is that even if others might wonder that we didn’t see this place or that, the best take-home for me is the feeling of having spent time in the country. Riding the tube or the coach, waiting in the bus station, walking the roads. Sorry, I’m turning maudlin.

Anyway, to return to the books themselves, Reginald Hill as usual didn’t disappoint and he joins my list of male British writers I like (modern ones including Dick Francis, Alistair Maclean, Alexander McCall Smith and PG Wodehouse, and older ones like Charles Dickens and George Bernard Shaw). I haven’t been reading his books in order, but catching up is also fine. I think I liked Under World a little better than Pictures which was slightly surreal, but the former lessens my liking for Ellie Pascoe further. Somehow I don’t find her simpatico? Peter Pascoe and Sgt Wield are good, though. Would anyone else who’s read Hill care to chime in?

Minette Walters was gripping as usual. I remember I read her The Ice Room first and was sorely disappointed after I finished that she only seemed to have two or three other books published. Now of course she has a few more, for me to look forward to. Perhaps Cochin will have good lending libraries.

I found the Sayers book a bit hard going. It could have been because of the epistolary style (is that what you’d call a novel written almost entirely in letter form?) or maybe the other writer.  What is true, however, is that in the final denouement I actually skipped a couple of pages because the science/philosophy was too dense for me. And it wasn’t so much a question of whodunnit as howdunnit.

I’ve read a few Marsh novels and for me they are on the second rung of the cosy murder mystery ladder. I think the last one I read (Final Curtain?) entranced me a bit more than this one did. But it’s good timepass, as we say in India.

Since yesterday, I’ve been engrossed in the seventh Harry Potter. Good read. It did make me wonder if I’d skipped a book or something, I couldn’t seem to remember all the details this one talks about. No matter. Wasn’t difficult to catch up, anyway, since I’ve read the bulk of them. We saw the latest film in Meadowhall. My mom slept through most of it and dismissed it as “graphics!” but I didn’t mind. I like the idea of magic (don’t like graphics when applied as in the weird movie they were advertising, Transformers).

Got a couple of other books to discuss, but perhaps later.

Oh, and by the way, how long is this embargo on discussing Harry Potter to continue? Until every last human has read it? Just joking…

Again courtesy Cordelia (it does appear as though half my stash belongs to her, doesn’t it?).Truncated BSJ

Yarn: Lion Brand Jiffy that Cordelia sent me. In colours Kitty Hawk and Denver, I think. Used up most of both skeins.

Needles: Denise #10 ½/6.5mm circular

Pattern: A truncated version of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Baby Surprise Jacket from The Opinionated Knitter, Knitting Workshop. It’s also available separately at the link above from Schoolhouse Press.

Time: 3 days?

Size: Toddler? 22″ around the chest, 10.5″ from shoulder to bottom, 21″from cuff to cuff.

Extra: #1 Nothing much. Did only two buttons this time. I thought I had a recipient for this, but perhaps I don’t.


Having finished Queen Camilla, I am now bookless. Please send good thoughts my way.


While on the subject of books, Sara has a contest for her Summer of Giving. She’s giving away a book on felting and a few knitting magazines. Do go over and jump in. And don’t forget to mention I sent you over? What are friends for, after all :)?


Here’s the back: (since you asked so nicely).

Truncated BSJ back

Quick, grab those sunshades…If the previous FO was a bit bright, here is something even worse brighter.


Don’t say I didn’t warn you. This is a truncated version of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Baby Surprise Jacket. It’s a great pattern and truly surprising! When I was making it, I thought it would end up like this:


When I finished knitting, it looked like this:
The BSJ before assembly

And when sewn up, it looked as in the first photo above. Here’s how the back looks:

BSJ back

Here are the pattern details.

Yarn: Bernat Softee Chunky that Cordelia sent me. I was wary of what to do with such lively colours, when Rosi suggested I make a Baby Surprise. See, that’s why I like associating with creative people: they take me out of my uncreative, dull thinking.

Needles: Denise #10 1/2 6.5mm circular

Pattern: A truncated version of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Baby Surprise Jacket from The Opinionated Knitter, Knitting Workshop. It’s also available separately at the link above from Schoolhouse Press.

Time: 3 days?

Size: Toddler? 23″ around the chest, 10″ from shoulder to bottom, 21″from cuff to cuff.

Extra: #1 I’ve already almost finished a second one. This is such fun to make, and with the large gauge yarns I’m using, it works up very fast.

#2 I want to try this in stockinette, crochet and Tunisian crochet.

Sent this off with the Tomten and the Blocks and shells afghan to Hyderabad, where aunty (my friend’s mom) will collect it and take it when she goes to the US.


In books, I just finished Naked in Death (Eve Dallas murder series) by JD Robb (Nora Roberts). Futuristic police procedural with some er, hot scenes. I read just about anything, so don’t turn up your noses at me!



I went to my bank today to see if I could apply for a credit card (yes, I don’t have one and have been managing fine, but I need one to make bookings for my UK trip online). They told me I couldn’t get a card because

a. I don’t have an office address

b. I don’t have a credit card!

Dang, but this almost made me cry a third time in public. I’m blaming it on my need for sleep. Don’t want to think it’s anything else. Stoopid procedures. I know exactly what I’ll tell them next time I get a spam call offering to sell me a card.

This will go to the same friend I’m sending the block and shells afghan to. She has a toddler and is expecting another baby boy in July.

EZ Tomten

As usual, don’t look too closely at the thing. The colour is patchy and the workmanship just passable. Dirty Deets follow.


Yarn: Local small-ball acrylic Santhi from Oswal “Woollen” Mills, 25g x 9

Needles: Denise #7

Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Tomten Jacket from Knitting Without Tears

Time: About a week.

Size: Toddler? 22″ around the chest, 15″ from shoulder to bottom, 10″ hood and 11″ on wrist to armhole.

Extra: #1 Patchy!!!

#2 I wonder if this could be done in stockinette (although of course the point is to avoid the purling)

#3 Rosi helped with a question I had on ridge counts for the hood. Got help from Sue on knitty chat on what to do for the closures. For the loops I did a row of sc around from right bottom corner to the left, adding 10ch loops whenever I encountered a button. Otherwise I followed the pattern to a T (except for a slight misunderstanding at the sleeves, leading to 4 extra ridges each side).

And now for some sad news…I do not have any works in progress (UFOs abound, of course, but they don’t count). Sad but true. I want to try my hand at a version of the Baby Surprise Jacket by Ms Zimmermann, but in pinks and related colours, and there aren’t too many baby girls on the horizon. I need specific victims targets.

My reading currently is Queen Camilla by Sue Townsend. Always surprising. And I don’t have any other books lined up after that. Help!

On the domestic front, the husband has been successfully disposed off has gone off by himself to Cochin. Accommodation is uncertain, so it is also uncertain when I will reach there. For now it’s just me and the other inlaw. I have plans to visit the UK in July, more of which in a different post. I shall leave you with a close-up of the wooden buttons I used.

Tomten buttons

From Burda Crochet Lace

Well, not really, but it does look a lot like an eye! (Now I shall get lots of LOTR fan visitors.) This is the finished doily whose chart I had a problem with last week. Sorry for the horrible photograph! Specifications:

Thread: Red Heart thread, 50 gm ball, probably size 10 (the big balls don’t have a size written on them). I was stashbusting as usual and thought I had enough, but apparently I didn’t. My favourite local craft store didn’t have the exact shade of pink, so a lighter shade and an interesting twiny thread came home with me. I forayed to another craft store and picked up two 20gm balls of the right shade, but the wrong thickness. Now, these smaller balls have #20 on them, so I know the size, but held together they ended up thicker than my original thread, so I just shrugged and used a single strand. Apparently 20+20≠10 (wowie, I just used WordPress’ new advanced editing to put in that not-equal sign). This has happened to me before and I used a strand of sewing thread held with the size 20 to finish my Crochetville Doily Swap doily in September 2005. Somehow it didn’t occur to me and in any case I didn’t want to do that this time. Why didn’t I remember that simple equation (or un-equation, if you will)?

Hook: Started off with the plain Pony 1.75mm and when in the middle of the project I received the handle ones from Jaishree, I swapped for one of those. These Pony hooks with handles look identical to the Profi hooks, except they aren’t gold-tipped and obviously aren’t made in Germany. They are light and I think I might exclusively work with these for all my thread projects, unless of course I need a size they aren’t available in. I shall do a separate post showing off all the hooks she sent. Why don’t the company behind the Profis have a website? Maybe they do in German, but not, it appears, in English. You’d think at least Western companies would be well-established online.

Pattern: From Burda Handicraft Series Vol 1 No 3, Crochet Lace, E 227. Lovely patterns, lovely photography, and all patterns are charted, of course. Despite the hype about Magic Crochet, I find some of their photos are really sloppy. Although well-lit, the doilies look unblocked and even unfinished sometimes. There should be a difference between how I, an amateur, present my work and how a magazine showcases its designs.

Time: About a week, not including delays for thread emergencies and chart puzzling.

Size: About 33.5″ long and 19″ wide. Bigger than the specified size, since I used a larger hook.

Extra: #1 This is for my mom, whose birthday is coming up later this month.

#2 This is a pattern I’d love to redo, which makes it a very rare thing indeed (other than winging-it stuff like funfur bags for visiting small girls). And use the right size hook this time. And avoid the booboos I made in this one.

#3 That part of the chart I didn’t understand taught me a new technique, that of turning in the middle of the row to end up with loops that look as though they’re hanging in the air. Nice challenge, even if I didn’t solve it myself.


On the book front, I finished Martha Grimes’ Lamorna Wink. Good read. I’ve now gone back to Pico Iyer (Falling off the Map). I find he doesn’t particularly make me want to visit any of the places he’s written about, but perhaps that holds true for most of the travelogues I read. Perhaps that is why I read them, to savour the experience without the effort.

I know I’m doing too many posts in one day, but this one has to be shared. (The aptly named) Wiseneedle has a very useful post up about an archive maintained by the University of Arizona which contains textile craft books of the past. Check out her post for specific links.

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