Downton Abbey 2013 Mystery CAL by Michele DuNaier
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Downton Abbey 2013 Mystery CAL

January 2013
Sport (12 wpi) ?
16 stitches = 4 inches
in dc using an H (5.00) hook
5.0 mm (H)
800 - 900 yards (732 - 823 m)
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I have never been one to shrink from my duty, as my late husband would attest, were he still alive to bring testament to the fact. So when Cora begged me to advise her distant cousin - yet another American, from a deflowered branch of the family tree - I felt it my moral obligation to take the poor woman under my wing, so to speak.

It seems she runs a “Shop” (or so she calls it) at a place known as “Ravelry.” Every family has its scandals, as we all know, but REALLY, to have a relative “IN TRADE!” I thought a chauffeur was bad enough, but what next, I ask you? Dust-bin Attendant? And she says she is planning something called a “Mystery Crochet-A-Long,” where people purchase a shawl pattern to crochet without even seeing what it will look like first!

“My dear,” I asked her, “isn’t this akin to selling ‘a pig in a poke’? How do you expect these people to know what your shawl pattern is without seeing it first?” She said I should ask you to browse through her “Ravelry Shop” to see a sampling of her past patterns. She said if you liked “First Love” and “Big Love,” you will like this shawl pattern, as it is a distant relation on the distaff side. Well, I examined these patterns of hers, and I suppose they aren’t too bad (for an American). But there are so MANY of them!

“Really, my dear,” I asked her, “what is this DESIGNING MANIA? You have been popping these patterns out at an indecent rate – you’re a lady, not a broody hen!” Then she muttered something unintelligible, sounding like “paying off Malabrigo debts,” so she doubtless is in some sort of financial trouble due to an addiction to Strong Drink or some other Unhealthy Obsession.

However, she is a member of the family (though thankfully DISTANT and REMOVED), so I agreed to assist and lend some semblance of legitimacy to this wild scheme of hers. She said to tell you she will be providing updates to the pattern in seven parts, over the next seven “week-ends.” (What is a “week-end” – why will they not TELL me?).

And there will be an ongoing discussion of the pattern at her “Ravelry Group” (something she calls “MAD Cap Fans,” which frankly, sounds rather vulgar to me). However, I shall not shirk my duty to the Family, and will be on hand to supervise and attempt to keep the poor woman grounded and away from her dangerous “Malabrigo” Obsession, at least, for the duration of this endeavor.

Yours Sincerely
The Dowager Countess of Grantham

6 January

Well, I suppose she did passably well for the first week, although I highly doubt she can pull off seven weeks of this without somehow blotting her copy book! And now she has all of Downton in an uproar! Cora insisted on moving the woman in for the duration, so now we have her underfoot morning, noon and night; what with balls of yarn tumbling down the stairs and scraps of papers all over the study, it is all the servants can do to keep up with her nonsense!

And yesterday Cora enlisted the girls as “test crocheters,” of all things! Well, I could have told them that Mary is far too headstrong to take direction from ANYONE, much less this nobody of an American and I was proven right when Mary immediately passed the yarn off to the housemaid, Anna (who seems to be actually enjoying it!). Edith took to it like a duck to water, but then, Edith is grateful for any excuse to be useful, poor child. Sybil at first was reluctant, until we told her she was making bandages for the soldiers in hospital; she then began crocheting in a fervour of activity – I think she is on her sixth already!

Until next week – with my Sympathy
The Dowager Countess of Grantham

13 January

Here we are in our second week of the “American Invasion”, as I like to call it, and things are not going well at all. Although I have repeatedly attempted to advise the woman, she has instead turned to the Head Housemaid, Anna, for help! They are to be found in dark corners, whispering together about “Getting Gauge” and “Frogging” – I am not sure if they are designing a shawl or arranging a shooting party to attack Toad of Toad Hall!

Now, I have spoken to Cora about this; it is enough that Anna is Head Housemaid as well as Lady’s Maid to all three girls (and in addition has reportedly taken up Private Detection work in London on her half-day off!), but now Shawl Designing? She will have no time left for fixing the girls’ hair, and goodness knows these girls have no idea how to even comb their own hair, much less to style it! How are we to marry them off if they appear in rumpled frocks with matted hair, looking as if they just crawled out of a haystack, I ask you? But I was overruled, as always…

I am cautiously optimistic however, as the woman just told me she has named a certain stitch in Section 2 of the pattern in my honor! So perhaps she is beginning to realize my Value as her Mentor, after all.

Please try to be Understanding of the Poor Woman’s Limitations,
Yours Sincerely,
The Dowager Countess of Grantham

20 January

Just as I predicted, the woman is in way over her head and the strain has begun to manifest itself in alarming ways. It always happens when you give these little people power beyond their station - it goes to their heads like Strong Drink!

She scurries from room to room muttering “Old Coot” and “Give Me Strength!” when I attempt to advise her in my duty as her benefactress. Cora has called in Doctor Clarkson, though WHY, I cannot tell you, considering these doctors’ diagnoses are usually disastrously inaccurate – they may as well seek the medical opinion of Daisy the kitchen maid and her Spirit Board!

Yesterday Doctor Clarkson prescribed a “Nerve Tonic” for the woman, which she immediately began guzzling like a thirsty Crofter at his favorite Public House. The servants found her this morning passed out cold in Edith’s armoire, covered with a sheaf of papers containing strange hieroglyphic symbols. She calls them her “charts” and they arrive by the late post from someone reputedly known as “Nemosuke” (one of the Boston Rolfes, they tell me, though I am skeptical of the connection).

Well, I do not know where it will all end – in a court of law, no doubt, dragging the Family through yet another muddy scandal . But I will not be derelict in my duty, and will see this Struggle through to the Bitter End.

And bitter it will no doubt be…

Your Faithful Correspondent
The Dowager Countess of Grantham

27 January

Well, my dear, Doctor Clarkson has been dancing attendance on the woman night and day, but to no avail! She has now developed a marked tremour in her hands (whether due to nervousness or the “Nerve Tonic” itself, I cannot tell you!), and is mumbling something to herself about “the border not lining up”.

I attempted to discuss this “Border Mésalliance” with her yesterday, but she fled into the Study and bolted the door! Then we heard what sounded like heavy furniture being moved about – I believe she has barricaded herself in with an armful of yarn and several gallons of Nerve Tonic. If she does not emerge soon, I will be obligated to marshal the Footmen and have them forcibly batter down the door.

I am afraid there is virtually no hope of her ever completing this “Mystery Design” of hers. It was an ill-conceived idea from the start, as I warned Cora. But would she listen? Of course not – when has My Opinion ever been taken into consideration?

Until Next Week, My Dear,
The Dowager Countess of Grantham

3 February

Another missive to you, my dear. I believe I informed you last week that she had locked herself in the Study? Well, I have made several magnanimous overtures in an attempt to reason with her:

“My Dear,” I called through the keyhole, “I really believe it is time to cut your losses and abandon this futile scheme. There is no chance of you actually completing the wretched pattern, you know!”

I then heard hysterical laughter from within and a vow to “finish the border or die trying!”

Well, I must say, the woman is nothing if not determined; I really believe she is beginning to grow on me (rather like that unsightly skin condition Roberta contracted in Lucknow). I was even moved so far as to make her this generous offer:

“In these situations, it is wise to leave town while the scandal dies down - why not accompany me as a Paid Companion to tour the Continent?”

She then said something about preferring to “die by her own hand” so I can only assume she has been at the Nerve Tonic again or was unable to actually hear me correctly.

I think it is time to ring for the Footmen…

Yours Sincerely
The Dowager Countess of Grantham

10 February

Yesterday Carson called the footmen together, and employing Thomas as a battering ram broke through the Study door. However, upon entering the room we found she had already escaped through the window. I organized a search of the grounds, and we finally found her reclining supine in the Garage, of all places!

At first I suspected a tawdry intrigue with the Chauffer (though I fail to comprehend the romantic allure of greasy rags and petrol to today’s Modern Woman), but then realized she was alone beneath the motor car, studying the undercarriage. She was muttering feverishly about “Spokes and Wheels not lining up,” attempting to count something on the tyres!

I ordered the Footmen to haul her upright, at which point she broke down completely, wringing her hands and crying it was “hopeless” and that she was giving up shawl designing to take up gardening!

“Really, my Dear,” I said. “You can’t be as desperate as that!” I’m afraid that I was obliged to slap her smartly about the face several times to stop the hysterics. I then grabbed her by the ear and marched her right back up to the house!

“Think of Roberta, loading the guns at Lucknow,” I admonished. “She certainly had her share of difficulties, but never once considered gardening as an escape! You’re an intelligent woman with reasonable abilities – now get back in that study - and NO NERVE TONIC until you’ve finished that border!”

My Dears, I have locked her in with the Footmen guarding the windows and doors, and there she shall remain.

We shall See what Next Week Brings…
Yours Truly
The Dowager Countess of Grantham

17 February

Well My Dears, the shawl is a HUGE SUCCESS, just as I predicted! As I always say, “Nothing succeeds like Excess!” (And it certainly is excessively wide!)

But then, I always knew the pattern would be a beauty, how could it not be, with my involvement in the design process? Really, My Dears, the shawl’s success is more to my credit than hers; it is almost a crime for her name to be attached to it when it was I who provided all the Creative Inspiration as well as that “Spark of Genius” so important in these Design Endeavours! (But, I suppose we must allow these little people their occasional moment in the sun…)

However, I believe I may design a shawl myself, just to demonstrate how easy it really is. All this fuss and commotion, hysterics and histrionics - there is no need for any of it! Shawl Design is a Very Simple Thing (for those of us gifted with Creative Genius), and I will explain to you all my Design Secrets so the world can Benefit from my Talent and Expertise. So, My Dears, watch for my new shawl design!

Your Guiding Beacon
Through these Last Seven Weeks of
Turbulence and Strife,
The Dowager Countess of Grantham