On Saturday, after I’d been laid up sick and off work for a couple of days with a migraine of epic proportions, we decided what I needed was some fresh air—so we drove up to Duncansby Head, the most top-rightishly bit of Scotland, and one of our favourite wild places in Caithness.
I’ve mentioned Duncansby Head before—it’s an exposed headland surrounded by ocean, the Pentland Firth and the islands of Orkney and Stroma to the north, the Moray Firth to the south. Nothing much grows there, the wind’s too severe, a good strict Calvinist wind—any plants or trees just wilt and give up in the face of stern disapproval. (Maybe Calvinism explains why John o’ Groats is such a tawdry, joyless eyesore—it’s like a fun fair designed by people who know in their hearts that fun is sinful and wrong.)
Anyway, we went for a walk along the cliffs. Fresh air was in plentiful supply, all the way from the arctic circle, slamming into us at about 30 mph—we followed the countryside code and strapped sheep to our backs to use as flotation devices should we be blown over the edge—and persevered all the way up the cliff path to look down on the fabulous Duncansby Stacks and Thirle Door.
The cliffs and stacks are, of course, pretty cool (I like to think of them as ‘Satan’s Cufflinks’, and shall be using the name to any tourists I encounter in the hope that it catches on). But what made it really special was the seals—there must have been a whole pod or bob of them out fishing, their sleek black heads popping up and down in the grey waters like a giant whack-a-mole game, seabirds wheeling around them like flakes of snow; sometimes life ambushes you like this, throws you a surprise party when you least expect it.
The migraine was one of those ‘dysfunctionality’ migraines—no flashing lights or severe pain, but heavy congestion and utter prostration, so I’d get out of breath just standing up, coupled with a general feeling of weirdness, as if my eyes could see an extra dimension my brain couldn’t process. But I was able to knit on and off, and as a result got quite a lot done.
I’ve reached the cuff, and you can see that I decided to go with Lynne’s suggestion and knit the pattern all the way down the arm, leaving only the same inch of plain knitting as I did between the welt and the body (it’s such a great pattern I wanted to continue it; and besides, there’s something very fetching about cables running all the way down the arm). Now all I have to do is decrease, and knit the six inches of ribbing for the fold-back cuff.
By the way, after my concern over balls of yarn, I’m just coming to the end of ball ten. I’ll have to break open another ball somewhere down the cuff, but I’ll still have the best of a whole 100g ball left out of the thirteen I bought. (I still intend that the last gansey I shall knit before I retire will consist of all the leftovers in my stash—and it will give everyone else a pretty good idea of what a migraine looks like…)