There’s an old joke about the Government sending out letters to people about something important, like tax; and on the envelope there’s a message saying, If you can’t read this, get someone else to read it for you.
Well, this is going to sound a bit like that message. You see, we’ve been having website problems, with pages either not opening at all, or taking so long to open you get timed out. We’re looking into it, and are trying a couple of fixes, but we’d really like to know if they’re working, or if you’re having trouble accessing the site. (Of course, like that joke, if you can’t access the site you’re not even going to be able to read this, but one thing at a time.)
Meanwhile, I knit away, and at the same time try to answer an ancient philosophical conundrum: if an archivist blogs on the internet and no one can read it, does he still exist? (We’ve also added the Seaspray Filey gansey to the gallery; if you can access anything, you can access it [intlink id="6057" type="page"]here[/intlink].)
This week I’ve completed another tree, and am about halfway up the body. I’m really enjoying this pattern, partly because it looks damn fine, but mostly because it’s very easy to knit. Once you start a row and get the number of plain stitches between the half-diamonds and the trees in each pattern repeat sorted out, you just keep going. It’s the least stressful gansey to knit I can remember: there aren’t even any cable rows to count.
Now the equinox has been and gone, we in the northern hemisphere are entering a chilly, damp autumn. But while summer lingered like a favourite aunt we paid a visit to the celebrated Hill o’ Many Stanes (“hill of many stones”), about 9 miles south of Wick. It’s a Bronze Age site, with some 200-odd small upright stones more or less arranged in rows.
There are many ancient monuments dotted around the Caithness countryside and, to be honest, some of them are more impressive than others. At first sight, this one’s a little underwhelming, even after walking round it and staring at it for several minutes. I’d hoped that it might spell a very rude word if you caught it from the right angle, or work like one of those magic eye pictures, but no such luck: it’s basically just a bunch of rocks in a field.
But the people who lived here several thousand years ago took the trouble to stick 200 stones in the ground in this arrangement. Was it a prehistoric observatory? A rockery? Bronze Age art?
I’ve been re-reading one of my favourite novels by the late Iain Banks, The Crow Road. In it one character tells his children a story about the origin of ancient Scottish cairns: once upon a time there were giant mammoth-like creatures (called “mythosaurs”) that swallowed great stones to keep in their crops, like geese do with pebbles to break down their food. When the creatures died, their bodies decayed leaving only the stones, which we call cairns.
Isn’t that great? There are many reasons to love Iain Banks, but that’s one of my favourites. And so, in the same vein, I’ve been wondering what might have caused the Hill o’ Many Stanes: flying reptiles dropping rocks on rabbits? A pixies’ cemetery? Someone who noticed the flat landscape of Caithness and thought you could grow mountains like potatoes? A baby troll day care centre massacre when they were all cut down by the sunlight in the middle of a group tai chi lesson…? The truth is out there, people; or if not the truth, something much more fun.
Finally this week, Margaret has been making another of her beautiful lacy shawly creations. At least, I think that’s what it is. I thought at first it might be an elvish fishing net, but I’m slowly coming round to the idea that it’s lingerie for Galadriel…