And so, here it is, the Finished Article. As ever, you can’t really see how a gansey’s going to come out until it’s been washed and blocked, and this one, if I say so myself, came out rather well. You can see it in the pictures, pinned out like Lemuel Gulliver being captured by the Lilliputians. Though – as ever – I won’t be able to relax until I see if it actually fits the intended recipient. All that’s left now is to add it to the gallery and move on to the next project or, if it doesn’t fit, to change my name and move to Latin America in disgrace.
Speaking of my next project, my intended target still hasn’t given me his measurements – I’m seeing him tomorrow, and my current plan is to summon a couple of policemen, accuse him of stealing my wallet, and then, while his arms are pinned, whip out a tape measure and stealthily measure his chest and arms. Then run like blazes. It should work, right?
We spent part of last week with my parents in the gentle rolling fields of Northamptonshire, a last visit before we vanish into the Frozen North. As I think I’ve mentioned before, they live in an old ex-pub beside the Grand Union Canal (see picture). The house is getting a bit too large for my parents now – too many stairs – but so much of my life is tied up with it, it’ll be hard to see it go; I can probably still match the various indentations in my forehead to the low wooden beams that cross the ceilings, from the many occasions when I nearly knocked myself out by forgetting to duck (‘But shouldn’t he be breathing, doctor?’).
Suddenly, it’s all go. We’re off back to Wick later this week to try to find me somewhere to rent in the short term, and maybe start scoping out houses to buy. Bizarrely, it’s almost impossible to find somewhere to stay in Wick for more than one night at a time, and if you try to book less than a week ahead all the rooms are full. What’s going on? Don’t get me wrong, I love Caithness and its coast, but this is rather puzzling. What can they all be doing up there? (I’d like to think they’re visiting the archives, but maybe not.) My current theory is that a James Bond supervillain is setting up a secret base in the wilds near Dunnet Head, and that the mists and low clouds are really produced by a screening device to hide it from view; and all these people are his new henchmen and technicians, who have answered advertisements in the Caithness Bugle. I shall of course make it my business to investigate, but if I disappear suddenly, or meet with a mysterious “accident”, make sure the authorities are alerted – and avenge me.
Are any of you going to the Ganseyfest in Inverness this weekend, part of the Moray Firth Gansey Project? If so, you’ll see 5 of my ganseys there, in the exhibition and maybe even in the fashion show (their latest flyer for the fashion show even shows one of mine being modelled by a suitably rugged-looking chap). We’re hoping to look in on the Sunday, but it’s come at the wrong time for us as we scoot from one end of the country to the other. (Inverness is about halfway between Edinburgh and Wick, a 2.5 hour drive for us.) If you do attend, and want to know how to recognise me, I’ll be the bloke.
Coming back to the blocked gansey, I’m thinking of treating myself to a wooly board, or jumper board, one of those frames that you can stretch pullovers on to dry them. Jamieson & Smith do a decent-looking one for about £80. Has anyone any experience of these? We used to own one, but it was plastic and eventually cracked and broke. Do they spoil the welt? How easy are they to use? Any observations gratefully received.