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Buckie: 17 January

Bu160118-1Here’s a happy thought: we’re halfway through January, or 1/24th of the way to Christmas. The ghastly unseasonal weather of the New Year—with the rain rainething every day, as Shakespeare’s Feste, one of the earliest weather forecasters in literature, so correctly predicted—has given way to a spell of winter as tight as the grip of a miser’s shrivelled fist.


Ice on the river’s edge

Snow has come in the night, dusting the fields and pavements white; the latter are now especially treacherous, and people creep along as cautiously as tightrope walkers. Down by the river the footpaths are sheets of ice, and it’s fun to watch the dog walkers struggle to keep their feet as their excited charges jerk them back and forth in search of fresh scents, as unsteady as people trying on ice skates for the very first time.

Bu160112-1I always get Proustian flashbacks to my time at school in this sort of weather, specifically the cross-country runs we had to go on. (Well, I say runs—we made a good show to the first corner, then dropped to a sort of shuffle just in case a teacher happened by, and finally, once we were out of sight of the school grounds, walked the rest of the way.)

Pointless though they were, they were never actually unpleasant, except when the wind from the tannery was blowing the wrong way—though for years I carried an image in my mind of us being harried by teachers with rifles on horseback, herding us into rivers and trapping us in nets, until I realised I was confusing my schooldays with the original Planet of the Apes movie.

Bu160114-1There’s lots of parish news to get through this week, as everyone has obviously been very busy. First of all, apologies to Elisabeth for not having the comments on her new gansey open last week—she’s sent through some more pictures, which you can see here.

Lynne has taken inspiration from the herringbone/fish skeleton pattern from Norfolk Museums and has devised this splendid creation in deep ocean blue from Frangipani. And finally Katherine has sent pictures of this rather spiffing gansey based on Mrs Laidlaw’s pattern, with added zigzags.

Many congratulations to everyone concerned—and if your weather is at all like ours, you’ll be needing them right now.

One happy change that the weather has brought with the cold is actual clear blue sky and a low winter sun, our first of the year (my current theory on my allergies is that I’m intolerant of vitamin D). Curiously, the sickle moon is still visible even at noon, hanging there like a (fully operational) Death Star, which is a little unnerving. One of my favourite folk ballads has the line, “when the sun and moon meet in yonder glen, and that shall never be”—if only the writer had visited Caithness in January…

12 comments to Buckie: 17 January

  • Lois

    Beautiful work! Very inspiring to see what others are doing and the ingenious way they have combined stitch patterns.

    My gansey is still in the wishful stage, but I did knit a cap just to see how the stitches looked in the yarn. It was one way of doing a swatch to check gauge and having something useful, rather than just a square to show for my effort.

  • Judit M/ Finland

    Hello Lois,
    I was happy to read that you knitted a cap instead of a square swatch! I do the same, knit small things with the pattern I would like to see better. If you were going to Readers gallery, you may see the small things I knitted to practice different patterns.
    Best regards and happy knitting of a gansey.
    Follow the instructions of Gordon and your gansey will be ready soon 🙂

  • Lois

    I’ve peeked at the slideshows and your work is beautiful! I like the idea of adapting the patterns to small articles and it’s a good way to see if a combination of patterns will work out. There’s a big difference between theory and actual knitting!

    This will be gansey number 8 for me, and I started before there was any internet for reference or help, working from a photo of my great grandfather taken in the 1870’s or 80’s. So after looking at examples of work on this site and in books, I’ve given myself a pat on the back, that I figured it out. Maybe it was just in the genes. Lol

    The only thing slowing me down right now is uncooperative fingers. I’m a fibre artist, so when that happens, I just switch over to a sewing project for a while to give the joints a rest.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, I’ve always maintained that ganseys are very easy to knit—the only techniques to learn are really knitting in the round, the gussets, and joining the shoulders and knitting down each sleeve. The challenge is in the small scale and amount of time it takes. Like you I started way back—in fact this must be about my 30th anniversary of knitting them! ) There’s a scary thought…) I just had Gladys Thompson and then Michael Pearson to guide me. Times have changed.

      Best of luck with the gansey—and with the finger joints—oh, and congratulations on your knitting genes! If you’re on gansey no.8 they must be doing something right…

  • Lois

    I think we must have started about the same time. A friend brought me back Gladys Thompson from a trip to England. That book was my bible for years.

    • Gordon

      Lois, mine also – in fact, I often take comfort from the Sermon on the Block: “Blessed are those that steek, for they shall be comfortable…”

  • Lois

    Gordon, you are in the wrong profession. It should have been Rogers and Reid, never mind Hammerstein.

  • Lorraine

    Gordon- And not to forget “and the steek shall inherit the earth…”.

    I’m sorry, couldn’t resist. The colour of your yarn- is it a grey/blue?

  • Jane

    Don’t forget, “steek and ye shall find”! Ho ho ho! There are so many purls of wisdom! Gladys Thompson is very dear to my heart, a totally admirable lady. My only regret is apart from her wonderful book, she is a very shadowy figure for us knitters!

    Lovely, lovely work, Gordon, it is shaping up very nicely, if I may say so.

    Jolly cold in the South. The ducks disappeared from the pond a few days before Christmas. I was a little sad, but hoped they would enjoy warmer climes, but eight turned up a day or two ago. I assume it is the lure of peanuts! Take care!

    • Judit M/ Finland

      Dear Jane,
      “Jolly cold in the South.” What does it mean?

      Jolly cold in the North means: Today, 22nd Jan 2016 : 26 Celsius below 0 in Helsinki, Finland.
      Happy weekend!

  • Gordon

    Lorraine and Janes – and then of course there’s “Blessed are the lacemakers, for theirs is the kingdom of Devon…”

    The yarn is a sort of grey-blue. It’s Frangipani pewter, which sounds like it should be grey, but it’s more blue than that. I love it, and will buy some more to make a Gansey for myself – it reminds me of old ganseys washed and weathered by salt water and sunshine and the cold north wind – the colour of an old fishermen’s eye, pale from staring out across the shifting German Ocean, in search of the tell-tale shimmer of a shoal of herring…

    One of these days Michael Portilo will pop up on BBC2 with a new series retracing Gladys’s steps, visiting all the harbours and having a go at at fishing, knitting, and swapping patterns! You heard it here first. (Where’s a commissioning editor when you need one?!)

  • Jane

    Oh my word, our coldest night just recently was minus 7, a mere trifle compared to Helsinki. Gosh Judit, how cold! The only thing I can say ours was a very damp and nasty coldness! Take care!

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