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Buckie: 24 January

Bu160125-3As winter drags on, with snow shrouding America and rain and gales sweeping across Britain, I find myself returning to one of my favourite folk songs. It’s a traditional song called Awake, Awake, and I know it from the lovely Steeleye Span version. Based on the Old Testament Song of Solomon, it’s filled with longing for spring and, er, certain other things associated with spring.

Bu160125-4It resonates with Biblical cadences. The first verse goes, “Awake, awake, oh northern wind, blow on my garden fair / Let my lover come to me and tell me of his care / For now the winter it is past, likewise the drops of rain / Come lie in the valley of lilies, midst the roses of the plain.”


Margaret’s been busy too

After that, of course, it gets a bit mucky (though it’s perfectly all right because it’s Scriptural). But that opening verse is wonderfully evocative, and the line, “For now the winter it is past, likewise the drops of rain” has become something of a mantra with me, a checklist for the changing of the seasons. I keep pulling open the curtains, only to find that the drops of rain most definitely are not past… not yet anyway. But soon.

Meanwhile I’m slowly working my way up the body of the gansey. I’m averaging two rows a night, more at weekends, and seem to be adding some 2.5 inches a week. (We’re in for the long haul here, people.) But, to quote my favourite Welsh saying, many drops wear away the stone; and in some ways this blog is time-lapse evidence I’m making progress.


Gordon’s new Lettlopi

I grew up with a deep and abiding love of folk music, something I’ve never really lost. The gold of traditional music has already been sifted in the pan of time, so that all the dross has been discarded; what’s left is the good stuff, an inexhaustible collection of all the one good tracks on the album.


It was cold last week.

It was folk music that eventually led me to Morris Dancing. Sadly, the Morris has a poor reputation over here, frequently despised by people who at the same time get emotionally involved in two groups of foreign millionaires kicking a ball around a field for 90 minutes. But really, with the Morris, what’s not to like? Great music, moderate exercise, cudgels and beer—you don’t get that down the chess club.

I experienced the equivocal British attitude to Morris dancing personally one time, when I landed awkwardly in a dance and sprained my ankle. I went to Northampton Hospital and was placed in a chair and wheeled off for an X-ray. As we rolled down the corridor the attendant, a friendly young man, enquired over my shoulder, “So, how’d you do it then, mate?” “Morris dancing,” I replied. He chuckled as he parked me in the waiting room. “Dickhead,” he said, without malice, and went away shaking his head.

15 comments to Buckie: 24 January

  • =Tamar

    I like and approve of Morris dancing. I never had the stamina, but I think it’s cool.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, you’re right: Morris dancing is cool, I agree. And fun—my old side once had a guy come along who wanted to join. When he was asked what inspired him to give it a try he said, You guys always seem to be having so much fun.

      Plus, someone’s got to make the sun rise and the crops grow, haven’t they?

  • Lynne

    Beautifully designed pattern on the Lopi, Margaret, I like that better than any I’ve seen, and the colors are great, too.
    I had to go back and look at your graph on the gansey, Gordon, and no wonder it’s taking a bit longer with those panels of ‘ribbing’ that don’t quite look like ribbing. It’s going to be really handsome once it’s blocked.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne, I can guarantee that it’s very warm and comfy too!

      You’re quite right about the trellis panels, too—the plain knit row takes me about 20 minutes or so—but the knit-purl-knit-purl row takes about 30 minutes. That’s also the reason I do 2 rows at a time (apart from my hands ossifying into vulture claws): it’s easy to keep track of the pattern that way. I hope you’re right about how it’s going to look when blocked—the recipient requested something with patterns that ran top to bottom, so I’m hoping the cables and trellis will give him the effect he’s looking for.

  • Judit M/ Finland

    Gordon, it´s time to open “Admin´s gallery” for Margaret ! She has so fantastic works !
    Congratulations to you Margie !

    • Gordon

      Sshhh, Judit! Don’t say that sort of thing—it’ll go to her head. Give her her own gallery? For goodness’ sake, she’ll want paying next!

  • Lois

    That is the most lovely yoke that I’ve ever seen on a Lopi. The colours and pattern are beautifully balanced.
    And Gordon’s gansey is not too shabby either.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, thank you, yes, the Lopi is Margaret’s interpretation of a traditional pattern that caught my eye on the internet. It’s made using the finer Lopi yarn, a little scratchier than I expected (if not as scratchy as Fair isle) but very warm—and very impressive!

  • Jane

    Lovely, lovely work, Gordon and Margaret!

    The gansey is such a beautiful colour, and with such wonderful stitch definition. It is the movement of yarn between knit and purl that takes such time and care, but it does look so well crafted!

    I love the Lopi, such beautiful colours and such skill! Take care.

    • Gordon

      Hello Jane, the gansey pattern is the knitting equivalent of the slalom in downhill skiing! In and out, it is a bit fiddly. The person it’s for came into the record office today so I called up the blog and showed him progress—then broke the news that it’s probably less than a quarter complete!

  • Colin Reid

    Hello Gordon, Your comment about going to hospital with a Morris injury reminds me of another example.

    Do you remember, many moons ago, when you and I arrived early at Wellingborough for a mid-morning Morris booking at the central church’s fete, and we went in search of a coke dressed in full Brackley kit ? When we were about to enter Woolworths a small boy emerged, followed by his harrased mother. “Why are those men dressed like that ?”, asked he. His mother replied “Well, somebody’s got to look like a pillock !”

    • Gordon

      Hi Colin, ha, funnily enough that one had been excised from the memory … until now!

      Funny how some things stick in the mind. Such as John (the Fool) whacking a young lady on the back of the head with his inflated pig’s bladder and dislodging her contact lens, so that several men in full Morris kit were then down on their hands and knees in the pub car park searching for it. (Times I wish I’d had a camera!)

      Another abiding memory is someone resting a tankard full of ale on the roof of what he thought was another Morris dancer’s car, only for the real owner to return from somewhere, get in while we were dancing and drive away… The thoughtful expression on his face as he watched his beer disappearing still cheers me up during long winter nights!

  • Sharon in Surrey

    Lovely yoke on the Lopi!!! I love the color choice. And Gordon!! Did you pick the most labor intensive pattern in the whole book??? Looks wonderful, I admire it greatly & even lust after it deep in my heart, but will NOT be adding it to my TO DO list. My hands & fingers would never work again.

    Dark, wet & gloomy here on the Wet Coast of B.C. in Canada. No wind, thank gawd, just another rain warning. Sigh, I think we ALL need a week in the sun with a rum drink in a coconut.

    • Gordon

      Yes, Sharon, it’s turning out to be an interesting one, this.

      But, to quote the magnificent Magnificent Seven, in the scene in which the bandit leader, Calvera (Eli Wallach) asks why the Seven decided to risk their lives to defend the peasant village, and Vin (Steve McQueen) replies:

      Vin: It’s like a fellow I once knew in El Paso. One day, he just took all his clothes off and jumped in a mess of cactus. I asked him that same question, “Why?”
      Calvera: And?
      Vin: He said, “It seemed to be a good idea at the time.”

      Rum and coconut sounds like a plan!

  • Margaret Reid

    Hello all – many thanks for all your lovely comments. As Gordon said, he found photos of the Lopi online, and I then reverse-engineered it using http://knittingpatterns.is/ . While designing it, I neglected to note that most of the patterned sections are three colours per row . . . I’ll be more careful next time!

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