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Cedar Gansey, Weeks 1-2: 23 July

This is going to be one of those good news/ bad news sorts of things; though which is which will of course depend on how one feels about it all.

First news first: this blog has just passed its tenth anniversary—on Friday last, in fact. Ten years! It’s practically a whole decade. We’ve all passed a lot of water under the bridge since it started; for example, I used to have enough hair to justify a haircut at the barber’s. And in that decade I’ve knitted—well, I refuse to go back and count them, but it must be in excess of thirty ganseys; and Margaret and I have published almost 500 blog posts.

Bird-laden rocks near the Castle of Old Wick

Now, supposing each post contains on average some 500 words: that’s getting on for 250,000 words. To help put this in perspective, scientists around the turn of the last century developed a scale for measuring verbosity, the Proust Scale. Marcel’s great work À la recherche du temps perdu famously contains some 1.5 million words, which gives it a perfect score of 100. My mere quarter of a million gives me a score of 16 on the scale, or one-sixth of a Proust. (Ten thousand thunders! as Proust’s Baron de Charlus is fond of exclaiming, unless I’ve got him mixed up with someone else.)

Lines and Curves

To celebrate the dawn of our eleventh year a-blogging I’ve started a gansey in a colour I haven’t knit before, Frangipani cedar. In what is possibly the gansey equivalent of Stockholm syndrome I always end up thinking whatever colour I’m working on is the best, and it’s happening again. I’ve always liked green—though I recognise it was considered an unlucky colour by many fishermen; I’m hoping to escape the curse however by avoiding any body of water deeper than a puddle while wearing it—and as so often there’s an iridescent thread running through the predominately matt strands which gives it the sort of electric shimmer I associate with tropical beetles, or the helpful sort of radiation that gives you superpowers.

I don’t know what the pattern will be yet. It was going to be one taken from the Johnston Collection of photographs of Caithness fishermen; but a closer inspection showed that to be rather less straightforward that had appeared at first sight, so I’ve decided to postpone it for future consideration. After all the cables and diamonds of Flamborough this will probably be one of the simpler geometric patterns, such as The Lizard or Staithes.

The circus comes to town. Again.

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who checks in each week to read the blog, look at the pictures and watch the ganseys grow in real time, like a time-lapse of trees in a forest. Now, when I started the blog I made a promise with myself I’d keep it going for ten years, or till I reached sixty, depending how it went. Currently over a hundred people a day on average visit this site; which is about a hundred more than I expected back in 2008! So of course I’m going to carry on. But it seems only fair to point out that I am now in my 58th year.

All the same, “Man proposes, God disposes”, as they say; or to put it another way, If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. So who knows? For now, let’s all just take it one stitch at a time…

20 comments to Cedar Gansey, Weeks 1-2: 23 July

  • Lois

    Attention! This is your captain speaking!

    You are under strict orders to continue this blog until your feeble fingers can no longer navigate the keyboard. Or until my creaky eyeballs can no longer decipher my weekly dose of knowledge and humour. Whichever comes first.

    Congratulations on your tenth anniversary! I look forward every Monday for my “Gordon fix”. What a great start to the week! And may there be many more to come.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, I think we passed the feeble-fingers-no-longer-navigating-the-keyboard stage some years back. Luckily I have toes.

      In the run-up to World War 2, the British Army adopted a policy whereby the heads of the armed forces gave their considered opinion as to whether a war was likely in the next 10 years—the idea being, that as soon as the consensus was in the positive, Britain should start rearmament. I do something similar, as you can tell by the number of cones of Frangipani yarn I have stuck on top of my bookshelves how many ganseys I plan to knit before I think of taking up a new hobby, such as building models of the nuclear archive with matchsticks, or just ageing, or whatever.

      I currently have 20 cones, plus some balls of Wendy navy. I guess that means I’m not going anywhere in a hurry…

  • Nigel Southworth

    Can I leave a request. Could you please knit a gansey in the style of Blackburn Rovers’ home shirt. Thanks 🙂

    • Gordon

      Hi Nigel, two-colour knitting doesn’t really work in a gansey, sorry, though if you can wait a decade or so I might be able to do something in Fair Isle… The kit always reminds me of the people in the Star Trek episode The Last Battlefield, who were half black and half white, as if it was what they would wear if they stopped fighting for a few minutes and decided to have a kick about (“tunics for goalposts…”).

  • Jane

    Many congratulations, Gordon. Ten years is a wonderful achievement, and I so look forward to the next instalment and the next ….

    The new gansey is superb, a lovely colour, just keep it on dry land and all will be fine. Take care!

  • Annie

    US Navy communication (a veteran here): Clear and Concise:

    Keep up those stitches, Sir.

  • meg macleod

    congratulations ! have you pictures of all the ganseys made through those years..why not make a composite phot of them and post it up….interesting to see them all laid.

    and thankyou again for making me smile.

  • Congrats on the blogaversery! I always say yippee! when I see one of your posts pop up. Please keep ‘em coming.

  • Suzanne

    Has it really been this long?! Congratulations on the steady output of knitwear and wit for a full ten years. Those years sure slipped by quickly! May you enjoy many more years to knit up all those cones AND move on to a new hobby. Cheers!

    (Perhaps in the coming decade I will actually make it to Wick! Got to NZ last year, and the California ranch has sold, so the likelihood is improving.)

  • Dave

    “Ten thousand thunders” – wasn’t that Captain Haddock?

  • =Tamar

    That is a lovely green [at least as it shows on my monitor]. It seems just at the edge of easy-to-see-to-knit, not quite too dark.
    I, too, eagerly await my Gordon fix each week.

  • Linda Abraham

    Congratulations!! I, too, look forward to Mondays and your blogs! Given your initial words on this one, I skimmed it quickly hoping NOT to discover that you were signing off…whew!! I really enjoy each of your musings and the knitting! I also look forward to reports of your weather, as we are sweltering under 100+ (Fahrenheit) here, (No. California) no rain in 2 months and none anticipated for probably another 3 months. So I am trying to stay cool vicariously….thank you for that! Please keep on knitting, sharing thoughts, bits of news, Margaret’s photos-and yours, and know that in so many corners of this world you both are appreciated!!

  • Gail Donkin

    Happy 10th Anniversary, and hopefully, many more.

  • Judit M./Finland

    Hello Gordon and congratulations to the 10 yrs.anniversary . I do not think that there is any reason to give up, you have always new projects in mind and imagine you are not yet 60 yrs young ! Just keep on, we all are enjoying your posts . Best regards from hot Finland . Hot means + 32 C degrees in shadow !

  • Jane Callaghan

    Fifty-eight? FIFTY-eight? Fifty-EIGHT? Why, that’s no age at all, child!

  • Gordon

    Hi everyone, just a quick note to say thank you for all the messages of goodwill and kind words! Too many to reply to individually but all very much appreciated, so many thanks.

    And yes, Dave correctly spotted the deliberate mistake – as the Captain himself would say, “Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles in a thundering typhoon!”

  • I was thinking Captain Haddock too ….

    Congratulations on your (first) decade!

  • Dee

    Congratulations on ten years! I’m so happy you weren’t announcing a blog retirement! I so enjoy your blog – lovely knitting, your witty writing always makes me laugh, and the beautiful photos shore up my hope of seeing Scotland some day.

    The green is very nice & I look forward to seeing what pattern you choose.

    Side note on the weather (since others have mentioned it) – currently 106 Fahrenheit in my part of Southern California.

    • Gordon

      Thank you, Dee – well, as with my answer to Lois above, have cones of Frangipani yarn, will travel, or at least stay at home and knit.

      Not only do I have some 20 cones comprising my stash, I offered to knit a Gansey for a work colleague and he requested a colour I don’t have! So it will soon be 22. At 3 or 4 ganseys a year, and 2 cones per gansey, you can work out how many years I’ve got to go…

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