I’ve got some good news and bad news this week. The good news—I finished the other sleeve of the denim gansey, sewed in all the loose ends and Margaret blocked it out to dry. The bad news? The sleeves are too big and I’ve got to rip ’em out and knit ’em again.
D’, as Homer Simpson might say, ’oh.
You see, it was always going to be a size too large; knowing the winters we get up here, I wanted something big enough to fit over a thermal vest, a flannel shirt and an under-jumper, and possibly a layer of lard, a bearskin and a Persian rug as well. And the body is fine, just what I wanted. But the sleeves…
Let’s put it this way. They’re so big that if I jumped off the top of a giant redwood, or maybe a poplar, supposing for the moment there were trees in Caithness instead of the desolate post-apocalyptic wasteland I see from my window, I could spread my arms and coast for up to half a mile with a following wind, like an overweight bespectacled flying squirrel with a fondness for Scots tablet. If I was buried wearing it archaeologists of the future would assume they’d found the missing link between birds and portly archivists.
Sherlock Holmes would no doubt describe the mistake as elementary, just before I punched him on the nose. As you may recall, I’ve been trying to knit more loosely, lowering my stitch gauge from 9.25 to about 8 stitches per inch. Like Tiger Woods changing his golf swing after years of winning majors I’m having to rebuild parts of my technique, and calculations, from scratch. If I’d been knitting with the old gauge I’d probably have been fine.
How does it feel? You remember the time when NASA lost a £78 million space probe after it travelled 400 space miles because they forgot to convert the calculations from imperial to metric? Well, this is worse.
Oh, well. It’s not all bad. Reasons to be cheerful, number one: the Commonwealth Games are being held in Glasgow this month and, just like the Olympic torch, the baton is travelling all over Scotland. This week it came to Caithness and, like so many tourists, it dropped into Wick on its way south from Orkney via John O’Groats, where it had stopped for an ice cream and a selfie in front of the famous signpost.
It passed the end of our road, and it passed the library where I work, and it passed the bloody great articulated lorry that the police had forgotten to stop earlier and which now had to squeeze into the bus stop in front of the hospital to let the baton runners past, blocking the view of the staff and the patients who’d been waiting for over half an hour just for that moment…
Reasons to be cheerful, number two: Judit’s sent another great gansey photo, this one knitted for a friend in Oulu. And if the picture doesn’t make everyone want to move to Finland I don’t know what will; really, Judit should be on commission from the Finnish Tourist Board. It’s another great gansey, too.
Reasons to be cheerful, number three: er—I don’t have to buy any more yarn for a few weeks while I re-knit the sleeves..?