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Denim 18: 11 – 17 August

D140817a Summer has come to an abrupt end in the north Highlands, as we’re currently being battered by strong winds and heavy rains; it’s colder too, just ten degrees this morning. (I know it all helps to keep the midges at bay, but still.)

When it rains it falls so hard the drops bounce back up off the ground like tiny tennis balls, and the puddles froth and churn as though filled with spawning frogs. The rivers are swollen and brown with mud, tumbling down from the hills; Usain Bolt could maybe play Poohsticks against the fast-moving currents, but poor Winnie the Pooh’s stubby little legs would stand no chance.


Dunnet Head from Thurso

Incidentally, if anyone was wondering what the north Caithness coastline looks like, Mercedes have helpfully filmed an advert around Dunnet Head and Duncansby. It’s pretty true to life, too: honestly, you can hardly move up here for all the famous actresses hogging the roads in their fancy cars.

On the gansey front, I’ve knuckled down and have almost finished re-knitting the second sleeve (albeit mostly through gritted teeth). But the effort has paid off, and sometime in the next few days I’ll have it finished, after which we need never speak of it again (henceforth only to be referred to as “the unpleasantness”). The gnarled and be-kinked yarn has made it hard to keep the stitches even, but as ever I’m hoping that washing and blocking will cover a multitude of sins.

D140817bWhile cataloguing some miscellaneous collections this week I came across some reminiscences concerning one of the old Wick harbourmasters, Captain Cormack. One of my favourite stories has him going to collect the harbour dues from a Buckie boat one Saturday night at eleven o’clock. It was summer and, of course, still perfectly light, so the crew could see him coming. As the Captain approached, the boat slipped away to the jetty, then across the bay to moor on the far North Shore. Cormack had to walk all the way around the bay to reach the boat, and when he finally caught up with it the crew were singing hymns, and the captain “was in the middle of an unctuous prayer”. The exasperated harbourmaster had had enough: “Come on, now, ye hoary hypocrite,” he cried, “pay your way and do your praying after!”

Finally this week, many congratulations to Sarah, who’s completed a rather splendid gansey, which you can see here. It’s a slightly modified version of the classic Henry Freeman pattern, and is knitted in sports weight wool; and the colour brings out the pattern very effectively.

11 comments to Denim 18: 11 – 17 August

  • It is a stunning pattern and after a break from each other perhaps once again you will be friends.
    Your stick-to-it-ive-ness is enviable.

    • Gordon

      Hi Julie, some rifts are too deep to heal quickly. At the moment I’m dealing with the situation like any mature adult male, by sulking and refusing to drive it places. (I have dropped hints that a big forgiveness cake with chocolate icing would help things along, but so far? Nothing. There’s gratitude for you!)

      I have to knit, the only alternative up here is contemplating the endless emptiness of existence or watching tv, and neither to be honest is especially appealing. (I actually started to write a fable once about a little girl who decided to knit a sweater for God, on the grounds that outer space is very cold, but I never finished it; but sometimes it feels like maybe that could be an option if we have another dark winter!)


  • Lynne

    I can almost feel your relief at being nearly finished with your ‘curly’ yarn. That pattern is so effective with that color yarn and it sounds like your weather demands wearing it as soon as the blocking is dry! Another beautiful project, Gordon.
    I wish I could send some of our warmth your direction, it’s heading for 31C again today.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne, I did have a fair bit of unused yarn left over and I toyed with the idea of using that to re-knit the sleeves. For some reason I decided to reuse the old, be-kinkulated yarn; it must have seemed a good idea at the time, like when I was at university and at about midnight one night after a fun evening decided that scrambled eggs made with a pint of alcoholic cider was a culinary invention the world needed to see created… (One mouthful was enough to send the rest down the disposal chute, only for us to discover that we had no other food in the house other than a pack of dry spaghetti and a vegetable stock cube. Not, I can tell you from experience, a good combination.)

      Enjoy your heat; you’ll miss it when it’s gone. I do, I can tell you!


  • Jane

    I think it is a stunning piece of work if I might say so, superb colour, really good design, nice plain bit at the end of the sleeve (no jokes about the bitter end).
    Most of us, well me, would have parked it in a dark corner and sighed a lot, an awful lot, but no, made of sterner stuff you have put it right! And shared it with us! It’s very impressive

    Actually I do have an unfinished jumper which I sigh over regularly, not helped by parking it in the bedroom, a silent reproach every day. A little problem with vintage pattern and modern yarn, sounds familiar!

    Progress with the wedding cardie is reasonable, but deep nervousness about finishing it in time has set in. All will come right in the end, I think, and worse things happen at sea!

    • Gordon

      Good evening Jane, well, I’ve noticed that some people make the elementary mistake of assuming I know what I’m talking about. Things like fundamentally screwing up the sleeves should help set that right! And I won’t deny that having to re-knit them hasn’t been a setback, because mentally I was already soaring high above the mental pine forests of my next project. Having to go back and spend a month doing again something already done is the equivalent of the eagle flying smack into a mountain it hadn’t noticed…

      Never mind, and it’s the same with your cardie, as the Australians like to say, “She’ll be right…”

  • Marilyn

    Hello Gordon, congratulations on yet another fantastic creation (I must be watching too many action movies – on the movie screen of my mind I just saw Thor slam his drink down and shout, “ANOTHER!”) You are the action hero of Gansey Nation, reknit sleeves and all, well done.

    • Gordon

      Ha, the only way I’m ever going to resemble an action hero is if someone sets up a webcam over my sofa, and then does a time-lapse series of images of me! Otherwise there’s about as much action as watching a toenail grow…

      Mind you, instead of the 6 Million Dollar Man, I could star in my own tv series as the “Two And a Quarter Millimetre Man”. The only tricky part is fitting it on the t-shirts…

  • =Tamar

    “2.25mm Man” ought to fit on a t-shirt, but considering the minds of fandom, I think it might be best to go with the length of the needles. ’18” Man’ would be a name to conjure with.

  • Gordon

    Hello, everyone,

    Just a quick heads-up to let you know that my two most popular novels, The Cuckoo’s Nest (my Welsh Victorian murder mystery) and An Inquisition of Demons (my Wars of the Roses fantasy murder mystery) will be available to download for free from Amazon this weekend.

    Not that I recommend it, mind you. But on the other hand there’s not much on TV at the moment, it’s too soon to care about football and the weather’s not that great, so, you know, there it is. (I never could work out why my career in marketing didn’t work out…)

    Bye for now,

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