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Fife 13: 15-21 February

So it was back to the hospital for my final check-up after the septoplasty operation last week. The consultant took a device like the thing for removing staples from paper and twisted each nostril so he could peer up it with a torch (“and what did you do at work today, dear?”). Then as a special treat he took a fibre optic camera on a wire and fed it up each nostril so he could show me the results on a television screen.

He seemed very proud of this. I sat stock still as the probe ascended, acutely aware, as ever, that one sneeze from the consultant and I’d be minus an eyeball, the probe bursting from the socket like a chimney sweep’s brush out of a difficult flue. But it was fine, if a little uncomfortable, and was just like watching a nature documentary. The camera quested up the nasal cavity like a mole rat down a burrow – I half expected him to say, “And here, by the middle turbinate, is where the creature laid its eggs”, but he never did – and voila! It found no obstructions.

In fact, after bouncing it off the underside of my skull once or twice to prove the point, the consultant withdrew the camera and declared that I had a “beautiful nose”. (I told him that nobody had ever said that to me before; but reminded him all the same that I was happily married, just to be on the safe side.) So now, he said, all I have to do is wait for the congestion and migraines to stop – somewhere around the end of autumn, he thought – and I’d start to feel the benefit…

I have finished the centre panel on the gansey cardigan, and I’m all chevroned out for now. I’ve never been too sure about chevrons, only having seen photos, and these may be the first ones I’ve knitted like this. But this came out rather well, especially when the light catches it just so. I’ll have to wait till I’ve done the yoke to see how it all pans out, but so far so good. (It was easy to knit, as well – once you  get into the groove a pattern of “purl-knit-knit–knit” is rather soothing, like telling rosary beads.) I’m almost to the end of my first 500g cone of Frangipani yarn, too, so that gives you an idea of how much yarn this is going to take.

Next step is planning out the yoke pattern. Time to sit down with Gladys Thompson’s book, a slide rule, a pocket calculator, a pencil, graph paper and a nuclear physicist, and try to chart out a pattern. Full details & charts next week, when I divide for front and back and remind myself how to knit patterns in reverse.

Finally, I decided I couldn’t top the “chip-batta” from last time, so I’ve been making basic Parisian “baguettes normal”, but with a dollop of sourdough added to the mix for extra flavour and texture (an airier crumb and a crisper crust). This is currently my favourite bread, I think, quick and easy, and when fresh out of the oven with a smear of butter and a spoonful of strawberry jam it approaches bread nirvana. Sometimes I like to think, without disrespect, that if someone had offered the Buddha a fresh, hot, crusty baguette topped with jam he might have reconsidered his position on the whole “renunciation of the material world” philosophy and the history of the world might have been very different…

12 comments to Fife 13: 15-21 February

  • Leigh

    1. Yeahahah for no obstruction (sans eggs) although I am sure turbinate mining can be a little uncomfortable if not downright scary. Glad you set him straight on your marital status.

    2. I thought a diploma from MIT in astrophysics or even basic physics was required of all all authors/knitters of gansey books/gansey. I forgot about the knit-in-reverse thingy.

    3. Forget Buddha, pass the baguette, butter and jam this way please!

  • Gordon

    Hi Leigh,

    I always find it best to draw myself up to my full height and utter a stern “Sir!” (or “Madam!” as the case may be) “You forget yourself. I am a married man!” That usually does the trick.

    I’m starting to think the I Ching may be more useful in planning ganseys…

    (And who can resist a little bread and buddha? Sorry. I’ll get me coat.)


  • Lisa Mitchell

    I’ve appreciated your weekly gansey updates. I’m working my way through a gansey scarf and a “shawl” modified from the scarf pattern as a prelude to a gansey jumper. Love your quirky sense of humour! Keep on with the great blog.
    Lisa Mitchell
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada

  • Gordon

    Hi Lisa,

    Thank you for your email! I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog (it keeps me off the streets, so it serves more purposes than one). What pattern/s are you including on your scarf? And what colour, just out of curiosity?

    Anyway, best of luck with your knitting & please keep in touch,

  • =Tamar

    Those chevrons do stand out, much more than I would have expected. The sourdough baguette sounds heavenly.

  • Lisa Mitchell

    The scarf pattern is a pair of horizontal diamonds split by a cable (cable diamond cable diamond cable) in a dark grey. I’ve taken that pattern and substituted a starand put two sets side by side for the shawl; that’s done in a dark natural fisherman’s yarn (Lion brand) – not entirely happy with it (should’ve used smaller needles – oh well, next time). Next time I’m plnaning to try a tree pattern. Then I have to get up my courage and do a jumper… Cheers!

  • Sue

    Go for it Lisa, by the time you’ve finished the scarf and the shawl you’ll probably have knitted the equivalent of a gansey anyway.

    Too much information re the nose, Gordon, but pleased you had a god result 🙂

    I’ve just started the chevrons at the top of the yoke for the shoulder straps on my brother’s gansey and it is soothing. But I’ve obviously miscalculated at an earlier stage and it’s now going to be an inch or too longer than planned but I bet he’ll ignore my instructions to only handwash it so all will probably be well in the end. Either way, I’m not undoing all the work I’ve put into the yoke now to make it shorter in the body!

    Interested to see that you’re near the end of a 500grm cone already – I’m just about to finish my first cone too but I’ve nearly completed the back after dividing the work after finishing the increases for the gusset and I bet Margaret is a lot slimmer than my brother. I wonder if this is because I’m working to a slighter looser tension (7.5sts to the inch) on 2.5 needles? Done for the reason above – I reckon he’ll never handwash it – and so I’ve allowed for some shrinkage from the beginning and didn’t want the stitches to look too tight afterwards.


    PS The bread looks wonderful too!

  • Gordon

    Hi Guys!

    Tamar, the chevrons add a rather sixties look, don’t they? Or something from an Austin Powers movie. They will stretch a bit with blocking, though. The baguettes freeze really well, so a couple of batches give you fresh bread every day for a week!

    Lisa, I like the idea of a gansey scarf (I draw the line at gansey underwear, but any outerwear is fine by me!) and shawl. Especially if I have to go through another Edinburgh winter with the wind whistling through the shutters of the lounge, down the hall, and out through the kitchen. Sounds fun – hop eit works out.

    Sue, Sorry about the nose dump – hm, in retrospect, not the best choice of words – but I’ve reached the age where medicine suddenly snaps into focus! Maybe I should have asked for a video clip of the fibre optic camera pics to add to the website…? I guess the stitch gauge will make a difference – I’m averaging about 9.25 sts per inch on 2.25mm needles – but also I am rubbish at estimating how much yarn I have left – I thought I’d run out this week, for example, but I still have a few layers left on the cone. I’ll add a photo of the cone next week if I haven’t finished it!

    Best wishes to all,

  • Ruth

    Good to know your surgeon gets excited by his work, though looking up noses is a rather strange thing to want to do with your life.

    On the bread front, I currently have some dough sitting in the fridge ready to be made into an Italian Semolina loaf tomorrow. Semolina, brings back memories of school dinners, back in the days before pizzas and danish pastries. Anyway, if it works out, I might post some pictures somewhere.

  • Gordon

    Hi Ruth,

    Could be worse I guess, apparently other doctors have even worse things to look up*.

    I’ve never tried baking with semolina, as it would mean buying some in – Margaret not being a fan of the old milk pudding varieties of my childhood (rice, semolina, etc.) – and just buying it for bread seems a bit extravagant. But am I right in thinking it makes for a finer texture? Do you mix it with regular bread flour? How does it come out? (Pictures welcome!)

    I remember having semolina with a dollop of strawberry jam at school – not sure if I’d be brave enough to try it now!

    Speaking of danish pasties, I’ve got some recipes I’m curious to try. But, like croissants, they seem so much work to make that it’s better to just buy them and enjoy them secure in the knowledge that someone else spent hours layering that pastry!

    Happy baking,

    (* I mean the ear, of course… Ahem.)

  • Ruth

    I’ve now put a picture of my semolina bread on my lancashireknitter blog. You’re right, it does make a finer and denser texture. If you need reasons to be persuaded to buy some semolina, shortbread should be another – the best shortbread contains it, and my Other Half yesterday produced the best roast potatoes I’ve had in years by parboiling, tossing them in semolina and seasoning before popping them in the oven with beef dripping. Delicious.

    Agree with you totally on the danish pastries, looked at a brioche recipe and couldn’t quite see the point of all that effort!

  • Gordon

    Hi Ruth,

    At the risk of it all getting a bit incestuous, I posted a comment under your blog entry – the bread looks really good. Shortbread and roast potatoes? Hmm, I’ve got my girlish figure to think of, not to mention the way the doctors look over their glasses at me when they measure my cholesterol these days and advise me not to start any long books…

    Brioche, yeah, I’m with you all the way. (Though I still dream of croissants…) My father, a Scotsman, has a recipe for Aberdeen “rowies” or buttery rolls – sort of layered pastry dough with butter, very croissant-ish. I tried it once and all the butter melted in the oven and we ended up with pastry deep fried in butter! I’m not saying it wasn’t tasty, but not quite what the recipe had in mind!)