I’d like to dedicate this week’s blog to the memory of my uncle John, for whom I knit the \”Balerno\” gansey last year, who died this week. I never really got to know him well, but he always struck me as a kind, decent man, with a similar sense of humour to mine—a delight in wordplay and, let’s face it, excruciatingly bad jokes. He was a talented amateur artist, too, and we have a painting of his hanging up in our dining room which he gave us in return for the gansey.
I think as I get older there is a risk that this blog simply becomes my doctor’s medical notes—instead of going into the surgery, he can just log in to check my symptoms and prescribe medicine accordingly. This week it’s one blocked ear and one ear infection, which makes my head feel like I’m scuba diving through the Mariana Trench. So: antibiotic drops in one ear and olive oil in the other, and the sensation of worms crawling inside my ear canal en route to the brain to lay their eggs.
All of which would have been fine if I hadn’t also decided to bake bread this weekend. I didn’t fully realise my mistake until I started kneading—both hands thickly plastered up to the wrists in wet, sticky glutinous dough—and to my horror noticed that drops were trickling out of my right ear. I quickly discovered that tilting my head to the left, while solving that problem, merely created another, in that it started a leak from the other ear.
For a time I tried alternately tilting my head slowly back and forth, like a mime artist playing a sailor, or someone listening to an iPod with a dying battery, conscious that none of my recipe books, even the ones which encourage you to experiment and take risks, recommend ear medicine as a flavour enhancer to rustic bread. Then, fatally, my mind wandered, and I suddenly became aware of a cold, clammy, squirming sensation in my left ear. Yes, while my mind was busy elsewhere, my hand had inserted a dough-laden finger into my ear and—horribly—started wiggling it, like a soldier practicing how to kill an enemy with a bayonet.
So I now look forward to an interesting interview at the doctor’s next week when I get my ears syringed. (“Yes, there’s quite a lot of wax and—good God, what’s all this grey stuff encrusted in there? Porridge?”)
Right—retunes the dial to the knitting station. As you’ll see, I’ve finished the first sleeve. The double-length roll-back cuff is always a bit of a slog, as its six inches always takes longer to knit than I expect. I decreased down to 108 stitches, or 27 ribs of knit 2/ purl 2, and cast off in pattern as usual. So now I’ve got to grit my teeth, pick myself off up the canvas and the stitches around the armhole, and do the other sleeve. I made really good time on this one—I expect the next one to take rather longer.
Two splendid gallery contributions this week—first of all Sandra\’s traditional Norfolk gansey, a very striking herringbone pattern, which looks like a perfect fit, too. And secondly, another couple of projects from Judit, who continues to put traditional gansey patterns to all sorts of innovative and versatile uses: a kantele cover (I had to ask what it was too!) and a cushion. Congratulations both!
Finally, a heads-up for those who usually wait till later in the week to read the blog, that I’m publishing my second novel The Bone Fire on Amazon for kindle next weekend. It’s not a sequel to Inquisition of Demons—I actually wrote it a year ago, and I’ve been revising it on and off since then. (You can read the blurb here if you’re curious.) I’m mentioning it now, not just to whip up a fever of excitement and expectation, though that would be nice, but because it will be on a free promotion from the 5th to the 7th August (along with Inquisition of Demons again). More details to follow next week!