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Filey 2.1: 1 – 7 April

F20407a First of all, apologies to those who’ve tuned in to see open-heart surgery on the cardigan (actually I think of it as a sort of sex-change operation, from a gansey to a cardy—each requiring the steady use of a pair of scissors, if the cartoons I watched as a child are to be believed). But owing to one of those random acts of God that come along now and then and cause untold devastation—e.g., a meteorite strike, an earthquake, a Conservative government—I’m afraid we’re a little behind schedule.

Let me explain: we’re back in Wick after our Easter holiday down south—but our car isn’t. Instead, it languishes in a garage 450 miles away, after the steering lock died outside our friends’ house in Southport (in the process lowering the tone of a very decent neighbourhood).

We only found out there was a problem at 8.30am on the day we were set to leave, said automobile having made the journey there with no difficulties whatsoever; but when I inserted the card in the ignition all that resulted was a sort of sad ticking noise, as though the car was clicking its tongue at the futility of our expectations of getting home. Luckily we had roadside assistance cover, but it took 3 RAC patrolmen over 5 hours to decide that we were beyond help. (It was like watching an episode of “House”, but one where by the time the credits rolled he’d given up and gone down the pub instead of solving the mystery at the last minute.)


The stack in Staxigoe

At times the whole experience resembled Baldilocks and the Three Bewildered RAC Patrolmen: the first thought it was the immobiliser; the second thought it was the electrics; and the third thought it was the ignition. (I just thought it was bloody freezing, and I was the only correct one among us.)

At last a trailer came and hauled the carcase away and we were provided with a hire car to get home, a feat we achieved at 12.15am (after a rather scenic twilight drive through the snow-capped Highlands). If the garage can fix it soon, I’ll take another couple of days off work later in the week and we’ll hire another car and repeat the 9-hour drive south to pick it up—and pay the £600+ repair bill.

As Feste the clown sings in Twelfth Night:

“And when I bought myself a car,
With hey ho, the wind and the rain,
It never got me very far,
For the car it breaketh every day…”


Staxigoe harbour

Anyway. Thank you to everyone who downloaded copies of my books when they were on the free promotion over Easter. I’m delighted to report that there were about 2,000 downloads overall, a record for me.

Finally, as the discerning among you will have guessed, I’ve started another gansey. This one is in Frangipani seaspray yarn. My plan is to knit a generic gansey to donate to the crew of the Reaper, the fishing boat the Anstruther Fisheries Museum uses for educational purposes and which came to the Wick Harbour Festival last year (when the captain told me they were always looking for authentic ganseys to wear).

Since I’m fairly generic myself, I’m basing it on my own size: so a 44”-46” chest. I cast on 388 stitches to make a ribbed welt of 97 ribs, and after knitting about 3.5 inches have just increased into the body to bring it to 430 stitches. The pattern will be based on Matt Cammish’s gansey, a Filey pattern recorded in Gladys Thompson’s book (picture on p.21, directions on p.24). I’ve had to change it slightly to fit the number of stitches I have, but it’ll be essentially the same. More on this next week, though.

Meanwhile, spring has come to Wick, in the form of stunning blue skies and crisp sunshine, even if the wind is bitterly cold. In fact it’s so nice we could just jump in the car and go for a dri—

Oh wait.


9 comments to Filey 2.1: 1 – 7 April

  • Lynne

    Well, what a surprise, a new gansey started and the ribbing finished already! That’s a lovely pattern and will be a ‘piece of cake’ after the Hebridean cardy. That is the same diamond pattern I used in the body of my Hebridean alternating with the small starfish. Is that the same color you knit for Margaret awhile back?

  • Gordon

    Hi Lynne,

    I started this one last week, just pottering really (quite nice to knit “in private” once in a while!). Plus I usually end a project with renewed enthusiasm for starting another, like a sort of human gansey-knitting perpetual motion machine.

    There are a certain number of gansey patterns I want to try before I’m done (the gansey equivalent of a bucket list!), and this pattern has always appealed to me. I’m going to have to increase the size of the diamond panels to fit the number of stitches, but it will be recognisably the same.

    Well spotted on the yarn, by the way—yes, it’s the same as Margaret’s Fife cardigan. It takes me on average 12.5 x 100g balls to knit an adult gansey, so when i buy yarn from Frangipani I tend to order 5 x 500g cones, or two ganseys’ worth; half gets turned into a gansey there and then, and the other half sits in my stash, waiting for the right moment, and the right pattern, like the souls of unborn children waiting to be born into the right host body. Or something. (Time for bed and/or my meds, I think!)


  • Lynne

    OMG! I will never think of my stash as just a stash – every again!

  • =Tamar

    It’s a pretty color. Um… do you think the men on the ship will think of it as faded blue?
    Sorry to hear about the car; so far I’ve been lucky enough to have my vehicle breakdowns, near home. Feeling stir-crazy on your behalf.

  • Nigel

    Oh, I’m looking forward to this. I love the colour and I was going to try the same pattern myself, but my maths wasn’t good enough to work it out. I still haven’t started mine, but my plan is now fixed. Thanks for all the kind comments about Henry btw, it really cheered me up while waiting for Spring to spring. Sorry about your car G.

  • Gordon

    Hi Lynne, well, given that the first image that came to my mind was “sperm bank”, be grateful for small mercies!

    Tamar, I’m heartened by the many colours that were evidently in use around the Moray Firth from the various old ganseys displayed by the MF Gansey Project, so i reckon this will be pretty traditional, even so. It’s a bit like the universe—we used to think it was monochrome, just black and white, now thanks to Hubble we can see it’s full of colour. As above, so below—I am seeking to recreate the wonders of the galaxy in a fishing boat!

    Nigel, my maths is nothing to write home about! But my choice was either to keep the panels the same size and have rather a lot of them (and end up with too many stitches) or play about with them. You can’t really scale the cables or the ribs, so the only thing to alter is the diamond panels. But I won’t really know how it works till I’ve knit a few inches.

    Hope Henry (“the bare bear”) enjoyed his trip to Manchester. If I’d known he could have picked my car up from Wigan and driven it back for me!


  • Marilyn

    Hello Gordon, lovely blue on the new gansey, looking forward to it’s progress. And oh my gosh, look at the blue of the sea in your harbor photos. Stunning.
    Congratulations re: book down load!
    My current knitting is Fair Isle color work and I’m enthralled. Marilyn

  • Marilyn

    I thought about that F–I– comment and wondered if it was blasphemous on a gansey blog. Let me know! (smile) Marilyn

  • Gordon

    Hi Marilyn,

    I’m just impressed that people can work with more than one colour at a time! Since both Gladys Thompson and Michael Pearson feature ganseys, fair isles and arans, I’m happy to take my lead from them – ours is a broad church, and all are welcome under its arches, give or take the odd gargoyle.

    Catch the coast round here on a sunny day and the water changes from a Nordic grey to a Mediterranean blue, almost good enough to fool you – you dip your toe in!


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