So, spring has come to Caithness, bringing with it gale force winds, freezing temperatures, and snow flurries. We went for a walk up to Duncansby Head (near John o’ Groats) and the wind threw seagulls at us as if they were being fired from a cannon. The local lochs have whitecaps and, to celebrate the centenary of the Titanic, icebergs. (I don’t know if you’re familiar with the saying, Summer in Scotland is just winter with leaves?)
How was your Easter? Good, I hope, and filled with oodles of chocolate (or did the Easter Bunny die in vain?). We drove the 12-hour, 600-mile journey to visit my parents in Northampton, after which I was so tired you could have scraped me off the pavement with a shovel.
My parents live in this lovely old canalside former public house, where I grew up – in the words of Neil Young, all my changes were there. I used to spend hours walking along the towpath, enjoying the silence, staring into the slow-flowing water and seeing visions, as you do when you’re young. Well, we went for a walk along the canal towpath on Easter Sunday, and it was sad to see how crowded it’s become: narrow boats moored nose to tail, not for the night but permanent residences with satellite tv; suspicious men with dreadlocks and weathered faces, wearing army surplus fatigues, smoking rollups and brewing up over camp fires; and barking big black dogs with far too many teeth lurking round every corner.
As Yeats says, tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
Ah well. Closing for a moment the albums marked “nostalgia” and “sentimentality”, it will not have escaped your notice from the photos that I have started the pattern – Filey V from Gladys Thompson (page 28 in my edition). I said before that because I’m using Wendy’s yarn, which is a little fluffier than Frangipani, I’m not entirely sure what my stitch gauge will be; so I wanted a pattern with lots of cables to draw it in a bit, just in case. And this one has cables the way Wick has seagulls.
I also wanted a pattern that would be easy to keep track of. I’ve struggled with some of my recent projects, which have been pretty intricate – always a high-risk strategy for someone with my attention sp… Oh look! A seagull!
Where was I? Oh, yes, the pattern. Although the really fancy patterns are wonderful, I’ve always had a soft spot for the simpler designs, which in their own way are just as effective. But since I started this blog I’ve felt a stupid sort of pressure to keep on with the complicated ones – as if the simpler patterns won’t be interesting enough for my discerning readership. (I told you it was stupid.) So anyway. Here’s a really simple pattern – just steps and cables, ad infinitum. A project I don’t have to think about, but can just relax to. My knitting equivalent of the slowly flowing muddy brown water of the canals of my youth…
In truth, I’ve always fancied this pattern. Its chunky texture reminds me of a Native American traditional breastplate, which I find really cool. And I’m delighted at how well the red yarn shows both the texture and the pattern. In fact, I think when it’s finished it’ll look like Space Marine body armour (bright red).
I’ve included my victim’s initials on this one, one either side of the seam. It’s always a bit of a gamble. If I’ve got the gauge wrong, or if he puts on weight, well, eBay here we come. I used the templates from Rae Compton’s Batsford book, page 60.
Finally, many congratulations to Barbara from British Columbia for finishing her splendid “Point Holmes” gansey, which she has kindly agreed to let us display in the gallery here. It just goes to show how effective combinations of gansey patterns can be – and it’s hard to beat a navy gansey on a sunny day!