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Filey Pattern IX: Week 2 – 4 January

And so here’s the new year, all unwrapped and shiny and ready to go—or it would be, only this year the batteries don’t seem to’ve been included. (To misquote St Jethro of Tull, it was a new year yesterday but it’s an old year now…) But then, I’ve never been much of a lad for Hogmanay. This may of course stem from a bout of food poisoning I contracted one memorable New Year’s Eve in my childhood, after which I was a little surprised not so much to find I still had a stomach lining, but that I still had lungs. (If I’m ever visited by three spirits to teach me the error of my ways, the Ghost of Hogmanay Past had better bring a mop and a couple of buckets.) Besides, given I was born eleven thousand miles away, I can’t help remembering each year that technically my New Year already happened twelve hours ago.

Pancake ice in the river

The origins of Hogmanay, like those of most traditions, are lost in the mists of time. No one even knows where the name comes from, though the most likely bet derives from the French hoginane, meaning a gala day (and not a rather fatuous pig, as I’d first thought). After the Reformation the Scots didn’t really observe Christmas until about 1950, and instead put all their energies into making drinking an olympic sport every New Year’s Eve. Most of the old Hogmanay customs have since gone the way of the horseless carriage and the VHS tape, and it’s not hard to see why: for example in places where the traditional New Year ceremony “would involve people dressing up in the hides of cattle and running around the village whilst being hit by sticks”, presumably the supply of sticks gave out, or possibly the supply of people. You can see how staying in and watching television instead might appeal.

Ice on the path

In gansey news, I’ve made spectacular progress: in fact I’ve completed the lower body as far as the half-gussets, and am well advanced up the back. (Not bad for a fortnight!) It helps of course that this is so much smaller than the ganseys I usually knit. I return to work this week, so my knitting time will be considerably reduced (as will the number of hours I can devote to listening to Bruckner symphonies, alas and alack and Alaska). And now you can see more of the pattern I think you’ll agree this is one of the very best.

Calm day at the riverside

And speaking as someone who’s never gone in for new year’s resolutions—resolution not being something I’m usually associated with, along with speed over distance or a waistline—this year I made one: to do whatever it takes to make it to next New Year’s Eve (God willing). We’ve made it through this far; let’s not do anything foolish now. So here’s to a happy and safe 2021; at the end of which even I might raise a dram to celebrate Hogmanay in style…

12 comments to Filey Pattern IX: Week 2 – 4 January

  • Dave

    Happy New Year Gordon – You have certainly picked the right pastime for a pandemic – so long as you can get the wool delivered. I’m going to have to look up pancake ice – A new one on me, it sounds more like something from the kitchen than the river.

    • Gordon

      Hi Dave, Happy New Year to you too. You’re right about the hobby – not only does it keep me busy, and give me the perfect excuse to listen to Bruckner, it helps with my ongoing anxiety depression. This is something I have to manage even at the best of times, but of course a pandemic doesn’t help!

      I’ve got a fair old stash of yarn, so I won’t run out in a hurry – or in a couple of years… 🤭

  • Maureentakoma

    Thanks to you and Wikipedia I now know what pancake ice is. Curiously I now have a need for some St. Jethro of Tull.

    • Gordon

      Hi Maureen, pancake ice sounds like a particularly decadent dessert served to an Arabian prince, or possibly a cocktail combining martini with maple syrup…

  • =Tamar

    I think I have a Jethro Tull album. Whether the turntable still works is another question.
    The gansey is spectacular.
    Thanks for the origin of hogmanay. So many of those old customs involve hitting somebody, it makes me glad that all those sticks and straw bundles and so on were thrown overboard before people got here.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, for me Jethro Tull were great when they started, lost their way in the early seventies and then came back with a terrific trio of folk rock albums 1977-79, which are among my all time favourite records. (This may of course be related to the fact that I was aged 17-19 at the time!)

  • Nicola Bielicki

    Happy New Year Gordon ! Good health to you and the family over the coming year. I would raise a dram to you but January is dry and Burn’s Night is postponed until after lockdown. At least old knitting projects are getting finished !

    • Gordon

      Happy new year to you too, Nicola! Most months are dry for me these days, but it’s a poor heart that never rejoices, as the saying is. If we wait long enough there’ll be another year along one of these days, and we can celebrate in style…

  • Jen Hodgson

    Happy new year Gordon. I started my first ever gansey this Xmas, thanks to the guidance on your website. It’s been a wonderful diversion. Thank you and all best for 2021!

  • Meg Macleod

    Dear Gordon ,I am grateful that your well of humour has not run dry.I always come away smiling from your posts..indeed if this ship we are sailing in begins to sink ..you will still be there knitting on the deck finding something to bring a smile to the doomed.
    here`s to a calm sea for the new yearx

    • Gordon

      Hi Meg, yes, here’s to a calm wind and a prosperous voyage! And thank you for the kind words. My own are as much to console me as anyone else, and to remind me that what I see on the news every night is as transitory as if it was written on water…

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