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Filey Pattern IX: Week 5 – 1 February



Every now and then I like to punish my brain by reading a book on modern physics. (Not that you should picture me next to a blackboard covered with equations while I check that Einstein got his sums right; we’re talking The Big Boys’ Bumper Book of Quantum Mechanics, or My First Little Nuclear Reactor level stuff here.) So I’ve been reading a book on the nature of time, with about as much success as Bertie Wooster struggling to come to grips with modern philosophy. The author defines time as “the order in which things happen”, which I feel is either a blinding insight, or else staggeringly obvious; possibly both. (This reminds me irresistibly of the splendid bon mot from Alan Bennett’s play The History Boys: “History is just one ****ing thing after another”.)

That Otter again

At one point the author toys with the idea that time is just a concept invented by human beings, which tells me that this is a quantum physicist who’s never had to try to explain to his cat that, since the clocks have gone back, they’ll have to wait an extra hour for their dinner. (“Time,” as Ford Prefect wisely observed in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “is an illusion. Lunchtime, doubly so.”) In the end I read all this stuff, get a glimpse at the illusory nature of reality and then, like a Hindu who accepts that the material world is naught but Maya, a deceit of the senses, but who still buys himself a 50-inch plasma tv, I go and write up my diary.

Hawthorn by the riverside

Meanwhile, as I continue to splash about in the shallow end of the swimming pool of time, I’m pleased to report that the Filey ganseyette is finished. It was so pleated by the time I’d finished that blocking it felt like stretching a heretic on the rack: every time Margaret inserted another pin I found myself leaning over and whispering, “Confess, my son, and all your suffering will be over”. Will it fit? Lord alone knows. I’ll find out next week when it’s delivered. And now it’s on to my next project, and here I must apologise: I had planned next to make a gansey using the stunning Cordova Frangipani yarn I got from Deb Gillanders. But I’ve had a special request from Graeme Bethune, whose yarn I featured back in December, to knit a gansey based on his great-grandfather’s Dunbeath pattern, and I’m going to try to squeeze this in before Easter. So, sorry about the delay. Hopefully the Cordova yarn gansey will be worth the wait.

Walking in the Snow

Speaking of which, I’ve been provisionally invited to attend another online session with the Cordova Gansey Project on Thursday (the words “punishment”, “gluttons” and “for” spring to mind). These sessions save me a fortune in psychotherapy, as I exorcise the traumas of my youth. (“Kidnapped as a child by Barbary corsairs while punting on Billing Aquadrome, I was sent as a barge-slave to work on the Grand Union Canal, until one day I escaped in thick fog caused by the fumes from the Carlsberg brewery. I soon fell in with a travelling freak show, where I scraped a living as The Amazing Bearded Archivist; people gasped in wonderment while I arranged medieval Latin title deeds into chronological order before their very eyes…”) If it goes ahead, and you’re interested—it seems morbid to me, but you never know—I’ll post details when I get them. I believe it starts at 9.00pm GMT; assuming, of course, that such a thing as time even exists…

23 comments to Filey Pattern IX: Week 5 – 1 February

  • Meg Macleod

    It must be my ageing years and simple mind that allows me to giggle so much at your wonderful blogs as well as admiring the knitting xxmeg

    • Gordon

      Hi Meg, thank you! I’ve said it before, but I take my stand with Oscar Wilde: life is too important to be taken seriously. (Mind you, he also said, “Be yourself; everyone is already taken” which is my second favourite quote…)

  • Annie

    Oh, Meg said it beautifully, no need to repeat it. Thanks, Meg!

    • Gordon

      Cheers, Annie. As a wise man once observed, “As long as people are prepared to humour me, I’ll try to amuse them…” 🙂

  • =Tamar

    Ooh, a new pattern? [turns blue, decides not to bate breath]
    Now eagerly awaiting the revelations of Dunbeath.

    I’m impressed…Medieval Latin chronology is not a simple linear thing.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, in olden days of yore, before this internet thingy was a, er, thing, we used The Handbook of British Chronology to calculate regnal years and saints’ days – so it was possible to translate “The fifth Saturday after the Feast of St. Tiddlepush in the twentieth year of the reign of King Sipfastna” to mean the 31st of June 970; secure in the knowledge that no one would ever have the time or inclination to check!

  • Lynne Brock

    Beautiful gansey, you know I love those full patterned ones, I hope we get to see it modeled.
    Yes, now that my dog finally has the time right for dinner, it’s nearly time to change it again!

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne, I think full-body patterns work well for women, the cables in particular even out the shaping and don’t draw the attention to the, ahem, chest the way a yoke-only one does. And after living with cat for many years I think the only solution is just to get up an hour earlier and take the hit…

  • Dave

    I initially read Cordova as Cordoba. I’m guessing that others (Spanish or not) must have equivalent traditions.

    Have you looked at other country’s traditions?

    I’m guessing that if they are that similar it might show that the quantum principles apply in a bizarre way at the macro level too (substituting electron with gansey).

    • Nicola Bielicki

      Keep up the humour and great writing. Hoping to see you on the Cordova Gansey project if I can get the link

    • Gordon Reid

      Hi Dave, there’s a fascinating book on Dutch ganseys—obviously the same, but noticeably different patterns—but I wonder whether Mediterranean fishing as opposed to North Sea would mark a dividing line? Obviously colder and windier further north, but maybe the type of fishing, time spent out at sea, etc. would make the difference?

  • Roger Hine

    Hi Gordon, I love your weekly update on your Ganseys and your whole blog/website is great. I am working on my 4th Gansey using a Filey pattern and I admit that I am very inspired by your creations. This one is for a little boy, son of a friend in our brass band, and I am just about to begin the sleeves after completing the body. Because of lockdown I am totally dependent on his father’s measurements so who knows whether or not it will fit.

    I am looking forward to seeing the Dunbeath pattern.

    Thanks so much for your site and blogs

    Regards Roger

    • Gordon

      Hi Roger, and many thanks for the kind words! It’s really appreciated.

      I must admit, I’d always worried if I started a gansey for a young person, if they wouldn’t have outgrown it by the time I’d finished!

    • Lynne Brock

      Wow, Dave, thanks for that interesting link. As I’m sitting here contemplating a complicated Celtic knot in my next project, when I start the actual knitting I will be thinking of ‘folding’ up my DNA!

    • Gordon

      It’s just as well you’re several hundred miles away or I’d have had you burned as a witch for messing with my head like that…

  • Lois

    OK, that does it, the end of days is nigh.

    “Matsumoto’s team is now training a computer to think like a knitter. “

    When a computer declares my fingers and brain are obsolete, I am resigning from the human race! (Says she, now contemplating a pattern with a frenzy of cables and knots)

    Bah, humbug!

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, look on the bright side, any supercomputer which spends its time designing chunky knitwear is unlikely to start plotting how to overthrow the human race! Plus it probably dropped a stitch somewhere and now it has to go back and fix it…

  • Sarah Smith

    Thanks so much for the Net Loft chat. It was the highlight of my week. I’m inspired to give Mrs. Laidler a try. I tried Sea Houses from Gladys Thompson and got a little lost (I should have charted it) but I am ready to take it on again. My first Gansey was Staithes from Gladys Thompson knit in the 1980s out of Plymouth or Emu Guernsey. I still have it. And I’ve knit four more Staithes since. It’s time to knit out of my comfort zone! Thank you so much for your blog – it does make me laugh and make me want to knit (even more).

    • Nicola Bielicki

      Agreed Sarah ! It was lovely to meet Gordon, Margaret and the Cordova Project community. Thanks Gordon for your interesting interview. I don’t know if you noticed but I was wearing the gansey you helped me to finish by donating a ball of wool.i swore I’d never do another but I’ve changed my mind. Like Sarah I’m intrigued by the Mrs Laidlaw pattern so may be that will be next.Thanks again for the humour in your blog.

    • Gordon

      Hi to both of you, Sarah and Nicola!

      It was a lot of fun, we really enjoyed ourselves—even though one of the batteries in our house’s smoke detectors started beeping halfway through, telling us it was almost dead, which was a touch distracting… I was a little concerned that if some of the questions were the same, either the audience or I would find boring, but Dotty is an excellent facilitator and kept it from feeling stale. It was great to be invited.

      Oh, and just be aware there are two homophone patterns: Mrs Laidlaw of Seahouses (trees) and Mrs Laidler of Whitby (flags and cables). I can’t keep them straight and have to look them up every time. I love them both, but Mrs Laidler’s is my favourite pattern of all time.

  • Julie

    It’s a beautiful Ganesh, Gordon.

    Roger, I suggest you make it at least 10 cm longer than Dad’s measurement. Children grow up much more than they grow out. A double cuff, too, to lengthen the sleeves.

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