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Flamborough II: 10 May

2F150510a Evening all. Before we get started, I’d like to flag up a couple of slight changes to the website you may have noticed. First of all, we’ve amended the Gallery pages so that the ganseys are grouped by region of origin now; basically I’ve been knitting so long the list was scrolling off the bottom of the screen! So hopefully this will make them more accessible, as well as useful.

Secondly, we’ve added a PayPal button to the left-hand border. This is so that anyone who wishes to make a contribution to the costs of running the site, and keeping me supplied with Guernsey 5-ply yarn, cups of coffee and, ahem, bars of tablet, can now do so whenever they like.

2F150510b(Important note: any contributions are entirely voluntary, and I won’t know who has or hasn’t made one. It won’t the blindest bit of difference to the way Margaret and I respond to comments or emailed queries. It’s entirely up to you. The site will be free to access, just as it is now. But if you’ve enjoyed reading the blog, or if you’ve ever found the techniques useful in your own knitting projects, and wanted to make a donation, well, now you can.)

The alternatives were to make the site subscription-only, or allow advertising, and we really didn’t want to go down that road. And speaking of roads, have you ever considered buying a new Hyundai Paracetamol land cruiser? A unique blend of rotational steering, traction engine technology and organic chemistry; for a headache-free drive contact your local dealer now!

Oh, I’m most terribly sorry—I can’t think what came over me.

2F150510dWhere was I? Oh, yes. I’ve reached that exciting part of knitting a gansey when the body is jettisoned like the first stage of a Saturn V rocket, flaring away and falling back to earth, and the small but dedicated crew soar onwards, free of the dead weight, to their goal—in their case, landing on the moon; in mine, finishing the back of the jumper. It’s always good to reach this stage, even though I have to pay close attention, as the pattern is now reversed every other row.

As you’ll see from the picture Margaret is still taking commissions from Galadriel for hand-knitted lingerie. It’s nice to have the work, of course, but it’s a bugger knitting with thistledown and unicorn hair, even with a unicorn farm just down the coast, and then it has to be washed in dryads’ tears or else it shrinks—luckily, though, some of them voted Liberal Democrat in last week’s general election so tears weren’t hard to come by…

Ah, yes, the election. Scotland has voted overwhelmingly for the Scottish National Party. It’s both a complete shock and yet hardly a surprise: the way the main UK parties have been treating Scotland recently I almost expected a shipment of tea to be dumped in Wick harbour by men dressed as Native Americans. Now the whole country seems gripped by a sort of wild uncertain excitement, like a nuclear physicist who’s just pressed the large button on the console and is suddenly wondering if in his calculations he remembered to carry the one…

As someone who preserves the documentary DNA of history it’s interesting to find myself living through these times: history, as they say, never stops.


14 comments to Flamborough II: 10 May

  • Lynne

    Beautiful lace work, Margaret, I’m struggling with a small lace shawl with silk fingering yarn, I would go crazy(ier) working with cobwebs!
    Gordon, I love the change to the Gansey Gallery, it’s much easier to see individual works and there were two or three knitters I don’t remember seeing before.
    Great progress on the Claret, absolutely one of my faves!

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne,

      Glad you like the changes, every now and then the archivist in me likes to tidy things up and organise them!

      I’ll let you in on a secret: Margaret doesn’t actually knit these shawls herself—she just summons her army of arachnid slaves, shows them the patterns, and then hundreds of tiny spiders swarm all over the table and in about three hours—voila! Yes, she’s the last of the Spider Whisperers, custodian of a secret handed down the generations; in fact all that stands between her and world domination is the thought of a stiff broom and a vacuum cleaner…

  • The color for this gansey is so rich.
    Margaret, your traditional lace knitting is superb.
    Knitting with cobweb is my ultimate favorite.
    I’m knitting a Sea Spray colored gansey and enjoy each stitch with the 5-ply…
    I am grateful to my friend, Julie, for directing me to your site.

    • Gordon

      Hi Maria, nice to hear from you and thanks. Sea spray is a lovely colour, and you can’t really go wrong with it, I think. Which pattern, if any, are you knitting, can I ask?

  • Jane

    Gansey looking really fine, love the pattern and colour. I see and understand the changes to the web site, we live in changing times! Margaret ‘s airy work is just magnificent, I particularly admire the four different patterns, so beautiful.

    I am reading Michael Pearson’s new edition with much pleasure. I read it in conjunction with Gladys’ great work and I am left in deep admiration of both.

    Weather good in South, bit mixed but pleasant and greenery everywhere. The birds have become shy, there must be nests hidden away all over the place. Political change has come, and nobody quite knows what to think….yet! Take care.

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane,

      Yes, change is in the air. If you read the newspapers, Scotland is in a ferment of political upheaval, but somehow here in Wick everyday life seems to carry on just the same.

      If it wasn’t for Gladys and Michael (and Rae and Mary and all) I wouldn’t be knitting ganseys for a hobby, that’s for sure! And in each case, it’s the stories behind the finding and collecting the patterns that’s the most interesting, I think. But it’s all gone now, a generation or two is all it takes.

      Wick is locked into a cool, cloudy, showery pattern of weather just now – 6-10ºC most days. Isn’t this supposed to be spring?

  • Jenny nr Seattle

    It looks like I missed the excitement last week in Wick with the break-in. We were in transit going through the motion of moving and retiring to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Glad all is well and no harm came to you, Gordon.

    I also lost my bid on Ebay for Rae’s book. I was not on my guard because at the very last minute or second someone upped the bid by whatever increment was required to win. The only other one available is priced at $99.00. So I will wait patiently for the next one that will come on the market.

    You’re a fast knitter Gordon and the gansey is looking quite lovely. I’m envious you are past the gussets. I’m barely 3″ above the welt on mine. I do find that the knitting goes better when I play the Lothian Dance Band “In Strict Tempo” CD.

    Margaret, your cobweb is absolutely stunning. Thanks to your minions of arachnids who are on call when you need them.

    • Gordon

      Hi Jenny, and best wishes for a very happy retirement on Vancouver Island!

      I knit at a rate of about an hour a night, and a couple of hours a day at weekends, maybe more if I’m not otherwise engaged. An hour gives me two rows in the round, or four if knitting front or back, and it’s amazing how it mounts up. I can’t really knit and watch tv at the same time, so I tend to listen to music, or these days more likely an audiobook – Terry Pratchett, Patrick O’Brian, Dickens, you name it.

      I’ve just looked up the Lothian Dance Band on YouTube – take me back to Hogmanays of my childhood among my expat Scots relatives of the Corby steelworks, great stuff! Have you heard the Battlefield Band? They were big in the seventies and eighties, but then went off the rails and got a drum machine; but their best albums – Home is Where The Van Is and Here’s A Buzz – are cracking, lively realisations of Scottish folk.

      Unfortunately relations with the arachnid hordes have broken down. The little beggars formed a union and demanded longer lunch breaks and time off to catch flies, so we had to let them go. We’re recruiting help from the local bee population, but they can’t seem to get the hang of it and every time they get into a waggle dance they end up dropping stitches. You just can’t get the staff…

  • Lisa Mitchell

    I’d love to be the embodiment of Arachne like Margaret is… Wish I could knit lace like that… And ganseys too… *sigh*

  • Welcome to Vancouver Island, Jenny. Happy retirement here.
    Julie, Victoria, BC

    • Jenny nr Seattle

      Thank you, Julie. Where are you in Victoria? I’m in Oak Bay. This could be a fortuitous move to find a kindred spirit on gansey knitting.

  • mary

    Gordon, forgive me for using your site as a go-between,
    dear Jenny late of nr Seattle new of Vancouver Island,
    Hate to advertise, but have a look at amazon.co.uk and you’ll see plenty of Rae’s book have come out of cupboards……

  • Jenny

    Thank you Gordon for your good wishes and no I’m not familiar with the Battlefield Band. I’ll see what I can find on their music on YouTube. Thanks for the tip, Mary. Hopefully international shipping cost is not prohibitive.

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