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Flamborough II: 19 April

2F150419a Wick lies on the south side of a long promontory that stretches out into the North Sea, with the lighthouse at Noss Head gleaming on the farthest tip like the red nose of Rudolph the eponymous reindeer. On the north side, overlooking Sinclair’s Bay, is the ruined castle of Sinclair Girnigoe where we went at Easter.

2F150419cUsually when I think of castles I imagine the great Welsh and English fortresses of Harlech or Warwick, the kind of buildings a Dark Lord would besiege with an army of orcs. Caithness is different: here the castles are perched on thin slivers of rock jutting into sea from the local inlets or goes like hangnails on a giant’s big toe.

Sinclair Girnigoe is a hell of a location, just the wide sweep of the bay and the ocean before you and the narrow promontory at your back. It was more or less impregnable before the age of cannon, as from the sea you’re faced with sheer cliffs and the only way in by land was over the drawbridge. It’s all ruins now, the haunt of a rather sharp wind and some stroppy seagulls which perch on the crumbling walls flipping coins and spitting out of the corner of their beaks.

2F150419dSinclair Girnigoe is about the same size as our house and garden, though to be fair no one’s ever tried to assault us in Miller Avenue using cannon – yet. Still, inspired by this I may submit a planning application for a drawbridge and portcullis, if only to keep out trick-or-treaters at Halloween, and especially the neighbours’ cats.

2F150419fIn knitting news, I’m settling into a groove with the Flamborough gansey, and the pattern is starting to emerge more clearly. It’s an easy one to keep track of, with a change every two rows. (Incidentally, is it just me or does knitting a gansey always feels like cloning an old fisherman from the bottom up?)

Finally this week, a word about the new edition of Michael Pearson’s Traditional Knitting. I received my copy last week, and although I haven’t had a chance to go through it in detail, a few points stand out. First of all it’s significantly expanded, and now includes patterns and photographs from his other books, such as the one on the Scottish fleet; secondly it now includes more charts, as well as an index; and thirdly the photographs are sharper than before, the patterns easier to make out.

So, if you already have the original is this new edition worth buying? My opinion is, yes, definitely, it’s much more than just a reissue. And if you don’t already have it, well, what are you waiting for…?

2F150419c2

10 comments to Flamborough II: 19 April

  • Jane

    Lovely progress on your gansey, superb pattern and colour.

    You and Margaret do live in a wonderful place. If that fantastic ruined castle was in the South it would probably have been hideously restored or become a packed tourist destination. Just thank your lucky stars! There is also a lot to be said for a drawbridge! Meanwhile in the South, wildlife abounds and weather is remarkably fine.

    Michael Pearson’s new book is a definite for the must have list. I am particularly interested because of the overlap with Rae Compton and of course Gladys Thompson! Take care.

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane, yes, living in Caithness does have its compensations: so far my “pro” column has stunning coastline, ruins, and long summer daylight; unfortunately I’ve had to start a separate page for the “cons”!

      I think of Michael P, Gladys T and Rae C as a trilogy, with some overlap (which is interesting in itself) but a lot of differences too, and the likes of Mary Wright as specialists just concentrating on one area. Michael’s a good read too, and like Gladys, tells you about the people he met on his journey. Though much of it reads like gansey archaeology now, which is sad in itself.

      • Jane

        Quite, Gordon, but I am very thankful that a group of very nice people have bothered to write just some of it down and with a great deal of humour!

  • Jenny nr Seattle

    Gordon, I just finished having my evening meal and had red wine with it, a cabernet. Your gansey reminds me of red wine and I must say it is a lovely colour. I would have been too timid to try red for a gansey but not anymore. So thanks for the inspiration.

    Glad to hear that this newer version of Michael Pearson’s book is worth having in the library. I’ve been perusing my copy almost daily looking at patterns to include in my Hebridean gansey. However, Ms. Gladys has won me over with her Barra Gansey.

    I’m wishing for a copy of Rae Compton’s book as I have not seen or read it. But alas it is priced out of sight here in the US and not available in our public libraries. So I shall have to wait.

    Thanks for a quick “tour” of Wick, Gordon. Now back to knitting.

    • Jane

      Jenny, if you can, keep your eye on that famous electronic market place in the UK, which is where mine came from, and also the electronic second hand dealers as Rae Compton’s book does pop up at very reasonable prices, and some will ship over the pond!

      Currently, my copy of Michael Pearson’s new edition is winging its way to me from the USA for just a couple of British pounds! A belated birthday present. Such joy!

    • Gordon

      Jenny, when my enemies finally track me down and come for me, this is I think the gansey I will be wearing when I make my last stand, as the claret won’t show the stains so much as the cream ones. In fact I used to be very conservative in my taste for colour, restricting myself to navy and cream and conifer; but in my dotage I’m getting much more adventurous, in a pastel kinda way—herring girl pink is not out of the question, even—as the great Bob Dylan once said, “but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now…”

      So many gansey patterns to choose from, so little time!

  • Jenny nr Seattle

    Jane, thanks for the tip. What is the web page for this famous electronic market? I’ve just been on amazon.co.uk site and there is one available for £12.96 + shipping. This is better than $149.00 on amazon.com for a paperback!

    Gordon, you are funny. I bet you wouldn’t dare walk out in a herring girl pink gansey just to make a statement that “you are much younger now….”

    • Jane

      You know that market place, E-bay, I did not like to advertise, but hey!! My Rae Compton cost about eight pounds including postage in the UK. It came I think from “World of Books” on E-bay. Not all are priced so reasonably, just wait a bit because they do pop up. There is also “ABE Books” which might be worth a look. Best of luck!

  • Lynne

    Lynne
    24 April 2015 at 02:05 · Reply

    All right, Gordon, you’ve talked me into it and I just ordered Michael Pearson’s revised edition to add to my collection of gansey books: Michael’s first book, Rae Compton’s, Beth Brown-Reinset, Gladys Thompson, Mary Wright, Sabine Domnick, The Moray-Firth Project, plus a couple of Alice Starmore gansey and aran books. I can think of a name we could be called by people who don’t understand the obsession but I won’t mention it here. I don’t have a knitter in my family to pass these down to when I keel over with a gansey on my needles . . . .
    Love the Claret – oh, yeah – I own one!

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