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Flamborough III: Week 1 – 24 May

It’s been the wettest May on record across the U.K. We’ve escaped the worst of it up here, but this last week’s been pretty soggy, and cold and windy withal. This has somewhat given the lie to the handful of warm, sunny days we experienced just a few weeks back. Rather than bring the harbingers of spring, it turns out they were just God’s way of saying “Let me show you what you could have won”, and sending us away with only the bus fare and a pocketful of memories for our trouble. Still, if it deters the tourists it’ll be a mercy, our roads are so bad. The other day I passed a council repairman looking into a pothole, shaking his head and muttering, “The dwarves delved too greedily, and too deep…”

The Trinkie

In fact, it’s been so miserable I’ve been reworking some old Christmas carols. For example, there’s “In the bleak mid-spring/ Frosty wind felt numb/ The ducks on the river all took flight/ Saying, Siberia here we come.” Or, “Good King Wenceslas looked out/ On May bank holiday/ When the strong winds blew about/ And the tourists stayed away”. Another favourite would be, “I thought I saw three ships sail by/ On Saturday, on Saturday/ But it was just more rain on the way/ At John O’Groats in the morning”. Or how about, “Oh little town of Latheron/ How still we see thee lie/ For you were devastated/ When the storm front came on by”.

Tern with sand eel

Meanwhile it’s new gansey time, which is always exciting. This one’s another Flamborough pattern, one of many tucked away in the pages of Gladys Thompson, and it’s for a friend-of-a-friend. The yarn they chose is Frangipani Helford Blue and my first thought is, where has this colour been all my life? I’ll say more about the pattern next week, but so far I’ve just reached the top of the welt. (I would have been further on, except I’d knitted about an inch of ribbing, knit two-purl two-ing away merrily, when I realised I’d cast on the wrong number of stitches. With mickle care and Margaret’s assistance it was all ripped out, and I grimly started again—only to realise that I’d been right the first time. D’oh!)

The North Baths

And of course a blustery spring is nothing new: Shakespeare’s sonnet 18 tells us that rough winds were shaking the darling buds of May as far back as the sixteenth century. By a happy coincidence, scholars have recently unearthed an early draft of that poem. Perhaps it’s not surprising he revised it: here’s the opening—

Shall I compare thee to a summers day?
Thou probably thinkst thou art more temperate and fair,
But like the summer, wind troubleth thee always,
And so disheveled art thou, birds nest in thy hair…

7 comments to Flamborough III: Week 1 – 24 May

  • =Tamar

    One of my favorite shades of blue, that is.

    I like the sonnet opening. More?

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, I got as far as “There once was a young lady from Stratford…” before inspiration dried up! (I imagine the same thing happened to Shakespeare too sometimes.)

  • Christa Sluijs

    Finally, oh well hopefully not finally, but at least: at last 🤭 hellford blue. A stunning color. I was hoping you would knit with it some day. I love the way the color changes during the day due to different light. Have fun!
    Greetz, Christa

    • Gordon

      Hi Christa, it is a great colour, isn’t it? I think for some reason I got it mixed up in my mind with the old Wendy’s Atlantic blue, which is quite a bit lighter, and not so much something I’d wear, which is why it’s taken me so long to get round to it.

      I hope this won’t be my last. My negotiating ploy with Death, if I get the chance to postpone the inevitable, won’t be to play chess with him, but rather to offer to knit him a gansey from the wide range of colours in my stash…

  • Christa Sluijs

    And it is quite difficult to catch it in a picture properly. For me it is anyway. When I have a look at the frangipaniwebsite I see a lichter falmouth navy on my screen. Sob.
    Groetjes, Christa

    • Gordon

      Yes. It’s like Ocean Deep, the actual shade is quite elusive, and it wasn’t till i saw it (with my own eyes) that I really appreciated it. I like to think of it as the sort of colour medieval painters would’ve used on the Virgin Mary’s gansey, if knitting had been invented back then, maybe on a particularly cold night on the shores of Galilee…

  • =Tamar

    We have artwork as evidence – the Knitting Madonnas – that knitting was invented back then. 😉 But either the gansey was very plain, or the artist didn’t feel like putting in the cables.

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