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Flamborough (John Knaggs) 4: 8 – 14 September

FJK140914a September is harvest time here in Caithness, and the last few days have been gloriously warm and sunny—or at least, when it’s not been dank and foggy and cold—real harvest weather. The wheat’s been cut to stubble, the hay has been baled and the fields are scattered with dozens of tightly-packed cylindrical bales; and these are now gradually being encased in shiny black plastic to keep the rain out through the winter.

It’s a slightly creepy spectacle, to be honest—each bale in turn is hoisted onto the back of a tractor and slowly rotated and twisted an encased in a black cocoon, as though the tractor was a giant metal spider and the bale its paralysed prey (think of the scene in Lord of the Rings where Frodo is trussed by Shelob and you’ll get the picture). Someone should fill one with cheese, just for fun.

FJK140914dIt was a still, mostly clear day on Saturday so we went up to John O’Groats and passed field after golden field of hay in the making, or grass drying in rows in the sun, with the sunlight shimmering on the sea beyond the cliffs. (I’m going to get a T-shirt printed, which I can wear and flaunt at tourists on days like this, that says, “It’s not normally like this”.)

The fog was drifting inland in patches, so you passed from sunshine into thick fog and out again from minute to minute; from the international space station it must have looked as though Caithness had been barcoded, and was on special offer.

Thanks to everyone for all the good wishes on my migraine and cold last week. For a few days there I felt as though my consciousness had been placed inside the body of a robot, one whose instruction manual was only available in Japanese and I couldn’t find the On switch. (It’s never good when you blow your nose and your handkerchief looks like an alien life form has just given birth in it.)

FJK140914cFJK140914bI’ve been doing a lot of knitting recently, but the illness slowed me down. Still, I’ve finished the back and done a standard “rig ’n’ fur” on each shoulder (12 rows, or 3 ribs consisting of two rows of purl and two rows of knit stitches). The armhole measures six inches, together with an inch of shoulder ribbing, giving a total of seven inches from the gusset to the top of the shoulder. I’m now embarked on the front, and if I’m lucky will get it finished next weekend.

Finally, I’ve had a query asking if there are any gansey patterns for two needle knitting? I don’t know of any, because this is all I do, but I was wondering if anyone out there had any suggestions where to look…?

8 comments to Flamborough (John Knaggs) 4: 8 – 14 September

  • Lynne

    Regarding the ‘two-needle’ gansey, does she mean two straight needles? A gansey can be done with two circular needles in the round, in fact, I prefer to do it that way as I’m moving fewer stitches to the needle tips than the full circle. In Alice Starmore’s book, “Fishermen’s Sweaters”, there four designed ganseys that are done in four pieces and sewn together.
    I’m glad you’re feeling better.

  • Felicity

    Here’s a book with many! patterns for knitting two needle ganseys. All pretty trad. looking.

    Gwyn Morgan: Traditional Knitting, Patterns of Ireland, Scotland and England. My copy published by St Martins Press New York. Previously published by Ward Lock Limited London.

  • Gordon

    Dear Lynne and Felicity, ah, excellent, that’s the kind of knowledgeable suggestions I was hoping for from the erudite and resourceful sojourners of this blog! Many thanks. I’ll pass the titles on.

    My problem is, I’ve only ever knit with circular needles (and double-pointed needles for the sleeves), so I’m not really the best person to ask – like asking a vegan for tips on how to wring a chicken’s neck and pluck it for Sunday lunch!

  • Jane

    Very pleased to hear you are feeling so much better. Super progress on the gansey if I may say, and a lovely looking yarn – it must be very pleasant to work with.

    “The Traditional Sweater Book” edited by Madeline Weston has some two needle gansey patterns. Also a free pattern appearing on the Google page after the entry for your very own site is the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Gansey! In the last the needle sizes are old fashioned English sizes, and I am still trying to work out what “Owen Knitting Cotton” might be! I think the tension measurements will show the way. I have considered knitting this one for my husband, him being from Sheffield!

    Progress on the cardie still a bit slow, goes with the fuzzy head. Ducks still gone, trashed the pond and got their maps out, hope they are really careful!

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane,

      The yarn is a standard Frangipani navy, and is iridescent as a fly’s wing in sunlight, but as opaque as cataracts in murk and gloom! As a result, it’s great in the daytime, when i can sit in the window seat with the light behind me – but in the evenings I need a bright light or I get my knits and purls mixed up, which is easily done with this pattern…

      I think I was at school with Owen Cotton, always wondered what his middle initial stood for…

      I think the ducks are massing for revenge at a secret training installation in the Suffolk marshes. Even as I type they’re doing sit-ups, studying maps and performing bayonet drill. Soon they will return and woe to anyone with a shotgun then…

  • Cathy

    Like Jane, very pleased you are feeling better. Migraines are a ******.
    Me long time no post as been around and about this summer incl a visit to your (very hot and sunny) country so playing catch-up with blogs – and v. sorry missed opportunity to download yr books.
    As it happens, about two weeks ago, I watched fascinated as a tractor wrapped a chunk of grass in black plastic. Sinister, but couldn’t place it – you’re right about Frodo.
    Jane, if your husband’s from Sheffield, what about a Humber star? The Humber keels went up there.

    • Gordon

      Hi Cathy,

      If I’m ever cured of migraines I’ll probably end up like Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, staring vacantly into space and drooling from the corner of my mouth. (How will we notice the difference? – Ed.) The kindest thing will be to smother me with a gansey sweater, before smashing the high security window with my iMac and running off to freedom…

      “Very hot and sunny country” is not a description usually applied to Scotland. Come north of Inverness and say that!

  • Jane

    Cathy, too true about the Humber star, I was going to adapt the pattern and give him his own guiding light, his own eye of God! I was going to put his initials in as well, just above the rib at the bottom, so he would never be lost! All this after careful swatching. Meanwhile horribly bogged down in open work vintage cardie, but I will prevail. I think it must be one of those all consuming wartime era patterns to distract the nearest and dearest.

    None of this would be possible without Gordon so more power to his needles and long may we all continue!

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