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Inverallochy, Week 1: 1 January

First of all, a very happy New Year to all our readers. 2018 is an anniversary year for us, as it’ll be a rather astonishing ten years since we started the blog in its present form. (Ten years: mon dieu! As the saying goes, we’ve all passed a lot of water under the bridge since then…)

Right now we’re back in Wick after an extended Christmas break at the ancestral home, and as ever a journey of 600 miles has left me wiped out with something suspiciously like jet lag. There’s a poem by the great Japanese poet Matsuo Basho which, allowing for the shift in seasons, pretty much sums up how I feel: “Journey’s end – / still alive, / this autumn evening“.

Snow on the Hills

I do love Christmas, if only because it’s the one time of year when just about everyone behaves as if they’ve read the good bits of the New Testament and think it’s worth giving it a try, even if only for a few days. What does Christmas mean to me? Open fires, snow on the hills, carols on the radio, decorations, tinsel and a tree; The Muppet Christmas Carol on TV and Vaughan Williams’s Hodie playing through the speakers; something hot and spiced from the oven diffusing a scent of cinnamon and nutmeg all through the house; and of course the chance to meet up with friends and family. Which, as it happens, is as good a summary of the last couple of weeks as I can think of.


I’m starting 2018 with a new project: an extra-extra-large gansey in Wendy’s aran/ natural yarn. It’s going to be 56 inches in the round, so at a stitch gauge of 7.75 stitches to the inch this comes to 434 stitches. The light-coloured yarn is a more sensible choice than navy for the long winter evenings. It’s a big project in every sense—those of you with a short attention span are advised to check back in, oh, sometime around Easter. (The pattern is Mrs Edwards’s Pattern No. 2: you’ll find it on page 135 of Michael Pearson’s revised edition. No cables, but simple and very effective, and hopefully suitable for a broad chest; assuming I don’t change my mind—again—by the time I reach the yoke.)

In parish news, I owe Judit an apology: just after we left on our Christmas break she sent me a picture of a very splendid gansey she’s knitted, with Christmas greetings to all our readers; the pattern combinations are of her own devising, and very effective they are: we weren’t able to include it before, so I hope it will serve as a New Year greeting instead. Many congratulations once more to Judit.


Finally, our statistics show that about 100 people a day visit the website. I’m not much of a lad for New Year’s resolutions, having next to no willpower (as Bender says to the Robot Devil in Futurama, “Oh wait—I forgot you could tempt me with things I want”); so no promises. But we would like to thank everyone who reads and comments and contributes and makes Gansey Nation the walled garden of niceness that it is.

And so, here we are. Still alive this winter evening; still blogging. Happy New Year!

15 comments to Inverallochy, Week 1: 1 January

  • Charles

    My resolution is to restart the gansey of many years ago and get the damn thing above the gussets! Happy New Year!

    • Gordon

      Hello Charles, how nice to hear from you! Just remember, every journey begins with a single step. And frequently coffee. Sometimes an ice cream. In fact, who needs a journey when you’ve got coffee and ice cream? (What were we talking about again?)

      Happy New Year to you!

      • Charles

        Gordon. I have carried out your instructions to the letter and consumed an affogato. Well “to the letter”+ as it contained a Drambuie in addition to the shot of espresso and ice cream . The task now seems remarkably straightforward! Ever etc Charles

  • ‘walled garden of niceness’ ooh I like that. Happy 2018.

    • Gordon

      Hi Sharon, well I call it a walled garden. Others see it more as a padded cell… (at least the views are nice!)

      Happy New Year to you too!

  • Jane

    Such nice words! A Happy New Year to you and Margaret.

    I love your new colour, excellent for the remaining dull days. Take care!

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane, and a happy New Year to you too. The cream-coloured yarn is amazing, I can actually see what I’m doing! (Though whether that is a good or a bad thing remains to be seen…) And given that the sun still doesn’t rise here till 9.01 am, I fear that dull days are going to be around for a while!

  • Lynne

    Wishing you and Margaret the very best and healthiest New Year. I always love the Blipfotos Margaret posts from your ancestral home – such a beautiful setting, do you think you will retire there when that time comes?

    • Gordon

      Hello Lynne, happy New Year! Retirement is tantalisingly close, and yet not close enough—8 years away, unless something changes. Though I could cheerfully retire today! In truth, we don’t know what we’ll end up doing: Caithness, Northamptonshire, Edinburgh—all are possibilities. For now, as the song says, I go where the work is, and I work where I can: which at the moment is Wick. But who knows what the future holds…?

  • Lois

    Happy knitting and warm needles to all! We are battening down the hatches in preparation for what the forecasters are calling a “weather bomb”. We Maritimers just call it a nor’easter -the wind direction in these storms – a combination of hurricane force winds and heavy snow. We get a few of these nearly every winter.

    It’s the twentieth anniversary of a particularly bad one – the ice storm of 1998 – and here we go again. I have good cause to remember that one, we lost 3 huge sugar maples that lined our driveway.

    • Gordon

      Hello Lois, yes, we’ve been following the weather over in your neck of the woods with some concern. Hope you stay warm and safe! Best wishes,

  • Lois

    Happy to report that we got through that bit of a blow with no problem, didn’t even lose power. However many poor souls were not as fortunate, there was a lot of flooding and wind damage along the shore lines. The major problem was the bitter record breaking cold that immediately followed, with so many people without electricity.

  • Annie

    To add: I hope to get far enough above the welts this winter to set a record for longevity (the first welts cast on over 2 years ago). Expect to finish about 2030 hahah…

    And my corner of the Rocky Mountain state doesn’t even have snow on our part of the mountains. We’ve been warmer than the Texas Hill County for weeks.

    Not to complain, but to tell you, Gordon and American wife, how much your blog with photos are enjoyed here, another great start to this new year!

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