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Matt Cammish Week 10: 20 November

cam161121-1Well, we’re back in Wick after our 1200-mile round trip for my father’s 90th birthday. Cold weather descended on the Highlands for our return: all the moisture was frozen out of the air, the moon rose like the pale ghost of itself and the sky had the thin, clear look a balloonist might observe round about the point when he wished he’d brought more ballast, or failing that an oxygen mask. The A9 twists among the Cairngorm mountains and the peaks had a light dusting of snow through which patches of soil showed brown, so that they looked like the cracked crusts of so many artisan loaves.

cam161119-1It’s still rather cold here, at or below freezing. We had to evict several spiders and a nervous starling when we got home, driving them out into the icy night like villains in a Victorian melodrama foreclosing a mortgage (the reproachful look one spider gave me as I shut the door behind it lies heavily on my conscience still). Now all we have to do is find a way to make the house warmer on the inside than the outside…

cam161121-1-2We stopped off in Edinburgh en route for a little light shopping and a concert of music by Dvorak and Shostakovich. Alas, the concert was marred, on the one hand, by a man sitting on my right who breathed through his nose with an audible whistling, like someone trying to pump up a bicycle tire with a hole in it.

Then there was the woman diagonally to my left who kept switching on her mobile phone to check emails and take photos of the concert, causing the darkened hall to be illuminated with a sudden brilliance as though she was signalling to an alien spaceship. (I am a man of peace, which is why I merely had a quiet word with her during the interval, and why her midriff does not now light up like a flashlight every time she receives an incoming call.)

cam161121-1-3With just the cuff to go I laid the Matt Cammish gansey aside and started a new project on the trip (another Wick gansey in cream, about which more next week). I finished the cuff on the Sunday after we got back and darned in the ends. Now the gansey is washed and blocked and drying on its frame. As you can see, the pattern opens out amazingly—it’s no surprise this pattern is so popular, is it? And the Frangipani pewter yarn really shows it off.

By the way, another highlight of our brief stop in Edinburgh was bagging the last unreserved seats at our favourite Mexican restaurant, on Rose Street. The food was, as ever, excellent; and the experience was made all the sweeter as we watched twenty other people being turned away over the next hour and a half—providing a perfect illustration of the truth of Gore Vidal’s celebrated epigram: “It is not enough to succeed—others must fail…

14 comments to Matt Cammish Week 10: 20 November

  • Lynne

    Gorgeous pattern that just “popped” with the blocking – I hope this one is yours!
    I went to a Don Henley concert recently and when entering we had to open our bags to check for cameras and were told if we used our phones during the concert we would be evicted! It worked! 6000 people there and not a flash of light, it was wonderful. At the end of the concert, Don did give permission to “light up and video tape or photo” for “Hotel California” – the best rendition EVER!

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne, yes this one’s for me. (It gets added to the pile, anyway…)

      That sounds like a very good idea. This was like she was shining a flashlight in my eyes—and when you’re trying to lose yourself in the slow movement of Dvorak’s cello concerto (just beautiful) nothing takes you out of the moment like a flash of blue light in the retina!

      Mind you, every concert, even the one i went to, would be improved by ending it with a rendition of Hotel California…

  • Gordon- The Gansey is magnificent. Well done, and blocking really is magic.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lorraine, and thank you. The pattern is such a winner you just can’t miss with it, really, and the Blocking Elves did some of their finest work to get it looking as good as it does. (It is literally 6 inches wider after blocking, to about 43.5″—I honestly didn’t think it could be done!)

  • Jane

    What wonderful work Gordon, superb colour and how beautifully that pattern has revealed itself! Definitely one for yourself. I like the look of the next one too, what a celver colour choice for this time of year! Or at least this time of year in the South, cloudy, dull and deeply wet, fortunately not paddling wet here. Oh well we keep going, take care!

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane, yes I took it out for a test drive today and it’s already one of my favourites. (After 30 years, I think I;m getting the hang of this gansey lark!)

      We’ve been seeing the news of the weather down south and you have my sympathy—it’s been very cold here, but stunningly crisp and clear; but rain and flooding and high winds are just miserable.

      Stay dry and warm, Gordon

  • Lois

    Absolutely lovely! The blocking elves really did magic on this one and I’m glad it is going to stay in your stash.

    We just got a taste of winter in eastern Canada, after months of above normal temperatures. Back to cold hard reality! Gansey weather.

    • Gordon

      Hello Lois, interestingly I’ve discovered the size I like best, i.e. that’s most comfortable, is about 5-6 inches wider than my actual chest measurement. (Most ansey books recommend 2-4 inches wider.) So I’m a 42-inch chest, or just under (depending on how many doughnuts I’ve been eating) but I find a gansey of 47-48 inches is the most comfortable. Hence Margaret’s stalwart efforts in the blocking department!

      Unfortunately gansey weather in Caithness is more or less any time between January and December! And remember, reality is always optional…

  • Elizabeth

    Hello, what a lovely gansey! And on to another one, there’s no keeping up!
    I am interested to see the blocking being done. I have done only small pieces, I have yet to block a sweater in this way. Does it need to be turned over, as the side at the bottom seems to stay wet for ages? Daft question?
    Our home just missed the floods here in rural Exmoor, & the children did make it all home on the school bus before the roads were too bad. However the communications led me to believe that I had lost a son somewhere along the way, for several hours, until he walked through the door at the normal time! Thankfully it wasn’t too bad for us.

    • Gordon

      Hi Elizabeth, yes, another week of hard toil in the gansey mines and this is what happens. (Or as I said to someone this week, knitting is a process for me, not a series of projects: I just keep knitting and every few months a gansey falls off the production line…

      Your question is not at all daft, and one that I plague Margaret with every time a gansey is washed and blocked, which is about as annoying as “are we there yet?” Yes, the bottom side does stay damper longer, but in practice it is dry in 2-3 days, give or take. For instance, this one was washed and blocked on Sunday afternoon and totally dry and ready to wear by Wednesday. Ours is a big, cold house and in, say, January, I do get a bit anxious that it takes too long—sometimes I prop the boards up by a heater just to give it a kick-start now and then.

      Glad your offspring are all accounted for! Hate the thought of floods, so fingers crossed.

  • Julie

    It’s another winner, Gordon. Pewter is the perfect colour. It shows off the stitches and will hide a little soiling.
    The contrast between this and your recent lovely Bottle Green is remarkable!
    I’m encouraged to learn that I can add 5-6″ with aggressive blocking. Thanks for that little tidbit.
    Julie
    Victoria, BC, Canada

    • Gordon

      Hello Julie, yes, pewter really shows off the pattern well, doesn’t it? And the infinite variety of ganseys still amazes me (so many patterns, so little time…) Though as for soiling—hey, who’s been talking?!

      Margaret takes a pretty robust line with blocking, while I’m a bit more squeamish, but you can usually guarantee 2-4 inches without too much trouble. I think one of the reasons this one stretched so well was because of all the purl columns running up the length of the body which drew it in like ribbing—luckily the blocking restored the natural order, and it’s worth noting that this gansey had almost the exact same number of stitches as the bottle green one.

  • Gavin

    An absolute blinder, Gordon. I love the stitching and evryfink. That really comes out in photo. (Sorry this is out of sequence, but I had to go back and tell you. Responses of the average whelk, me)

    I hope that you are recovering by now Gordon. If not you can knit by the fire and put your mental energies into being a criminal mastermind. Or just listen to an audiobook! That works too.

    • Gordon

      Hello Gavin, lovely to hear from you! And thank you. I’m listening to audiobooks, knitting, and… writing again. I’m 17,000 words into a ghost story for Christmas, and as Terry Pratchett said, it’s the most fun you can have by yourself. And yes, I’m definitely starting to feel better.

      PS – Happy Crimbo!

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