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Mrs Laidlaw 11: 11 – 17 November

ML1118aHow am I feeling today? Well, I’m glad you asked: matter of fact, I’m getting over a slight cold and a weekend migrainette.

As Bertie Wooster once said, there are six types of hangover—the Broken Compass, the Sewing Machine, the Comet, the Atomic, the Cement Mixer and the Gremlin Boogie—and I find this works pretty well for migraines too.

The one I’ve got just now is relatively mild—somewhere between the Sewing Machine and the Comet (I’ve renamed the Atomic “the Dounreay”, in honour of the nuclear reactor just along the coast). I tend to get a Cement Mixer migraine just a couple of times a year, and then it’s simpler to just stay in bed. Luckily Gremlin Boogies are much rarer: as I’ve mentioned before, the last time I had one the doctor thought it might be a brain tumour.

ML1118bAnyway, although I’ve been reduced to a mildly vegetative state, and one in which the words “mired in drool” crop up surprisingly often, I’ve still been able to knit. I’ve finished one sleeve and started on the next; and at this rate I should finish the whole gansey in a week or two.


Margaret’s been busy too.

I’m not quite sure how this has happened—after all, this project was supposed to last the winter. My only explanation is that the gansey fairies come in the night and hold drunken knitting parties, which would explain the dirty wineglasses, cigarette butts and dead woodlice. (“Oh no, what shall we do, Fairy Fiveply? The silly creatures’ve overdosed on our, ahem, ‘special fairy dust’.” “Quick, Fairy Slipknot! Dispose of the bodies under the rug: you know how seldom the humans vacuum in here…”)

Moving on, we’ve been asked if we know of anyone who’ll knit ganseys for other people for money. This is a question that arises periodically; the last time I looked into it was a couple of years ago, so my information is a little out of date; but I thought it would be helpful if we included some links on the website. So: any suggestions? Please post below (or drop me a line) if you know of anyone, and we’ll compile a list.

The going rate for a bespoke hand-knit gansey seems to be about £300, by the way. (What would I charge? Oh, about £750-£1,000, I think—well, either that or an iPad…)

Right. Time to stop squinting at a computer screen and go back to my current supine, three-toed sloth existence. (Hey—is that a cement mixer I can hear in the distance…?)


Castletown Harbour

12 comments to Mrs Laidlaw 11: 11 – 17 November

  • I’d love to put my hand up for that list, but I don’t know if people would think I was experienced enough. I have knit an aran for someone, based on their measurements, from our own hunky handspun, and they were very happy with it. I had to basically take a pattern and redesign it to include the pattern blocks they wanted, and to account for the fact that the yarn turned out a to be over a 12ply weight. So I think I can do it. The question is, would anyone be willing to commission someone who lives in Australia to do it for them?

    • Gordon

      Hi Ruth,

      There’s obviously a (small) demand, as we do get asked now and then, and some people do it. Flamborough Marine (www.ganseys.co.uk) for one. I’d be happy to include your name and suggest that any interested parties contact you for details, and you could take it from there. Mind you, I have no idea what the level of demand really is, world-wide.

      I think people would be grateful no matter what!

      All the best,

  • Meeting up with you and Margaret here this fall was pleasure. I was heartened to hear your knitting tales and to know that lots of counting and handing puzzles over to Margaret and triple checking is par for the course. I can now knit my very simple vest in a more peaceful state of mind..

    • Gordon

      Hello Helen,

      Good Lord, yes! If it wasn’t for Margaret I’d’ve given up years ago. I treat her much like roadside assistance for a car breakdown. I’ve even toyed with the idea of having knitters pay us an annual fee, and then when they drop a stitch, or need something fixed, they could phone a helpline and Margaret would get in a car, or catch a train, or take a plane and arrive at their house and fix their knitting, then come away again. It would be pricey but, I think, worth it!

      It was very nice to see you both again. Till next time,

  • Veronica

    Hope you are feeling better, Gordon. This weekend migraines came up in discussion. We loaned Oliver Sack’s book about them to a friend. She said it was a relief to see her symptoms linked to something that wasn’t terminal or involving chemotherapy. Hubby and friend then got into a discussion of the various types of migraines. Just hearing about it gives me the shivers. Haven’t complained about a sinus infection since I saw what my poor man has to go through. You have my sympathy. Love this sweater by the way.

    • Gordon

      Ach, migraines are something of a way of life for me,Veronica. Mostly they’re tiny little things, a headache and a washed-out feeling and a general lassitude. Sometimes they’re world-altering, though, which isn’t fun.

      This is one of the reasons I was never tempted by drugs in my youth—the effects of a migraine can distort the world in all sorts of ways, while, of course, making you long for death. Also why I’m superstitious about getting them cured—if they go away, what will that do to me? As Pink Floyd sang all those years ago:

      You raise the blade, you make the change
      You rearrange me ’till I’m sane
      You lock the door
      And throw away the key
      There’s someone in my head but it’s not me.

      Better the devil you know, than the angel of blandness…

  • Veronica

    Very good point, Gordon. I’m selfish enough to want to keep the Gordon version I’ve already got on my computer.

    Which reminds me, I missed the chance for a free Kindle version of your latest book(The Cuckoos Nest) but will keep my eyes open for the next time. The location (Elan Valley) and time frame are right up both my and hubby’s alley. Unfortunately we have to wait because Amazon UK or Kindle won’t let me buy since I live outside their (copyright?) patch.

    • Gordon

      Hi Veronica,

      Sorry to hear about the book. I know you can’t buy kindle e-books from another country’s Amazon store the way you can physical things, but I thought it was available on all Amazon kindle stores. Leave it with me and I’ll see what I can do.

      I blame my migraines on an adolescence listening to too much Pink Floyd! My imagination was psychedelic, even if my day-to-day reality wasn’t…


  • Marilyn

    Hello Gordon, I certainly hope you are feeling better and looking forward to a better weekend. As for being finished with your gansey ahead of schedule, you know the only answer to that is cast on another! Red again or something else bright? The sky has lowered in your part of the world, hasn’t it? We received a powder sugar dusting of snow this morning, and so it begins. Good knitting to you. Marilyn

    • Gordon

      Good morning, Marilyn, nope I have another headache today—but that’s my own fault: we had an Indian takeaway last night, and that’s one of my triggers. On the other hand, Indian food is just about my last serious vice, and I’m blowed if I’m going to give it up just to avoid a few headaches! Like getting pleasantly drunk knowing you’ll have a hangover in the morning, I hope onion bhajis and Peshwari naan breads will remain a part of my life for some time to come…

      I shall probably finish knitting the gansey today or tomorrow, and yes, I plan to get back in the saddle right away and cast on another. This will be a traditional navy (see my bad planning? I’d expected to start this one in the spring, when the evenings are lighter, but heigh ho—I don’t make the rules!), and will—at last—be a Wick pattern.

      We got some snow last week—followed by a Noah’s-flood-style downpour. Today it’s cloudy with patches of blue sky, but it all looks very wintry. Still, less than a month to the shortest day now, and things will start to get better!


  • Marilyn

    Hi Gordon, On another note, have you been watching the trailers for Desolation of Smaug? And Ed Sheeran singing “I See Fire”(on Peter Jackson’s facebook page). wow, that’s something to look forward to at least as much as solstice! Take care, good knitting. M.

    • Gordon

      Hi Marilyn,

      Not only that but there’s a very funny programme to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who (called “The Five(ish) Doctors”) if you can find it on the net which has a little cameo from Peter Jackson and Ian McKellan from the set of the Hobbit!

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