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Mrs Laidlaw 12: 18 – 25 November

ML1125a  Well, we had our first touch of winter this week with a dusting of overnight snow to go along with the frost and ice. This has prompted me to wrap myself in several layers of clothing—base layers, flannel shirts, jumpers and a Cossack hat—so that if ever I fall over I bounce gently for a time like a man encased in bubble wrap, and if I end up on my back I can only wiggle my arms and legs feebly like a tortoise until someone comes along.

We’ve also dug out the winter duvet, which is so heavy it’s like sleeping under a dead bear. Getting out of the warmth of a cosy bed is like leaving the hearth of a Scandinavian sauna and running naked through the snow, albeit without the thrashing with birch twigs part—though I believe you can pay extra for that if you so wish.

ML1125bThere’s still nearly a month to go till the shortest day, and already the sun isn’t rising till 08.20, and setting at 15.35. Daylight is becoming something you read about in books, a precious commodity like money that you have to spend carefully and make last all week, and not waste.

I finished the claret gansey on Sunday—the cuffs cast off and all the ends darned in—and all that remains is the washing and blocking. Three months is all it took, which is a record for me, though this was a little smaller than the ones I usually knit. Now it’s time to think about the next project. It’s going to be another one for a museum, but I’ll say more about that next week.

ML1125cAs for the pattern, well, in the same way that every life can be measured in a number of heartbeats, so my knitting life can be measured in the number of ganseys I’m going to knit. A few years back I identified the patterns that I liked, and which I wanted to try, from all around the country. And, while I’m in no danger of running out just yet, the list is definitely growing shorter.

Anyway, now I’m up in the far north of Scotland I thought I’d turn my attention to Scottish ganseys. Seeing as how I’m in Wick, sometime capital of the herring fishing industry in Britain (even earning the name of “herringopolis”), I thought it was about time I knit a Wick gansey from one of the old photographs. Again, I’ll say more about this next week.

Till then we wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, on the grounds that even those of us not living in the USA still have plenty to be thankful for, such as the knowledge that spring is only 4-5 months away, or, if you live in Caithness, 7…

16 comments to Mrs Laidlaw 12: 18 – 25 November

  • Marilyn

    Congratulations on your swift finish! It’s lovely. I am amused by small children dressed in their snowsuits who resemble daleks- swiftly reverting to turtles should they fall down on their backs. Good job, Gordon, happy knitting. M.

    • Gordon

      Hi Marilyn,

      I always wondered why Doctor Who never resorted to this tactic? Don’t try and destroy the pesky pepper pots, just knock them over and watch them roll around on their backs. World domination my eye!

  • Barbara Garner

    I always enjoy your posts and great sense of humor!


    • Gordon

      Thank you Barbara, that’s kind of you to say. I must say it’s very therapeutic to me – better than paying a psychiatrist, in fact – to let my imagination off the leash once a week.

      Hope you continue to enjoy the blog!

  • songbird

    Oh Gordon, it’s beautiful.

    And um. Good luck in the snow? Maybe you can knit gansey-blankets for yourself, in fun mixtures of patterns? I’m still hoping to knit a gansey with that great fish-bone pattern…


    • Gordon

      Alas, Song, it’s raining – not just in my heart, but in the gutters too. And all the snow is washed away, like the memories of childhood innocence.

      As Woody Allen said, “Today I saw a glorious sunset and thought, how insignificant I am. Of course i thought that yesterday too, and it rained…”

  • Judit M./ Finland

    Good Morning Gordon, and greetings from a land where sun rises at 9.06 and sunset is at 15.38 :).
    In the northern parts of this country the day is shorter, sun up: 9.59, down: 14.00. And soon comes the time when the sun goes down and does not come up at all for 2 months.
    And still I am happy here. I wish the same to you in Wick !Waiting for the new pattern congrats to Mrs. Laidlaw , the gansey looks fantastic.

    • Gordon

      Hi Judit,

      I know you have it worse over there! I have months when I feel just like your sun, and would prefer not to get up at all. It’s no wonder that primitive societies resorted to human sacrifice, not so much to make the sun rise again, more to get them out of the house and away from daytime television…

  • Nigel

    I’ve drunk a glass of claret in celebration. And rather nice it was too. I’m still struggling with back and forth, but getting there.

    • Gordon

      Well, Nigel, if you don’t want to struggle my advice is to lay off the claret!

      Have you considered Lynne’s suggestion of knitting back and forth with a couple of circular needles? I couldn’t quite get my head around it, but it definitely get results.

      • Lynne

        Oh – wait-wait, I DID have to knit back and forth after the gussets, it’s the two circulars going down the arms instead of 4-5 dbl.pointed needles that I prefer. One could keep going circular on the body but you would have to lose the gussets and steek the armholes – YIKES!
        The real beauty of the claret gansey will be after the blocking when those trees really pop out!

        • Gordon

          Hi Lynne, yeah I’m being stupid, I knew that! Blame the cold I can’t shake off or just general senility…

          • =Tamar

            Still, it’s perfectly possible to knit back and forth with two circulars, or even with one.
            When it comes to Little Moments like that, I prefer to blame the stars. They may not compel, but they sure do push hard sometimes.

            Congratulations on the complete-in-three-months gansey! I eagerly await the pictures of it after blocking.

  • Judit M./ Finland

    Hi gansling friends,
    We all knit the arms the way we can do it best dont´t we? I knit with one short (40 cm) circular needle till the elbow and from there down with 5 dbl pointed needles .
    Happy knitting !

  • Nigel

    I think I’ll try that method, Judit … once I get there 🙂

  • Laura

    Hello Gordon
    I’ve been following your posts which have inspired me to begin, continue and PHEW! finally finish my first gansey. I was so dispirited during the knitting..the guage was sloppy adn the stitiches seemed to melt into the background, but, after it was blocked I was amazed how everything “pulled together.” I’d love to send a photo but there seems to be no link for pic uploads?

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