Support Gansey Nation -

Buy Gordon a cuppa!

Many, many thanks to those of you who have already contributed!

Mrs Laidlaw 13: 26 November – 1 December

 ML1202aAnd the moral of the story is, when you’re not feeling well, whatever you do, don’t tell your doctor…

You see, my cold had finally obeyed the laws of gravity and sunk to my chest last week, so I was off work for a couple of days, breathing with a sound like a very old dachshund, or someone letting air slowly out of a balloon.


Sleeve detail

As it happened I had a doctors’ appointment on Thursday afternoon anyway. He listened to my breathing, checked my oxygen (low), frowned a doctorly frown and said he’d like me to pop along to the hospital for a couple of tests then and there, just to be on the safe side. So along I popped, and it was then my Kafkaesque nightmare began: for it turned out that the hospital intended to keep me in for 24-hour observation, and they were already preparing a bed for me.

Somehow “shortness of breath climbing the stairs” had been translated into “severe chest pains”, as though everything I said was being filtered through Google Translate into Japanese and back again. The hospital doctors (no fewer than four of them as the evening wore on) kept telling me that it was for my own good, while nurses (with forearms the size of a be-spinach’d Popeye) cracked their knuckles and kept themselves between me and the exit. The more I protested it was just a cold the more they shook their heads and smiled, like wolves who’ve just been asked the quickest way home by a very naïve sheep.


Caithness sunset

It was like a movie where you’re driving through a strange town, get pulled over for a minor traffic violation, and the next thing you know you’re in a chain gang breaking rocks in the desert (and about to discover, as the song says, that—ahem— “fist can be a verb…”).

At last we cut a deal: I would be taken to A&E for some tests, and if they didn’t turn up anything bad I could go home. As it happened, before I could take all the tests some genuinely sick people turned up in ambulances and everyone kind of lost interest in me. (I have to say, it’s a desperately sad experience sitting in an emergency room pleading to be allowed to take your pathetic little cold home, while from next bed you can hear doctors fighting to save the life of a cardiac arrest patient.)

ML1202bFinally, some time after 9.00pm, remembering I hadn’t eaten since noon, I decided to discharge myself by the simple expedient of walking out—home for a late-night Thanksgiving supper of ice cream with lashings of self-pity.

Still, as Margaret pointed out to me next morning, at least I wasn’t dead. In fact, I’m determined not to die for the next few days, just so the doctors can’t say at my graveside, We told you so.

Also, the Hebridean Island at the Edgists have been in touch to say that they have (English language) copies of Stella Ruhe’s splendid new book Dutch Traditional Ganseys for sale – see their website for details. (And while you’re there, take a look at some of the stunning photographs on the blog—and try not to break the tenth commandment!)

Oh, and Mrs Laidlaw’s claret gansey is now washed and blocked. Tune in next week to find out what comes next—assuming I don’t run into any doctors in the next few days…

20 comments to Mrs Laidlaw 13: 26 November – 1 December

  • Lynne

    So – was the consensus pneumonia? or something heart related to go with? Hope your recovery is speedy and you’re on the mend for the Christmas holidays. The gansey is smashing, is it staying in your house? or a gift? That Caithness sunset is extraordinary! We had a sunrise last week that had the exact colors but not as many clouds; I grabbed the camera and got the shot and shortly after, it was gone.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne,

      No, the doctors thought it might be something heart-related, but to be honest it was a misunderstanding caused by them not really listening to what I said, in a sort of medical game of Chinese whispers. So me telling my doctor I had “difficulty taking a deep breath” became when I reached the hospital “tightness in the chest”, and by the time I was in A&E they were worried about all these “chest pains” i was complaining of! I kept pleading brokenly, “It’s just a cold!” while they acted like I was threatening to strap explosives to my body and jump out the window.

      The gansey won’t be staying here, instead it will be winging its way to foreign parts as a Christmas present (hopefully one that fits!).

      The sunrises and sunsets here can be very spectacular—you’d think Caithness had an active volcano to look at them!


  • SongBird

    I am VERY glad the hospital didn’t get to keep you! That wouldn’t have been fun or good at all.

    And I love that sweater!! The color is amazing, the pattern is fabulous, and it’s (comparatively) so TINY! It takes 4 of the squares to block and the last one you did took SEVEN!! It’s like a Toy Gansey.


    • Gordon

      Hi Song,

      I now suspect that the doctors in the hospital had been infested by evil aliens from the Planet Lenswipe Minor and were luring unsuspecting patients in to stay for “observation” – little suspecting that at some point a brain-devouring Lenswipian in the larval stage would be inserted up the left nostril, make its way up to the brain, and proceed to take over the unfortunate subject, forcing it to watch reality tv shows all day (Lenswipians are brilliantly evil but they have terrible taste).

      The horror! If I hadn’t resisted, I too would be smiling like a born-again vampire and suggesting that all my friends go and have a check-up with the doctor.

      But wait! What’s that in the mirror? Is that a surprisingly large nose hair or—oh, heavens! It’s moving—…

      • Gordon

        Actually, now i come to think of it, Lenswipe Minor might have been the name of a boy I was a school with… Not very good at cricket, poor fellow but a dab hand with gerunds, which he used to keep in a jar with some lettuce…

  • Laura

    I must say, that your knitting is breath taking! (no pun intended). I am not sure which is more beautiful, the colour, the pattern knitting, or the whole being more than the sum of its’ parts, it is surely the most gorgeous expression that knitting can contribute to our sense of place in this world. Bravo!

    May I suggest calendars for a place, certainly in my world.


  • SongBird

    Ohhh, Laura, that’s a great idea! A Gordon’s Gansey’s Calendar! I’m sure I’ve got a spare nail about the place that needs a picture of Gordon’s Ganseys.


  • Gordon

    Hi Laura and Song,

    I like the idea of a gansey calendar. What I should have done is travelled to the places where each of them was collected from and staged a photoshoot in each, then I could have gathered them all into a calendar that was also a tour of the coast of Britain.

    But, as the poet says, Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: It might have been…

    (Though I must say, rhyming “pen” with “been” seems a bit of a cheat. But what to replace it with? Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: he’s asleep again… bought a hen… developed a wen…?)

  • Laura

    Hi Gordon

    You still have a shot at it. It could be done on colour as we’ll, the sunset with this gorgeous gansey, really caught my eye. Colour as therapy for those of us not on the equator. Works for me. I am now wondering if this is what inspires us to knit our winters away.

    Cheers Gordon & Margaret

    I will be on the welt for awhile longer myself, you do offer wonderful inspiration, from the past to the future. Thanks so much!


    • Gordon

      Well, I’m a little colour blind, Laura – I can see different colours, but can’t always notice that they’re different until someone points it out to me. The colour grey is aesthetically soothing to me – if Margaret let me I’d wear all-grey clothes all the time – the spoilsport – which is one reason why I’d like a grey gansey. So maybe an icy snow-covered monochrome world is my kind of place after all…


  • =Tamar

    “Been” rhymes with “pen” perfectly. I believe Shakespeare agrees with me.
    The gansey calendar sounds like a great idea. It’s the ganseys that interest us. Who needs scenery?

  • Marilyn

    Hello Gordon, you can aspire to a 365 Gansey-a-day calendar in your lifetime (which will be long and productive if you stay away from M.D.’s.)
    Good knitting.

    • Gordon

      Hi Marilyn,

      You do realise that at one gansey every 6 months or so I’m going to need some monkey glands or something to make up your total…!

  • Sue

    Another glorious gansey, Gordon! Hope that you haven’t been blown away? Just as the worst of the gales seemed to have moved on from my part of Scotland, the snow has blown in instead! Personally I’m treating the whole thing as a good excuse to spend the day knitting in front of the log fire.


    • Gordon

      Hi Sue,

      Yes, we seem to have survived the storm, but, bloody hell, it was pretty grim: gale force winds (90 mph not far from here) and squally blizzards so thick you couldn’t see across the road while they lasted (fortunately they blew through quickly). Now it’s below freezing and supposed to stay like that till Saturday. And it’s not even January yet…

      Your log fire sounds nice. Sigh.


  • Ulrike

    Hello Gordon!
    That was an interesting story!
    Glad you could “escape”! 😉

    Your finished Gansey is just beautiful!
    Those stitches are so pretty.

    Take care, Ulrike

    • Gordon

      Hello Ulrike,

      How nice to hear from you again! Not the first time I’ve had to escape from men in long white coats, and I dare say not the last either!

      All the best,

      • Veronica

        I have it! You can do a Gordon Escaping from the Men in White Coats calendar. Each page has you fighting them off wearing a different gansey!

        Love the claret. It’s one of my husband’s favorite colors and I love him in it. I think I’m going to be breaking down soon and knitting one myself. Hope my hands will forgive me. (Lanolin makes me itch.)

        • Gordon

          Hi Veronica,

          When faced with men in white coats I move at such speed that the camera can only register a blur… Well, until they attach the tubes with the anaesthetic in, anyway. After that, not so much.

          The pattern comes out well in claret, doesn’t it? Shame about the allergy to lanolin—the best I can suggest is thin rubber surgical gloves, like the ones we use at work when handling mouldy documents. Or fondling a lot of sheep in the hopes that you build up an immunity.


Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.