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Mrs Laidlaw 9: 28 October – 3 November

BodyThis week’s blog is dedicated to Annie, a shaggy Gordon Setter belonging to Margaret’s sister Gail and brother in law Bill in the States—a sort of canine floor polishing machine with an overactive battery, twitching and shuffling and jagging as if moving to music only she can hear, broadcast on a frequency only audible to dogs.

When Annie wants to sit down she just picks a spot and collapses, like the soldiers in Goldfinger pretending to be gassed. When I made the mistake of riding in the back of the car with her I got hit by her tail so regularly as she spun giddily round and round, unable to decide which of the four windows offered the best view, that it was like being assaulted by a ninja with a feather duster. She became a sort of hairy perpetual motion machine: hook her up to a battery and you could power a small township for months.

Perhaps her most endearing trait is a sort of misguided belief in her powers of hypnosis. If you’re holding something she wants, say a piece of bread, she just plants herself down in front of you and stares intently, like a canine version of Thunderbirds’ The Hood, as if that will be enough to get you to hand it over. (Though, now I come to think of it, I actually ended up handing it over more often than not. Hang on a minute…)


Annie considers her next move…

I’ve had some bad experiences with dogs down the years. Perhaps the worst was when I was 16 and had a Christmas postal route in my village. There was this really classy lady-of-the-manor type I had to deliver a parcel to one day. As I went up the front drive I saw she was round the back in the courtyard (yes, really) with her dog.

As soon as the dog saw me—it was a giant black slavering monster, the sort of thing Sauron would keep to fetch his slippers and morning paper—it gave an excited bark and bounded towards me, trailing strings of drool like party streamers. I just stood there and waited to be savaged and shaken to pieces, but instead of annihilating me it skidded to a halt on the gravel and buried its nose in my groin, where it proceeded to root around like a pig after truffles, making happy slobbering noises until hauled off by its mistress.


Collar and shoulder detail

If you take your dictionary off the shelf and look up “mortification” you’ll see the following definition: “The emotion felt by Gordon Reid when he looked down and noticed the large damp patch on the crotch of his trousers steaming in the bright winter sunshine, and then caught the amused smile on the face of the lady. See also incontinence pants and rubber sheets.”

Moving on from today’s dose of deep trauma therapy, you will see from the photos that I have finished the shoulders and the collar, and have started on a sleeve. The collar came out rather well, nicely rounded and indented; it’s about an inch, or 12 rows plus cast-off row high.


Sunrise over Wick Harbour

I had a decision to make regarding the sleeve pattern. The original only has the traditional “Betty Martin” check pattern on the upper arm, but I wanted to use the body pattern again if I could (I just think it looks better). The only problem was, one tree would be too small, but two would be too long. So I’ve decided to go with one tree, and I’ll use the purl half-diamonds as a sort of border below it, which should give me what I’m looking for. Hopefully you’ll see what I mean next week.

And now, as I see the weather for today is for heavy rain showers, winds gusting over 30 mph, and a temperature that “feels like 2ºC”, I shall close my eyes and go to my happy place: the deck out back of Bill and Gail’s in the autumn sunshine, watching Annie, the eternal optimist, stalking bees in the hopes of making friends…

6 comments to Mrs Laidlaw 9: 28 October – 3 November

  • Dave

    I’ve seen a few Gordon setters at dog shows, and they are beautiful. Do Gordon setters and Gordon knitters have a shared lineage?

    The Manor dog (it couldn’t really be called a manner dog, could it?) sound like a Newfoundland. They love everyone, and drool is their only means of defense. I’ve had three Newfs through the years, two males and now a female. The males’ motto was “You’re not worth a dime if you can’t sling your slime” and they would regularly prove their worth by getting their slime to the 9′ ceilings from a sitting position. Even though they passed away years ago, I still have some of the dried slime on the ceiling as a remembrance.

  • Gordon

    Hi Dave,

    There are many similarities between us, we both get equally excited about going to the park for instance, but I seldom insert my nose into a dog’s backside for fun. Well there was this one time at university, but… I’ve said too much already.

    Are you sure it was a Newfoundland and not a canine version of Ghostbusters you’re describing there? They do sound rather similar.


  • =Tamar

    The writers did turn Slimer into a pet in the cartoon version of Ghostbusters. Maybe they were acquainted with Newfoundlands.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar,

      Oddly enough, I tend to associate the word “slime” more with Alien movies – there’s always a point where some hapless sucker reaches down and comes up with their hand governed in goo which they regard in a baffled manner, while behind them a large grey predatory shape uncoils from the ceiling where it’s been hiding. Me, I’d be heading up the corridor like the Roadrunner (probably going “meep meep” as I ran)…

  • Marilyn

    Hi Gordon, a large smile was insufficient today, I had to laugh (out loud, as they say). “like a pig after truffles”, oh dear. I’ve suffered a similar fate, lots of humor in the shared experience. The gansey is looking good! Knit on, through all crises.

    • Gordon

      Hi Marilyn,

      The humiliation of that moment will never leave me. I even came to Wick, the archive equivalent of the Foreign Legion, to forget, but I don’t think it’s working…

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