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North Sea 10: 5 – 11 November

Just a short blog this week, as I’ve got to get ready to head off to Edinburgh this afternoon (Sunday) for a meeting on Monday; and I’ve got a stack of banana pancakes to whip up for Sunday brunch, too.

There’s a splendid Welsh proverb—’many drops wear away the stone’. It’s an encouragement that if you persevere, even if it’s just a little bit each day, in the end you’ll get there. (Either that or I’m reading it wrong, and it means that no matter how resilient you are in the end you’ll be worn down—I mean, think about it from the stone’s point of view.)

But let’s go with the positive meaning for now. After knitting away, just 1-2 rows a night, a couple of inches a week, I’ve finished the body pattern; the first stage of my rocket is completed, and I’m on to the second, the central strap that divides the body from the yoke. Suddenly I have the feeling that I’m getting somewhere. (At this rate I’ll have to start thinking about yoke patterns soon…)

I wasn’t quite able to get my zigzag and diamonds to coincide in the end, but that’s OK. It only took half an inch more to zag the last zig, so I just added half an inch of plain knitting to the top of the diamond column—which mirrors the plain knitting between the welt and the start of the body pattern.

The central strap is a herringbone pattern, common to Scottish ganseys, running from right to left (so the wearer should always stand on the right in photographs). It will consist of 30 rows, or two and a half inches in my stitch gauge, and will, I think, be quite distinctive. (See pattern chart for details.)

I’ve included a picture I took on my phone this week, of a couple of ducks on the river paddling away from me as fast as they could go. There was some chemical foam in the water, so that as they zipped off they left these neat lines, like a jet’s vapour trails in the sky. I expected to see an empty river the next time I passed by, just a load of ducks floating upside-down, all their bodies except for their little legs underwater—or even a new breed of mutated evil super-ducks, seeking vengeance on anyone caught in possession of an orange—as my colleague at work observes (rather wearily, it seems to me) I probably watch too many cartoons—but no, everything was normal. (Maybe it just takes time.)

Right—time to pack. But before I go, I thought I’d share this with you. We reached a couple of milestones last month—there have now been 3,000 downloads of my novels on Amazon since May, and for the first time in a month we passed 200,000 hits for this blog. And if that doesn’t deserve a big stack of fluffy golden banana pancakes marooned in a rich, deep tropical lagoon of prime quality maple syrup, thick and gurgling warm from the bottle, I honestly don’t know what does. (Hey, banana’s a fruit—it counts as one of my five a day, right? And maple syrup comes from trees, so that’s probably two right there… And then there’s the lemon juice…)

8 comments to North Sea 10: 5 – 11 November

  • Gordon

    Apologies to everyone who tried to leave a comment yesterday—we’ve had some computer glitches of the usual kind. But normal service is—hopefully!—now resumed. As Douglas Adams says, anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem…:-)


  • Gail

    Congratulations on the milestones – don’t give up!

  • =Tamar

    Congratulations on the novel! Bananas in food still count as fruit, just not as fresh/raw fruit. I am mildly surprised by the way the pair of narrow zigzag lines creates one wide zigzag. It’s all in how you look at it.

  • Susan

    Congrats on the milestones! I must say I am enjoying Wraiths quite a bit. Well, except for the part that I feel the cold of the chilly scenes you describe.

  • Gordon

    Hello all,

    And thanks. I think they may end up as milestones around our necks, but never mind!

    Tamar, as they say in Glasgow, vinegar and ketchup on your chips count as two of your 5 a day… I’m surprised by the zigzag too – I’ve always avoided them but it’s really quite effective.

    Susan, glad you’re enjoying Wraiths. (It goes a bit bonkers in the last act, but then, I console myself, so does Hamlet…)

    Gail, we’ve not given up yet. That’s as firm a commitment as I can make at the present time!


  • linda

    dear Gordon; so cheering to read of your 1-2 rows a day…sometimes i wonder why I struggle on, particularly when my knitting friends comment, “you could have knt 49 pairs of hand warmers in the time it has taken you to knit 11 inches of this thing!” I must confess there is something wonderful about this gansey obsession….could someone tell me what that is ?!??
    Here is a little hint that might help those of you out there who are knitting with 5 gansey dp needles. [i call this “samurai knitting”] I recently went back a century and from your own shetland isles ordered a knitting belt from; “Journeyman leather…www.journeyman-leather.co.uk…” I sit when I knit so I don’t bother to wear this as a belt. I place it by my left side so that the knitting pouch is by my hip. Thus I can stabilize my left hand non-working needle and knit painlessly away with the right hand needle. I have found this to be an enormous help. The belt itself is very well made.
    so many thankyous Gordon for your wonderful blog with its beautiful pictures and bits and pieces of your life in ever weatherly northern Scotland that I miss being there even tho I have never been….maybe someday! regards, linda usa

  • =Tamar

    Hi, Linda.
    One reason to continue is that you can’t wear 49 pairs of handwarmers on your torso to keep warm. Not without sewing them together, and that’s such a nuisance.

  • Gordon

    Hi Linda,

    I just can’t make the adjustment to knitting with a sheath. It’s like driving in America, I can’t get my hands and brain in sync when I try, it’s like teaching a robot how to boil an egg. But I see pictures of people using them and I’m just in awe of the technique!

    Tamar – that sounds like Mr Burns from the Simpsons when he wanted a coat made from dozens of puppies…


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