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North Sea 11: 12 – 18 November

So there we are, the centre strap is finished, the herringbone picked clean as the cat’s dinner, all two and a half inches of it. Next week, it will be on to the yoke. Meanwhile, I’ve made a start on the underarm gussets, increasing at my usual rate of 2 stitches every four rows.

I was down in Edinburgh at the start of last week (I’m on the board of my professional association, and once a year they take pity on me and meet in Scotland, though Wick is still 250 miles north of Edinburgh). The city was heaving because Scotland were playing New Zealand at rugby—Scotland got thumped, so as an undercover Kiwi I decided it was prudent to keep my head down on the airport bus and not perform a celebratory haka.

We stayed in The Scotsman hotel, just round the corner from Waverley rail station on North Bridge. It’s the old Scotsman newspaper building, all wood panelling and columns and marble, and is really rather swish (I spent one evening fending off chambermaids desperate to turn down the bedspread, and once while one kept me talking at the door another slipped in and folded the toilet paper into what looked like origami cranes so sharp I almost cut my—well, I almost cut myself). The breakfast menu ran to two pages, and when I said I only wanted toast and coffee the disbelieving waiter went off sobbing and had to be consoled by the concierge.

Edinburgh Airport: The departure lounge for Wick

I always lose my bearings in hotels. (Perhaps like migrating geese I need the sun to navigate? But then I get lost outdoors as well, so perhaps not.) The reception staff got so used to seeing me walking past the front desk every ten minutes or so, that by Tuesday morning they’d stopped asking if I needed help and just took me by the arm, gently spun me round, and propelled me in the right direction with a shove between the shoulder blades. Personally, I think it was a hotel built on the same principles as Hogwarts and the stairs rearranged themselves every night.

It was great being back in Edinburgh—the crowds, the bustle, the coffee shops, the homeless beggars, the roadworks. I went on a mission to try to find an iPad Mini, but everywhere had sold out, no more expected till the end of the month. Sales staff had the harassed look of aid officials in an African township, fending off desperate consumers with machine guns fired in the air. I got to play with a demo model at the airport but the assistant asked me to put it down; he said my drool was damaging the finish.

Speaking of drool, I’ve been slowly recovering my pancake mojo, inspired by the need to use up leftover bananas each weekend. There’s something about the acid combination of lemon juice blended with the rich flavour of ripe bananas and the double-shotgun-sweetness-blast of maple syrup that is the taste equivalent of jumping into the ocean on New Year’s Day: potentially fatal, but invigorating. (Thing is, I’m just not sure my left arm’s supposed to feel numb like this…)

Another nifty idea for using up leftover gansey wool from Judit this week (it’s an open question which will run out first—the ideas or the wool!). It’s a very spiffy collar, which you can find over on Judit’s gallery page.

So now I have to sit down, get out the calculator and plan out the yoke—horizontally and vertically. I’ve been toying with a gansey app for iPads and cell phones, and I think what it needs is the functionality to adapt any pattern (a tree, a chevron) or combination of patterns to the number of stitches you need. So you pick which patterns you want to incorporate and it automatically resizes them for you.

Meanwhile, however…

10 comments to North Sea 11: 12 – 18 November

  • Marilyn

    Hello Gordon, nice to enjoy the delights of the big city. I’d like an app like that as well- I’m knitting a dwarf helmet honoring the new movie coming.
    Watch out for those chambermaids- maybe offer them a banana…pancake.

  • Gordon

    Hello Marilyn,

    Have you seen the Air New Zealand hobbit safety video? The All Black rugby team and the Lord of the Rings movies, two reasons why I’m very proud of my New Zealand heritage!

    I suspect most hotel chambermaids could disassemble uppity guests like a Transformer toy, so I’m always careful to be polite and respectful. That, and forearms like a Russian olympic shot-putter…


  • Lynne

    Great chevron yoke strap – it seems to compliment the zig-zag (?marriage lines?) in the body. So . . did you end up to be the only passenger flying back to Wick? It looks like an empty wait line to me. Gordon, if you ever want a good screen protector for your iPad, or any other digital device, check out http://www.zagg.com “invisible shield”. They have a lifetime guarantee on their NASA invented product and if it gets damaged in any way they replace it free of charge. I have one on my camera that is tossed around in my purse and I really recommend that brand. And when you invent the gansey app, please make it compatible with Windows.

  • Marilyn

    Hi Gordon, yes, the safety video is charming (found on Peter Jackson’s facebook page for those who are curious). I particularly liked seeing the great grandsons. I finished my helmet today, now, do I want a knitted beard with that?

  • Judit M./ Finland

    Morning Gordon,
    The question is closed : wool of my last gansey run out :).
    Many thanks for adding the collar to reader`s gallery,

  • Gordon

    Hello all,

    Lynne, well, about half a dozen people turned up just before the flight was due to take off—that annoying thing is, sometimes you get settled in and then the pilot makes you all change seats and go sit at the back. Other times, it’s an empty aircraft, and couples aren’t allowed to sit together “because the pilot’s calculated the load”. Very strange. I’ll check out the iPad cover—but as for Windows, I think it’s just be easier if everyone got a Mac and an iPad!

    Marilyn, knitted beards are what all the dwarfs are wearing this year, surely? I especially like Bombur’s plaited one.

    Judit, you’re very welcome as ever. Time to start a new project for some extra leftover wool?


  • Veronica

    The sweater is looking lovely, Gordon. The impression I’m getting is clean lines and a pleasing rhythm. Strangely, my eye keeps seeing ‘one unit’ as the space between a zigzag and a diamond rather than cutting off at the straight lines between. Makes for a more fluid effect.

    The never-ending airport lounge reminds me of the never-ending walk to the lounge here at Schiphol for puddle jumps to the UK. I’m convinced we actually walk to our destination and they just pretend to take off and land so we feel we’ve gotten our money’s worth.

    What is your connection with New Zealand, Gordon? I’ve not come across that piece of info in the archived messages I’ve read.

  • Gordon

    Good evening Veronica,

    Well, I wouldn’t want everyone to know, but I was born in New Zealand—in Wellington. My parents moved out there after the war, and my brother and I were born and lived the first decade of our lives there and Palmerston North. So I’m a Kiwi. You wouldn’t know it to hear me speak—I come over as semi-posh English. But ivery now and agin it slups ewt (fush and chups, a game of cricket, etc.).


  • =Tamar

    Clearly the Scotsman is another portal to the Escher Hotel, renowned among SF fans. Various areas of the Escher Hotel include the one where you take the elevator down below the garage to get to the fifth floor, the one where you walk along the hallway and find you have gone from the third floor to the sixth floor, the one where you have to go in through a doorway marked Exit, etc. I’ve not yet found the one where the bathroom stalls are bigger on the inside.

  • Gordon

    Hi Tamar,

    Ha, yes. I once worked at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth while they were doing some major building works; you never knew each morning if the staircase you’d taken the day before would be there, or you’d suddenly find a new corridor to go down. All it needed was a few talking portraits on the walls and ghosts zipping about and Harry Potter would have felt right at home!

    There’s a Futurama episode where Bender and Fry are flat-hunting, and they try an Escher house—Bender trips down the stairs and ends up falling up a different staircase back to where he started…


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