It’s December and winter has arrived in Caithness, sub-zero temperatures and ice and snow. Roads and pavements so slippery you see people walking over them as gingerly as if they were balancing on a tightrope with someone twanging the other end. People walking in slow motion, like an army of zombie tai chi practitioners.
With the same degree of common sense that led me once to try to fix a light socket without turning off the electricity first I decided it was probably all right to cut across the car park down by the river to get to work. I got about a third of the way before I realised the scale of my mistake, round about the time I noticed a seagull skating elegantly across the surface of a puddle, finishing with a pirouette and triple Salchow. (Fortunately, a British person’s fear of humiliation is a force strong enough to defy gravity, so I didn’t fall over; but it was touch and go once or twice, and one or two hungry seagulls started following me hopefully, like vultures in the desert.)
This far north, at this time of year the sun doesn’t get all the way up but describes a low, lazy rainbow arc across the sky, like a hungover college student who can’t be bothered to get out of bed. But at least some of the sunrises and sunsets are spectacular, so much so that I have to turn the radio on to make sure the nuclear power plant up the road isn’t getting frisky.
On the gansey, I’ve divided front and back and progress is once more rapid, if not swift. Or at least it would be if I didn’t keep making mistakes! Part of the trouble is my deteriorating eyesight, which makes it hard to notice if I miss out a couple of pattern rows. Fortunately Margaret is usually able to delve back an astonishing number of rows to fix things for me, like those divers who swim down to the deep ocean depths and come back up with exotic coral. (My only worry now is it’s happening so frequently she’s given me an automated helpline number to call.)
I’m working on the back first, as is my wont, to make sure I get the pattern bedded in properly first. (It doesn’t really matter, but it means that by the time I do the front, the pattern is in my fingers, as it were.) Like all Hebridean patterns, the rich detail is pretty stunning, like a woollen mosaic.
Right. Time for some parish notices. First of all congratulations to Lynne for this rather stunning cardigan. It’s from an old Vogue Knitting magazine, and the original designer is Isaac Mizrahi, though Lynne has freely adapted it. Just in time for winter!
Secondly, we get a number of requests from people looking for someone to knit them a gansey (see Sam’s plea, http://www.ganseys.com/?page_id=644). I’d like to add a page to the site featuring knitters who take commissions. So if you know of anyone who does this (or you do it yourself), please drop me an email.
Finally, and for Christmas, we’ve decided to develop some Gansey Nation merchandise using designs from the ganseys and Margaret’s photographs—coffee mugs, tote bags, baseball caps and even a gansey-themed Christmas ornament. So watch this space—in the course this week we hope to go live with a modest range. If it works out, who knows? But in the meantime, if you’re looking for that elusive Christmas present for the gansey knitter who has everything…