There are, it seems to me, two types of colds. There is the kind where the relatives gather at the foot of the bed, and ask the doctor in hushed tones what is the prognosis—and the doctor, with pursed lips, shakes his head gravely and replies, “Still, we must not give up hope”; and then there is the kind that provokes the impatient response, “Oh, do get up and don’t be such a big girl’s blouse!”
The cold with which I am currently afflicted definitely falls into the second category—bad enough to make me feel like I’ve accidentally got someone else’s hangover by mistake, but not so bad as to elicit sympathy from random strangers or, indeed, anyone. And yet when I sneeze the effect is not unlike an alien monster in a Hollywood movie being shot and exploding in a shower of stringy gobbets, adding an interesting pattern to the wallpaper and creating the momentary illusion on the windows that it has been snowing.
Have you ever come across the phenomenon of stealth cats? There are a couple of cats next door which their owners have designated “outdoor cats” without apparently consulting the two concerned. So they generally sit outside all day and shiver, and plot. When I come home in the dark they put on their night camouflage and track me up the path like silent ninja assassins, and as soon as the door is open they dart between my legs and slip inside.
There they are thwarted by the porch’s inner door, which acts rather like a medieval portcullis, and for the next five minutes we recreate the scene from Shrek when he first meets Puss-in-Boots as I try to eject them and they, slippery as a pair of feline eels, refuse to be ejected. From the road it must look as though I’m fighting off an attack of invisible bees, or else am in training for the Wick All-comers Ferret Down the Trousers Contest 2013.
I have finished the shoulders on the gansey and have joined the front and back, which feels as momentous as the Allies and Russian forces meeting at the Elbe near the end of World War 2. As I mentioned before, the shoulder strap uses the same pattern as the herringbone dividing the yoke from the body.
Instead of knitting half the shoulder as part of the back, and half as part of the front, and joining them in the middle, with this style it’s simplest to knit the whole thing from the front and then join it to the back. The cast-off creates a similar effect to 2 purl rows, so it matches the front exactly.
Next comes the collar, and then the sheer unadulterated fun that is picking up stitches around the armhole for the sleeve (see reference to big girl’s blouse, above).
In parish notices I have been sent a couple of pictures by Gracie of a gansey-inspired afghan she made for her sister’s wedding which you can see here, and pretty stunning it is too. (There goes the tenth commandment…)
By the way, did you know that in England in the seventeenth century it was compulsory to be buried in a woollen shroud (the burial in woollen acts, 1666-80)? They were designed to help the wool industry, and you had to pay a fine unless you were very poor, or had plague (or possibly even both). I was reminded of this the other day at work, and seeing Gracie’s afghan made me think how cool a gansey-patterned shroud would be.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not thinking morbid thoughts—as Woody Allen said, I don’t want to achieve immortality through my works, but through not dying—but it’s best to think ahead. (Though now I come to think of it, I have a horrible feeling that just as the coffin lid is being lowered two little streaks of fur will shoot out of the darkness and slip inside unnoticed, on the assumption that it’s got to be warmer than outdoors…)