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North Sea 24: 18 – 24 February

Heb0224a And suddenly that’s a whole week gone. I feel like a cut-rate sleeping beauty (albeit rather older and more cynical and with fewer bluebirds to do the washing up), who pricked his finger on a poison 2.25mm needle and fell asleep, forgotten by time, in an enchanted semi-detached castle in Wick.

Reader, I’ve had a chest infection. I felt as though God was squeezing my chest like a tube of toothpaste, and even now my chest froths and wheezes like the last slurp at the bottom of the milkshake and my coughing fits sound like someone unsuccessfully trying to kick-start an old motorbike.

As if that wasn’t enough, on Monday I had my hospital appointment to get my eyes sorted. I should have stayed in bed, but after not being able to see clearly for over nine months I wasn’t going to let the opportunity slip. So Margaret drove me the hundred miles to Inverness, a crisp, clear day, blue sky, sunlight glittering on the ocean, and the start of spring.

IHeb0224c had posterior capsule opacity, a film that can grow over the artificial lens they give you when you get cataract surgery, and which is easily burned off with a laser. First the doctor gave me eyedrops to dilate my pupils so big I resembled a very startled owl. Then she placed a contact lens in the eye to hold it steady and open, directed a very bright light at me that illuminated my skull like a Halloween lantern and began firing the laser much as Han Solo used to shoot down enemy fighters in Star Wars.

It wasn’t a lot of fun, and I think my eyes have only just about stopped watering now, but it was over in ten minutes—and then I could see again. Quite incredible. (You mean this is how the rest of you see the world? Sharp, clear and—in focus? Do you know how lucky you are?) The only problem was, my eyes remained dilated for several hours afterwards, so the drive home in bright sunshine was painful, to say the least, like a migraine hangover.

Heb0224bOnly downside is, I can finally see how uneven my knitting really is. (Perhaps I should hold it further away?) Despite everything I’ve made some progress this week, still plugging away down the sleeve. I’ve completed the herringbone and have started the final pattern section which will carry me down the sleeve towards the cuff. (I won’t run the pattern all the way to the cuff, but will leave a few inches of plain knitting between the two, ending somewhere mid-forearm.)

It’s a bit of a shock being able to see my knitting at all, to be honest. I haven’t been able to identify individual stitches for several months now, but now I can see the single black thread running through the cream yarn I’m using. It’s like I’ve upgraded to a High Definition world. I have an urge to stop strangers in the street and read things out to them. I keep waking up and expecting to find it the way it was, and being pleasantly surprised.

In fact, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go and find something to look at right now—just because I can…

17 comments to North Sea 24: 18 – 24 February

  • Judit M./ Finland

    Gordon, I am happy hearing that the eye procedure is over and more, it was a success. There are so many nice things around us to be seen :).
    Best regards!

  • =Tamar

    Eeyipes! I have enough trouble dealing with those bright lights they use for a normal eye exam. Glad it worked, anyway. I remember feeling like that when I got my first glasses.

    The unevenness will come out in the blocking, eventually. EZ said her knitting improved immensely after a few repetitions of wear+block.

  • Marilyn

    Hallo the house! dear Gordon, I am so very happy for you re: restored vision. Fantastic. From the close-ups you’ve shown us, your knitting looks very even without blocking. More resting is permitted, nay, encouraged, to recover fully. Looking forward to that post.

  • Gordon

    Hi all,

    The light was horrid, and with your pupils dilated and your head resting on a frame there’s no escape. Like having your brain X-rayed. I felt I was drowning in a pool of tears, like Alice in Wonderland—my chin in the chin rest was in a sort of puddle of tears, and my shirt was sodden. (And being British of course I kept apologising to the doctor for making a mess…)

    I feel a bit like someone released from prison for a crime I didn’t commit—glad to be back in the world, but with a sense of grievance and injustice for not being released sooner!


  • Sue G.

    I cannot imagine knitting the patterns you knit without being able to see the stitches. I make mistakes all the time–it would be embarrassing to ask people to check my work for me. It’s great that your vision is restored. Lovely sweater, too.

  • Gordon

    Hi Sue,

    Margaret operates as “tech support” both for fixing mistakes as well as looking after the technical side of the blog. It doesn’t happen all that often, as i try to stick to a numerical pattern and a five-barred gate to keep track of the rows, but a combination of poor eyesight and the attention span of a—hey look, a seagull! (Where was I again?) Well, you see what I mean.

    It’ll be interesting to see if i make more mistakes now, in fact…


  • Nigel

    My gauge is around 7 stitches per inch on 2.25mm needles and Wendy 5ply Guernsey wool. Does that sound about average or too slack?

  • Gordon

    Hi Nigel,

    I think stitch gauge is up to the knitter, pretty much—when I started out, the yarn I bought suggested a gauge of about 8 stitches to the inch; I seem to knit about 9, give or take—but the very old traditional ganseys that the Moray Firth Gansey Project displayed were definitely more like 7 stitches to the inch, and a lot of old photos confirm this too.

    So I’d say, if that’s your natural gauge, then stick with it. Whatever you do, it will look stunning, trust me!


  • Nigel

    Thanks Gordon. Good to know I am not a slacker! Hope you are feeling better

  • Veronica

    Gordon, I am so happy to hear that you’re eyesight is better and none of those scary possibilities happened during the procedure. That probably sounds trite but I mean it sincerely. I think many of your readers had/have the big smile on their faces that I’ve got now. Of course, selfishly, it’s as much relief that we won’t lose your humor and turn of phrase as it is that you now can see the world in all it’s technicolor glory.

  • Veronica

    Boy that reads as “pompous”. (Must be all the snot stuffing my sinuses.)
    But I really do mean it (she mutters while sheepishly looking at floor).

  • Gordon

    Hi Veronica, and thank you—not pompous at all.

    I was secretly very anxious, as it had been explained to me several times the measure of risk for someone with my eyesight having a laser fired into the back of the eye: and having to sign a “if we blind you it’s not our fault” form didn’t help raise my spirits! But what, really, did I have to lose?

    I can now see the texture in my jeans, on my coat. The pixels on my computer screen. The leaves on the trees, the waves on the harbour.

    The world is really rather beautiful—when you look at it…


  • Lynne

    Nigel, I’m working with Frangipani and 2.50 mm needles and my gauge is 8 st. per inch. I’m not positive, but I think Gordon said at one time that Wendy yarn was perhaps a bit ‘fuller’ than Frangipani, so personal tension and yarn brands certainly make a difference.
    Gordon – so glad that you are ‘sighted’ and ‘breathing’ once again!

  • Nigel

    Thanks Lynne. I’ll be using Frangipani for my Gansey. I’ll do a proper test then. At the mo I’m just practising a few patterns. Good luck with your’s.

  • Nigel

    On-day Gansey knitting class in Fife, Sunday, March 17 (St Patrick’s Day!)

  • Nigel

    One-day Gansey knitting class in Fife, Sunday, March 17 (St Patrick’s Day!)

  • Nigel

    That’s better!

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