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North Sea 28: 18 – 24 March

Heb0324a If you open your windows and listen carefully – assuming there isn’t a howling gale blowing rain and sleet in your direction – unlikely if you live anywhere near Wick, but you never know – you may just hear the faint sound of distant trumpets carried on the breeze.

Heb0324bThis will be the fanfare I have arranged to be blown every hour, on the hour, throughout the day, to celebrate the end of the knitting phase of the gansey. The garment has now been handed over to our Cardiganification Department for washing, blocking, scissoring and buttoning, and probably an anti-glare coating and wax for the finish as well.

I didn’t expect to get it done so soon, to be honest. But it always catches me out how quickly you get to the cuff once the end is in sight. And, as ever, I can’t really remember knitting most of it (if it wasn’t for this blog I’d just have assumed the Gansey Fairies visit me in the night every 6 months and leave me ganseys in exchange for my youth and some of my hair, like something from Grimm’s fairy tales).


That’s better – the reknit shawl centre

Looking back on this blog, it occurs to me that I’ve been doing this for rather a long time. T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock measured out his life in coffee spoons – in my case it’s ganseys. There’s a classic Welsh novel about a man who comes back to the house he grew up in after his mother’s death to sort out her effects, and every chapter is based around the memories of a different object – the mangle she used when she had to take in washing after her husband died, etc. I feel a bit like that with the pictures in the gallery, except there are still so many patterns yet to try.


Gordon’s in the blue shirt, on the left. Artist Joanne B Kaar displays the “Portable Museum of Curiosity”, inspired by the Robert Dick Herbarium at Caithness Horizons

I had a (predictably) fun day on Saturday at the Caithness Science Fair Family Fun Day. We took a bunch of photographs of old maps from the archives and put them on my iPad so people could look up their neighbourhoods in 1903 (of course several children tried to use it to hack into the internet instead, but I found I could reach their ankles quite easily under the table – a steel toecap is the gift that keeps on giving – so that was all right). But oh, it’s been years since I spent a day on my feet like that. All day Sunday I needed a sort of block and tackle system to get me out of my chair, like Henry VIII in his armour having to be winched onto his horse.

I’m publishing another book on Amazon kindle for Easter, The World’s Midnight, the long-awaited sequel to The Wraiths of Elfael, in which Mair, my heroine, journeys to an alternative version of medieval Wales to recover the stolen spirit of her friend. It’s a fairly dark little tale, I must admit, but I like to think of it as my Empire Strikes Back before the final part of the trilogy ends happily with cuddly child-bears armed only with spears and rocks overthrowing a ruthless totalitarian regime (hey, it could happen).

Speaking of Star Wars, I wonder why no one had invented the laser equivalent of a machine gun by then? Or even carried machine guns and grenades? (Bit tricky for even a Jedi to deflect the splinters from a fragment grenade or even a flamethrower with a light sabre, you’d think!)

Where was I? Oh yes, books. All four of my other books plus the new one will be on a free promotion on Amazon from Friday to Tuesday over Easter, so if you know anyone who might be interested please let them know: you see, the more people read them for free, the more reviews they’re likely to get, and the more reviews they have the higher they go in the rankings. So it’s a win-win for me (so long as the reviews are positive!).

Finally, Judit has sent pictures of another splendid gansey she’s made, which you can see here. This one is based on a Filey pattern in Rae Compton’s book (page 64); note the initials above the welt.

In fact, maybe if I give my trumpeters an extra shilling they’ll play something from Sibelius’s Lemminkäinen Suite as a kind of joint celebration for both our ganseys…?

8 comments to North Sea 28: 18 – 24 March

  • Judit M./ Finland

    Hello Gordon,
    Many thanks for mentioning my gansey in your blog. In case you would like to hear Lemminkäinen Suite from Sibelius, it is here:
    Best regards!

  • Lynne

    Lovely gansey, Judit!
    Gordon, are you going to video the steeking? (and shrieking!) I can sense the relief you are feeling to be able to turn this project over to Margaret – I could use a “Margaret” at this point in my knitting.

  • =Tamar

    So gansey knitting is like pregnancy – you forget the difficulties once it’s all over? The cardigan-making sounds more like parturition.

    The shawl is even lovelier.

  • Gordon

    Hello all!

    Judit, a pleasure, as always. And thanks for the Sibelius link. His music is part of the soundtrack of my life.

    Lynne, yes, we’re thinking how to capture the open heart surgery that will be The Cutting of the Steek (which either sounds like a poem by Lewis Carroll or something that should be performed to the sound of bagpipes!).

    By the way, Margaret is available at a very reasonable rate of £1,000 a day plus expenses, including first class travel to the destination, plus a 10% agent’s fee for me. I keep meaning to add an online booking form to the website…

    Tamar, not having any direct experience of pregnancy, I couldn’t possibly comment! I forget so much these days, however, anything is possible, but it’s not so much the difficulties I forget as everything. Or at least i think I do. It’s hard to remember sometimes…


  • Lisa Mitchell

    Yippee! Bring forth the fatted calf! *oops sorry wrong movie* Amazing gansey, Gordon. I’ll wait with my hands over my eyes (all the while peeking of course) while the steek gets cut. Totally wonderful jumper.

  • Gordon

    Hi Lisa,

    Well, we vegetarians aren’t frightfully keen on fatted calves – perhaps a veggie burger or a Quorn lasagna would do instead? But thank you. I’ve been practicing a one-man conga line up and down the stairs to celebrate.

    How steady is Margaret’s hand going to be? Will she sober up in time to make the cut? Only time will tell…

  • Gail

    Another amazing gansey! Congratulations. I look forward to downloading your latest tomorrow – oh darn, I have to wait until then!

  • Gordon

    Hi Gail,

    And thank you. Margaret will add the coup de grace, or finishing touch, depending!

    The book’s just gone live on Amazon an hour ago at the exceptionally reasonable rate of $1.99, but I’d advise you to hang on till tomorrow when they’re all on the free promo. That way you can’t get a refund!


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