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Patrington & Withernsea, Week 10: 18 December

‘Tis the week before Christmas and all through the house not a creature is stirring, except a woodlouse. At this time of year the land is shrouded in darkness. By Thursday, the winter solstice, the sun will rise at 9.00am, if you can call the lazy arc it describes across the sky rising—honestly, I’ve seen rainbows with more ambition—and set at 3.20pm. You know the bit in between is daytime because your employers expect you to be at work, but it’s so dark it’s sometimes hard to tell.

Last week’s snow has clung on stubbornly, packed down to ice and topped up daily, partially melting and then freezing over again, so that every step is like playing Russian roulette with gravity. All in all, weather like this makes you wish someone had invented the time machine, so you could go back to 1934 and punch the composers of “Winter Wonderland” on the nose.

Snowman, sort of

Many cultures have rites of passage to mark the transition from childhood to adulthood, including donning a toga, getting one’s teeth filed, or even (in Shinto) a new haircut. In my case I realised I was no longer a child when I first looked out on a wintry scene of snow and ice and thought, “But I’ve got to go out in that…”


In gansey news I have finished the Patrington and Withernsea jumper, and very nice it looks too. All that remains is to wash and block it, and we’ll post a picture of the blocked garment next week. Curiously, and rather to my chagrin, the finished gansey weighs 1028 grams, some 50 grams more than my ganseys usually weigh. I don’t know why this should be—some quirk of the (Wendy’s) yarn, perhaps, or else the blood and sweat I expended on it soaked into the fabric somehow. Something to keep an eye on, perhaps.

Trees by the river

And now all that remains is for us to wish everyone a very happy Christmas. We’ll wrap the old year up next week in tinsel and wrapping paper. But there’s just time for me to wheel out my favourite Christmas joke one last time:

Q—How did good King Wenceslas like his pizza?
A—Deep pan, crisp and even


Finally, here are two meditations on snow. The first, River Snow, is by Liu Zongyuan: 

A thousand hills, but no birds in flight,
Ten thousand paths, with no person’s tracks.
A lonely boat, a straw-hatted old man,
Fishing alone in the cold river snow.

The second is the conclusion to Wallace Stevens’s poem, The Snow Man:

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Happy Christmas!

8 comments to Patrington & Withernsea, Week 10: 18 December

  • Linda Abraham

    A very happy and warm (at least indoors) Christmas to you, Gordon, and to Margaret! Thank you for another year of gansey news and a bit of an escape to Scotland….🎄🎄🎅🏻🎅🏻

  • Sue

    Merry Christmas Gordon and Margaret. Big thanks for my weekly dose of gansey news delivered with style. Keep warm and of course keep knitting!

  • rue

    Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year. this year seems to have flown by 🙂 here’s hoping for a good year next year.

  • Lynne

    Happy Christmas and the healthiest New Year to you and Margaret. The newest gansey looks great, the first gansey I did in 1994 was with gansey wool from England that was not Frangipani, and it, too, knitted up heavier than the Frangipani ones I’ve done since. It needs to be an extremely cold day in the southern interior of British Columbia in order to wear it!

  • Lois

    The very best to you and Margaret for the holidays and the coming new year. We have been in gansey weather lately, light snow on the ground and bitter winds. And my new gansey is done, but not yet blocked, with Christmas cooking and gift making upon me.

    I look forward with anticipation to my weekly Monday morning smile from Gordon in the coming year. May the knitting force be with you!

  • Gordon

    Hello everyone, and thank you for all the good wishes! Margaret and I are now (or “the noo”, if I may be allowed a touch of the local patois) away south for Christmas with at the ancestral manor in the Midlands – a broadband-free zone, as it happens, so we are very much off-grid.

    2017 wasn’t a great year, all things considered: it started with a nervous breakdown and continued with a bereavement. But at least it’s ending better than it began. (Every time I think, 2018 has got to be better, I can hear John Lennons backing vocal singing, “it can’t get no worse…”)

    So happy knitting everyone, thanks for reading and commenting and sharing and making Gansey Nation one of the nicest places to spend time on the internet!

    Oh, and happy Christmas too!

  • Jane

    Happy Christmas to you and Margaret, and great stuff, and not just the knitting which is beyond tremendous! Take care!

  • Gordon

    Thanks, Jane! According to my phone app there’s only one more sleep till Christmas, which is as good a reason to crank up the DVD player and put on The Muppet Christmas Carol as I can think of…

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