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Patrington & Withernsea, Week 5: 13 November

On Saturday we went back to Sarclet harbour, one of our favourite places. It’s about ten miles south of us off the beaten track (turn off the A99 at Thrumster and push on for a mile or so till you run out of road, and there it lies). I’ve spoken before of its appeal as ruined harbour, destroyed in the same great storm of 1872 that smashed the Stevenson breakwater at Wick. It’s an amazing place to explore, though sometimes the ghosts crowd round so thick it’s like walking through early morning mist.

But Sarclet as a place where seals come on their holidays, hoping to pick up a bit of a tan, was entirely new to me. We were standing on the cliffs overlooking the bay and got quite excited when we saw a snout bobbing in the swell. Then we looked at the beach and realised that those tubular grey things that we’d taken for rocks, or possibly an invasion of giant slugs, were in fact an entire colony of seals–more than thirty of the little blighters. From that height they looked like they’d all been squeezed from a tube; I wondered if we’d turned up half an hour earlier we might have caught God down on the beach squeezing them out; as if He secretly replenishes the world’s stocks when nobody is looking, and these ones were still sticky and wet and new.

Alas, a family group of homo sapiens was there before us. But while mother and daughter prudently hung back, father decided to go for a closer look. Well, I could have told him what would happen: half the seals at once bolted for the safety of the ocean, scootching over the rocks with that lumbering breaststroke they use on land; the rest waited, poised for flight. At this the silly ass decided to get an even closer look, and within thirty seconds all but one of the pod was underwater. We could see them swimming in the shallows, popping up now and then to see if the coast was clear, and barking rude pinniped imprecations when they found it wasn’t. At this point we took our leave, feeling obscurely embarrassed on behalf of our species. At least now I understand why seals always look so mournful in the presence of us humans.

In gansey news I have almost completed the back. You can see the pattern more clearly now, simple but effective, and the central panels always remind me of Native American breastplate armour. I am still just about managing to keep to a rate of one 100g ball of yarn per week, though sooner or later I’ll get a life and slow down considerably.


Ladder (22 sts) and cables

The simplicity of the pattern is a big part of its appeal for me, so I determined to keep it simple. I wanted to keep the proportions, too: six panels divided by cables, with a double cable in the centre. In Thompson and Pearson the ladder panels are 18 stitches wide and the double moss stitch panels 16 stitches wide. I had my usual 368 stitches on the body, or 183 stitches for front and back (368-2 seam sts = 366; 366/2 = 183 stitches) to start with. Six cables = an additional 6 stitches.

With a little finagling I found that if I increased by 5 stitches for the cables (instead of 6) I could make the ladders 22 stitches wide and the double moss panels 20 stitches (i.e., an increase of 4 stitches per panel), as follows:

4 cables @ 10 stitches per cable = 40 sts.

And there were fireworks in the evening.

1 central cable @ 18 sts = 18 sts.

4 ladder panels @ 22 sts per panel = 88 sts.

2 moss panels @ 20 sts per panel = 40 sts.

2 flanking sts @ 1 st. each = 2 sts.

Double moss panel (20 sts) and cables

All of this adds up to 188 stitches (183 + 5). The flanking stitches are one at either side, and are there to serve as pick-up stitches around the armhole–so I can pick up the stitches for the sleeve without affecting etc pattern.

7 comments to Patrington & Withernsea, Week 5: 13 November

  • Sharon Gunason Pottinger

    Love theimagery of seals freshly squeezed out of a celestial creator’s tube. Yup.

  • Lois

    Lovely pattern, a true classic.

  • Dee

    Sarclet looks beautiful, and your freshly squeezed seals made me smile. Your gansey is a gorgeous color (it’s a very rich, almost royal blue on my screen).

    • Gordon

      Hi Dee, Sarclet really is a beautiful place, one of very many around the Caithness coast. I’m still amazed at the changing hue of navy gansey yarn, both Wendy’s and Frangipani, depending on the light—sometimes it’s a dull, dark blue, then the light catches it and it glows with an inner light, light the heart of a diamond. But you can knit with it (which you usually can’t with diamonds…)

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