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Robin Hood’s Bay Cardigan: Week 5 – 25 May

The age of miracles, alas, is over. I mean proper miracles, of course, not the everyday sort like smartphones or microwave ovens, my comprehension of which is more or less on a par with a Neanderthal invited to assemble the engine of a helicopter. No, the sort of miracles I’m talking about are the ones used by the saints to convert the heathen back in the day, before prayer meetings and leaflets became the norm.

The Daily Exercise

Saint Columba came to the Highlands in 565 AD, and paid a visit to Inverness. According to the Life of St Columba by Adomnan of Iona, he gained entry to the fortress of the Pictish king Bridei or Brude by making the sign of the cross, whereupon “the bolts slid back and the gates swung open”. Not only was Columba a useful saint to have around if you’d lost your keys, he also had what may be the first recorded encounter with the Loch Ness monster. He wanted to cross the river Ness, but when he reached it he found the locals burying a man who had tried to swim across for the dinghy on the far bank, and who had been killed by “a water beast”. Columba told one of his party to try, and when the beast duly appeared he made the sign of the cross and said, “Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once”. At which the beast “fled in terror so fast one might have thought it was pulled back with ropes”. (Isn’t that great? It’s also a perfect description of me, the time I opened the door to find some Mormon missionaries on the doorstep.)

St Fergus’ through the trees

In gansey news, I have started the gussets. I’m doing something slightly different this time: instead of growing the gusset from within the purl “fake seam” stitch, I’m keeping the purl seam stitch as it is and growing two half-gussets either side of it. This was a recognised traditional variation on the theme—Rae Compton features it in her book, for instance—and I’ve always liked it: it seems such an elegant solution, and you then have the seam running (seamlessly, as it were) from the ribbing, up the body, through the gusset and so down the sleeve to the cuff. Other than that, the gansey grows apace; and looking at the pattern I can’t help but think that, if nothing else, my friend Vincent, for whom it is intended, will never find himself short of a cheese grater again.

And so I bemoan the lack of miracles nowadays. It’s the smiting I chiefly miss, something that would have come in handy this afternoon when I met a young lady on the riverside; she was pushing a double pram that completely blocked the path, and talking unseeing into her phone, so that I had a choice between diving into river or the brambles, or being mown down like a dormouse under a combine harvester. Even St Columba might have struggled. But mostly when it comes to miracles I’m with Woody Allen: “If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss Bank…”

10 comments to Robin Hood’s Bay Cardigan: Week 5 – 25 May

  • =Tamar

    I’d settle for a large deposit in my own bank, or failing that, a really good car repairman.

    I have not yet figured out how to set the clock on my new microwave oven. The piece of paper that came with it told me to download the instructions online.

    • Gordon

      As Woody Allen also famously said, when he appeared on a panel show discussing if God exists, after being ignored for an hour and finally turned to for his thoughts as the credits were about to roll: “Not only isn’t there a god, you try getting a plumber at weekends”…

  • Felicity

    We need a miracle on this side of the pond, Gordon. But your Gansey cardigan looks wonderful. Thank you for keeping us hopeful.

  • =Tamar

    P.S. So which was it? The river or the brambles? (It’s a good thing you don’t knit while walking. I’d hate to think of your lovely work either wet or brambled.)

    • Gordon

      Brambles! Partly because like Terry Pratchett’s river Ankh I’m more likely to get food poisoning than drown in the Wick river, but also stout jeans and a gansey are remarkably bramble-proof…

  • Bridget

    I’m thinking it is politically Impolite, but SNERK about the Mormon missionaries on the doorstep. They need to thank their lucky stars they don’t venture here. Gated community, and high up on the hills. NO ONE ventures here — well, except the postman delivering a box that doesn’t fit in the community mailboxes. 🙂

  • Barbara M. In NH

    Our youngest son had a best friend who, at age nine, singlehandedly vanquished a Seventh Day Adventist.

    Missionary: “Well, little boy, do you believe in God?”

    Child: “” I’m a Hindu, I believe in 200 of them.”

    Missionary: Blank look, mouth hanging open…..

    Child: “Thanks for stopping by.”

    I’ve always hoped I’d get a chance to use that line myself someday!

  • Lois

    After being targeted by local missionaries several times, I found the answer. When their car stopped in the driveway, I let the 3 Great Danes out …….

  • Gordon

    Hi everyone – glad to hear I’m not alone! I was surprised at how aggressive they were when I said I wasn’t interested. I felt if turned the other cheek I’d have had it slapped for my trouble…

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