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Scarborough / Wick (Donald Murray), Week 1: 25 March

March came in like a lion, and it’s going out like a lion too; a bad-tempered lion who’s lost his car keys and has just learned his favourite TV nature documentary series has been cancelled. (And I can’t help thinking that sooner or later evolution is going to produce a lion savvy enough to sign his own contract and demand royalties from David Attenborough; after all, it worked for the Pink Panther.)

It’s been a wild week outdoors, rain and hail and gusts over 50mph, with just enough passages of glorious sunshine to keep you off balance. All the daffodils had come out early, lured by the unseasonable warmth, and now they obviously regret it, hunkered down with an unwilling, miserable air. I took a holiday last week, just to potter about. Pretty much every time I ventured outside I got soaked, no matter how clear the sky looked when I started: it was like living in a Roadrunner cartoon. On Saturday I got rained on horizontally, and the nearest cloud I could see in any direction was about fifty miles away in Sutherland; if I hadn’t got in the way I expect the wind would have carried the rain all the way to Sweden.

Waiting, St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh

Well, with Margaret being away just now, I’ve had lots of time to myself, which means plenty of knitting and listening to audiobooks. I’ve decided to start two ganseys at once; and no, despite the rumours, I’m not knitting one with my hands and the other with my prehensile toes. The first, in Wendy navy, will be the popular Scarborough pattern (one of my favourites), and I’ll be knitting this one in the hours of daylight (mostly weekends). The other, in Frangipani Cornish Fudge (a new colour to me, and one I’ve always wanted to try), is another pattern from the Johnston Collection of old photographs held by The Wick Society; this one I’ll be knitting in the evenings. I’ll see how I get on.

Scott Monument from Advocates’ Close, Edinburgh

To keep myself company I’ve been listening to an unabridged recording of Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo, all 45 hours of it. It’s a cheerful little tale of injustice, revenge, suicide and death, but one phrase made me laugh. The Count is impersonating an Englishman: “And he laughed too, but he laughed as the English do, at the end of his teeth.” Isn’t that great? A more perfect way of describing a sort of insincere snicker, a laugh that isn’t really a laugh, I cannot imagine.

Mind you, the French have always trolled the British. And they do it so well. My favourite story this week—in a week not exactly full of good news—concerned the French Europe Minister, who’s decided to call her cat “Brexit”. She said she’s done this because he always miaows loudly to be let out, but when she opens the door he just stands there, and when she puts him out he gives her an evil look…

Doors on Advocates’ Close, Edinburgh

I’m laughing. But I’m laughing as the English do, at the end of my teeth.

11 comments to Scarborough / Wick (Donald Murray), Week 1: 25 March

  • Lois

    Ogden Nash said it well – “A door is what a dog is always on the wrong side of.” Of course, a dog can’t sneer, the way a cat does.

    The new colours are lovely, particularly that soft denim grey blue.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, that’s a great quote! As for colours – in my end is my beginning – I do love navy, it still feels the most right. But detailed patterns are wasted on it, unless you go out in bright sunlight.

  • =Tamar

    So… Cornish Fudge is blue? I wonder what the ingredients are.
    I was in Cornwall once, but I don’t recall buying fudge there. I went to a play at a theatre by the sea; they warned that the last bus back to town left before the end of the performance, but that audiences were accustomed to sharing rides with stranded travelers, and it was true. I don’t remember a thing about the performance except that it was enjoyable.

    Daffodils are coming out here as well, and yesterday we also had blustery weather with occasional sun, but not, thank goodness, horizonal rain. Or if we did, I wasn’t outdoors to notice it.

    I love your writing. I can depend on experiencing at least one loud American laugh, and there were even more than usual this time.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, and thank you. Cornwall is very beautiful – I mean, it’s no Caithness, but still not bad! – and places like Tintagel and St Ives retain their magic, despite the tourists. But it rains a lot more than the brochures imply, and the sea fret, or haar, ruins many a holiday.

      Today’s trivia: early drafts of the Pirates of Penzance were originally called “the Robbers of Redruth”. If it had been set up here it could have been “the house breakers of Halkirk”, or “the Willains of Wick”…

  • Tim

    Gordon – blimey! I’m labouring my way through one at the moment, I can’t imagine working on two at the same time. I’ve adopted your use of the circular needles, and I have to say I’m loving it. I have knit socks in the round on 4/5 needles, but always have had problems with looser stitches where the needles change (something I’ve addressed by shifting the point where the change occurs) but using the circular needles has been great. I’m also far less worried about lots of stitches sliding off the needles…
    You’ve probably answered elsewhere, but how many hours do you tend to put in each day? With work etc I seem to only do an hour a night, and I do also find the length of the round tends to lead to me having a short break between rows (just not used to around 300 stitches in one go…)
    Lastly – thanks very much for this blog – I just love looking at your output!

  • Gordon

    Hi Tom, great to hear from you! Circular needles are great, aren’t they? It’s always a wrench when I get to the sleeves and it’s double-pointed needles for the next 6 weeks or so…

    Over the last couple of years I have been knitting more than I used to. I’m gradually weaning myself off it in the hopes I may get a life, but at my age I fear the opportunity has passed!

    So: week nights I tend to knit for an hour and a bit, say 7.45-9pm, then 9.15-10.00pm. My eyesight has made watching tv less enjoyable, so Margaret and I tend to sit companionably and listen to an audiobook after 9pm. Weekends, if I’m not doing anything else, I can do 3 or 4 hours a day in total, broken up through the day and evening. (This is just a rough guide. On days I see friends or go out to look at scenery it can be a lot less.)

    Cheers, Gordon

  • Lynne

    As I’ve mentioned before, you CAN use circular needles to do the arms, you just use two of them, in fact, I use two circular needles to do the body, too, because I find it easier to rotate my stitches going around. Here is a YouTube video link:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgV0VlU8Hgw
    And – you don’t need to divide your stitches half and half, so it’s convenient to divide your pattern at an appropriate place.

    • Gordon

      Careful now, that’s the sort of talk can get a gal in trouble. You do know that the Salem Witch Trials started out in Holland as the Walem Stitch Trials, don’t you??

      • Lynne

        Big chuckle here. Try it, you’ll like it. The only dbl pointed needles I own anymore are a set of 5-inch wooden, $5 on eBay for the whole set and they are used only for binding off and I-cord.

  • marianna

    i’m new here, but immediately fell in love with your writing. and the ganseys. where would i find this popular Scarborough pattern? i would love to give this a try.
    thank you,
    marianna

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