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Scottish Fleet Cardigan: Week 8 – 19 October

Sun & Rain

And here we are: the Scottish Fleet cardigan is finished, at least as far as the knitting is concerned. All that remains is for it to be anaesthetised, strapped to the operating table and to undergo open steek surgery, a procedure only slightly less fraught than removing an alien face hugger from poor John Hurt’s fizzog. The tree and cable pattern combination has worked out really well, two of the very best designs complementing each other nicely. And next, after four ganseys in a row for friends and family, I think there’s just time to end the year with one for me. More on this next time.


Mind you, I don’t know how much knitting I’ll get done for a while. You see, I’m expecting to take up boxing for a living. It’s not my idea—the government, in a way that is not in the least bit crass or insensitive, is suggesting that people in the arts and cultural sector retrain to learn a more “useful” profession (surprisingly, MP or government adviser doesn’t seem to be an option). So I duly completed the online questionnaire, and hey diddle-de-dee, it’s a boxing life for me. I must admit I was expecting my age, spectacular lack of fitness, and a well-known reluctance to be repeatedly punched in the face to steer me in a different direction, but evidently boxers can’t be choosers.

Gordon’s actual new career suggestions

Until now, the most spectacularly inept careers advice I’d received came from my old alma mater Manchester University, from which I graduated with a semi-respectable 2:1 honours degree in 1982. Automated careers advice back then was nowhere near the sharp, sophisticated levels obviously available to today’s government, and the three options I was given were teacher, social worker or priest. I remember I went back to see my tutor after graduation to discuss the matter. He said, “Well, to be honest we didn’t give your career options a lot of thought as we had you down as a fail,” before going on to add that he had rather a lot of other students to see. My academic career in a nutshell.

But here’s the thing. The world’s just gone through an unprecedented lockdown. And what helped us all get through it, and is helping us all still? It’s the writers, artists, actors, dancers, tv programme makers, filmmakers, novelists, poets, musicians, and what they create and do. But art and culture aren’t just something to help us cope with life, they are life, reflected back at us. So my advice to Fatima, the ballerina in the advert, and all the other creative people out there, isn’t to retrain as a cyber security expert (unless you really want to); it’s to hang in there as long as you can, for what you do touches and enriches all our lives. And I’ll be with you in spirit: for as Jack Handy famously observed, there’s a parallel with my new career: “To me, boxing is like a ballet—except there’s no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other…”

14 comments to Scottish Fleet Cardigan: Week 8 – 19 October

  • Nicola Bielicki

    Well done Gordon, the cardigan looks wonderful. I’ve started on the ball you sent me so hopefully my first ever gansey will be finished before Christmas..
    When I graduated at a similar time the advice was also similar…teacher, hospital administrator…but I ignored it all and eventually did re-train, ending up in the Civil Service…but as a balletomane, amateur actor and avid reader my advice to all the Fatimas is do what you love. Good luck with the boxing !!

    • Gordon

      Cheers Nicola; apparently one of the other career options done people got was”lock keeper”; since I grew up next to a canal, I kinda feel that job should have been mine! Best of luck with the gansey.

  • Wendy Lorimer

    Reading your lovely words and getting back into knitting has been getting me through these times, I’m really not sure that any politicians have helped so far.

    I would love to knit a gansey, I have had the idea in my head for 30 years so it is time to cast on. A scarf is my practice piece for the patterns, my swearing is getting less day by day. Thank you for the inspiration and information!

    • Gordon

      Many thanks Wendy. They’re easier than they look – it’s just a question of sticking with it, as they do take a fair old time to knit. But then, what’s the hurry anyways…?

  • Sharon Gunason Pottinger

    Good knitting and good thinking. Where can I take the test to see what I should retrain as?

  • meg macleod

    long live all creatives..well said

  • Dave

    Of all the people I know, you would have been somewhere near the bottom of my list (like a very long elevator ride) to have been a boxer (I’m assuming pugilist rather than ‘of the Baskervilles’. I foolishly, tried it in the gym near work pounding an oversized stuffed sausage and ended up with hands like balloons and pretty sore for quite a while. Anyway, nice cardi. Take care. Watch out for the seagulls.

    • Gordon

      Hi Dave, you’ve obviously never seen me tenderising a recalcitrant slab of tofu… but you’re right: real boxers operate at a level unimaginable to mere archivists – even those of us with a wee bit of a temper.

  • =Tamar

    I tried it – it doesn’t require me to state nationality – and it offered me Editor, Actor, or Entertainer in comedy or cabaret.
    Now, if they’d offered me a role as The Audience, that could work. At least they included the arts as a possibility!

    That’s a pleasant light grey, but the dark season is approaching. So… what color will your next gansey be? Waiting with bated breath.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, I’m disappointed that candlestick maker doesn’t seem to be an option! As for my next gansey, it’s a return to an old favourite as far as colour and pattern is concerned… the latter with a wee twist.

  • Lois

    Hmmm, I see I have a choice between an art director, a vet or a welder. Decisions, decisions!

    Has anyone tried welding a gansey?

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, the one time I ran my gansey through a washer and dryer it certainly felt as though it had been welded! Otherwise, I’m guessing not…

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