‘Yet man,’ as Eliphaz the Temanite observes in the Book of Job, speaking of things that are inevitable, ‘is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward’; and in much the same way, no sooner has the Thurso gansey been completed than another has appeared on my needles to take its place. (I’m not entirely sure how it happens: basically, I go to bed and when I come down next morning there they are, apparently cast on by the gansey fairies in the night. Or else it’s the woodlice.)
This is going to be another of those generic Scottish Fleet patterns that can’t be pinned down to a particular place – it appears in Sabine Domnick’s book as “between Hull and Edinburgh”, and a variant was also recorded in Whitby. (N.B. – not much hope of identifying a drowned fisherman wearing this pattern, hmm?)
I’ll post the pattern when I get to it, but this is going to be another plain body / patterned yoke design, like the Thurso one. (It’s being knitted in Frangipani seaspray; but my iPhone seems to think it would look better in light blue, so that’s how the photo came out, god rot its shrivelled metal soul.)
Now, I’ve been threatening for a while to post some archive pictures of myself Morris dancing, and this seems as good a time as any. They were taken about 25 years ago when I was with the Brackley Morris Men—a time when I could still see my toes, let alone touch them, and waists weren’t just something that happened to other people. Morris dancing is a ritual folk dance dating back to who knows when (“time whereof memory of man runneth not to the contrary”, as my favourite legal saying puts it) and somehow it’s survived the industrial revolution, the First World War and the supplanting of Christianity by football as the national religion of these islands.
Why is that important? I don’t know, but it is. It’s like knowing that Wednesday was Woden’s Day, or that Thurso was the town on Thor’s River; that Caithness derives its name from being the headland (ness) of the Catt People, a Pictish tribe. The echoes resonate down the centuries even if the meaning is lost.
Well. It’s many a year since I last shook a bell in anger and my hair, unlike Mr Eliphaz’s sparks, has fallen like the autumn leaves; but I could probably manage a step or two yet. What’s that? Well, if you insist…
There’s one thing more needing mention / The dances we’ve danced all in fun / So now that you’ve heard our intention / We’ll play on to the beat of the drum…