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Scottish Fleet, Week 6: 13 September

SF150913-1Autumn has come to Caithness, as the nights draw in and the leaves turn burnished gold—at least I assume they do; it’s hard to tell, as the wind is gusting so strongly there’s just a vague suggestion of yellow as the leaves are stripped from the branches and sent scything at passers-by like ninja throwing stars. On our street alone there’ve been three leaf-related fatalities this week.

I treated myself to a new ebook reader, one of those fancy ones you can read in bed without having to turn on the light. Partly I bought it for ease of reading; partly because I got fed up reading a heavy iPad in bed, losing both my concentration and my grip and having it slam into my face (it got so embarrassing turning up to work with a bruised and swollen nose so often I had to pretend I moonlighted as a bare-knuckle fighter).


Waves at JoG

I’m a big fan of ebook readers. I know their main selling point is being able to read 50 Shades of Grey in public without anyone knowing, or in my case Ulysses without being beaten up, but I love having all my favourite books with me wherever I go. And, yes, I love the physicality of a good book—but the binding of a number of paperbacks I bought in the 70s has cracked and broken, so that all I’m left with is a handful of loose pages and some fading memories. Typeface or electronic ink—in the end, it’s all written on water; it’s the words that matter.


Giant reels at the harbour. Alas, they’re not loaded with yarn.

In gansey news, I’ve finished the half-gussets, divided front and back and am now well advanced up the back. You can see the pattern more clearly now: although it’s another very simple pattern, and delightfully easy to keep track of, the combination of knit and purl stitches, light and shade and cables, make it a something of a classic.

SF150913-2Finally this week, I was told the following story which comes from the Second World War. Well, the county’s Home Guard platoons all took part in a great exercise in which they had to pretend to attack one of the small villages on the east coast of Caithness. All the way there, this particular contingent argued as to how best to make their attack; some said one way, some said another. The arguments dragged on and on until at last they agreed to attack along the coast. They crept along the cliffs until they finally reached the command post and rushed in—only to find everyone was sitting around drinking tea. They’d spent so long arguing about how to attack the exercise was over before they got there…

12 comments to Scottish Fleet, Week 6: 13 September

  • Judit M/ Finland

    Gordon, the pattern is fine. I love the colour.
    Best regards and happy knitting !

  • =Tamar

    Actually, that would have been a good way to attack, after everyone was no longer alert.

    “Even the palest ink is better than the most retentive memory.” -H.Mertz, apparently quoting an Asian proverb. Some of my 1970s paperbacks are still the only copies of certain books. Imagine if they had been digital, on disintegrating magnetic tape. Meanwhile, computers do have their uses. We can now read (if we can read ancient Greek) the sole surviving book by Archimedes, who was an even greater mathematician than we knew.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, yes but have you ever come between a Brit and his tea? I think the soldiers might have been roused to indignant action, especially if the sudden opening of the door caused someone to accidentally drop a digestive biscuit into their Earl Grey…

      As an archivist, whose job involves preserving the collective memory of our culture, the fragility of paper is bad enough, but magnetic tape, and CDs are far more impermanent – and how long-term is the Cloud? – and yet we trust these media with our most important data (“backup” my left elbow!). On the other hand, as a vegetarian, I’m just grateful parchment has gone out of fashion…

      Archimedes is a closed bathtub to me, alas, but I’m glad to know he’s there!

  • June

    As I laughed out loud once again reading your blog, I knew I had to comment. Thank you so very much for the weekly update on your corner of the world. Living in the US Pacific Northwest, I can often empathize with your weather comments. And I also read because of your wonderful ganseys. My husband has been the recipient of three that I have knit, and I think I’m getting in the mood to knit a fourth. You are an inspiration.

    • Gordon

      Hello June and thank you. And remember, you can never have too many ganseys! On of my favourite poets, Philip Larkin, once wrote a poem that ended, “What will survive of us is love”, but in my case it will be a heap of ganseys, some Bob Dylan Cds and quite a lot of psychological trauma slowly dissipating across the universe like the echoes of the Big Bang, gradually becoming fainter but still just audible to the right scientific equipment…

  • Lynne

    That pattern just “pops” out of that Seaspray color!
    Which brand e-reader did you get, Gordon? I’m still reading with one of the first Kindles and I still love reading on it because it’s easier for arthritic hands to hold than some big books are, however it doesn’t have a back light and I’ve thought of ‘moving up’.
    I may be mistaken, but a few weeks ago, wasn’t one of your bloggers looking for a reasonable copy of Rae Compton’s “Traditional Guernsey & Jersey Knitting”? I was browsing on Amazon.com and there is a good used one available for $38 U.S. funds.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne, I treated myself to a Kindle Paperwhite, as they dropped in price just recently. I had an old one which worked fine but I didn’t really like the black-on-grey text, so black-on-white with a backlight is a big improvement. I still prefer a brand-new paperback book, despite knowing it’s never going to last, but everything else is better on an e-reader, I find. History books or other doorsteps are easier to hold and to read, and I rather like the ability to look up a word I don’t know just by touching the text. Plus, no one can see me reading 50 Shades of Grey … which now I come to think of it would have made a good title for my autobiography, both in term of dress sense and hair colour!

  • Jane

    This gansey just gets nicer and nicer, you might see it as a straightforward pattern, but it is very, very impressive, quite lovely to look at.

    The weather in the South of England is equally dire, lightweight coats and hats already, wind, rain, hail, all the jolly stuff, and the leaves still green on the trees! The cats have embraced the warm indoors, all quiet on the garden front.

    I too have an electronic reader, and with a backlit screen, although quite an old one. You can adjust the level of lighting and type size so it all works out very nicely for quiet midnight reading! Very useful. I am sure you will enjoy yours. I love the Dad’s Army story, so true everything stops for a cup of tea! Take care.

  • Sharon in Surrey

    Hi there Gordon. Love that pattern!!! It’s really popping as you get higher on the yoke. It might even make me take up the needles & knit one myself. I could use one right now – we went from ‘crank up the air conditioning’ to ‘turn on the furnace’ in the space of two days here on the Wet Coast of southern B.C. We’ve also dropped our ‘drought’ alert & can now wash our cars & water the garden with a hose again. I think the lawns have grown 5 inches in two weeks!!!
    I’m on my second e-reader. I bought the Kobo originally because my arthritic thumbs wouldn’t hold a book in bed anymore. I loved it but hated the glare from the bedside light. And the clip-on light illuminated one spot well & the rest really badly. So I upgraded to the back-lit version – cannot say enough good things about it!!! I can read everywhere – in the sun, in the shade, in the car, in bed. The only problem is that I can’t load color patterns or magazines on it. Light colors disappear. So I’m thinking of upgrading again to the color version. Best electronic device ever created except for my audio book player.

  • Gordon

    DearJane and Sharon, I see you’ve both had a bout of wet weather, which has its ups and downs. But droughts are never pleasant, and I’ve been aware of the weather extremes in the States for a while now. Our leaves are definitely on the turn, not that they were there long enough to notice if they were green, and the lawn is growing more slowly—i think the grass has just given up, thought “what’s the point?” and just decided to hibernate till next summer, and try again.

    E-readers are a great invention, aren’t they? I toyed with a Kobo but in the end felt the range on offer from Amazon (I know, tax-dodging evil empire that they are) was too goo dot ignore—plus with my own e-books I’m a shill for them anyway… I know I’ve mentioned this before, but there was a great instance of the people behind the Nook e-reader being too clever by half, and deciding to replace the word “kindle’ on all their devices with the word “nook”—but they had to hastily change it back after readers complained that characters in War and Peace were “nooking” a fire, or “nooking a flame of affection in their hearts…!

  • Brenda

    I am still howling over the 3 leaf-related fatalities. Gee I thought it would be safer in Scotland because of the lack of dangerous wildlife. Hmmm I guess I will visit in the Spring when the risk is lower.

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