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Seed Panel Gansey: Week 3 – 9 November

It’s baby seal time—as, let’s be honest, when is it not?—and as this is the birthing season we popped down to Sarclet Harbour to see what we could see. Sarclet features often in these pages, and has many natural advantages: it’s only five miles south of Wick, is beautiful in a rugged, understated, Scottish sort of way, and has so far escaped the notice of drivers of the lesser-spotted camper van. Plus it’s got seals.

A year or so back, you may remember, we encountered some fifty of the wee beasties here—seals that is, not campers—waddling on the beach or frolicking in the billowing foam; this time there were only five—three pups and two adults. But it’s early in the season, and hopefully these are just the advance guard, arriving early to nab the best spots. We stayed high on the path overlooking the harbour, not wishing to get too close and disturb them. It was lucky we did, for when we raised our gaze to the offing we were perfectly placed to see six or seven black fins knifing through the water, submerging and then, a few seconds later, reappearing a little further on. We think they were a pod of orca heading south, the first time we’ve seen them there. Seals and whales, I thought: what next? I held up a finger, and was disappointed a blue bird didn’t alight on it and start singing; but then I suppose you can’t have everything.

Just as we were going some kayakers paddled into the bay. I was expecting them to check out the seals from the water and keep going, following the dolphins southwards. But they kept on coming, grounding their canoes on the shingle and climbing out. The adult seals retreated in panic to the water; the pups just squirmed helplessly. The kayakers ignored them and, to our mounting horror, split up and, each finding a different hollow, yanked down their pants, hunkered in a crouch and let nature take its course. Sorry about your nursery Mr and Mrs Seal, I thought, anthropomorphising terribly, but that’s humanity in a nutshell. We didn’t linger but, pausing only to wave and catch the kayakers’ eye, take a photograph and shout, “We’re sending this to National Geographic!” we took our leave.

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TECHNICAL STUFF

Later that day . . . otter in Wick river

I’ve made good progress up the body this week, to the extent that it’s pattern and gusset time. These days I knit a pre-gusset additional purl stitch on the fake seam (effectively turning the seam into two purl stitches). I usually start this four rows from the start the gusset proper. Then, when it’s time to make the first increase that will be the very beginning of the gusset, it already has two purl stitches to nestle between. Essential—no; rather neat—I think so.

Cordova with Deep Violet and Turquoise

Finally, I took delivery of 2 cones of Frangipani Cordova shade yarn, courtesy of Deb Gillanders of Propagansey. It’s my sort of colour—a blue-grey-green, inspired by the seas off Cordova Alaska, dyed for the Net Loft. I plan to use it for another of the superb Caithness patterns from the Johnston Collection, which I will ultimately donate to Wick Museum. But that will have to wait till next spring; something to look forward to. Meanwhile, many thanks to Deb; it’s a great shade and I can thoroughly recommend it.

8 comments to Seed Panel Gansey: Week 3 – 9 November

  • =Tamar

    I can understand choosing not to follow the orcas southward…

    That gansey is moving right along!

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, yes, I suppose a headline of “But the bodies have yet be recovered” wouldn’t look great on the Visit Scotland website!

  • Sarah J

    Hi Gordon
    Just wondering, do you have a secret team of ganseyless elves popping into your house of an evening and knocking over a few rows for you? I’ve read that you consider yourself a slow knitter however, seeing your progress each week, I can only assume you’re comparing yourself to some kind of Stirling Moss of the knitter world. I’m most envious. All I can manage is about 4 rows an evening. At this rate, I should just about have my Gansey finished about the time when intergalactic space hoppers are taking up room in our garages!

    • Gordon

      Hi Sarah, no, not elves sadly; ever since they got unionised and demanded Elf and Safety risk assessments I just can’t afford it. Luckily an imp has come along and offered to knit ganseys for me while I’m asleep, all I have to do is guess his name and I don’t have to pay…

  • Walking along by Sandsend recently I think the Cordova shade has nailed yet average Sea. Thanks for the endorsement, there are still some kg’s available. Someone could buy it for you for Xmas, folks. Then you could knit them a Gansey.

    • Gordon

      You’re very welcome Deb. It’s a shade that captures the shifting colours of the sea perfectly, and I look forward to knitting it up next year, if and when the sun returns…

  • Maureen

    Good morning. The Gansey is coming on a treat. Loved reading the seal story,too!
    I have my Cordova wool at the ready once I’ve had a practise run with some frangipani left overs. Can’t wait to start on the Gansey proper,though Thanks again,Deb, for all your encouragement when I picked up my Cordova wool from your amazing shop in Whitby last month.

    • Gordon

      Hi Maureen, I’ll slow down now I’ve reached the pattern. I’m putting in the hours just now as I want to get this one done by Christmas if I can. Happy knitting! Gordon

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