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Thurso: 14 June

ThTh150615-1When sorrows come, as Shakespeare observed in an idle moment, they come not single spies but in battalions. Well, last week they came not so much in battalions but in divisions, corps and entire blasted armies.

It all came to head on “Black Wednesday” as my biographers will probably term it: the mouth infection and the shattered tooth we knew about. The broken shower we pass over in silence; these things happen. Even the publisher’s rejection letter was not altogether unexpected. But the inattentive cyclist who collided with my car and was sent crashing to the tarmac was, I feel, a little unfair.

It was a classic proof of the principle in physics that only one material object at a time can occupy the same piece of three-dimensional space; in this case, despite the cyclist’s best efforts, my car had the prior claim. It wasn’t my fault—he just made a right turn without looking or signalling and ran smack into me as I was overtaking him; I had witnesses and luckily he was unhurt, though shaken. Even so, it was all very unpleasant, not least the thought of what might have been.

ThTh150615-2Well—I’ve had a quiet word with Fate, and asked him nicely if he wouldn’t mind easing off a shade, and letting some other poor devil cop it for a bit. I mean to say, really.

The gansey continues apace and I’ve started the pattern. From the edge it runs as follows: diamond (19 sts); double cable (18 sts); chevron (27 sts); double cable (18 sts); diamond (19 sts); double cable (18 sts); chevron (27 sts); double cable (18 sts); diamond (19 sts).

It’s going to be 28 inches long. Now for the maths bit: I need to work out when to start the pattern to make sure I get an exact number of diamonds. There are 17 rows per diamond, so 7 diamonds is therefore 7 x 17 = 119 rows. I have to remember to factor in the “rig ’n’ fur” shoulder strap, which is another 12 rows; and a couple of double purl row/knit row ridges as a lower border (8 more stitches).



This gives me 119 + 12 + 8 = 139 rows for the pattern and shoulder. I’m averaging 10 rows per inch, so that’s 13.9 inches (call it 14 inches) for the pattern—so if I start the pattern after 14 inches of welt and body I should end up with something in the region of 28 inches in length. (I hope this makes sense! It almost does to me…)



A warm greeting this week to Sharon and everyone who took part in the World Wide Knit in Public Day event down by the harbour at Brough Bay on Saturday. The aim was to knit a series of gansey-pattern squares, and I took along a selection of ganseys just for fun. It was great to see so many people there, and—given that it was 7ºC and raining—the longest day is just a week away, folks—great to see the wood fire going strong!

Finally this week, in parish notices, Den has sent me some pictures of her gansey, which is currently a work in progress. It’s a Filey pattern, and you can see it emerge in the baby pictures here. It’s an intricate pattern, and should look very well knitted up—but then you can’t go wrong with Filey, can you? In fact, we should all form a conga line at this point and sing “You can’t go wrong with Filey” to the same tune as the Simpsons “You Don’t Win Friends With Salad…”


16 comments to Thurso: 14 June

  • Nigel

    Hope you are better. Fate took hold of me on Saturday. I had my Vespa vandalised by young ruffians in Leith. The Police gave me sage advice: “You should never park in Leith”. Thanks I said. When I got home, I noticed my garage open. I hadn’t locked it properly and someone had taken my daughter’s bike. The odd thing is, they left a bike behind. The Police Officer (not PC Don’t Park) says there has been a spate of break-ins and two youngsters were in court today. “We are looking for their stash” he reported. When I told him about the bike left behind he told me it was probably stolen. So I now have stolen property in my garage instead of the bike I bought.

    • Gordon

      Ouch! That’s no fun. Tell you what, Nigel, I say we tale all our bad luck and transfer it to the England cricket team (at least so long as they’re playing New Zealand!). Hope you get your bike back soon, Gordon

  • Lee

    I’m sorry life is booting you about – I hope it gets better soon!

    • Gordon

      Thanks, Lee. It’s fine, really – you reach a point where all you say is “whatever”, and shrug your shoulders in a gallic sort of way. I resolved last week that that was enough, and only good things should happen for a while now. Anytime now…

  • Annie

    Aw, heck, for these fates. Would y”all just please keep up with your vitamins and a newt or 2 brewed with dark ale and taken with a worm from the agave plant? Or just skip the brew and drink straight tequila. (Old Indian tale, and the old man told me so himself.)

    • Gordon

      Hi Annie, well, as vegetarian I’m not sure that newts or worms are allowed, unless they’ve started making them out of Quorn (and even then I;m not how big a seller they’d be up here in Wick…). I can’t even drink whisky just now because of the antibiotics, so I’ll have to wait a few more days, after which I plan to make up for lost time!

  • Lynne

    Goof grief, what a stack of bad luck Gordon & Nigel! I second Annie’s advice – except “tequila makes your clothes fall off” – so take care with that!

    • Gordon

      Now, steady on Lynne – there’s enough sadness in life without the risk of my clothes falling off in public places, when I’d basically look like a very large strawberry jelly left too long in the hot sun! Think of the children! And the horses!

  • Den

    Bad luck definitely seems to come along in barrages! I’m just hoping it’s not related to gansey knitting, otherwise I’m pulling mine out and going for Aran!!

    • Gordon

      Hi Den, this is unrelated to ganseys, but is my own personal streak of bad luck, a sort of gypsy curse experienced only by archivists who make a mistake cataloguing old documents. I have to go out at dead of night and find a crossroads, and bury a sprig of garlic with a leprechaun through its heart, or something (I’m a bit hazy on the details). But as luck would have it, I’ve got a leprechaun in the freezer and Tescos sells garlic, so I should be sorted.

  • Den

    Phew glad I wasn’t in for a gansey initiation! I’m amazed you get Leprechauns that far North. Here in the South-North we can only get teeny bottles of Leprechaun essence and only when the end of the rainbow is sitting directly on Morrisons! I can see why you freeze them!

  • Jane

    You have my sympathy, all of it. What a week! When I was younger, much younger, I had a strange idea that to get rid of the bad luck it was necessary to get in sight of a railway bridge and wait for a cat to cross the road, left to right preferably, while the train went across the bridge. A black cat was best, but any one would do really. It was truly amazing how often this daft set of events occurred!

    Lovely work and in somewhat trying times.

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane, well Ive packed up my sorrows in my old kit bag and thrown them in the river. Last I saw, they were disappearing into a culvert, to emerge somewhere in the ocean heading for Norway. So I’m good.

      It reminds me of my favourite dialogue in the immortal epic of arthouse cinema, Kung Fu Panda:

      Shifu: Master – it’s very bad news!
      Oogway: There is just news. There is no good or bad.
      Shifu: Tai Lung has broken out of prison! He’s on his way!
      [stunned pause]
      Oogway: That IS bad news.

  • Jane

    PS Please many congratulations to Margaret on her photographic success. I was on my hols last week, sunnier climes with my own broken tooth, wheezy chest, and husband’s sun stroke, yes, good times had by all!

  • Charles

    Gordon. A bad week indeed! In good news I unearthed my Gansey from the bag beside our bed where it spent the winter. It blinked, yawned, said it didn’t look like summer to it and tried to crawl back into the bag but I wrestled it out saying this was as good as it was going to get. I’d reached gusset time but am going to do some more rounds to get back used to knitting in miniature! Winter saw me doing lots of knitting in the round on four needles and even managing colour work! Hope the past week picks up. Charles

    • Gordon

      Hi Charles, my advice is, don’t feed it meat, or ever let it taste human blood…

      Four needle knitting is very impressive, like trying to eat with chopsticks in both hands simultaneously for me. Messy, and with a real risk of losing an eye somewhere down the line! Best of luck with your change of scale, Gordon

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