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Week 15: 8 – 14 March

So here’s the thing. Just when you think the modern world has thrown at you all you can take, you come across online job applications. And you think, hey, this is impressive, I can answer the questions without having to print the whole catalogue of my life out and post it, this is progress. And you write your 1,000 word essay in deathless prose on why they should give you the job, and you check it carefully, double check it, and finally press “send”. Only then do you get an email with a copy of your application, and what do you find? That the system has swallowed the last two words of your essay; so that now, instead of ending with the triumphant cadence of the contribution archives can make to “the learning and community agendas”, it ends rather more enigmatically with their contribution to “the learning and.” I think, though, that it has a curiously wistful quality, not inappropriate for as big a fan of the novels of Joseph Conrad such as I.

I’ve decided to apply for the job in the Outer Hebrides, in case you were wondering, which is about as far north as I can get without having to train my own huskies (and, as the old joke has it, going clubbing involves controlling the seal population and not drinking in bars). They’re looking for someone to get their archives service started from scratch for 3 years, after which time you hand it over to a trainee archivist. If I get the job I’m looking forward to practicing my Star Wars emperor voice so I can constantly refer to “my young apprentice” to an extent that will probably count as bullying and harassment at work.

For the rest of it, I’ve been immersing myself in the symphonies of Gustav Mahler, something I haven’t done for years. I have a complete set conducted by Bernard Haitink and I’ve been working my way through all 10 of them, reminding myself that there’s so much more to his music than the beautiful, famous “Death In Venice” adagietto. (About 15 hours more, in fact.) And at the same time I’ve been doing a lot of knitting.

As you will see from the pictures I’m well on my way to finishing the back, just another few inches to go plus the shoulders (you’ll notice the upper patterns replicate the lower panels, as was traditional). I’ve been debating what to do about the shoulders, though. Regular readers of this blog will be aware that my default is the “rig and fur” shoulder strap, bands of k2/p2 stitches that come to resemble a ploughed field, which has the advantage that the cast off row in effect becomes another ridge down the centre. Occasionally I flirt with the cable shoulder that runs continuously down the arm.

The Scottish way was to stop at the top of the back, but to knit a panel from the front which covered the entire shoulder, casting off where the shoulder meets the back. That way you can create a complete patterned shoulder strap with no disfiguring cast-off join in the middle – the join comes where the shoulder meets the back. I’m undecided, but am thinking I should make this as traditional as possible.

Anyway, there’s something pleasing about knitting a Hebridean gansey and applying for a job on the islands. It might make the difference at interview, you never know. Failing that, I’ll just have to talk knowledgeably about the learning and

4 comments to Week 15: 8 – 14 March

  • =Tamar

    The gansey is impressive already. Traditional is nice once in a while. Good luck with the job – if you get that one, you’ll get to be the boss! That far north, you’ll be able to wear your sweaters all year round.

  • Gordon

    Thanks, Tamar. It would be nice to have a job that achieved things again. Great in the summer – maybe a bit on the dark side come winter – and, as you suggest, a shade on the cold side!


  • Nigel

    Good luck Gordon.

  • Gordon

    Hi Nigel, and thanks. It’s always a lottery when you apply for anything, but this job looks like it could be a lot of fun. And we’d like to stay in Scotland for a bit longer and maybe even put down some roots. Plus there are loads of Scottish ganseys to knit other than the Hebridean ones!