Any week must be special that contains the summer solstice, the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, and Edinburgh’s celebrated “Moonwalk” festival (in which thousands of women roam the city streets after dark wearing nowt above the waist but pink bras in aid of a breast cancer charity, and I draw the curtains and contemplate, er, well, anything to be honest, so long as it’s not pink) – and so it has proved, as I’ve finally finished the gansey’s body and the ribbing around the neck.
As promised, the ribbing is just over an inch, about 14 rows, plus the cast-off row. As usual, I cast off in the same knit 2/purl 2 pattern as the ribbing itself to ensure that the neck remains concertina’ed: if you cast off all in knit or all in purl it distends and stretches the neckline, which looks wrong.
Then it was on to the sleeve, which meant – gulp – picking up some 200 stitches round the shoulder, plus the gusset. As previously, if you increase the gusset on the row before you divide the body front and back, when you come to pick up the gusset for the sleeve you can decrease on the pick-up row: this gives the gusset a nicely rounded edge and also means that the sleeve’s pick-up row doesn’t distort the gusset.
I pick up the stitches onto four needles, as it makes it easier to manage in the round, but quickly revert to three thereafter. And – in the spirit of transparency I’m keeping nothing from you – I had only intended to pick up 186 stitches round the shoulder, or 93 on each side, but alas the cricket 20-20 world cup final was on (Sri Lanka versus Pakistan, both teams triumphing over terrible tragedies to keep on playing – Pakistan can’t play international cricket in their own country for fear of terrorism, and the Sri Lanka team were attacked by gunmen recently, several players injured and a number of policemen killed), so I kind of got caught up in the moment and before I knew it I’d picked up 100 stitches by the halfway point instead of 93; and the rest, as they say, is history. Anyway, Pakistan won.
Finally, as an afterthought to the thread on detective stories, and speaking of cricket, I’ve just finished the novel “Netherland” by Joseph O’Neill. It’s a wistful piece of literary fiction, almost a book without a plot, but I found it curiously compelling, if a tad self-consciously over-written at times. It’s set in the aftermath to 9/11 in New York, when a wealthy Dutchman finds himself living alone after his wife takes their son back to England. He drifts into playing cricket every Saturday with other, poorer immigrants – taxi drivers, waiters and so on – and so the novel has interesting things to say about what it means to live in a foreign country, to adapt and yet to keep your cultural identity, and of course about America. One of the narrator’s cricketing friends is murdered at the start of the book, yet O’Neill isn’t interested in a conventional detective story: the murder is never properly solved; instead, you gradually learn enough about the man’s life to know all you need to figure out why he died. So I guess sometimes a plot can get in the way of a good story?
Right, now it’s time to go and listen to some Pink Floy- no, on second thoughts, let’s just call them The Floyd…