T H White, who wrote the classic reinterpretation of the Arthurian legend as a means of exploring man’s inhumanity to man in the light of the twentieth century’s terrible wars, The Once and Future King (on which the musical Camelot was based; and the first part of the book, The Sword in the Stone, was made into a Disney cartoon), also wrote a fascinating little book called The Goshawk. In it, he describes how he once laboriously tried to tame a goshawk using only the information contained in antiquated manuals on falconry – unaware that the world had moved on, and that there were easier and better ways of doing it now.
I have a sneaking affection for the book, and for White’s approach, for part of me suspects he would have carried on regardless, even if someone had told him he didn’t have to do it that way. It was his choice, after all, and sometimes our choices are as revealing about us as anything we do.
So, in my own case, I’ve noticed a tendency to find a way that works for me, after which I’m not really interested in improving my technique – this is the case with computers, for example – once I find the keyboard shortcuts or commands that let me do what I want, there’s no point telling me a simpler way, or a better way: I don’t aspire to use a computer elegantly, or even efficiently.
Which brings us (finally, I hear you cry!) to knitting. I’ve been toying with the idea of turning this blog into a rather more detailed “how to” guide for the next gansey, which I’m going to start in the next few days, with more in the way of detail and illustration so you can see exactly how I go about it. The problem is, as faithful readers will have gathered by now, I tend to knit the way T H White trained goshawks, so it may have limited value to the modern world… Ah well. I was thinking of doing a simple pattern anyway, as a change of pace, so we’ll see.
Meanwhile, the completed gansey has had its day in the washing machine and is now, thanks to Margaret and her Amazing Plastic-y Board Things, securely pinned out to dry. As I wasn’t sure what my stitch gauge would be after the cataract operations (which was one reason for knitting this gansey) we decided to block it to what seemed a natural size, not too taut, and by a happy coincidence it ended up the same size as my favourite roomy pullover (48 inches round the chest, so with 432 stitches it gives me a gauge of exactly 9 stitches to the inch for a pullover with cables). So now I have to decide what to do with it: keep it (the weather’s been cold enough recently), or give it away to a deserving cause.
Now I’m off to find a book on falconry…
Happy New Year!