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Week X+6

This week I have broken the all-comers gansey sleeve-finishing championships, by completing the first sleeve. That’s a whole sleeve in a fortnight, which is pretty good going for me. But that’s the advantage of plain knitting, you can just go with it.

As I said last week, I was decreasing at a rate of 2 stitches every 7 rows. About 3 inches from the cuff I had decreased down to 117 stitches in the round, which is about as narrow as I like a sleeve to be, so I stopped decreasing at that point and just knit straight down to the cuff. The cuff is 108 stitches in the round (or 4 knit 2/purl 2 ribs) so I decreased by 9 stitches on the first row of the cuff.

The cuff itself is 6 inches long, rolled over to 3 inches, give or take – the advantage of this being, of course, that if the wearer has arms like a gibbon he or she can vary the length of the rollover to suit. The cast off row is in the same knit 2/purl 2 ribbing as the rest of the cuff to make for a snug fit round the wrist (even for gibbons, with their unique ball-and-socket wrist joints).

Actually, I’m amazed I’ve even got this far, since the highlight of last week was a 3-day migraine brought on, I suspect, by some Indian spices (turmeric, I’m looking at you – frequently from the inside of a toilet bowl). As is often the case these days, I get the flashing lights in my sleep, so that I wake up with the disturbing after-effects (headache, nausea, desire to watch daytime television), which certainly saves time. I’m trying to work out if I can out-source the entire experience to my dreams so I can lead a normal life, but so far life is fighting back.

I’ve been having fun hacking away at the novel I wrote a few years ago, and have reduced the verbiage from 135,000 to 123,000 words – and I’m only halfway through. It’s obvious I was suffering from Not Very Good Writer syndrome when I wrote it, since the characters are always talking grimly, excitedly, suddenly – when they’re not just shrugging – and on several occasions Basil Exposition drops in and makes sure the audience is keeping up with the plot. (It’s quite addictive, this editing lark. Take any novel off the shelves, open it at random and see how many unnecessary adverbs you can spot on a page – he urged pointedly. Or two characters are in dialogue, but the author keeps telling you their names, Gordon said…) My aim is now to reduce the novel to a 15-syllable haiku; it will be short, but by God it will be focused.

This week’s bread is another sourdough wholemeal loaf, 80% wholemeal to 20% plain flour. The next step is to create an exact scale replica of Stonehenge made out of these loaves, with a sacrificial dormouse tied to the slaughter stone, specially for the winter solstice. (OK, it’s a work in progress, but maybe if I can get an arts grant…)

4 comments to Week X+6

  • Suzanne

    Dross adverb excision
    reduced the tale
    to fluttering wisps.

  • Gordon

    Suzanne, if I ever get a book published you’ll get a signed copy for that if for nothing else, no fear.

    One of my favourite haiku – with the correct number of syllables, apologies for the error in my blog – is by Wendy Cope, one of her humorous ones, which is more relevant to me than when I first read it…

    “The leaves have fallen
    And the snow has fallen, and
    Soon my hair also…”

  • =Tamar

    I hope you find out which spice it is that you need to avoid. I ran into something this summer and I know whose cooking I need to avoid, but not which spice he used.

    Someone discovered that if you put two haiku together, you have the right number of syllables for a limerick.

  • Gordon

    Hi Tamar,

    Well, Indian food (like red wine and coffee) is known to be a potential trigger for migraines, it’s just a question of narrowing it down forensically. But then I’ll forget and the next time I cook a curry it will all happen again!

    This weeks’ competition, a limerick starting with the line, “There was a young man from Hokkaido…” (The next line could be “Who went for a swim in the lido” but after that it gets trickier.)

    Gordon