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Wick 10: 17 – 23 February

WK140223a There are many things to dread about getting old, the worst of which is probably the delusion that the rest of the world is an idiot, and that everyone from President Obama to JK Rowling could have saved themselves no end of time if only they’d thought of calling you up and asking your advice first. (I mean, it’s just a phone call, Barack; how hard can it be?)

But now I’ve found two more. Top of the list is NHS Scotland’s lifesaving policy of do-it-yourself bowel cancer testing every two years—or, as I like to think of it, for those familiar with the great game of cricket, “slip fielding for poo”. (They’ve even done a delightful little video, with a catchy song called Test Your Poo. My favourite line? “Don’t be snobby, test your jobby”—see http://thepoosong.com.)


The Lifeboat House

But glaucoma tests as part of a trip to the optician aren’t that far behind. It all starts when the optician puts the anaesthetic in your eyes; it doesn’t actually hurt, but really gums them up, like using peanut butter and honey eyedrops. (It doesn’t help either that when you wipe it afterwards the hanky comes away bright yellow, as though you were crying saffron.)

Then they test peripheral vision. This means putting your head up against a machine shaped like a pair of buttocks and staring at a pinprick of light (some people pay good money in private clubs for experiences not dissimilar to this); when other flashes of light appear at random intervals, you have to press a clicker.

WK140223bActually, they call it a test for peripheral vision, but its real purpose is obviously a Catatonic Migraine Inducer. And in this it is very successful: I was seeing random flashes of light all the way home, and on into my sleep. Next day the world was at right angles to reality. (You can get the same effect, and much cheaper, by asking a friend to slam your head in the fridge door for a quarter of an hour.)

And what of the gansey? Well, I’ve finished the collar and started on the sleeve and have just decreased the gusset out of existence, which is the knitting equivalent of paying off the mortgage. Now comes the steady haul down the sleeve, which will involve a decrease rate of two stitches every 6 rows.


Turnstones by the river

Purists, look away now: for I have a confession to make. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the centre panel on the body is a chevron; but on the sleeve it’s a purl heapy thingy. I did this deliberately, as the heapy panel was just the right size for the shoulder strap (and whatever pattern is on the shoulder ends up in the centre of the sleeve). But it does mean that the body and the sleeves won’t mirror each other exactly. Do we care? A little, perhaps. But I won’t tell if you don’t.

And now it seems as if spring is almost upon us. The snowdrops are blooming, birds are roosting in the trees, and the temperature in Wick went off the scale at 10ºC on Sunday. If it wasn’t for the wind auditioning to understudy the typhoon in The Wizard of Oz it would be positively tropical. I should go outside and enjoy it—it’s just that I’m waiting for this phone call from Barack Obama…

17 comments to Wick 10: 17 – 23 February

  • Lynne

    The gansey is looking great and no one would make the connection with the center pattern not matching the center sleeve pattern. This is such a nice traditional pattern and navy is still my favorite gansey color. The first gansey I knitted was 21 years ago, navy, Flamborough patterned the full tunic length below the hip, and is still my ‘go to’ sweater on these cold winter days.

  • Gordon

    Good evening, Lynne,

    I’m a sort of lazy perfectionist—I know what perfection looks like, then I settle for the easiest option!

    I know what you mean about navy. There’s something about it that still looks very right, very suitable for gansey patterns, which I guess makes sense. Certainly for patterns like this one, anyway!


  • =Tamar

    You’ll have to get in line for the phone call, I signed up several years ago and I’m still waiting.
    We had similar temperatures here a few days ago but it is now back to normal.
    The gansey is looking very good.

    • Gordon

      Today even more springlike than the weekend. What’s going on? I’ll have to start peeling off layers soon.

      After writing this blog I’ve probably just been added to the NSA target list, the CIA have been alerted and even as I speak a drone is winging its way to Wick – where it will demolish a house three doors down…

  • Freyalyn

    I’m finally getting somewhere with my enormous green gansey – just about finished the back, and about to go back and pick up for the front. Enormous huge areas of patterning.

    My sleeves will be plain. I want this thing finished.

    Making ganseys with large areas of patterning for 6’2″ who weighttrain is not recommended!

    • Gordon

      I do think one of the advantages the old knitter had was that people were shorter and skinnier in the old days than now! (I comfort myself with the though that it’s not that I’m slow, it’s more than people are bigger.)

      Best of luck with your project. My advice – knit for dwarfs! (Or dwarves, if you’re a Tolkien fan…)


  • Nigel

    Technical query: Gordon, please remind me, how does one jolly well calculate the amount of decrease down one’s arm? 🙂

    • Gordon

      Hi Nigel,

      I was hoping no one would ask me this!

      There’s probably a much simpler way, but here’s what I did. It was almost scientific.

      (1) Work out how many inches from the END of the gusset to the START of the cuff. (If your overall sleeve from shoulder to cuff is, say, 18 inches, and your gusset is 3 inches, you have 15 inches.)
      (2) Multiply the number of inches by your row gauge. (If you knit 12 rows to the inch, then 15 x 12 = 180 rows.)
      (3) Calculate the diameter of the desired cuff in inches, and multiply by the number of stitches per inch. (If your cuff is 9 inches, and your stitch gauge is 9 sts per inch, then 9 x 9 = 81 stitches.)
      (4) Subtract the result of (3) from the number of stitches you cast on around the armhole (which you will still have at the end of your gusset). If you cast on, say, 154 stitches, then the sum will be 154 – 81 = 73 stitches. That’s how many stitches you have to decrease before you reach the cuff.
      (5) Because you decrease 2 stitches each time, one either side of the seam, divide the result of (4) by 2. (In my example, 73/2=36.)
      (6) FINALLY, divide the result of (2) by the result of (5). In my example, that is 180/36 = 5. Therefore decrease 2 stitches every 5 rows.

      I’m very tired after a hard day’s archiving, so it’s anybody’s guess if this accurate. If all else fails, just decrease every 6th row and hope for the best, which is always my fallback position!

      Time for bed…

  • Nigel

    Bravo Gordon. You described it perfectly. It almost seems like child’s play. Thanks so much. I have now started on my first sleeve. Chin chin.

  • Nigel

    Bravo Gordon. Those are very clear instructions for a rather complicated equation. I have now started my sleeve. Thanks so much. Chin chin

  • Marilyn

    Hi Gordon, I have the same issue when I see ugly new construction projects going up. Well! Who approved those plans? They obviously didn’t consult me.
    Have you been watching Sherlock Holmes? What do you think? Same writers as the Dr. Who show, so I think you’d like it.

    • Gordon

      Hi Marilyn,

      I enjoyed the beginnings of Sherlock, especially the idea, the direction, the dialogue and especially the acting. I must admit, though, I’ve defected to the “Elementary” camp which, being longer, lets you develop a deeper relationship with the characters. The stories aren’t as clever, but (fond as I am of Benedict and Martin) it has the advantage of Lucy Liu, and Jonny Lee Miller who can chew more scenery per minute than any actor I’ve seen!

      I’d love to have seen the theatre version of Frankenstein in which he and Benedict Cumberbatch took turns playing the doctor and the creature, night by night. (Though I’d prefer to see them even more in “Young Frankenstein”, but that’s sadly unlikely to happen now…)


  • Jane

    Beautiful work, and it seems to me the sleeve works better with the purly panel. It seems to fit the scale rather well. Lovely colour co- ordination with the weather. The South of England has been a tad waterlogged and the army had to build a dam, but we are draining nicely now!

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane,

      The media feeding frenzy has moved on (the BBC has decamped on mass to Ukraine now) so the floods are apparently No Longer A Story. Which must be something of a relief in itself!

      All you have to brace yourself for now is a drought and a hosepipe ban come July…

      Good luck & stay dry,

  • Lisa Mitchell

    And I try to convince the 8 and 9 year olds that I teach that I use math every day in thing like my knitting. If they saw what you’d just done above, they’d elbow their little mates and say with awe in their voices, “See, Jimmy, some day we can do stuff like that!” (Serious by the way!) We’re supposed to get down to -33 degrees C tonight… *sigh*

    • Gordon

      Morning Lisa,

      Well, of course, it’s a well-known fact that Einstein turned to relativity theory as the easier option after his disastrous attempts to calculate the stitches for a cardigan with a pink rabbit motif while working as a patent clerk in Vienna at he turn of the century. In fact, knitting seems to have caused many of the leading mathematical theorists insurmountable problems in the last century – Heisenberg famously gave up casting on in despair, proclaiming that you can either know how many stitches you knit to the inch, or how quickly you can knit them, but not both at the same time.

      If my dad, who tried (and failed) to teach me maths when I was struggling at school all those years ago, could see this, he’d assume I’d been abducted by aliens and replaced by an android. And decide, on the whole, it was an improvement…

      Stay warm

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