And here we are, the first blog of 2014, which is the blogging equivalent of waking up with a hangover and in someone else’s underwear, and finding you’ve shaved your tongue by mistake. (Actually, I did once brush my teeth with shaving cream when hung over, and I don’t recommend it—apart from the taste, you get this rabid dog/ foaming mouth effect, and it doesn’t half make a mess on the mirror if you sneeze.)
Anyway, a happy New Year to all, and I hope Santa was kind. We spent Christmas week here in Caithness, which meant battening all available hatches and enduring wave after wave of low pressure systems sweeping across the UK, bringing with them storm force winds and floods. Parts of Britain are so wet you might as well start gathering two of every animal and taking up carpentry.
Actually, the winds were pretty severe. I joked elsewhere that it was like having someone rev up the engines of a 747 across the road from you, but there really were times when it felt just like that. We also had a chance to observe God’s version of Pooh Sticks, where He’d select a seagull at random and see how long it took for the wind to deposit it in Greenland (about half an hour, at a conservative estimate).
Then, after Christmas, and braving the elements, we went down to the Midlands for Hogmanay with my family—a 1,200-mile round trip made even more worthwhile by the fact that it gets lighter an hour earlier, and darker an hour later, than in Wick (so it’s not just a social call, it also serves as our yearly anti-rickets boost).
In gansey news, as you’ll see from the pictures, I’ve managed to fit in a fair bit of knitting these last few weeks. I’ve started the pattern and divided front and back. And am a shade over halfway up the back.
The pattern is Donald Angus of Caithness’s gansey, as featured in Rae Compton and Henrietta Munro’s booklet, “They Lived By The Sea”. I’ve adjusted the width of the pattern bands to fit my stitches, but otherwise it’s pretty much the same (I’d normally add cables to a pattern like this, but as I plan to give the finished gansey to Wick museum I figure I should stick to the script, for once).
It’s a striking pattern and, as Rae Compton observes, it’s hard to believe that such a richly textured effect is achieved only by the use of knit and purl stitches. (It’s very easy to knit, too.) It’s quite different to my usual patterns, but I like it a lot.
Now, in our first parish notices of the year, for all of you who asked Gail for pictures of the child’s cardigan she’d made using gansey patterns, she’s sportingly sent us pictures which you can see here, and dead impressive it is too. Also, Laura has sent a picture of her completed gansey, a splendid combination of patterns in dark navy (but looking much lighter in the photo). Warmest congratulations to both.
So there we are. I’ve already survived my first week back at work, though it left me feeling like I’d been beaten up by orcs—so that’s one down, 51 to go. Now all I have to do is figure out who this underwear belongs to…