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Wick 5: 13 – 19 January

WK140119a I was going to complain about the heavy fogs we’ve been getting lately, but last night I realised that this was in fact salt spray which had dried and crusted on the windows.

Then I was going to complain about the winds and driving rain—but today the sun’s shining from a clear blue sky—so clear I even caught a glimpse of God getting out of the shower, unless it was merely a lesser archangel—and it’s really rather wonderful. (And even the gales gave us some pretty spectacular waves in the harbour – see video links below.)

I mentioned last week that we drove down to my parents’ for a quiet New Year in rural Northamptonshire. Back when I was growing up there were a lot of Scots who lived nearby, who’d come down to work in the steelworks at Corby. My parents used to have big Hogmanay parties, and so I naturally came to associate New Year’s Eve with crowds of drunken expatriate Scotsmen singing along to “Donald Where’s Your Trousers”—and even now, despite all the medication and psychoanalysis, those memories come back to haunt me.

If I am ever recruited by military intelligence and sent on a dangerous mission, and am captured by the enemy and interrogated, the scene will probably play out like this:

WK140119bInterrogator: So, Mr Reid, your fingernails have been pulled out, your skin flayed, you’ve been deprived of sleep and yet you still refuse to talk?
Me: I’ll never betray my country! Never!
Interrogator: We even attached electrodes to your dangly bits—though we had to stop when you started enjoying it too much… So there is nothing we can do to loosen your tongue?
Me: Nothing! I’ll take my secrets to the grave.
Interrogator: Hmm. Do you know what this is, Mr Reid?
Me: I can’t see anything. You plucked out my eyeballs, remember?
Interrogator: Oh, yes, sorry. Let me describe it, then. It’s an LP, entitled “Andy Stewart’s Greatest Hits”.
Me: (nervously): Er…
Interrogator: Let me see. Side One, Campbeltown Loch, The Muckin’ O’ Geordie’s Byre, and—what’s this?—Donald Where’s Yer Troosers?
Me: No! Anything but that!
Interrogator: Let’s just give it a spin, shall we?
[Pause of 5 seconds while record plays]
Me: So, what would you like to know?

Turning to the gansey, I’ve now finished the back and just made a start on the front.The armhole is about 7 1/2 inches from gusset to the start of the shoulder strap (and interestingly took just under 100 grams of wool to knit).

Because it’s a Scottish gansey I’ve decided to do a traditional Scottish shoulder, by knitting the strap at right angles to the body and continuing it down the sleeve. The pattern will be the central chevron from the body; the tricky part is binding off at each edge as you work along the shoulder.

The point to remember is that you knit more rows to the inch than stitches—in my case, a ratio of 12:9. So I need 25% fewer stitches along the edge of my shoulder, or else the shoulder will ridge up like a switchback by the time it’s finished. (I’ll say more about this in a few weeks when we get to it, but for now I’ve decreased each of my shoulders by 25% on the final row.)

Oh, and I’ve also remembered what looking through my windows reminds me of—it’s just like having cataracts all over again!


10 comments to Wick 5: 13 – 19 January

  • Nigel

    Hi Gordon. I enjoyed the videos. I am just two inches short of finishing front and back on my gansey. #marathon

    • Gordon

      Hi there Nigel,

      It’s been so quiet this week I was beginning to think the Andy Stewart fan club had issued a Papal Bull to boycott the site! One of the perks of my job is that I can see the bay from my office window, and if I look out—which I hardly ever do, all my attention being concentrated on my work, of course—I can see the explosions of spray hitting the rocks at the far end of the north shore.

      Congratulations on the progress on your gansey—I feel like I should be standing on street corners handing you bottles of water as you sprint towards the final finish line…

      Good luck!

  • Lynne

    I, too, liked the videos, it just seemed that with the force behind those waves that the sky should be ominously gray and threatening. Great progress on the gansey and I know what you’re talking about with decreasing those stitches for your shoulder strap. Thankfully, when I did the yellow Hebridean gansey last year, Alice Starmore did all that calculation for me.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne,

      Well, Margaret chose the one day this month when the sun shone to take the pictures! Other than that, grey and lowering about sums it up, I think.) It’s still pretty good out in the bay today, the waves not actually crashing over the lighthouse but certainly giving it a good hosing—but, of course, grey.

      It’s been so long since I knit this kind of shoulder I can’t remember what to do. Tension mounts… (not literally, of course, it’s still 9.25 sts per inch!)


  • Cathy

    What videos? Is this the explanation for the 4″ blank gap between the blog and the comment section? When I read it last night I thought, that’s odd, no comments, then, there’s 4″ of lively chat that’s gone invisible down some nanopathway and not on this wifi. If that’s a bit garbled, it’s because I’m getting a bit fed up with the general unreliability of internet, especially since the calendar changed to 2014. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t. If I very lucky, I get to watch little wheels turning…Anybody else having problems?
    Meanwhile, I’m nearing the cuff on the second arm of my first gansey –

    • Gordon

      Hi Cathy,

      Sorry you can’t access the videos. It’s always a risk putting these things up, but as far as we can tell they’re working our end. They’re videos of the waves in Wick harbour – if you go to YouTube and search for “waves Wick harbour January 2014” you should see other videos showing the same sort of thing.

      It sounds like you’ve almost finished the gansey then?


      • Cathy

        Hi Gordon
        Gansey finished!! (to the sounds of Faure’s requiem).
        Re videos – think iPad the problem (but not for the slow broadband). Going to try on a big machine.

        • Gordon

          Hi there Cathy,

          Congratulations! Though by the sound of it, Mahler’s great 2nd symphony, the Resurrection, would be more appropriate, with its great orchestral climax with choir and organ, and a refrain urging us all to “believe”…!

          (Mahler never wrote a symphony about knitting, thus giving the lie to his claim that the symphony must contain everything, the big fraud.)

          So – when do you start the next one…?

  • Judit M./ Finland

    Hi Cathy,
    Where are you ? Here at us internet is fine, I enjoyed Gordon´s videos a lot .
    Keep on knitting :).
    Best regards !

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