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Wick (Cordova): Week 3 – 5 April

This week I turned on the radio news to hear an interviewee earnestly declare, “We need to do a full spectrum analysis of the threat landscape”. (I’m afraid I don’t know who the speaker was or what he was talking about, as I was laughing so hard I missed the rest.) But I mean to say: seriously? I now picture two soldiers standing in a field:

Officer: We need to do a full spectrum analysis of the threat landscape, Jenkins.
Soldier: Yes, sir, I did that earlier, sir. It’s green.
Officer: Ah, you mean it’s safe?
Soldier: No, sir, I mean it’s green. It’s a field. With, what’s the word I’m looking for, grass.
Officer: Not the landscape landscape, you idiot! I’m talking about the threat landscape.
Soldier: Threat, sir? It’s a field. Short of slipping on a cowpat I hardly think—
Officer (smugly pointing): Oh, yes? And what do you call those things if they’re not a threat?
Soldier (squinting): Sheep, sir.
Officer: Sheep?
Soldier: Yes, sir. Ovis aries: quadrupedal ruminants, members of the order Artiodactyla. Rather famous, in fact, sir, for not actually posing what you might call a threat.
Officer: But some of them have got horns, man!
Soldier: Still sheep, sir.
Officer: It could be a cunning disguise—wolf in sheep’s clothing, mutton dressed as lamb. You can’t trust the little beggars.
Soldier: I think you’ll find those are idioms, sir. Figures of speech. Not actual behaviour of sheep.
Officer (looking sombrely into the distance): My mother was killed by a sheep.
Soldier: By a sheep?
Officer: Yes, somehow it got behind the wheel of a Land Rover, and—
Soldier: Say no more, sir, targeting the rocket launcher directly, sir…

Fulmar on the cliffs

In parish notices we have two new ganseys to celebrate this week. The first is from Kate, a Hebridean-inspired pattern combination of her own, with cables set against a moss stitch background, trees and zigzags on the sleeves, set above an open diamond border, with another diagonal striped border abutting the ribbing and the cuffs. The other comes courtesy of Ruth, also her own combination of a broad central chevron, and double cables and open diamonds flanked with betty martin, set above a distinctive wavy border. Both of these splendid ganseys show what you can do with the toolbox of patterns handed down to us, how you can adapt and recombine them into something original and unique. Warmest congratulations to Kate and Ruth!

As for my own gansey I’m almost up to the yoke. I’ve settled nicely into the body pattern, after finding it a little counterintuitive at first; though repeating the same stitches 30-plus times per row for ten inches can do that. It’ll soon be time to wrap a damp towel round the temples, dig out the calculator and start charting the yoke, more on which anon.

And so not only have the clocks gone forward—though as a wise man once observed, there’s nothing special about the clocks going forward, it happens all the time, that’s how time works—but now Easter has come and gone. The year’s a quarter over already. Not that you’d know it in Caithness, mind, with gale force winds, sub-zero temperatures and snow forecast this week. Never has the old rhyme seemed more apposite:


The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then?
Poor thing.

He’ll shiver and cough,
And his legs will drop off,
That’ll teach him to bob-bob-bob outside my window singing his blasted head off Sunday mornings when I’m trying to have a lie in,

10 comments to Wick (Cordova): Week 3 – 5 April

  • =Tamar

    That fulmar seems to be plotting something.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen that wavy border before. Is it Ruth’s own creation or something rarely seen but traditional?

    Those red-and-yellow tulips are quite flashy!

  • Dave

    From bitter experience, I can concur with your officer – no buts !

    • Gordon

      Hi Dave, yes, having once hauled a drowning sheep out of the canal and carried it all the way back to the farm, fighting all the way, I came very close to renouncing my vegetarianism and having lamb chops for tea!

  • Judit Mäkinen

    Many thanks for this interesting letter. Congratulations to Kate and Ruth. I admire both of you, designing such splendid own patterns. I knitted some ganseys already but never had a pattern of my own, the ones I knitted are mostly patterns showed in Rae´s book.
    Happy knitting !

    • Gordon

      Hello Judit, they are splendid aren’t they? But to my mind adapting and recreating old patterns is just as valid an approach, there are so many to choose from! And every pattern turned into a living gansey from an old photograph or a chart in a book is a celebration and commemoration of the work and life of a knitter from bygone days. May you and I knit many more!

      • Judit Mäkinen

        Thanks Gordon , just now I am knitting Lattice pattern. Color: blue. More about this later. It goes as a birthday present and as usual : surprise. 🙂

  • Nancy Haines

    Hi, Gordon:
    Interesting that English robins are noisy also, albeit seemingly late risers. Our American thrush-robins start yelling to each other at oh-dark-thirty, thus earning their Turdidae family name. Poor things, my eyeballs!
    Your long-time desert reader,

    • Gordon

      Hi Nancy, I remember being confused by American robins, so much bigger than our more effete variety. But the only bird I can name from its song is the lark – though I’m starting to be able to identify blackbirds, or at least one that keeps singing outside our window after lights-out.

      “Blackbird singing in the dead of night,” Paul McCartney sang, “take these broken wings and learn to fly”. If I get hold of him he’ll have more than a broken wing to worry about, I can tell you!

  • Libby

    This reminded me of a story told at my fathers funeral. Officer says right corporal our target is the river, we will access it through this field. I wouldn’t do that if I were you sir. Dammit follow my orders man, officer jumps fence & starts walking across field, my father stops the rest of the platoon following him saying just wait boys. Officer comes running back and jumps fence. Corporal those cows attacked me – that would be because those cows are bulls sir.

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