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Wick (Cumming Bros): Week 11 – 10 February

After last week’s media triumph I’ve alerted my agent, and the offers are pouring in. I’m already signed up for the sequel to 1917 (“1918”), where I play a gansey-knitting soldier in the trenches; a hired goon in the new Martin Scorsese project, knitting a gansey in the background while Robert de Niro pops a mafia stool-pigeon; and a wookie knitting a gansey comforter in the new Star Wars project. I almost got a part playing a knitting superhero in the new Marvel blockbuster (“it’s not the jumper we need right now, but it’s the one we deserve”) but they decided they could do me better with CGI, something I feel myself every time I look in the mirror. I asked my agent if I could get away with knitting the same gansey in each movie, but he thought not: he didn’t want me to become typecast.

So while I wait for my three o’clock makeup call—nothing to do with movies, I just believe in good grooming—here’s a fun bit of word trivia I came across this week. We’ve been listening to an audiobook by Anthony Trollope as we knit, one of his Barsetshire novels, the definition of comfort listening, and in which the expression “tuft-hunter” occurs. Of course we all know what it means: a toady, a hanger-on to the nobility. But I didn’t know its origin. Apparently for hundreds of years ordinary students at university wore a black ribbon on their mortarboards, while members of the aristocracy had a gold one. These gold tassels were called tufts, and so those who sucked up to their wearers were called… Well; you’re ahead of me, I find. But now we come to the real point of the story. Tufts had fallen out of use by the 1870s, but by then the word had shifted into slang that we still use today for a swell, well-to-do person: a toff. Isn’t that great? Word archaeology in action.

Shadows on the Bridge

Meanwhile I’ve finished the Wick gansey (as TS Eliot said on finally finishing a troublesome gansey of his own, “Well now that’s done: and I’m glad it’s over”). It’s such a simple pattern, but when you see it washed and blocked in all its glory it’s really rather splendid. It knit up a wee bit bigger than I’d expected: maybe the chunky Wendy yarn blew me off course, maybe my cold clouded my wits, but it will serve as a spare tent for a small family when the zombie apocalypse comes so it’s not all loss. Next week we focus our minds and up our game, as we revisit a pattern from the Western Isles.

Impending Spring

Speaking of which, we just want to wish everyone well as Storm Ciara batters the UK. Hurricane-strength winds and pouring rain are forecast, turning to sleet and snow through the week as it gets colder. I joke a lot about the weather in Caithness, and we are getting gusts around 55 mph just now. But the south and west of Britain are really bearing the brunt this time, winds over 80 mph and flooding, and that’s no laughing matter. So if you can, stay home, stay safe, download an audiobook about toffs, and crank up the knitting. As for me, I’m rehearsing for a new Disney animation, in which I play a reindeer who knits a gansey for an irritating singing snowman; it’s a lot of work, though: maybe I should just, ahem, ‘let it go…’?

10 comments to Wick (Cumming Bros): Week 11 – 10 February

  • =Tamar

    Cheers for another completed gansey! This one you can wear over another one, for double effect.

    We’re getting the rain and colder weather is predicted, but so far the wind has not been too bad.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, yes, a gansey that double as a trampoline for the family at a pinch is always worth having.

      The UK just has to grin and bear the weather right now as storm after storm slams into us from the west, alternating with periods of snow and ice. Or February, as it’s also known…

  • Lois

    That is one stunning gansey! A lovely combination of patterns. That must have involved some very close attention, with all those stitches moving directions.

    We had quite an ice storm last weekend. When my husband went out to warm the car up, he discovered it was entirely encased in ice half an inch thick. He finally managed to get a passenger side door open on the leeward side and started it up. But it took nearly an hour to get the windows cleared enough to drive. And he was off to work – neither ice, nor sleet, nor freezing rain, etc, etc.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, thank you. Sometimes simple really is best. But you’re right, part of me is relieved to see it behind me now!

      We’ve got snow and ice just now, nowhere near as bad as you describe, though. I read once that the German soldiers coping with the Russian winter in 1941 had to light fires under their trucks to thaw the engines enough to even start!

  • Laura

    Western Isles gansey next…that will be mine then…looking forward to watching it’s progress…exciting times…

  • Lynne Brock

    Love, love, love the Western Isles gansey patterns and can’t wait to see what patterns you will put together. This newly finished one is stunning.
    Your U.K. storms made headline news here in Western Canada so I phoned our cousins in the U.K. midlands to see how they fared. Thankfully no real damage from high winds, rain, and sleet.
    I would pay to watch any movie with you knitting a gansey!

  • Gordon

    Hi Lynne, and thank you as ever. Though I fear my movie career may have stalled – maybe I shouldn’t have insisted on having my own stunt double…

  • Ellie

    Gordon, you light up my day with your prose. I do hope we won’t lose you to the bright lights of screen and stage, especially after they see your mad knitting skills!

  • Gordon

    Hi Ellie and thank you! I’ve got a few more ganseys to knit before I think of hanging up my needles yet…

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