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Wick (Donald Murray): Week 18 – 22 July

Courtesy Wick Heritage Society

So that’s the Wick gansey finished, cast off, washed and blocked—and very splendid it looks, too, pinned out to dry like this. The body ribbing may be a pain to knit, but it looks fine; it features in quite a few of these old Caithness ganseys, and I’m sure it was designed to keep the jumper tight close to the body. (Those of us with ballooning midriffs, such as could lead to us being placed on our sides and rolled downhill like a barrel, have of course little need of such assistance.) This is the first time I’ve seen the pattern properly, and it’s a really impressive combination. I’ve said before that these Caithness ganseys represent for me the missing link between the patterns of, say, Yorkshire and the Hebrides, and this one is no exception. It’s promised to Wick Museum, to complement the original photo that inspired it. (Next week… something else.)

It was the County Show this weekend. In the field across the road from us great white marquees sprang up, so that glimpsed through the trees they looked like giant spiders’ webs, as though Miller Avenue had turned into Mirkwood overnight. At least this year was dry: the last time they held it here it had poured for several days, turning the show into what felt like great recreation of the Battle of the Somme. I’m not really much of a lad for agricultural shows, as a rule—in the event of a bovine mugging I’d struggle to identify individual cows from a lineup—and it doesn’t help to find barricades erected across the end of one’s street, in what I assumed at first was preparation for a no-deal Brexit. And now, as I write, it’s all coming down; only without the comical whoopee cushion noises my imagination is supplying as the giant tents softly deflate. Still, I’m glad the sun shone, and the wind dropped for a change.

Sheep at the Show

Ah, yes, the wind. I keep forgetting that it’s all that protects us up here from the midges and flies, in much the same way that the Earth’s magnetic field shields us from solar radiation. On the rare occasions the wind drops when we’re out walking the conversation usually goes like this:
Self: “Ah, what a stunning view. Shame about the wind, though.”
(Wind drops. Every orifice and inch of exposed skin is suddenly assailed by clouds of midges and flies, so that one resembles a victim of tarring and feathering, only they’d run out of feathers and decided to use currants instead; all the while jerking convulsively, as though someone had slipped a fairly frisky octopus down one’s trousers.)
Self: “Arg arg arg arg arg, gettemoff gettemoff gettemoff!”
(A fresh breeze springs up.)Self (pausing to expectorate several times): “Ah, what a stunning view. Thank God for the wind!”

No Wind at Forse Castle

8 comments to Wick (Donald Murray): Week 18 – 22 July

  • meg macleod

    Beautiful work…..

  • Julie

    This is a beauty.

  • Lois

    Wow! All I can say is “Wow”!!!

  • Ruan

    it was surreal heading in to the tents as I kept thinking there should be clowns (well properly dressed ones and not just the normal ones)also the as this was my first visit to this side of the countys show, not very flat is it! your jumper looks fab and pleased it is going on show but sad it wont get worn and loved that way, so what next?

  • =Tamar

    Did the wind really drop or did it just go around another way to avoid the cattle?

    I believe a current term for cheering is “Wahoo”, so here’s one for the Donald Murray Wick gansey:
    WAHOO!

  • Gordon

    Hi all, and thank you for the kind comments! (Just remember: the original gansey was knit in an even finer gauge than this…)

    Having a fly take its chance when the wind drops to tunnel into your ear is not unlike having your own personal pneumatic drill; plus, a consequence of reading too many horror stories as a child, the words “laid its eggs” and “inside your brain” always seem to hover on the fringe of consciousness…

  • Lynne Brock

    Oh My Word! How can you donate this one?! It is the best!

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne, I know what you mean: but to be honest it’d just end up in a drawer as I’d always regard it as far too nice to risk wearing!

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