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Wick Fergus Ferguson Revisited: Week 2 – 28 February

April is the cruelest month, according to TS Eliot. He was of course wrong: it’s February. January goes on forever but you get through it, wrapped in a hazy leftover glow from Christmas, and then you think, Well, at least February’s short, and then it’s practically spring, how bad can it be? And every year the answer is: pretty bad. Rain, snow, sleet, hail, gales, hurricanes, tornadoes, and in the immortal words of Dr Peter Venkman, “Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!” In short, February sucks. I bet Eliot originally had February down as the cruelest month, except it didn’t scan.

We lost quite a few tiles off the roof over the winter, so last week the builder put up scaffolding so he can go up and replace them (though having grown up on too many westerns every time I hear the words “they’re building a scaffold” I get a sudden urge to skip town). It’s a huge construct of poles and planks, so that the side of our house now resembles a pocket medieval cathedral—though, with a rather pleasing touch of irony, they’ve not been able to actually start work yet because of all the ongoing gales and snow. I remember back when we lived in Northampton we lost a roof tile in a gale which landed smack on our car, parked in the street a little way away, doing a considerable amount of damage. It was just like one of the severer trials of Job, if Job had owned a natty red Nissan Micra, and had it wrecked by a roof tile which had blown off the top of his tent.

In parish notices I’m delighted to highlight another splendid gansey by Judit, this time in a very fetching shade of green. It’s the classic “Vicar of Morwenstow” pattern, one of my favourites, which uses simple light and shade to create distinctive blocks of colour, like looking at an aerial photograph of alternately ploughed fields, or, of course, a chess board. We ran out of superlatives long ago for Judit and her many ganseys, so this time I’ll just say many congratulations again to her, and many thanks for sharing it with us.

Surely it must be Spring?

My own gansey project is growing steadily. I’m pacing myself. (I nearly wrote, “because ‘measure twice cut once’ is my watchword”; but since it’s obvious by now that my watchwords are “close enough for jazz” and “will this do?”, on reflection I’d better not push my luck.) It’s a complicated pattern that requires concentration, so I’m taking it slowly. But the natural yarn shows it up a treat, a real Sunday best gansey in every sense.

And now, and with one eye on the events unfolding in Eastern Europe, I’m going to end with a classic Chinese poem from the Tang Dynasty, by the poet Li Qiao (lived 644-713). It’s called Wind, and—spoiler alert—it’s not just about the weather:

In autumn, leaves blown from trees,
In spring, flowers opened in blossom;
Passing over the river, a thousand-foot wave,
Passing through the bamboo forest, ten thousand poles are bent.

5 comments to Wick Fergus Ferguson Revisited: Week 2 – 28 February

  • Judit M / Finland

    Many thanks Gordon for showing my last garment. Adoring the complicated patterns, you are presenting to us I feel myself a humble beginner knitting those simple patterns. Most of my pullovers were and are as surprises for some special occasions or as thanks for the help I got. With every pullover I give the old Celtic blessing for a handmade garment thus keeping both traditions alive. Happy knitting to you and to all of your followers.

    • Gordon

      Hello Judit, always a pleasure of course! What is your old Celtic blessing? (All the ones I know seem to involve whisky more than knitting…)

      • Judit Mäkinen

        Hello Gordon,
        Here is the Celtic blessing I give with every garment. Happy new week 🙂

        Blessings for a Handmade Garment

        May you wear the garment
        to shreds!
        May you wear the garment
        to tatters!
        May you wear the garment
        With food and music
        In every place.
        As I would wish:
        With confidence,
        With health,
        With friends,
        With love,
        With a grace of the
        Threefold Spirit.

        Caitlin Matthews: The little Book of Celtic Blessings.
        Element books, Shaftesbury 1994

  • =Tamar

    The Fergus is showing why those center motifs are done – against the backdrop of fine, complex patterning, they stand out as impressively large. It’s coming along rapidly.
    I’m sorry to hear about the roof damage. I hope things settle down soon so repairs can begin. (That’s not just about roofs either.)
    I see Judit’s gansey as a basketweave effect.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, the roof, I’m delighted to say, is done. Two days to put the scaffolding up, and about half a day to replace the slates, resulting in a bill with an awful lot of zeros at the end! The scaffolding’s not been taken down yet, and I have a dangerous urge to climb up the ladder and look about me – at least, I do until I remember I get vertigo standing on a chair to change a light bulb, so maybe not…

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