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Wick Fergus Ferguson Revisited: Week 7 – 4 April

First, the good news: the consultant thinks I don’t have cancer. (And that’s about as good as news gets, to be fair.) It’s three months since she gave me her initial, tentative diagnosis, and so it was back to Inverness hospital last week for a checkup. This, of course, involved another chance to get intimate with the probulator (I think that’s the technical term), the slender articulated metal rod with a camera on the end which goes up one nostril and is then fed down into the throat. It doesn’t hurt, though it is cold and uncomfortable, like being attacked by an octopus who’s been assimilated by the Borg. It’s the sort of thing they use in The Matrix to remove bugs implanted in people (I checked my medication when I got home but none of the pills were red, so I’m afraid we’re stuck in the simulation a little longer).

Washed ashore

The bad news is, the growth on my vocal cords is still there. This is a bit disappointing, as we’d all been hoping it might’ve got bored by now and gone away. But at least it hasn’t grown, and the consultant reckons it’s a granuloma. (This was a new word to me, as indeed are most words relating to the human body, and most of her explanation went so far over my head it collided with the Hubble space telescope. But as I understand it, she thinks a combination of acid reflux and constant coughing/ throat-clearing has inflamed my vocal cords and caused the growth.) She doesn’t believe it’s cancerous, or anything to worry about, and so long as my voice holds up her advice is to let it be. I go back in six months for another probulating and we’ll take it from there.

Distant rain

Meanwhile, one knits. The white gansey is almost finished, just the final cuff to go. Incidentally, I’ve decided to dedicate my declining years to knitting up as many of the “uncharted” gansey patterns of Caithness fishermen from the Johnston Collection as I can. Now, here’s a frightening thought (if I can say this without tempting Fate): if I carry on knitting ganseys at the current rate, and I and my beleaguered eyesight are spared, by the time I’m 70 I will have knit another 40 ganseys. (Hmm. Could this be Fate’s way of encouraging me to buy more yarn? You know, I think it is!)

In parish notices, Judit has sent us more cracking photographs, this time of a gansey in a rather fetching red. It’s going to be a present for a very lucky person. And the pattern is a little off the beaten track: it’s from Rae Compton’s book (pages 45-46), taken from a group photograph on Sheringham promenade: a gansey worn by James “Jim” Dumble, a very neat combination of double moss stitch and ladders alternating with an open diamond. It’s not one of the better-known patterns, though it should be; the books are full of great pattern charts, all just waiting to be knitted up and brought to life, as Judit has done here. So many congratulations to her, as ever, and thanks for sharing.

Further signs of Spring

As for my health, a bit like the joke about not starting any long books, ganseys do rather need you to be there for the long haul. So I’ll end with another very old joke, about the optimist who fell off the roof of a tower block: as he passed each floor on the way down the workers heard him saying, “So far so good… So far so good…” Well. Who can say what the future holds? But—and this is important—so far so good…

17 comments to Wick Fergus Ferguson Revisited: Week 7 – 4 April

  • Lynne

    News is sounding very optimistic Gordon. Fingers crossed for more improvement.

    Quick question. I’m off on another gansey adventure,for my husband this time, though I’m still something of a novice. Started and just at the plain bit. I haven’t decided on a pattern yet. DO you know of anything that incorporates Yorkshire AND Scotland. We’re two Yorkies who have escaped to Scotland.
    Thanks Gordon.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne – the one pattern that springs to mind is Mrs Laidler’s, which combines the Caithness/Scottish flag with Whitby cables. To my untrained eye it definitely shows the cross-fertilisation of patterns arising from the Scottish fisher lassies and their menfolk following the herring down the east coast.

      In Gladys Thompson’s book she also has a pattern, Filey XI, illustration 36, with horseshoe (or “print o’ the hoof”) plaited cables which as she says are also found in Scottish patterns (like my current project!)

  • Lois

    Well, Gordon, if you and I live to finish knitting all the yarn we have in stock, we can count on being centenarians (is that the right word?) at the very least!
    Glad to hear such encouraging news from your doctors. Worth all those nasty tests!

    • Gordon

      Thanks Lois – I wish I’d kept count of the ganseys I knit from the very start, since I was knitting them for getting on 20 years before we started the blog over a decade ago. Mind you, I probably only knit 2 or 3 a year back then, as I would sometimes lay them aside for weeks at a time – now I kinda feel the pressure to keep going!

  • Maureen Turman

    So glad to hear you will continue to buy green bananas. Bring on the ganseys! I join your legions of fans in looking forward to many more years of your creative work, delightful writing and your wife’s photography. Henceforth I’m hoping to only hear the term “probulator” in the context of Dr. Who or discussion of an alien landing in Caithness.

    • Gordon

      Many thanks Maureen! My only consolation with the probing is that so far the doctors have opted to go in through the front end…

  • Lynne Brock

    Another real beauty, Gordon, outstanding stitch definition with the off white.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne, it’s pretty good, isn’t it? These richly patterned ganseys really shine in a light yarn, and Graeme’s Caithness yarn seems appropriate for a Caithness pattern, though any cream yarn would look amazing, of course.

  • Deb

    Good news, relatively, about the granola on your vocal chords. I suggest you Google Centaurium – ( ok pause for vision of small confused legionary) – herbal tincture that promotes movement/production of bile & tightens the oesophageal sphincter. Indicated for acid reflux. Bioforce is a good brand, let me know & I’ll procure same. Deb

    • Gordon

      Thanks For the suggestion Deb, I’ll do some research. While I am permanently in the debt of the medical profession, for all sorts of reasons, I wish the first doctor I spoke to about this several years back hadn’t just told me to live with it – if I’d got something to control the acid reflux sooner I might not have developed the growth. So it goes! 😀

  • =Tamar

    Another beautiful gansey, and oh boy, many more to come! A noble work of preservation, as well.

    Hooray for the good medical news! Also a bit of worry, as I also have acid reflux (lifelong, I know I had it before I was ten) and post nasal drip which leads to a lot of throat clearing. Though I wonder, did you do that much before the growth? Maybe it’s an unconscious attempt to dislodge it?
    Centaurium sounds interesting.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, yes, I had it pretty bad. I would cough like a smoker once I got up in the morning and my sinuses started to drain, was constantly coughing and clearing my throat through the day, and choking at breakfast and lunchtimes as soon as I ate anything. Curiously it stopped by mid-afternoon and I could eat dinner without any problems, then I’d cough my way through the evenings. It’s been, in a word, ghastly.

  • Judit Mäkinen

    Hello Gordon and many thanks for mentioning my red gansey. The pattern is ideal for those who do not like to knit cables. Your last work is amazing ! Happy knitting !

    • Gordon

      Hello Judit, you’re very welcome as always! Many of the Caithness patterns I hope to try don’t have cables so watch this space…

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