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Wick II: 1 February

2W150201aLike most people I remember very few of my dreams, waking with little more than a vague sense of disquiet and unable to put my finger on exactly why. But sometimes the dream is so vivid I’m jerked out of sleep breathless and shocked and sweating, like the time I decided to change a light fitting without turning off the electricity first. It’s so realistic that for a time I think it actually happened.

Well, I had a dream like that a couple of months ago, and the impression it made on me hasn’t faded yet, it was so bizarre and disturbing; and as there’s nothing so tedious as someone recounting their dreams to you, er, I thought I’d share it with you.

I’m running through a forest, somewhere in Indonesia or Malaysia, and there are two or three of us, chased by small vicious creatures that move like ferrets or weasels, but larger, about the size of small dogs, with ferocious teeth. We can’t permanently kill them, because every time we do a sort of flickering light plays over them, and they flop about like landed fish and then come back to life—but smaller, shrunk to the size of mice or rats. They jump up and immediately start chasing us again, steadily growing in size as they run.


Looking towards Norway

One of them, still just rat-sized, is closing in on us. I turn and prepare to sacrifice myself to buy the others time, knowing I won’t be able to stop it. I’m terrified, knowing I’m about to die. The others keep running and I hear the sound of them grow fainter. The creature is a small, black shape in the undergrowth, closing impossibly fast for its size. I stoop and pick up a sharp piece of rock.

As I straighten the rat-sized thing springs, it’s a just a black blur launching itself at me. I turn away instinctively and feel it hit my upper right arm. But its teeth are caught in the folds of my shirt; it missed the skin and I can feel it thrashing on my arm as it tries to free itself. There is a shallow puddle nearby, filled with muddy brown water perhaps an inch deep. I throw myself down and roll over so that the creature is pinned beneath my arm, and I try to drown it in the puddle: even if the creature won’t stay dead, it will buy me valuable seconds to escape while it comes back to life.

It struggles frantically, and I can feel it getting larger. I can’t see it, it’s out of my line of vision. I realise there isn’t enough water in the puddle to drown it. A few yards away there is another, deeper puddle. I’m going to have to get up and make a dash to the other puddle if I want to drown the creature—it’s my only chance. But I know that as soon as I get up it will be freed and will go for my throat, and I don’t think I’ll be quick enough.


Coghill Bridge and St Fergus’

I’m screwing my courage up to go for it, and the creature is flailing beneath me—and I wake up.

Back in the real world, the gansey continues to grow on my needles. It’s just under a foot in length, and it’s going to be about 26 inches from cast-on to shoulder, so in another inch or so I’m going to start the pattern.

Two pieces of parish news to end with. First of all, Judit has been busy, knitting another of her splendid “ganslings”, a banded blue gansey that shows once again that you don’t need cables to create a stunning effect. Warmest congratulations, as ever, to her.

Secondly, I hear from Michael Pearson that his book Traditional Knitting is expected to be republished by Dover books in March, in a revised and expanded edition. It’s been a long wait, but hopefully we’re near the end. Such a great book should never be out of print, I think.

So there we are. All that remains is for me to wish you all happy knitting—and, of course, sweet dreams…

13 comments to Wick II: 1 February

  • Lynne

    The beginning of a new book, Gordon? or – the end?!
    Beautiful photos, Margaret.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne, well, dreams gave me the key moment of my book The Wraiths of Elfael and at least three of my short stories, so anything is possible! The unusual thing for me, though, and probably why I found it disturbing rather than just interesting is that I was in the dream—usually I dream about other people, like watching a movie; this one was a bit too close to home for comfort…

      Next time I think I’d rather go for one of those flying-naked-through-the-window dreams you read about. Not sure I’ll be blogging it, though!

  • =Tamar

    Well, it didn’t manage to bite you yet, and you still have the upper hand at the moment. I’d say go for it!

    Congratulations to Judit on the banded blue gansey. The color changes are very subtle; I wonder whether they were from different yarns or whether that was an amazingly long dye-shift sequence.

    Great news on the Pearson reprint. I couldn’t find any store carrying it (or willing to order it) last time; I hope I can get one this time.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar,

      Yes, it’s not decided yet. I should do as you say.

      It reminds me of one of my favourite lines of all poetry, in Ted Hughes poem “Foxhunt”. The poet hears the hunt in full cry, as the fox is pursued by the hounds, and seems doomed. But it’s still all to play for, they haven’t got him yet:

      “As I write this down,
      he runs still fresh with all his chances before him.”

      There are times when I could take that as my motto; the hounds may be close on my trail, but I’m still running fresh…

    • Judit M. /Finland

      Hello Tamar and many thanks for your
      comment on my blue gansey. The color changes have something to do with your computer, there are no color changes on the pullover. The yarn was the same, evenly blue all way long.

  • Marilyn

    Hi Gordon,
    Thanks for your reply to my comment last week, it actually helped keep the barking and burping distinct. Very funny stuff.
    I think dreams are subtle manifestations, might you be feeling anxious or pursued by an issue? It does make good blog fodder, but if it doesn’t feel good I’d not give it more energy.

    Tamar, Schoolhouse Press will be carrying the Pearson reprint.

    Of general interest: Upton Yarns is run by a woman who has a 6 wk on/off schedule as engineer on a boat and yarn dyer. She knits ganseys and wears them in their natural habitat, so to speak. Good stuff.

    Happy knitting to all.

    • Gordon

      Hello Marilyn,

      The dreams are obviously symptoms of something churning away deep in my subconscious, and I doubt it’s pretty. But I treat them as a gift, my equivalent of a spirit journey, a glimpse of the numinous we can’t reach with our waking minds—scary, yes, but I’d miss them if they went away.

      Last night, for instance, I dreamed of a train journey that went down underground, into the earth or under a mountain. After a time the train came to a stop in a long tunnel between stations and after a while the passengers climbed down onto the tracks and tried to figure out what was going on. Some went up to the engine and word came back that all the crew had disappeared, they were nowhere in sight. There were lights spaced along the roof of the tunnel, but in between them all was dark.

      Some of the passengers began to wander back down the tracks, looking for a shaft leading up to the surface, or another way out. Just then a strange creature emerged from the darkness, pale and hairless and about the size of a large boar, but shaped like a little diplodocus. Its head had no eyes or mouth and waved on its neck like a serpent’s and the passengers crowded back, obviously afraid. Then I woke up.

      Weird, huh? I wasn’t on the train, just observing, so I wasn’t aware of being at risk myself. But it was still a bit creepy.

      Will check out Upton Yarns, thanks for the heads-up!

  • Sue Mansfield

    Lovely yarn – but £200 for enough yarn for a Gansey! I think it will be a while before I’ll be ordering some for the stash. But then again?

  • Jane

    Wow, what a dream! Whatever is the “germ”, the starting point, of the dream will resolve itself somehow in some way, and in the meantime if it was me, I wouldn’t trouble myself over it too much. Good one though.

    Very nice progress on the gansey, you must be pleased with it. I look forward to the pattern part! I have left congratulations to Judit on her page. It is very nice to see Michael Pearson back in print, and better. Copies of his book are not that easy to find, mine is second hand from the electronic market place, a copy no longer required by a university. Why a university would no longer require a book of this quality beats me! I enjoyed Rae Compton’s gansey book so much that I also acquired a copy of Gladys Thompson, fascinating!

    I can at last hold up my head, we have snow or at least we did. Bitterly cold in South, a nasty north-easterly breeze so 3 degrees feels like zero. The ducks, a little group of 4, have returned to the pond in general ice-breaking activity!

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane,

      Yes, the debt we owe to Gladys Thompson, Rae Compton, Michael Pearson, Mary Wright and all is vast, when you think about it—especially those who made the trips, and spoke to the people. (Isn’t there a Compton/Thompson archive somewhere with all the patterns they recorded but did’t include in their books?!) Like the people who recorded folk songs in the early 1900s, when the way of life is vanished, the books and records are all that’s left—strange to think of Gladys Thompson walking around crowded quays noting down patterns, just a few years ago…

      I see the south of England is actually going to be colder than the far north of Scotland for the next day or so, which seems both wrong and yet somehow so very right!

  • Your dreams are fascinating, but even as I psychiatric nurse, I’m not sure what they mean, certainly panic dreams – are you feeling “eaten” by your Gansey?

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