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Wick II: 15 February

2W150215aSome archivists have all the luck: I see a hitherto-unknown copy of Magna Carta dating from 1300 has been found in Kent archives and the media have gone wild. Meanwhile, by way of contrast, I’ve been cataloguing planning applications from the 1930s; and you can bet the BBC isn’t going to turn up to film that anytime soon—unless the king decided to build a garage at Runymede or add an en-suite bathroom to a bijou dungeonette.

Noss Head Light in the murk

Noss Head Light from Keiss beach

Still, now that we’ve outsourced our winter to America we had a first, tentative glimpse of spring last week—blue skies, temperatures above freezing, and England being humiliated at cricket; but now it’s back to business as usual, with arctic winds gusting up to 60mph.

We went to look at the ocean, and the wind was so strong at one point it was like being in the Dead Sea; I could lean back and let the force of the wind hold me up (unless a troupe of kindly sheep acrobats had snuck up behind me and formed an ovine pyramid without me noticing—always a risk up here). The wind blew spray from the waves inland, coating us with salt, so that our faces crackled when we smiled. I think if we’d stood there another ten minutes it would have moulded a perfect saline mask of our faces.

Wick-Pattern-2-2As promised, here are the pattern charts for the Wick gansey, which I found in Michael Pearson’s Fisher Gansey Patterns of Scotland and the Scottish Fishing Fleet.

Anchor aweigh!IWick-Pattern-2-1t’s a very busy pattern, heavily textured, and I think it’s one of those that won’t become entirely clear until the gansey is finished and washed and blocked; till then it looks disconcertingly like I’m knitting a navy blue species of pearl coral. Mind you, because I’m knitting this as an example, I don’t have to worry about shaping a neckline and will make this one the traditional way, front and back exactly the same.

Thanks to everyone last week for your suggestions for using leftover yarn. Once again, Judit has come up trumps with her suggestions and we’ve posted some of her photos which can be seen on her gallery page (which also includes a new image of her last gansey).

Finally, a word of warning: Margaret’s worked out how to remove her electronic tag and is escaping to London and Edinburgh for a week, so next time I’ll be flying solo and formatting the blog myself. The only problem is, WordPress has been upgraded—and I haven’t…

12 comments to Wick II: 15 February

  • =Tamar

    It seems that the first thing WordPress did was mess up your links. I can find the gallery using Google (with the site: prefix) but I can’t specify Judit’s gallery page.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, sorry to hear about that. Not sure what the problem is; all I can say is that once you’re in, the internal links seem to work when I try it on another computer. If you’re still having problems drop me an email and we’ll look into it.

  • Jane

    Lovely, lovely work, just so beautiful, super anchor. Please don’t worry about formatting the blog, for anyone who can create like that, the ‘puter will be simplicity itself!

    Judit’s work is wonderful, and if I might add to the oddments discussion, the traditional answer is a blanket, how about pieces of different gansey patterns all slotted together, a permanent reminder on those really cold days of past triumphs. Failing that, I did see a vintage pattern of golf club covers, a bit like stripey socks with large tassels.

    The greyness continues in the South, bit of a blanket really, dull for most of the day and very chilly, and then sometimes for a change it gets darker and rains. We do get the occasional, very occasional hour of sunshine. Peanuts all round.

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane,

      I like that idea of a blanket, and it’s one i might well return to one day. Not being a player of golf, I may not go for the golf club covers (though I could always knit myself 2.25mm knitting needle covers?).

      As for the computer, you shouldn’t run away with the idea that I am in any way technically gifted. Margaret has in the past had to explain to me how to use a screwdriver (hey, it’s harder than it looks) and I still am not sure why electricity doesn’t leak from plug sockets which don’t have plugs in them. So, you know. Not great.

  • Peter In Alice Springs

    Ah, windy days of salt off the sea.

    My memories of Perth, Western Australia during the hotter months is the smell of a metallic salt scent as I stood on the exposed platform waiting for my morning commute. The previous evening & night would have had strong easterly winds and the salt had come from hundreds of kilometres inland from the massive salt lakes. These salt lakes are ancient river beds dating back to the Cretaceous. I loved that smell when we had it.

    Occasionally I get get it here in Alice Springs when the south-easterlys have crossed Lake Eyre & the Simpson Desert picking up that surface salt.

    Thanks Judit for sharing your work. I enjoyed the pictures of those lovely ganseys.

    • Judit M./Finland

      Dear Tamar, Jane and Peter,
      Many thanks for your kind comments on my ganseys. Tamar,you find me in Reader`s Gallery here at Gordon´s page. There are many knitters , I suggest you look at the other works too.
      Happy knitting to all of gansey lovers!

    • Gordon

      Hi Peter,

      Some days up here the wind blows spray inland so thick that it looks like a boat’s on fire just offshore. Mind you, when you buy fish and chips all you need is vinegar, then go and stand by the sea and hold up one chip at a time—by the time you put it in your mouth it’s nicely salted.

      • Peter In Alice Springs

        The wind yesterday was so damned hot, that if I had put a chip out, it would have gone all dried & burnt :-p

        I occasionally saw this kind of salt as a child when I grew up on the coast south of Sydney.
        Do you enjoy watching you Rolls Royce being eaten in front of your eyes from all that aerosol salt?? I hear it pays well as British public servants.

        • Gordon

          Dear Peter, Well, I find the best way to protect my Roller from salt spray is to pay some poor people to drape themselves over the bonnet in a sort of human shield. (A small pauper child, if properly fattened up, makes a surprisingly effective airbag, by the way, in the event of a collision.)

  • Marilyn

    Gordon, well, you could always look that other copy of the Magna Carta on your breaks, who knows what lurks?
    The gansey is shaping up- the transformation from off the needles to blocked perfection is always thrilling, don’t you think?
    Dear Judit, you could start your own blog and tell us the story of these ganseys in process. Love the little bags.
    Re: salt. Once upon a time I stood on the beach at Spanish Point, Western Ireland, as hurricane pushed waves steam rollered in. I’d never seen horizontal salt foam before. It was an amazing experience for one who lives 1500 miles from an ocean.

    • Judit M. / Finland

      Dear Marilyn,
      Many thanks for your suggestion concerning an own knitting blog. I am a knitter since my early youth. I found the ganseys 30 years ago and knitted the first one in 1985 for my than teenaged son- by the way he still uses that pullover. I enjoy the blog of Gordon tremendously not only the knitting but the English language too. My mother tongue is Hungarian . As to the small bags, I took part on a knitting competition in Inverness 4 yrs ago with a small bag, you may see it here: http://www.gansey-mf.co.uk/competition.html
      I use the small things to practice a certain motif and at the same time these are good small presents to my friends.
      I wish you happy knitting, with best regards:
      Judit from Finland

    • Gordon

      Hi Marilyn,

      Blocking is the equivalent of being visited by the Gansey Fairies, who come in the night and sprinkle magic pixie dust all over your crabbed tangle of gnarled stitches, and transform them into clean lines and, amazingly, a recognisable pattern. (At least I think it’s magic pixie dust; I accidentally inhaled some once and was definitely seeing flying things for a time…)

      Ach, deep down I can live without the Magna Carta. The sorts of records I like best are the ones that tell the stories of ordinary people, anyway; regulation of which futtocks a Lord can knatter on the first Tuesday after the Feast of St Ticklepinkus—it’s in Latin so I might have got some of the details wrong—isn’t altogether my cup of chai latte!

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