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Wick (John Macleod), Week 12: 11 February

Apologies if I’m a little distracted this week—I’m giving a talk on ganseys at the local museum on Thursday…and it’s just sunk in that I’m giving a talk on ganseys on Thursday at the local museum. I’m torn between anxiety that no one will come, and that they will. As things stand, it’s not impossible that the audience will be treated to the spectacle of me standing in blushing, awkward silence while beads of sweat break out across my forehead and my lower jaw slowly sags open like the pod door on Thunderbird 2.

My career is, of course, littered with spectacular failures in public speaking stretching back over 30 years. There was the time when, in the middle of a presentation at an event where recipients of grant funding got together to share how they’d spent the money, my laptop died, taking my slides with it. This was pretty bad in itself, but then the next speaker stood up and got a huge laugh by saying, “Well, I’d thought of preparing a slick Powerpoint presentation, but having seen the previous speaker I’m jolly glad I didn’t!” (That one still gets repeat showings in the television of my conscious mind, usually around 4am on sleepless nights.)

We’ll pass over the time I stood up to speak at a local history society and an elderly gentleman in the front row fell fast asleep during my introductory sentence, snored throughout my talk, woke up again during the applause at the end and started arguing with me based on what I hadn’t said. Even Billy Crystal might struggle to sparkle under these conditions. Or the time everything broke but the projector, and I was reduced to making shadow puppets with my hands to fill in the time. Or when I had a bad migraine, hadn’t realised how bad it was and had to be helped from the stage because I was spouting nonsense words (“boorbeerians” was one, apparently) without realising it.

Oh well. On the bright side, I put in some extra hours this week and finished the Wick gansey, so it could be washed and blocked for Thursday’s talk. And now that I see it whole, I’m blown away. It’s easily one of the top three ganseys I’ve knitted. My admiration for the old knitters who devised it and knit it in a smaller gauge than I can ever hope to emulate knows no bounds. Blooming, to coin a phrase, heck.

Finally, I said at the beginning that I was distracted. This always reminds me of one of my favourite lines in The Simpsons, in an episode when Homer has to force himself to concentrate: “Can’t get distracted. Hmm, distracted, that’s a funny word. Does anyone ever get ‘tracted’? I’m gonna call the suicide hotline and ask them…”

Giving a talk, eh; I mean, what can possibly go wrong…?


Here is the pattern chart for the cuff, promised last week. It’s a simple motif, and one that appears quite a lot in “Scottish Fleet” patterns (as well as in Whitby, which doubtless shows the influence of the Scottish “fisher lassies” on the local knitters). It’s an effective design—but bear in mind that you have you keep your focus at a time when the end is in sight and you’re freewheeling towards the finish line…

14 comments to Wick (John Macleod), Week 12: 11 February

  • Annie

    Yep, can certainly see why you’re blown away with that gorgeous creation…in your top 3 favorites. Here’s the hope that once you’ve survived your presentation this week, you’ll soon be blown away again. Maybe you need only present this gansey
    slowly, completely, inside out, and upside down , all with a shy smile. Your hour is up to stupendous applause!

  • meg macleod

    just sit back and relax , dare I say this? your ganseys will speak for themselves!!!!!!

  • =Tamar

    What they said. I should think that anyone who comes out at this time of year to a talk on ganseys must be an enthusiast who will eagerly listen to your every word. I think showing a gansey next to the photograph of the original would be very helpful for those who, like me, are nearsighted enough to have trouble “reading” the photographs.

  • Lora

    This is smply a smashing gansey. There are some incredibly nice details in the design, and your work is always inspiring. I always find it really helpful to imagine I’m chatting with another person who shares the same interests when I give a talk. Pick one of your friends, and just imagine they are in the audience. Tell a story to them. It tends to work well, and if there are others there who are interested, there should be enough questions to fill up the time.

  • Lynne

    Oh, I would love to be at your presentation and speech and to see this gansey in person! Absolutely stunning!

  • Dee

    Ooh, it’s gorgeous! Well done!
    Very best of luck with your talk on Thursday.

  • Jane

    The gansey is just wonderful. I totally understand why it is one of your all time favourites. This talk, just reveal the glorious gansey, tell them it’s great history and all will be well!

  • Lois

    Good advice all around. And I’m sure everyone will be blown away by that gorgeous gansey.

  • =Tamar

    P.S. It took me 15 minutes and a close-up to be sure that tree-and-crocuses photo wasn’t a picture of an arm in a sleeve.

  • Gordon

    Hello everyone, and thanks for the comments and good wishes! I’m sure that all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well, as the prophetess said. Hopefully some people will be prepared to sacrifice their Valentine’s Day in a good cause (personally I’m still hanging on for the crowd-funded world tour…)

  • Charles Cameron CARRUTHERS

    Nice booklet on the Ganseys sent to me. I Bought a Gansey of Flamborough Marine 2 years ago in the fashion of the Fisherrow (Musselburgh) pattern for £300 but for that price it will last a life time and be worn on special days like Lifeboat Day at Dunbar in July or Musselburgh Box Walk.

  • Julie in snowy Victoria, BC, Canada

    A stunner, Gordon. GanseyLand is lucky to have you to knit these treasures.
    Let us know how you got on with your public speaking gig.
    Happy Valentine’s Day to all.

  • twinsetellen

    Absolutely glorious gansey. Anyone who can knit like this needn’t trouble themselves with doing a great job with public speaking*, they’ve already proven their worth.

    *not that I believe for a moment that you aren’t a fine public speaker

  • Ebbie

    Gorgeous. The color, the pattern, everything. Love it.

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