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Wick V – Donald Murray 8: 16 January

Winter came to Caithness this week. I don’t mean the usual 60-70 mph winds, leaden skies and rain—though we had those too—but genuine snow and ice, skating-on-the-Thames kind of weather. It’s melting even as I type this, rain and dank fog turning the crisp, white snow to grey slush, but it was fun while it lasted.

Wick River

The snow arrived borne on a hyperborean wind, straight from the Arctic; it didn’t settle at first because it was blowing horizontally, just passing through, you might say. I went out for a walk and when I turned into the wind my glasses rapidly became coated, everything whited out until I was effectively blind; it was like a time-lapse of developing cataracts all over again. In a very few minutes I was transformed into a sort of walking snowman, and I had to dodge swiftly to prevent some children from sticking a carrot and some lumps of coal in me—at least I think it was a carrot.

In other news, I’m sorry to say that I’m signed off work for another month. A friend who’s been through something similar told me that it’s like being a battery that’s gone flat—you think you’re recharged, but you go flat again very quickly—and I think that sums it up pretty well. (Of course, it doesn’t help that both my parents are currently in hospital away down south in England, and Margaret’s gone to help out.) Anyway, the doctor felt I just need more time.

Miller Avenue, Wick, now apparently twinned with Narnia.

So, looking positively, time is what I have plenty of right now; and you’re never bored if you have some 2.25mm needles, a woolsack of Guernsey 5-ply and a box set of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, as any fule kno*. So I’ve completed the somewhat-too-large cream Wick gansey this week and darned in the ends—though it won’t be blocked till Margaret gets back, which, also on the plus side, means no photos of me wearing it and looking like a 12 year-old trying on daddy’s clothes; albeit a bald, bearded, chubby 12 year-old (what can I say? I was a precocious child).

Casting on the new gansey—the loops are stitch markers every 50 stitches to make counting easier

I’ve also cast on my next project, another Wick gansey inspired by the wonderful photographs of the Johnston Collection, this time in Wendy navy yarn. This one will feature a Scottish flag patterned yoke, the same design of half-flag that appears in the classic Mrs Laidler pattern. More on this next week, but be warned: I’m already 3 inches up the welt.

By the way, the fact that Margaret’s away just now means that (a) the quality of the photographs will necessarily nosedive, and (b) I won’t be able to post any pictures of ganseys people send me; you see, in the absence of Tech Support I’m not entrusted with the website’s command codes (at my own request—as otherwise it’d be like putting Mr Bean in charge of engineering in the Starship Enterprise…)

Normal service will resume, well, eventually.

[*Down With Skool by Willans and Searle reference—what do you mean, you haven’t read it?!]

21 comments to Wick V – Donald Murray 8: 16 January

  • Jane Callaghan

    Eomer, Molesworth – can we look forward to Bertie W shortly or would that be too much to hope? Life-enhancing gansey, too! I do like Mondays

    • Gordon

      Thanks, Jane—and given that I always saw my writing style as a cross between PG Wodehouse and Dostoevsky, anything’s possible…

      • Jane Callaghan

        Raskolnikov full of the flesh of animals slaughtered in anger and pie?

        • Gordon

          “I say, Jeeves, these rashers are rather toothsome this morning.”
          “Indeed, sir?”
          “Made from happy, contented pigs, I make no doubt.”
          “Indubitably, sir. Will you be requiring your axe this morning, sir?”
          “Yes, Jeeves, there are a couple of money-lending sisters I want to interview after a snooter at the Drones.”
          “That reminds me, sir, Mr Fink-Nottle telephoned while you were in the bath.”
          “Oh, yes? What does the jolly old blighter want now?”
          “He wished me to convey, sir, that if there is no God, then morality is relative and outmoded concepts of good and evil cease to apply.”
          “Oh, jolly good. In that case, bring me my spats.”
          “Very good, sir.”

  • Nicki

    Well, it may be a tad too large, but it is GORGEOUS! Well done, Gordon. I love the cream yarn; so easy on the eyes, which would give me bonus knitting time deep into the evening.

    A new project will certainly keep you out of mischief during your extended sick leave. I can’t to read and see the details of the new gansey.

    Which brings me to ask about the progress on your gansey book. My fingers are ready to hit the send button on PayPal the minute you give us the word.

    Stay warm!

  • Nicki

    Woops! That should have read “I cant WAIT to read and see the details of your new gansey.”

    • Gordon

      Hello Nicki, and thank you. While I think Frangipani should be given a medal for their services to gansey knitters, with all their wonderful colours, the puritan in me still feels a gansey looks best in cream or navy!

      I’ve been mulling over the gansey book idea. When I started there were only really Thompson, Wright, Compton and Pearson. Now the market seems flooded and I’ve wondered if the world really needs another book on ganseys, when so much of the information is already out there, and by people who actually understand knitting. But since I discovered the Johnston Collection photos I’ve begun to wonder if something might not be done there, possibly a selection worked up into charted patterns. (this is one of the reasons I’ve been concentrating on Wick patterns lately; the other being they’re different enough to be cool!) More mulling required, perhaps…

  • Jane

    This gansey is just so wonderful, Gordon, super colour, outstanding work, a very good yarn. I would so enjoy it for the beautiful creation it is. Many congrats. I look forward to the navy one, it looks good. I totally approve of the stitch markers in a contrasting colour, such a help.

    Sorry to read you are still signed off. We all get weary in this modern world, so rest up, eat nice things and be kind to yourself! I hope your parents feel better too, there is so much flu and a really awesome cough in the South, which I dearly hope to avoid! Take care!

    • Gordon

      Hello Jane, well as Alfred “Chuckles” Tennyson put it in one of his lighter moods,

      “Hateful is the dark-blue sky, vaulted o’er the dark-blue sea.
      Death is the end of life; ah, why should life all suffering be…?”

      And it’s a good question. I’m treating the knitting as a replacement for worry beads! All the best, Gordon

  • Dave

    Sorry to hear you’re under the weather. Get well soon. Love the jumper – reminds me of smocking.

    • Gordon

      Thanks, Dave. As the old Welsh proverb says, “many drops wear away the stone”, and I’ve had rather a lot of drops lately!

  • Annie

    Look, just hang in there, Gordon.

    • Gordon

      Hi Annie, and thank you. I appreciate it.

      Hanging on is what I do best—at my old school I was runner up in the 100 metres hanging-on freestyle three years running. (What do Pink Floyd say? “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way”—I guess it applies to us Scots too.)

  • Lois

    Other than snake venom, a new gansey on the needles is probably the best cure for all ills known to man. So take care of yourself, you old coot, because we can’t do without you.

    • Gordon

      Hello Lois, and thank you (I think!). Get yourself ready for a shock next when you see how much knitting I’ve done on the new project.

      Now, about this snake venom you mention…

  • =Tamar

    I’d like to put in another vote for a gansey book. The Wick ganseys would make a nice theme, and you could include a few of your own “inspired by” ganseys.

    A “too-large” gansey is one that can be worn over another layer or two.

    • Gordon

      Hello Tamar, yes, that’s one of the ideas we’re kicking around. I have just a few more Wick patterns I want to knit up and then we’ll see. I’d also like to experiment with some genuine Wick-Hebrides hybrids, taking my favourite elements of each style and patterns and combining them, just like the wifies in olden days would have done.

      Another advantage of a gansey that’s too large—it keeps your knees warm!

  • Julie

    Another gem, Gordon. Count me in for a book.
    Wagner’s Ring Cycle would put me in a morose and/or suicidal funk within 2 measures!
    Currently we are mellowing on Maui, Hawaii. 🌴 Loving the music of “Iz”, now deceased.
    Aloha to all,
    Julie
    Victoria, BC

  • Lois

    Another vote for the book. Is it really possible to read too much about ganseys?

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