First of all, the good news: I’ve finished the Scottish Flag gansey, darned in the ends and it’s now been washed and is pinned out on the blocking boards to dry. I’ve never knit a gansey in so short a time—I started it on 13 January and finished it yesterday, 12 February; all in all, less than a month.
Secondly, the not so good: the reason I’ve been able to knit it so quickly is, of course, because I’m still signed off work. In fact, I’ve now been diagnosed as suffering from a form of depression. This was news to me: but I’ve had to learn that depression comes in many guises and can sneak up on you over a long period of time, dragging you down incrementally. (There’s a theory that if you place a frog in a pan of cold water and heat it up gradually, the frog will never actually realise it’s being boiled to death until too late; this is apparently a myth, but I think it’s a good analogy.)
I’m told I should make a full recovery, and to aid that process I’ve just started a course of antidepressants to return my serotonin levels to normal. (Touching wood, I’ve so far avoided the worst of the side effects such as blurred vision and nausea; though I do wake up each morning with a mouth that feels, and tastes, like a week-old cat litter tray, and I’m as tired as if I’ve been shot with an elephant tranquilliser.) But as far as I’m concerned, an illness is an illness—mental or physical—and to quote another doctor, if I’d broken my leg would I feel any differently about it? (And if so, why?)
Well. Returning to happier matters, namely ganseys, it was good to see them getting some publicity on the BBC’s Countryfile programme yesterday, even if it was only for a superficial 5 minutes, as John Craven visited Margaret Taylor, gansey knitter of Filey. For UK viewers the programme’s available on iPlayer, and the gansey feature comes right at the end.
Finally, I’ve been speculating on the Scottish Flag pattern of my latest gansey. In a certain light it reminds me of a skyscraper of glass office windows catching the sun; at other times the inside of an egg carton. My favourite idea is that you could also use it as a chess board, so that at quiet times in the fishing the skipper might say, “Fancy a game, Jim? All right, Gordon, lie down on the deck and we’ll get the pieces out…”