Letter: Life's rich pattern

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The Independent Online
Sir: Peter Costello (letter, 18 September) and John Dodds (21 September) share thought patterns on the Aran sweater that knit in harmoniously with the following passage from a recent novel (The Fires of Autumn, by Douglas Rae) about the herring folk:

In the polonecked town of Yarmouth, Hannah could tell where a man came from by running her eye over the pattern he was wearing. If a man was washed up headless and tattooless on the beach, she would know who he was by the pattern on his gansey. Some ganseys had ridges and furrows like a ploughed field; others had zigzags - marriage lines, depicting, so her mother put it, the ups and downs of life . . . The tree of life branched out all over some ganseys. There were ropes and cables, diamonds within diamonds, ladders and trellises, flags and anchors, nets and chevrons, waves and starfish, sand and shingle, hearts and love-knots and moss and lightning flashes and even herringbones.

Hannah, a Scots gutting-lass, sees in such sweaters 'as many configurations as she had seen among the rocks on the shore at home'.

Yours faithfully,


Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire

22 September