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Denim 2: 7 – 13 April

D140413a We’re getting a new water heater and boiler installed just now, and from the state of the kitchen I imagine the builder decided to take out the old one with hand grenades. It looks like a set from Saving Private Ryan, in fact I had to dislodge three German soldiers from the utility room this morning just to do a load of laundry.


There used ta be a cupboard here . . .

Ours is an old stone house, and although built near the turn of the twentieth century seems to have been designed to repel a medieval army (well, you can never tell when the trebuchet is going to come back into fashion). The walls are surprisingly thick, and the builder kept having to fetch a longer drill to get through, until finally settling on something which was last used to find oil on the North Sea seabed.

Denim-GanseyEvery surface in the house is now coated with a layer of fine dust, and so, I find, is my morning toast. Sometimes the dust gets up my nose, and the resulting sneeze resembles nothing so much as an explosion in a talcum powder factory.


And the boiler was here

At least we’ll hopefully get an efficient hot water system out of it; that, and a shower which is more effective than a plant misting spray. (If you want to know what our current shower is like, take a baked bean tin, make some holes in the bottom, fill it with lukewarm water and hold it over your head. It’s a bit like being baptised on the instalment plan.)

Still, if the kitchen is a no-go area, the lounge is so far unscathed, and I’ve retreated there and got quite a lot of knitting done this last week.

D140413cAs you’ll see from the pictures the welt is but a distant memory, and the body is fairly begun. I’m not sure whether to call the pattern “Flambraser” or “Fraserflamb”, as it’s a cross between elements of Flamborough (the seed stitch and cables) and a Fraserburgh pattern recorded in Michael Pearson’s “Fisher Gansey Patterns of Scotland and the Scottish Fleet” (the diamonds and ladder).

I’m cabling every 7th round. I won’t really know till it’s finished, but as the pattern is going to run the full length of the body, welt to shoulder, it should be quite distinctive. I like the colour, too—it’s Frangipani’s Denim yarn, and like so many gansey yarns seems to change hue depending on the light, from warm sky blue to a sort of steely grey (this being the far north of Scotland, mind you, I’m expecting rather more grey than blue).

Meanwhile, spring continues to edge its way into Caithness. How can I tell it’s spring? Because the rain actually stops every now and then…

10 comments to Denim 2: 7 – 13 April

  • Marilyn

    Ah, Gordon! yr killin’ me this morning, for some reason disaster and mayhem bring out your humour. Yours is a most distinctive voice in blogland.
    I have a suggestion on the new gansey name. How about Fraserborough or Flamburgh? which to my mind flow off the tongue- sorry to say your possibilities felt more like square tires.
    Good knitting!

    • Gordon

      Hi Marilyn,

      I was going to call it Flamstruther until I remembered the pattern didn’t come from Anstruther! (You’ll notice I’m sticking with “Denim” as the name for now. Perhaps I should have a competition?)

      I’ll probably just call it Gerald, like the mouse in Pink Floyd’s song “Bike”. ..

  • Lynne

    What a nice pattern! I don’t think I’ve seen that lattice pattern going vertically before and the other patterns are really effective with it. Will there be a shoulder strap with this one, or have you thought that far ahead? Love the color.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne,

      It looks like it’s going to be a promising pattern. So far so good. You’ll be able to see better in a week or two how it’s shaping up.

      The original Fraserburgh gansey just has alternating lattice and ladder pattern bands, but I spotted right away that it was lacking cables! A schoolboy error, I thought. (Well, it would be rude not to have them.) The ladder, which is a sort of negative Betty Martin, produces a rather pleasing chunky effect too.

      And yes, I plan to do a cable shoulder strap that goes running down the arm. Though that’s a long way into the future right now! (What PG Wodehouse calls, peeking into chapter two…)

  • =Tamar

    I believe the lattice pattern going vertically – all over the yoke, really – shows up on King Charles II’s knitted silk tunic, which happens to be light blue. Just watch out for Cromwellians.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, ha, in fact I would have fought for Parliament against the King, and been a Roundhead (“Right but Repulsive”, as 1066 And All That put it), as opposed to a Cavalier (“Wrong but Wromantic)”—even if it meant no more cakes and ale, or even Morris dancing! But I do have a soft spot for Charles II (“that merry monarch”), and his nicely judged taste in silk tunics…

  • Jane

    The denim blue is a lovely colour, the patterns stand out beautifully on it, and you must be very pleased with the progress. It seems to me that it has a very slight sheen to it, very pleasant.
    It is a good time of year to tackle a boiler replacement, and I stand in awe of your stone walls, so substantial!
    I notice, looking at historical photos of ganseys, that there is a great variety in sleeve length and fit. I just offer this as food for thought.
    Meanwhile the ditches have nearly dried up and the grass has just begun to grow again.

    • Gordon

      Evening Jane, yes, I have a good feeling about this one. It’s starting to shape up nicely.

      I agree about the sleeves – some were obviously tight fitting and intended for working boats, no loose sagging bulges to get snagged on machinery (the jerseys rugby players wear have gone this way, interestingly—skin tight fit, so no one can bring you down by grabbing a loose fold in the cloth). But others were much looser, and seem designed to catch the wind so you can fly from tree to tree like a squirrel, and store nuts for winter.

      It’ll be nice to walk on grass that doesn’t squelch for a change, won’t it?

  • Judit/Finland

    By the way Gordon, a flying squirrel is existing and lives even in Finland. Just have a look at this address:

    • Gordon

      Hi Judit,

      I think that may be the cutest rodent I’ve ever seen. When it has its flaps extended to sail between trees, mind you, it reminds me of pizza dough when it’s spun really thin! (I think I may have coined a new delicacy: flying squirrel pizza!)

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