Support Gansey Nation -

Buy Gordon a cuppa!

Many, many thanks to those of you who have already contributed!

Fife 14: 22 -28 February

At times like this, when we divide front and back and dedicate ourselves to progressing with the yoke, it is comforting to think of the words of Our Lord when he said, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew, 11:30).

Mind you, he may have had one of those simple repeating patterns in mind, like Henry Freeman of Whitby, and not one of these fiddly Scottish fleet yokes, such as I am embarked on here. Verily I say unto you, “For my yoke is sort of complicated, and my burden is a pain in the posterior” (Gordon, 16:29pm).

For this gansey we have divided the yoke into 6 panels, each separated by a cable (6 stitches across, flanked with 2 purl stitches either side, and cabling every 6th row to keep the maths simple). The centre of the yoke is marked with a double cable, one either side of the central steek on the front here. (On the back, of course, these will just sit side by side, separated by 2 purl stitches.)

Each panel is 25 stitches across. The pattern repeats on the panels are all 32 rows high, and each will be separated by a 4-row horizontal strip (1 row knit, 2 rows purl, 1 row knit). There will be 3 pattern repeats, and 2 horizontal strips, for the height of the yoke. (In other words, the yoke will be about 104 rows, or just over 8 inches, and will fit 3 trees or equivalent.)

As you will see from the photographs, we have opted for 3 patterns for the yoke, chosen to contrast (to an extent) with the pattern on the body, which was very busy; these are plainer and larger. The triple cross-bar comes from Thompson, p.99; the double diamond comes from Pearson, p.64, and the tree of life from Pearson, p.80. (All adapted to fit the width of the yoke minus cables.) All are from Scotland, if not necessarily from Fife – but it’s close enough for jazz, as the saying goes. (The shoulder straps, when I get to them, will consist of the same chevrons as appears in the centre panel.)

In other news, I celebrated the completion of the rough first draft of my novel at the weekend – consisting of 78,000 words. I’ve got to rewrite it now, and edit it ruthlessly into shape (down to c.70,000). I’ve set myself the target of achieving a completed first draft by the end of March – though of course it won’t be finished even then. As it stands it’s pretty terrible – but even so, I can see a halfway decent novel buried inside, like the thin handsome person I know is in there when I look in the mirror…

On the rare occasions I raise my head from the keyboard, I notice that spring seems finally to have arrived, crashing into Edinburgh like a dawn raid by the police, kicking in the door and letting in the light. As the song says, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter. I’m declaring this officially the start of the New Year – 2011 starts here.

Meanwhile, to quote the medieval monk whose poem Carl Orff set in Carmina Burana (the track is In Trutina, and it’s just beautiful): ad iugum tamen suave transeo (“to the sweet yoke, however, I submit myself”)…


8 comments to Fife 14: 22 -28 February

  • =Tamar

    Ah, but it’s beautiful. I imagine it’s similar to what they say about childbirth, once it’s over you forget the pain. Not having done either, I can only speculate. (I did knit an Ar*n but there is no comparison.)

  • Gordon

    Hi Tamar,

    Well, I knew one mom (not mine!) who declared that maybe you forgot the pain but childbirth just opened yourself up to 20 years of grief… Perhaps in retrospect not one of nature’s more maternal spirits…

    I’m a big fan of Arans, though they’re a little chunky – but I do love the lines of some of the patterns, which remind me of the style of the Celtic illuminated manuscripts, or even Viking designs. Very sworly.


  • Lynne

    Wow! You certainly didn’t adhere to the “KISS” method with this gansey, Gordon. It’s awesome and you’ve made great progress with it this past week. I’ve taken a week+ off and am in Washington State doing some grandparenting and waiting for (yet another) snowstorm to pass, so I truly envy the promise of spring in your area.

  • Gordon

    Hi Lynne,

    No, I stopped being a fan of the KISS method when i found I got bits of yarn stuck in my teeth.

    The progress looks impressive, doesn’t it? But I’m also covering twice the ground now I’ve divided front & back, so it’s not quite as impressive as it looks, alas.

    Good luck with the snow. It’s St David’s Day, so spring is just around the corner – give or take the odd snowstorm, I guess!


  • Sue

    Gordon, it’s looking truly beautiful. And the stitches show up so well on this lighter shade of wool. It might be spring – and I have just been for lovely walk in the sunshine along the beach – but the evenings are still dark and it’s so easy to make a mistake in artificial light and not notice it on the dark navy that I’m using. Said with a grimace after having to undo a good 3 ins last night after spotting a mistake in a heart motif 🙁

    I haven’t forgotten your request for a photo of how the gussets look using my increasing method but I can’t work out how to post them! As you have my email, if you email me I can attach them in a reply – or else give me step by step instructions as to how I send them via your blog here?

  • Shelley

    Thanks for troubling to share all the details of your gansey with us, Gordon. The combination of photos, graphs, calculations and logic is most helpful (like auditing an upper division geometry class). As I read your progress, I realize the gansey is very appealing to me because there are so many details, decisions and possibilities. It’s a thinking man’s sweater. Your closeups show the fiber especially well. Cheers.

  • Gordon

    Hi Sue,

    As I have no idea how this website works (Margaret is my tech support) it’s probably easiest if you use my gordonr@ganseys.com email address. If you’re willing to share we can surely find a way to incorporate them into your email post – or something.

    Undoing 3 inches?! I think I would lose the will to live! I used to knit in navy all the time, but as I’ve got older it’s harder and harder to see the patterns without a searchlight constantly shining on the wool! I’ve come to really appreciate the lighter colours (especially cream) as well, you’re right, they really show the patterns well. (Mind you, I’m starting to think that we don’t get daylight like we used to when I was a lad, you could really see in them days…)

    Walking along the beach… I’m suffering the sin of envy here!

  • Gordon

    Hi Shelley,

    I’m glad you’re finding it useful. I get requests periodically from people complaining that I don’t post complete knitting patterns, and it’s something we’ve considered, but I think part of the fun of ganseys is the freedom to play around with the patterns and do what you feel like, to “express yourself” to use modern sporting parlance, in whatever combinations take your fancy.

    It’s like that annoying old saying “give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach him to fish and he’ll have food for life”. (Which isn’t much good if you don’t live anywhere near water, of course!) I think that Gladys Thompson, Michael Pearson et al have given us all the information we need to fish these waters, if we want.