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Fife 16: 8 – 14 March

After getting the first draft of the novel out of the way last week, this week has felt like being on holiday. No slogging away at the computer until my 2,000 words were done  – or, as it usually worked out, 1,500 words and then having to go back later to make up the difference. (For those who’re interested, 9.00-10.30, cup of tea, 11.00-12.00, take a break, then usually a couple of  hours later in the day to go over previous chapters and revise.)

Instead I’ve been able to relax, read, go for walks, and generally bask in the golden glow of a blooming early spring. What? Oh, right.

Edinburgh’s been basking in an Indian Winter, temperatures around freezing, strong winds, rain, sleet and snow. (Just after we’d returned the huskies to the rental shop, too.) At one point the flat was so cold I dug out my old heavy wool genuine policeman’s cape (bought decades ago for keeping warm between Morris dances) and huddled on the sofa like a collapsed marquee, fighting the urge to patrol the streets making citizen’s arrests with a novelty squeaking truncheon.

It was cold enough that my legs felt the chill whenever I lifted the body of the gansey to turn it over to knit a reverse row. (And no, I wasn’t wearing shorts. The court order was very clear about that…)

As you’ll see from the pictures, all this leisure time has brought on the cardigan a treat – the front is finished, including the shoulders, and I’ve started the back. The shaped neck went perfectly to order; I decreased 16 stitches over 32 rows on each side, a decrease rate of 1:2. The trouble started when I got to the shoulders.

Because this is being done to a Scottish pattern, we’ve opted for Scottish shoulders – panels based on the centre chevron design, knitted in full from the front, to be joined onto the back after the back body is finished (like the Hebridean gansey in the gallery). Fair enough, you think. Nothing complicated there. Unless – and this is a valuable lesson, so I recommend you pay attention – you attempt it with a migraine.

One panel went fine. The other… Lord knows what was going on. No matter what I tried I knitted when I should have purled, got confused between obverse and reverse rows, tried to correct the mistakes and made it worse, ending up with something like a printout of a transmission of deep space radiation. I tried ripping it out and dropped stitches. Picked up those stitches and somehow added a few that weren’t there when I started, thus defying several laws of basic physics. In the end Margaret just took it out of my hands and ripped the whole lot out while I had took some pills and lay down in a darkened room. When I awoke I redid the whole shoulder panel from scratch. (And just when you’d think it couldn’t get any worse, England beat Scotland at the rugby. Some days you should just stay in bed.)

Something else that didn’t quite go to plan – this week’s bread. It’s supposed to be a version of Iranian barbari – a kind of flatbread, with olive oil and honey. Except mine came out as a kind of roundbread. (Still tastes fine, though.)

Finally I leave you with a rather disturbing thought. Google “policemen’s truncheon” and the chances are most of the hits will be for adult novelty items, in which the words, hen, chocolate, party and bondage will appear. Which may go some way to explaining the latest crime figures…

7 comments to Fife 16: 8 – 14 March

  • Gail

    This gansey is coming along famously! I love the color, no surprise because M and I are always attracted to the same colors. I’m awaiting comments on this central steek.

  • Lynne

    Horror of horrors – ripping out gansey stitches from 2.25 mm knitting! and then picking up those minute little nubbins that used to have a hole in them! I hope you take Margaret on a mini-vacation for that! One can’t tell from the beauty of it now that there was ever a problem.

  • Gordon

    Hi Gail, Lynne,

    Well, I’ll have a gansey’s worth of this wool left over at the end… I think we’re all waiting to see what happens with the steek with interest, and not a little trepidation.

    Margaret is curiously unfazed about ripping out stitches & picking them up, even these little devils. Personally I’d rather pretend the dog ate it and start a new gansey, but she just rolls up her sleeves and gets on with it. (This is the reason why I’m reluctant to set myself up as some sort of expert, too – as the Welsh proverb goes, even the blind pig sometimes finds an acorn – which basically sums up my overall competence!)


  • =Tamar

    Sneaky. Here I was thinking that people always knitted those shoulder panels up from the edge, cleverly attaching the front and back to it somehow, and here you are knitting it straight up from the front. Do you just graft it or do you work a 3-needle bind-off to join it?
    Funny, now that the rest of the yoke is done, the chevrons don’t seem as distracting to me.

  • Gordon

    Hi Tamar,

    The Scottish shoulder panels are usually done like this, I think(?). When you get to the back you do a 3-needle bind-off to join the shoulders to the back. Binding off in this way creates a ridge (which is why it’s so perfect for the traditional ridge and furrow casting off, of course), so I’ve knitted a corresponding ridge on the front (consisting of 2 purl rows at the start of the shoulder panel) so it will look symmetrical-ish.

    I think one advantage of such a “busy” combination of patterns is that it all should blend into an overall effect, with none of them standing out too much – fingers crossed!


  • Ruth

    That’s looking fabulous, the shoulder construction is interesting. Although I’m soon to cast on my gansey, honestly I haven’t thought that far and suspect I’ll think about the shoulders when I get to the armholes. I’m looking forward to seeing the next stage of the cardigan.

  • Gordon

    Hi Ruth,

    I try not to plan ahead – one thing at a time! So sometimes I start a gansey without deciding what the pattern will be till I finish the ribbing – or sometimes i change my mind. Keeping your options open is always a good strategy, and in my case has nothing to do with being disorganised… Honestly. Nothing at all.