In response to popular demand – if one request counts – asking for more information about picking up stitches round the armhole, we’ve recorded a couple of brief video clips to demonstrate the technique I use. (Now, I dare say there will be those of you who have better ways of doing this – if so, please share them below, or on the appropriate web page in the “How To…” section, where we hope to add more of these instructional videos over time – some may even have sound! – covering all aspects of gansey knitting in due course.)
This is very much a trial, I should emphasise – there’s no sound for starters (as it was recorded while the washing machine was on its spin cycle). But we thought we’d share it with you, and take suggestions on what we might incorporate in future, what you’d find helpful. The plan is to do it for real on the other sleeve.
Before we go any further, I have to stress one important point – the video is just to demonstrate how I pick up stitches, so in it I pick up a whole bunch of them, one after the other. But remember, you knit more rows to the inch (vertically) than you do stitches to the inch (horizontally) – in my case I knit about 12 rows vertically, but only about 9.25 horizontally. That’s a ratio of c.12:9, or 4:3. In other words, if I picked up a stitch for every single row around the armhole I’d end up with far too many stitches, and the sleeve would balloon out like Hamlet’s, if the prince of Denmark ever wore ganseys (under his cloak, probably).
So you have to be careful, and not get carried away. Only pick up about 3 stitches for every 4 rows. (I usually break the armhole into sections, taking my cues from the yoke pattern. So in this case the armhole is 9.5 inches from gusset to the top of the shoulder, or about 90 stitches. You can see that the yoke is divided into 3 panels. So I made sure I didn’t pick up more than 27 or so stitches to each panel.)
Incidentally, I apologise for the chapped condition of my fingers in the close-ups – are these the hands of a gentleman, I hear you cry? – it’s hard to say which are more worn, the needles or my poor finger-ends. In future I’ll either get some lotion, or else see if we can employ a “finger double” like movie stars do for nude scenes. (Reading that sentence again I think it’s time to move on hastily. Ahem.)
Normally when knitting the sleeve on a gansey which is patterned all over I’d make the top panel (or “sleeve yoke”) some 5-6 inches: long enough to show but not so long it creeps over the elbow, which I try to avoid. In this case, I decided to leave the yoke patterns alone, as I like the proportions as they are. The only downside is they’re too short on their own – but adding another panel would make them too long. Still, with the chevron (which I did resize to a compact, petite 19 stitches excluding the border) the sleeve yoke is just under 5 inches, which is just about long enough.
Bread again. As I enjoyed working with fresh yeast so much the other week I decided to have another bash. This time I’ve been using recipes from Richard Bertinet’s “Crust” book, which I’ve tended to avoid in the past because his recipes make quite a lot. But there’s plenty of room in the freezer just now – or there was – so I knocked up a batch of his baguettes made with a poolish ferment (a poolish is just a wet dough that you start the day before and add to the rest of your recipe when you’re ready). But as it makes so much I used half of it for dough and made the other half into rustic loaves.
But in order to use up the block of yeast before it loses its zip, I’ve got a lot more baking to do. (I would include video clips of the baking process, but as that would mostly consist of me slicing bits off myself with the bread knife, burning my fingers on the hot oven, spraying the kitchen with flecks of dough like a controlled explosion in a cement factory and scalding my hands with boiling water, perhaps, in retrospect, not…)