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Filey 15: 25 June – 1 July

It’s week two of Margaret’s absence, and so far things are holding up pretty well. I haven’t reverted to savagery yet, and have even figured out how to make fire by rubbing two of the neighbour’s children together.

(Idea for a story: a bunch of dyslexic satan-worshipping archivists get stranded on a desert island and revert to savagery—working title—“Lord of the Files”… Thank you, I’m here all week, try the nut cutlets.)

I have also, as you will see from the pictures, finished the shoulders of the gansey—12 rows of “rig ’n fur” pattern on each side, joined and cast off using the standard 3-needle bind-off technique.

The curved neckline on the front is achieved as follows. I wanted my neckline to be indented by 2 inches, which is 24 rows at my stitch gauge. So, I started the neck 24 rows from the beginning of the shoulder rig ’n fur. I divided the total number of stitches across the front of the gansey by 3 (216 stitches / 3 = 72: 72 for the left shoulder, 72 for the neck and—are you paying attention at the back?—72 for the right shoulder). Then, I slipped 12 stitches from each side of the neck onto each shoulder needle; and, as I worked my way up, I decreased them at a rate of one stitch every 2 rows over the 24 rows (or 2 inches).

Now, this might leave you with the misleading impression that I know what I’m doing…. Yeah. Let me stop you right there.

You know when you finish a shoulder you have a little rat’s tail of yarn left dangling, to be darned in at the very end? Well, when I went to cast off the left shoulder (you can see where this is going, can’t you?) instead of using the new ball of yarn I’d prepared specially … I absent-mindedly used the rat’s tail, and even got two inches cast off before I realised what I was doing and had to unpick the lot, stitches pinging off the needles like a fat man’s waistcoat buttons.

Dead dog or cleaner’s coat?

All of which would just result in just a wry chuckle and an amusing anecdote for the grandchildren on long winters’ evenings, if I hadn’t done the exact same bloody thing on the other shoulder too. I don’t suppose you remember a song from 1978 called ‘Jilted John’ by, er, Jilted John? (You can look it up on YouTube if you’re curious.) At one point the band all join in the catchy refrain, “Gordon is a moron”—and, you know, there are times when I rather think they’ve got a point.

Funny how things stay with you. I was 18 when the song came out, and had to live with it all through university; someone thoughtfully gave me a badge. Even now old friends occasionally remind me of it, and we laugh for old times’ sake, and smile a little sadly for the passing of our youth, and wonder what became of the people we were all those years ago, and then late at night I sneak out and let all the air out of their tyres. (You know, I have an idea that when I die and stand before the throne of judgement, a chorus of sniggering angels will be pointing their fingers at me and singing that exact same chorus.)

View from Duncansby Head

I have a friend who, like me, has spent many years having his novels rejected by the publishing industry, and who decided to self-publish for kindle last year. He writes under the name of D.M. Mitchell, and—proving that the publishing industry couldn’t recognise talent if it burst out of a birthday cake and danced naked in front of them—not that I’ve tried this—maybe I should? (looks in mirror; common sense prevails)—he’s been as successful as he always deserved to be, with over 80,000 downloads. Anyway, he tells me he’s putting at least one of his books, “Max”, on a special free promotion sometime round about the 4th July; so if you have a kindle, and feel like reading something different, I can recommend it.

Finally, here are the statistics for this website for the month of June: 158,231 hits, resulting from 16,903 separate visits. Isn’t that incredible? The Gansey Nation will soon get recognition from the UN at this rate, and before you know it we’ll be threatened with sanctions if we don’t hold democratic elections.

So, thanks to everyone for all your support; see you next week—when Margaret will be back (hurrah). I’m off to listen to some music—doesn’t matter what—anything to drive that blasted song out of my head…

17 comments to Filey 15: 25 June – 1 July

  • Lisa Mitchell

    Gansey’s looking great so far. Would singing “We all live in a yellow submarine…” Usually does it for me…

  • Freyalyn

    Appalling pun – I had to read it twice to get ‘files’ and not ‘flies’! Gansey growing beautifully – I’m still on the bottom ribbing on mine, but I do have lots of other things on at the mo’.

  • Gordon

    Hi Lisa, I’m currently playing “She Will Have Her Way” by Neil Finn on a sort of loop, but it’s not working yet!

    & Hello Freyalyn – one of the advantages to not having a life is that I have planty of time for knitting and writing just now. Good luck with yours.

    Oh, and you know what they say – the pun is mightier than the sword…


  • Dave

    Gordon–I had come into the comments to recommend that you be elected Benevolent Dictator for Life of the site, but with the puns flying thicker than a swarm of gnats, maybe the UN sanctions aren’t such a bad idea . . .

    Freyalyn–I’ve started a gansey, too, but I had to tear out everything (about 3/4″, roughly 6 hours of hard labor for a slow knitter like me) because of an unnoticed twist when I joined the ends of the cast-on. I’ve started over, but I had to wait for my tear-saturated yarn to dry.

  • Judit M./ Finland

    Hi Dave ! Next time you cast on, knit a few rows without joining the ends. Join them after 5-6 rows and you will avoid twists. Perhaps this is not the orthodox way of knitting a gansey -ask Gordon about this- but I did this after an experience like you had . And it helped :).Best regards !
    Not a dead dog: Judit's dog Oscar

  • Gordon

    Hi Dave,

    Wow. Tough crowd.

    Sorry to hear about your false start! Yes, ganseys tend to curl round the needle at first like a monkey’s tail, and I’ve spent more hours than I care to remember painstakingly trying to straighten them out. I’ve discovered that if you find a kink on the very first row, you can just “unkink” it on the needle, and no one will ever know (or see it) once you’ve finished the welt – but 3/4″ is a bit much to fudge.

    If it’s any consolation, I heroically did 6 rows of the neck last night while watching the football and realised at full time I’d made a mistake on row 1—so I’ve just spent a happy evening ripping it all out and then picking up the stitches. Tomorrow i may have another go … or I may just watch TV instead, or descale the kettle, or something.

    The method Judit describes is, I think, perfectly legit as a gansey method—I just prefer the “elastic waistband” method of the full round, that’s all.

    Don’t be too discouraged! We’ve all been there. It gets better. (And remember—as Dilbert pointed out—”that which does not kill us makes us angry and weak”!)

    Best wishes

  • *dies* Oh god, the puns have killed me dead. Oy.

    The gansey looks fabulous! I really like the red – it’s unusual but very striking (in a good way).

    By the way, would a nut cutlet be a nutlet?


  • Dave

    If I’m reading it correctly, Judit’s method still gives the ribbed welt, with a small split on one side. I suspect that one could sew that short split shut once the ends have been joined. I think that I’ll give it a go. Thanks, Judit!

  • =Tamar

    Have you ever read a webcomic called Questionable Content?
    A couple of the characters work in a library and they just had a library sequence. It’s at questionable content dot net.

    NB the content is at times questionable and they are
    definitely in an alternate universe.


  • Judit M./ Finland

    Dave, that´s what I ment. The short split does not disturb the ribbed welt and not even the ” elastic waistband”. You may close the split later if you liked so as you mentioned.
    By the way I have seen ganseys even with a 3-4 cm long split 🙂

  • Gordon

    Hi Tamar, no I hadn’t come across that one. It’s obvious they’ve met librarians before. I’ve never had to pretend to be the toilet cleaner, though next time I’m faced with a particularly tricky question I couldn’t answer I shall certainly bear it in mind!


  • Gordon

    Hello Song,

    “Nutlet” sounds suspiciously like a character in a children’s book, who runs away and has adventures in the forest and among the boatmen on the canal, who inadvertently saves the day when the British invade/ dam bursts/ aliens attack / pony gets lost in the snow and wolves are hunting [delete as applicable!]

    The gansey isn’t getting any less red; it seems to pulse quietly in the corner, and occasionally I think I hear it whispering to me (What’s that you say, Red Gansey? With the meat cleaver? But I’m vegetarian – oh, with the orange juicer, right…)

  • Veronica

    Rub two neighbor’s children together: guffaw! Dyslexic satan-worshipping archivists, LOL! Gordon, I think I’m now required to pre-warn my family before reading your blog. One of my dogs keeps looking at me suspiciously to see if I’m going to explode again.

    I really like this sweater. The pictures alone make me want to snuggle it and then sneak off when you’re not looking. But not until you’ve finished the cuffs and collar. 😉 The lanolin-induced rash will be worth it.

  • Marilyn

    Oh Gordon, your ability to take the bit (Nutlet) and run with it can make me smile all day. I look forward to Mondays so much and then I continue to check in. From the blog numbers, I’m not the only one! You are a rare find.

  • =Tamar

    Does the Lord of the Files wear a Filey gansey?

  • Gordon

    Hi Veronica & Marilyn,

    Well, thank you, as ever. (I’m blushing.) The danger is, it runs the risk of getting very self-indulgent if I’m not careful. Which is why I’m lucky to have the ganseys to keep me anchored in the real world. More or less!

    Oh, and Tamar – you win this round….


  • Gracie

    To Dave: Twisting a cast-on in circular is painfully common. I’ve tried using tape, paper clips, clothes pins, and extra hands. Next time, I’m trying Judit’s approach. Thanks Judit!

    To Gordon: What an excellent color – the sweater is stunning! Do you sell your sweaters? Is this one for you? Is it intended as a gift?


    P.S. If you live near Duncansby Head, why would you honeymoon (I read your bio) on Cape Cod, Massachusetts?

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