Support Gansey Nation -

Buy Gordon a cuppa!

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

Filey 16: 2 – 8 July

Ganseys, as you may have noticed, take quite a bit of knitting; I’m already four months into this one. Still, that’s the neck and shoulders done—there’s just the sleeves to go. Reaching this part of a gansey is tremendously liberating; suddenly it all feels so much easier, the knitting equivalent of coasting downhill on a bicycle with your hands behind your head and your feet on the handlebars, after slogging up the other side in first gear.

I mentioned in the comments last week my faux pas about the ribbing on the neck. I’m still not exactly sure (a) how you can even screw up something as straightforward as knit 2, purl 2, and then (b) not notice for eight rows—but, reader, somehow I managed it. So I gritted my teeth and tugged out the needles and ripped it all back to the pick-up row, and did it over again (12 rows, or an inch plus cast off), which felt like doing lines after school.

Next came the sleeve, and picking up the stitches. The armhole is nine inches deep, including the shoulder strap; my standard stitch gauge is 9.25 stitches to the inch; so 9 x 9.25 = 83 stitches per side, or 166 in all. By a very happy coincidence, this is exactly the right number of stitches to fit my step and cable pattern without having to fiddle it to make it fit. (Such was my euphoria that, had I lived in ancient Athens, I might have jumped out of the bath and run down the street without a towel shouting ‘Eureka!’; however, since this was Caithness, where the icy wind has a tendency to nip any unprotected dangly bits rather sharply, on this occasion I forbore.)

She’s back, baby

Margaret’s back from her stay in La-Chic-sur-Mer, or wherever she was in France, and now she’s lounging around elegantly smoking gauloises and correcting my pronunciation of ‘croissants’ (which rather resembles a bulldog sneezing in mid-bark). She’s also brought her camera back, which means a return to blog photos that are actually in focus, thank goodness.

As you’ll see, I’ve decided to follow the original design and make the sleeves the same pattern as the body; I want to continue the pattern down the sleeve to at least the forearm, which I think gives it a certain integrity. I’m coming to really appreciate the tight cable combined with the chunky, three-dimensional texture of the steps (which, I now realise, remind me disconcertingly of a Yorkie bar, a worrying sign for someone who’s given up chocolate – if this gansey was brown my needles would probably be slick with drool and my tongue unpleasantly furry).

Finally I’m indebted to Song of this parish for bringing this to my attention: a Cornish woman who finally finished her husband’s gansey after thirty years (see http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Brenda-casts-30-years/story-16469270-detail/story.html) (Oct 2018:  link now gone – Ed.).

Suddenly my six-month turnaround doesn’t seem so bad after all…

19 comments to Filey 16: 2 – 8 July

  • Judit M./ Finland

    “Suddenly my six-month turnaround doesn’t seem so bad after all”

    Never mind Gordon, we all know that quality needs time.
    Best regards!

  • Veronica

    Four months? Really? It doesn’t seen that long from this side of the Internet. It seems like just last week it evolved past ‘whippersnapper’ to ‘good friend’.

    Had to look up Yorkie bars: I’ve never seen one. I’m not convinced. To me they look more like the Cadbury Caramel bars. The ones with the slightly rounded edges. And the cables look like the red licorice twists.

  • Gordon

    Hi Judit,

    Quality … or the manual dexterity of a three-toed sloth trying to send a text message on its cellphone, one or the other…

    By the way, Margaret did manage to include your happy dog picture that you sent to compensate for my cleaner’s-coat-that-looked-like-a-dead-dog image from last week—better late than never?


  • Gordon

    Hello Veronica,

    One of these days I’m going to scare myself and look up how long I’ve been doing this blog—I think I started somewhere around the death of the old Queen in 1901…

    I had thought of designing a gansey in this pattern for hunters, so they could store bullets in the ridges—but now i come to think of it, those steps would make perfect compartments for chocolate too. Once I sort out how to cope with melting in hot weather, I think I could be onto a winner.


  • Judit M./ Finland

    Hi,and many thanks for the picture ! Best regards to Margaret,
    Judit and Oscar the dog :)).

  • Sandra

    Hi Gordon, just wanted to let you know that I’ve finished my Gansey!! Its been blocked (in the machine, I think that was the most nerve wracking bit, but it was fine) and is now lying on some towels in the spare room drying. I was surprised at how different it looked after being blocked. But I’m really pleased with it and it only took 6 months. I think I might take a break for a bit now though, not sure I can knit another straight away even though I have bought the wool for the next one!! Definitely cables next time I think…hmm perhaps it won’t be a very long break?
    Regards, Sandra

  • Lynne

    Four months! It doesn’t seem that long to me, either, just a lifetime to the one knitting it – and it’s looking great. And, congratulations, Sandra, anxious to see a photo of the new gansey in Gordon’s gallery, it’s always a joy seeing someone else’s creation.

  • Gracie

    To Sandra: Yes, please send a photo. Like Lynne, I’d like to enjoy your success!

    To Gordon: Your pronunciation of croissants as being mangled canine garb is hilarious. I laughed a good one.

    Thanks for posting an enlarged photo of the sleeve pick-up.

    OK, maybe I’m state-side-ish, but I thought a “Yorkie Bar” was a pub in Wiggington. Couldn’t you have some chocolate in moderation?


  • Gordon

    Hi Sandra,

    Congratulations! Agree with Lynne and Sharon, photos please! I find it all addictive, once one’s finished I think, thank God that’s over, then after a few days I get restless … and before I know it, it’s all started again.

    Hello Lynne,

    Knitting is a process for me, so the passage of time isn’t an issue—though it’s always nice to see the finished article. It’s only looking back I realise how long it’s taken…

    And hi Gracie,

    I allow myself chocolate at Easter, birthdays and Christmas, or if someone gives me some (on condition I didn’t drop hints asking for any) so I do all right, really. I can cope with the shakes and the hallucinations, pretty much—as Homer Simpson says, going cold turkey isn’t as much fun as it sounds…

    Cheers all,

  • =Tamar

    She wasn’t working on it the whole 33 years, though, which puts it into the same category as my 8-year cr*ch*eted baby blanket. Time in time-out really shouldn’t be considered as part of the knitting time, unless, perhaps, that time was spent practicing something necessary for the actual knitting. Learning how to do a particular cast-on, for instance, might qualify.

    I don’t remember coasting with both feet on the handlebars, just with one foot on the handlebars and the other on the seat (standing up), which let me leap off if trouble loomed ahead.

  • Marta

    Hi Gordon,
    I love your blog. Do you use the term “UFOs” in Scotland? Most knitters that I know, including myself, have many of these.
    I also love the photos at the top of your blog, but they are not identified. It would be nice to know where the photos are taken.

  • sue garner

    way back in one of your blogs you were contacted by a lady in comox, vancouver island. i would like to contact her for a pattern please. i’m in qualicum beach about 35 minutes away from comox and have 3 months to occupy myself before returning to uk in october. there is a really good wool shop in comox but the patterns are limited. thankyou gordon sue ps my cousin is lynne

  • Gordon

    Hi Tamar,

    Yes, technically you’re correct of course (“the very best kind of correct” as the bureaucrats in Futurama say!). But then I guess I spend a lot of time not knitting too, though I don’t tend to lay them aside so much these days as I used to before I committed myself to the blog.

    One foot on the handlebars and he other on the seat? You are a performer with Cirque du Soleil and I claim my $5!


  • Hello Marta, nice to hear from you!

    “UFO” may exist as a term up here, as something of a non-knitter I couldn’t say. I just looked it up, though, and I see it’s pretty common. As a sort of slow-motion gansey conveyor belt I don’t have unfinished knitting projects, I just work through the yarn like a knitting combine harvester—but my life is filled with other unfinished projects, so I take no credit for that!

    I’ll ask Margaret to say something about the photos at the top of the blog—she took them and (probably) identify them. They’re on a sort of lucky dip setting, so you never know what you’re going to get each time.


  • Gordon


    I’m guessing the person you’re thinking of is Barbara Anne Kenney (see http://www.ganseys.com/?page_id=3902.) I’ll pass your email details to her, if that’s OK, and ask her to get in touch.

    Best wishes

  • Marilyn

    I have always wanted to go to La Chic-sur-Mer and eat croissants. 🙂
    My project of longest outstandingness is a cross stitch of a miniature Persian rug on 18 to the inch canvas begun in 1977; I think it’s safe to say I’ve let it go.
    The gansey is looking very good, Gordon.

  • sue garner

    thank you for your reply gordon, please pass my details on to barbara. regards sue

  • Gordon

    Hi Marilyn,

    Well, throw in an espresso and we’re talking. Anyone trying to experience cafe culture in Wick just now had better pack an umbrella, and some lead weights to hold down the croissants in the wind!

    I don’t have any craft projects dating back that far – but I do have a bunch of half-started stories I keep hoping I might go back to some day. (I read that the writer Alan Bennett in his 60s finally conceded that he was never going to go back and finish his university thesis on the household of Richard II – that all through his life in performing and writing he still thought of himself as really a historian who was just passing time in the media, and that one day…)

    With a project from that long ago I’d also be worried that fashion tastes have changed and it might no longer fit with today’s decor—though as the seventies seems to be coming back into fashion, maybe now is your time to go back to it…?


  • =Tamar

    Fashion changes, but miniature Persian rugs in dollhouse size are immune to fashion.

Leave a Reply to Gordon Cancel reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.