Support Gansey Nation -

Buy Gordon a cuppa!

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

Filey 2: 26 March – 1 April

How windy is it in Caithness just now? Take a small to medium sized family car – something like a Ford Ka, say, or a Renault Clio – position it on level ground, put it in neutral and take the handbrake off. Go round the back and give it a push. As it eases into motion, that’s about how hard it is to force your way against the wind right now. I’m actually getting tired muscles from walking into the wind. Everything is tilted to 45 degrees, people lean at crazy angles like Charlie Chaplin with his boots nailed to the floor. Even my coffee has whitecaps.

Caithness: Don't bother combing your hair

Still, after the glimpse of summer we had last week, suddenly it no longer seems quite so counter-intuitive to be knitting ganseys. I’m past the ribbing, and have increased (from 388 to 432, an increase of 44 stitches or about 10%). The gansey at this stage resembles a muffin – or the sort of creature archaeologists have found fossils of in the Burgess Shale, and I imagine it roaming across the shallow bottom of prehistoric oceans, illuminated by shafts of sunlight, hunting for krill.

As I said last week, the gansey is going to be the same size as the previous Humber Star gansey, i.e., 46 inches in the round. But – I should have said this last time – I’m using Wendy yarn instead of Frangipani, for a change. (I expect it to take between 11 and 12 100 gram balls, but I got 13 just to be on the safe side; when I finally decide to call it a day, the last gansey I knit will be a multi-coloured, migraine-inducing spectacular, using up all the leftover yarn from previous projects.)

Now, Wendy is a slightly fluffier yarn than Frangipani, and my stitch gauge naturally tends to change when I knit with fluffier wool, with fewer stitches to the inch. So the risk is, by keeping to the same number of stitches, I end up with a gansey tent, not a jumper; but if I reduce them, I might make it too small, and end up with more of a corset.

So in the end I decided to stick with the same number as last time, but pick a pattern with lots of cables. The pattern will be “Filey V” from Gladys Thompson’s book – I’ll chart it out for next time, when I start the detail). It’s a simple pattern, but very effective, and the cables should draw it in a bit, while allowing room for expansion in the blocking stage if need be. It’s all a bit “rule of thumb” but it should work out OK.

It’s not getting any less red as it grows, I notice. Maybe I could start a new line in hand-knitted Chinese lanterns?

No blog next week, as we’ll be away over Easter visiting my parents in Northampton, a distance of some 598.1 miles. They don’t have an internet connection, so it’ll be a complete break from the stresses of the modern world (other stresses may, of course, be involved – not least the promise of snow this week, which should make life interesting).

Margaret and I would like to wish all our readers a very happy, wind-free Easter, and we’ll see you again on Monday 16th April.

16 comments to Filey 2: 26 March – 1 April

  • =Tamar

    Have a wonderful time. I’ll just sit here, huddled by the computer, wistfully waiting for your next post. And, of course, rereading old ones and giggling. By the time you finish the red gansey, you may find you don’t want to go back to the dark colors.

  • Judit M./ Finland

    “not least the promise of snow this week, which should make life interesting”.
    Gordon, thanks, I now know why our life here is so interesting: last night we got 17 cm new snow on top of the old snowdrift :).
    Nice holidays and best regards to the whole family !

  • Gordon

    Why thank you, Tamar, that’s very kind of you. I’m slightly shocked at how many “back issues” there are – I’d forgotten I’d been doing this so long…

    Judit, now you’re just showing off. We’ve got an icing sugar dusting of snow at the moment, but we can’t compete with 17 cm! Are you sure you don’t really live in the Arctic?


  • Sue

    Bet that when you woke up this morning, Gordon, that it was you and Margreat who was wondering whether you were living in the Arctic 🙂

    Seriously, the news reports are saying that further north to me that a lot of power lines have been brought down by the weight of the snow and ice on them – have you been affected? I guess last week was our spring and we seem to have skipped summer and suddenly it’s February again! It’s not too bad here on the coast compared to what the inland glens are getting but cold enough with sloppy, wet snow falling in sufficient quantities to convince me that the best way of spending the afternoon will be in front of the log fire with the knitting.

  • Gordon

    Hi Sue,

    It was freezing! A cold, bitter wind sweeping down from the north. We got a dusting of snow overnight, the fields were white but with green showing through, that sort of coverage. But a little further south it was heavier, down towards Helmsdale. But no, we were OK. Just cold!

    Of course l I tend to feel that an afternoon in front of a log fire is best just about every month outside August…


  • Ulrike

    Hello Gordon,
    have a nice time, hope you will have some sunny days without wind.

    That red is smashing and I think if the gansey is finished the wearer will get famous and identified everywhere he goes. (And you too as the knitter).

    Happy easter

  • Elizabeth in Colorado Springs

    Snowed in Colorado Springs on Monday; in the 60s today (Thursday). The wind here drives me crazy (I didn’t know about the wind before we moved here – should have checked), although it doesn’t blow all the time. I blame the unremitting dust in the house on the wind. I’d rather knit than clean, but can’t stand the DUST.

  • Hey guys!

    While Gordon’s away, let’s post silly fun things for him to come back to! Fun links, nice patterns, interesting blog sites…

    I’ll start: Canada has a new quarter: with a dinosaur on and a glow-in-the-dark skeleton!


  • Lisa Mitchell

    Gee – I’m a Canadian and hadn’t heard about this one!

  • Lisa – I’m actually thinking of going to Canada on our next long weekend to see if we can’t find one. I mean, there will be other delights as well (Timbits and the lovely views of BC), but really, we just want quarters.



  • Lynne

    I, also, live in Canada – it looks like a really great quarter, however it’s a limited edition and will cost us $30 to own it! It’s released on April 16.

  • Nigel, from Edinburgh

    If you like fun knitting, try Jean Greenhowe from Aberdeen

  • =Tamar

    Much as I would like to have a glow-in-the-dark skeleton coin, that price is too high. Feralknitter at typepad com has posted a knitted Fairisle cat by Karen Hust, complete with how-to.

  • Nigel, from Edinburgh

    Interesting blog on history of the gansey


  • Hi Nigel,

    I believe the lady behind the blog has a book on “River Ganseys” coming out this year, which should be interesting.


  • =Tamar

    She has an interesting blog post but you need to read the comments to learn that although she said she would correct her misstatement of “17th” to “16th” century, for earliest, she never got around to doing it.

    Welcome back, Gordon!