Support Gansey Nation -

Buy Gordon a cuppa!

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

Filey 2.4: 22 – 28 April

F20428bI’d been referred to the eye clinic in Inverness because my optician had spotted a dark patch at the back of my eye – which, as is the way of medical matters, would either prove to be completely harmless (most likely), or potentially very bad (quite unlikely but you never know).


The reverse of the dimple and cable pattern

Well, it turned out to be harmless. No tumour, no detaching retina, no problems at all in fact (so as they say in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, anything I still can’t cope with is therefore my own problem). Of course, in order to find that out, the doctor had to do the whole anaesthetising and dilating-the-pupils routine which made me look like a surprised barn owl, and shine bright lights into the retina, focusing the beam like a sadistic schoolboy using a magnifying glass to incinerate ants in the back yard. I can still smell a faint trace of smoke even now.


The small broch at Castlehill, with Dunnet Head in the background and slate fences in the foreground

I don’t know if you’ve ever had your eye anaesthetised? They do it to check the pressure, and it’s the weirdest feeling. Your eyeball seems to shrink in its socket and feels like it’s been coated in varnish. When you wipe your eye on a tissue you get a bright yellow smear, as though the anaesthetic is made from pureed canaries.


A Tale of Two Bands

At least no one took my picture when I was all numb and dilated like that. I gave a talk to the good people of Castletown Heritage Society last week, and asked them if they could send me some pictures of the occasion so we could use them for publicity purposes; and they kindly obliged. Goodness, it’s a shock to see yourself taken unawares! (Hear that popping noise? That’s the sound my amour propre makes as it bursts like a soap bubble.) In the best of them I look like I’ve just burst out of a cake; or like Gandalf at Aragorn’s coronation party, if the photographer had pressed the shutter just as a slightly inebriated Galadriel, after one too many “Rivendell slammers”, had decided to give the old wizard the wedgie of a lifetime.


Left-hand band from the front . . .

After all these distractions – hospital appointments, talks, and time spent sobbing in my room – I haven’t done a huge amount of knitting. Though I am making inroads into the second diamond, and the pattern is getting clearer by the day. So by way of distracting you from my own project, Margaret is now going to take you through her progress on de-steeking the cream cardigan.

Which, as you can see, is coming along nicely.  The stitches for the left-hand band have been picked up, at a rate of two stitches per three rows.  The first row is garter stitch, and then there’s about an inch of seed stitch.  Aforesaid stitch is good for bands as it lies flat, but it’s about as much fun to knit as ribbing.


. . . and from the back.

The right-hand band will have horizontal buttonholes. I’ll probably knit them individually, as a series of little tabs, then knit a few rows across the top to join them all together.  Think of a comb with its teeth at the edge of the centre front – without so many slits of course.

The facing, once the stitches have been picked up, folds very neatly to the back.  When all the knitting is said and done, it’ll be catchstitched down so it has no chance whatsoever to flop about.

The band is bubbling a little, but hopefully a good steam with the iron should sort that out.  This is the band the buttons will be sewn to.  Alas the chosen buttons are a bit too big; to rest nicely on the band I’d have to knit another half inch or so, and that would make the bands too wide.  So it’s off to the local knitting shop or t’interwebs to find better buttons.


15 comments to Filey 2.4: 22 – 28 April

  • Gail

    Cute dimples!
    Glad to hear the eyes have passed! The news of buttonholes answers the one question I had, if you don’t install a zip, how do you close? I’ll be interested to see the next step completed.
    Kudos to you for finishing one and starting right up with another.
    Happy Spring!

  • Nigel

    It must be a great relief to be given the all clear Gordon, and the Gansey is looking great. This a link to an interview with Mary Wright on the Coast TV prog. Only available to in UK (I think). 10.57mins in

  • Sue G.

    When you do your buttonholes like that, do you just stop and knit back to the last buttonhole/edge? I’ve never thought of doing a buttonhole that way. Sounds promising.

    • admin

      Hi Sue
      “When you do your buttonholes like that . . .” . . . TBH I’ve never done buttonholes this way before but, in my mind at least, it just sounds sorta logical. I may do tubular edges to the sections to give the buttonholes a nice finish. The plan in brief: Pick up stitches at the centre front. Knit in pattern back and forth between buttonholes, one section at a time, with a tubular edge on one side. End the section on the opposite side from the tubular edge; slip stitch or i-cord edging down to the picked up stitches. Knit another section as above, keeping the first section’s stitches on the needle. Continue until all sections are worked. Then knit in pattern on all stitches for a few rows, then cast off. That is probably as clear as mud. And it may not work in practice but I don’t see why it shouldn’t.

  • Gordon

    Hi Guys,

    I’ll let Margaret deal with the buttonhole questions, since as far as I’m concerned it’s like quadratic equations: Im glad someone knows how to do it, but even more glad it’s not me!

    Nigel, Mary Wright was brilliant on the Coast programme. I got cross, though, when Ruth Goodman (or her director more like) decided to spend most of the slot going to sea with a fisherman just because he wore a gansey, and then trying to teach him hwo to knit; be still my aching sides (though full marks to him for being a good sport & playing along). When all the time there was Mary W and her fabulous ganseys back in Polperro not being talked to!

    Spring? Spring? It bloody snowed here on Saturday! We’ve skipped 3 whole seasons and gone straight back to winter…


  • Nigel

    It was so contrived wasn’t it? I wonder why they feel they have to do things like that.

  • Lisa Mitchell

    Beautiful work on the blue gansey and the cardi, Gordon. Wish I was that good with a set of pins…

  • Gordon

    Hi Lisa,

    As I’ve explained elsewhere, talent has nothing to do with in my case! (This is not false modesty – I am not a natural, and frequently knit with all the grace and agility of someone struck by lightning. This is one of the reasons why I wouldn’t try to teach gansey knitting—not that anyone has ever suggested I should—because I would be exposed as a fraud very quickly.))

    But one of the amazing things that happens when you knit fine like this, all your mistakes and unevennesses are too small to be detected, unless by electron microscope…


  • Marta

    I am really interested in what Margaret did for the cutting of the steek. Did she just cut the steek and do that cross stitch on a couple of rows, trim them, and stitch them to the sweater? Or did she do something else?

    • admin

      Hi Marta
      First, I did two rows of machine stitching in the middle of the steek. Then I cut between the two rows of stitching. After that I picked up stitches and knit the button bands. Next the bands were steamed, with the steek sections folded away from the centre. Then these facings, formed from the steek sections, were tacked down with herringbone stitch. If this hadn’t been done, they’d flop about and be annoying. The process is more fully explained for the blue Fife zippered cardigan – we’ll do the same for this one at some point. Perhaps even with moving pictures.
      Hope this helps,

  • Marta

    Margaret, I think that I remember that there were 11 stitches in the steek. If there were two columns of machine stitches surrounding the cut area, you might have 5 rows of knit stitches or less. It looks like you just did the criss-cross herringbone pattern on two rows of stitches. Did you cut the rest away? Was some of it turned under? I have been reading about this and there seem to be several ways to do this.

    • admin

      Hi Marta
      IIRC, there are about 20 stitches total for the whole steek. So that means when it is cut up the middle, there are about 10 stitches on each front. So nothing is cut away.
      Of course, there are no rules, so you can do it however you please.

  • Marta

    Sorry, but I forgot to mention that I looked up your blue Fife zippered cardigan and the process didn’t seem to be explained there.

  • Marta

    Is your crissk-cross herringbone pattern on the ten stitches of each side, or did you just do it on part of it? The outside edge? I realize that these ganseys are knit on very small needles and 10 stitches is not a lot of width. OR, did you turn it under?

    • admin

      Hi again Marta
      The stitches of the steek were folded under to the back like a facing, and stitched down with herringbone stitch. The herringbone stitch lies over the machine stitching. The stitches for the button bands were picked up where the steek folds under to the back – of course this was done before the edge of the steek was stitched down. I hope this is clear!

Leave a 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.