It was Margaret’s birthday last Tuesday; as I had the day off work and it was forecast to be bright and sunny (eventually—the day had dawned in thick fog, a real pea-souper, guv’nor) we drove down to the Falls of Shin, a celebrated waterfall and salmon leap about two hours’ south of here, down by the Dornoch Firth.
Well, it was spectacular enough in the warm sunshine, but it wasn’t really a waterfall; being more what I believe the experts call a river—which, when you come to think of it, is only a sort of horizontal waterfall, after all. The river comes rushing down a gorge, tumbles over a lip and then crashes a few metres down into a broad pool where it swirls around a bit to get its bearings, and then carries on downstream to the Firth and the open sea.
It was too early in the season for any leaping salmon, so the only leaping being done was by tourists: not from the midges, but from the life-size wax statue of Mohamed Al-Fayed in full Highland dress (kilt and all) which greets you as you enter the visitor centre. It’s quite a shock if you’re not expecting it, and I kept turning suddenly to look at it, to see if it had moved while my back was turned; I didn’t quite trust his smile.
After a seam-splitting lunch we left for home, following the scenic road around the Firth. It’s very beautiful and lonely out there, the open sweep of water ringed by hills – a real Highland landscape in a way that Caithness (lovely in its own way but undeniably flat as an oil spill) isn’t.
Then we saw something amazing: the fog had cleared as we went south, but now the hills were once more being enveloped in a wave of mist or low cloud drifting in from the sea, and pouring over them like a tide of dry ice, something from a vintage prog rock concert or a low-budget horror movie. (Ah, mist – nature’s way of letting everyone experience what it’s like to have cataracts.) We tried to outrun it but it caught us within a few miles, so the view for the rest of the journey home was limited to the verges and the taillights of the car in front, as though the universe had run out of power and until someone put another shilling in the meter it was shutting down all non-essential scenery.
Congratulations to Sara Phillips for completing this splendid Norfolk gansey, based on the pattern of John “Sparrow” Hardingham of Sheringham whose picture is in Cromer Museum. The gansey is modelled by her husband Max and a scene-stealing cat; and as so often it just goes to show how effective these kinds of patterns can be.
My own project continues haltingly apace: three diamonds completed now; if I can keep up this rate I’ll be starting the gussets before the end of the month.
Now it’s over to Margaret for an update on the cream cardigan’s buttonholes:
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The buttonhole band is now finished, but still needs a good steaming before it’s ready for the bright lights of Gansey Nation. In the meantime, I’ve done a sample to illustrate how the buttonholes were made.
As you can see, in the first photo, stitches have been picked up along the edge. Then the first segment, from the edge to the first buttonhole, has been knit. The right-hand edge is a 2 stitch tubular selvedge (slip the first two stitches of the row with yarn in back; on the return row purl these stitches). The left-hand edge shows the ‘wrap and turn’, where you make a yarnover before knitting the row. Leave these on the left hand needle.
In the second photo, an i-cord edge has been knit down the left hand side. When the buttonhole is the length required, and you’re back at the left-hand edge of the segment, slip the last two stitches onto the left-hand needle. Knit one, knit the next stitch together with the yarnover next to it. Slip two stitches to the left-hand needle and repeat. When you get down to the bottom of the buttonhole, the last i-cord row will be knit one, knit the next stitch together with one of the picked up stitches. The third photo shows what it look like from the back.
In the fourth photo, if you’re still with me here and haven’t dozed off, the next segment has been knit. In this case, the tubular selvedge on the right-hand edge is made using the two stitches from the i-cord edge that you just made. The left-hand edge (not shown) has the yarnovers as per the first segment. The fifth photo shows it from the back.
So continue in this way, segment by segment, until all the buttonholes have been knit. The only variation is, on the last segment, to make a tubular selvedge at the both edges. The next step is to close all the buttonholes. Knit back across the row in pattern. Place the last two stitches before a buttonhole on a cable needle and hold them in back. In pattern, work the next stitch on the left-hand needle and the cable needle together. Repeat for the next stitch. This is sort of like a two-needle bind-off, but without binding off. Knit in pattern to the next buttonhole, and repeat. Photos six and seven show the front and back of a buttonhole when this step has been completed.
After you’ve done all this you should be back at the edge where you started. To cast off, make an i-cord edge similar to that on the left-hand edge of the buttonhole segments: knit three, slip three onto the left-hand needle. Knit two, knit two together; slip three: repeat until all the stitches are gone. Keep an eye on your tension as there’s a tendency, as with many bind-offs, to work too tightly. The last photo shows the i-cord bind-off.
By next week the gansey proper should have its bands steamed and buttons sewn on.