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Filey 2.6: 6 – 12 May

F20512aIt 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.

falls-of-shinWell, 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.

F20512bAfter 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:

– ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ –



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.

Heb0505bAfter 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.


10 comments to Filey 2.6: 6 – 12 May

  • Lynne

    Well, Margaret, you’re a genius! To you, this is probably easier than knitting with ‘spider webs’, but I shall not be attempting either in my lifetime. Were you able to find appropriately sized buttons?

    • admin

      Hi Lynne
      I found some smaller buttons, but now I think they might be too small (15mm if I remember correctly). However as I’m constrained by the width of the buttonhole, they can’t go much bigger. All will be revealed . . .

  • Sue G.

    Wow. Margaret, your buttonhole method is amazing. I understood most of it, but I think I’ll have to knit a swatch and keep your tutorial in front of me as I do it. Thanks for the lesson!

  • brenda

    are the midges out yet? I am coming up there next year and am going to find a nice little bungalow to stay in for a few days and hike around the highlands. Question is what is the best time of year spring or fall? My gansey will be completed by then so I will fit right in with the locals.

    • Gordon

      Hi Brenda,

      The midge season in Scotland runs from June to September, with July and August the peak times, I understand. It all depends where you are, I think – the Highlands cover an area about the size of Belgium, or something! So there’s a huge variety of climate up here. For example, here in Caithness it’s usually pretty windy, so last year we didn’t get many problems with midges. But in sheltered spots near still water it can be a problem. Whereabouts are you thinking of staying?

      Anyway, it’s all beautiful in its own way, so spring or fall, you can’t miss!


  • =Tamar

    That gansey looks so fully textured that it seems as though I could reach into the photograph and take hold of it.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar – I know what you mean! It’s going to be a struggle to hand it over without a fight when it’s finished, I can tell you…


  • Brenda

    Hi Gordon. My friend and I want to stay up in the north preferably on the coast. I would like to do some hiking and possible go up to the Orkneys. Anyways my thought was find a nice croft for a few days and do day trips all around. The croft has to be within walking distance of a pub. That is the biggest requirement. We are quite eager to try all the different beers Scotland has to offer. I want to see if my gansey will stand up to a scottish wind. I also figure if we are far enough up north I can drive on the wrong side of the road without fear of being yelled at too many times. Your roundabouts terrify me. Here in British Columbia they are just starting to make an appearance but are still only single lanes. I saw some in Wales that were at least three lanes wide and I couldnt believe how people knew what to do. I have been told that you just keep driving around in circles until you figure it out or get dizzy, which ever comes first.

  • Gordon

    Hi again, Brenda. The secret with roundabouts is to always give way to traffic coming from the direction of travel (in Britain, that’s the right – so if there are cars coming at you from the right, don’t go!). Big roundabouts are easy these days, they usually have lanes that are clearly signposted, and once you’re in one you stay there until the sign says to get off. Alternatively, you could take JRR Tolkien’s approach to road junctions – put you foot down and advanec at speed, shouting, “Charge them and they scatter!”

    The Highlands, as I say, are huge, and so your scope is pretty wide. But I’d recommend the west coast, in particular Skye, Fort William, Oban, the western isles, those sorts of places. Aviemore and Glencoe and the Great Glen are also pretty spectacular, as of course are the mountains. (Caithness, for all its rugged coastal charm, can’t really compare, alas…)

    I’ve seen a number of signs reminding people to drive on the left so I wouldn’t worry – you’re not alone!


  • brenda

    I think I will go with the “Charge and scatter” approach. works for me. thanks Gordon. Brenda

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