Just a short blog this time, as it’s Easter weekend—and, let’s be honest, if we’ve done this properly we should all be far too full of chocolate to read a whole bunch of words and stuff. Anyway, it’s spring—the daffodils are expiring in a riot of yellow; the gorse has picked up the idea and run with it, as if God, looking over His paintbox after finishing the world, realised He had loads of cadmium yellow left over and decided to splash it all across the Highlands for a laugh; and out in the fields the lambs are—to use one of my favourite Scots words—friskling (in the sense of, leaping or frolicking: these are not Special Branch plain clothes lambs patting down other sheep for concealed weapons).
And now for the good news. Easter was ever the time of renewal and hope, and so it has proved for me: this week I received the All Clear from the doctors and am now preparing to return to work after my long illness. I’m not out of the woods yet—and I have to stick with the meds till the autumn just to make sure my serotonin levels come back up to strength—but compared with how I felt in December, this will do nicely. I don’t have a date to go back yet, but soon.
Of course it’s helped having something creative to keep me occupied these last few months, and I suppose three ganseys isn’t a bad return, not counting this one. I’ve finished the back and started the front, and hopefully I’ll get that done this week. As ever, this sort of pattern forces you to pay attention; it’s not the kind of thing I can do while watching television, for example. But the results are so stunning I start to wonder why I knit anything else.
In parish news, Judit has sent us this splendid picture of her brother wearing a gansey in cream. It’s the classic Filey lifeboat design, but for the whole gansey, not just the yoke, and perfectly realised, as ever. Many congratulations to Judit on an excellent gansey and excellent photograph.
Happy Easter everyone, and a happy Patriots Day weekend to all our friends in Massachusetts!
TECHNICAL STUFF (PART 3)
And so we come to the yoke. The classic Hebridean arrangement is three bands each on three pattern “squares”, making a total of nine squares. They don’t have to be, of course, but in this case all the squares are all the same size—it makes them interchangeable, and it’s easier to do the maths, too. My reasons for choosing these particular patterns was as follows.
I knew beforehand that I wanted to include the tree of life—it’s a strong design which looks good in cream, and is symmetrical so can be broken into two equal halves by the steek. This I decided to use to anchor the corners and be the centre. (Also, living in Caithness, we need all the trees we can get.)
Again, the diamond is an effective design and can be split in two by the steek (which is why they’re in the centre column), but it’s also quite a plain pattern. The overall design of this gansey is very busy, and I wanted to balance some of that busy-ness with plainer patterns, or it just gets too much, I feel.
Finally, the recipient has a connection with the sea so I wanted another nautical connection, hence the anchor. I didn’t have a pattern that exactly fit the size I needed, so I more or less made up my own based on the examples in Michael Pearson and Rae Compton’s books.
The cables and yarn over triangley pattern thingeys are more or less self explanatory, though I’ll just note that I’m flanking the cables with a 3-stitch seed stitch on each side. I don’t think I’ve done this before—I usually opt for 2 purl stitches either side of a cable—but this is, apparently a feature of the north of Scotland ganseys, and, although a wee bit fiddly, it does look effective. The ladders at either side of the body are a great regulating mechanism, and can be made as large or small as you like to fit the number of stitches required.