You may recall that I have had occasion – just now and then – to mention the wind up here in Caithness, strong enough to snatch an umbrella out of your hand and twist it into weird and disturbing shapes as easily as you might bend a paperclip, even on a normal autumn day. What did I know? Over the weekend I experienced a genuine Caithness gale.
I was woken up around 3 a.m. by the wind – well, I say wind, but that doesn’t adequately cover it: a gale was battering and shaking the house, pounding the double glazing and even squeezing puddles of water through. (I heard that winds around 80 mph were recorded in the Highlands in the night – I don’t know if this was as strong as that, but it can’t have been far off.) At one point I decided that as I was awake I’d turn on my bedside radio to take my mind off it all. After a couple of minutes I had to check it was actually on – the wind was so loud it drowned out the sound, for all the world like a 747 revving its engines prior to takeoff just outside my bedroom window. (Now I know what the Three Little Pigs must have felt like.)
Anyway, this is supposed to be a blog about knitting, so it is with some relief that I’m able to turn aside from the delights of Caithness meteorology to actually talk about knitting for a change, rather than the “cut and paste” of my slow progress up the body in recent weeks. For I have, at last – wonderful to relate – started the gussets and the yoke.
But before I get into that, I have a (gulp) shameful confession to make. You see, I’ve never knit a pattern like this before, with a patterned strip up the seams and the rest plain – the bodies of my ganseys have either been all plain, or all patterned. Now I’ve discovered a worrying flaw in my technique: after 10 inches of body, the plain central panel measures almost an inch longer than the patterned strips.
I wonder why this is? I thought I knit plain stitches tighter than patterns with lots of knits and purls – in fact, I know this is the case, from ganseys I’ve knitted before. Yet here the reverse is true. Have I been subconsciously knitting the seed stitch tighter to make sure it doesn’t end up as full of holes as a string vest? Have I been correspondingly relaxing in the plain stretches? Or is this merely an optical illusion, and it will all look the same once it’s washed and blocked?
Anyway, back to the pattern. I’ve made a start on the gussets – just a few rows so far – increasing one stitch either side of the gusset every 4 rows (my standard rate of increase). It looks a bit ugly, as it always does at first, but it will settle down as it widens and grows.
Now, I’ve already hinted that this is an unusual sort of pattern. Not only does it have the patterned strips up the body seams, it has a sort of “pre-yoke”, triangular shapes that sit immediately below the start of the yoke proper, hanging like bats, or fat icicles from the start of the pattern. I don’t know if you can make them out from the photos – Margaret has fled back to the city lights of Edinburgh and taken her camera with her, so you’ll have to bear with me for a bit – but they’re about half done, so they sort of float in mid-air as if I was trying to knit a Space Invaders game pattern (now there’s a thought…).
I should finish them over the next few days, and then it’ll be time for the big reveal, the yoke pattern proper. Always assuming the big bad wolf hasn’t blown my house down in the meantime, of course…