Support Gansey Nation -


Buy Gordon a cuppa!


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





Gansey Nation on Zazzle!

Lopi Interlude II: 29 November

SF151130-1It’s officially the Festive Season – I know this because they’ve put up the tree and lit Wick’s Christmas lights, an event commemorated in some of Joni Mitchell’s most affecting lyrics: “It’s coming on Christmas / They’re cutting down trees / They’re putting up a giant inflatable Santa in Wick Market Square / And wearing leggings on their knees”. (These are some of my favourite lyrics, along with, “How many roads must a man walk down / Before he finds a public convenience, or at least a suitably tall hedge”, and “If I had a hammer / I’d hammer in the morning / But then I’d probably have to fix that wonky shelf in the bathroom.”)

SF151128-1

Decorated Umbrella from the Umbrella Parade

It’s suddenly turned cold, at or around freezing, while the wind’s been gusting up to 50 mph with showers of sleet, which hits the window with the force of gravel thrown by the ghosts of a hundred desperate elopements. Then the sky clears overnight and everything freezes solid. The sidewalks are treacherous with frozen snow and ice, and every step makes a nasty crackling noise as though the Council was trying to save money by using cornflakes instead of grit. People walk in slow motion, as if testing the ice on a frozen lake.

SF151130-1-3

Moss-capped fencepost

It’s supposed to warm up again later in the week, and we’ll swap the sleet for rain so we can tough it out for a few days – though I’m wearing so many layers for thermal insulation I’m contemplating buying comedy clown trousers just to accommodate my swelling waistline.  But I must admit to feeling a little uneasy: if this is a taste of things to come, even clown trousers may not be enough…

SF151129-1

Next step: the yoke

Meanwhile, I’ve been making good progress on the Lopi pullover, and will hopefully finish it next weekend. It’s hugely satisfying to knit something where the rate of progress isn’t measured in microns, for a change. On the other hand, constantly having to stop and switch yarn colours is a bit of a nuisance; if I had to knit a Fair Isle sweater, for instance, I might possibly lose my reason. But I plan to end the year by knitting another Lopi jumper before going back to ganseys after Christmas. (I have the next gansey planned, and the yarn – Frangipani pewter – already bought. So I’m good to go.)

SF151130-1-2Finally, today – 30 November – is St Andrew’s Day, patron saint of Scotland. (It’s a public holiday in some parts of Scotland but not, alas, in Caithness.) St Andrew was a fisherman, and he’s their patron saint too, so it seems entirely appropriate to celebrate him in a blog dedicated to fishermen’s sweaters, and one now based in Scotland at that. But did you know that his patronage also extends to fishmongers, spinsters, maidens, old maids and women wishing to become mothers, as well as gout, sore throats – and singers?

Which brings us back full circle to Joni Mitchell. So many great songs: “The wind is in from Novosibirsk / Last night I couldn’t sleep”, and of course the classic, “I’ve looked at clouds / From both sides now / From rain and sleet, and still somehow / It’s the total downpours I recall / I really don’t like clouds at all.”

18 comments to Lopi Interlude II: 29 November

  • Gail

    You *may* have missed your calling…as a lyricist

  • Dave

    Sigh – tut tut – Keep taking the pills…

  • THAT is a gorgeous lopi sweater, Gordon. Just stunning. I love blues and creamy whites, especially in winter. I just wish I had a hole in my holiday knitting to get one started myself. I’ll just have to envy you yours.

    • Gordon

      Hi Song, this one’s for Margaret, and is a design she came up with herself and charted using the online Lopi planner. (And if it only takes me 2-3 weeks to knit, you could probably knock it off in a weekend!)

  • Lynne

    The Lopi is great – but I’m really looking forward to seeing that Pewter worked up! I’m so partial to greys – and isn’t that one of the newer colours? Will it be a gansey for yourself? or another gift?

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne, you’ll just have to possess your soul in patience until the New Year, I’m afraid. But I must admit, I’m rather curious myself – speaking as Mr Grey, to be frank, here – and you’re right, it’s one of the 2 new Frangipani colours they introduced this last year or so.

      In fact, I’m working through a list of ganseys I’ve promised people (5 in all), before I can go back to knitting on for me (not ideal scheduling, you’d have to say!). This next one is for one of our regular visitors to the Archives from Dunbeath whose family were fishermen, and who are featured in the Fishing for Ganseys book – so I’d better not screw up!

  • Lois

    I just indulged in a lovely grey yarn intended for a gansey for myself. I’m knitting a hat with it to check my gauge and I’m really pleased with how well the pattern shows in this colour.

    That will have to be put on hold for now, because I’m knitting hats and scarves for the Syrian refugees who will be shortly arriving in Canada. There has been an outpouring of people volunteering to knit for them, makes me very proud to be a Canadian.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, I’ve decided grey is the new… well, grey.

      Well done to you on your knitting projects – I’m sure a Canadian winter will be a shock to the system of Syrian refugees. I know what you mean about pride – Britain has hardly been fulsome in its response to the crisis, but Scotland has asked for, and received, a higher proportion of the first tranche of refugees to arrive here, because it wants to help. I approve.

  • Jane

    Wow, I go away for a week or two or three, have the obligatory airplane cold, and gosh does everything change. The Scottish Fleet gansey is just wonderful, many congratulations. The Lopi is just wonderful too, and very nice for Margaret, lovely work. I am rather partial now and again to projects that are fairly rapid finishers, gives one such a warm cosy feeling of achievement!

    • Hi Jane, oh, we don’t rest on our laurels here in Wick, I can tell you. (Arses, yes – laurels. not so much.) I like to think of these loops as an amuse bouche in the gastronomic feast that is my yearly gansey knitting. (Either that or an After Eight mint in the buffet of Life.) It’s like assembling flat pack furniture rather than carpenting your own – and I’m already hankering after my chisel…

  • Mary

    hello Gordon,
    If it’s a chisel you’re needing, then maybe next interlude you should really try some Fair Isle…..how about a hat in the style of the traditional kep worked in the remains of some gansey colours to match your pullovers??
    Would love to see that !!
    No harder than your Lopi pattern………

    • Gordon

      Hi Mary, for a moment there I thought you were merely writing phonetically what we New Zealanders call a “cap” – but I’ve just looked it up. Those things are cool, like a multicoloured woolly broch.

      My problem is that traditional Fair Isle is a bit steel-woollish and makes my skin itch. But I love the intricate coloured patterns, especially in a fine stitch gauge. I don’t know if I’ll do it, but I am thinking about making next year’s interlude a proper Fair Isle jumper (I’m fine wearing them so long as I wear a neck scarf and no part of it touches bare skin). I’d love to have a go… but then there are still so many gansey patterns to try…

      First I shall take an axe and hew some sheep…

  • Mary

    ah yes but, Gordon, you don’t have to use Shetland wool…..can’t I tempt you to try a kep with the left overs from your ganseys, nice and soft??….I’ll even send you a pattern if you send me your stitch tension for the Frangipani wool…Christmas offering!!
    And the keps are not only cool, knit a lining into it and no gale force wind gets in to trouble the old neurons, unless of course the masterpiece is whisked off in a blast of fury and into the nearest field drain…

    • Gordon

      That’s intriguing, Mary, and kind, thank you. I’m tempted. But I have to come clean and confess that I have never knitted a garment other than a jumper (about a thousand ganseys and 2 Lopis, so I’m a little daunted, and I also am committed to about 5 ganseys in the next 2 years, so my time is not altogether my own (I know, this is self-imposed pressure, but I want to clear the backlog!).

      My stitch gauge is about 8 stitches to the inch, and just over 11 rows to the inch, with Frangipani wool. Please do send me a pattern – I’m curious now.

      You’ve got me thinking, too … a multi-coloured gansey in Fair Isle style? I do have large quantities of leftover yarn…perhaps this is a good project for my Grande Finale when I finally hang up my needles.

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>