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Mrs Laidlaw 6: 1 – 6 October

ML1006a Well, just when you think it can’t get any worse, what with network crashes and servers not responding and all, our website was hacked on Sunday night by some group campaigning for a Saharan republic. (I can tell you, they just lost my vote!)

Quite why they think the readers of a blog about knitting fishermen’s sweaters would make likely converts to their cause, I am unable to say. (Though for all I know knitted hump-warmers in 5-ply for The Camel Who Has Everything may be all the rage in the desert these days.)

ML1006cIt was a bit of a shock, to be honest. But—and this is the strange part—the new web page actually had the courtesy to tell us it had been hacked, and by whom. It was a bit like being mugged by Jeeves (“Excuse me, sir, I’m most awfully sorry, but I really must ask you if you wouldn’t mind terribly handing over your wallet”).

Anyway, luckily we’d just switched service providers to one that offered better tech support (though what we really require is something more like a Samaritans hotline), and we keep regular backups, so it was a relatively simple matter to restore the site.

ML1006bBut what with one thing and another it’s been a very frustrating few weeks, and has turned the blog from something which was just supposed to be a bit of light-hearted fun into Really Not A Lot of Fun At All, especially for Margaret (who could be seen up on the roof most nights dressed in a white coat waiting for a lightning storm and shouting, “Give my creature LIFE!”).

Well. Hopefully everything is sorted once and for all and we can say, like D.H. Lawrence, “Look! We have come through!” (A book title sniffily dismissed by one critic in the phrase: “They may have come through, but why should we look?”)


Twenty-nine hours of train travel gives you lots of time to knit.

Meanwhile, I soldier on. By straining every sinew I can just about manage a tree a week, about 2.75 inches: and to my surprise and delight yesterday I managed to finish the first half of the gussets and divide front and back. So I’m now romping up the back, only another couple of trees to the shoulders.


Detail. Note how the colours differ from the photo on the kit

I’m enjoying it while I can, for it’s all about to come crashing to a halt. You see, we’re away on holiday later this week, and I’m not taking my knitting with me (it’s large and heavy and troublesome enough to count as a small child on the plane). We’re off to the States—I’ll be there just over a week, Margaret’s staying rather longer—so there’ll be no blog for a couple of weeks.

And remember, if you try to access the website and find anyone trying to persuade you that several million hectares of sand would make a great foundation for a new republic—just say no…

Gansey Nation will (probably) return on 28 October. Allahu Akbar!

(Note: when this blog first went live comments were inadvertently disabled. We apologise for the inconvenience.) 

11 comments to Mrs Laidlaw 6: 1 – 6 October

  • Cathy

    Salaam aleikum!
    Delving through the worldwide database, the intrepid hackers stumbled upon a secret society who alone preserve a technique long thought forgotten, that of making a totally weatherproof fabric – and the magic word is…Gansey knitting!
    What they wanted but were too shy to ask is a supply of full-face hooded ganseys to wear in desert sandstorms.
    Happy hunting!

    • Hi Cathy,

      The location of the secret terrorist base was encoded into a fiendishly complicated string of knit and purl stitches in the jumper’s yoke. When at last the elite team of mercenaries neared their destination they asked the new recruit to take off his gansey so they could read it and aim their missiles, only for him to say he’d left it behind because it was too hot to wear in the desert… True story.

      Mind you, there’s also the problem of firing heat-seeking missiles in the desert and them just blowing up.

  • Marilyn

    Hi Gordon, leave yourself notes! terrible to come back and say, now, where was I??
    Enjoy your holiday and I look forward to hearing all about it. Bon Voyage, In’shallah.

    • Evening Marilyn, because this gansey is basically just a pattern repeat horizontally and vertically, I’ve printed out the tree pattern on lined paper, with columns next to it so I can tick off Every Single Row as i complete it and always know where i am. Clever, eh?

      Of course, I’m also capable of forgetting what the hell all the ticks and boxes mean in just a week, memory of a goldfsih and all that, so anything’s possible…

  • Nigel

    Hi Gordon, whenever you have a chance, can you explain how you divide front from back please. I am terrified of dropping stitches. Do you thread fishing wire or something along the last row before you split?

    • Hi Nigel,

      Being incredibly lazy, I have worked out a very low-maintenance and (hopefully!) foolproof method for doing this.

      Start with all your stitches exactly where they are on your circular needle. Using a holder (in my case, a piece of differently-coloured gansey yarn from my offcuts stash, such as the white yarn you can see in the pictures, but it can be anything similar), loop it through the stitches of each gusset separately and tie them off, so that they are each on their own separate loops.

      You can only do one gusset right away – the other’s round the other side of your circular needle. But don’t worry—you’ll get to it in a minute.

      I loop off my gusset stitches by inserting my needle through the first gusset stitch, i.e., the purl border, pulling the yarn through as if I was knitting a stitch, but pull the yarn all the way through so the stitch has the line of yarn running through it; then slide the stitch off the needle so it’s wholly resting on and supported by the line. Then you do the same to the second stitch, and so on, until all the gusset stitches including the purl border are dangling from your line. Finally tie the ends of the line into a loop with as many knots as you like—I go for 3, because I’m paranoid—so they can’t fall off later.

      So you’ve got your front and back stitches, and the other gusset, all on the one needle; and one gusset on a holding line.

      Now take another circular needle and some yarn, such as or whatever’s left of the ball or cone you’ve been working with, and start your first row knitting back and forth, leaving the other half of the stitches on the old needle.

      I usually decide to knit the back first (any blemishes, it’s better to have them out of sight on the back, and you don’t have to worry about an indented neck or anything). Then, when I come to the front, it’s already sitting on its needle ready to go.

      When you reach the end of your first row of the back (or front) you can now put your other gusset stitches on another line of yarn, and carry on knitting back and forth all the way to the top.

      Hope this makes sense. I have a horrible feeling I just over-explained it! It’s way easier than it sounds.

      Good luck,

  • Dave

    Marilyn, making notes is all well and good, but when I put my knitting up for the summer, the notes disappeared. My free-time project is now tearing the house apart.

    I was on the fence about a new Saharan republic, but them hacking this site tipped the balance against them. My Dad, were he alive, would also vote no. He served with the US Army Air Corp in North Africa (and Italy) during WW II, and had enough of sand to last a lifetime. He made it very clear that if any of his kids ever asked for a sand box, they would be knocked into the next month.

    • Hi Dave, it’s gone, man, it’s history, let it go… Mind you, gansey archaeology, it’s how I spend my life, recreating the lost symbols of an ancient civilisation. I spend far more time than I should working out the grave goods I want to be buried with, like an ancient pharaoh (a gansey or two, that vintage Pelikan fountain pen, my Bob Dylan cds, Hermann Hesse’s the Glass Bead Game, Doris from Accounts – just the usual stuff really).

      “Dave of Arabia” – it has a certain je ne sais quoi, don’t you think…?


  • Nigel

    Got it! Cheers

  • Lynne

    “Doris from Accounts”? There must be a real story there!

    • I once composed a poem to Doris. Here it is:

      “Ode to Doris”:

      Oh Doris,
      You look like a loris,
      Your skin is so porous,
      Your best work was horiz/-
      But if I were to continue this chorus
      I’d need a thesaurus,
      So I’ll stop.

      (Surprisingly, the relationship didn’t last…)

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