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Navy Gansey, Week 1: 17 September

It’s been a punishing couple of weeks, all things considered, so this time I thought I’d accentuate the positive. TS Eliot famously alluded to classical literature and civilisation when he wrote, “These fragments I have shored against my ruins”; in my case it’s mostly ganseys, other people and bad jokes.

Wick Lighthouse

Regarding jokes, it’s not just about wordplay and puns—though those are important too; such as They Might be Giants singing that someone’s shoes “are laced with irony”, or “If it wasn’t for disappointment I wouldn’t have any appointments”. But absurdity plays a part: I’ve always loved the moment when Homer Simpson careens the car dangerously towards the railway tracks and Marge cries, “You’ll kill us all!”, to which Homer magnificently replies, “Or die trying!” Or the old Scots joke that if an enemy was ever involved in an accident, you’d be the first person to write for an ambulance.

People, to quote the great Homer Simpson on beer, are both the cause of, and the solution to, all life’s problems. Well, today we’re looking at solutions: and it was with great pleasure that we welcomed Ben and Lisa to Wick last week. Ben’s a fellow gansey knitter (you can follow him on Facebook where you can see us both posing in matching Patrington ganseys). If I learned anything from the visit, it is that (a) I’m morphing into Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses more rapidly than I’d hoped, and (b) an evening is nowhere near long enough to say all there is to say about ganseys.

Boats in the Harbour

En route to visiting Wick, Ben and Lisa had met up with Yasmin of Island on the Edge on Skye, and brought with them a skein of her excellent yarn. This of course gives me another excuse to mention her wool, knitting and courses. I may never make it back to Skye in summertime, since there are now more tourists than midges on the west coast and no known cure; but I live in hope.

How to Photograph a Gansey

Meanwhile I have—is anyone honestly surprised?—started another gansey. This is in Wendy navy, of which I recklessly bought a shedload in a sale a few years back. I’m rather dismayed to discover that something seems to have happened to Wendy—her yarn is much fuzzier and thicker than I remember, so it’s a bit like knitting a gansey made from hairy caterpillars. I’m going to see how it knits up before I commit to a pattern, though I’m guessing my stitch gauge will be nearer 7.5 stitches to the inch than 8 stitches. (More on this next week.)

Finally in parish notices, Judit has sent me what is unquestionably the cutest gansey-related photograph I’ve ever received. I won’t spoil the surprise: you’ll just have to follow the link to Judit’s page. But if you’re after inspiration for gansey-related Christmas gifts, look no further.

Oh, and as for my favourite joke right now, try this one for size. A sheepdog tells the farmer he has fifty sheep. “Fifty?” exclaims the farmer, “I’ve only got 47.” “Well,” the sheepdog says, “I rounded them up.”

2 comments to Navy Gansey, Week 1: 17 September

  • =Tamar

    Maybe that was why it was on sale?

    I once read a comic graphic novel that included sweaters knitted from literal spider hair. I imagine that caterpillars would be more productive as well as easier to shear.

    One evening is nowhere near long enough to discuss anything seriously knitting-related.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, it’s possible that I was sold a pup, but I’ve noticed other colours on theirs don’t knit up nearly as fine as they used to. It’s a shame, as I do have a fondness for their particular shade of navy, and the slightly chunkier feel of a gansey knit from it. But the whole point of a gansey is fine detail, and if Wendy’s have really fuzzied up, I think it’s the end of a beautiful friendship, sad to say.

      I think knitting with spiders and caterpillars is basically sound, except all the wriggling little legs do tend to tickle, rather.

      And I’m starting to think that a lifetime isn’t enough for all the ganseys I’d like to knit! Never mind Fair Isle, which I have planned for my retirement…

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