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(Navy) Week 5: 26 June

Britain has been basking in unusually hot weather for the time of year. All over the country records have been tumbling—ice creams melting in the cone, unshorn sheep fainting in the fields, people not bothering to turn on the cooker but instead cooking dinner on the doorstep—and I’m pleased to report that Wick has been no exception. Last weekend, we set a new record temperature for June: a whopping 21ºC (or 69.8ºF). This really tells you all you need to know about life in Caithness.

Flecks of foam on the river

We’re paying for it now, of course. The winds are gusting up to 45 mph, we’re getting the sort of rainfall that would have had Noah tapping his barometer and looking thoughtful, and it’s a brisk 13ºC. The grass is standing high in the fields and the wind ripples through it as though armies of tiny pixies (such as Terry Pratchett’s wonderful Nac Mac Feegles) are on the march. Sometimes when I look up I see a crow exactly balanced against a fulcrum of opposite forces, perfectly motionless against the wind, as though the Creator had pinned it there while He got on with something more challenging, such as the questions of free will or why men have nipples, and simply forgot all about it.

Peony seedhead

Meanwhile in gansey news I have reached the momentous stage of dividing front and back, with the gussets completed to the halfway stage and safely tucked on holders. And I can now reveal that the pattern is the wonderful Mrs Laidler’s of Whitby, a real classic and possibly my very favourite gansey pattern of all. It’s not especially difficult, so long as you can remember which row you’re on, but it knits up a treat. Navy yarn seems to suit it particularly, too—when the light catches it just so it shines like a monochrome persian carpet, or illuminated manuscript. I am, you can probably guess, a fan.


There will be 6 cables panels of 20 stitches on the front and back, with 5 flags of 13 stitches in between (an 11-stitch flag with a plain stitch either side).

To give me the right number of stitches I increased by 6 stitches per side on the first row of the cable pattern. This is the first time I’ve done this to any extent: it’s to compensate for the way the cables tend to pull in the pattern in and make the gansey  narrower. The more cables you have, the narrower your yoke will be, and an increase of one stitch per cable is a way of counteracting this effect. And as I was going to have 6 cables, I thought I’d better do something about it or else lose weight fast. (On reflection, the extra stitches seemed easier…)

9 comments to (Navy) Week 5: 26 June

  • Christa Sluijs

    Ha, I was hoping you were going to knit this one! Haven’t touched mine for a while for various reasons. One of them is that I can’t make up my mind how to knit the shoulderstraps. Chosing a pattern. Choiceschoiceschoices…….I reached the neckline and have to divide AND decide. I’ll be watching you closely next week. 😆
    Groetjes, Christa

    • Gordon

      Hi Christa, hope all is well with you! Yes, this pattern’s been coming. Like you I’m in two minds over the shoulder straps… but am leaning more towards a good old fashioned rig ‘n’ fur approach (partly because I’m only knitting the pattern on the yoke and the full cable-running-from-neckline-to-cuff, while spectacular, tends to look better on a full-pattern gansey, IMHO).

  • Lois

    You are absolutely right, the extra stitches are easier.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, I debated where to place the increases and decided in the end to wait until the first row of the actual pattern: so that every cable panel has an increase of one purl stitch, creating the second of the 3 purl stitches immediately after the cable itself. I reckoned that it would either be invisible, or else it would look so regular as to pass for deliberate!

  • Lynne

    Oh, thank you, our gansey genius! this time for the 1 stitch per cable to compensate for the tightening of the pattern. I’ve guessed in the past and not achieved the exact fit I would like.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne, I can’t claim credit for it, of course—I’ve been aware of it as a possibility for a number of years, but I’ve not been confident enough in my stitch gauge until recently to actually try it. I think you could get away with, say, two cables or so per side—but 6 is definitely asking for trouble! Obviously watch this space to see how it goes…

  • Christa

    Well, something like ghis I guess? Found it on pinterest.
    You’ll love this idea http://pin.it/-w_qyBr
    Hope link works.

  • Christa

    I did not write “you’ll love this idea” that was part of the link! 😁
    Groetjes, Christa

    • Gordon

      Hi Christa, thanks for the link, and yes, in fact I do love the idea, and that’s exactly the kind of thing I had in mind. The pros are that it looks great and is very distinctive. The cons are that it involves maths 🙁 and it’s rather fiddly. Decisions, decisions…

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