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North Sea 25: 25 February – 3 March

Heb0303a It’s always a good day when a new book on ganseys appears, and that’s what popped through the letter box on Saturday.

The Moray Firth Gansey Project have produced a splendid 60-page colour booklet called “Fishing For Ganseys” to celebrate the project and the ganseys of the area. (You can find details on how to order on their website at http://www.gansey-mf.co.uk/outcomes.html – they suggest a donation of £4 plus postage and packing, which seems like a bargain to me.)

Heb0303MFGP001There’s a couple of chapters on the project, another on the fishing industry along the Moray Firth, and there are instructions for knitting their new “Beatrice” gansey design. But the heart of the book is the chapter on “Ganseys, Patterns and Evolution”, which is full of old black and white photos and colour photos of knitted ganseys. Quite a few of these haven’t appeared in print before to my knowledge, so the MFGP has done us all a service by making them available here.


My only disappointment is that they haven’t charted out the patterns. This feels like something of a missed opportunity but, as they say, the point is to encourage you to try charting them out yourself (and, to be fair, some the photos are clear enough that even someone like me could probably manage it).

Anyway, definitely one for the library, and speaking as a Moray Firth resident, it’s good to see the far north of Scotland getting the attention it deserves: order your copy today! (And if you needed a further incentive to buy it, Judit, resident of this parish, gets a mention. (And Liz Lovick reviews it here.))

Heb0303bMy own knitting has leaped on apace this week. I’ve found when knitting ganseys that I sort of soldier on for weeks at a time, like a knitting hamster in a wheel, with no real sense of progress—then suddenly I put on a spurt, and when I look up I see I’m near the end. This has been one of those weeks. As I’m still getting over my cold, I took some leave and spent a day with my feet up, knitting and listening to music and just relaxing. (And sneezing, of course, producing an effect not unlike a shell exploding on the Somme in 1916; and coughing, which still sounds like a dalek sanitary engineer unblocking a stubborn drain.)

So here I am, just half an inch or so from starting the cuff. So I’ll probably finish the sleeve this week and make a start on the other one. I’d hoped to finish the gansey around Easter and I won’t be far off, I think, if I knuckle down. I’ve maintained a steady decrease down the sleeve (after the gusset) of 2 stitches every 6 rows; I also use that as the sign to move the stitches round on the needles to stop a line of uneven stitches at the joins developing.

And with the end in sight, as ever I start to think of what the next project will be. At least with Fishing For Ganseys to read, I won’t be short of ideas…

13 comments to North Sea 25: 25 February – 3 March

  • Judit M./ Finland

    Gordon, many thanks for the information concerning Fishing for Ganseys. I have ordered it just now :).
    The cardigan is progressing every week, I wish that my sweater would progress that fast.
    Today in Helsinki: Morning 21 Celsius below 0. Be happy you are in Scotland .
    Best regards !

  • Lynne

    Thanks from me, too, for the link to Fishing for Ganseys, I have ordered my copy and had a nice e-mail conversation with Kathryn Logan.
    I like the design you’re taking down the sleeve – what a relief that must be for you after such a detailed yoke! I am now on the yoke of mine and love the design plan. I also changed to 2.25mm needles (from 2.50 of the body) so those yarn overs aren’t huge holes.
    Brrr in Helsinki! it’s 10C in sunny British Colombia.

  • Lisa Mitchell

    Glad you’re feeling better, Gordon. Hoping to have a look at the MFGP book later today. Rain folowed by six inches of snow and high winds on Sunday – great for driving in! I love Canadian weather…

  • Gordon

    Hi all,

    I’m sure you won’t be disappointed in the book, and besides, any gansey project is worth supporting! The photo of the guys playing golf in their ganseys is worth the price alone…

    Judit, I had a day off midweek to recuperate and it was amazing how much I got done, just a day to knit and chill out. Heaven.

    Lynne, the only downside is, I now have to steel myself for the detailed top part of the sleeve again, and I’ve already forgotten what I did! Good luck with the pesky yarn overs.

    And thanks, Lisa. As they say, it’s not the cough that carries you off/ It’s the coffin they carry you off in…

    A still day here today, cloudy but bright, about 7C. So, yes, I’m grateful to be in Scotland!


  • SongBird

    Hi! I’m so glad you’re feeling better. I’ve bought a copy of that book; I’m working up to making a gansey myself and I love research materials.

    Mine will probably have the fish skeleton designs we discussed a long time ago…


  • Freyalyn

    I picked up the book as soon as I could – having been at Ganseyfest, I had an idea how good it would be. Very pleased with it. In other news, my gansey is languishing.

  • Nigel

    This looks great, thanks Gordon. The Gansey that is in my head is looking good! I’m about to order the wool for it.

  • Gordon

    Song, was this the pattern you mean? http://www.maritimeheritageeast.org.uk/archive/a-hand-knitted-gansey-1

    The museum tries to pretend it’s a flower pot, but no one is fooled by that!

    Freyalyn, before I did this blog, my ganseys frequently languished for weeks and months at a time. It’ll still be there later on.

    Nigel, so when they said you had wool between the ears, they meant …?! What colour are you going for?


  • OMG, Gordon, that’s exactly the pattern I’ll be using. It’s great, isn’t it? I’ll have to find something equally silly to use with it – some unusual cable or lace pattern.

    (There’s no way that’s a flower pot.)


  • Lynne

    I love that fish skeleton, too, I think I’ve seen a smaller version in one of the gansey books but this larger one is really impressive.
    I have never done the shoulder strap that continues down the sleeve before, and Gordon is a great resource for that, but the Moray-Firth Gansey project has put a couple videos on You Tube for any other readers who are interested.

  • Gordon

    My only concern with the skeleton is that you’ll be followed wherever you go by hungry cats!

    Lynne, I looked up the Moray Firth YouTube videos – really good to see, and that’s pretty much what I do. (I think! I found it hard to keep up with her, she’s so proficient, but that’s my problem, not hers.) I found the background music a bit de trop, though, as I wanted to concentrate on what she was saying…


  • Susan

    HI Gordon,

    I just received my copy of Fishing for Ganseys here in the US. What a treasure it is! Thanks for recommending it. I ordered it immediately upon reading your post about it. I see also that you get a mention on page 43. Very nice!


  • Gordon

    Hi Susan,

    You’re not going to believe this, but both Margaret and I read the book and neither of us noticed the “men who knit” section! Oops. Thanks for pointing it out. (And thanks to the Moray Firth people for the plug—at least I can say hand on heart that my recommendation wasn’t based on self-interest at the time!)


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