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Robin Hood’s Bay Cardigan: Week 6 – 1 June

What a glorious spring this has been! The warmest and sunniest since—well, since the age of the dinosaurs, probably. The sky is brilliantly clear, as though God has taken the glass lid off the tableau vivant that is His creation for a better look at how we’re all getting on. I’ve had to dig out the thesaurus for a whole bunch of words I haven’t needed since last autumn: sun, hot, blue, green, knobbly knees. (Sky of blue and tree of green; I can’t help feeling a yellow submarine ought to be somewhere in the offing, but I haven’t seen one yet.)

Creels on the harbourside

I’d forgotten just how frantic spring can be. It’s an assault on all the senses. The birds start it, of course: swifts and swallows tearing up the skies like boy racers, the hedgerows boiling with sparrows, the blackbird who waits till our bedroom light goes out before letting rip like someone trying to pry a rusty screw from an old tin roof. But it’s the air, too. Scientists have shown that space isn’t empty, but is actually fizzing with energy and quantum particles; the air is like that too, just now, the breeze is filled with clouds of pollen and thistledown, and millions of tiny insects—stand on the footbridge over the river and fill your lungs with good, clean country air and you’ll still be spitting out bugs half an hour later. There ought to be a word for the smell of freshly-cut grass drying to straw in the sun; or the distant sparkle of sunlight on new leaves dancing in the breeze, flashing like semaphore; both of which you’ll find down by the riverbank just now. Without words, all we have is sensation.

New Leaves & St Fergus’

Well, lockdown is still a thing, so the strange, surreal half-life continues: and so we turn our back on the great outdoors and focus on indoor activities, like knitting ganseys. As predicted last week, I’ve now divided for front and back and am making good progress up the back. (It’s quicker, of course, not just because I’m covering half the number of stitches, but also because this side doesn’t have a steek.) I might even get the back done this week.

Finally, I’m going to end with a poem called “late Spring” by the Chinese poet Han Yu (768-824), which seems appropriate somehow:

The grasses and trees know that spring will soon return,
One hundred types of flowers contend in beauty of red and purple.
The poplar blossom and elm seeds are not beautiful,
They can only rise into the sky, or fall like flying snow.

4 comments to Robin Hood’s Bay Cardigan: Week 6 – 1 June

  • =Tamar

    Wow. Funny how making that division for the yoke emphasizes how much work you’ve done so quickly. It’s looking classic.

    Yes, spring has been lovely here, too. For one thing, we actually had spring. Some years it’s hard to tell. Further, we seem to be having a comfortable June instead of diving straight into the higher temperatures. Not that I have ever been outdoorsy, but I do notice when the sun shines through the window and reflects off my computer screen.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, I’ve never knit one quite like this. Now you can see it taking shape the simple repetition makes for a rather impressive effect.

      Alas, spring has abandoned us this last week. We now seem to be back in autumn, gales, rain, and single-figure temperatures. Soon be Christmas at this rate!

  • John

    I have searched and searched for gansey patterns and finally found your website through what seems like a secret garden door. I’m working on the wool ‘double-in-the-thumb’ method of casting on, for my first-ever gansey. My wool keeps knotting so I’m sure I’m doing something wrong. I noticed a cable cast on, which I’m sure I can do if I follow a YouTube video. The ‘double-in-the-thumb’ method is shown in the kit I received from Flamborough Marine, and it says to keep the wool doubled for five rows of knitting. Am I right in guessing you see that doublinng as surplus to requirements?

    • Gordon

      Hi John, first of all, best of luck with your gansey!

      I use a single strand for casting on, and for the ribbing. I’ve always found it perfectly fine. But I know traditionally it was not unusual for a double strand cast-on to be used, and for a few rows thereafter, to make the bottom more robust, less likely to fray.

      But these were garments that were worn every day for a season, they got some hard wear. I don’t subject my ganseys to the same sort of use as a fisherman of 100 years ago, so I haven’t had one fray on me yet…

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