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Seed Panel Gansey: Week 2 – 2 November

It’s been a weekend of gales and rain here in Wick (which, if Iceland was what the Greeks called “Ultima Thule”, I guess makes Caithness “Penultima Thule”). The wind has shredded the trees in much the same way an overexcited terrier worrits a newspaper, stripping them bare of leaves and littering the ground with twigs and broken branches. Autumn has arrived good and hard this year, as if the seasons are as sick of 2020 as the rest of us, and just want to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible.

There’s a great Bob Dylan song, “Mississippi”, one of his later ones, and it’s a masterpiece; of course I appreciate that his voice is an acquired taste, and even twenty years ago he sounded like more like an asthmatic bullfrog gargling mouthwash than what you might call a singer (my favourite description of his voice is “like an alsatian snagged on a barbed wire fence”). Where was I? Oh yes, Mississippi. I’ve mentioned before that there’s a stanza in the song that runs, Walking through the leaves/ Falling from the trees/ Feeling like a stranger/ Nobody sees. I hear those lines in my head this time of year, every time I kick my way through piles of dead leaves. There’s freedom in those words, even if it’s illusory; even if in Caithness the leaves “fall” in much the same way a feather caught in the slipstream of a fighter jet does.

Gull on the harbour wall

Normally at this time of year, as summer recedes into the rearview mirror of history and daylight diminishes by a few minutes each day, Christmas gleams dimly ahead in the darkness like Aladdin’s lamp, promising riches. Of course, this isn’t a normal year. But even though I’m not really an optimist by nature—my reaction to the question, “Are you a glass half full or half empty sort of person?” is to exclaim, “Glass? What glass?”—this year I’m going to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness; or at least I would if a naked flame wouldn’t set off the smoke detector. So instead I’ll light a candle of the mind, one for each of the 54 sleeps my phone tells me there are till Christmas. Then I’ll make a wish; I won’t have to blow the candle out, though: all I have to do is set it outside and wait for the wind to come.

At the end of the path



Very warm congratulations to Judit and Nicola this week. Judit has sent pictures of a very natty gansey-design-inspired Christmas present, which just goes to show how versatile the patterns are (and Judit too, of course).

And Nicola has sent in pictures of a gansey, which by a happy coincidence is knit in Wendy’s navy yarn. It’s taken from the Polperro patterns in Mary Wright’s ‘Cornish Guernseys and Knit-frocks’, and very splendid it looks too. Many congratulations to Judit and Nicola!


As this is occasionally very chunky wool (see the picture; at times it’s like knitting a gansey with hairy caterpillars, and you can see how dropping a needle size for the yoke isn’t really an option), I’ve decided to have fewer stitches than usual. My normal gansey is 23 inches wide. (I’m a 42-inch chest, just under, so this makes them nicely roomy and comfortable). But I felt like making this one a little narrower anyway, 22.5 inches across; and as the last gansey I knit with this iteration of Wendy yarn came out at 7.6 stitches to the inch, I cast on 320 stitches for the welt, then only increased by 22 stitches for the body. To be honest, I have no idea how this will come out—whether it will be too small or just about right; I doubt it will be too big—but it will be fun finding out.

6 comments to Seed Panel Gansey: Week 2 – 2 November

  • Judit M./Finland

    Hello Gordon and many thanks for mentioning my small Xmas gift. I tried to look at it and got this answer:
    This site can’t be reachedjudit’s server IP address could not be found.’
    Waiting for the pattern of your seed panel I am sending my best regards to both of you .
    Happy knitting

  • Laura Kinnane-Brew

    Hello Gordon, that is a lovely blue. Gales raging here, definitely gansey weather. I am currently trying to puzzle out why our neighbour still has three trees still laden with leaves, whilst all other trees around us have had their leaves decimated by the winds…hmm…

    • Gordon

      Hi Laura, I’m told that hair spray works wonders on Christmas trees to stop them shedding their leaves. Maybe it works on other types of trees too? All we need is a bunch of cans and a cherry-picker, plus a health and safety risk assessment and at least three council workmen and I think we could be on to something!

  • =Tamar

    It was suddenly windy here too, late last night for a while. But we still have greenish leaves on the trees.
    Judit’s site worked for me, so I guess whatever the glitch was, it’s over. Fun idea, to do the seed panel in such nice bright stripes!

    My latest triumph was finding my winter hood, right where I put it two years ago.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, when I knit a gansey for someone else it’s usually one of the more intricate patterns—it seems only right to give them an example of the best that ganseys have to offer. This means that after a few fancy ones i feel like knitting something simpler, for a break. As a result, I’ve ended up with most plainly ones for my own use, while giving away the fancier ones

      Luckily, I like patterns like this one just as much as the more intricate ones, albeit in a different way. I find them very restful, like a Japanese garden in wool. If I could have only one gansey pattern out of all the ones I’ve knitted, it would probably be this one, or Scarborough.

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