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WEEK 1 – 20-27 July 2008

Comes over one, as DH Lawrence never quite said, an urge to knit another pullover.

I’d started a gansey last year, back when my eyesight was suffering badly from myopia compounded with cataracts (my right eye was down to -15.0 diopters – like looking through greaseproof paper). So I’d thought I’d try knitting something not too detailed and quite loose, and see how it went. It was going to be a Cornish pattern, like Ian’s gansey here.

Well, what with one thing and another (cataract operations, mostly) I kind of lost momentum, and only got round to finishing the body last week. To my dismay, when I finally tried it on it was enormous – Jabba the Hutt’s sleeping bag – and in the end I decided I had no choice but to rip it out and start again. (And don’t underestimate the nature of the sacrifice involved in all this – given how much work these things are for me, it’s like deciding your baby son has the wrong hair colour, feeding him into the waste disposal and trying again, this time for a girl. Honestly, I could’ve wept.)

Since by now I felt like I never wanted to see the colour or the pattern ever again, I unearthed an unopened stash of cream wool which Margaret brought back from America a few years ago. (First dilemma: there are only 12 balls in the pile and I know a gansey my size will take 13-14. But Margaret, with fiendish oriental cunning, suggested knitting the welt and cuffs with a couple of balls of another die lot; of course you’ll see the join, but we can pretend it had to be re-knitted because it’d worn out.)

Gansey, Week 1

I decided to make it the same number of stitches as Jabba’s, casting on 384 for the welt, to be increased to 420-odd for the body when I get to it, but to knit it tighter. I don’t know what the pattern is going to be yet, but as I plan to make the welt 4.5 inches followed by 1.5 inches of plain knitting there’s no rush. Maybe something from Flamborough, I don’t know. But it’ll have cables and quite a lot of detail, since cream always shows that sort of thing well.

Luckily for me, England are in the middle of losing a test series against South Africa at cricket (the first test was a draw, the Saffers won the second by unsportingly playing better than England), and even more luckily a new box set of Wagner’s 10 main operas live from Bayreuth has just been released, an insane bargain consisting of 33 cds for £40 (I’ve listened to The Flying Dutchman, Tannhauser and Lohengrin so far). And I’m forcing Margaret to listen to War and Peace in the Naxos unabridged talking book version with me, all 70 hours of it, which probably counts as cruel and unnatural punishment if not spousal abuse (over halfway – the war of 1812 has just started).

So I’m all set and, as you can see from the photo, I’m off to a flier: that’s the welt, and a complete ball of wool, done in a week. (I know from experience this won’t last; I’ve started the equivalent of a marathon like a sprint, and should run out of steam in no time, like a Tour de France cyclist who’s decided to try it without drugs for a change.) Time to get the pattern sorted out!

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