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Week 11: 16 – 22 March

9how11aLet’s start with the Moray Firth Gansey Project. Remember a couple of weeks ago I discovered that one of my images was being used to promote the project? Well, it turns out to have been an honest misunderstanding; I’ve been in touch with Kathryn Logan, the project leader, and it’s all sorted: they’re continuing to use the image with my full consent, and I’m still rather flattered that they’re using it. So that’s all right.

It’s been such a beautiful week here in the South West that Margaret and I went for a photo shoot at nearby Kilve, on what laughably passes for a beach in these parts. On a clear day you can see the rocks underfoot, which act on the soles of the feet in much the same way that a cheese grater acts on, say, a mature parmesan. Ideal accessories are not so much a bucket and spade as a pickaxe and drilling equipment. Fortunately I have acquired a pair of magic spectacles, which turn opaque not in sunlight, but when I’m in embarrassing situations and it’s best no one can see my deep inner shame; such as when I’m being photographed on a beach wearing a gansey, as it might be.

9how11bAnyway, the reason for all this was the fact that I’ve had a couple of ganseys lurking in a chest for a couple of years, which we’ve never got around to photographing till now. And as this seemed the ideal opportunity, and the sun was shining, off we went. You can see the pictures of the first one, a combination of various traditional patterns that took Margaret’s fancy, here; the second, which was another copy of Mrs Laidlaw of Whitby’s fabulous pattern (complete with cables running all the way down the sleeve from neck to cuff) here; and finally me looking dashing and not at all embarrassed in my magic specs modelling the Flamborough gansey that was the subject of my last blog sequence here.

9how11torAs I’m sort of between jobs at the moment, and haven’t moved to Edinburgh yet, I’ve had plenty of time for knitting this week. Of course, being the idle young scamp that I am, I haven’t taken full advantage of it, and have instead spent my time sleeping and rashly climbing up Glastonbury Tor. (And shame on the website that refers to the “magical mystery Tor”!) But as the pictures will show, I’m making progress and am now an inch or so up the gusset. I still can’t quite make up my mind if the pattern is working or not (two plain rows for every knit 2/purl 2 pattern row, if you recall). You see, it depends on how the light strikes it – in the wrong light (i.e., most of the time) it just looks like bumpy stripes, which isn’t very appealing. But in the right light – if you hold it just so, and squint with your head on one side like you’re looking at one of those 3D “magic eye” puzzles that used to be all the rage – it almost looks exactly like the pattern on Henry Freeman’s gansey.

9how11cNow, the thing that stops me worrying too much at this stage is that this is just how the bottom panel of Gavin’s gansey yoke looked at first – when I was knitting it I couldn’t see the pattern at all. it just looked like a random set of lumps. In fact, I should confess that I was originally going to knit the whole of his gansey in that pattern, but funked it when I saw how it was coming out, and changed the pattern to the one you can see in the pictures (something I could still do with this one). But when it was washed and blocked, hey presto, it looked perfect. So maybe that will be the case here too. Fingers crossed!

Finally, as you may have noticed, Margaret has revamped the website into the look and feel you can see, with ever-changing photographs in the header (including holiday snaps of cranberry harvesting on Cape Cod, scenic views of places in the South West such as Lyme Regis, Lanhydrock, Glastonbury, lichen, you name it). We hope you like it.

7 comments to Week 11: 16 – 22 March

  • Suzanne

    You look most dashing in Flamborough on the beach with magic specs! There is an element of mystery about you, evocative of a ’60’s spy film (not James Bond).

    As for the photo of the beginning of the patterning: lumps and bumps are all I see, and I am having some difficulty making the leap of faith. I shall have to start swatching Staithes in my wool and see what I think. Yes, the dreaded ‘swatch’, which word seems to evoke in you a reaction akin to that of the horse in Young Dr. Frankenstein each time Frau Blucher’s name is mentioned. It was some years before I twigged to the fact that blucher is horsewhip in German.

    It is appropriate for you to enjoy some spring excursions while you have the free time and the Tor appears to be an excellent destination. Is that Margaret I hear in the background, grousing about the fact that there is still much packing to be done?

    The rolling slideshow in the header is wonderful! Good luck with the move.

  • Alas, the only mystery associated with me these days is matters like, “where did I leave the car?”

    Oh, ye of little faith! But good eyesight. In my defence, the photo was taken in low light – so I think the pattern would be perhaps a little clearer in, say, direct sunshine, unless (as Henry IV part one says – and this is where the Shakespeare pays off) the ‘wish was father to the thought’. Which is a classy way of saying I could be imagining it because I want to. (Or was it the face of Jesus I could see?)

    Swatches are the long division of knitting. They are the knitting equivalent of being kept in after school on a sunny spring afternoon to do Latin declensions. They’re like checking the tires before you go for a drive. They’re the Tom Sawyer’s fence of the gansey world, and I say the time has come to make a stand. (Incidentally, I didn’t know a blucher was a horsewhip – which is a classy joke – though I’ve always loved the movie. Did you know that Blucher was also the name of the Prussian general who came to the rescue of Wellington at Waterloo? That and the coat are my only blucher trivia, none alas as interesting as yours!)

    Tomorrow Phase One of the Big Move begins. Excitingly, the estate agents admitted they’ve lost one set of keys to the flat, in an Indiana Jones-type warehouse of all their property keys (2,000 sets apparently). I imagine they’re still rummaging frantically through them all by candlelight, even now…

  • Suzanne

    “I say the time has come to make a stand”

    There are those who would argue that the project itself is the only definitive swatch. It seems to me that there are an awful lot of swatches in your sidebar gallery…. and I don’t believe that you had such a violently adverse reaction to the knitting of them or, it stands to reason, you would not have continued.

    I hope all will go smoothly once the keys are located.

  • Gordon

    (Still waiting for the removal men. Sigh.)

    OK, it’s a fair cop! I may have exaggerated my feelings on knitting test pieces ever so slightly…

    By the way, I made a slip in my previous comment when I referred to Marshal Blucher’s coat – in fact, as any fule kno, he was famous for his shoes, the whole point being that this was perhaps the only battle in history where the victorious generals are remembered for their footwear. D’oh!

  • Suzanne

    I was ignorant of both Marshal Blucher’s role and wardrobe at Waterloo, so you did not need to ‘fess up to the error. As for the Shakespeare, Henry the IV part 1 was part of my ‘O’ level syllabus, but that was a really long time ago and I had forgotten the quote.

    Assuming that the removal men actually did show up and you are not still sitting perched with laptop in a maze of boxes, I hope the rest of the day went smoothly.

  • Esther

    Thank you for posting all those wonderful pictures! I check for your posts every week. I am really enjoying watching your progress.

  • Hi Esther,

    Thanks for posting! I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to respond but it’s been a hectic few days getting moved in in Edinburgh and then coming back for the weekend – so not much knitting done this week, and not much time to catch up. I’m glad you like the site. Margaret’s suggested that we work up some of the patterns and post them as part of the site for other people to experiment with if they wish, and I think that’s worth exploring too. Anyway, hope you continue to enjoy what you find here,
    Best wishes,