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Week 1: 30 November – 6 December

m12aAnd we’re off!

OK, so we’re not off to a very dramatic start, but then, as they used to say at my old school prize days, life is a marathon, not a sprint. (By which I assume they meant, it’s a chocolate bar with peanuts, not a fizzy drink, which I think actually makes more sense.)

I’m a few rows into the ribbing, and already it feels better, after all that unsatisfactory swatching – like getting past road works on the motorway, you can put your foot down and just motor. It’s such a relief!

In fact, I have a confession to make, shameful and humiliating though it is. I made an Important Decision this last week, though I think it’s been coming for a while (deep breath): I am not going to make this a New Zealand patterned gansey. Instead, I’m reverting to Plan A, and going for a traditional Scottish pattern, probably Hebridean like Tudfil’s in the gallery.

Now, before you inundate me with howls of protest and accusations of cowardice – all of which would of course be fully justified – let me explain. First of all, I think Suzanne’s suggestion that it should be in a shade of green is a good one, as a nice shade of paua shell would be more appropriate. Secondly, as the swatches will show you, I’m just not ready yet – I need more practice to do it justice. Thirdly, there’s too much bad craziness going on at work just now for me to think about designing a gansey – I need something to occupy my hands, and my time, but my brain is currently spoken for (I really can’t concentrate right now – can’t even settle to a book, which is pretty serious for me). And lastly, it won’t be wasted effort, as the NZ gansey would use a Hebridean structure, but with different patterns – so I can use this as a sort of dry run. (All weasel words, of course, but what have you?)

So, apologies for any disappointment this may cause. Why not go on a touring trip round Europe or North America and check up on me when you come back around next autumn, when I should be back on track? In the meantime, for those prepared to settle for second best, stay tuned for what I hope will still be a pretty impressive specimen.

5 comments to Week 1: 30 November – 6 December

  • Suzanne

    Not disappointed. Not howling. Designing an interesting garment requires total focus (at least it does for me). One must have the space in one’s brain to leap from one idea to the next; and the freedom to daydream about the possibilities. In your somewhat distracted state – this is a wise decision. It is an instance where persevering would likely have led to an endless string of swatches that led nowhere. It happens. The wise man knows when to retreat to more familiar paths.

    For my part, I have been reduced to scarves, hats and mittens by the current upheaval in my life. It happens.

    As satisfying as it is to knock everyone’s socks off with a knitting tour de force, the main purpose of the craft in the modern context is relaxation.

    Hebridean sounds good to me. I look forward to seeing what comes after the rib.

  • Gordon

    Hi Suzanne,

    I don’t think a knitting tour de force was ever a realistic outcome! And I may yet try to work some sneaky motifs into the Hebrides…

    Now I have the space to sit and brood which makes me wonder if swatches aren’t actually a better alternative.

  • Suzanne

    O ye of little faith! You have a sufficient number of completed ganseys in your portfolio, over the course of which you have refined the details for each element of the garment, for a tour de force to be a definite possibility.

    There is no law against swatching for the next gansey while working on this one. ‘Real’ knitwear designers do it all the time and swear that it is the only way to work.

    I do hope that ‘having the space to sit and brood’ does not mean that things at the Archives have taken a turn for the worse again.

  • =Tamar

    Actual knitting has been proven to help reduce stress. It’s good for you. Swatching can be done in breaks during the gansey knitting. Besides, this is the season to knit ganseys. Swatching can be done during the summer, when small projects are less uncomfortable to work on than large ones.

  • Gordon

    Hi Suzanne & Tamar,

    Yes, I still plan to do a bit of swatching on the fly, moonlighting from the main gansey. (I haven’t given up on my idea, just accepted it needs a lot more work in the lab before it’s ready to go live.) And what I need, I think, is some good music on the ol’ stereo – Bob Dylan’s Christmas album comes to mind – and a gansey growing slowly on the needles under my fingers. I’ve got plenty of annual leave in stock, so I’m more or less finished for Christmas after next Wednesday, and then I can chill out and knit and read and listen to music, and go to the hospital and get my nose broken.

    Work, as Galadriel says in the Lord of the Rings movie, stands upon the edge of a knife. But who knows? It worked out all right in the end for them, and may do for me too. Here’s hoping!