So this is Christmas, as John Lennon said, and what have you done? Well, in my case, I’ve been listening to Bob Dylan’s jaw-dropping Christmas album while doing some maths and sorting out the pattern for the lower body of my Hebridean-style gansey.
It goes like this (and pay attention, because there may be questions later). I had previously cast on 392 stitches for the welt ribbing. Normally you’d increase by another 10% for the body, which would mean up to an additional 39 stitches, call it 40, giving a total of 432 stitches (or 215 per side plus 2 stitches for the seams). With me so far? (Good, because I’m not sure I am!)
Now, the sort of style I’m looking at here calls for an odd number of patterned strips which were traditionally separated by narrow bands of moss stitch, or a thin cable. The pattern is usually a diamond, or a chevron, or a diagonal bar, repeated up the body to the yoke. After playing around with various combinations, I finally came up with 9 patterned strips, each 21 stitches wide, separated by 8 bands of moss stitch, each 3 stitches across. This gave me – after a lot of crossing out and general befuddlement – (9 x 21 =) 189 stitches for the pattern, plus (8 x 3 =) 24 stitches for the moss, a total of (189 + 24 =) 213 stitches per side, or 426 stitches in the round, plus 2 seam stitches, giving a grand total of 428 stitches in all.
The next question was, what patterns should I go for?
When I knitted Tudfil’s Hebridean gansey all those years ago, I opted for open diamonds. This time I had a hankering for something more elaborate, so I decided to use patterns normally associated with the yoke than the body: a tree and an open starfish. There are 9 panels across each side, so I’ve opted for 5 tree panels and 4 starfish panels, all separated by moss stitch. Each is 21 stitches across, as I’d already determined, which is quite big enough for this sort of pattern to really come through. So all I had to do was scale each pattern to be 21 stitches across, and fiddle about with them to make them the same height (26 stitches), and Bob’s your uncle.
In fact, speaking of Bob, I think I’d rather have him as my uncle than as Santa Claus, judging by the rather sinister video to his version of “Must Be Santa” you can see on YouTube – hey, the man’s a legend, what can I say?
So, I’d like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to those of you who’ve taken the trouble to drop me a line now and then – and especially to Suzanne, =Tamar and Nigel, for your constant support and encouragement through what’s been a difficult year. Have a great Christmas, and I wish you all the best for a fantastic 2010.
All together now, “…Special night, beard that’s white, must be Santa, must be Santa, must be Santa, Santa Claus…”