Support Gansey Nation -

Buy Gordon a cuppa!

Many, many thanks to those of you who have already contributed!

Week 5: 28 December 2009 – 3 January 2010

Happy New Year! (Or, as seems to be the customary salutation in Edinburgh, “Wooo-ooo-oo!”)

We went down to join the crowds for the midnight fireworks display on New Year’s Eve, and found ourselves a good spot where we could see the castle and (if we turned round) Calton Hill as well, the two main sites for the fireworks. So now I know what it feels like to be in a crowd of 80,000 more or less inebriated, sentimental Scotsmen (i.e., rather sweet: strangers wishing you a happy new year, wanting to shake your hand, proffering bottles of whiskey, asking you for the bus fare home.) In fact the only disappointment – and I hate to say this – were the fireworks themselves, which barely lasted 5 minutes. Still, there’s a recession on, and since the event is sponsored by a bank I daresay they’ve scaled them back a bit this year out of tact.

For a second week the weather here’s barely risen above freezing; every time the ice on the pavements melts, it snows again and freezes. So we haven’t been out much this last week, as the pavements are too icy to walk on, forcing people to dice with death by walking on the roads (and Edinburgh drivers all seem to have learned their approach to road safety in Italy). Our flat is on a road sloping down from the city centre and is particularly hazardous – picking our way carefully back from the fireworks early on New Year’s Day we saw someone go base over apex, and the local children have been tobogganing down the pavements for fun.

All of which has meant a relaxing time, staying in and listening to music and knitting, as evidenced by the startling progress on the gansey (I’m up to nearly 10 inches!). I just started my fourth ball of wool last night, so that’s a 100 gram ball in a week, pretty good going for me. The pattern is shaping up nicely, too: as the gansey will be about 27 inches long, as usual I’ll start the gussets after 15 inches, then divide front and back after another 3 inches, knit the yoke for 8 inches, and have 1 inch for the shoulder straps. (Well, that’s the plan, anyway.)

It’s confession time: I had to do some running repairs last week. As I was knitting I noticed that the 5-ply yarn I was knitting with had frayed at one point down to 2-3 ply, with the ends loose, for a centimetre or so. I kind of re-twisted the ends and carried on knitting, hoping for the best, with my customary and celebrated optimism. But when I reached that point on the next row I discovered to my horror that something had gone badly wrong, and in fact the yarn was hanging by a single thread for 3 stitches, before reverting to the usual 5. Since I hate unpicking stitches almost as much as I hate swatching, I decided to adopt the bicycle puncture repair approach. First I unpicked the 3 stitches plus one on either side. Then, taking an offcut of the same yarn from another ball, I picked them up again, knitting the new yarn into the stitches alongside the single thread of the old yarn (in the same way I knit the end of an old ball with the beginning of a new one together). So while I’m sure this is not the approved method, it seems to have worked, and should reinforce it and prevent it from fraying in future.

Anyway, from Margaret and me, a very happy new year and, er, wooo-ooo-oo!

2 comments to Week 5: 28 December 2009 – 3 January 2010

  • =Tamar

    I believe that is a traditional procedure for strengthening knitting. It’s certainly the equivalent of repairing a break after the fact, only done tidily beforehand. Warning, where there’s one thin spot, there may be others.

    It’s fascinating how knitting can look so gnarled and then block to a creation of beauty.

  • Gordon

    Hi Tamar,

    Well, I feel very smug having figured that out all on my own! I’m using British Breeds 5-ply, and I find it tends to be variable – some balls are fine, others (like this one) have several breaks in them and a bit of fraying to boot.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed about the Creation of beauty as well! (I promise nothing…)