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Week 2: 28 September – 4 October

m1aI promised last week that I’d post my first cut of a Maori pattern this time, so here it is.

In a way this is a bit of a cheat, since I’ve started with a design that closely matches the kind of pattern you’d find on a traditional British gansey – diamonds and straight lines. But this was deliberate. As I’ve said before, I’ve never tried to create my own designs, so it made sense to start with something relatively familiar, and then gradually work up to the swirly patterns and tikis or kiwis you’d expect.

The pattern comes from a photograph of the interior of a Waitangi meeting house, where panels of abstract patterns alternate with carved wooden totem figures. Of course I couldn’t hope to replicate the power of that combination in wool! But my interest was piqued when I saw the diamonds, and it occurred to me that they would make an effective bridge to get me into the project. The main difference between these diamonds and the ones from, say, Flamborough, are the way that each one is divided into four sub-diamonds, with alternating shading between the horizontal and vertical pairs of sub-diamonds. Also, as you’d expect from art of this type, the space around the diamonds isn’t left plain but is filled in with smaller diamond patterns, making it all very rich and detailed.

Finally, the other point to stress is that this pattern is supposed to serve as a sort of “filler” for the lower body; the really intricate stuff should appear on the yoke, and what’s on the lower body shouldn’t detract too much from that.

Curiously enough, now I’ve got an actual charted pattern to play with, the thought of swatching doesn’t seem too bad. (My God – did I really say that? I must be sicker than I thought.) Tune in next week for a curly-edged swatchlet. (I’ve decided to save all the swatches I make in future, until I have enough to sew them together into an American quilt. Or at least a pillow case. Or maybe a handkerchief?) The panel is about 42 stitches wide in all, so if it works I’ll probably have 5 panels on the front, and another 5 on the back, giving me some 430 stitches in the round.

And here’s a thought to chill the soul, now we’re officially into the season of Autumn. I went up to Inverness last week, to see the state-of-the-art new Highlands Archives Centre, due to open at the end of the month (and very impressive it is, too). The county archivist mentioned in passing she’d noticed there was snow on the Cairngorms that morning…

5 comments to Week 2: 28 September – 4 October

  • Suzanne

    I have always loved the name ‘Cairngorms’ – so evocative. The peaks that surround me (Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains) are also sporting their first dusting of the white stuff.

    Yes, I can imagine that you might be getting excited about sw—-ing that very attractive diamond ground pattern for the gansey. Will the lower welt be garter, rib, or patterned?

  • =Tamar

    Does state-of-the-art mean it’s all computerized?
    If so, does that mean it will be available online,
    in at least some form?

  • Hi Suzanne and =Tamar,

    Funnily enough, I always think a “cairngorm” is a pile of rocks where an idiot was buried… (Note to topographers – that may not be how they got their name.)

    When I get down to it, I’m going to revert to good, old-fashioned ribbing – you know where you are with a rib, as it were. Maybe aim for 3 inches before starting the pattern. I gritted my teeth and started the swatch last night under cover of a Monty Python 40th anniversary anniversary on the BBC (which showed enough of the funny bits to keep you happy – but, ma foi!, how young they all looked back then). So far it just looks like a lot of bumps, like an aerial photograph of pillow mounds in a field in winter, but we’ll see.

    As for the Highland Archives, it’s got state of the art facilities for preserving the original records, which is the first step; but it’s also one of the new archives services that’s situated alongside the registrars of births, marriages and deaths, so that genealogists can do more research in one place. In fact, Scotland’s got a great track record for making records available online – I attended the launch of the Catholic registers going online today, adding 2 million more records to the 65 million already available, which is pretty impressive – it’s all under the brand of “ScotlandsPeople” if you want to check it out. But, as Robert Burns (and Bob Dylan) would say, “my heart’s in the highlands…” I just don’t know where my brain’s gone.


  • Suzanne

    If one can believe Wikipedia, Cairngorms is a case of the name of a single mountain (Cairn gorm) being adopted in popular usage as the name of a whole range. Whether or not an idiot is buried thereunder is anyone’s guess. Perhaps the idiot who started this trend? The range’s former name: Am Monadh Ruadh – the red hills, is allegedly more accurate.

    As for Monty Python… not only do they all look ever so young but, the sketches are nowhere near as funny as they seemed when I was under the influence of numerous Harvey Wallbangers. They were hysterical! or was that me?

    NZ too has done a great job of making public records available online. Just two years ago, I was able to dig up enough information to deduce why my somewhat famous – and infamous – grandfather (Frederick Bailey Muir) skipped out on his family when my father was an infant. It appears that it may have had something to do with the fact that he was about to be arrested for having used his photographic skills to make counterfeit currency. That wasn’t his claim to fame – he was one of NZ’s first noteworthy landscape photographers. With a 100 year retrospective angle on the matter, I can assert that the repercussions of that madcap felony and Fred’s flight from the consequences are still being experienced within the family. Until now, nobody knew why.

  • =Tamar

    My outdated edition of the O.E.D. spells it “gaumless” but my American Unabridged spells it “gormless.” Either way, “gaum” (or “gorm”) seems to refer to sense or intelligence. Does that make a cairngorm a rockbrain?

    They do look lumpy, even in summer.