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Week 2: 12 – 18 January

9how2aThe end of the first full week of knitting, at least it was when I wasn’t suffering from yet another cold (you can tell all the kids are all back at school, pooling their germs, can’t you?), and already we’ve seen the back of the welt. That’s one advantage to keeping it short: knitted back-and-forth in 2 separate pieces (or “flaps” as I like to think of them) of garter stitch, they measure just 2 inches top to bottom (34 rows plus the cast-on row), though they’ll probably get longer and stretch with use.

Now, I was going to describe in some detail how I joined the two separate welt flaps, and given the trouble I got into trying to explain how I did something as simple as garter stitch last week, I think there was reason to fear for our sanity, all of us. But then it occurred to me that the best description was simply, “You just knit them together as you go”, and so if that’s OK with you we can all get on with our lives.

9how2b(All right, but it’s every bit as simple as that: knit a row along one welt flap; lay the other alongside and knit it onto the same needle, so you’ve got the two welt flaps on one circular needle, joined in the middle, in a great U-shape. Then just start knitting in the round and – hey presto! – you complete the circle, like a snake devouring its own tail. In fact, snakes have been much in my mind this last week, as knitting the two welt flaps has been like trying to persuade a couple of large and uncooperative rattlesnakes to mate.)

The only remaining issue was adding the fake “seam” stitches, one at each side, to separate the front and back of the gansey. Once the welt flaps were joined I knitted a couple of rows of plain knitting (the pattern won’t start till the yoke) and then increased by one purl stitch per side, exactly on the joins of the two flaps. (Incidentally, the reason why I wait a couple of rows before adding them is just that I find it’s easier that way; the first row or two I’m concentrating on making sure the stitches at the join are good and tight to avoid holes.)

These seam stitches really serve no purpose until it’s time to add the underarm gussets, when they save you a lot of counting and give you something to create the gusset out of (the Adam’s Rib of the gansey world, I guess) – but they’re traditional, and somehow the whole thing wouldn’t look right without them.

If knitting a gansey is like a long transatlantic flight, then finishing the welt is like having taken off, climbed to cruising altitude above the cloud layer so there’s nothing to see out the windows, and realised that now the stewards have handed out the free peanuts there’s no more excitement until it’s time to land. So we strap ourselves in for a long, and hopefully uneventful flight…

2 comments to Week 2: 12 – 18 January

  • Suzanne

    Nice progress for the first week! When I used a split garter welt on my one and only gansey, I was concerned that if I simply knit across to join the two welt pieces there would be splaying of the fabric at the join. This is obviously more of an issue for women than for men, because we definitely widen at the point where the gansey hits the hip. So, I added three stitches to each welt and did a three stitch overlap (front welt over back welt), joined by knitting front and back stitches together. This gave me a nice strong junction, and provided the perfect platform from which to begin a 3-stitch seam.

  • Hi Suzanne,

    Thanks for posting. “Splaying” is a very good word, and quite accurate for the effect I have at the join (though it will, hopefully, as ever, be much less noticeable after the final washing and blocking); at the moment I think of it as the “wishbone” effect, or a person’s gait after riding a very fat horse. In any case, as my corpulent stomach continues to expand like a well-yeasted loaf in the oven, and at about the same rate, I’m probably going to need all the splaying I can get by the time I finish this pullover!