Support Gansey Nation -

Buy Gordon a cuppa!

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

Week 30: 29 June – 2 July

I think it must be summer. How can I tell? Well, I’ve opened a window a crack – just enough to let the wasps out, nothing too dramatic – and worn t-shirts for more than one day in a row. Edinburgh is filling up with tourists, each of whom looks lost in a vaguely worried sort of way, like they’ve just misplaced their wallet but are sure it’ll turn up any minute. And the television networks have given up trying in the face of too much sport, and decided to fill the airwaves with programmes about loggers who fell trees with their teeth, or babies who hold up convenience stores, or vets with laboratories who are creating bionic cats. (Actually one of these is true; see if you can guess which it is.)

As it’s summer, and the end of a long, fairly difficult period (as well as being unreasonably hot, so it’s not really gansey weather), I’m going to take a break for a few weeks. During this time I plan to try to teach myself to touch-type, or at least to do so better than I can now (my typing currently resembles nothing so much as a tarantula delicately picking its way up a slender forearm); read some Kant and Schopenhauer, on the grounds that life is stern and life is earnest; and to re-work this website to include a proper “how to” section.

I finished the other sleeve, and so the rest of the gansey yesterday, and spent a happy half-hour darning in the stray ends. Then this morning we washed it and Margaret blocked it out as you can see in the photos, like a pioneer staked out ready for torture.

A couple of points – first of all, you can see a small, cancerous lump on the right-hand side of the centre diamond. This is very galling – it’s not a mistake as such, but it’s where I joined 2 different balls of wool.  The few stitches where both ends are knit together inevitably make for a thicker stitch, and this is what you can see. I usually try to avoid joining balls of wool in important places in the pattern for this very reason, but this time I took my eye off the ball, as it were.

Ordinarily this wouldn’t matter anyway, because the blocking is usually at quite a stiffish tension and that tends to even out any kinks, but as it happens this gansey isn’t stretched very taut. And this is my other point to note: because there are no cables in the lower body of the pullover, the stitch gauge is slightly bigger than usual. It works out at 9.2 stitches per inch, instead of my usual 9.6. So it looks like it might fit me after all, if I decide to hang on to it.

And before I bid you adieu for a few weeks, I shall share with you something I heard on the radio last week, which should put an end to any ideas you may have had that mankind is God’s last word. A man emailed in to say that he had shown his wife an atlas, on two pages of which were spread out a flat representation of the world. His wife had then demanded to know where the rest of it was, on the grounds that she was obviously looking at the front of the world, so where was the back…?

Have a very happy summer break, and I look forward to seeing you again soon,

9 comments to Week 30: 29 June – 2 July

  • Suzanne

    My vote is for the bionic cat story. I can see all kinds of potential for the idea. Babies holding up convenience stores is too commonplace to be noteworthy.

    I’m afraid I have to eat my disparaging remarks about the unexciting nature of ganseys knit in cream wool. Yours has zip and zing; and is really quite dashing. The ‘x’s of the body impart an exuberant lightness. Very nicely done! Wear it in good health.

    I remember being among those advocating the third of a diamond at the neckline, but I now find that that detail is bothering me more than the cancerous yarn blip. Having had many unsightly double thick stitches come back to gall me, I gave up on that method of starting and ending some time ago. Now, I either splice (which can also backfire in a smooth wool with sheen), or drop both ends to the back and a couple of rows further on adjust tension, cross one over the other, and weave the ends with the path of the existing stitches; making sure I split them.

    Enjoy your alternate pursuits for the next few weeks. We’ll be looking forward to your return.

  • Gordon

    Hi Suzanne,

    Yes, got it in one, the bionic cat was the real one. I agree with you about the curtailed diamond at the top of the front – it seems inelegant, doesn’t it? In retrospect I should have come up with a better solution – I’ve made a note, and next time I do a Hebridean gansey I’ll probably slightly enlarge the two central panels to fill up the space more neatly, or make them smaller and add a third. As it is it resembles nothing so much as those annoying little tufts of hair under the lower lip affected by Spanish footballers just now, and I have an irrational urge to shave it…

    With all good wishes for a fun summer,

  • syndee

    Gosh how lovely. (Apart from the cancerous lump- can’t you pick it apart and do some kind of grafting-you are so humongously talented)
    I have watched his gansey grow and grow and I feel like I’ve just given birth, which is surprisingly odd.

    Have a good fortnight, I do believe the northern parts are in for blizzards this week.

  • =Tamar

    Touch typing doesn’t take long to learn. What takes a while is practicing until you get good at it. The trouble with the computer keyboard is one of those good news/bad news things – it’s so easy to fix mistakes that suddenly all motivation to type perfectly the first time goes away. I used to use Coleridge’s “Xanadu” for typing practice.

    There is a fix for the half-diamond (actually, I like it, but
    I like triangles). It’s insane. Pretend that you made a horrible mistake on the first row of that panel, drop down, and reknit the panel – not the entire yoke, just the panel. You might even keep the bottom-most diamond and just lengthen (or divide?) the upper one.

    PS I hope you never switch to blogger; they just did something that is incompatible with my machine and now I can’t comment on any blogger-hosted blog. And because I can’t comment on them, I can’t tell people why I can’t…

  • Gordon

    Hi syndee and Tamar,

    Perhaps if I wear it, I’ll pretend the lump on the diamond is my own, and is just showing through. As for the triangle, in one sense, it doesn’t bother me, because I know the rest of the gansey is fine, and no one is going to worry about an inelegant bit of pattern when there are all those cables and diamonds and chevrons to distract the eye. Plus I like triangles. But I’m not going to fix it, or any of it, because there is in fact a genuine mistake already in the gansey that is almost invisible, that no one has noticed, or probably ever would notice, but which I know is there (on the back). So I feel that it is already flawed, in so far as that matters.

    As for typing, yes, you’re right Tamar, learning the keys isn’t hard, but the practice is like slow torture! Especially when I can type so much faster with 3 fingers on each hand. And discipline isn’t my strong point.

    The blog when it returns will be very similar, I’m just going to refresh some of the content of the static pages, which is getting a bit stale by now. A blog without comments would feel a bit lonely now!

    Oh, and you won’t be surprised syndee to learn that I’ve never given birth, though I see what you mean with the 7 or 8 month gestation period – but at least you can’t swatch a baby…


  • Lynne

    Gordon, it’s beautiful! I love the white and I definitely think you should keep it for yourself. As I recall, you used 2.25mm needles for the body, didn’t you? As much as I was tempted to buy the white for myself for the winter project, I ended up getting “Claret” Frangipani, and I’ve put it out of sight so I won’t be tempted to start sooner (today’s weather, where I am, is already 33C and it’s only 1p.m., so I won’t be working any wool anytime soon)! I look forward to your tutorials – have a great summer.

  • Gordon

    Hi Lynne, thanks for the nice comments.

    I only ever use 2.25mm needles, 80cm circular ones for the body, switching to 30cm dpns for the yoke(s) and sleeves, but they’re almost impossible to find these days, so my old ones are becoming increasingly bent about and the coating is long gone on the tips. Claret looks a really nice colour – but enjoy the warm weather while you can and don’t think about heavy wool sweaters till autumn!

    Best wishes

  • Leigh

    Cancerous growth or not, I think it is so beautiful. Well done.

    Next year is Gansey year for me. I plan to attend Ruth Brown-Reinsel’s classes, get her DVD so I can refresh at home as well. I am hoping once I get a gansey under my belt, I will tackle one of Gladys Thompson’s.

    Alice Starmore’s Aran Knitting is coming out again this fall and I cant wait. I love her designs.

    I wish I could say that our temps here in Virginia were only 33 C. I know this is very warm for you all, but we will be in the mid to high 90s low 100s this next week.

    Ya’ll take care and keep cool.

    From across the Pond,

    Lancaster, VA, USA

  • Gordon

    Hi Leigh,

    Thank you for the nice comments! It was always the problem for me when I lived in the south of England that the temperature was mostly too mild to wear ganseys, except for maybe a couple of days around Christmas. Luckily being in Scotland has resolved that issue! (And the forecasts are for colder winters for a few years, maybe. Hopefully.)

    I have, of course, a lot of time for Alice Starmore and her books of patterns. If I were ever to branch out, it would be into Fair Isle and Aran (though I prefer fine detail to big ‘n’ chunky). If only there weren’t so many gansey patterns I still haven’t tried…!

    Good luck with your gansey next year – please let me know how you get on,
    Best wishes for a temperate summer, if it’s not too late,