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Week 36: 14-20 September 2009

9how36aSo there we are. Despite spending more than half of the last week in bed, knocked out by this blasted cold which is proving rather stubborn to shift, I was still able to remain upright long enough to finish the gansey, like a wounded gunfighter in a spaghetti western who raises himself up off the floor long enough to take down his opponent before collapsing himself in a blaze of Ennio Morricone.

So, the question is, now it’s done, how do I feel about it? And the answer is, I’m not sure. Let me explain. First of all, the most obvious flaw is the sleeves, for which I cast on too many stitches. I knew I’d done this the first time, but somehow it didn’t look too bad until I’d finished the pattern section – then I realised just how baggy they were going to be. I decided to carry on, like a First World War general who thinks that one more push will break the enemy line, but it was apparent as soon as I cast on the second sleeve that it wasn’t going to work (you can see the ripples down by the gusset where I had to cram in just too many stitches). Well, fair enough. I can always just rip out the sleeves and do them properly.

9how36bBut then there’s the pattern, which doesn’t quite work and, to be fair, never did really. (Though to be fair some of the pictures do show it resembling Henry Freeman’s pattern, so not a total failure.) Is it therefore worth the trouble to spend 2-3 months reworking the sleeves? And then there’s the fit – I’m not saying it’s tight across the midriff, but I think I can see a new market opening up for ganseys that act as corsets. When I put it on my thighs get bigger to accommodate parts of my lower intestine. (Oh, I just had a disturbing thought – maybe those pictures of knitted fishermen’s socks and drawers aren’t working wear after all, but are – the horror – fishermen’s lingerie? I think Victoria’s Secret could be missing a trick here…)

Anyway, I know it hasn’t been washed and blocked yet, but either it”s the scrawny yarn, or, more likely, I just knit it to a tighter gauge (something I have a tendency to do with plain knitting as opposed to patterned), but it’s definitely a bit smaller than I’d planned. Oh, and I don’t like the garter stitch bit at the bottom, which flops around like a cat-flap in a strong breeze. Other than that, it’s fine!

9how36cSo I’m seriously tempted to just rip the whole thing out and file it under experience – after all, it served its purpose and kept me occupied while I moved up here to Edinburgh, with all the stresses and strains that that entailed, so I’m really not complaining. I could always delete the last 6 months’ worth of blogs and then pretend the cat ate it; the only problem being, our cat would never be able to keep it down, and in any case, I dare say ganseys are meant to be worn externally. (I toyed with turning it into a cat blanket, now winter is approaching, but it’s so heavy, and our cat is so old, I don’t think she’d have the strength to escape once she was placed inside it.)

So, as I said at the beginning, there we are. What to do? My best bet is to find a skinny person with very fat arms who feels the cold. Popeye would be good, if anyone knows his address.

Finally, after the success of last week’s rather lame swatch joke, I have now decided to record an album of Christmas favourites on a similar theme, starting with the schoolboys’ favourite, “While shepherds swatched their socks by night…”  Ay thangyou, ladees an’ gennelmun.

6 comments to Week 36: 14-20 September 2009

  • =Tamar

    I suggest that you block it severely at the waist and gently at the sleeves, and then pack it away until a cold winter day when you desperately want another layer regardless of looks. Those wide sleeves will go easily over a long sleeved shirt and the tight middle will stretch out in use even if blocking doesn’t solve it. The newly-rediscovered cardigan by Elizabeth Zimmermann has sleeves that are baggier than that at the armpits, and everybody is cooing about it.

  • I think it looks beautiful and I suspect that every gansey knitter had much the same to say about their ganseys when done. I agree with Tamara’s advice except to add that when you take it out again you may actually be able to see it with fresh eys.

  • Nigel

    I agree, put it to bed for six months,I suspect you will get a nice surprise once you see it again. Either that or give it to me and I’ll smother Alex Slamond with it! (Scottish first minister, professional opportunist).

  • Hi Tamar, Sharon and Nigel, and thanks for the kind words. (Please forgive me not replying to you individually, but I tried that last week and got the names mixed up, and still wake up in a hot flush as I relive the experience!) Your suggestions of putting it aside for a while sound like wisdom, as I’m frequently tempted to rash actions which I regret at leisure, and certainly sounds better than my latest scheme, to slip inflatable bags into the arms to act as water wings, and so catch the novice-swimmer-fisherman market.

    And since the body I work for, the Scottish Council on Archives, is funded by Alex Salmond’s Scottish Government, I should declare an interest and (for once in my life) keep my opinions to myself!

    Best wishes,

  • Hi Nigel,

    Perhaps I should say a bit more about our situation. It’s a curious one in some ways, because we’re not a Quango, and we’re not civil servants, but are an independent body that receives a small amount of government funding to support “non-national archives” in Scotland, mainly the local and county record offices. Part of my role is to ensure that we spend the money well, and so persuade Alex Salmond’s SNP to keep us going (my contract expires in 2011) – a tough ask in the worst economic crisis since the 1930s! But, for example, one of the things we’re about to do is develop guidelines for social services departments as to how long their records should be kept, and so hopefully ensure that in future victims of abuse in children’s homes will always have documentary evidence to fall back on, as recommended in the Shaw Report. So even if we get shut down in 18 months, at least we’ll have made a difference, I hope.

    And it’s worth saying that we don’t have any direct equivalent in England!