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Week 1: 21-27 September 2009

I’ve been playing around with Maori designs this week, with a view to incorporating them into a gansey design. The key challenges so far are twofold: to represent curvy swirls and waves in a style that probably works best with straight edges and linear geometric patterns; and to achieve by means of contrast a monochrome representation of vibrant colours.

I had the advantage that I already knew the overall effect I was looking for – i.e., what sort of patterns to use, and where they should go. So it wasn’t a question of looking for inspiration; rather, I was looking for patterns to fit my conception of what the pullover should look like, which made things easier.

One of the advantages of a 3-stage gansey (body, centre panel and yoke) is that I can get started with the body patterns and leave the others till later: I don’t have to plan it all out in detail from the start. So I’ve been playing around with a few of these possible body patterns on graph paper, some of which are in fact quite close to the traditional gansey diamond patterns of the north-east, such as Flamborough. This also means I can get my eye in with something semi-familiar, before tackling the complicated stuff like circles and yarn-overs.

Next week I’ll post some of these graph-paper patterns. (I can’t do that this week as Margaret’s gone off on her annual jaunt to France on a polymer clay jewellery course, and as usual she’s booby-trapped her room and the computer like something out of Home Alone – any attempt to access it and I will end up dangling helpless from the ceiling in a net. Which goes some way to explaining why you’ll need a magnifying glass to read this, as I’m damned if I can discover how to increase the font size. Sorry.) I may even try my hand at a swatch, though I promise nothing – it’s hard to visualise what the patterns will look like in three dimensions.

But on the whole, it’s rather nice not having a project started yet. There’s something about having a gansey you haven’t started that’s like knowing term starts in a week and all your essays will be due, but meanwhile there’s still time to laze around in your underwear and watch daytime TV… Still haven’t decided what to do with the last gansey, by the way – it’s sitting folded up on a box in my study, like a sulky teenager waiting to find out its punishment. For now, it can wait.

In the meantime, having finished the Pickwick Papers I’ve been reading Terry Pratchett’s Jingo. Here’s my favourite exchange so far:

‘Tell me, sergeant, are you of a nautical persuasion?’

Colon saluted again. ‘Nossir! Happily married man, sir!’

‘I meant, have you ploughed the ocean waves at all?’

Colon gave him a cunning look.

‘Ah, you can’t catch me with that one, sir,’ he said. ‘Everyone knows the horses sink.’

2 comments to Week 1: 21-27 September 2009

  • Suzanne


    The moments/days/weeks of reverie that lead up to cast on are indeed the happiest of any project. As long as there is nothing on the needles, the possibilities are myriad and intriguing and one is absolutely confident of being able to produce a masterpiece. All that tends to change once under way…

  • Hi Suzanne,

    Yes, this is the time when everything seems possible, maybe accentuated in this case for me as, for the first time in my knitting life, I’m thinking of creating my own designs and not just copying other people’s.

    As Homer Simpson says, “Now for that happy period between the lie and the time it’s found out…” (Or, in my case, between the grandeur of the concept in my imagination and the inevitable train-wreck that reality will prove to be… But then, as my boss said to me not so long ago, “You’re not really a glass-half-full kind of person, are you, Gordon?”)