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Week X+1

So, there’s the back finished, and the accompanying shoulder straps. On the whole, the pattern is coming out more strongly than I’d imagined – especially in strong light – and the pattern bands are deep enough to really allow the eye to catch the diagonal lines. So no need to rip this one up after all!

The gansey is a wide one, 47-48 inches probably, or 212 stitches each for the front and back (not counting the 2 seam stitches). So I’ve followed tradition and divided it into thirds for the 2 shoulders and the neck (or 71 stitches for each shoulder and 70 stitches for the neck – since 212 doesn’t exactly divide into thirds). The shoulders are the good old “rig and fur” ribbing, my default shoulder pattern.

By the way, the more observant among you will have noticed that this is a half-patterned gansey, i.e., a plain body and a patterned yoke. Traditionally the yoke and the gussets would start together, halfway up the body. Now, I still want to follow this principle, but given that my ganseys tend to be a bit longer than the old ones were, there’s a complication: half of 27 inches is 13.5 inches, and that might result in a deeper armhole than I want.

Since I want this gansey to be as traditional as I can make it, I’ve decided to go ahead and start the gusset and yoke at the halfway point; but in order to ensure that the armhole isn’t too deep, I’m making the gusset longer instead of the armhole (which will be just 8 inches plus the shoulder strap). And in order to ensure that the gusset doesn’t become too wide, I’ve increased once every 5th row (instead of every 4th row, as is my usual practice). The result is a longer, narrower gusset than my ganseys usually show. I just need to remember that the gusset will extend further down the sleeve than normal, too, so I’ll have to be careful about my rate of decrease when I get to that point.

Meanwhile I’ve been continuing my experiments with sourdough bread. I tried a wholemeal loaf that came out well, but was perhaps a little dry; so my next attempt was a granary loaf with extra water. Well, somewhere down the line I miscalculated, because the dough was so wet that it didn’t so much rise as flow stickily, and my attempts to knead it resembled nothing so much as someone scooping up vomit off the counter with their bare hands. From a distance it must have looked as though I was wresting a particularly tenacious jellyfish, and losing. Still, one of the advantages of wet dough is that it can rise nicely in the oven, and result in a ciabatta-like texture, which was the case here, so I’m counting this one as a success. My new invention – pain de dégueulis.

Finally, yesterday, 12 September, was the centenary of the first performance of Gustav Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, his great explosive celebratory hymn to life and love and the mysteries and splendours of God’s creation. I have no idea whether God really exists or not – even Richard Dawkins admits there is a possibility, however remote – but listening to this great symphony, as so often with Mahler, I’m prepared to give Him (or Her, or It) the benefit of the doubt…

8 comments to Week X+1

  • Annalies

    I like your website, your ganseys are wonderful and also i like Mahler too.
    I can smell your fresh baken bread, my bread is baken in a homemachine.
    English can be better, hope you understand it.
    Greetings from the netherlands.

  • Gordon

    Hi Annalies,

    And thank you for taking the time to post, and for your positive comments (any friend of Gustav is a friend of mine…!). As you will know if you’ve looked at the gallery, I’ve knitted one gansey based on a pattern from the Netherlands (from Urk), and hope to do another before too long.

    I’ve never used a machine to bake bread, but I’m told by friends that they work really well. And as I get interested in “wet” doughs, I don’t think you can knead them as well by hand. (And curiously, the flour on top of my loaf in the picture looks a bit like a map of France.)

    Your English is very good. Better than my Welsh, these days, sadly.

    Best wishes

  • Annalies

    Hallo Gordon,for a longtime i’ve seen your gallery, they all look wonderful, my fav is flambour. II.
    I also knit ganseys, not with needles 2 or 2,5 but 3,5.Yes Urk, we live only 15 km away from Urk.:)But I like the highlands.
    Knead by the hand is now to heavy(?) for me,have done that for years ago, the machine is much easier.
    Have a nice day,

  • Gordon

    Hi again Annalies,

    Yes, I have a very soft spot for Flamborough – in fact there are a cluster of villages just north and south of Whitby on the north-east coast of Yorkshire which I think probably have the perfect combinations of patterns. They’re lovely places to visit, too, if you can find a sunny day!

    I’m told that a machine is much easier for kneading – but at the moment kneading is the closest I get to taking exercise, so I suppose I should make an effort…

    ALl the best,

  • Leigh

    Keep on kneading, Gordon. I bet your bread is great. Love the gansey. Hmmm, Flamborough, I had thought of that to start out on.


    P.S. France? Really Gordon? LOL!

  • Gordon

    Hi Leigh,

    Ah, zo you ‘ave spotted mah leetle joke, non? (OK, sometimes my sense of humour doesn’t, er, translate well…)

    The bread is great fun – I’m bracing myself – tomorrow it’s time to attempt a ciabatta, Italian slipper bread!


  • Hi Gordon,
    can’t believe I have never read this before.
    Love the ganseys and blog and bread and Mahler and….
    Keep up the good work

  • Gordon

    Hi Louise,

    How nice to hear from you – and thanks! And remember – man cannot live by Mahler alone – sometimes there must be Wagner too…

    Hope you continue to drop by now and then & keep in touch,
    Best wishes