I mean, it's not as if I'm a total stranger to the style. I've known ganseys most of my life. Even knitted a few in my time. And some of you may remember an unfinished struggle with Alice Starmore's terrifying Eriskay (perhaps that adjective should be applied to Starmore rather than her design?), which has yet to be resolved - sometime.
Yet reading Reinsel's persuasive seductive text, you get totally carried away with the whole idea. Suddenly life doesn't seem worthwhile without at least one gansey on the needles. The thought of living another year without conquering shoulder straps, underarm gussets, lapover welts is unbearable. You have to make one and now.
And this is where I love this woman. She offers instant gratification (now that I come to think about it, she clearly knew the effect her purple prose would have on fanatical knitters, didn't she?) As by far the best method of playing yourself into the intricacies of gansey-making, she advises that you start immediately on -
A tiny, adorable, miniscule supremo design, only a couple of inches wide. Isn't that just sweet? I'm off to make it immediately. I have some fine Cheviot in natural that will be just right. And she is absolutely spot on of course. By the time you've completed this gansey for a lucky leprechaun, a fortunate goblin, a pouting pixie, you'll have tried and worked out all the usual pitfalls. Great idea and what a good way to learn! Peg, didn't you do something small and fun at your Quadra Island retreat like this? I'm totally hooked on the tempting sample notion. Let's have more.
Oi! you cry. How about all those other projects? Do we detect a case of start-itis? No you do not. In the first place (and Dez will, I know, bear me out here), creating miniature sample ganseys comes under swatching, and swatching, as everyone is aware, is Good Practice, To Be Encouraged (see Kashmir Knitting Summit, Report VII(c), Subsection iii, footnote x). In the second place, I'm using a yarn that has been sitting neglected on the shelf for years - so Reducing Stash, see? And in the third place, none of you trust me in the first place!
And - AND -
I've finished the smock-thingy, so there!
Back view -
- and demonstration that it does indeed work well with armfuls of dogs.
I'm pretty pleased with this one. I'll make it again, maybe a tad wider for comfort. Looks like a sweater, you say? Well, yes, except for the really nice wide neck which allows it to be pulled on and off easily. The pockets too are not all that usual on sweaters, although not unknown. But those of you who suggest that the split sides and the yoke patterning are distinctly reminiscent of ganseys - well, you might have a point. Started this before I saw the Reinsel book though, so perhaps I was wandering in that direction all the time and never knew. Oh how have I lived thus far without gansey-going? How can I sit here typing when a baby gansey is crying out to be born? Soon, soon. Who needs to cook meals, do the ironing, write articles, when baby ganseys are crying? Not me.
Now - how is the Summer of Socks going in the Celtic Memory camp? Not very fast is the answer, I'm afraid. One Pomatomus is complete, the other started. Tried to take a picture of the finished one - it really is rather nice - but the camera is refusing to play.
(I should like to express gratitude at this point, nevertheless, to the Ghost of The Lord Crewe Arms who woke me up nice and early that morning last week so I could work on the sock for several hours.)
The gorgeous Knitivity Watermelon lace socks are going very slowly. Very slowly indeed.
I am trying to accept the fact that I probably started with too fine a needle and should go up a size. I don't want to know this. But I'll have to face it soon. I just hope this scrumptious yarn will forgive me for treating it so badly if I have to frog and start again. But it probably will. It's classy through and through. But at the moment it is taking millions of rows to advance even an eighth of an inch. You can't even see progress. At this rate it will be the next millenium before I finish them. The frogpond it will have to be. I'll weep tears over it, but I'll treat the yarn very gently and promise it to be more careful on the next attempt.
And then there are the Birch Leaf socks, Nancy Bush's lovely design from A Gathering of Lace.
These are progressing rather gradually too. Part of the problem there is that it's a new chart, I'm unfamiliar with the pattern as yet, and it's tiny. I need to take the chart somewhere to get it enlarged to a point where it can be read without recourse to a powerful microscope. That, or chart it out myself on graph paper. Whatever. They're beautiful socks, inspired by some Estonian designs Nancy Bush saw, and I'm working them with homespun yarn that I bought in the Finnish birch woods, so they ought to be perfect. Once I get happy with the chart.
Some of you observed that I was very restrained at Woolfest. Well, you didn't actually see those cones of merino-tencel I got from Andy Hammand, did you? Let me tell you, getting my strangely bulky cabin bag past the eagle-eyed staff at the airport wasn't easy! But Laurie M, when you observed that you saw dyeing adventures ahead, you were spot on! There have been lots of dyeing adventures chez Celtic Memory over the last few days. Pots boiling, microwaves humming, sinks full, dogs with cherry-coloured paws. The merino-tencel you will see in due course - after a basic dyeing, the skeins are now going to get little paintings of this and that to make them into masterpieces. But in the meantime -
here are some skeins of soft roving, dyed up for a Special Project. A project that may well involve FELTING. Yes, courage has returned and another attempt will be made. Not on the French Market Bag - the wounds are still a bit sensitive there - but on another rather nice project. I'll keep you posted on that one.
Now - baby gansey, baby gansey, I hear you calling me... I'm on my way!