Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year News

Well, here we are in 2009. I can hardly believe it. Time seems to fly by and the end of the year always seems to morph into a complete blur. We still have snow on the front lawn, but it is melting away now. There are big solid clumps left where my son had build his moguls (down the side by a fence) and the sledging bank which was positioned at the edge of the drive to stop the snowboards and inner tubes from careering into the neighbours shrubbery.

The snow had a lot to answer for in the gift department this year too. It prevented Mr Brown ( the UPS delivery guy) from bringing some of the presents on time. What a total mess that has been. By Christmas Eve I was making coupons for the children to open the next day and by New Years Eve we were all watching for any sign of a brown van! Thank goodness we are solution orientated. It's a pity UPS aren't! Our package finally arrived today having been delivered to the wrong address three streets away yesterday. Thank goodness for honest friends/neighbours.

I was lucky enough to get some wonderful knitting gifts this Christmas, notably a lot of books. I have been reading "The Opinionated Knitter" by Elizabeth Zimmermann and have been totally inspired by her. Coupled with Gladys Thompsons "Patterns For Guernseys, Jerseys and Arans", I have felt brave enough to cast on for my own gansey. I am using some unbleached Fisherman's Wool by Lion Brand that I bought in the summer from JoAnne's in a sale. It smells of lanolin and brings back memories of the traditional blue guernsey sweater I had as a child.

The most inspiring thing of all though is that I've cast on without a pattern. I am just knitting it blind; following tradition and creating as I go. It's a little nervewracking, but at the same time really quite exhilarating. I decided to knit a vented welt and I wanted it to have the hardwearing texture that I remember from my childhood gansey. When I made my swatch, I got about 7sts to an inch with 3.75mm needles so I have calculated that I'll need about 288 sts to get a suitable size. This made 144 sts each side. As I wanted to cast on in double yarn and it looked really bulky when I tried it with that many stitches, I ripped back and cast on just 72 sts in cable cast on with double yarn on a 2.75mm circular needle ( so that the welt would be in a coarser fabric). Then, on my first row, I knitted into both loops of each cable, thereby creating my 144 sts. The result has been a beautiful, decorative and hardwearing edge which looks great on my vented garter stitch welts. When my computer is finally over its problems (just pictures to sort out now) I'll show it to you.

Now I'm knitting the main body in stockinette stitch up to the arm gussets. On a whim last night, I knitted my initials into the fabric as some of the fisherman's wives did in England in days gone by. It seems a fitting tribute to my ancestors and the legacy they've left us.


Amy said...

Congratulations on your braveness for making something without a pattern. I just recently did that and while it didn't quite turn out the way that I wanted, I'm better for the experience. At least that's what I keep telling myself each time I'm tempted to rip out stitches. It still annoys me that it's not the way I wanted it!

Rudee said...

Happy New Year Jane. I like the opinionated knitter too. Some day, I'll be able to completely understand everything she wrote. For now, I look for Clifs Notes to go with her patterns.

Can't wait to see your fisherman's sweater.

Kimmie said...

What a cool edge you describe. I will love to see how that looks. My goal is to be able knit a top down sweater in the round someday. That was how my Grandmother knit her beautiful sweaters with hand spun wool from their time of living in the alps. I think there is a "thread" running through us from our grandmothers, etc...... your gansey is a very special project indeed!

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