Friday, May 25, 2007

The road to Aberlady

About 20 minutes further up the estuary from Dunbar on the Firth of Forth is the lovely seaside village of Aberlady. It is more sand, beach and golf course than the gritty working harbour of Dunbar and so it calls for a gentler design in a sea going sweater.

This is also a village from my husband's childhood. When the family didn't go to Dunbar, they went to Aberlady for holidays. In fact my sister-in-law once bought the main floor of a house in Aberlady when she thought that she had grown tired of Edinburgh. Fortunately, we had a chance to visit the house before she sold it - she really could not live outside of Edinburgh - liken to San Francisco as "everybody's favourite city."

Well, I LOVED the house!!! It had a garden that went down to the sea!!! The garden had been neglected for many years and yes, it would take many years to tame it - but when you walked to the bottom of your garden you had the sea. The house, as I remember, was covered in Clamatis and the sourrounding houses were also covered in flowering vines, shrubs, and blossoms of every description. Aberlady might well be consider the garden of the Forth.

I really should have chosen Fiddlesticks Knitting DK in Lady Slipper for the gansey with horizontal panels - however, we had more of the Teal yarn in stock and so we use what there is more of - lest we run out and cannot fill orders because we have indulged ourselves - we are never really free!!

I tried to capture the flowers and the vines in the horizontal motifs, I know that no fisherman worth his codspiece would be caught dead (literally) in this gansey - but what of the fisherwives? - surely they deserve a moment of respite from cables and herringbones.

Anyway, so far I have only had to rip back the front, because I had made the neckline too wide. I have since then finished the neck and picked up to knit the sleeves down to the cuff. I do see a problem ahead. I have to create the eyelet flower upside down. Hmmmmm - let me think about this. More photos later

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Finally, I have finished the 3rd in a series of sweaters from "Knitting in the Old Way" by Pricilla Gibson-Roberts. I have discussed my various detours in other posts and will summarize my knitting journey by saying that this sweater may be constructed in a number of different ways.

1. The way I set out originally with a ribbed beginning. A K10. P 1 interval and the traditional patterned motif at the top.

2. Or begin with a K1. P1 rib; insert a panel of the top pattern after the rib, as I had to do, to make the sweater longer and finish as described in #1. Pictured here.

3. OR begin with a rib; insert a panel & do a K8. P3. interval and finish with the full pattern on top.

4. Omit the rib. Begin with a panel of the top pattern. Do a K8, P3 interval and finish with the full pattern on top

Nothing is ever very simple and once you start you realize there there are many choices that can be made. I am not sure which one I would pick for another go at the sweater but I think I am leaning toward #4 - but then my husband would never wear it - alas the stumbling blocks to great art!

Along the way though, I found a story of why the ganseys were constructed in their classic fashion. A true gansey is completely reversible - back to front that is and not inside out - hence the slit for the neck. When a gansey began to wear at the "front" or on an elbow - let's say, one simply turned it around to wear out the back - which would now be the front and the elbow would be on the other arm - still with me?

More knitted genius - the very plain knitted panel between ribbing and chest design - was there because it could be easily ripped out & re-knit, when the sweater began to wear. ...And the upper patterned areas were strategically placed to add warmth to protect the chest.

Oh did I mention that they were knit on 2.5mm double pointed steel needles in a yarn with a firm twist to repel water. - Go for it.!!!! Actually I used Fiddlesticks Knitting DK - silk & wool - so much more refined!!

But if you really want to experience history go here:

A closer look at the manorhouse gansey says I could have just made the ribbing in Dunbar longer - eeek another choice. Also the bonnie wee Scot that I got to model Dunbar is a year or two older that the model manorhouse managed to snag. Don't tell me that art is all in the mounting and display, rather than the piece itself!

Ahhh - all he needs is a tall ship and a star to steer her by!