Friday, 12 August 2016

The Gansey


The Gansey is Finished

This was an epic project.

Weighing at almost a kilo and worked in 2mm needles (double-pointeds and circular) in a 4ply Alpaca which behaved more like a 3ply, I was more than relieved to get to the end of the cuffs and bind off.

There ARE mistakes and I know where they are.

I had wanted to study "The Gansey" for a time now. The simple textural landscape placed in columns and rows made for an honest piece of work. I read Michael Pearson's book and Alice Starmore's book and absorbed many details. Being half-irish and from the North of England, I was familiar with the myth surrounding the garments. I was also happy enough to create a Gansey that had no definite identity.....just a study project. I had no family or regional binds to consider, I was free to re-create with a purpose.


Sleeve pick-up was a little ripply.
This is where Cathy Scott's StitchMastery is invaluable. I could happily fill up all the squares with whatever columns of stitches I wanted. I chose verticals simply because the wearer wanted an all-over pattern and verticals looked good. If there is ever another Gansey it will have the half-pattern around the chest and plain for the rest.....!


Short rows gave the back of the neck a bit of height to allow the collar to tip forward.
Alpaca was a good choice for our climate; while cold right now, we do not need dense wool with the weight for such a large and worked garment. The lightness of the yarn meant pattern could give depth without becoming bulky....and, while it may not be a pleasant saving grace, the fine gauge meant I could hide odd twists and miss-placed moss stitches without it being apparent. This would not be possible with an 8ply hard-twist wool.

Alpaca also has a slight halo as evident in the photo.

Cutting the steek to create an armhole.
The Gansey was worked in the traditional method: Knit in the round to the collar-bone with ribbed columns alongside the steek, saddle-strap created and worked back and forth on DPNs, stitches picked up around arm-hole, steek cut, saddle-strap stitches placed on arm-hole stitch circular needles, and sleeves worked shoulder to cuff. NO SEAMS.

Start of saddle-strap on shoulder.
I look at the work now and I realise how pains-taking it was.

Some very unlady-like words were spoken over this gansey!

Way back at the start with the pattern chart.
I will continue with my Aran studies from here on. 

The Gansey informed the Aran.

My other interest in Irish history is being inspired by the knitting. The Congested Areas Board in Ireland in the mid 19th century set up a development scheme for the West of Ireland where entire villages in the North-East of England and Scotland were re-located to the Aran islands with boats, nets and given housing. The idea was to have the local Islanders work as boat hands and fishermen alongside the imported fisher families and to learn the Herring Fishing trade. The thinking was, the imported families would share their skills, and the islanders would learn the trade and continue it on thereby becoming self-sustaining. 

It also solved the problem too of over-fishing of the herring in the waters of the North-East of England and Scotland and the subsequent hardship endured by the villages along that stretch of coast. Herring was plentiful in the North Atlantic at that time.


Picture was found with Google. These women knitted while waiting for the fleet to come in. 


What actually happened was that the women got to chatting...and then knitting was brought out....and then stitches were copied, explained, tried out, and Ganseys were explained, and one thing led to another.

The Aran jersey was always there as a country garment and appearing in the Country shop window in Dublin in 1940's.

It was the Clancy Brothers appearing on Network Television in USA that rocketed its global appeal.

Detail of saddle-strap going into sleeve cuff.
Up-Coming

-Am knitting blankets with wool sliver on broomkstick needles....and not really enjoying it. You'd think I would after the fussiness of the gansey, but I'm finding it difficult to maintain a good even gauge and shape.

-Have a studio visit coming up over Labour Weekend and it has forced me to generally be organised with displays and stuff. 

-Quietly thinking of a cardigan for myself....yes me.

In Blessing

Many thanks and take care

Fiona MacBride

Tin Shed Yarns








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