My current work in progress:

Stornoway, designed by Alice Starmore from her book Fishermen’s Sweaters, knit in Frangipani 5-ply guernsey wool in the Aran colorway, on a 3.0mm needle.

Archives for December 2011

More Gansey Musings

I have happily recovered from my fatigue of last week, which was due not to illness nor holiday preparations, but a Big Thing at work that had to go off smoothly. It did, happily, and I was able to collapse in a pile on Thursday evening.

When I was on my way home on Thursday I was thinking how great it would be to have a personal chef. If I did, there would have been a light, delicous meal waiting for me. Instead I nuked an Amy’s Kitchen Mexican Bowl in the microwave. While I love Amy’s Kitchen frozen entrees, it was not what I was wishing for. But it was all I felt up to dealing with. So when I win the lottery, I’m hiring a personal chef.

But I digress.

This weekend I pulled out one of the very first books I acquired back in the 1980s when I first immersed myself in my gansey obsession.

This is Cornish Guernseys & Knit-frocks by Mary Wright. It is still available, having been re-printed a few years ago. My copy is the original 1979 edition. I do wonder today how I found books like this back in the 1980s without the help of the internet.

It’s a small book, only 70 pages or so, but an extremely good one, I think. The first part of it has lots of photos and history of ganseys.

And there is a section with 30 different traditional patterns used in Cornish ganseys, both charted and written out.

After the patterns, there are basic instructions on how to knit a gansey. This is a great resource if you want to design your gansey.

Teddy was so inspired by this that he insisted I make him a little hat so he could pretend to be a pirate.

Meanwhile, I finished the back of Cromarty yesterday:

And Lucy has worked herself into a puzzle.


This blog post has been canceled on account of fatigue.

But before I pass out in a heap, check out these awesome stamps on a package sent from Sweden I got the other day:

Lucy is visibly impressed.

Obsession Revisited

As I mentioned in my last post, I went through a gansey-obsessed knitting phase back in the late 1980s, brought on by the Madeline Weston book I acquired. I went all-out: bought the wicked-long wicked sharp dpns and knit at least one gansey from 5-ply guernsey wool in the round with all the gansey features: under-arm gusset, shoulder straps, etc.

I recently started thinking about knitting some of my beloved traditional patterns in non-wool yarns because I am always too warm to wear wool. I remembered that there was a gansey-style sweater in Starmore’s Fishermen’s Sweaters knit from denim yarn: Filey. While I was knitting filey, I started looking for similar patterns using denim yarn and stumbled across this:

This is an old Rowan book (now out of print) called simply Denim, and it has 14 designs by Kim Hargreaves. All the designs are very traditional-looking ganseys. Jackpot!

You can view the 14 designs from this book on Ravelry here.

The book has a few pages of historical information on ganseys, with some great old photos:

And of course color photos of the patterns!

While these are all done in Rowan Denim yarn, they could easily be altered to knit in a yarn that does not shrink.

Back to the project at hand, I’m getting close to the neckline on the back of my Cromarty:

There are a couple of miss-crossed cables in the center panel but by the time I noticed them, I was a good inch beyond that point. It briefly crossed my mind to rip down and fix them, but only briefly. They didn’t bother me enough to do so.

Speaking of not being bothered . . .

Lucy looks like nothing is bothering her, doesn’t she?

Cabling Along and Thinking Ahead

It’s time for me to check in with another progress photo of Cromarty. Here it is:

I’m at the start of the last repeat of the center panel before binding off the center stitches for the neck. The end of the back is in sight!

I had mentioned that I would likely knit a band to sew across the bottom of sweater to add some length. There were a couple of questions about that in the comments. First off — why don’t I simply do another pattern repeat? Two reasons — most importantly, another full pattern repeat of the center panel would make the sweater longer than I want, and a partial repeat would not look good. Secondly, the side panels would not work out properly and they would have to end mid-repeat if I added another center panel repeat.

Another question was why I didn’t knit the bottom band at the start of the sweater. I plan to knit it sideways with the braided cable on it, so it’s easier to do it afterwards. I could have estimated the width of the body, knit the bottom band first, and then picked up stitches and knit the body up from that, but I think sewing the band on afterwards will work better. Because the body is so heavily cabled, it would be difficult to pick up the stitches in such a way that would be neat and even.

While I’ve still got quite a lot of work to do on Cromarty, I’m thinking ahead. I’ve had a particular knitting obsession for 25 years, and it all started when I bought this book in 1986 while I was on vacation in the U.K.:

I knit every gansey in that book back in the 1980s and have always had a particular fondness for gansies. I’ve decided that 2012 will be, for me, The Year of the Gansey. But with a twist.

Stay tuned.

Lucy sez:

“I think 2012 should be The Year of Lucy.”

Holiday Movies

Rather than start this post with another shot of Cromarty with another inch or so of progress, I decided to talk about movies.

Long-time WendyKnits readers (as well as my real-life friends) know that I love classic movies. And I particularly love classic holiday movies. So, inspired by an email discussion with a friend (hi, Sharon!) I started thinking about my favorite holiday movies.

Wikipedia has a fabulous, very comprehensive list of Christmas and Christmas-related movies here. I’ve got lots of favorites, both classic and contemporary

Starting with the classics, in no particular order:

Holiday Affair (1949), starring Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh. I love Robert Mitchum in pretty much any role he played, and this movie has the bonus of a small performance by Harry Morgan (who, sadly, died yesterday) as the police lieutenant.

The Holly and the Ivy, a British drama from 1952 — very hard to find in the U.S. I am lucky to have a copy on DVD. It stars Ralph Richardson, one of my favorite actors of all time, as an English clergyman whose relatives gather at Christmas. The great cast also includes Celia Johnson, Margaret Leighton, and Denholm Eliott (who I had forgotten was in some of the Indiana Jones movies ’til I watched a marathon of them last weekend).

A Christmas Carol — the 1939 version with Reginald Owen as Scrooge. I love that real-life husband and wife Gene and Kathleen Lockhart played the Cratchits and their daughter June played one of the Cratchit children. And Leo G. Carroll was Marley’s ghost.

Scrooge — the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim, who was also a very memorable Scrooge. Mervyn Johns made a great Bob Cratchit, and if you watch closely, you’ll see Patrick Macnee as young Jacob Marley.

The Bishop’s Wife from 1947 — how can you not love a movie that casts Cary Grant as an angel?

And more contemporary films:

The Holiday (2006) — a great chick flick! I love Eli Wallach’s character in this movie and I love how nice Kate Winslet’s character is to him.

Love, Actually (2003) — what a great cast! Many of my favorite contemporary actors in great roles. I love how most of the action in this story takes place in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

There are a number of movies that are great movies but are overexposed so they no longer make my list. For example, It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas. Yeah, I’ll still watch them, but only if there is nothing better available at the same time.

The one holiday movie I loathe and abhor? The 1983 A Christmas Story. I cannot tell you exactly why, but that movie irritates the hell out of me.

There are, of course, many more holiday movies and cartoons and specials. What are your favorites?

Speaking of Holidays

The Potter Craft Holiday Gift Guide is out. I can see lots of books that would make great holiday gifts there, particularly the first one listed under “For Her.” 😉

Obligatory Knitting Content

I’ve made a wee bit of progress on Cromarty. I can’t get much done on weeknights, but I am working on it every night.

Totally Random Photo

My odometer reading this afternoon.

I do love me a palindrome!

Lucy Sez:

“My momma is so embarrassing!”