From Sheep to Gansey
I thought for today’s Yarn Along-I should give an update on the progress of my VT Grand View Farm Gansey. I have gathered several books to inspire me, and to instruct me on my quest to design and knit our farm gansey. Choosing which stitch patterns to include did not take long, however, my biggest challenge has been trying to figure out the best way to graph my design. I imagine, these fishermen did not need graphs or patterns or books to knit their own sweaters. They simply needed to pick up their knitting needles and yarn, and their hands knew the way to go.
|Copying and Taping Patterns to Graph Paper|
A couple of years ago, I had farmstay guests at our farm from Switzerland. These two sisters, went into my yarn studio, and began designing sweaters in the air. I stood back and watched, unable to keep up with their thoughts, and unable to understand a word of their German. They would line the yarn up along their arms and across their chests, exchanging one skein for another until they had it just right. Then, they began discussing cardigans, color-work, and cables until at last, they each had a huge armful of wool yarn and smiles on their faces. Reverting back to my language, they began telling me the story of how when they were young, they had to knit mittens and sweaters for the men who were in the war (World War II). They said that their grandmother taught them to knit without a pattern. They could construct a sweater in their minds, and just sit down and knit it. They asked about the sweaters that I knit, and I had to admit that I had never knit cables before.
So, the next morning, after they ate their breakfast, they insisted that I come into the B&B for a knitting lesson on cables. We sat side by side on my sofa, she speaking German, showing my hands how to do the stitching, and I speaking English, following along. We laughed at the differences in how we knit, English vs. Continental, and we laughed at the terms we each used to mean “knit” and “purl”. With knitting needles in hand, there was no language barrier, our hands spoke the same language.
|Natural Gray Yarn or Over-Dyed Yarn?|
So the past couple of weeks, I have longed for another knitting lesson from these two sisters from Switzerland. I am sure they could get me started on my project without the use of books, excel spread sheets, graphing paper, or colored pencils. Alas, they are not here, and so I have stumbled along, trying to figure out the best way to go. I have graphed the front and back out on graph paper, mainly to help me figure out how many repeats I will need for each design, but in the end, I will most likely use written instructions while knitting. I found it easiest to copy the graphed designs from my copy of Knitting Ganseys, and tape them to my graph paper. This proved much faster, and easier on my hand, as opposed to coloring in each little square on the paper.
In Beth Brown-Reinsel’s book, she says that she likes to knit the body of the sweater before starting to graph the sleeves. I like that idea-so I can begin to see some progress before tackling more graphing and figuring. I am toying between whether or not to use a natural gray or blue yarn. I have over-dyed some of our gray yarn with blue, and love the results. I also love the gray and blue together so am pondering a way to combine both yarns in the sweater. Today, I will knit a swatch, just to be sure of my gauge and hopefully, by next week, I will have begun knitting!
|My Flock of Sheep|
My resources for inspiration and encouragement:
Knitting Ganseys by Beth Brown-Reinsel
Super Stitches Knitting by Karen Hemingway
Knitting in the Old Way by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts
VT Grand View Farm Yarn
My farm and my flock of Romney sheep
My friend, Jennifer, at The Sachem Farmhouse in CT
The new friends who encourage me from Yarn Along