Thursday, March 12, 2015

The 9 day gansey

I think there are pix of it on the blog - it was nothing special, Steps and Cable Filey pattern with a 44" chest and something over 700 cable crosses. This was the first sweater that I knit from Wingham  "gansey yarn".  Today, I could knit such a sweater much faster.  And today, I understand how to spin hand spun that produces warmer and more durable fabrics.

I knit it in 9 days/ ~90 hours, on gansey needles/ with sheath.  It was part of a Ravelry intensive knitting session - maybe TdF. I wore it for a few hours and went back, picked up stitches around the neck and knit a turtle neck using a very soft 4-ply yarn on 12" needles/ with sheath. The neck makes it much warmer, but means that it does not vent, so it is too hot to wear into a bar for a beer.

The sleeves were knit without taper to the wrist so they could be turned up when setting and retrieving down rigger weights for salmon fishing. It gives it a "Popeye" look, but it keeps the sleeves out of the water so they do not collect plankton and stink.  There is nothing like eating a sandwich when your sweater cuffs smell like rotting shrimp.

The "bars" are "steps" and the diagonals are cable crosses.  Each stitch panel is 10 stitches.

It has been fishing, sailing, and I have worn it to sleep in the snow many times.  Usually I wear it against the skin.  In foul weather, I wear a commercial rain suit over it.  It kept me warm when I wore it inner-tubing in the Big Sur River. It is now old and thread bare.  At some time, I had to re-knit the bottom of the  hip band.


Ruth B said...

You might want to correct your stated time, Aaron. There is a photo of this gansey on Ravelry, and you state that you took 180 hours to complete it. Or did you just halve your actual time in order to try to impress us with your blinding speed?

Aaron said...

Somebody asked for a pix and I recited from memory - I did not bother to go to the Journal or Ravelry.

You keep saying that is impossible, without checking to see if it is in fact possible. The rule of thumb is that if an old man says something is possible - believe him. If he says something is impossible, he may be wrong.

Lets have a little 9 day knit-along and see what you knit and what I knit!

I promise you, that sweater is a little over 130,000 stitches - and an easy 80 hours of (plain) knitting at that gauge, plus 11 hours for the cable stitches. If you know what you are doing and have good tools, that sweater can be reasonably knit in less than 100 hours - even by a fat old man with palsy. A deft young knitter with bright eyes should be able to knit it in a third of that time.

I may have made a mistake about how long it took me to knit THAT sweater. There was a time when it would have taken me a thousand years to knit such a sweater. Now, it takes me something under a hundred hours to knit such a sweater. I knit that sweater sometime between those two bench marks.

Am I going to go look up the detail? No, I am going to put a corned beef on to steam, Pride and Prejudice on the TV and knit for 5 h 23 m. at a gauge of 8.4 spi on a sweater that for various reasons will take well over 100 hours. For example, to get gauge, the yarn must be knit on larger tubular stainless steel needles that look much like my gansey needles, but are only half as fast. Hazel Tindell ( ) could like knit it with those needles in 60 hr, but she is faster than I am. Well, it is a bin of nice yarn that deserves to to be well knit.

Holin Kennen said...

I have never heard of your "rule of thumb," but I can tell you that any time a man tries to tell me what to do, what to think, or how to behave, that is exactly the moment when I stop believing in anything he might have to say.

Aaron said...


Women use just as many "rules of thumb" as men do. see Do you listen to women? Do you listen to children?

Or, do you not listen to anybody? If you do not listen, then you likely do not learn. If you do not learn, then you are neither asking good questions or providing good answers.

Do you expect anybody to listen to you?

I like to listen to two kinds of people - those with good questions and those with good answers. I do not care if they are Man, Woman, or Child.

Aaron said...

Knitting a gansey in 9 days is something like running a marathon - one needs to train or one's muscles will just give out long before the finish line.

You need to train enough that you have the ergonomics just right.