Posted on Leave a comment

My Gansey; the knit that nearly broke me.

I’m not sure I’ve shared this here before. It’s the Sennen Cove gansey from the book Cornish Guernseys & Knit-frocks by Mary Wright. I started it last year on my way down to Cornwall on holiday and it’s been a loooong knit.

I’ve wanted to knit a gansey for ages but it seemed particularly timely to start it when I did because we lost my mum last year and it’s through her I get my Cornishness. My ancestors lived at Vellandreath; the men fished out of Sennen Cove for generations, and, amongst much else, including raising squads of children, the women would have earned money by knitting gansies.

Mine has been languishing at the bottom of my wip basket, awaiting its second sleeve (second sleeve syndrome, like second sock syndrome, is definitely a thing, right?), but, I realised with mild panic last week, that it isn’t long until we will are down in Sennen Cove again and I’d planned to wear my gansey on any bad weather days, to property put it through its paces. So I’ve had to get a wiggle on.

Knitting this has given me such a huge amount of respect for my ancestors. Those women were tough! Never before have I felt I might not be able to finish a piece of knitting. I don’t mean that I was bored and might give it up. But, the actual knitting was so physically demanding, I didn’t think I could do it. My poor hands have really suffered. It’s knitted on 2.25mm needles and I haven’t been able to find any that could take the weight of the garment and not wear through my finger tip, including the traditional steel needles. There have been callouses galore, blood, and a good deal of swearing. I now need to wrap a plaster around the top of my index finger on my left hand before I even think about picking up the needles, or else, I haven’t done 20 stitches before my finger tip has a painful split in it.

The knitting has also made my hands ache. I’ve never suffered from sore hands, no matter how long I’ve knit. And there have been occasional weeks, where pretty much all I’ve done is knit. But now I understand what it’s like to get sore hands when you knit. And I’m over it.

Anyhow, like I said. Respect. Heaps and heaps of it.

So, I’m about half way down the second sleeve now and I’m really motoring. There are quite a lot of ends to deal with and I doubt I’ll have time to soak and block it. It’s so dense, I’m not sure it will dry out if I were to block it the way I normally do – pinned onto a towel laid on my bedroom carpet. I’m thinking I need one of those sweater blockers you see used for Shetland knits but given I’m unlikely to ever knit another gansey, that’s quite an indulgence.

So blocking aside, with luck it will be finished before we go on holiday. I look forward to sharing pics of me modelling it in front of fishing boats, in due course!