I’ve had a busy past few days (it may be summer, but that doesn’t stop there from being paper deadlines!), and have been bad about my Tour blogging. Never fear, the knitting continues, and I’m well into Stage 5 already, even though I have yet to blog Stage 4. But I’m interrupting the coverage of the Tour de Gansey to make my Intermediate Sprint post for the knitalong. I’ve chosen the Knitting option, so now I will proceed to argue for the relevance of a traditional English fisherman’s garment to the Tour de France. Not obvious, you say? Well, here are a few points:
1. The Gansey can be naturally thought of as a series of stages, just as in the Tour de France. Some of these stages (ie, the Cast-On) are short and technical, like a time-trial, others (like the Plain Area) are long but uncomplicated, like the long flat stages of the Tour, and others (like the Pattern Motifs) are both long and arduous, like the mountain stages of the Tour. Viva le Tour de Gansey!
2. The name “gansey” for this traditional garment originated due to its connection to the knitting in the Channel Islands, which (geographically speaking) are closer to France than they are to England! (The Islands also have a number of ties to Norman/French culture, as documented at the Wikipedia link). Here’s the history: Queen Elizabeth I set up knitting guilds on the Channel Islands for the production of knitted hosiery, and the stockinette-based fabric they produced there came to be called “guernsey” or “jersey” (the names of two of the Channel Islands); the slightly altered name “gansey” was subsequently applied to the fisherman’s sweaters that were also stockinette-based, even though these were produced throughout the coastal areas of the UK. For anyone interested in the history of ganseys, I recommend Beth Brown-Reinsel’s book “Knitting Ganseys”, which is the book from which I’ve learned about their history and design.
3. My particular gansey’s Patterned Area was designed (by me!) to evoke aspects of the Tour. While I had to abandon my plans to incorporate a wheel-motif, the Patterned area contains elements that are reminiscent of mountains and tire tracks. The mountains are the motif I’m most proud of, because the mountain stages are my favorite stages of the Tour, and I’ve always had a soft spot for good climbers.
4. While it appears more blue in the pictures I’ve taken, the yarn I’m using for the gansey is actually a deep green-blue. What could be more perfect for the Tour than a Green Gansey, entered under the Green Jersey classification? Not much, I think!
And thus concludes my argument for the Gansey’s Tour connection. What do y’all think?