Over at the knitalong blog, they’ve asked us, for our final Sprint, to post a highlights package. What could be more perfect for someone who is currently without a camera? So, in the spirit of the montages of crashes, finishes, and other exciting moments they frequently show when they have no new content to fill the airtime with, I present to you…
Highlights of le Tour de Gansey, part deux!
Before the start of this second edition of le Tour de Gansey, there was much speculation (mostly by your dear commentator here) as to whether this knitter would actually be able to complete a self-designed, adult-sized (albeit small adult-sized) traditional gansey, using the techniques laid out in Beth Brown-Reinsel’s “Knitting Ganseys”, in the time provided by the three weeks of the Tour de France. She had already shown the ability to complete a much shorter tour of gansey construction, landing herself in the polka-dot jersey last year for those efforts, and there had been a great deal of preparation put in for this year’s more challenging efforts. But still the question remained: would this knitter meet her goal of creating a gansey that fit her, with motifs designed to evoke her favorite aspects of le Tour (the mountains, of course!), and earn herself the Maillot Verde in the span of three weeks?
Stage One: Cast-On
The first stage was short and technical, and our knitter, with plenty of steam left in her engine room at this early stage, completed it ably, using the Channel Island Cast-on to lay the foundation for a lovely picot-edge to the garter welts to come in the next stage:
Stage Two: Garter Welts
The second stage of the Tour offered a bit more of an adventure, and our knitter showed great promise by skillfully executing the tricky twist and turns (and avoiding all “traffic furniture” in the process, thankfully!):
Stage Three: Plain Area, Seam Stitches, and Definition Ridge
In the third stage, our knitter was finally put into a spot of bother. While the seam stitches and plain area went off without a hitch, she was done in by poor stitch definition at the Definition Ridge, and the first frogging of le Tour had to take place:
Stage Four: Pattern Motifs
Having righted herself after her little mishap in the previous stage, our intrepid knitter blazed ahead on the fourth stage, executing the planned pattern motifs to perfection:
At the Sprint Point along the way, we learned about the extensive connections between a traditional English fisherman’s sweater, and the most famous French cycling competition.
Stage Five: Underarm Gussets
In this fifth stage, our knitter began what was probably her most favorite element of the entire Tour…the Underarm Gussets:
Stage Six: Shaped Neckline
In this sixth stage, our knitter demonstrated that she had learned from her experiences in another Grand Sweater Tour, and gave her gansey a shaped neckline instead of the slightly more traditional slit-neck:
Stage Seven: Shoulder Straps and Joins
Bad weather made photo coverage of this stage completely impossible, and apparently our knitter-commentator decided it was not worth covering at all! My apologies to all those who would have been interested in this stage!
Nevermind that, the coverage of Stage Seven had simply been mis-categorized! Which is a relief, because your commentator here swore she could remember posting about it. In this stage, the left front shoulder and back shoulder sections were joined with a perpendicular cabled strap, and the knitter was quite pleased to be able to try the sweater on without having to hold up both shoulders:
We also had coverage of the intermediate Sprint Point, in which we learned all about the Channel Islands and their connection (or not) to the traditional Gansey.
Stage Eight: Sleeve #1
In this eigth stage of le Tour, our knitter completed the first of two sleeves. It was at this point that our knitter began to weary a bit, and was jealous of the cyclists, who actually got a rest day. It was only visions of
Paris a completed Gansey on the horizon that kept her turning those needles. The highlight of this stage, for the knitter at least, was the completion of the Underarm Gussets, giving her sweater the Prettiest Armpits Ever:
Stage Nine: Sleeve #3
Our knitter managed to make it to this ninth stage of the Tour, only one stage away from the finish, before having a major crash. But this one was a doozy. Our knitter tumbled over the handsomest piece of “traffic furniture” ever, in the process losing hold of her camera, which was seriously damaged in the fall (as was our knitters’ hip, but let’s forget about that). This was a devastating blow, but, as all good knitters must sometimes do, she reached into her suitcase of courage, turned her needles in anger for awhile, and plowed ahead, busting out her Gimp (oh, how appropriately named!) skills (or lackthereof) to create the visuals that her camera no longer could:
Stage Ten: Finish Neckline
In this final stage, our knitter completed le Tour with a romp around the neckline, giving her gansey a folded, ribbed neckline for comfort and flexibility, and then washed and dried her Gansey to bloom the wool and create her beautiful finished sweater (with two days to spare!). Now all that’s left is to find someone to photograph the finished piece for an Epilogue post. (EDIT: My mother took some pictures of the gansey with her camera, but forgot to bring along the cable needed to the get the pictures off. So there are pictures, it will just be a week or so before I can share them!).
So, what have I learned through le Tour de Gansey, part deux? Well, most obviously, I learned that I am capable of knitting an entire adult sweater in less than 3 weeks, which is a feat I honestly doubted I could achieve. I feel like I’ve grown quite a lot as a “designer”, and have even more confidence than ever in my ability to modify and create patterns. I’ve learned even more than I did last year about traditional gansey construction, and dove further into the history of Ganseys and the regions from whence they came. I learned that I can pick myself up again after hardship, and that I can be resourceful when my usual ways of doing things are compromised.
All in all, I’d say this was a most excellent Tour, wouldn’t you?