Beatrice Gansey (Moray Firth Gansey Project) - shoulder straps

Having finished the back and front of the gansey, I had expected the shoulders to ultimately be grafted together but without the aid of diagrams (to be fair, there is a picture of the finished shoulder at the end of the pattern but it didn't entirely help) I was scratching my head a little over the written instructions before realising that this was a saddle shoulder, which I have come across before.

Googling 'shoulders for Beatrice Gansey' didn't turn up anything helpful, so I'm posting these pictures in case they help someone at the same stage.

This is my first finished shoulder, which I'm pretty proud of!
 So after finishing the front and back, those have markers placed to mark the shoulders and neck (in my case, pattern A, 27/43/27). The pattern asks you to cast on 17 on a separate needle. This is where they'll fit, 'bridging' a space between the front and back.
 First, join that last cast-on stitch by knitting into the first stitch of the front/back (they're the same) and slip the last cast-on stitch over it. (makes a nice secure join).
 turn the work, slip that stitch you've just made and then purl across those new co stitches. Purl the last of those together with the first stitch from the other shoulder.
Then turn the work again and start working chart D.

A tip that would have been helpful is that the first stitch of each knit row of chart D is the one that you slip, and the last on that chart is the one that you 'slip, knit, pass slipped stitch over' together with the next shoulder stitch. On the purl rows, again the first stitch of the chart is the one that you slip, and the last stitch of the chart is the one that you p2tog with the next shoulder stitch.

This way, you 'eat up' the shoulder stitches of the back and front one by one until you reach your markers.

I now know that Googling 'saddle shoulder' would have turned up some videos (some of these use a provisional cast-on which does complicate things a little further, but it may be a good idea if, like me, you don't like picking up).

Update - Beatrice Gansey

Following a visit to Stella Ruhe's Dutch Gansey exhibition earlier in the year, I decided that I had to make one.

 I scored this amazing stuff at Fibre East from john Arbon. It's their 'Harvest Hues' blend in Pomegranate.
This card from the exhibition shows that although Ganseys are traditionally in blue, they look great in other colours. I spun the jumper quantity of fibre during Spinzilla 2017 (700g of this fibre, making over 2000 yards, which should easily make the jumper and maybe a pair of wristies to match.) I made fauxlags / punis  from the fibre, making for a fast spin. The resulting yarn is quite woollen. Whether Ganseys should be made from woollen or worsted yarn seems to be arguable, I'd welcome comments.
I chose the Beatrice pattern by Victoria Graham, which happens to be a free one. This is the first cast-on. At the suggestion of a friend, I went with the 'guernsey cast-on' for the second start.
It took two starts. I did swatch, I went up a needle size (from 2.7mm to 3mm) because the swatch was a little small. After a while, the first attempt was obviously too big, and so I ripped and started again with the smaller pattern size. Not a problem, I'm loving the knitting, and m now onto the long stockinette body section. 

The tradition of ganseys encourages customisation. I've gone with the twisted rope motif around the waist. I like it. I'll consider the other symbols on the pattern when I get to them.

If you'd like to 'gansey-a-long', I've started a thread here. It would be good to share progress and thoughts.

Very informal gansey knit-a-long

Inspired by a visit to the Stella Ruhue Dutch Gansey exhibition earlier in the year, I spun a jumper-quantity of yarn during Spinzilla with the intention of knitting one of these iconic garments.
I chose Beatrice, which happens to be free, and have cast on.
If anyone’s working on something similar, it would be great to share progress and thoughts. I've set up a thread on Ravelry for sharing.

Postcard from Wonderwool Wales 2017

What a great day. By the time stallholders were starting to cash up I really didn't want to leave. It was at that point I took the long shots of the room, giving the impression that there weren't many people there. But the opposite is the case, it really had been heaving during the day.

I don't seem to have taken many pictures of the exhibitors this time. I guess I was just too focussed on the offerings.

These two purchases were made for each other. Another spindle from IST was inevitable, and I've long wanted a Russian support spindle. These bowls were beautiful and this one just about matched this spindle. The fibre is camel/silk from Freyalyn, dyed the most beautiful gold colour.

onion-skin natural dyeing

Inspired by January's pages of Fran's calendar, Plant Dyes for All Seasons, I fetched out the bag of onion skins I've been collecting for years.

I have tried in the past, with limited success and I guess the bag of skins grew and grew because I wasn't keen to try again. (I remember a horrible bright yellow colour).

The calendar says that this dye is 'substantive' which means that you don't need a mordant to stick the dye to the fibres. But if the mordant makes the dye faster (fade more slowly) then I reckoned it was worthwhile,  so I soaked my wool in alum overnight. I'm not sure what the wool is. I think this is yarn I spun during last year's Spinzilla (or possibly the year before) and it's probably Shetland combed top.

After boiling my first batch of skins (you're not supposed to boil dyestuff generally, but Fran has noted somewhere that she achieved a nice deep colour after boiling some onion skins) I was amazed at the deep reddish-brown. But disappointed at the result. The yarn looked yukky-brown, and even less pleasant after rinsing.

I had loads of skins and so made a few more batches of the dye and dipped the yarn again and again, trying to deepen the colour. It did work, to some extent, but not the deep reddish brown I'd hoped for. The yarn looks pretty dark in this picture, but much colour rinsed out and by the time it was dry, I had more of a caramel colour.

It's a nice colour, maybe with a hint of the 'turmeric yellow' about it in places, but generally very tasteful.

Finished project, handspun socks

This is a very long-term project, partly because I've been putting this aside in favour of other projects, and partly because I knitted three socks in order to get a pair.
The first sock I finished was way too long in the foot (you have to start the heel a long while before you'd think) and too long in the leg (I don't like them too short). I'd then used more than half the yarn!

So after pulling out most of that first sock, then carefully halving my yarn, off we went again.

It's a great pattern, Coralicious Socks, I really enjoyed knitting it (luckily). It's toe-up, my favourite way, I love the lace pattern and the 'flap/gusset' heel has this slip-stitch pattern at the back.

I spun the yarn by spindle (which I always love doing, it's therapeutic, and produces really good yarn). It's a luxury blend from picperfic's club, colourway Monet's Pond. There's more variation in the colour than there looks in the pictures.

You can see that there's quite a chunk of lighter colour in the leg of one sock. I think this must have been before I started 'fractal spinning' or splitting the two plies differently to better mix up the colours in the plying.  

Finished (almost!) Cowichan-style jacket.

I'd had it in mind to make a Cowichan-style jacket last year, and found a wonderful fleece at the Bakewell Wool Gathering. It's Jacob so it's provided black, white, and grey (a blend of the two). the fleece became a very soft yarn when carded and made into a low-twist fat single. The feel of the fabric is lovely (and a bit heavy!)
 A jumbo flyer would have been a big help here!
 After starting, I decided that I didn't like the thunderbird design included with my pattern, and made up my own personalised charts featuring H P Lovecraft's Cthulhu. A face for the back, and a side-view of the seated stone idol for the fronts and sleeves.

 I've been having an amazing conversation with a HSN reader from British Columbia. I've learned that it's fine to personalise these garments, but that the Cowichan people have registered the name for this style of knitwear. So as with Champagne or (close to my heart) Melton Mowbray pork pies, a Cowichan sweater is one that's made by the Cowichan families. So it's impossible for me to make a Cowichan sweater, but I'm told that it's fine to describe it as 'Cowichan-style' which I will certainly do from now on.

I've also learned that the traditional jumpers are made in one piece, not seamed as mine is here. There's a trade-off here. Knitting back and forth gave me the opportunity to use intarsia, so as to not carry the black across large sections of white. However, I'm also told that the traditional way is to weave every other stitch - which makes a very thick and robust fabric. That also means that every stitch is a knit stitch with the obvious advantages there.

I said in the title that it's (almost) finished. I've not sewn in the zip or woven in all the ends. This is because I think I'm going to wear it through January and February at home (it is incredibly warm) and then pull it out in order to knit another with the same yarn.