Return of the bees, and gansey sleeves

When I posted last week I thought our bee problem was at an end. Alas, it was not that easy. A few bees came back on Monday afternoon and buzzed around the chimney pot, so we had to light the fire in the spare room again. After another 4 hours or so of inhaling smoke we decided it was safe to stop. The process had to be repeated on Tuesday afternoon, and then the hot spell came to an abrupt end with thunder and hail. No bees have been seen since and the local beekeepers told us that they seldom return after a period of three days has elapsed, which means we should be bee-free now.

Hoovering up all the ash around the fireplace was the final straw for our Dyson vacuum cleaner, the pressure relief valve on the top started blowing. I took it all apart to look for blockages but found none. The washable filter was basically clean, having been washed only a couple of months ago. But the post motor filter was grubby and I swapped it for a new one. In theory these post motor filters last the lifetime of the machine, but after something like 15 years of use I thought it was time for a change. This didn’t solve the problem though. I tried to disassemble the pressure relief valve but didn’t have a suitable tool. Then I resorted to searches of internet forums to see if others had had the same issue.

Something that came up in several of the forum threads was the difficulty in getting the casing that holds the washable filter fully clean. Apparently, you should be able to see light through it when you hold it up. I took it out again, removed the foam filter from it and held it up to the window. Not even a glimmer of light. This casing had been washed recently along with the filter and it wasn’t obviously dusty, the dirt must have been trapped within it. I soaked it in the sink for half an hour and then tackled it with washing up liquid – verboten, according to the Dyson manual. After a lot of elbow grease it looked a bit cleaner. While I was at it, I took the cyclone out of the machine and washed it under the cold tap until all the tiny holes were clear of dust, and I washed the foam filter for good measure. By the time everything was dry, it was possible to see some light through the filter housing and, thank goodness, the Dyson is working perfectly now I have reassembled it.

Sleeveless gansey

Sleeveless gansey

I haven’t done anything on my gansey since finishing the shoulder straps, other than trying it on. It is close-fitting, as is traditional, and it should cling less once it has been blocked, but it does fit and the length is about right.  Eureka!

On Friday night when I’d finished work I finally got around to thinking about the sleeves. I got very confused because one of the patterns I was looking at counted half the length of a gusset within the “depth of armhole” measurement and another one didn’t, instead including the half gusset in the “length to underarm”. Once I’d realised that and confirmed that the sleeve width at the top needs to be twice the armhole depth (not including gussets), it was plain sailing. It’s obvious when you look at a diagram, so I drew a one-armed gansey.

Gansey diagram

Gansey diagram

The process I used to calculate how many stitches to pick up (I’m knitting the sleeves from the shoulder down) and when to decrease was as follows.

Armhole depth B/2 (not including the gusset) = 9″

So required sleeve width at shoulder B = 18″

Required sleeve length F (measured while wearing the sleeveless gansey) = 20″

Minimum sleeve circumference G (measured on a Guernsey that fits well) = 9.5″

Cuff length K (again, measured on a Guernsey) = 3.5″

Now, my tension is variable depending on whether I’m knitting in the round or on straight needles, but the sleeves will be in the round and I’m getting somewhere around 31 sts and 40 rows to 4″.  So I will need to pick up (18/4) x 31 = 139.5 sts. I’ll go for 141 sts because the herring net stitch pattern down the centre will draw it in a little. I have 19 sts left on holders from the shoulder straps, which measure 3″ wide (yes, a different tension, they were knitted on 2 needles). That means I have to pick up (141 – 19)/(18 – 3) = 8.1 stitches per inch on each side of the armhole, between the underarm gusset and the shoulder strap.

To get down to 9.5″ above the cuff, I’ll need to decrease ((18 – 9.5)/4) x 31 = 66 sts, and I don’t want to start decreasing until the gussets are complete. The first half, knitted as part of the body took 30 rows, and the total length of the sleeves to the cuff will be 20 – 3.5 = 16.5″, which means 165 rows (10 rows per inch). I therefore have 165 – 30 = 135 rows to do the decreases, or about 1 stitch decreased every other row. I will decrease one at each end of every fourth row.

I’ve decided to keep the sleeves fairly simple in design, with just the herring net pattern down the middle. I may stop it at the elbow, perhaps with a definition ridge, I’ll see how it is looking when I get that far. On that basis, and allowing for the shaping set out above, I have charted out the sleeves.

Gansey sleeve

Gansey sleeve

Now, off I go. I’ve joined in the second 500g ball of Frangipani yarn which means I am now carrying around 1kg. My gansey knitting will probably be confined to the house from now on.

After a few days of summery weather we are back to relentless rain. I am fed up with mud everywhere, the lawn and garden weeds growing almost visibly and a cat that has to have the slugs cut out of his fur every time he comes in. (Maine Coons aren’t the slightest bit concerned about rain and will happily sit outside in it all day.) With another Bank Holiday approaching, maybe we will see some more sun.

About yorkshirecrafter

I live and work in West Yorkshire.  I've always enjoyed crafts of all types, from woodwork to lace-making.  I also enjoy anything mathematical, which makes knitting a favourite pastime, especially complicated designs.  I've been advising businesses and industry on environmental matters for 30 years and also have an interest in green living, especially where it saves me money. I live with my husband and our Maine Coon in a 100-year-old cottage that constantly needs something doing to it.  Fortunately, I enjoy DIY too.
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1 Response to Return of the bees, and gansey sleeves

  1. Pingback: How to design and knit a gansey | YorkshireCrafter

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