My friend Erin (of the seaweed adventure) just finished a masters dissertation which heavily featured the story of the muckle meister stoorworm. It’s a traditional Orkney tale, and as well as being entertaining it explains the origins of various landscape features, including Orkney itself. Erin has been pretty vocal in her enthusiasm for this tale over the past while, and it’s inspired those around her. One example is this attractive representation of the stoorworm made by another friend.
And the stoorworm was running through my mind as I considered motifs for my gansey design. What could be more appropriate? I liked the idea of drawing inspiration for a gansey design from a tale so connected to a fishing community. And so, the challenge: how to turn a tale into a jumper?
Stories and ganseys both have motifs, so I set about translating one into the other. I tend to prefer non-representational designs, so I wanted to make gansey motifs that appeared non-representational until one knew the connection to the story. Actually, that is one of the things I like best about traditional ganseys: many of the motifs are based on familiar fishing items (ropes, waves, etc.) but are attractively geometric.
Here are my attempts at representing the stoorworm legend. Left to right, we have the stoorworm’s teeth/islands, the moon and its horns, the stoorworm himself (writhing in pain, head tipped back about to glance off the moon, and tail curled up), and the stoorworm’s forked tongue. At the bottom is my favourite: it can represent the waves of the sea as well as the spoons. I had a spiral to represent the curled up dead stoorworm, but it didn’t really seem to work as a motif.
This was a lot to fit into the gansey, particularly as my taste runs to simpler, less cluttered designs. The design I currently have only uses the moon/horns motif, a teeth/islands motif, and the waves/spoons motif. Apologies that it’s difficult to see, but that’s the best I could get with the faint pencil marks. Just ignore it if you’re not prepared to squint! This section is the upper chest; below this will be stockinette stitch down to a ribbed welt.
I have boldly cast on! I am daunted by the sheer number of stitches involved, but knitting on the steel pins is a joy. Erin has agreed to write up her retelling of the stoorworm story, so hopefully I will be able to post that soon.