Knitting a Gansey. 
A gansey or Guernsey (from the Channel Isles) is the traditional woollen jumper worn by seamen. Usually kitted by their wives the tight twisted wool keeps out wind and sea spray. 
In flame flicker and kitchen light, 
she snicks, slides, dips. 
Needles tap like the rattle 
of dice or chatter of teeth. 
A twist, loop through. 
Thoughts in time to the click, slip 
and his fate hangs on luck. 
As did his Dad and his before. 
There’s a stitch for his life, 
one for his love, 
one for his ongoing safety. 
Hope twists into every loop 
as the gansey grows, 
on four needles in the round. 
a long woollen mouth, 
body-wide, cosy, and sleeves 
are muscled in, 
with her elbows tucked rib-tight 
needles like swords, clashing. 
She knits for his warmth, 
knits for his health, 
knits for his next return. 
As it grows she thinks of how 
it will encase him. 
Keep out North Sea wind and salt spray. 
She sees the garment grow, 
expand as they have grown. 
A stitch for a child, a stitch for a ring, 
a stitch for a long-held marriage. 
In flame flicker and kitchen light 
she holds his face in her mind. 
Knows his smile, his smell, 
his arms about her. 
Knits a stitch for his eyes, 
a stitch for his mouth 
a stitch for his fisherman’s heart. 
Michele Byrne