Of all the things people come into the store asking about, a book about ganseys is probably near the top of the list. These classic sweaters, also known as guernseys, were developed along the coast of England and Scotland in the nineteenth century.
Designed to be worn by hard working fishermen, ganseys are super sturdy and thoughtfully constructed – all the way down to such details as the underarm gussets, hem style, and carefully planned textured stitch patterns. Don’t let that intimidate you, though! In Beth Brown-Reinsel’s Knitting Ganseys - Revised and Updated, each element of these beautiful sweaters is clearly explained and demonstrated. Along with all the knowledge and skills needed to design your own gansey sweaters, this book includes a number of modern, wearable patterns to get you inspired.
Knitting Ganseys - Revised and Updated is the perfect reference book for all things gansey, and it’s laid out much the same as how the author teaches her classes. Brown-Reinsel has you knit a tiny sampler sweater to learn all the necessary elements: Each step of making your sweater gets its own chapter, which gives in-depth details on different styles, techniques and history. By the time you’ve finished with your miniature gansey, you’ll have all the know-how needed to get started on your own full sized sweater!
After teaching you the history and techniques behind these traditional sweaters, the author includes a handful of modern patterns that will get you in the gansey mood. Here are a few highlights:
The worsted weight Musician gansey above keeps it traditional with drop shoulders and underarm gussets. Worked in the round from the bottom up, the body is split after completing the underarm gussets and worked back and forth from there. The shoulders are then joined, and the sleeves are picked up and worked in the round from shoulder to cuff.
Sizes: 34.5 (38.5, 42.5, 46.5, 50.5, 54.5)” chest circumference
Gauge: 16 sts and 24 rows to 4″ in St st using size US 9 needles.
Yarn: 857 (1047, 1193, 1317, 1492, 1673) yards worsted to Aran weight yarn, such as Bartlettyarns Maine Wool Yarn, Tuffy Canadian Sock Yarn or Peace Fleece Yarn.
Another traditional gansey, the Eriskay sweater utilizes some more complex techniques for better fit and appearance. If you choose to, you can use short rows in the back to keep the garment from riding up. Later, shoulder gussets open up the otherwise simple rectangular neck.
Sizes: 35.25 (39, 44, 47.75, 52.25)” chest circumference
Gauge: 27 sts and 40 rounds to 4″ in St st on size US 2 needles.
Yarn: 1538 (1778, 2093, 2366, 2719) yards sport weight yarn such as JaggerSpun Maine Line 2/8 Yarn.
Such a beautiful pattern, all done in knits and purls! This Alouette dress is constructed like a typical gansey, with just enough shaping to make it a flattering tunic-style fit.
Sizes: 35.5 (41, 43.5, 48, 50.75)” chest circumference.
Gauge: 18 sts and 26 rows to 4″ in St st on size US 7 needles.
Yarn: 1413 (1737, 1843, 2172, 2298) yards worsted to Aran weight yarn such as Bartlettyarns Maine Wool Yarn or Norumbega Yarn.
The last one I’ll show you is my favorite – the Snakes & Ladders gansey. This lovely sweater is covered in cables, framed and outlined by simple knit and purl texture.
Sizes: 35.25 (39.25, 43.25, 47.25, 51.25)” chest circumference
Gauge: 28 sts and 36 rounds to 4″ in St st using size US 2 needles.
Yarn: 2731 (3043, 3496, 3974, 4469) yards sport weight yarn such as JaggerSpun Maine Line 2/8 Yarn or Bartlettyarns Maine Wool - Sport Yarn.
With a copy of Knitting Ganseys - Revised and Updated on hand, you’ve got everything you need to make your own custom gansey sweaters for the entire family. Whether you use the included design worksheet to help you come up with a pattern that is uniquely yours, or choose to make one of the many lovely patterns already included, you’re sure to end up with a beautiful heirloom sweater.