Fletcher's Gansey
Today begins the first day of our Gansey KAL. The intent is to create your gansey from beginning to end, making it a unique sweater that is one-of-a-kind.

Gansey sweaters (also known as guernseys), were traditionally made from dark, dense, hard spun yarns, which protected the fishermen from wind and rain. There are several books that have been written about these sweaters.

This KAL is going to deviate from the "traditional" gansey in that the knitter can select the yarn of their choice to use for this project. Those who wish to make a traditional sweater, may also do so.

The major intent of this KAL is to give the knitter some new techniques and confidence in their knitting.

The following three files are being provided for participants to use and review. We will be discussing each in later posts. Click on the name to download the file.

As we progress, more detailed information and discussion will occur with each step. Do not let this overwhelm you. Focus on each piece that will be done, and it will all fall together.

Your tasks this week will be:Bill's Sweater
  1. Choose your yarn
  2. Do a gauge swatch in stockinette stitch and garter stitch
  3. Select a style for your sweater
  4. Do your measurements
1. You may select a yarn from your stash if you have a sufficient quantity to do so. It should be a solid color. It can be heathered or even have tweed flecks if you desire. If you are a traditionalist, you may want to select a tighter spun, smooth yarn that will show off your stitch definition. Even if you use a dark color, such as black or navy blue, a smooth, high-twisted yarn will do well showing off texture work. Suggestions for yarns are: Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted, Deluxe Worsted or DK Superwash; Fibra Natura Dona; and Plymouth Encore Worsted or DK, Merino Worsted. Again, make sure you order enough yarn for your sweater. In the file "Gansey KAL Intro" there is a calculator you can use to determine yarn requirements. If you intend to make adjustments to your sweater in body or sleeve length, you need or order one or two more skeins to ensure you do not run out of yarn. If you end up with yarn left over, you can always make a hat or scarf to match your sweater.

2. KNIT a GAUGE SWATCH! Those are the four words everyone detests when I say them. If you want your sweater to fit properly, this is a necessity. When I knit a swatch, I will look at the yarn label and use the recommended needle size. I also make my swatch slightly larger than the number of stitches you should get with the gauge for four inches. For example, if the gauge is supposed to be 4 sts/inch, I will cast on 20 stitches. In the four inches, there should be 16 stitches. By adding 2 sts per side, I should be able to lay out the swatch and get a good measurement. I also knit slightly longer than 4 inches so I can get a good measurement of rows per inch. The number of rows per inch will be important as you are planning out your sweater. When you finish your 4+ inches in length, I also knit about 2 inches or so of garter stitch. The number of stitches and rows per inch in garter stitch will also be needed. As you are knitting your gauge swatch, look at it and determine if it is at the right tension for your liking. You should be able to tell after an inch or so. If you think it is too tight, begin again using a larger needle. If you think it's too loose, knit with a smaller needle.

3. Decide the layout for your Gansey. For the bottom of the sweater, you will use ribbing or welts. If you do ribbing, you may also choose a different rib other than the usual 1x1 or 2x2 rib. For Bill's sweater, I used a 2x2 rib; however, I did a C2L (Cross 2 Left) after 2 sets of the rib on every other row. (K2, P2, K2, P2, C2L, P2). Welts are the other option. You can have straight welts done in garter stitch or seed stitch, and you can choose whether they overlap or not. You can also use different cast-on methods, such as, Channel Island, Knotted Cast-On, Double Cast-On, or any variation of the long-tail cast-on. The section between the ribbing and the underarm may be done in plain stockinette stitch, where you can put the initials for the person receiving the sweater. Or you can incorporate textured pattern stitches. The pattern stitches can be done horizontally or vertically. If done vertically, you can carry the pattern straight up to the shoulders, if desired. Search for Ganseys on the internet to see some of the styles. If you have stitch pattern books, you can look through them to also decide what stitches you will to use in your sweater. You can also look up stitches on-line on the internet.

4. Do your measurements. I have provided the Gansey Measurements file for your use. For this project, we are going to utilize the file for recording the exact measurements needed for your sweater. First, take your (or the person for whom you are knitting the sweater) actual body measurements and record them separately on an index card or notebook. These measurements can then be used for future projects, unless we alternate our bodies by eating less or more and have to update our numbers! Next step, find a sweater or similar garment (such as a sweat shirt), that fits you (or the person) perfectly. Then, take the chest/bust measurement that you recorded and add 2 inches. The 2 inches is for "ease." The 2 inches can be increased if you prefer a loose fitting sweater or if you plan to wear garments underneath your sweater. Let's say you have a 38-inch bust and you add the 2 inches (or more) for ease, resulting in 40 inches. Your gauge ended up being 4.5 stitches per inch. Multiply 40 x 4.5 = 180 stitches. This calculation is "A". After you have calculated all your measurements, layout your favorite garment and compare the measurements of it to what you have recorded. You can make adjustments now as necessary. -- Please note that some measurements on the form may not be applicable to your sweater design, such as, N, O, and P.

Again, do not feel overwhelmed. Take each step and do them one at a time. Each one is a piece of the puzzle. If you focus on the task at hand, it will all come together in the end.

Questions and comments are most welcome...

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