Here's what you'll need.... for a US size 6 (28 inch/70 cm chest
24" circular #6 or #7 needle
16" circular OR straights #5 (ribbing)
16" circular to match 24" size (sleeves and neck)
a set of double points to match ribbing needle (cuff)
I am using BROWN SHEEP SUPERWASH WORSTED in Purple Haze. I have put 300
grams aside. Knitting gauge is 5 sts=1", so any yarn/neeedle
combination that will give you that gauge is usable for this project.
The books at
I am using for reference:
Books available at Countrywool
Knitting Ganseys-- B Brown-Reinsel (this is THE BIBLE!!!!!!!!!!)
Sweater Workshop: 2nd Edition -- J Fee
Knitting In The Old Way -- P Gibson-Roberts (back in print!)
The Knitters Guide To Sweater Design -- C Michelson and M Davis
(out of print)
The welt edges will have Channel
Island cast on
, and here are directions I wrote for that.
JR's Gansey -2- Body Plan, Cast on and Welts
Good morning and Happy September! What a great month to start a sweater.
A gansey sweater has a few details that are foreign to some knitters,
so I will explain a bit. It starts with a welt, and in this case, a
split welt. This we will work in garter stitch in 2 pieces which will
be joined to work in the round as we start the body. We will
incorporate 2 "fake" side seam stitches at each side, which become the
outline of the gusset, which is a diamond shaped piece of knitting that
we create at the underarm area, to allow for more shoulder movement. As
we reach the underarm area, we will separate the knitting into a front
and a back, and work them separately to the shoulders. The front will
have a shaped neck scoop. The shoulders will be bound off together in a
neat 3 needle bind off. The armhole and
gusset stitches are then picked up on a circular needle, joined and
down to the cuff.
OK. So, let's crunch some numbers and cast on!
I need this sweater to be about 28" around, and my stitch gauge is
5sts=1". This tells me I need 5x28 = 140 sts for the body. BUT,
welts knit in garter stitch tend to "flare" so I will work them on 10%
fewer sts AND on a smaller needle. 140 - 10% =126 sts. So, I will use
and #6 needles (you may use any combination of sizes that give you the
correct gauge). My cast on will be 63 sts each for the welts.
Channel Island cast on produces a nice firm picot edge and is used
traditionally for welts, so we will start our sweater with this cast
But wait! Worked by following the directions below, you will end up
an odd number of sts, and that is fine. So, we will cast on 63 for the
front and work garter stitch for 10 rows (5 ridges). Leave these sts on
a circular needle, and work the other welt the same.
Channel Island cast on is tricky. If you can get a hold of Beth Brown
Reinsel's book, this will help for her pictures are fabulous. It is a
version of long tail or slingshot cast on. I have made an effort to
explain it, in my own fashion, on this web page, and perhaps some of
you will find it helpful:
island cast on
If all your efforts fail, do not despair....just cast on any old way to
get the right number.
So, get the welts done, and we'll pick this up again in a few days.
JR's Gansey -3- Body Knitting
We are looking at 2 welts knitted flat that need to be joined together
so we can work in the round up to the underarm. At the bottom of this
is a picture of what they will look like after
get done and are working up the body:
So, get out your larger and longer circular needle and get ready to
join the welts and begin working in the round.
We need to increase stitches to achieve the body number of 140 AND
we need to work in a ribbing pattern to give some interest to the
transition AND we need to establish a 2 stitch purl "seam" at either
side of the body. These 2 stitches will turn into the gusset "surround"
when we get there and it looks and works out quite nice/ly. (Note...I
ripped out this area twice
to get it right, so be patient with yourself if you have to).
First...we will join the welts and create the purl "seams". We will not
increase the number of stitches yet, because we will work in rib
pattern which will work out "bigger" than stockinette stitch, so the
fewer stitches will be fine. As we join the welts, we will overlap some
stitches, which will further reduce the number we have. So, we
have 63 stitches on each
welt. elt 1 (front):
p1, *k1, p1* to before last 2 sts: k1; slip first st of second welt
onto needle (behind the last stitch of first welt) and purl last stitch
of first welt TOGETHER WITH first stitch of second welt to join. Welt 2
(back): p1, *k1, p1* to before last st; slip first st of first welt
onto needle (behind the last stitch of the second welt), and purl last
stitch of second welt TOGETHER WITH first stitch of first welt to join.
Place marker hereabouts to denote the beginning of the round.
124 stitches should be on your needle and the welts are now joined.
Work in pattern as established (rib across front, p2, rib across back,
for 4 rounds (or more if you get a thrill from it <g>)
Body Increase Round: We need 140 stitches for the body, and we
have 124 so our increase will be 16 sts: 8 across the front and 8
across the back. Ignoring the 4 side "seam" purls, we have 60 on the
60 on the back....so increase evenly (sorta) at every 7th stitch.
I hate to increase on odd numbers. I really do! I like to increase
on the knit stitches only, too, with LIFTED INCREASES (knit into the
stitch (either front or back) of the row below the stitch on the
needle...illustrated on this web site: lifted increase
so this puts me in a perplexing situation where my need to exert
control just overcomes my common sense. SO... I will increase as
follows: increasing on the knit sts of k1/p1 pairs only: increase on
the 3rd knit, then every 8th stitch (which will be a knit) 6 times and
then once on a knit before the end of the front.....repeating for the
Well, if you aren't totally confused at this point, you will have 140
sts on your needle and a marker denoting the beginning of the round.
Work in knit, except for the 2 purl sts at either side, KEEP THEM IN
PURL, and work until your work measures 10" from the cast on edge.
Here's what we have so far:
The JOINED WELTS, RIBBED TRANSITION and 2
STITCH PURL SEAM:
JR's Gansey -4- Gusset
Gussets look complicated and I avoided them for years. 10 Years ago I
made a gusset-less gansey-type drop shoulder pattern (Ken's sweater to
be exact) and knit up 3 or 4 of them, distributing them as gifts. As I
watched them being worn, two things glared at me (the designer)...the
sleeves were not being worn gracefully. Two years ago, I tried to
remedy this in a remake of the pattern for my husband, and it still
Well, that something is the gusset. Gussets smooth the right angle
transition from body to sleeve, and provide some room for movement
a} messing up the established angular pattern and b}creating extra bulk
under the arm. The deeper the rib created by the purl stitches that you
work them in and between, the more invisible it can become. They start
with one stitch, and are gradually increased at either side (this
an art form if you want to go there...) until they reach their broadest
at the underarm itself. They are put on holders and treated as
entities as you pick up the sts for the sleeve around the completed
(this happens way later in the pattern). This gusset has a purl st at
side...makes it easier to work with. Once the sleeve is started, they
gradually decreased out of existence. Neat.
This pattern has the yoke stitch pattern starting AT THE SAME TIME
as the gusset. So, you will work the last 2" of the body IN YOKE
PATTERN, and the gusset......in gusset style :)
So, here we go. 140 sts on your needle. 2" before you reach your side
seam measurement (hem to underarm, which
in this case is 11" total} ...so at 9":
The sequence in circular knitting will be: 68 sts body front
( we will decrease one at the end to make 67); 2 sts right gusset; 68
body back (we will decrease one at the end to make 67); 2 sts left
Markers are placed just before the gusset stitches....slip the
follow the gusset pattern, and then proceed across the back to the left
gusset, slip the marker, follow the gusset pattern. Place a NEW
of the round marker to help keep your place. Start Yoke Pattern:
The YOKE CHART PATTERN:
Front: Work chart "A" once; chart "B" 6 times, chart "C" once, working
the last 2 sts on the needle for front as one ,
Work first round of gusset, Back: as for front. Work first round gusset.
GUSSETS are worked within the P2 side seam stitches, on both sides
of sweater, as follows:
Round 1, P1, INCL, P1
Rounds 2 and 3 P1, K1, P1
Round 4: P1, INCR, K1, INCL,P1
Rounds 5and 6: P1, K3, P1
Round 7: P1, INCR, K3 (this number will increase by 2 each time you
work more increase rounds) , INCL, P1
continue as established, increasing in each 3rd round until you reach
the dividing round for front and back.
INCL = Lifted Increase Left = lifted increase that leans to the left:
knit into the back of the right side of the
stitch of the row below stitch on left needle
INCR = Lifted Increase Left = lifted increase that leans to the right:
knit into the back of the left side of the
stitch of 2 rows below stitch on the right needle
Continue this way for 2" of gusset knitting. Next we separate sts into
front and back and work flat. Holler when you are this far, and the
pattern will continue on!
JR's Gansey -5- Yoke Area, Neck Shaping and Collar
At the yoke area, the sweater stitches must be divided into front and
back, and the gussets separated out and left on holders until we are
ready to start the sleeves. There are those in our ranks who prefer to
make steeks and continue knitting in the round. Steeks are nothing more
sts independently added in at the point above the gusset that are to be
cut through, folded back and tacked down to form the armhole. This is a
time honored technique, but not one that I will follow for this
(I will share with you the following information: superwash wools that
have used do not lend themselves well to steeking as the coating that
them superwashable makes them slippery. Slippery yarns like to escape
tacking-down process, and I can tell you a horror story or two. I
like to make steeks with untreated wools.)
So, get out a second circular needle that is smaller in diameter than
the one you are working with, and 2 stitch holders about 3" long OR 2 -
12" lengths of fat yarn. Take a look at the pattern round you are
and be sure to finish off with an even round of the chart having just
knit: Write this round # down....you will need it again when you start
back. Work across 67 sts of front (on ODD round) slip right
gusset sts onto a stitch holder slip next 67 back sts onto spare
circular needle slip left gusset sts onto a stitch holder:
The GUSSET: half done and waiting for the
You will now work back and forth, knitting flat, on the front sts until
sweater measures 4“ from the beginning of the YOKE PATTERN, ending
after an even row has been worked. Work a NECK SCOOP as follows:
Outside row: Work across 25 sts in pattern. Drop yarn. Slip next
17 sts onto a holder. Attach second ball of yarn to the base of the
last stitch on holder and work to end of row in pattern. Inside row:
(starts at sleeve/shoulder edge) * Work across all sts. drop yarn. Pick
up yarn on
opposite side of neck, bind off 1 st, work to end of row. Next row:
Outside row:* Repeat * to *, until you have 17 sts left at either side
neck scoop Work evenly across these sts until yoke measures 6”
the beginning of the YOKE PATTERN.
Leave sts on a spare circular needle
YOKE BACK: Join yarn at lower right on outside of back and work evenly
on back sts in pattern until it matches the
front length. You will be starting on the SAME ODD ROUND that you
started the front. Leaving both sets of shoulder sts
on one circular needle, put center 33 sts of back on spare
double pointed or circular needle.
SHOULDERS: Work a 3 Needle Bind off on each set of shoulder sts,
starting at the outside and working in to the neck edge.
Slide remaining bind off loop on each side to needle holding center
For those of you who have never worked a 3 needle bind off, here are
the directions: (Note: we want our bind off to show on
the RIGHT SIDE, so we are working it off with the wrong side of the sts
: put both sets of stitches on double pointed needles,
wrong sides together.With a third needle, knit through stitches from
front needle AND back needle together once, then again (2
sts on right
needle). Bind off the first stitch over the second. Continue in this
until all stitches have been bound off. Pull yarn through the
NECK BAND: Attach yarn to one shoulder seam. With #6 circular 16”
needle, right side facing, pick up all live sts on front and back
needles, along with PICKING UP AND KNITTING all likely-looking stitches
along bound off edges of neck.
Picking up too many stitches is a good thing! When you have them all on
your circular neck needle, count. You will need to reduce the number,
as evenly as you can to 64 sts. To do this, work one round
PURL on the right side, P2TOG
as needed to achieve the required number. PM. Work *K1, P1* rib
for 1” Work a SEWN OFF BIND OFF with darning needle. For those of
have never worked a sewn off bind off, here are the directions:
SEWN OFF BIND OFF: Cut yarn leaving 30”. Thread through darning needle.
Cast off as follows: Darning needle goes through 2 sts as if to purl.
Leave sts on needle. Darning needle goes through first st AGAIN, but as
if to knit and then that st is dropped off needle *Repeat * * until all
sts have been cast off. Sew yarn to first st.
At this point you should have a neat little vest on your hands. It
would be a simple matter to pick up all the sts around the armhole AND
gusset and finish them off in ribbing, if you are ever so inclined.
The PATTERNED YOKE; NECK SCOOP and PICKED
SLEEVES/COMPLETED GUSSET (front):
JR's Gansey -6- Sleeves and Cuffs
We are headed into the home stretch of this sweater. The 2 sleeves
work up quickly!
Before we get started, I want to take this space to ponder what we
are about to do. This sweater's sleeve is worked in the round down to
the cuff. The entire circumference of this sleeve is about 12" once we
get the gusset decreased away. That's a pretty small circle to be
In the past couple of years, knitting with 2 circular needles has
become all the rage. There is a reason why: it's a lot easier on your
hands and wrists than a single short circular needle. Circular needles
shorter than 24" have the common flaw of too short a working end to
grasp easily. Knitters who have arthritis, carpal tunnel or muscles
that are headed that way (read: computer users!) have a hard time with
8.75" or 12" or 16" circular needles. Using 2 long needles is quite an
interesting way around this if you do
not want to use double pointed needles. If this whole idea appeals to
(and I must confess it is not something I do since I am married to my
and 12" circular needle collection) I will suggest the following:
work the pick up round and
the first 2 rounds with a single circular needle to see how the sleeve
and gusset decreases are shaping up, then try using 2 circular needles.
You will knit the first half of the sts on one needle, and then drop
that needle. Using the second needle, finish the last half of the sts.
Drop the second needle.
*Pick up the first needle, snug up the next sts to one point and use
the opposite end of the needle to knit across the sts. Drop the first
needle. Pick up the second needle, snug up the next sts to one
and use the opposite end of the needle to knit across the sts. Drop the
second needle. * Repeat * to *. What ever needles you
to use, follow these instructions for the sleeve:
SLEEVES: With 12” or double pointed needles #8, PICK UP AND KNIT, right
side facing, all sts around armhole. Work across gusset sts evenly.
Count all but gusset sts, and decrease or increase a few in the first
round to achieve 62 sts. Place marker after last purl st of gusset. 3
and 4 only of CHART A "once", then CHART B "6 times" = 62 sts
Work a total of 16 rounds of pattern, DECREASING GUSSET AS YOU GO as
follows: Round 1: P1, K2TOG, K to before last 2 sts, SSK, P1
Rounds 2 and 3: P1, K across, P1 Continue decreasing in each 3rd
until you reach 3 sts. On the next decrease round, slip1, K2TOG, PSSO.
On the last decrease round, P2TOG over that last lonely knit to have it
slide into the P side seam. The P2 “seam” will stay in pattern all the
down the sleeve to the cuff. Sleeve stitches are now worked in KNIT.
The GUSSET: finished
SLEEVE DECREASE ; Work a 2 st decrease every 7 th round as
follows: *slip marker, K2TOG, knit to last 2 sts before purls, SSK, P2*
Change to double pointed needles if/when necessary. Stop decreasing
when you reach 46 sts. Work evenly until sleeve measures 10.5”
from sleeve pick up at shoulder. With #6 double pointed needles, knit
one round decreasing evenly
to 40 sts by *k 5, K2TOG* 6 times Work in *K1, P1* ribbing for 2
”. Bind off in PURL using #8 needle. repeat for 2nd sleeve. Darn In
Claudia at Countrywool
Check out the Gansey
Knitting Retreat at Gloucester,
MA for November
2004, and Round
Top, NY for April 2005.