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  • I am ferocious Cornish Knitster – sadly not fast enough to get a Gansey done in a week though!
    I love the old photos from these books – you need to visit the Penlee House Gallery & Museum in Penzance for fabulous – ‘Newlyn School’ watercolours capturing the bygone fishing industry, many showing Ganseys in action.


    • So beautiful, Jo! These watercolors are lovely–I clearly need a trip to Penzance to the Penlee House.

      And Ferocious Cornish Knitster needs to go on a needlepoint pillow!

  • I am a slothfull knitster, going along with fingering weight yarn on 4 mm needles, hoping to make a shawl in a month. My fabric will not be waterproof or windproof. What a slacker…

    • Seriously. I am working on a lace/stockinette wrap with worsted weight yarn at 14 st./4 inches. Clearly, just a step away from sloth.

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    • Worsted weight is the hamburger helper of yarn lol.

  • I confess that I am a non-knitter, but if anything would get me to knit it is that sweater! Looks like a sweater for life — and then passed down to others.


    • Come into the fold, Jane. Come in . . . ; )

    • Jane,
      Let’s get you started. Your first sweater *should* be a Bonne Marie sweater. I promise to hold your hand and make you finish it.
      Xo Kay

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  • Love love love that fisher lassie. Might just have to make me one. So wonderful having you ladies back

  • I make lots of socks of US size 0 needles, but if I cast on an entire sweater at that gauge I fear I would soon look like the person in the lower right on your “Brooklyn” snap. You know, carefree.

    • Apparently needles break when knitting ganseys–it’s just TOO MUCH TO ASK of a needle.

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  • Ohhhh, i love these photos, and so appreciate the background on ganseys. For an obsessed knitter, i am surprisingly ignorant on matters like this. But I did fave that beautiful Burns cardi a while back. I love the tidyness of it…and that square shape is right up my alley.

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  • I recall last week a post saying Rowan denim was back and I love the idea of a “jeansy” sweater as above. But then read up and heard the woes of color bleeding and blue fingers. I saw that Lion Brand has a new worsted weight cotton in a denim blue so maybe will check it out for a simple sweater. http://www.lionbrand.com/yarns/247cotton.html

    • Di, are you just testing us? Do you know how heartily we will work to persuade you of the joy of Rowan Denim? We see color bleeding and blue fingers as ASSETS, not liabilities. The great thing about Rowan Denim (of the many great things about it) is that it’s not mercerized–it’s not shiny at all, just a lovely texture similar to that of actual denim. The more you wear it, the more it fades and gains depth of color. It is honest, noble stuff, worth a try for sure.

      • Okay-I love a good challenge and I have plenty of Krud Kutter for removing anything!

        • She sure writes a good sales pitch, doesn’t she. I hope there’s enough Rowan Denim for all the readers :-).

  • This just might be the sweater I make my college daughter…. I could probably finish the whole thing before Christmas and leave the sleeves unfinished for customization she’s 6’tall and has arms that are extra long). I’m glad to see you gals back online again.

    • Good arm strategy. And thanks for the good wishes–we’re happier than clams, which is saying a lot.

  • I loved this post! Giving us the history plus the link to the knitter just finishing the gansey on size 1s (!!) + details about a book I recall hearing about eons ago from The Harlot in those days before Ravelry. I finally have an idea of what a Gansey IS! I love this post bec in those pre-Ravelry days knitting blogs ruled my world. I learned so much from them. Don’t get me wrong I adore Ravelry, but some of the learning and fun of the knitting blog was lost in that genius most-user friendly and amazing font of knowledge on everything from knitting to Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (one of the more active groups of which I am a member). And you do it all so breezily & succinctly. I have much to learn from you & I love every word of it. (Ann’s posts too.)

    • Thanks, Marilyn! We adore Ravelry too and use it about ten times a day. It is a righteous volcano of knitterly love. It changed the knitting world forever. Awe inspiring.

      • What you said!

  • If my high school history classes had been anywhere near as interesting as this post, I’d probably have paid a lot more attention! Thanks for the interesting information. And thanks for “making” me put one more sweater on my hope-I-live-long-enough-to-knit-this list.

    • LOL which begs the question: Why can’t high school history just be knitting? Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

      If you want to make yourself delightfully nuts, Bonne Marie’s other 68 patterns at http://www.chicknits.com are equally listworthy. There’s such a wearability to what she creates–and I mean that as the highest compliment. You want to make it, and you want to wear it. I don’t always have that experience in the sweaters I knit.

  • Oooh…a -Gansey- post! Hooray! Aahh…Gansey in -cardigan- form with !shawl!collar!

    Much love.

  • Ann, thanks for reminding me of my own promises. I still haven’t knitted that second gansey, but when I was reading up on your (and Kay’s) continued love affair with Rowan denim, my fingers started itching to cast on. The gansey is nigh; not just yet, but soon.

    • Tom of Holland! Ann of Nashville is so glad to hear from you. If you want some ganseyesque adventure in denim yarn, I’m sure you already know about Patrick and Jane Gottelier’s brilliant INDIGO KNITS. One of the patterns, Whitby, would certainly be fun for us armchair knitters to watch you make . . . or a true gansey in denim would shrink up to be as dense as a wall–in a good way, I mean. ; )

  • I have had this book lounging on my bookshelf now for quite few years–bought used, of course : “Guernsey & Jersey Patterns” by Gladys Thompson printed in 1969 by B.T.Batsford with a price (on a hardback!) of a mere 2.25 pounds! (my how times have changed) The jacket blurb says she is a “leading British authority on the craft” –you now have prompted me to take this book off the shelf and peruse it. She says the lower half of the sweaters were often knit in stockinette stitch because the men tucked the sweaters into their “trousers” and patterns were too bulky for that. This books abounds with history and she writes all about the families whose patterns she collected. I think I have a treasure. I want to make one of these sweaters someday so you are inspiring me…

  • I looked at my knitting bookshelf, and discovered I had a copy of Mary Wright’s book. Mine has the photo of the angry looking boys on the cover. I’ve had Beth Brown-Reinsel’s book for years, and it really helped when I knit my gansy. I also have Gladys Thompson’s Pattern for Guernseys, Jerseys & Arans. The best part of these books are the pictures of real people wearing sweaters to do work, instead of wearing fleece.

  • Way back in the 1970’s, my father brought me back a gansey as a souvenir from a trip to Guernsey. Simple, tasteful wheat color, lovely seed stitch patterning, stiff as a body armor and no doubt seriously water-resistant. All in all, not that pleasant to wear anywhere that wasn’t a storm-tossed boat, even for a skinny, teen-age anglophile. Bravo for the transition into gorgeous, 21st-century knitwear.

  • Dammit, I just finished my one recreational knit of the year, and now you are tempting me to cast on Fisher Lassie! Such a reasonable gauge, 5.5 st/inch. My just-finished sweater is Edin, also by Bonne Marie Burns, so I know the instructions will be clear and concise. Hmmmm.

    I knit a worsted weight Snakes and Ladders ages ago for my kiddo from Beth Brown-Reinsel’s book, but I made it a drop shoulder with no underarm gusset. Once upon a time, I was s chicken knitter!

  • Another great gansey book – Dutch Traditional Ganseys by Stella Ruhe. Wonderful photos of wooden clogged, pipe smoking Dutch fishermen, and terrific patterns. Wish I could knit a gansey a week…..

  • I love those photos, and I love all the function of thse gorgeous old sweaters n the rough looking little kids. I love knitting ganseys(worsted or DK weight ones, maybe sportweight one) and underarm gussets, and I even can be found with some regularity sitting on a rock by the salt water down the street, knitting. But I bet I’ll never knit a navy blue sweater on size 1 needles. Knitters were truly ferocious back then.

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  • That is a gorgeous sweater and I enjoyed the background you give.
    It takes me about a month to get through a pair of socks, well, I’m getting a little better, but If I start a sweater out of fingering weight yarn now, I’ll be lucky if I wear it when I retire.

  • Love Knitting History, especially with old photos! I also love the Bonne Marie Burns cardigan. It looks like a year-round garment for the cool-but-not-cold weather of the Oregon coast. And speaking of weather: Ann, yes, you must go someplace wind- rain- or storm-tossed, so that you can wear those nice sturdy sweaters in a Rowan-esque setting. Either Yorkshire or Cornwall would be ideal…

  • This looks like a fun and informative knitting blog…why haven’t I found you all sooner?!?!?

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  • I love these sweaters and the rich history behind them. The Fisher Lassie Cardigan is especally nice. Thanks so much for this post.


  • So glad to see things on your blog again! I missed you terribly, and since I don’t do instagram or tweeting, I felt I so was missing so much of the fun of reading all about your adventures in knitting and whatever. Thanks for these notifications, etc.
    Happy Thanksgiving~

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  • Some many years ago I knit Alice Starmore’s Sheilavig vest – of gansey yarn and at that impossible gauge. I did indeed break needles knitting it. And it is dense! Not soft. But it looks as good today as the day I finished it. Ganseys are for the ages, especially if you don’t actually need to wear them fishing. Still, if I ever need to brave the North Sea . . .

  • As an apparel sourcing agent, I update my collections. Sweater is my main. I like the Jacquard / computer knit pattern of Bonne Marie Burns cardigan. I will modify a bit for my collection, will keep the front part as it is and the back part in flat Jersey knit. Great design.

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  • My beloved Grandma Jean was from Hayle Cornwall. My Grandfather was from Connor Downs. The Cornish are wonderful at many things and would let you know that Cornwall is completely separate from England me handsome! My grandma clutched her left knitting needle under her arm against her side and held it in place about halfway up from her elbow. I’ve never seen anyone else knit like that. She taught me to knit although I don’t hold the needle like that. You know how we knitters feel about the person that first taught us! When you are looking at the Penzance Museum website, take a look at the Stanhope Forbes paintings. I have a print of one (not on the website) and one of the girls is my grandma’s cousin. I have the Cornish Guernsey book and agree that just seeing the photos is a rare treat.

  • I think you need to meet Propagansey, hang on while I find the linkhttps://m.facebook.com/Propagansey/
    And you must visit the exhibition in the Church in Robin Hoods Bay

  • And I was just about to donate all that old Lopi to my knitting guild’s annual yarn auction! What was I thinking???

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