Sometimes, as knitters, we get into ruts, doing stuff we already know how to do, which is why people get into doing endless scarves or socks. But once in a while we need to stretch our skills, venture into the little-known, and drive ourselves crazy. But since knitting is a binary system, with two stitches and infinite variations, if you have the basics down you can do what takes your fancy.
I’d been working off and on from the architecture of the ganseys of Scotland and England, but I hadn’t done a really detailed one. However, my friend Joel has been undergoing cancer surgery, chemo, and radiation, and has lost a lot of weight from an already slender frame. He’s been cold—not that he had much insulation to begin with--so I began this about six weeks ago and just finished this weekend. I don’t think it’s perfect, but it’s nice, and the next one will be easier. Yes, it’s too big for Millie, who is my size, but he’s about six feet tall, and normally wears a 40 long.
The yarn for this was Cascade 220 Superwash (in deference to his being of the gender that flings things in the washing machine without thinking about shrinkage). Because the superwash yarns tends to be stretchy, I used #6 needles. It looked truly awful and lumpy until it was washed and blocked and dried and then lightly steamed.
To design it, I began with two books I’ve often recommended: Gladys Thompson’s classic Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys, and Arans, and Beth Brown-Reinsel’s Knitting Ganseys.
For keeping track of things, I decided which patterns I thought would work, and did fresh charts for each of them, even the simple ones.
Beginning with the split hem in seed stitch, I made the back hem slightly longer than the front, then joined them for a short stretch (which should have been longer) of stockingette; if I were going to do it again, I’d skip the the first pattern section (a double moss stitch) and the checkerboard section entirely.
The separation bands between the horizontal panels are three rows of reverse stockingette, followed by three of stockingette and three more of reverse stockingette.
The neckline is wider than usual to wear over a turtleneck or a collared shirt. The sleeves, picked up from the armscyes, are tapered down to a plain cuff, with a turning row and several rows that are then sewn down. The stitch charts are below, arranged from hem to shoulders.
Single moss stitch, best done as an uneven number (2 x 2) +1
This made the hem for this sweater.
Double moss stitch, best done as (2 x 2) +2
This makes the lowest panel on the sweater, above the stockingette stitch.
3 stitch by 4 row check, best worked as (2 x 6) + 3
What I did was in a scale too large for the piece, four stitches by 5 rows. Much too klunky looking, so I’ve scaled it down for you.
Flying geese ( x 5 ) This is not easy to do without a row counter.
One row plain, one row 2 x 2 rib: Easy to work, but pay attention to offsetting the 2 x 2 rows, and best done as (2 x 2) +2
A woven appearance, best done as (2 x 2) + 2