Knitalong: Casting on to Gansey

by longtallyarn

Ahoy and Bon Voyage!

We have embarked on our Knit to Gansey!  As for me, I have cast on Beth Brown-Reinsel’s Snakes and Ladders and have completed the bottom band and about two inches of the body of the traditional plain section.

Let’s start from the cast on, shall we?  There are several traditional methods of adding stitches to the needles, gansey style.  I have tried three of them, including

  • Channel Island cast-on, used in the sampler below left, is very pretty.  Beth Brown-Reinsel describes it as “pairs of stitches with a bead of doubled yarn between them” (Brown-Reinsel, 13).
  • Multistrand cast-on, used on the Jerod’s Sweater center, was executed by casting on with two strands and continuing to knit with them for several rounds before reverting to one strand of yarn.
  • Knotted cast-on, used on Snakes and Ladders right, is comprised of “little knots along the base of the cast-on and is formed by casting on two stitches and binding one stitch off” (Brown-Reinsel, 17).

All produce a very nice, sturdy, and decorative result.  I found both the Knotted cast-on and the Channel Island cast-on are a rather tedious exercise.  I wish my camera had focused on the knitting rather than the grass in the background but I don’t want to go back and try again.  Trust me, they all look good!

For the Knotted Cast-on, Snakes and Ladders sweater, I cast on with needles much smaller than I would use with the rest of the sweater to prevent the bottom edge from flaring and looking wavy.  I swatched the bottom band three times to be sure I had this right and I am really glad I did since I guessed wrong the first two times.

Snakes and Ladders features a garter welt, which will “cause the garment to hang straight down rather than hug the body, which decreases stress and wear at the bottom of the sweater”  (Brown-Reinsel, 21).  I think it’s going to work well for my son.

The plain area, between the bottom band and the textured patterning, is where some knitters add the initials of the wearer.  I decided against the initials since I thought the plain area would be too short to accommodate those details.  Wish I had thought it through better because I’ve now decided to add 2 inches to the plain area since I think the sweater should be 15 inches long, not 13 as the pattern indicates.

As a weekend knitter, who does most of my work… well, when I’m not doing other work, it took me a whole weekend to cast this on and start it.  A three day weekend!  The next few inches of knitting have gone faster.  A little more stockinette and I will be ready to start the fun part:  making the snakes and ladders texture.

It’s not too late (unless maybe you don’t know how to knit yet) to join in our knit-along!   We’ve just begun.  As always, stay tuned for more knitting.

GanseyKAL - White Background

Brown-Reinsel, Beth. Knitting Ganseys. Interweave Press, 1993.