To Gansey, I have knit.
A little confession: I’ve already been to Gansey, ssshhh! I can explain. Since I have 2 children and wanted them to both receive a sweater this fall, I did a little pre-trip knitting in the summer.
Having selected the “Snakes and Ladders” pattern as one of the Ganseys, I purchased Beth Brown-Reinsel’s book Knitting Ganseys.
Brown-Reinsel has organized the patterns by difficulty. “Snakes and Ladders” is the second pattern by difficulty, in case you are wondering. The first pattern, and easiest one, is called “Jerod’s Sweater.” Both patterns are written for children. This one is a real cutie, and it’s a pretty easy knit. I should know, I made it twice. My first attempt resulted in a sweater that fit my son but barely. I knew he would probably outgrow it during the winter, and I was hoping he might get 2 years of wear out of it so I decided to make another attempt.
Here’s what I have to say about Jerod’s Sweater:
I knit it in Cascade 220 Superwash. I like working with this worsted weight yarn. The color, a deep blue, was chosen by the easy-to-get-along-with twin after I begged them not to both choose red. I ordered plenty of yarn, so there have been no issues with dye lot. I did have to take apart the sleeve of the too small sweater to finish the right size sweater. The yarn is soft. A few snags in the yarn have already appeared in the finished sweater that has been tried on for about 20 minutes. The first time my son tried it on, he declared it itchy around the neck and removed really quickly; I didn’t think it could possibly be that itchy but he was adamant. The next time he tried it on was a cooler day and he didn’t want to take it off. I think the fiber will be comfortable for him this winter. I hope to update this post in the spring with a report that this yarn sailed through many wash cycles and still looks great.
I got gauge with the recommended needle size with this pattern. This is unusual, normally I have to reduce by a needle size or two because of my loose method of holding the yarn. What a great feeling–or is it? I mean, surely something must be wrong! I read the gauge instructions over and over again. Looks right–maybe BBR is my pattern designer soul mate! I wonder if other knitters will have trouble getting gauge with her pattern since I didn’t…
The sweater turned out too short, even the larger sweater. I snipped a stitch and picked loose a row from the plain section, separating the main piece, the upper sweater, from the bottom band. Then I picked up the stitches, and extended the top section by almost 2 inches. Then, in an amazing knitting feat that took about 2 hours, I grafted the bottom band back onto the sweater using kitchener stitch. You can barely tell that I did this*, and, after blocking the graft may be completely invisible!
I really like this pattern. I can’t say too many times that the finished sweater looks great! The stitch patterns mesh well into a cohesive look. The special bottom band cast on looks good and is plenty elastic. The underarm gussets are satisfyingly symmetrical and didn’t require reinforcement with duplicate stitch. The ribbed neck goes over the wearer’s head easily enough.
Overall, I recommend it. All of it. Join us for the voyage to Gansey!
*The graft is good but the purl side seams have a little jog to the side now. It seems when you pick up and start knitting in the opposite direction it causes a slight shift in any patterned stitches. After extending the plain section this is only visible at one spot right at the side seams. It doesn’t bother me much and should be relatively unnoticeable.
Six month update: I am not quite satisfied with this yarn. My son only wore it a few times due to an unusually warm winter and his emerging dislike for sweaters. The yarn has fuzzed and pilled much more than I expected. To be fair, I had to wash it or repair it almost every time he wore it, so it did take some abuse. However, it is supposed to be washable wool and I never put it in the machine. I feel like it has lengthened with wearing so maybe the sleeves will still be long enough next year for him or his brother if they will agree to wear it.