The Keeley Gansey

The Keeley Gansey was my first design submitted, and accepted to a magazine. It’s been over a year since the pattern was first published and that means that the distribution rights have reverted back to me. The pattern is now available as a PDF download from my Ravelry store, with revised directions and a a new sample in different yarn. I thought it would also be fun to look at the design process, which started two years ago with the design submission call from Interweave Knits magazine.

This is an excerpt from that call:

“Give us your best Arans, Fair Isle pullovers, ganseys, Nordic ski sweaters, Icelandic yokes, Bohus yokes, and more. Show us rich texture and colorwork in traditional shapes: drop shoulders, underarm gussets, unshaped bodies, steeks, picked-up sleeves, circular knitting. What subtle details can you introduce to make the looks modern without totally redesigning the archetype?”

I was intrigued, and decided to design a Gansey, but instead of making it the traditional way from the bottom up, I would start at the top and work down. I also decided to use lace patterns instead of the traditional knit and purl patterns or cables. Lace patterns are sometimes used on Ganseys, but I wanted this design to be especially feminine by adapting traditional Gansey elements to flatter a woman’s figure.

I started with this swatch:

And this sketch:


I also included two pages of notes, a detailed schematic, and a hand drawn assembly diagram. I wanted to be sure that the magazine editors had as clear a picture of my idea as the one I had in my head. I was still surprised when my design was chosen for the issue.

Lisa Shroyer, the editor at the time, discussed a few different yarn options with me and we settled on Dale of Norway Heilo, a sport weight 100% wool yarn in a natural oatmeal color. The yarn was a little thicker than the yarn I had used in my swatch, causing the lace to have more of a textural quality and creating a denser fabric than I had imagined. The design still turned out beautifully and I was really pleased with the result!

Copyright Harper Point Photography

The magazine was first published in November 2016, and a year later I had the option to publish my own version of the design on Ravelry and anywhere else. I wanted to see how the sweater would look in a finer yarn at the same gauge, so I pulled some of my favorite yarn out of my stash, madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, and knit a second sample while revising the pattern to fit my style sheet.

You can see in the new Keeley Gansey that the lace pattern is much more open and the fabric has a bit more drape. I think the pattern works great in either yarn! It took me longer than I wanted to finish the revisions, but the new PDF version also includes written directions as well as a chart for the lace panels, and an assembly diagram for the shoulder straps and neck cast-on. The pattern photos were taken at the Algoma Marina, with Margaret, a historic fishing tug, in the background. I think it’s the perfect setting for this Fisherman style sweater.

Thank you for knitting!