Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gansey Saga, Finis

The gansey is done. Today, I thought I would spend some time describing some of the design details that one has to consider when creating one's own designs. First of all, the bottom border. The pattern of the sweater should flow from the bottom border. I tend to vacillate between ribbing and carrying elements of the design into the border. In this case, I opted for the latter but I still planned the ribbing so it would line up with the pattern elements.

The ribbing matches the vertical lines in the pattern elements so that a vertical knit line doesn't flow from a purl st in the border. To do this, I had to put 2 purls next to each other below the garter ladder.
Another element to think about is what happens at the neckline. The front neckline is especially critical because it is right in front of a viewer's eyes. The pattern must end appropriately at the neckline: Either a full or a half pattern repeat can work depending on the pattern. In this case, I could have succeeded with a half diamond but not a quarter or a three-quarter diamond. As you can see, I was able to end with a full pattern repeat at the front neck.
At the back neck, I was off by 1 row. I could have done one more row but I decided not to as it looked OK. The back neck isn't as critical as the front neck but an obvious fraction of a pattern that doesn't look complete can be quite noticeable.

Also watch out for the pattern at the neck shaping. I was able to hide a couple of decreases in a cable cross which allowed me to cross the cable almost all the way to the end so it didn't suddenly become a stockinette column. Some amount of fudging is sometimes necessary. Aesthetics are more important than being true to the pattern!

I also lucked out at the armholes. I hadn't planned it and was planning to wing it when I got there. I could have converted part of the pattern into a stockinette section but I found that my diamonds turned into waves as half of them vanished into the armhole but the other half remained. That worked out very well but is also something to think about as you design.

I put the design on the sleeve right at the point where the diamonds would fit exactly into the sleeve width. I could have put it lower down also as there are multiple places where the math works out. But I decided to put it at the first place where the sleeve width was an exact multiple of the diamond pattern center. I then backed up to the beginning of the motif and calculated where I would have to start it to place the center at the correct round.

I also think about the types of decreases/increases I want to use. I tend to prefer fully fashioned decreases/increases - where they are placed a little inside the seam and pointing into the seam rather than parallel to it. In this sweater I used fully fashioned decreases at the armholes and sleeve seams but ran them parallel to the shaping at the neckline. It is knitter's choice but decide which one you like and stick with it.
Finally, the back of the completed sweater. I gave you a lot of frontal angles while I was knitting it so I thought I'd end with the back.

I hope you have as much fun as I did designing and knitting a historical gansey design. The yarn is wonderful - it is Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran. I love the hand and the stitch definition but it is a heavy sweater. It was difficult doing the neckband with the entire weight of the sweater on the needles.

I had 19 balls of the yarn and I ended with 2 partial balls - one of which was used for the swatch and the other for the neckband. I was pleased with that.

Next up is lace. I cast on for Stor Rund Dug in Joslyn Fiber Farm's Shine yesterday. I am also planning a Schaefer Undulating Waves Scarf which is for a class I'll be teaching. More on those in the weeks to come.


Nancy said...

Lovely, lovely.

Ann said...

Very elegant! Thanks for the play-by-play,

Diane in Oregon said...

Nice! I appreciate the tutorial - I have a gansey on my Someday list :-)

Diane in Oregon said...
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Ann said...


Rima said...

Wow. This is a beautiful piece!