BT Ganseys | Fairweather



When Jared challenged the team to inspire ourselves from ganseys for an upcoming collection, I immediately pulled out a selection of books about fishermen sweaters from my library. I’m a book hoarder, so I do have a few.


One of the defining characteristics of ganseys are their construction. They are often knit in the round to the underarm, then knit back and forth to the shoulders. Once the shoulders have been joined, sleeve stitches are picked up and the sleeves are knit down to the cuff. I don’t know if this is factual, but it is said that knitting sleeves in this manner allowed an easier repair on what wore out the quickest: the cuffs and elbows of sweaters. As the sleeves were knit down, it was simple to undo the bind-off and unravel past the damaged areas in order to fix the sleeves.

As you might have surmised from this description, ganseys were most often constructed of tubular shapes. In order to better fit the body, knitters employed another trick: gussets. These were used at the underarms for better freedom of movement (traditional ganseys were usually fitted closely to the body), as well as at the neckline to shape the shoulders.

While thinking this pattern through, it seemed that a nod at traditional construction as well as a general aesthetic would work well. The latter was easy; there is a rich diversity of gansey designs out there, as can be attested by the number of books dedicated to the subject. My concern was with the fit, as the design was intended for a woman and traditional pullovers were designed for men.


In order to have the fit confirm to a female body and utilize techniques mentioned above, I began with a standard pullover draft. Design ease was added below the waist (‘A’ follows decreases), but I had to address the shoulder area. When the body’s armscye and the cap of the sleeve are juxtaposed, the slope of the sleeve is at a definite angle whereas most drop shoulder pullovers exhibit a T shape. It’s very common to find oversized clothing with the shoulder seam angled as this removes excess fabric at the underarm. To throw the shoulders and sleeves at an angle while avoiding stepped bind-offs and short-rows, I added increases above the bust. These additional stitches incorporate the sleeve caps and throw the sleeves at an angle.


Apart from their general construction, ganseys have other lovely details. One of them is an exposed bind-off, such as can be seen above. And I love gussets in knitwear; mine are bigger than they usually are as I used them to shape the shoulders.

There are other details in the pattern, but I’ve written enough for one day. I hope you like Fairweather!