I set the book aside for a little while yesterday, and spent a little time away from the narcoleptic glow of my computer screen. I realized that I was starting to get a little weird with so much working and tried to balance things out a little before I blew a mental gasket and ended up typing just pages and pages of “All work and no knitting makes Steph a dull girl”. I thought that was the creepiest moment in The Shining. When Jack Nicholson has been working on his book for months and months and months and Shelley Duval finally goes into his study and reads his manuscript and there is no manuscript, he’s just been typing that one sentence over and over for hundreds of pages, (His didn’t have knitting in it) and all of a sudden Shelley realizes that Jack isn’t really swimming in the deep end of the sanity pool anymore. In that movie it’s supposed to some kind of evil presence in the hotel that’s making him crazy and dangerous, but I think it was just that he was trying to write a book. Like I said, I started thinking about ol’ Jack and decided that maybe I’d have me a little knitting break and get the top of the gansey designed and started. I hauled out the reference books that I thought would have the best bets and started in.


On the table

Barbara Walkers, one, two, three and four

(Who doesn’t love these. I wish all four books had everything charted though…)

The knitting stitch a day Calendar. (Darned handy)

Patterns for Guerneys, Jerseys and Arans by Gladys Thompson.

and the book that is currently within arms reach at all times: Knitting Ganseys, by Beth Brown-Reinsel. (This is a great book. I’m completely in love with Beth Brown-Reinsel. There is not one question I’ve had that she’s not answered in this book. It’s only because I’ve got this that I feel like I can knit a gansey by the seat of my pants this way. The woman is brilliant. Last night I was trying to figure something out about the armhole and just when I thought I was going to give up because Joe wasn’t around to measure, I found a table of measurements in the book. Beth’s got my back.)


Since I am not your planning ahead kind of knitter, all I’d done until now was take Joe’s measurements and start knitting. I figured that I would make whatever I chose for the top simply fit when I got there. (There are about a thousand better ways to do that. I admit that.)

My process went like this.

1. Determine how many stitches I had to play with.

2. Find patterns that I liked.

3. Try to make the patterns fit with the stitches that I had.

4. Realize that they don’t fit and I’m a dumbass.

5. Try again.

This involves graph paper, maths and a great deal of time. In the end it took a little longer than I thought because I was really hung up on using only traditional gansey patterns, so all applicants had to be carefully screened. (Traditional choices include patterns based on knit/purl combinations and simple rope cables. Remember, Ganseys were built for speed, warmth and ease of knitting. Getting stupid complex cables going on was counter-productive.) Extra time was also added because I forgot for a moment that cables take up extra width. I like to increase a few stitches in the bottom of a cable to account for this, since I think it makes a nicer start and keeps the cable from pulling in too much in that spot and making the knitting seem oddly flared at the base of the cable. I’ll chart only four stitches for a six stitch cable, work the first row of the cable with four stitches, increase in the second row to six stitches, then cable on the third. Works nicely, though is a tad obsessive and can really mess up your charts.

In the end I came up with this pattern…


which I swear is totally enough to knit a gansey from. I know it looks dodgy, but nobody has to understand it but me. (I bet Beth Brown-Reinsel just lost it somewhere. You should see how well the sweaters are planned in her books. These scraps of scribbles I’m doing this from must make her nauseous. I hope she doesn’t find this blog.) I knit a “Definition ridge” another characteristic of a gansey. It’s a ridge of garter, purl, seed or moss stitch that divides the plain stockinette work from the fancier top.


and I started in on my pattern. I placed a marker for each different area of work so that I there would be any possibility at all that I could manage to keep it all straight, (this is a fools game) and I started the gussets at the same time.


The underarm gussets are probably the defining feature of the gansey. It’s a diamond shaped piece of knitting worked in as you go, with half being worked in the body and the other half worked into the arm. Imagine where you put deodorant in the morning. That’s the part of your sweater where the gusset goes. The gusset gives additional room for the arm to move without needing sweater that’s looser overall. That’s a good thing, since a tighter sweater is easier to work in and saves on knitting time and yarn. Ganseys are traditionally worn pretty tight with only about 2 inches of ease.


When I’ve knit around and around until the gussets are done (about 3 or 4 inches from now) I’ll put the gussets on threads to save for later and split the work into front and back to be knit flat. (I love knitting flat. I’m really looking forward to that part.)

For now, I’m going to go wish my buddy Sandy a Happy Birthday, and do the same for Joe’s Mum. (Only the best sort of people are born on this day apparently.) and throw myself back into the salt mines. While all work and no knitting might make Steph a dull girl, all knitting and no work will make Steph miss a book deadline.

133 thoughts on “Breakout

  1. Ohh, I get to comment first? Cool. How do you know she doesn’t read this? And now, what are the odds that Franklin or Lars who just took a class with Beth will call her up and say “are your ears ringing?” Or that I, living about 20 miles from her, will do that? Eh? You think we won’t fink on you?
    LOL! Seriously you should see the doodles that became my favorite gansey. 😎 Yours are positively expansive by comparison. Done in the late lamented Classic Elite Maya and a lovely sage green in color. I love me that sweater. 😎

  2. Thanks for taking the time to explain how you are knitting Joe’s sweater. I hope all your breaks are as productive. Good luck!!!

  3. Glad you got to take a break! The gansey patterns look fab; surely Beth will cut you some slack for your methods – considering the circumstances! (Did you know you got a plug in the September issue of Simply Knitting, the British knitting magazine? So cool!)

  4. I couldn’t live without my Barbara Walker Treasuries. The only thing is it is difficult to justify buying any other stitch dictionaries! And the only other thing is that there is too much choice and it takes me too long to decide on anything.
    Looking forward to seeing you in Salt Lake City!

  5. “Imagine where you put deodorant in the morning.”
    I had one of those mornings where I woke up late, the dog got off his leash and I had to run him to ground, the sink sprung a leak while I was brushing my teeth, and I ran three pairs of hose getting dressed, and I couldn’t remember what it was I forgot to do.
    Then I read that line. Now I remember.

  6. I read the shining when I was in grammar school, and it remains to this day one of the books/films that scares me the most. Years and years later, I actually got to stay at the hotel where Stephen King worked on the book (and later where they filmed the tv miniseries). I was completely creeped out and my mother teased me about it mercilessly.

  7. Was obsessed with the BBR book from the moment I bought it and even knit the tiny sampler gansey in the book. And then she came to Toledo! (insert trumpets and heavenly choir) I got to spend an afternoon taking a gansey class from her and she was really cool. I am ridiculously proud to recall that she told me I have wonderful knitting posture. My brush with greatness!

  8. Definitely the creepiest part of the movie…and really, hands down, there can be only one to play that part (what were they thinking with that redo?)and that one is Jack. Great books all, quite indispensable..and your charts look ok, as long as you know what you mean….I love making charts, nearly as much fun as the knitting. Very productive break, gansey looking fabulous.
    10 days…

  9. Happy Birthday to Sandy and your M-I-L-my mom’s birthday is today, too, so I agree, only the best sort must be born on this day!!

  10. It’s the gansey that has to look good, not the charts. Unless, of course, you decide to include them in your next book …

  11. I would NEVER do this—- But, If I took that pic then blew it up–big enough– I could “theoretically” get a sneak peek at part of the draft of the next Harlot book;)
    just sayin.
    Needles crossed for you as you make your deadline… YOU CAN DO IT!;)

  12. THE SHINING was a very creepy movie, all ’round. Barbara Walker has four treasuries?
    The sweater is awesome. Just beautiful. You could leave the markers in, as a design feature!

  13. Thanks for the tip on the bottoms of cables – the flair/pulling that goes on has always annoyed me! And really…obsession over details is what makes knitting fun….

  14. ***SQEEEE***!!!! Them there are the stitch markers that I made just for you!! Wow! Now I know how Franklin felt when he saw me in his t-shirt. That is a cool feeling seeming somethng I made actually in use.
    How’d you like the chocolate cherries?
    Oh, and thanks for the cable hint – reading that gave mea D’oh! moment. Such a simple solution to a problem that had bugged me.

  15. You’re making such quick progress! What are you going to do when Joe’s Gansey is not looming over your shoulders?

  16. Ooooh! Beth is a Goddess! Took her Gansey class a couple of years ago and still have my little stuffed sheep sitting in my living room wearing the mini-gansey that we knitted up. She is simply the nicest person you could meet and an incredible teacher (and designer!)as well.

  17. I’m sure Rams and Rachel H. are going to give you some slack for your notes…but I think they are brilliant. I wouldn’t know how to chart my way out of a paper bag. As it is, I can’t even follow simple instructions written out in plain english.
    “Ohhhhhhhhh she ment Slip once, and purl to the end…” (eyeroll)

  18. I can’t wait to see two pictures:
    One: Joe modelling the finished gansey.
    Two: Joe hugging you while wearing the finished gansey.

  19. Gee, when I’m avoiding my book deadlines, I come read Yarnharlot. Happy birthday Sandy and Carol! And Stephanie, your knitting notes are way neater than mine. Scraps of scribbles my foot, hon.

  20. If Jack was a knitter plus a writer chances are he would not have succumbed to the evil presence in the hotel. Knitting is Zen.
    Great details you giving on the gansey … looks like a fun project.

  21. I love that you love The Shining. It’s one of my favorites. I love the movie, but even more, I love Stephen King. Not that you have gobs of time, but you should check out his book “On Writing”. I have the audio book because I love the way he reads his books. I haven’t listened to it in a while, but the way he writes about writing is amazing. I think you’d really enjoy it. He tells all sorts of great stories about his life and talks about writing in a really engaging way. About how he just can’t help but do it, no matter how crazy it makes him.
    I can send it to you if you’d like (it’s on CD). I think I even know where it is!

  22. You are a braver woman than I am. Of course, you also plan ahead more than I do. How’s that for scary? The gansey looks good so far!

  23. Yes, it sounded like you were needing a serious crazy break. Have you been practicing your yoga? The gansey is looking great! Good luck with both it and the book…I have faith that you’ll produce two beautiful pieces of work.

  24. Looks wonderful – my husband is jealous. Seriously. He reads over my shoulder (and is himself a fan of All Things Harlot) and he said, “The Yarn Harlot’s husband gets a fishing sweater? When are you going to finish mine?” “Finish” in this case meaning to cast on for the third time, hopefully with the correct number of stitches… but he doesn’t know that. Yet.
    I won’t tell him you’ve spun all this yarn yourself.
    Maybe I need that Gansey book…

  25. I just love reading about your Gansey-progress! I think the best part about traditional patterns is getting into the details of how and why people did things a certain way. It makes you appreciate the sometimes a little quirky techniques, and want to do it just like they did it years and years ago.
    Increasing your stitched at the beginning of cables is a good idea. I’ll have to remember to try that sometime.

  26. Happy Birthday, Carol, and many many more to come..enjoy the day and those around you making sure you enjoy the day..:)
    still 10 days..

  27. Beth, I’m hurt. Rams and I don’t ‘give slack’. We nag constructively and affectionately. Besides, having seen the results of Steph’s home made charts all knit up, I for one would never question their efficacy.
    That and, well, let’s face it. When the lady actually admits she’s ‘starting’ to get a little weird and you know she knows where you live, it’s time for the gentle pats and soothing tones. Don’t worry though. There’s only so long I can keep that up.

  28. Everyone needs that gansey book. It’s written so clearly and it’s so easy to follow. It’s one of my favorite knitting books.
    I’m looking forward to seeing Joe’s gansey take shape. It looks wonderful so far.

  29. it’s gonna be great stephanie! the yarn loks like it has some gray-brown and some yellow-brown streakiness to it that i like. i haven’t knit a gansey in years, but you are making me want to . . .

  30. While the charts are important to getting to the finished product, they only need to make sense to you. As long as you can read your own writing, who cares what anyone else thinks? It looks great, and Joe will love it. Good luck with the book.

  31. Omyf*ckinghell (I’ll swear on my own blog, but I try to refrain from swearing in others’ blogs, mostly).
    The math! The sketches of math! The talk of the sketching, math and measurements.
    You did this to get back at me for tempting you away from all things BookbookBookbook whatever-number-we’re-on-now with boozing at the Quad Cities SnB, didn’t you?
    Great. I’m going to go read some sonnets by Shakespeare and a few poems by E.E. Cummings to cleanse my mind.

  32. Now you’re getting to the interesting bit of the gansey, which is a sort of repayment for all the boring straight up work. After a while you’ll easily be able to see where the patterns are going, and you won’t need to follow charts (honestly!)
    And I thought I had more stitch markers on my Elann lace crop cardi than anyone else in the world, ever! Do you have someone babysit the stitch markers when you’re out at night or on tour?

  33. Hey Steph – your scribbles look a lot like the ones that I did for my ex’s bf curse gansey – The BBR book is the BEST! I also had the Gladys Thompson book, and various stitch pattern books… I ended up choosing an allover knit/purl pattern, which I think turned out quite nicely.
    Of course the very best part of the book is all the cute/mindblowingly clever little tricks, like the underarm gussetty goodness – I ended up using the inverted sideways neck gusset as well, which works well for an underarm treatment as well!
    Have fun! I remember I ended up ripping at least as much as I knit – I did much better after hair ties were instituted as stitch markers, except that one got knitted in somehow (good thing it was just a hair tie, and I could cut it out)

  34. By the way, almost forgot to say: good luck with these awful final stages of the book. Been there, done that, got the grey hairs. The moment when YOU know it’s finally done is the real triumph. Whatever launches, talks, parties follow, the one moment you can’t beat is that one when you’re all by yourself and write the last word, say the last thing, and know you’ve finished. Everything else seems unnecessary after that. (And for the shortest while, you will find you have suddenly LOTS of time to spare for new projects. Fill the space quickly, or it will contract back to normality!)

  35. totally agree about jack. it wasn’t anything evil. it was just the book. i know it in my soul.

  36. Can you imagine how much more creepy that movie would have been if Jack Nicholson was knitting some very intricate cobweb shawl pattern? Or obsessively knitting thousands of tiny baby booties?
    Good luck with both the book and the gansey. I know they will both be masterpieces. 🙂

  37. The UPS man has my copy of Beth’s book and hasn’t delivered it yet. I’m about to commence stalking.
    I totally get the scribbly part; only thing is too many of my scribbles never actually see life in yarn. I took a recent design class with Beth Walker-O’Brien…one of the most helpful things she taught was to MAKE A FEW CHOICES and then move on within that structure. Like deciding to only use traditional patterns. It doesn’t make the choices for you, but it filters out a bunch.
    Gotta try that sometime. It’s so crazy it just might work.

  38. I’m pretty sure you’ve just challenged Beth Brown-Reinsel to find this blog, or for someone connected to send it to her.
    But anyway, it’s fairly amazing to see you reaching this stage on the gansey, after reading your blog for what, two years? and the Tuesdays are for Spinning and the tours and basically, oh my, where does the time go???

  39. It’s a shame he’s going to want those charms taken off…. I think they look nice.
    I’m relieved to note that I’m not the only person that will get to the pattern part and mutter ‘dumbass’, should have planned for that… So, now I know what book to get to ‘assist’ me in my progress. Next question, hmm reading charts… hubby, does this make any sense to you? He’s good with charts. And tolerates my knitting because it keeps me happy. Truely wonderful guy.

  40. Well, I am SO glad that you’re taking a knitting break. You deserve it, you need it, and the gansey has been pretty darned patient through all of writing process. I’m thinking’ you ought to take the whole weekend off from writing, what do you think?

  41. I love that Knitting Ganseys book. The underarm gussets are the coolest thing ever. My only complaint about the book is that you can’t see the patterns very well in the photos of the prefab designs, but there are so many cool photos of all of the different types of edges, gussets, shoulders, necks, etc. that it makes up for it. My whole family got holiday ganseys the year I got that book!

  42. I’m working on a cloak for a friend of mine that has a lining that’s quilted in a diamond design. Many many straight lines one way and then many many straight lines t’other way. It’s just about maddening. I’m machine quilting it, so it’s not going to take ninety seven *YEARS* to do, but it does seem like ninety seven thousand hours.
    I, too, am doing this by the seat of my pants rather than carefully planning it out and following said plan. I’m a quilter, too, and I hope to goodness that no other quilter on the *planet* takes a close look at it. Of course, this is for one of my best friends in the entire world who is even giving me pennies for it.
    Only love could drive us to such mad endeavors.

  43. congrats on getting to the top part! and thanks for sharing the design/ construction process… i’ve always wanted to knit one of these and it’s great to have it demystified beforehand. it’s going to be gorgeous!

  44. Have fun on the knitting break, the Gansey is coming along nicely! I know I love to take little knitting breaks to clear my mind when working on tough problems. And coincindentally, both my Grandma and my Brother have birthdays today too! So I suppose only the best of people are born on 8/25.

  45. Hang in there in 9(yes, only 9)days you can relax and enjoy Seattle and all the fabulous weather, music and knitters we have to offer!

  46. Just so you know….Beth Brown-Reinsel is teaching the gansey class at Rhinebeck this year. All day Friday. Oh. But you won’t need it by then!

  47. “Deodorant?!?” my husband said…
    He doesn’t stink, either. Ever. I don’t know how he manages it. Damned French people. They freaking sweat Chanel.
    I need that gansey book. I would really love to make one for Mr. Black Turtleneck in a dark green, because the brick cabled thingy is going to end up going to the far more colourful brother, I’m sure. Petits pas, Steph, petits pas.
    Know anyone who does a kickass dark forest green handdye job on a soft wool with which I could completely kill my Tuesdays?
    Good luck with the work, lovey. You’ll be fine. If not, Rachel’s really good with the water balloons…

  48. That’s how I knit sweaters too, more or less — a little graphing here, a little fudging there… difference between you and me is, you had the sense to knit some sweaters from patterns first so you had some clue what you’re doing. Me, I try, I get stuck on the armholes yet again, I figure I am just flat-out sweater impaired, when the truth is I am a stubborn dumbass.
    Good luck with the book.

  49. Your charts look pretty readable. I usually wind up with a mess of different colours on one graph paper and hope I remember which colour finally made the cut and which ones didn’t.
    So far, only one chart has actually made it from drawing to FO. The rest, frogged many times, because I lost my way and mind not to mention the will to continue. You would think I would have learned my lesson by now, or at least bought more ink for the printer.

  50. I’m so glad that you took a knitting break. I think that should be a part of everyones day 🙂
    Looking forward to the new book.

  51. Applause for Barbara Walker, the author of wonderful knitting stitch dictionaries! And applause for Stephanie Pearl McPhee for being a great knitting author and for spinning and knitting (or will be knitting) the gansey!

  52. While I bet you have no sympathy for editors whatsoever, we go through just about the same physical and mental processes when bedeviled by a deadline. And I’m taking Beth B-R’s gansey workshop here in California in November, and you’ve convinced me that I have to read her book first.

  53. The gansey is lovely and makes my head cramp up. All I can think is “Tree pretty. Fire hot.”
    Thanks for sticking “The Shining” into my head. Creepiest parts for me were the evil twins, (they looked like Satan’s special friends) and the chick in the bathtub. Good god. I need a drink.

  54. It hurts my head to try and follow this post. I’m too tired. It’s amazing what fiber freaks will do for 15% off everything in a yarn shop… it 5:00 yet? Beer me please.

  55. How completely and utterly delightful to see your centre graphed out as ‘centre’. We just never get to see that spelling down here, and it warmed me, just a little bit, and made me homesick for points north.

  56. Happy B-day Joe’s Mum and Steph’s friend Sandy. My friend Sandy is 50 today and her husband is throwing a bash for her…..don’t tell, it’s a secret……I don’t think she will visit here, so I am safe.
    It is also Rachel Ray’s, Tim Burton’s and Rob Halford’s (of Judas Priest, but you knew that, didn’t you Steph) birthday. Don’t think I knew this off the top of my head, I was looking for inspiration for a birthday present for my friend. I didn’t think a Rachel Ray cookbook, a Tim Burton movie and a Judas Priest CD would cut it. So I settled on a reflexology massage gift certificate. If you have not done this, oh my gosh! DO IT! It will make the stress from finishing bookbookbook#4 just melt away.
    You’re right, the best folks are born on this day.

  57. Joe’s sweater is looking good. As for BB_R-what more can I say – she’s the best. There’s a good reason why her book has been in print so long. And for the BD folks – Virgos rule – best sign in the zodiac (& I am not influenced at all by the fact that my BD is Sept 5, my brother’s is Sept 6 & my younger grandson’s is Sept 7 [altho he was due on my BD] – oh no – not at all!)

  58. Having read you first post about Ganseys I became intrigues. I did some on-line research and really really want to knit one – the porblem is I don’t know if a would actually wear one – but on the hand I spend quite abit of time around the Easy Coast of England and expect it would be perfect for then. I plan to obtain the BRR and Gladys Thompson books and knit one for myself and if i’m still sane will knit one for my Stepdad. As my family are from East Anglia I plan on making mine as traditional to that area as I can and experiment a bit more for the second. If this project leads to psychiatric admission we know who to blame. lol 🙂

  59. What a gorgeous knitting project!! The stitch markers are fabulous . I know why we love our knitting “thingies ” and we are in lust for that yarn . We will be waiting for you to show the modeled gansey. Wish we could touch it—–Go get ’em.

  60. Beautiful sweater! I am sure that it will be a favorite for many years. Enjoy your knitting break. Your brain will be relaxed, your spirit soothed and all will be well in the universe. (At least until dinner and/or laundry comes calling)
    Knit On!

  61. Great progress on Joe’s gansey and I’m sure that you’re right on track with your writing.
    I made myself a gansey from the BBR book awhile back and it is one of my very favorite sweaters to wear. It is, as my Dad used to say, a friendly sweater (one that doesn’t fight back!).

  62. Hah. Beth probably just had a spike in book sales thanks to your paean. I bet she’ll forgive your idiosyncratic charts (which, by the way darling, are architectural sketches by Palladio compared the ones I made).
    And if she gives you any guff, you just tell me. As you know, she and I are almost like sisters. No, really. Even after I asked her to sign my copy of “Knitting Ganseys” to “Valued eBay Customer.”

  63. A question from an area where the toilet does not freeze- How does one pronounce gansey? I’m been internally pronouncing it as Gain-Say but today it occured to me that it could be Gan (like Can)-See.
    No need to e-mail back and explain. It’s a Spare the Steph Day. Please do actually use the word, spelling bee like, when you go to your Northern California event, as I will be in the staff.

  64. Wow.. that’s actually more detailed than the pile of scribbles and graph paper sitting on my coffee table right now.. I need to finish my knitting and then sit down and decipher the scribbles and write out the pattern!! AHHH I am DOOOOOOMED! If I were a clever writer like some knitters I could just write books.. but seeing as informational writing runs in the family.. I am DOUBLE DOOOOOMED!
    Enjoy your break..

  65. I love watching this sweater develop, and just think it is such a beautiful expression of your caring for your lucky man!

  66. Gansey is soooo over my head. I’m just trying to keep my head above the water with the lace I’m learning to knit (pic on my blog of 2 items that don’t really look like lace – though the scarf looks more lacey typeish than the sweater…). One day I shall be an expert like the Yarn Harlot!

  67. What lucky ladies you both are to have each other . HAPPY BIRETHDAY to you Carol and many more

  68. I’m drooling over your sketches, rough or not! Can’t wait to see the final product either… this really isn’t helping my desire to knit myself a gansey, and I live in Florida!
    Oh, and I like the tip about what you do with cables, whether it’s hell on your charting or not. Thanks!

  69. i am really enjoying watching the gansey come to life! i don’t have any clue how you’re doing it but it sure is fun to watch.

  70. Well, I’m thinking that if Beth reads Franklin’s blog there’s a pretty good chance she reads yours, Steph…
    I took Beth’s Gansey class a few years ago and am finally working on my first, 300+ stitches around in red Scottish Fleet on 3mm needles…it is not going quickly, I’m despairing of ever reaching the definition ridge. My sketches looked something like yours, then I made a final neat copy because I’m anal that way.

  71. I wish I had a really clever comment to make on your blog, but really I don’t. I probably shouldn’t even make one given that I am in the southwestern most (civilized)area of Florida and the chances of us ever running into each other in the local yarn shop (yours or mine) are pretty slim…but, I did very much enjoy ‘Yarn Harlot’ and have since enjoyed reading your blog as well. I admire your wit and frankly need the amusement to add a touch of laughter to my day. I don’t get to knit much anymore since my grandbaby came to live with me as she consumes nearly all of my time now, but I do still pick it up when I can and am not too exhausted to read the pattern. It’s nice to see you living out your passion and your dream. To make knitting your life, and then to have the talent to write about it as well and do it so well with the natural talent that you have. More power to ya. I’m looking forward to your next book (not to add any pressure mind you) as I find your witty style of writing a great way to end a stressful day…and it’s fun to watch my husband’s curiousity heighten as he listens to me laughing hysterically as I’m reading. I tell him he just wouldn’t understand unless he was a knitter. Keep up the good work…that is, as long as you still feel the passion…oh, and Happy Knitting .

  72. Beth B.R. is at Rhinebeck this year teaching a Gansey class….and a couple of other really cool things.

  73. Wow, I absolutely love those stitch markers. It sounds like the gansey is going to turn out great. I doubt I have the endurance or creativity to make something like that. I’m making baby hats right now – I actually consider that an accomplishment!

  74. Love the work so far! Good luck with the planning. It will be worth the work.
    (glad you took a break hate to have this become a blogfull of one line typed over and over.)

  75. Hi Steph. Once again your project is an inspiration. I love all your little tidbits of knit knowhow. And its amazing how you manage such a full day, every day. I so CANNOT wait to meet you on September 9th. Just wanted to say.

  76. To harken back to one of your earlier posts – I bought my very own member of the Washie family today. And he / she comes with a house! This is really going to mess up my Christmas knitting schedule!
    As for your writing, thanks so much for working so hard on our behalf. I appreciate knowing I am not alone…

  77. I need to scan the comments to see if Beth Brown-Reinsel has signed on telling you that you’re freaking brilliant and embody all that good knitting should…and when I find that comment, I’ll imagine you, Steph, jumping up and down in happiness, and I’ll continue to plan my daughter’s winter dress in fine gauge and assure myself I’m not nucking futz for trying to design my own knitwares.

  78. I am just loving getting to watch Joe’s Gansey unfold. Wow! You are just so very tallented! I hope that some day I will finally get enough pluck to strike out on something like that.
    Happy Birthday wishes to your friend Sandy, Joe’s Mom and all the other wonderful people that I get to share a birthday with. *Cheers* to each of you!

  79. You have just made my day!! I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who wishes the Barbara Walker books were all charted too. I had a brain injury a few years ago and I can’t follow those long written out instructions anymore. I just can’t keep track of them. I can however, follow a chart almost like I know what I’m doing. I make a larger copy of chart so I can read it and scribble all over it, and away I go. I just wish that more stitch dictionaries included charts in them.
    Glad you took a break. Just think, if you didn’t, not only could you lose your mind but you could end up looking like Jack! (And we all know he had some really bad hair days in that movie!) We want to keep our Harlot happy and sane. They won’t let you play with your pointy sticks if you aren’t! (And I can’t think of a worse fate, other than not being able to play with my dye pots!)
    Happy Birthday Nana and Sandy!

  80. designing sweaters is definately not for the faint of heart. You get the huge gold star AND the intrepid badge of the week!
    It’s gorgeous.

  81. What is this new book about, did I miss this info at some point? I am amazed at how quickly you knit up things – I am so slow at knitting, but lightening with crochet!
    The gansey looks great – the stitch markers are fun to make. Too many things to think about-
    I suggest chocolate!

  82. I’ve been reading your blog for about a month now, and I just wanted to say hooray for taking much needed breaks!!!!
    The gansey is amazing, I love reading about your progress.
    Good luck with the book, I hope you come back to it completly refreshed after having sometime to knit.

  83. Steph, please take any axes out of your house RIGHT THIS VERY INSTANT and give them to a friend for safe-keeping. I am imagining Joe and the girls trapped in the bathroom, screaming, and you hacking your way through the door, and Joe pushing them out the window (into the cherry tree) one at a time, shouting, “run! run!” … only, instead of a nice, safe, snow-filled hedge-maze, they run to that public labyrinth you described in your first book, where they can of course be spotted easily, and … oh, the mayhem, the mayhem.
    Beautiful progress on the gansey. I like your transitional ridge. I have to go a size smaller needle for that purl welt when I do one, or it looks “puffy” for some reason. Don’t ask why.
    I’ve made a slightly non-traditional baby gansey (the child in question is a Cajun boy and will grow up to fish as inevitably as a Cajun girl will grow up to crochet, the dang kids are born with either a fishhook or a crochet hook clutched in one hand)) and for the transitional pattern I have found nice use for the sideways braid in Eastern European stockings. Not authentic, but it makes a slick, non-bulky transition line on a baby garment.
    Please imagine me holding up a handlettered posterboard lettered “STEPH RULES” and bouncing up and down like someone at a NASCAR race. You go, girl!

  84. I like this synchronicity: your stitch markers look like fishing lures. That picture reminds me of a fisherman’s hat with lures pinned all over it–good karma for this fisherman’s sweater, I think.

  85. As a born-again knitter (I took lessons at Sears about 35 years ago and just jumped back on the wagon two years ago with my first pair of socks because I couldn’t believe the self-stripping yarn would do so), I’m mightily impressed — with everything! The innumerable socks. The feather shawl. The Gansey!!! Where did you get your PHD in knitting? I might consider going back to school for a BA!

  86. I too, can’t wait to see a picture of Joe wearing his gansey. Good luck with finishing the sweater and the book. You are a very talented lady, and we are the lucky beneficiaries. Just be sure to keep taking breaks, dear Harlot, and remember–chocolate and wine are both healthy!

  87. My grandmother had bequeathed to me Gladys Thompson’s book when her knitterly fingers wore out. The history and how she gathered knitting info were interesting, but editorial missed the mistakes in translating knitting patterns from chart to written instructions. I ‘re-wrote’ one of the Overy stitch patterns when I realized, while knitting it of course, that it was written wrong. So, Beware! Love the gansey progress!

  88. This has nothing to do with anything in your entry, but you’d love it. You know how sometimes you’ll threaten one project by taking out a new project and making the old one watch while you prepare for something else? Or you’ll put a project in a corner to let it think about what it did wrong? And that supposedly whips the project into shape. Well… other hobbyists do that sort of thing too.
    “First, the humourous “sacrifices to the dice gods”. A friend had some dice that just continued to roll poorly for him, so he took one offending die and surrounded it by the rest of the dice. He then lit the offending die on fire and forced the rest of the dice to watch as punishment for offending him. Rumor has it, his dice began rolling better.”

  89. Dear knitting guru. This is off the topic, but I’m completely confused and I just need to share this with someone. I offered to knit a pullover for my husband. He declined and said that he has got enough pullovers. How is that possible? I can assure you that I have got plenty more than he does and I still don’t have enough. What should I do? I would so much like to show my love for him by knitting the warmest and the most comfortable pullover ever, but I guess I’m just forced to knit one for myself and show my love for him in some other way…

  90. Do you want one good tip: Be absolutely sure that your sweater is the right lenght before adding gussets.
    I realized way too late that my Den – M – Knit would shrink 20% in height when washed, and had to take out the gusset part on a toddler guernsey – sort of – I am knitting/unventing. Ripping out on a small sweater with 168 st. is hard enough, ripping on joes Gansey would probably be catastrophic…

  91. Stephanie, I ADORE all of your books and I have started my first pair of socks because of you. I’ll let you know how it goes LOL.
    Did you see that Ziplock now carries XXL bags? I’m putting all my woolie stash in them. They are like 2 feet by 2 1/2 feet. I’m guessing you already know but wanted to make sure.

  92. Did you know that Beth Brown Reisel is going to be at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival teaching a class on Gansey’s? You will have to bring the Gansey to show her. I’m sure she loves groupies :).
    Friday 1 (M) Gansey Techniques, Beth Brown Reisel Fri All 6 Hours
    (must be proficient with dp needles) – Students will learn how to construct a Gansey, a sweater form prevalent in the last century and early part of this centry among the fishermen of the British Isles. A small scale sweater will be knitted using traditional construction techniques including the classic Channel Island Cast-on, split welts, seam stitches, traditional knit/purl patterns, the underarm gusset, shoulder straps with perpendicular joining, and pick-up sleeves. Alternative methods to these techniqes will also be explored.

  93. He didn’t write about knitting, but she knitted a bit in the movie. It’s always nice to have nice pointy objects when you are living with a lunatic. But Jack Nicholson can be a lunatic any day he wants to.

  94. This is more for your readers than for you, since you probably know your schedule already & have just been too busy with the bookbookbookbook and the gansey and the coffee drinking and the sanity-keeping to update the tour page, but according to the powell’s calendar page (, you’re slated to read in Portland at 7:30. Hope your weekend was well and the girls figured out how to order pizza instead of asking you for dinner 😀

  95. I don’t know if you’ll find me amongs your many emails…. but if you do could you recommend a pattern and yarn for a 1st time shawl?

  96. Have bought three copies of “Knitting Ganseys” because it was always lost (squirrelled away in opaque project bag) when I needed it. Which was all the time. Figured I could always give the extra two away when they were all found. Never begrudged the investment; it was always worth it.

  97. The scariest part of The Shining was when the topiary sculpted like savage animals kept moving behind him, yet he couldn’t hear them, and couldn’t quite remember how they were BEFORE he turned around and looked. That and the sudden smell of oranges that presaged a telepathic event. Woooo! It’s almost up there with your math scribbles!

  98. Hey– Did I miss the part where Stephanie spun enough yarn to finish this thing? 😉
    p.s. I just looked at pictures of ganseys online, and all I can think is… they’re probably best for women who want a little extra help on top, as opposed to women who don’t.

  99. Missed you at the Rutherford Library. I would love to come see you at Union Square on September 17th….but where at Union Square??? Looking forward to an update of the tour schedule.

  100. Here’s some ‘Shining” related movie trivia: Stanley Kubric was such a stickler for details, he had a secretary type every single sheet of paper in that stack of “All work and no play…” because photocopies wouldn’t have the faint letter impressions (and thus wouldn’t be as authentic when filmed). I hope she was paid well!

  101. Five – count ’em FIVE days until the Harlot visits MY town! I am so excited…what to wear….what to KNIT!!!! My shawl or my sock? I prefer to concentrate when I knit on the shawl, and there may be far too much laughter to keep my eye on the pattern. I may have to bring hubby’s socksocksock 6. He is such a spoiled man……

  102. Watch those gussets! They can easily cause fitting problems if you make them too big & the sweater is not already skin tight. I discovered this when my father tried on the gansey made of fingering weight cotton that took me three years to knit. He squeezed the wad of fabric at his underarm and said, “What is this?”
    Fortunately he was still willing to wear it. But it’s not quite the sweater I thought I was making.

  103. Hi Stephanie,
    I am blushing!!! Yes, several people snitched on you and I had to come see your gansey! It looks lovely! And do remember that not all gussets should be increased every third round. It depends… You are not the first person to a. start the gusset too soon b. increase the gusset too quickly. So cut yourself a break my dear! At least our medium can be ripped out and used again.
    I am impressed with your pages of design notes. I try to stress to my students how important it is to be organized; you know, like not putting info on a bunch of sticky notes and then only finding SOME of them later… (Ahem!) I was either at Stitches or TKGA where you addressed the banquet. I wanted to tell you that you are a STITCH! I laughed so hard. You are eminently a good read! I sure hope we can meet face to face someday.

  104. I’ve just been staying at home not getting anything done. I guess it doesn’t bother me. Shrug. I haven’t been up to anything. I haven’t gotten much done today.

  105. I’ve just been staying at home waiting for something to happen. Whatever. Not much on my mind lately. I guess it doesn’t bother me.

  106. I’ve just been staying at home not getting anything done. I guess it doesn’t bother me. Shrug. I haven’t been up to anything. I haven’t gotten much done today.

  107. I can’t be bothered with anything these days, but shrug. I just don’t have anything to say recently. I haven’t gotten much done recently. Nothing seems worth thinking about.

  108. Basically nothing noteworthy happening right now, but eh. Today was a complete loss. I haven’t been up to much recently. I’ve pretty much been doing nothing worth mentioning.

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