My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


River Ganseys

I have another great book to talk about today: River Ganseys: Strikin’ t’loop, Swaving, and Other Yorkshire Knitting Curiosities Revived from the Archives by Penelope Lister Hemingway. It is available in both eBook and paperback formats.


That’s quite a title, isn’t it? That was my first clue that this wasn’t just a book of gansey patterns. Rather, it is a fascinating history of knitting in Yorkshire, including the origins of ganseys, gansey motifs (including superstitions and folklore about said motifs), and even a chapter on a Yorkshire knitter, an ancestor of the author, who emigrated to America in the early 1800s. And more!

I have had a fascination for ganseys for nigh on 30 years and have knitted a few. I went so far as to knit one in the round using 14″ deadly sharp steel dpns and a knitting belt for authenticity’s sake. In the 1980s and 1990s I acquired every book I could find on ganseys and traditional British knitting. (I have a copy of the original edition of The Old Hand Knitters of the Dales that was recently re-released with a new foreword, photographs of original Dales knits, and patterns by Penelope Lister Hemingway, the author of River Ganseys.

River Ganseys has lots of photos and illustrations that I have never seen before, a delight considering how many books I have on the topic of gansey knitting. And it is fascinating reading.

In addition to a carefully researched history, there is a chapter entitled “Gansey Knitting 101” that has all the nuts and bolts and how-tos for knitting a gansey using traditional techniques. There is also a great chapter on spinning yarn for gansey knitting.

And, of course, there are some lovely gansey patterns. There are 7 patterns in all, and you can see them on Ravelry, here. All but one of them use traditional 5-ply gansey wool, and one is knit from a fingering weight wool from Blacker Yarns.

Here are my favorites — all very traditional looking designs based on historical examples.

This is Phoebe Carr:


And Lizzie Lee:


And Ebiezzer:


Another beautiful gansey. My only complaint with this pattern is that, oddly, it only goes up to size 34″.

All in all, this is a fascinating book, and I read it cover to cover and thoroughly enjoyed it. Anyone with any interest in ganseys will find it worthwhile!

Once again, the publisher has generously authorized me to give away a copy of the eBook to one of my readers. Who’d like it?

To be entered in the drawing for a copy of River Ganseysplease leave a comment on this blog post by 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time, Sunday, December 13, 2015. The random number generator will select a winner.

Meanwhile at home, the Little Prince takes a well-deserved nap after some extended play. He is napping on his toy to ensure it does not escape.



  1. Stephanie says:

    I’m admittedly still afraid of knitting a whole sweater, but that sounds like a really fascinating read 🙂

  2. BabettesFfest says:

    I haven’t knit a gansey or anything with a gansey motif. I love Knitting as there is so much to learn! Maybe 2016 will be the year of gansey for me.

  3. I’ve been researching ganseys for some time. Maybe this is the final piece to the puzzle!

  4. I’ve got a couple of gansey books at home, but this one isn’t in my library yet. Would love to win a copy!

  5. I love reading the history of my hobbies and my husband probably deserves one of the sweaters!

    Thanks for the opportunity.

  6. Janice in GA says:

    I’ve been reading the author’s blog and following along with her research. She’s fascinating. I also love ganseys, so throw my name into the hat. 🙂

  7. Deb Kegelmeyer says:

    I love ganseys and also like to read about the history of gansey knitting. This sounds like an excellent read. Thank you for getting a copy to give away.

  8. This sounds like a fantastic book!

  9. I’d love a chance at the book! I’ve really started to love reading about the history of knitting and stitching, as well as actually doing it!

  10. I am fascinated by ganseys, started one over 20 years ago for my hubby but never finished, it. A copy of this book would inspire me to make one.

  11. Mmmm……history and knitting……..I could like this book 🙂
    Renee Anne´s last blog post ..A day that will live in infamy….

  12. Me please! And that picture of Loki is adorable.

  13. Would love a chance to win! Thanks!
    Dizzy´s last blog post ..Arya’s Baby Blanket!

  14. I love history AND I love knitting! I need this book.

  15. Love Yorkshire and need to up my game and knit a sweater instead of just socks and accessories!
    Jennifer´s last blog post ..Tale of Two Socks

  16. Oh, yes. I’d like to make a gansey for my son.

  17. Sign me up! 🙂 Love Loki’s pic today! >^..^<

  18. Oh, we’re moving to North Yorkshire next summer. What a fun thing to read as we get ready for our move. 🙂

  19. I would LOVE this book!

  20. I love ganseys and also history, so I bet I’d really like this book!

  21. Wendy- I have started a gansey after many years. I enjoy the fine needles and the yarn, as well as the history.

    (PS- how did you like your Gudrun Sjoden clothes?)
    lorraine´s last blog post ..It’s Beginning To Look Alot Like….

  22. margie kovacic says:

    I have always liked reading about ganseys. Someday I’d like to knit one. I have been requesting books through my library about gansey knitting. Please, put my name in.

  23. Love anything British. This sounds fascinating.

  24. Maggie Gean says:

    I love ganseys and have knit several, and have started the awesome one from a very old ‘gutting girl! Gansey. And I need to find more time to work on it.

  25. Sounds like a very interesting read!

  26. Ohhh, I would love to win this – and if I don’t I’ll have to buy it! I enjoy your posts so much and when my phone beeps on Sunday and Wednesday night about 7, I know it’s you and am eager to see what you have to report.

  27. Gloria Jean Johnston says:

    Love Ganseys! This one looks like something I would really enjoy.
    Gloria Jean

  28. Linda G Howell says:

    I love ganseys, but I have never attempted to knit one. The 101 section may just inspire me! Give Loki a kitty kiss from me!!

  29. DIANE OBRIEN says:

    These patterns look lovely!

  30. Ganseys have always been one of my favorite styles of sweaters. I have made several of them and love reading about them.

    ps, I love the new cowl.

  31. Susan Dobrowney says:

    I have wanted to knit a Gansey for a while, this would be the incentive that I need to start one. There are some lovely examples in this publication.

  32. handmadebysue says:

    Another fabulous book. Some wonderful patterns, and I’m history buff , too.

  33. Thanks for the opportunity to win this book!

  34. Pamela Quigley says:

    Hiya. I so want to add this book to my gansey library. I’m finishing up my 2nd pair of gansey socks – the Gusset Heel Gansey sock by Katherine Misegades. This pattern is so well written – a pleasure to knit – and has a few gansey techniques in it for you to practice (as I am) before jumping in to knitting your first gansey jumper. You can download Katherine’s pattern for free (so generous!) on ravelry. And she has a link to her blog to help you through the tricky bits. Also, check out Di Gilpin’s “Moray Star” gansey on ravelry. It’s modern take on the traditional gansey. I think this will be my first jumper, although I will have to adapt it to using my 5-ply gansey yarn stash. Always love to see more published research on traditional ganseys! Happy knitting everyone! Pamela x

  35. Oh my! this looks like a wonderful treasure. I have knit several ganseys as well and love to see more information published

  36. Anne Marie B says:

    I’d love this book. Thanks!

  37. I would love to read this book & try knitting one of the patterns

  38. I love Ganseys, and the history would be awesome to learn about. Thanks again for the great review and opportunity to win a copy of the book.

  39. That cat!!!

  40. Ok: I’d kill for a copy of this one.

  41. Isn’t it fascinating how histories and traditions have developed from a couple of basic, and fairly simple, manipulations of needles and yarns?

  42. Oh yes. please enter me to win this book. Thank you.

  43. Historical knitting books are a treasure. I have a 40-year-old copy of Gladys Thompson’s Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys & Arans, which also has fine old photos, but not to the extent of River Ganseys. I’m glad to hear your recommendation.
    Loki is too precious! How can you resist that fluffy tum?!

  44. I love Gansey designs and I would love to knit some of the ones in this book. I wish I could see some of the darker pictures better. Thanks.

  45. SuthernGirl says:

    I have been researching Ganseys so I could spin and knit my own, so reading that chapter on the spinning sounds fascinating. Definitely a book I would read from cover to cover….

  46. Michele Ross says:

    I would LOVE to have a copy of this book! Please random number generator pick my number!!

  47. I think ganseys are fascinating! They are perfect for Pacific Northwest living!

  48. alicia grayson says:

    I love finding out the history of everyday activities. You can reach me on ravelry as alikat2004

  49. Sandra Kerr says:

    What an interesting looking book. And my cat does that all the time.

  50. I would love to read this book!

  51. Lauren Kowalczewski says:

    I have sweater books but nothing on proper gansey’s. I would love to win that book!! I’ve always wanted to knit myself a fisherman’s knit sweater and maybe this would help…maybe not…but either way, I’d love to get back to sweater making.
    You sure are keeping Loki busy, he looks exhausted! Cassie and Zoe are napping under the ends of my afghan…it’s cold in Michigan tonight.

  52. Cool book!

  53. Elaine in NYC says:

    A gansey has been on my bucket list for way too long, as have a few cones of Frangipani!

    Amazing how often our furry friend is in the “take me, I’m yours” position.

  54. I too have made a few ganseys… One resulting in the piercing of my index finger. I’ve since learned to use a finger protector (like for sorting papers). I still like them and would love to win a drawing for more gansey inspiration.

  55. I like ganseys also and I’d enjoy this book.

  56. I went to a Gansey exhibition in Hull last year, fascinating, would love a copy of the book!

    Tell Amanda U to contact me when she moves to North Yorkshire next year, I am already here!

  57. I too love Ganseys but don’t feel as knowledgable as you seem perhaps a copy of the book would assist? lol

  58. I would really like to learn about Ganseys and the difference between them and just sweaters. Hope it picks me.

  59. Who knew. Sounds like a fascinating book!

  60. Have been waiting for this publication, and before Xmas wee.
    Thanks for another neat give-a-way.

  61. Looks great!

  62. I have knit many sweaters, mostly in the round but have yet to knit a gansey. I would love a chance to try my hand at one.. The history of knitting is a very interesting topic. It is terrific to find out where these traditions have come from!

  63. Yes, please I would love to receive a copy of this book


  64. Oh my! such a lovely book 🙂

  65. This looks great! I’ve collected several gansey books, and have knit several, because I too love the look and the history. I’d love to have an update with new information and patterns. It’s time to knit another one! Thanks for the contest–

  66. You passed your love of ganseys on to me with your gansey sock patterns. Would love to have this book for this history.

  67. I have a copy of the original Old Handknitters of the Dales too. Great book. I will have to look at the new edition. Thanks for mentioning it.

    Waving at Loki.

  68. yes please!

  69. Testing comments. Feel free to delete!

  70. My Mum is a Yorkshire lass, and taught me how to knit – and I would love the book. The history sounds fascinating and, though I haven’t knit a Gansey sweater in years, I do use Gansey patterns all the time in my hiusbaùnd’s socks.

  71. What a title. The chapter on spinning gansey yarn sounds interesting. A 5 ply yarn that is a fingering weight, not sure that is in my skill set yet. Have you tried the knitting belt for anything else? The idea of walking around with your knitting sounds productive, but I fear I would miss my guilty pleasure of watching Grimm and Supernatural.

  72. Sounds like a great book.

  73. Kathy in Alaska says:

    This book looks like a real treat! Thanks for the chance to win.

  74. Like you, I have a weakness for Ganseys and have made several, though not with the degree of authenticity you have. I love the patterns. Does Loki have a Christmas outfit?

  75. Tina in NJ says:

    Please Mr. Generator, pick me! I love ganseys.

  76. roz thompson says:

    I LOVE Ganseys too and history of English knitting!!!! Please pick me!!!

  77. I knit my husband a Gansey sweater on size 2 and 4 needles and would love to knit another! Thanks for the chance to win this book.

  78. How wonderful. I love reading about knitting history. Gansey patterns are an added bonus!

  79. Looks like a great book for one lucky knitter’s library!
    Good luck to everyone!

  80. I like the historical aspect of kntting. The more patterns to try the better! Thanks.

  81. Count me in! I’m up for the challenge of knitting a gansey.

  82. Anita Dodds says:

    Love traditional patterns. The book looks fantastic!

  83. Diane Ogle says:

    That looks like a book full of beautiful patterns. I would love to add it to my library, which already includes a couple of your books! Thank you for your blog and patterns.

  84. DillwyniaPeter says:

    I recently acquired my hardcopy & I agree that the book is excellent. My whinge is with the publishers. The hard copy is in black & white & some of the numbers in the charts are impossible to see. This isn’t insurmountable, but newbie knitters will have problems.

    I plan on knitting Parthenope over the Christmas period using a lovely 5ply Bendigo wool in a nice forest green. Those pine trees should suit the colour nicely.

  85. I’ve just recently re-discovered Ganseys and feel like I finally have the skills to knit one!

  86. I’ve taken multiple classes from Beth Brown-Reinsel, who wrote a wonderful book on ganseys some years back. She was also a guest in my home in 1995 when she came out west for a knitting conference and the conference wouldn’t pay for her to arrive a day early (we visited the late, great Straw into Gold and Lacis among other adventures). I have a similar fascination with ganseys, although I would never go so far as to use a knitting belt (seems to fiddly).

    This book looks lovely, and I would really enjoy having it.
    Jamie´s last blog post ..I’ve Been Pinned!

  87. Susan Lapierre-Jones says:

    Such beautiful sweaters! Trying again to win something great!

  88. Given the unfortunate added bulk of my cabled sweaters I want to try a gansey next. This book looks wonderful!

  89. This is definitely a book I have been wanting to see!
    Caroline´s last blog post ..Random rant about knitting patterns

  90. I love reading about knitting history, this sounds like a great book.

  91. Alice Moisen says:

    Love books that combine history and overall technique with the patterns

  92. ooh, my favorite sort of book–lots of reading about knitting history! I’d love to take a look at this 🙂

  93. Thanks for your review. I have two books about ganseys but haven’t tried one yet. Can’t wait to try. This looks like a great book to have.

  94. Looks like a great book. I love knowing the history of knitting and want to knit a gansey.

  95. Liz Parkinson says:

    I share your fascination with ganseys and love reading about and researching the history of them. The Yorkshire link is particularly interesting as I had not been aware of it before and I used to live there for a long while. It would be wonderful if I would be fortunate enough to win a copy of this book – I could only take the ebook as I don’t have room for anything physical :-0
    Oh! and I have 2 cones of Frangipani in my storage locker stash!

  96. I would love to learn more about the history of ganseys.

  97. Oh yeah, babeeeee! Me, please.

    As always, thank you, Wendy, for the opportunity!


  98. I love Ganseys as well. This would make a great Christmas gift for me!!!!

  99. I’d love to learn more about gansey knitting and possibly knit one myself. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  100. Beautiful sweaters! I would love to make one of these. Great gift also!