My current work in progress:

Stornoway, designed by Alice Starmore from her book Fishermen’s Sweaters, knit in Frangipani 5-ply guernsey wool in the Aran colorway, on a 3.0mm needle.

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. Just gearing up to make my first ever gansey, so this would be perfect! I never win anything though, so I suspect I’ll have to buy a copy!
    Diann´s last blog post ..Hello! It’s been a while!

  2. LOVE Ganseys!!!!

  3. Love ganseys. Loos like a good book

  4. That pic of Loki sums up my winter, so far. TT
    I’ve been knitting and frogging the same tea cozy for over two weeks. A new pattern book to pore/drool over might just pep me up. Thanks for the giveaway. Keep well.

  5. Barbara McIntire says:

    Love the gansey book, so please enter my name in the giveaway. Thanks.

  6. kathleen in wisconsin says:

    I have this on my bucket list. Thank you for the offering, Wendy.

  7. Since the patterns only go up to 34″, it’s probably not a book I’d buy for myself but I’d love to be entered in the drawing. I enjoy knitting ganseys and love reading about the history of knitting. I have several other gansey knitting books & I’m sure this one would like to be part of my collection.
    Jeannie Gray´s last blog post ..Let it snow

  8. Philhellene says:

    Oooh, ganseys! Yes please!

  9. I love knitting books that combine history and patterns. I always learn something and I love the myth busting, usually of the stereotype of the sage granny by the fire with her knitting. I’m also always very grateful I get to knit for the fun of it and not out of economic necessity.

  10. I enjoy learning about historical and regional knitting.
    Loki is one relaxed cat.
    Kristen´s last blog post ..November news

  11. Love the gansey book. I’m very interested in knitting history and I thank you for this review because I’m now really looking forward to reading the book. Merry Christmas,& Happy New Year 2016, all year long. Suzanne A, New York NY

  12. Looks like a great book. I would love a copy.

  13. Loki’s sleep position is hilarious, 🙂