Last year the Brooklyn Tweed design team hatched the idea of setting a regular design challenge for ourselves — a chance for all five of us to throw down our best ideas interpreting a particular historical genre in knitwear. First up? Ganseys!
These historical seaman’s sweaters of the British Isles were not only practical garments, worked densely to guard the wearer against the North Sea elements; they also featured ingenious construction to improve comfort and durability. Frequently embellished with bold textural motifs, they were canvases for knitters’ skill and artistry, and as a whole gave rise to a cottage industry that helped to support families.
In seeking inspiration from this rich tradition, we sought to incorporate the elements that most fascinate us—striking stitch motifs, the sense of balance between patterned and plain fabric, the innovative adjustments to fit—while updating garment shapes and bending to modern knitterly realities. (Few of us nowadays want to knit adult-size sweaters in black wool at 8 stitches to the inch!)
Today we launch five new sweater patterns in Loft and Shelter, plus a quick-knitting cap in Quarry. Each design riffs on different points of gansey styling; we look forward to highlighting some of those special details when we blog about our approach to this collection next week. BT Ganseys offer a variety of silhouettes, so whether you prefer a trim fit, a cozy oversize shape, or a dash of funky flare, we hope you’ll find a sweater that appeals.
We also took the opportunity to restyle two hats from the BT archive to accompany this collection. We knit up Forge (shown above), a folded-brim watch cap marked by OXO cables and an elfin peak (shown above), in Fauna. Crag (shown in Artifact with the Vanora pullover), has been worked to a beanie length slightly shorter than the original, a modification that’s now been added to the pattern. (If you’ve previously purchased Crag electronically, you’ll receive a free update.)
As always, we look forward to seeing how you’ll make these new designs your own! If you’re already a gansey connoisseur, maybe we’ll see you adding initials to the fabric of your sweater or deploying a Channel Island cast-on. If you’re new to the history of ganseys, we hope you’ll enjoy learning more about this rich knitting tradition. Happy knitting!
View all the patterns | View the Lookbook | View Collection on Ravelry