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Hints for Knitting Gansey Shoulder Joins

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A Gansey Update for Yarn Along

A year ago, I began working on a Gansey for my husband. I wanted to knit a sweater which represented our lives together on our farm. Through the process, I have grown and stretched as a knitter, learning new skills, and challenging my thinking. A couple weeks ago, I finally finished knitting both the front and the back of the sweater, which brought me to the dilemma of how to join the shoulders.

Traditional Gansey knitters utilized several different methods for joining the front and back at the shoulder. I have used two books to guide me: Knitting Ganseys by Beth Brown-Reinsel, and Knitting in the Old Way by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts. One of the most popular methods used, involved knitting a shoulder strap that ran perpendicular to the front and back. This allowed for more room in the shoulder as well as providing, yet another, place to carry a motif from the front down the full length of the sleeve.

Working the Shoulder Strap

Shoulder Strap in Progress

Knitting Ganseys guides you through the steps of knitting a shoulder strap. Essentially, you knit the strap while picking up stitches from the front and back shoulder at the same time, almost in the same way that you knit short rows. It took me some time to wrap my mind around this. I finally found a video online which clearly shows the steps involved. I loved listening to this woman’s accent and watching her fingers fly across the needles.

Once I understood the process, I cast on my shoulder strap using a contrasting color of yarn and began knitting. I will carry the five strand cable across the shoulder and down the length of the sleeve. This motif runs vertically up the front and back of the sweater as well. I have knit one shoulder strap so far. It has been challenging, yet enjoyable to watch this sweater unfold and come together. My next task will be picking up stitches at the armhole edges to knit the sleeves. I am looking forward to it, as the knitting the sleeves will seem easy after having completed the front and back of the sweater.

Completed Shoulder Strap with Cable