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The Grand View Farm Shepherd’s Gansey

It all began with a good book, a book about fishermen and wool sweaters. My husband was next in line for a handknit sweater. He had patiently watched me as I knit shawls, vests, cardigans, hats and mittens for other people. I saw the longing in his eye, that look of “is it my turn yet”.  A little more than a year ago, a good friend sent me the book Casting Off  by Nicole Dickson, which left me intrigued and inspired by the gansey sweaters of the fishermen. I wanted my husband’s sweater to represent the life we have built together, the family we have raised, the farm that has become home. The gansey was the perfect solution, knit with wool from the very first ewe ever born in our flock.

Grand View Farm Gansey
Because every man needs a truck, a dog, and a gansey sweater.


I embarked on a 15 month journey of learning, designing, and knitting the Grand View Farm Gansey, a sweater for my husband, which I finished knitting Mother’s Day weekend. The gansey is designed with vertical motifs on the body of the sweater. Each motif on the gansey represents our lives together. The central five strand braid represents our family of five. The tree of life, on either side of the center braid, represents our lives together here on this earth as well as our eternal life in heaven. Our 29 years of marriage are signified by the double marriage lines.


Grand View Farm Gansey
The Grand View Farm Gansey


This project has challenged me, and stretched my knitting skills beyond what I ever thought possible. Throughout the process I have learned:

  • Sometimes it is better to jump in and begin, even when you do not have the full vision of where you are going.
  • It is best to not make a mistake on a cable.
  •  If you do make a mistake on a cable and have to rip back, then it is best to stay calm and focused. Crying really only blurs the problem.
  •  Gauge does matter and your gauge changes over time.
  •  You can do just about anything with “You Tube” on your side.
  • Blocking solves a host of problems.

(Sharing one last post on my gansey journey with Ginny’s Yarn Along and Nicole’s Keep Calm Craft On. A huge thank you to these two blogs and their readership for encouraging me along my knitting adventure.)

Gansey Sweater for a Shepherd
The 5 strand braid is carried across the shoulder and down each sleeve.


Want to read more posts about my gansey knitting journey?

Hints for Knitting Gansey Shoulder Joins

Knitting a Gansey

From Sheep to Gansey

Demystifying Picking Up Stitches in Your Knitting




14 Responses

  1. CKG

    Your husband is ONE LUCKY GUY!! That sweater rocks! (and thank you for the past 29 years…).

  2. Alina

    Oh my goodness, Kim! It is a FO of a decade! How thoughtful, heartfelt and amazing this sweater is! So many things are intertwined into it – your life, you very own yarn, your knowledge, skills and determination. I am so happy you left a comment and it led me to your amazing blog!

  3. Katy

    That sweater is just *perfect*!!!! I love that each design means something! Your husband looks dashing wearing it too!!! GREAT job! 🙂

  4. Mary Piontek

    So beautiful! I really need to get knitting with all of the lovely yarn I have from you! If only I work stopped getting in the way of my fiber fun!

  5. Emily Abroad

    What a gift.

  6. kcmama

    Oh, Wow! That is one absolutely gorgeous sweater and your handsome husband shows it off to perfection. Love the story behind your design. We are also a family of five and we have been married for 28 years. Let me just say that if you ever decide to write this pattern up I would be the first in line to purchase it! It is exquisite. Congratulations.

    • Kim Goodling

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I used Beth Brown Reinsel’s book, Knitting Ganseys, as my springboard. Her book walks you through how to design and knit your own gansey. I am sure you can do it! 🙂

  7. mamas mercantile

    A really impressive jumper, one to be greatly admired. The pattern and the colour are a real delight.

  8. Eileen

    Love the sweater! I have been reading a lot on the history of Gansey sweaters by Alice Starmore. have not started a sweater yet but I plan too and soon.
    Very intriged with the shoulder joins.

  9. Ranee @ Arabian Knits

    I am impressed! I remember first reading about this some months ago. It is wonderful to see it brought to completion.

    I like the idea of doing something like this for my husband, we will be married 19 years at the end of this one, and have nine children. But he so rarely wears sweaters. I thought of adapting the idea and making a comforter for our bed. That seemed appropriate. Thank you for the idea and for sharing your lovely work.

  10. emmae

    That’s a fantastic sweater and how amazing that you have incorporated aspects of your life together into the design!!! and it fits him perfectly. That braid starting on the shoulder and going down the arm is stunning.
    You have a lovely dog too!!

    • Kim Goodling

      Thank you! I was very pleased with how the shoulder strap with the braiding turned out. The gauge was a bit off on the shoulder straps but it all worked out fine in the end.

  11. Becki

    That sweater truly is stunning!

  12. Caffeine Girl

    That is a true accomplishment. It is a gorgeous sweater. I like your advice about just jumping in because that’s kind of how I live!