Yarn Types, Needles and Other Tools

What do you need to make a gansey?


One of the most important things to bear in mind when producing a gansey was choosing the right type of wool – it had to be resistant to the potentially damaging marine environment, with the ability to retain its colour and shape for several years, despite exposure to elements. Seafield worsted 4 or 5 ply, sometimes called Seamen’s Iron, a round, close-spun wool, was the preferred choice of the East Coast fisherfolk.  This particular type of wool was navy blue in colour, yet ganseys of other colours have occasionally been reported. Ganseys were made from a single strand of yarn, with no seams nor points of weakness. Today, the Guernsey 5-ply yarn, normally supplied in 50g or 100g wool and also available to buy on 500g cones, is probably the best type of wool to use

when knitting a gansey.

Knitting needles

Nowadays, knitting needles are available in various materials, ranging from aluminium and steel to bamboo and plastic. Traditionally, the use of fine needles or ‘wires’ ensured a close texture with a firm hardwearing surface. Ganseys were knitted ‘into the round’, from the bottom up, casted on over four needles, with a fifth needle used to knit.

Other tools

Other handy tools include: a needle sizer, to check the thickness of needles; a tape measure; stitch holders, to hold open stitches when not being used; stitch markers, to ‘bookmark’ an important part in the knitting pattern; a row counter, to help keep track of which row you are on; a pair of scissors; a knitting calculator, to help you calculate the amount of yarn needed for a knitting project; and a knitting pattern to follow.

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