Gansey Patterns and Sockupied Fall

I love gansey patterns. I’m not sure what it is about the simple combination of knits and purls that greatly appeals to me, but there you have it. We did a collection of updated gansey-inspired patterns in Knitscene Fall 2014 and I talked about them in this blog post. I also love knitting socks! So when Kate Atherley’s Gladys Thompson socks were momentarily homeless (Kate designed too many awesome patterns for her Custom Socks book, and this pair was cut from the collection), I made grabby-hand motions for this great pair of gansey-inspired socks so I could include them in Sockupied Fall 2015!

Knit socks the right way with the simple knit and purl stitches that make up gansey patterns to create very cozy socks with unique designs.

I love the story behind the name, and I wanted to share it with you today! Here is Kate, talking about Gladys Thompson:

Knit socks the right way with the simple knit and purl stitches that make up gansey patterns to create very cozy socks with unique designs.
Ms. Thompson was a life-long knitter, interested in the regional patterns used in traditional English fishermen’s jersey. The English fisherman’s sweater is much more understated than what we think of as a traditional Irish fisherman’s sweater—the heavily cabled “Aran” sweater. The design is driven by more practical concerns: cables use up a lot of yarn and slow the knitting; the classic Gansey stitch patterns are small cables or simple knit and purl combos to keep the knitting interesting but quick to knit. She made a habit of gathering and recording these patterns—in many cases, they had likely never been written down before in any organized manner. In 1938, she sent a set of four dolls, dressed in traditional garb (one of them even knitting a miniature sweater!) to an exhibition in London. These dolls caught the eye of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and she asked Ms. Thompson to write a book to gather and record these patterns. I can’t imagine it’s possible to refuse such a request—and we’re glad she didn’t! A revised version of the book, Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys and Arans is still available (Dover Publications, 3rd ed., 1979), and is a must-have if you’re at all interested in knitting history and the English fishermen’s sweaters.


There’s something infinitely satisfying about knitting the simple knit and purl stitches that make up gansey patterns. As the texture and “image” appears out of the knitting, it feels very soothing to me. I just completed another gansey-inspired pattern (more on that tomorrow), and now I desperately want to cast on for Gladys Thompson socks in a nice, simple wool that will show off all my pretty stitches.

To get the pattern for Gladys Thompson, as well as five over great sock knitting patterns, download the all-new Sockupied Fall 2015. In addition to six total knitting patterns for socks, you’ll also be able to read Donna Druchunas’s fascinating article on sock knitting in 19th century eastern Europe—a nice companion to Kate’s socks, inspired by traditional English styles, Donna showcases knitting techniques and patterns used in the Pale of Settlement. Take a knitting journey without ever leaving your house thanks to Sockupied Fall 2015!

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