Knitting Ganseys’ Chevron Style

I love chevrons. I know I’m not alone in this. The deep-V version of stripes has been trending hard for several years now. Some would even say for millennia, noting they’ve been carved in pottery dated to 1800 BC. The chevron motif is at the heart of my latest WIP, Musician, shown above and featured in Knitting Ganseys Revised and Updated.

The term chevron has been around since the 14th century. It’s a French term meaning rafter. (Yes, like the rafters that hold up the roof of your home.) By carefully studying antique sweaters, historians have discovered countless gansey motifs that could be interpreted as chevrons. That means knitters have been zigzagging with knits and purls for just as long as the term has been around.

Author Beth Brown-Reinsel includes more than a dozen chevron, herringbone, and diagonal stripe motifs in her book. Let’s take a closer look at where these graphics pop up in the projects themselves.

Knitting Ganseys’ Chevron Style


Musician bridges the gap between traditional and modern gansey design. The traditional element is the motif Beth discovered in Mary Wright’s 1979 publication Cornish Guernseys & Knit-Frocks. It’s an allover design that also features classic construction with underarm gussets and drop shoulders. Knit with Quince & Company’s Osprey, it’s the choice to use an American worsted-weight wool yarn that breaks with tradition. And I’m so glad Beth recommends this yarn, the stitch definition really highlights the chevron element.


Newhaven is what I imagine when I think “traditional gansey.” It stacks several horizontal panels of knit and purl motifs for a design that’s stunning overall. The first panel after the plain area and definition ridge highlights vertical chevron stripes. The yarn is traditional as well, Fangipani 5-ply Guernsey wool, but knit at a slightly looser gauge. Even with gauge changes the motifs are just as detailed.

The Big Easy

A loose interpretation of the Scottish Eriskay ganseys, The Big Easy features a large center panel boxed with vertical motifs. Look closely and you’ll see chubby chevron stripes made of knit and purls. Remembering that chevron means rafter, I can see the connection to architecture and support in its use here.

Scottish Flags

Knitting Ganseys Revised and Updated isn’t the only place you’ll see chevrons when gansey knitting. Beth has also designed a collection of gansey inspired accessories. The V-motif shown on the Scottish Flags hat was common in traditional ganseys around Scotland. It’s an easy to memorize pattern that quickly works up into a hat that’s sure to keep you warm.

Have you jumped on the chevron trend yet? We’d love to hear what projects you’ve knit that use the ageless design. Share your projects in the comments below.

-Kerry Bogert
Editorial Director, Books

(Note: Images are by David Baum ©F+W Media, Inc.)

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