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Travels [with Knitting] #2 – From the time when every stitch told a story to the Present –

Even though I saw my first Gansey over two decades ago, it wasn’t until I went to Alaska last year that one actually landed on my needles…

In the Summer of 2014, I was part of a wonderful gathering put together by Dorothy Widmann, owner of the Net Loft in Cordova. Over the course of a week, her retreat, Fibers and Friends, was an incredible mingling of teachers and students in the breathtaking beauty of Prince William Sound and the Copper River region.


At the end of the summer, Dotty told me about an idea that had been percolating for awhile that she was going forward with: another retreat with the emphasis on Knitting and Fishing traditions.

It was called the Cordova Gansey Project and it grew from the intersection of village fishing life with her family and the fisherman sweaters of old.


Early in her marriage and to this day, Dotty was part of a all-in, hands-on family fishing crew. Between catches, Dotty mended the nets she and her husband Bob used out on their boat in the Pacific to catch salmon. This took place at a bunkhouse they called the Net Loft.

Fast forward a few decades to 2014, where, during a trip to Scotland and a visit to a Gansey Exhibit, she saw pictures of young women alongside the fishermen: “My mind drifted as I studied the display and looked into the eyes of the girls in the photos, and in that moment, I wished I could go back in time to share and exchange fishing and knitting stories. I felt such a commonality to their lives and lifestyle. They had no idea the part they played in the passage of patterns and design.”

She brought home an idea to mingle that knitting history and meld it with the contemporary culture of fishing life today.

The Cordova Gansey Project was born and my New Traditions for Fisherman Sweaters 2- day workshop, as a part of it, took place for the first time in the last week of June 2015.

Chic Knits Fisher Lassie

…from the my workshop description
“We who’ve learned at grandma’s knees know that one of the most satisfying aspects of knitting is its bond to all the knitters who’ve gone before. Join us to reach back through the decades and reveal cherished connections – the enchanting stitch patterns, the community, the stories told THEN learn how to bring that kindred fabric into our current craft.”

Ganseys were worn by the 19th century fishermen of the British coastline communities. On the boats, on the docks, to church, even by a groom at his wedding, according to knitting historian, Richard Rutt: “The real values of the knitted shirt lay in its comfortable fit, its warmth and its splendid appearance.”

But for me, it was form following the needs of function that really set this style apart. Knitted fabric works in two very interesting ways. It can be snug for warmth – and at the same time – be flexible for Movement.


Hard working people wore ganseys. And wherever there were Fisher Lads –

there were Fisher Lassies.

Chic Knits Fisher Lassies

The Lads caught the fish and the Lassies barrelled ’em.

Even after a back-breaking day of cleaning and barreling, later – at their huts or at the docks – the Fisher Lassies knit…

Chic Knits Fisher Lassie

Their effervescent spirit infected me and inspired by the folklore of the Gansey stitchwork my work began.

I’ve been dreaming about this type of sweater for quite awhile and now the timeline between the old and new was ready to intersect as

the Fisher Lassie Sweater

Here is a cardigan style that embraces the old with its gansey stitch patterning telling a story but whose shape is designed for the modern woman’s active life.

It features an elegant top-down construction with set-in sleeves, a built-in button band, a shawl collar and a slight trapeze body shape to mirror today’s woman’s physique in a very flattering way.

Ease of wear is balanced with pleasing decoration making the Fisher Lassie a cozy, pretty cardigan for all your adventures, on land or sea, indoors or outdoors.

click here for all the details & the pattern

And I’m happy to announce that the Cordova Gansey Project 2016 will be offered this summer during the week of June 24th through July 3rd, 2016.

Stay tuned to the blog for all the details and registration information

New Threads Friday: FISHER LASSIE

Chic Knits Fisher Lassie Cardigan

Autumn is peeking right around the corner and it’s time for a ramble in its lovely crisp air…

Perfect for that stroll? Chic Knits FISHER LASSIE a cardigan version of the gansey sweaters often worn by the 19th century fishermen of British coastline communities.

This design features the distinctive stitch patterning of that era but incorporates modern styling, fit and techniques.

Fisher Lassie is made from the top-down and has a neat shaped shawl collar making it a cozy cardigan for all your outdoor adventures, on land or sea.

This cardigan is knit at 5.5 sts per inch using DK weight yarn – a perfect year-round topper with a new look for a beloved tradition...

CLICK HERE for all the pattern details…


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Knitting Tips & Techniques – June 5, 2014

Knitting Tips: Chic Knits Knit Blog
v.4 Replacing Stitches Held on Scrap Yarn Back on Working Needle…

While I’ve been working on the longer version of the ABRIA cardigan, several of my favorite (and really useful) techniques have been in play.

Chic Knits Abria Cardigan Knitting Pattern

So far:

  • Provisional Cast-On (my fave? a Chained PCO!)
  • Slipped Edge Sts
  • Pick-Up-and-Knit (will be teaching a workshop on this soon at the Friends & Fiber Retreat)
  • m1L and m1R (slanting, low-profile directional increases)
  • Slip stitches to scrap yarn to hold
  • Replace held stitches back on working needle

After putting the Abria body stitches on scrap yarn to measure its length in the last session, it was time to do the technique last on the list above: replace the stitches held on scrap yarn back on the circular working needle so I could keep knitting.

From my casual, non-scientific chats with other knitters, taking live stitches off the needle like this, especially when it’s a large number, is something that many avoid like the plague! But when making no-sew garments (top-down sweaters we’re lookin’ at you here!) unless you are willing to resign yourself to living in sleeve-less sweaters (v.e.s.t.s.), there’s going to come a day that you are just going to have to Do It.

It’s been my experience, that in the long run, if you just jump right on it and get the Fear Factor out of the way, just like when you decide to RIP off that band-aid, most of the time you’ll find that there was very little to be afraid of!

Awkward? Yes.

Difficult? Not really…

Time Consuming? No – once you’ve done it a couple of times, replacing stitches from scrap yarn to a needle goes really FAST.

It is especially fool-proof when you’ve used Scrap Yarn as your Holder. :)

Secret Sauce: you do not have to remove the yarn while you replace the stitches! You just use your working needle and poke it through the center of the loop of the held stitch while the scrap yarn “lurks” behind that stitch.

Here’s how it works (and please excuse my Minnie Mouse voice! My little in-camera mic is wonky.)

That’s all there is too it!

Here’s my longer ABRIA ready for its sleeves…

Chic Knits Abria Knitting Pattern

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