The ivory aran-gansey (2018 FO-19)

The ivory aran-gansey (2018 FO-19)

Hey look, I knitted a sweater! Crazy how long that took me. Inspired by Daniel Day-Lewis’s perfect gansey but bearing in mind what works best for me and my frame, I sketched out this little aran-gansey mashup as part of my Summer of Basics plan, and cast on in the middle-row bench seat of a van lurching its way through the winding roads of rural Portugal. I hadn’t done any actual math or planning. All I had was my inexact-texture-but-gauge-ly predictive swatch plus the little sketch taped into my notebook. So in that van seat on that steamy late June day, I did just enough math to calculate a good-enough cast on, and in I went.

Because it was a slapdash start and I didn’t expect it to work, I also didn’t put any basting stitches in the raglans, or take many useful notes. I thought I almost certainly was just knitting a bigger, more texturally accurate swatch, which I’d eventually rip out. But I never did! And I just kept winging it the whole way. (Albeit with lots of intermittent blocking to make sure everything would work out ok.) So while I normally share all my stitch counts and measurements for any Improv sweater I knit, I’m sorry, I don’t have that for you today. Plus if I were to do this again, I’d make a thousand tiny tweaks. So perhaps at some point I will do this again (in navy!), make those tweaks, and take proper notes for sharing. But the short version is that it’s just a standard top-down raglan with a stitch pattern thrown in for the first 9.5″ or so — double moss stitch broken up every 3″ with two bands of garter stitch. And I put garter along the top of the waist ribbing as well. And used my favorite folded neckband technique.

Natural sweater inventory

You may recall the overarching aim of this one was to make myself a much-needed, easygoing, 3-season-ish pullover, and I couldn’t be happier with it in all those respects. I’ve knitted quite a few sweaters with O-Wool Balance at this point — organic, machine washable, 50/50 cotton-wool blend — and am thrilled to have a mostly stockinette one for myself, as I covet Bob’s every time he puts it on. This fabric is so incredibly cozy. (I like it best after a machine wash and a few minutes in the dryer, but do mind your gauge if that’s your intention! Don’t wet-block your swatch and then machine-wash your FO.) And if you’re thinking back to my recent sweater inventory, you’ll note this rounds out my collection of natural sweaters quite nicely: There’s the shrunken cotton fisherman (L.L. Bean 2010), this new cotton-wool gansey, the heavy-duty wool fisherman and the wool cardigan.

I also made those pants I’m wearing above, which I wouldn’t actually intentionally wear with this sweater — that’s a bit of a blah combo even for me! But it was convenient to take the sweater photos while I happened to be wearing the pants, so I’ll tell you about those tomorrow.

Speaking of the wool fisherman, I also sent it through the washer and dryer last week — being incredibly vigilant the whole way — and it finally fits the way I always wanted it to! (Assuming it doesn’t grow back to its former size when worn.) Officially all set in the ivory department!

Pattern: Improv
Yarn: O-Wool Balance in Natural

You can browse all the posts about this sweater and save/fave it at Ravelry.

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Wiksten Kimono, pajama-style

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29 thoughts on “The ivory aran-gansey (2018 FO-19)

  1. You once mentioned possibly doing a round up of great navy yarns because they can be hard to find. I would love it if you have time for this. Navy is my go to neutral, but I don’t have a hand knit sweater in that colour yet. I think it’s time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is beautiful, practical, and such a great look! I love that it turned out to be more of an on-the-fly process for you too. Given how I imagine your daily life, that was probably part of the appeal and the magic of this amazing piece!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ivory beauty #4! Big GULP – the Arranmore fisherman in the W&D! I’m glad you didn’t tell us before you did it. Some of us would have lost some sleep. I’m picturing you staring nervously through the wash window watching it go round and round . . .

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  4. This is beautiful!! I am wanting a navy one of these for sure and I like how you made it a raglan! I have yet to do an improv sweater..but I think I may just do some math and do it! How much yardage did you use?

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  5. This sweater… I didn’t even know about Gansey sweaters before your Daniel Day-Lewis post, and now I’m all thinking I should make one of these. You’ve nailed the ease on this. And the color. And the texture. Literally inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow! Wonderful, and what a nice ivory collection. You are tempting me to try the same shrinking method for my own fisherman sweater which is way too big. I am a bit scared though. The other option is to see if it fits my husband, and knit another one. An inspiring post, thank you.

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  7. I love this! I hope you will consider releasing a pattern for this someday. I would happily knit it in several colors. Or perhaps I will follow your example and finally take the plunge into improv knitting. Thanks for continuing to provide an inspiring space for knitters.

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  9. Would you consider writing a Details post about bind-off options for cuffs? I don’t always think that a regular bind-off or a tubular bind-off works well (especially for things like 2×2 rib, etc.). I would love to hear your thought process since you’ve knit so many top-down sleeves!

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  10. I love this sweater – it’s gorgeous. And my heart really belongs to your perfect vanilla cardigan. Do you think an advanced beginner could knit your improv? I bought a horribly overpriced but beautiful rust cardigan from Eileen Fisher and think that I could probably make myself something similar in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. What do you think (scaredy-cat nerves)?

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  11. I love the sweater. I’m a bit confused by your blocking advice. Do you mean that the swatch should be machine washed and dried to get accurate gauge i.e. instead of wet-blocking and drying?

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    • You should always treat your swatch however you’ll treat the finished object. So in this case, since I’ll be machine-washing the sweater, it was important to machine-wash the swatch, or else it wouldn’t have told an accurate story of the finished fabric.

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