Gansey in lambswool tuck-stitch in molasses

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Gansey — which also goes by the names guernsey and knit-frock in certain coastal regions, and usually as rollneck everywhere else — which is hand-framed with geelong lambswool in the south-west of the British Isles.


The gansey fits true to size, and thus the mannequin — a standard 38 — is wearing S. The sleeves are meant to be turned back when worn — reflected in the measurements below.

To fit chest 36 38 40 42 44
Pit-to-pit 21 22 23 24 25
Back length 24¾ 25 25¼ 25½ 25¾
Sleeve from   centre-back 32½       33       33½       34       34½      
The gansey is a heavy wool sweater with a rollneck. It foregoes the decorative elements of its nautical ancestors — the cable-stitching, ladders, anchors, and other lovely village-of-origin details — in favour of a brutally to-the-point "heavy top-half and light lower" motif, and a luxury-grade construction.
A rollneck of medium height, this, which when rolled down to its default setting handily covers an Adam's apple but doesn't trouble a chin. It is linked by hand to the body — as indeed all other sections — which is an achingly slow and skilful process that makes for a soft and seamless-seeming construction.
The top section — both body and sleeve — is a heavy eight-ply tuck-stitch. The lower section is a three-ply plain-stitch. Both are super-fine geelong lambswool — merino's even softer brother — and is thus incomparably cosy and comfortable. If one were prone to superlatives, it could be called sumptuous.
It has a dropped sleeve — true to ganseys of olden times — which imparts a smooth line over the shoulder. And it is entirely hand-framed and fully fashioned — knitwear's version of tailoring, with each element individually engineered — for a shape more refined than the boxiness of gansey tradition.
The neck, hem, and cuffs of the gansey are all rib-stitch, which keeps them nice and tight. The cuffs are turn-back: twice as long as usual, so they can be turned back on themselves. It is a nice thing to play around with — and useful, too, in that the sleeves can be shortened or lengthened at the behest of the wearer.
There are two shades of yarn at play here — a brown and a dark brown, in a ratio of two to one. The top-half, as mentioned, is tuck-stitch, which has a distinctively textured appearance. It is dense, on the one hand, but springy and breathable on the other. And just look at it — marvellously textured, the tuck.

As worn

The gansey has yet to be captured in the wild, so in the meantime, here is a crewneck with much the same shape, weight, and stitch. The gent here is 6'2", 38 in the chest, and tips the scales at 12 stone. He's here wearing a size S in the jumper, for a slim fit, but a size M wouldn't be too bad a fit, either.
Same crewneck, same size, different colour.

Makers of

The garment is hand-framed by a knitwear maker founded 100 years ago. They work with small, hand-operated machines overseen by one person, rather than automated machines, making them one of the last makers still to do so in Britain. It is slow going, but the results always bear out the work put in.
The horn buttons were cut, shaped, and polished by the last such factory in Britain (now defunct). It was part of a tradition in the Midlands first linked to the meat industry of the 18th century. "It is no easy task," said William Hutton in 1780, "to enumerate the infinite diversity of buttons here in Birmingham."

So they say

Perfect fit and stunning item. I feel like buying it a bottle of bubbly, some jewellery, and treating it right for the rest of my life. Having only briefly been introduced, I can't imagine a life without this gansey playing a significant role.

Praise truly effusive from of a man in London who bought the gansey in tuck-stitch geelong in October 2018.