Port o’ Leith


Here is the third garment in my Edinburgh series – the Port o’ Leith gansey.

This garment has twisted stitches and cables, that are reminiscent of maritime nets and rigging. It also features a deep, cowl-like collar, which is great for warding off North sea winds.


. . . but which is also detachable, for when the weather is warmer, or you wish to hail a passing vessel.


When designing this ensemble I wanted to retain a simple shape, as best befits a cabled gansey. But I also think that traditional gansey-gussets can be somewhat unflattering on a women’s garment, creating far far too much fabric around the underarm and upper torso.

(illustration by Felicity Ford)

So I’ve shaped the upper torso for a neater fit, following and adapting Elizabeth Zimmerman’s directions for a seamless saddle-shouldered sweater.

Centred double decreases add focus to the yoke . . .


. . . and are echoed in the twisted stitches that feature on the collar and front panel.


Creating a Wintery ensemble that has some fitted structure, but is also really cosy and easy to wear.


I am modelling it here with 4 ins positive ease, wearing a vest and woolly baselayer underneath. . .


. . . but the gansey could also be worn with zero or negative ease, and you’ll find instructions in the pattern for selecting the best size, and modifying the garment for a more tailored look.

In the essay that accompanies the design, I write about Leith’s connections with the wool trade, and with Shetland knitting, and it is fitting that the garment is knitted in a great Shetland yarn – Jamieson and Smith Shetland chunky. Having done a lot of knitting with this yarn, I’d say that it is really more of an aran-weight than a chunky, creating a fabric that seems to have just the right amount of density at a gauge of 16 sts to 4 ins (on 5mm needles). I knit this sample in the natural ‘kirn mylk’ shade but the charcoal shade of this yarn is also particularly lovely, and I’ll hopefully show you another sample knitted up in this shade very shortly.


This yarn is worsted spun, which means that, while it retains a lovely Shetland wooliness it is also very smooth, lending it a stitch definition that’s ideal for twisted stitches and cables.


These photographs were taken down by Leith’s docks and shore at the Victoria Swing Bridge – which, when it was first constructed in 1874, was the largest swing bridge in Britain.


We used to live a short walk from here. Though you’ll now find delicatesans and confectioners and michelin-starred restaurants next to the Port’s traditional maritime haunts, Leith somehow retains its character as the least pretentious of Edinburgh places.


The pattern is now available digitally, via Ravelry, or in print from my MagCloud store
(I’m currently investigating ways of including a code with the print copy to enable you to store a PDF in your Rav library. This requires updating and altering all my print files – please bear with me – I’ll let you know when this is sorted and I can also issue those who’ve bought print copies of other patterns with download codes retrospectively, if necessary).

56 Comments on “Port o’ Leith

    • Troooop beau !! I bought the printed version …If I understand well, you may discover soon a way to send us a digital version via Ravelry ?

  1. Oh, Kate I love this! Stunning, can’t wait to finish my current project so I can cast on……Thank you!

  2. Nice! I’m glad the cowl is separate. It’s lovely but I couldn’t wear a sweater with a neck that bulky indoors! A sign of my age, perhaps? In any case, thank you for showing us yet another lovely design.

  3. Love the cable pattern and the stunning cowl. Pullover looks almost like an Elizabethan stomacher but rugged and warm!

  4. I don’t just want the jumper. I want the entire outfit. Gorgeous. Now to find time with the eleventy billion projects I have on the go.

  5. This is a beautiful pullover. The shaping and stitch pattern and the amazing shoulder details are all fantastic. I especially love the you made the cowl detachable, which makes this much more practical for regular wear.

  6. I love this sweater and that cowl!!! The motif within the cables looks like a scallop she’ll to me. So pretty.

  7. Great design! I love that the cowl is separate-will give me many more options for occassions to wear it.

  8. Love this sweater and cowl! May have to put in my queue. I am wondering where you find your wonderful skirts and dresses? Beautiful. And thank you for the inspiration….

  9. Not only is the sweater fabulous, so is the skirt. Getting out knitting needles AND the sewing machine.

  10. I love this!!! Shetland Chunky is a great yarn choice. I would love to try this one.

  11. Love this! As a shorty I would appreciate the reduction in bulk that this gansey design offers. The cowl neck is a good addition too! Will have to be on my to do list!

  12. Absolutely beautiful stitches in perfect combination. The detachable cowl is brilliant.

  13. How gorgeous, I love the classic style of your designs, I’m currently knitting your Deco (and have made Manu)

  14. I used the charcoal Jamieson & Smith chunky to knit the sweater I wore on my recent six-week trip. It was fantastic: lightweight and warm. In the batch I had, there was some excess dye that took some rinsing to remove (and would have been a problem in colorwork if I hadn’t known in advance to wash the yarn). I’d use it again in a flash because I ended up with a Favorite Sweater.

    So glad you have done this design with the chunky, and I could see this gansey for me in Haar (the bright light blue) or fuschia (which is how they spell the color name on the website, rather than fuchsia)–the latter is a lovely heathery bright that doesn’t have so much color interest going on it would fight with the textures in your design.

  15. Love the shoulder details and the wool looks so squooshy. I wonder is I made 2 strategic slits on the inside of the cowl I could use it as a muff?

    yup, Gonna love this Edinburgh collection.

  16. Problem is I’ve decided to knit all your designs and I want to knit them all NOW. It’s beautiful!

  17. The garment is lovely and, as usual, so knitterly. (I have a fondness for EZ’s saddle shoulder formula, as evidenced by my latest sweater design, Petrova.) But what I really love about your sweater is the way you have styled it, with the long skirt and boots. There’s nothing mainstream about you, Kate!

  18. Really like this, the over-the-top cowl and the decorative stitching and cabling.

    I made my husband a saddle-shouldered EZ this summer (that’s why it was such a good summer!). I think it’s a very flattering shape.

  19. You look so beautiful in this layout Kate. The sweater is one that will wear very well and be even better after 20-30 years.

  20. Gosh, I wish I could knit well…this is beautiful…I’d never remove that collar!! I’ve just taken delivery of a pair of the hare and tortoise fingerless gloves that a dear friend knitted for me as a birthday present…they’re wonderful, and she even made me a Tam to match….your designs and knits are so inspiring…I always look forward to your posts! Kate

  21. Super! The pattern reminds me of pine cones or flames. Love it. And I have some hand spun just waiting for a sweater such as this! Thank you. Great pairing with the skirt.

  22. Oh, it’s absolutely stunning!!! Who cares if it’s almost summer here in Australia? I’m casting on for this for sure!

  23. Super design, and I love the detachable cowl . Three garments from one: fun and versatile. And may I add that the figures within the diamonds remind me of artichokes? Perfect for wearing on the northern California coast, which is where I’ll be sporting it!

  24. I love the detachable cowl and the stitch definition leaps out beautifully in that colour.

    Another lovely creation. Well done, indeed!

  25. That is a really lovely design. Congratulations! I love the front panel detail. It looks so feminine, despite the maritime theme of the sweater. I might just have to add this one to my knits for winter!

  26. Lovely design. I particularly like the way the cables develop out of the rib, and then blend back again at the neck.

  27. Ah, if I ever work up the nerve to attempt another jumper I’ll do this, to remind me of the 9 amazing years I spent living round the corner from that very bridge.

  28. Kate, a hearty Thank You from all of us for your beautiful photos and lovely commentary; I agree, you look amazing and Just Right in your long skirt and fabulous design….and thanks for the drawing as well! helpful and interesting! dear Kate, you’ve done it again! enchanted us all!

  29. Oh now THATS just exquisite, matching cowl to sweater is dead brilliant, and I think my favorite of all !

  30. Love this sweater! The yarn really shows off the stitches too. The detachable matching cowl is just brilliant.

  31. Dear Katie,
    I’m a huge fan of your patterns ! My only problem is that your are too quick for the knitting time I have… And you can consider I’m well trained for your hats !
    I love your style, and I’d love to have your skirts and dresses (on the pictures, they almost make me dream as much as the knitting work !)

  32. Another wonderful presentation of Kate`s skills as a designer and knitter. We can sort the wool, scour it, comb it into tops, spin it into yarn and be very pleased with ourselves but it only really comes alive when we see it like this.
    Many thanks Kate.

  33. SWOON!
    This is exactly what I would like to be wearing every day right now in this chill we’ve suddenly got in Montreal. Super lovely.

  34. Nice work, great photog’s! Do you think you will ever give a jumper for a bloke a go? please? i would buy that.

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