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 thoughts on “Port o’ Leith

  1. 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.


  2. 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 !)


  3. 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!


  4. 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!


  5. 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!


  6. 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.


  7. 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


  8. 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.


  9. 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!


  10. 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.


  11. 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.


  12. 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!


  13. 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….


  14. 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.


  15. 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.


    1. 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 ?


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