This gansey sampler is sized to fit an 18" doll (my daughter "loans" me her American Girl doll for displays!) As you work on your first gansey project, you will notice it scrunching up quite a bit, especially if it is fully patterned. A tiny sweater like this one actually looks totally ridiculous until it is blocked. You can simply pin it out to its finished size, but the traditional method of using a woolly board gives a much nicer finish. Since miniature woolly boards aren't made, I use a combination of pinning with a 3/8" diameter, 15"-long dowel and a set of size 6 12"-long double-pointed aluminum knitting needles.
After soaking your gansey and pressing out all remaining water, slide the long 3/8" dowel through the sleeves. Make sure the dowel is positioned exactly along the shoulder seam. This gansey has a perpendicular Scottish shoulder strap, with a cable that runs continuously from the neck to the wrist - this makes it easy to see. Pin into the carpet just below the dowel; the pins will allow you to stretch the sleeves while keeping the gansey in place.
Next, slide 2 double-pointed knitting needles into the sleeves so that they extend about an inch into the body on either side. Firmly stretch the sleeves, especially at the gussets, and pin just above the needles to keep them in place. If you used traditional gansey yarn you will have to use quite a bit of pressure - don't hesitate, this stuff is called "seaman's iron" for a reason! Make sure these needles are positioned exactly along the underarm seam from gusset to wrist - this will prevent any twisting of the finished sleeves.
Slide the last 2 double-pointed knitting needles into the body and position them so they cross over the sleeve needles and extend above the gussets. Stretch the body to its proper dimensions width-wise, making sure the needles are positioned exactly along the side seams. Pin just inside the needles to keep them in place.
Cat-proofing is optional, but highly recommended! My cat, Midnight, leaves most of my knitting alone unless it is on the floor, and especially unless I have been focusing on it intently on the floor! We live cottager-style in a tiny apartment so I don't have the option of blocking in a room I can keep him out of, but fortunately overturning the laundry basket over a small project keeps him away from it. Most cats might be more determined, so be creative!
Pam Connolly, owner of Beannaigh Traditional Handknitting, is a hardworking single mom with an old-fashioned cottage industry.