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Suppliers

There are a number of suppliers of Guernsey 5-ply wool. This list does not pretend to be comprehensive, but consists of yarns I have actually used.

British Breeds Yarns (formerly Creskeld)

Comes in 100g balls. One of the main brands, though I’ve had mixed experiences (six or seven knots in one ball once).  A bit difficult to track down at the moment. Available online from Iriss of Penzance, though I’ve never bought from them.

Frangipani Knitwear

Available online from http://www.guernseywool.co.uk/ or direct by mail order from “Lamana”, White Cross, Cury, Helston, Cornwall TR12 7BG. Comes in 500g cones, nice and even to knit, with hardly any knots. Wide range of colours. Very friendly mail order service.

Frangipani is also available from the Yarn Cafe at http://www.theyarncafe.com in 100g and 500g cones and balls; they also stock a variety of other, non-gansey related knitting supplies.

Wendy Yarns

This yarn doesn’t seem to be stocked widely (not that I go to yarn shops often!). The last batch I bought had “Wendy Poppleton’s Guernsey 5-ply” on the label, so I guess Wendy and Poppleton’s have merged. I tried the navy blue and found it knitted up well, and the colour had a nice sheen to it. It is available online – put “wendy guernsey 5-ply” into a search engine to find stockists, or go to the Iriss of Penzance website.

Island at the Edge

This is the website of the Hebridean Isles Trading Company, operating from the beautiful Isle of Skye. After a disastrous fire in December 2013, the company moved from Colonsay to Skye. They offer a range of products, including their own Colonsay wool, fleeces, knitwear, books, and courses.  Bed and breakfast accommodation is located nearby. I haven’t tried their wool yet, but it’s next on my list. (You can also follow what they’re up to on their blog.)

Finally, here are some other suppliers you might like to consider. I haven’t used them myself, but if you read the comments below you might find recommendations.

Flamborough Marine – They’ve been around since 1981 and their website says they are, “Your source for authentic hand-knitted Ganseys, Gansey Knitting Kits, Armor Lux pure cotton Breton shirts plus a range of quality, pure wool, traditional knitwear from Le Tricoteur (the original Guernsey sweater) and Armor Lux of France.” Well worth checking out.

Bobbins of Whitby. Gansey kits (yarn and pattern) and gansey yarn in 1 kilo (2.5 lb) packs, in navy, atlantic blue, red and cream.

Yarnbarn (Kansas) and Yarnbarn (Virginia) – I have no idea if the two share any more than a name, but see comments below for more information.

54 comments to Suppliers

  • kevin bass

    Try Jamiesons in Lerwick . God quality wools and they also do wools suitable for ganseys x

  • Gordon

    Hi Kevin,

    Apologies for not responding sooner – I’ve been trying to find somewhere to live in Wick, if that’s an excuse.

    I know Jamiesons as a top-rated supplier of Shetland wools, but I’ve never used them in ganseys as such. I’d be interested to know more – in fact, after visiting the Moray Firth Gansey Project’s Ganseyfest yesterday, I’m interested in a softer wool like the old ganseys used – modern wools all tend to be a bit harder.

    Best wishes,
    Gordon

  • kathleen

    I was interested in knowing if there are any suppliers in th U.S. or are your only suppliers in England?

  • Gordon

    Hi Kathleen,

    Apologies for the delay in getting back to you, moving house is rather disruptive!

    I only know of suppliers in the UK – and I know that US knitters have had good experiences with Frangipani in the UK. But if anyone knows of any US suppliers I’d be more than happy to link to them.

    Cheers,
    Gordon

  • Karen

    In the US-Schoolhouse Press(of Elizabeth Zimmerman fame) supplies Poppletons(Wendys)5 Ply, Jamiesons and a number of other interesting yarns.

    Also many books… including ganseys & traditional knitting.

    They’re a great on line source.

  • Dave

    I just bought a gansey’s worth of Wendy Gansey from Deramores–15% off, free shipping to the US, about a week from order to mailbox. VERY happy with the way the gauge swatch is knitting up.

  • Gordon

    Hi Dave – interesting! What colour did you go for? And any thoughts on patterns…?

    Gordon

  • Dave

    I went with the Atlantic. My sort-of-a-gansey is sort of a cream and the Navy looked too dark for my taste. I finalized the pattern this morning. Your Flamborough was the starting point, with modifications to fit my gauge, size, and distorted fashion sense. From the fake seam, it goes 2K, cable, moss panel, cable, diamond, cable, moss panel, cable, double-sized diamond up the center, cable, moss, cable, diamond, cable, moss, cable, 2K, fake seam. I’m debating a dolphin/star motif on the front yoke, but haven’t worked out the particulars on how (or if) it can be done.

    Now to find the time, patience, and courage to cast on 340 stitches . . .

  • Gordon

    Hi Dave, sounds impressive – & you can’t go wrong with cables, moss stitch and diamonds in my book! With regard to the cast on, I find it helps to think in small batches – so, the first 50 stitches, double-check and take stock; then the next 50 stitches; and so on. I allow myself to put it down and come back to it (several times) if I feel like it, rather than try to do it all at once. An =d usually, before i know it, I’m done.

    Anyway – good luck!

    Gordon

  • sylvia coverdale

    You may like to know that Bobbins of Whitby sell yarn and hand knitted ganseys. I have been knitting orders for them for the last 20 years. Normally takes 3 weeks to complete a garment. Their website is http://www.bobbins.co.uk

  • Gordon

    Hi Sylvia,

    Thanks for the heads-up. We’ll be happy to add a link to them!

    Best wishes,
    Gordon

  • Roy Laws

    I haven’t done business with Yarn Barn, but they apparently have a large stock of frangipani available, as well as books/patterns using that yarn. they are located in Virginia, USA.

    http://www.yarnbarn.com/yarn/colorcard.asp?partNo=KY-FRA-5PL

    I would also like to find a yarn comparable to frangipani, but a bit softer. I made a pair of socks from a Guernsey 5-play, and it is so scratchy I cannot wear them.

  • Gordon

    Hi Roy,

    Thanks for the link.

    I’ve never tried knitting socks (I know my limitations!) but I found my recent gansey knit using Wendy wool was noticeably softer and less tightly spun than Frangipani. On the other hand, it didn’t feel all that much softer when I was done, so perhaps it’s all relative.

    Cheers,
    Gordon

  • Michele

    Hello Gordon, this is exciting, just found your site, it’s a wealth of information so I thank you in advance. Became interested in ‘gansey knitting’ a number of years ago but groaned when I realized the needles were so small but then I like knitting on US 4/5 so going down even smaller should not be difficult.

    I wanted to pass this along – I have purchased yarn in the US from the Yarnbarn in Kansas (she can be found directly via Google). She has a nice inventory of Frangipani with more colors than when I purchased mine 4 years ago and a nice selection of patterns. Living in Georgia I found the sources for Wendy yarn very limited which is why I chose Frangipani and I had done some research and decided on the Frangipani anyway.

    Looking forward to reading your blogs, and other info you have posted. Thank you so much, MicheleR

  • Gordon

    Hi Michele – good to hear from you; and thanks for the comment about Yarnbarn. It also reminds me to add them to the links on the left, something I’ve been meaning to do for several weeks (I know, I know…).

    As this is pretty much the only gauge I’ve ever knitted, larger needles seem way too big to me, like those children’s toy phones with extra-large buttons! But my deteriorating eyesight may make me reconsider, alas.

    Hope you continue to find the site useful,
    Gordon

  • Nicki

    Greetings, Gordon,
    I just found your blog, and want to take a good long read. In the interim, I just want to help bring some clarity to the information regarding the two Yarnbarns in the USA. They aren’t related in any way. I live close to the one in Virginia, and Pat Kirkland is the owner. She stocks Jamieson’s, Frangipani, and some Wendy yarn, as well as a lot of Dale of Norway yarns. There may be others, but the shop is so chock a block full of yarn, it’s hard for me to sort it all out. Pat, however, can find anything in a flash, and is a tremendous resource … more knitters in the US should know about her and her shop.

    Thank you for your insights, information, and beautiful photos. Your blog will keep me busy reading during the upcoming cold months.

  • Gordon

    Hi Nicki,

    Thanks for getting in touch. And thanks for clarifying the Yarnbarn confusion—living about 3,000 miles away it’s not always easy to verify what you’re told, so it’s great when people who live locally can put you right. And good local stores always deserve support!

    Hope you find the blog of interest,
    Best wishes,
    Gordon

  • Martha

    I don’t expect you to know this, but do you know of any US suppliers of British Breeds Guernsey 5ply? I just learned that a US online shop that carried it, ceased operations earlier this year.

    Thanks for your informative website. I’ll be using it as a reference for copying a machine knit guernsey (not of very high quality, but a nice pattern) that I’m going to knit in true guernsey style.

  • Gordon

    Hi Ruth,

    Which book did you have in mind? Generally speaking, if they’re in print, click on the picture and the link will take you to Amazon. Alternatively, I find Abebooks an invaluable resource. If you need anything else, just let us know.

    Cheers,
    Gordon

  • maria bostrom

    Hi, I’m looking for a five ply guernsey in a colour between dark navy and black, any suggestions where to find it?
    Best regards,
    Maria working on a 25 year old knitting

  • Gordon

    Hi Maria,

    Most yarn suppliers offer navy, as that’s traditional, and many will offer colour samples on demand. Frangipani do the widest range of colours and also do a “dark navy” as well as a black, which may be what you’re looking for. British Breeds also do a black and a navy. And the Island on the Edge do a nice “natural” gansey yarn that should knit up well.

    I realise this may not be as helpful as it sounded when I started! But try the links above and see how you get on.

    With all good wishes,
    Gordon

  • Hi, Alex from Bobbins, Whitby here, Can I just say that we now sell just the Gansey 5-ply in packs, not just the kits. Plenty in stock and one of our constantly in stock products. A range of colours as well.

    Regards
    Alex

    • Gordon

      Hi Alex, great to hear from you. Entry hopefully updated correctly, but let us know if you’d like anything further.

      Cheers,
      Gordon

  • Daniela

    Black Water Abbey Yarns (www.abbeyyarns.com) is located in Colorado, USA, and sells fingering, sport, and worsted weight 100% Irish wool from a small mill in Graignuemanagh, in County Kilkenny, in lots of colors that could be potentially used for knitting a Gansey…

    • Gordon

      Thanks for the heads-up, Daniela – sorry not to acknowledge your post sooner (blame the holiday and return to work gloom!). In fact i think we should rearrange our page with recommended yarn suppliers by country/state. Watch this space!

      Best wishes,
      Gordon

  • Helen McAteer

    Just visited the Gansey Exhibition in Hull Maritime Museum, which I enjoyed very much. I have knitted ganseys in the 70s & 80s with what used to be Poppleton’s Gansey 5ply wool. Modern wools do not seem to wear as well as the old style worsted yarns, but perhaps this may be because we wash garments far more frequently nowadays and do not allow them to maintain their lanoline to help with the water resistant quality. Is there any advice out there as to which modern yarns wear like the old worsted yarns? If you are putting such a lot of time and skill into knitting a garment such as this it is useful to know it won’t mill up when washed – even if washed carefully! Thank you.

    • Gordon

      Hi Helen,

      Yes, I heard about the Hull gansey exhibition and it looked really interesting—but short of catching a steamer down the coast from Wick, there was no practicable way of getting there!

      What you say about modern yarns is interesting. Certainly the ganseys in many of the old photos look different to modern ones, but whether that’s to do with yarn, washing, stitch gauge or the fact they’re not encrusted with salt from exposure to the sea is more than I can say. Aaron, whose blog “A Fisherman Knits” is listed in the blogroll over on the right-hand side, is very interested in authenticity and trying to recreate it: perhaps this is a question he’s explored. (Be aware, though, that some of his conclusions are not necessarily shared by everyone in the gansey-knitting community.)

      It’s an interesting question, though, and I’ll try to remember to post it on the blog this week, and see if anyone has any thoughts.

      Best wishes,
      Gordon

  • Judit M./ Finland

    Gordon, the Hull gansey exhibition shows the stuff showed in Inverness 2 yrs ago. You have seen that, so be happy, you are not missing anything by staying in Wick :).
    Best regards
    Judit

    • Gordon

      Hi Judit, thanks for that – I don’t feel so much like Cinderella now! But it still feel alike there’s a gansey party happening and I can’t go.

      Oh, and trust me, this could be the first time in recorded history that anyone’s ever said your last statement!

      Cheers,
      Gordon

  • Freyalyn

    There were some newly-knitted garments specially for the Hull exhibition, plus Daniel Day-Lewis’ gansey that he’d inherited from his dad – 30 odd years old and just a little hole. (He’s had a duplicate commissioned.) Interesting exhibition, we tied it in with collecting spinning wheel parts for a friend, but don’t be too upset you missed it. The museum itself’s worth getting to, next time you’re down that way, if ever.

    • Gordon

      Hi Freyalin,

      Many thanks. I can’t imagine Daniel Day-Lewis even wearing a gansey without spending several years living on a fishing boat! I know the Hull archivist somewhat, and would very much like to visit one day – apart from the Philip Larkin pilgrimage thing (“Philip Larkin – the man who put the grim in pilgrim”).

      Glad to hear it went well!

      Gordon

  • Dave White

    My wife having knitted me a gansey on somewhat larger needles now wants to use 2.25mm (size 13 for us dinosaurs). Do you know of anyone who does 2.0mm, 2.25mm, 2.50mm by 40cm double ended Knitting pins. My wife has some PRYM steel needles at 2.5mm. I’ve just checked the PRYM catalogue and there is now no longer a mention 2.25mm needles. If you can help it would be much appreciated.
    I’m not much of a knitter myself but my wife has been at the game for over 50 Years she’s a tight knitter. Just recently ganseys, gansey patterns and the errors sometimes found therein have become something of a fixation.
    If there’s no cure for Ganseyitis I’d better do what I can to alleviate the symptoms.
    All for now
    Chalky

    • Alexander Kronsteiner

      Hi Dave,

      Please se my reply below for the knitting needles.
      Sorry, I did not see the direct reply button last night 🙂

      Alexander

  • Helen McAteer

    Hi Chalky
    If your wife gets stuck for 2.25 set of 5 needles am happy to make her a longish term loan. I am not going to be using them but would like them back against the day come retirement and more time for favourite pastimes. Will need an address or email to discuss. Best wishes Helen

  • Dave White

    Helen thanks a bunch, your offer is very generous. However my wife wants more than one set needles as she and a friend are organising a gansey group associated with a craft group she goes to. Also I have now located a supplier (after spending a little time on it) so we won’t need your offer. Thanks again for your generosity.

    Chalky

    p.s. If this generous spirit is typical of the people who visit this site I wish you all very well indeed. Happy Knitting folks.

    • Gordon

      Hi Dave,

      I see you’ve solved your problem. Where have you decided to source your needles from, can I ask? The only supplier I can think of of 2.25mm dpns is Frangipani.

      By the way, your comment about the people who visit the site is spot on – we’ve created an online village community of like-minded souls here, like something out of an Agatha Christie novel, with slightly fewer murders to solve…

      Gordon

  • Dave White

    Gordon,
    You’re right it is Frangipani, I briefly got the notion that Jameson and Smith up in the Shetlands did 2.25mm x 40cm pins, but I received an email from them yesterday saying that their suppliers no longer did 2.25mm dia, darn!
    Jacqui will just have to wait until Frangipani come back off holiday on the 8th of April.

    Maybe a big bunch of us should apply to someone like PRYM and tell them that interest in Ganseys is coming coming back in force. perhaps we could get them to start including 2.25mm in their catalogue again. Or perhaps we organise a bulk purchase and get a special batch done. I bet they still have the dies, engineering firms don’t lightly throw away expensive dies, they don’t take up a lot of room.
    If Frangipani’s suppliers pack it in, we’ll end up with second hand Gansey Kneedles on ebay at £200 a set, the mind boggles.

    A quick hint from Jacqui, she uses slices of cork to pop on the end of the pins and prevent losing stitches when you are packing stuff up to take to craft groups or a friends house.

    All the best
    Chalky

    • Gordon

      Hi again, I’m so sorry, I just realised I didn’t reply to your last post. Apologies!

      Corks sound like a good idea to me. Mind you, I’ve lost count of the number of times my stitches have sprung off the needles like lemmings off a cliff when I’ve lost concentration in some odd moment, so maybe I should attach them permanently.

      It’s very frustrating that needle manufacturers seem to only make needles in 0.5mm increments. My favourites are the old Aero 2.25mm needles, which had a nice sharp tip. I have some others but they are rounded at the end, like a miniature Boeing 747 nose cone, and the just don’t feel the same. So I keep using the same battered and twisted old things, refusing to let them go. And it’s odd, because circular 2.25mm needles are common enough—I even bought some in Thurso, which is even further north than Wick!

      Good luck to your wife with her project when the needles arrive,
      Gordon

  • Nancy

    My daughter, sister and I are doing a Gansey knit along. We have been swatching with 4 yarns all purchased in the US. Jaggerspun 3/8 worsted spun 3 ply, Brown Sheep Naturespun sport, also 3 ply, Frangipani, and Upton Yarns 5 ply Gansey. This is a yarn being produced by a woman in Maine from Coopworth sheep. She dyes it with natural dyes. She is also a sailor. Assistant engineer on a national geographic ship. I love her yarn. It is a bit thicker than the other 3 but nice and round with good twist to show the patterning. It is silkier/softer than the Frangipani. It is more expensive but I think worth it for a sweater that should outlive me. By the way the way, the Frangipani we got was wound off the cone. I wondered if it would change with washing before knitting. It did it got shorter and stretchier with lots more bounce. I was wondering if you noticed any changes when you washed the sweaters?
    Thanks for all the info on your site. I read a few blogs before I go to sleep. Oh Sarah’ s yarn. Uptonyarns.com.
    Happy knitting
    Nancy

    • Gordon

      Hi Nancy,

      Thanks for the heads-up! Assistant engineer on a national geographic ship sounds pretty cool too, and i say that speaking as someone who gets seasick stepping into the bath.

      I haven’t thought of washing the Frangipani yarn before knitting—it seems to knit fine without that, though when i run it through my fingers before I knit it does seem less fluffy than other yarns, e.g. Wendy’s. But when it’s knitted and washed it’s pretty much indistinguishable, I find. The Frangipanistas recommend putting the cone on the floor and unwinding a goodish length when knitting, I believe, so as to let it breathe and unwind a little, and generally chill.

      All the best, and good luck with your knit-along!
      Gordon

  • Alexander Kronsteiner

    Hi Dave,
    I fabricate double pointed knitting needles myself since I knit my Ganseys with the Fair Isle knitting belt.. If you go on my Facebook page: Nautical Wool Craft there is a section with picture me doing the needles. I make them in 2.0mm, 2.25, 2.50, 2.75 and 3.0.
    They are nice and flexible since they are made from spring steel wire. Let me know if I can be of any help. I don’t mind making bigger orders as well. You can let me know if you want the points sharp, medium sharp or bull nosed. At the moment I am knitting a original Guernsey Gansey with 5 ply Frangipani on 2.0mm needles with the knitting belt to get a really nice tight knit.

    All the best,
    Alexander,
    Dublin,
    Ireland

  • Hello Dave, Prym no longer manufacture any of their long solid s/steel dps from 2 to 3mm. We only found out after the fact so we could not stock up! We have been having 2.25 and 2.75mm x 40cms made for three years and we will now go ahead with 2,2.5 and 3. We tried the Chinese and Indian samples currently available but found that they were made of a s/steel tube which when sent to professional gansey knitters didn’t last a swatch! We have plenty of the 2.25 and 2.75 but it will probably be a couple of months before the others get here.
    Best wishes
    Russ – Frangipani

  • Sarah

    Just wanted to add that Churchmouse Yarns and Teas on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, stock Frangipani in 100g balls.

    http://www.churchmouseyarns.com

  • Just a quick note to say that Bobbins of Whitby has moved!
    Pam & Dick have retired and Sam (son) & Alex have taken over in new premises at
    The Old Council Offices
    10 Skinner Street
    Whitby
    YO21 3AD

    The phone number and website remain the same but there’s a new Facebook page
    http://www.facebook.com/BobbinsofWhitby

    Please spread the word
    Thanks 🙂

  • Pammi

    Brilliant blog Gordon.
    I have knitted for year, since I was 4,( well, let’s just say I remember the Woodentops on watch with mother while knitting at that age!)
    Anyway I want to knit a proper Gansey, I’ve done Aran’s to death over the years.
    I am finding this site brilliantly informative.
    I have just received the wool samples from Frangipani, Ooooooooo what colour to choose? I want most of them!
    I have loads of long vintage DPN’s, but need to check I have the right size for my gansey.
    After I have got my wool, I intend to spin and use my handspun to knit another.
    Thankyou for sharing your valued knowledge with us all.

    Pammi

    • Gordon

      Hello Pammi, delighted you found us! Frangipani offer a very tempting range of colours don’t they? I flirted with the idea of knitting a gansey in each once, but the sneaky devils keep expanding the range… Lighter colours show off the patterns best, but really, you can’t miss.

      Best of luck with your gansey—and remember, if you’d ever like a second opinion on anything, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

      Cheers, Gordon

  • Joy

    I’m keen to make a gansey and wonder if the 5-ply worsted is available in Canada for mail order? Thanks for any advice you can offer! Joy

  • Ali E

    Hi Gordon,
    Just starting out on the gansey trail and have stumbled across your blog- great!
    I’m trying to locate a pattern for a Seaton Sluice gansey, very small fishing community , near Blyth, on the North East coast. My husband is from there and I’d like to knit him a bit of heritage… so to speak.
    I was so pleased to locate the ” new” Bobbins of Whitby, as I had been told it was no more!
    I am in contact with Frangipani at present, but will also contact Bobbins to see what they have. I have a memory of seeing a gansey in Bobbins old shop , made in a yarn that would wear like denim- any idea what that could be?

    • Gordon

      Hello Ali—very nice to hear from you.

      I’m sorry, I’m not aware of a Seaton Sluice gansey—though I wish I had, it’s such a great name. But I suggest you contact Deb Gillanders of Propagansey (also at Whitby): I just knit ganseys, but she researches them and is an authority – the website has contact information, see http://www.propagansey.co.uk

      Other than that, Ravelry has a ganseys group (and Deb is I think one of the moderators). If you were to post a question on the forum a number of extremely knowledgeable people will be keen to help and make suggestions. (It’s a very friendly space, that forum, and everyone is very encouraging.)

      I don’t know about the “denim” yarn, either—except that guernsey 5-ply does knit up pretty tough and hard-wearing?

      Anyway, best of luck with your research, and let us know how you get on!

      Cheers,
      Gordon

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