Sunday, 8 June 2014

A shoal of ganseys

'The Mo', the museum of the North Nofolk fishing town of Sheringham, is currently hosting an exhibition all about fishermen's sweaters, A Shoal of Ganseys.

2014.06.07 Sheringham groyne by Katie Birkwood, on Flickr

2014.06.07 Sheringham shoal of ganseys l by Katie Birkwood, on Flickr

A gansey is a particular type of sweater or jumper, knitted in the round with no sewn seams, most often (but not exclusively) in navy blue, using fine wool at a tight gauge or tension. They were worn by fishermen all down the east coast of the Great Britain, along the whole route of the herring fishing fleet from the Moray Firth in Scotland to Sheringham and Cromer in Norfolk. They were also knitted and worm elsewhere, including inland waterways, the channel islands and the Netherlands.

The exhibition is absolutely splendid. It displays 70+ ganseys in amongst the boats and artefacts that form the museum's permanent displays. The overall effect is very attractive to look at and very evocative. Detailed attention has also been paid to each individual knitted item; the knitting nerd can see where and when each comes from, and care is taken to demonstrate the range of different styles and techniques that were and are used, rather than reducing the tradition to one single model that all ganseys are supposed to have followed.

There's a handling collection of labelled knitted samples upstairs, so there's a chance to see the knitting up really close (with low lighting levels in some areas of the museum this was particularly welcome!) and to take away detailed inspiration for future projects.

I'd thoroughly recommend this exhibition if you're interested in knitting, coastal heritage and history, or if you're just passing through Sheringham or North Norfolk. Sheringham's lovely, too, if you like chips, ice-cream and gulls. (And who wouldn't?)

The exhibition runs until 10 September 2014. I haven't found details of these online, but the exhibition leaflet advertises knitting on the prom on Saturday 14 June, children's knitting sessions on Thursdays during the summer holidays, and a symposium 'Gathering Ganseys' on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 September.


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