We did some more traditional tourist jaunts in our trip to the East Coast last week. One evening we walked the length of the ‘prom’ down to the harbour in Bridlington. It’s a good size harbour and there are a lot of businesses based there from a chandlery (sailing equipment store) and a crane wharf (to haul boats out of the water) to more tourist focused shops and restaurants. Along the North side of the harbour you can walk to the entrance and imagine your prospects as you venture out into the sometimes hostile North Sea. Along the pier is a recently (2015) installed sculpture of a woman knitting a traditional fisherman’s Gansey.
Gansey is a corruption of the word Guernsey, one of the channel islands. Guernsey sweaters traditionally have no patterns and whereas the gansey is worn by fishermen in the North Sea. Supposedly each small fishing village or family along the East coast had their own pattern. This was so that if a fisherman was lost at sea, not an unusual occurrence, it would be possible to at least know which port he came from. The jumpers are hand knit and worked in the round with 5 needles. The close knit fabric is weatherproof and the design includes additional gussets inserted under each arm to allow ease of movement. The sleeves are also worked in plain stocking stitch as these were the first to wear out and could be unraveled and re-knit.
Looking at the pattern that the Bridlington Gansey girl is working on, I’m not sure you can tell which particular village her fisherman is from. There is a lot more information on the history of the Gansey and how you can order your very own one, on the Flamborough Marine site.