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Ganseys In Caithness

15 January 2011

Design Challenge! - For Gansey Project
The Moray Firth Gansey Project is issuing a challenge to all budding designers in their exciting international competition to design a new gansey pattern for the Moray Firth.

Men and women down the ages have created clever, but simple, decorative knitting patterns that turned fishermens working jumpers, or ganseys, into unique works of art. Patterns represented familiar everyday objects, such as ropes, nets, flags, stars, and waves. To keep the tradition of gansey knitting alive, the Project hopes to inspire people to create a new gansey design for the Moray Firth in the 21 century.

The main aims of the Gansey Project are to record and conserve the patterns used in the area to decorate traditional fishermens ganseys, and to ensure that the traditional skills are not lost. This competition is an exciting opportunity to create a pattern in the tradition of the Gansey knitters of old, and to connect with the rich heritage of Scotland! said Beth Brown-Reinsel, author of the international selling book: Knitting Ganseys.

The competition is split into two sections, so that even those who cannot knit, as well as budding designers, can enjoy the thrill and challenge of creating a new pattern. What the judges will be looking for is originality of design that reflects aspects of maritime or fishing life around this beautiful and productive Scottish coastline.

[a] Design a gansey patterned bag

[b] Design a new adult gansey pattern

Full details of the competition, which closes on 4 April 2011, are on the web site: www.gansey-mf.co.uk. For further information, contact: Kathryn Logan, Moray Firth Gansey Project, The Moray Firth Partnership, Great Glen House, Leachkin Road, Inverness, Scotland, UK 1V3 8NW; e-mail: ganseymf[AT]gmail.com , Tel: (0044) (0)1463 725027 or if outwith office hours Tel: (0044) (0)1463 793948.

15 June 2010
Moray Firth Gansey Project
Allow me to introduce myself as the new Highland Area Co-ordinator for the Moray Firth Gansey Project. I have been appointed, along with co-ordinators for the Moray and Aberdeenshire areas to deliver the aims of this key heritage project. Our contact details are as follows:-

Stephanie Hoyle (Highland Area) - based in Inverness email: [email protected] or [email protected]
Moira Morrison (Moray Area) based in based in Fochabers email: [email protected]
Edith Rattray (Aberdeenshire Area) - based in Fraserburgh email: [email protected]
Deborah Munro is assisting in the Highland area, based in Wick.
Telephone contact for all: (MFP office) 01463 725027

Di Gilpin, the international knitwear designer and consultant has also been contracted to assist with the project. We also have key academic, conservation, business and community input to the MF Heritage Group which will help steer the project as it develops. Kathryn Logan, the MFP manager will continue to manage the overall project, building on the significant levels of information, donations and support she has already achieved.

We have just created a new website - see www.gansey-MF.co.uk  This has only basic information meantime, but this will build up soon as we start to gather more local information. We have already received emails from America and Australia as a result of blogs / mentions on other websites/ media coverage, and you may have seen the articles in the Scotsman, Guardian and other local papers since Thursday last week as a result of our recent news release.

I am pleased to attach the programme for the first main event in the Highland areal, called Extravagansey. This is taking place in Helmsdale on 19 / 20 June, Saturday and Sunday and includes an exhibition of ganseys, and an exciting range of other activities for all the family. We are asking people from around the Firth with ganseys to bring them, or wear them to the event, and to bring old pictures etc., so we hope this will be a great opportunity to see more patterns from around the area. Details are also available online at: www.gansey-mf.co.uk/extravagansey.html

This will be followed by a Gansey Exhibition and classes at the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at Portsoy on Saturday and Sunday, 26 / 27 June which is always a major event on the calendar. For details, please see www.scottishtraditionalboatfestival.org.uk/index.html

The MFP will also have its own stand at the Old Harbour area, and the staff and directors of the MFP look forward to welcoming you there.

If you have any information about ganseys, or relevant fishing heritage, ideas about how we can use this project to help stimulate local economic development, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Stephanie Hoyle
Highland Gansey Project Co-ordinator

Shetland Museum - Ganseys Project

The Fishermen's Ganseys - Fish Tales
Fishermen's Ganseys - Norfolk Museum
Flamborough Marine - Ganseys
A Short History Of the Hand Knitted Gansey - A Pdf file

The Caithness Gansey
An item recently put in the Caithness Field Club Bulletin section seems to have sparked some interest.  We have set up this section to contain the information and photographs coming in. - Bill Fernie 28 March 2005.

We would be interested in adding other photographs or information about Ganseys in Caithness.  If you have any information on the subject of family photos with Ganseys get in touch.  Patterns would also be of interest whether printed or hand written.

They Lived By the Sea
Folklore and Ganseys Of the Pentland Firth

This booklet now out of print was written by the late Hetty Munro and we have obtained permission from family to publish the booklet.  We have made a start with two patterns and will eventually get round to publishing the rest of the booklet at a later date.

Traditional Knitting Patterns  J.I. Bramman
Mention traditional knitting patterns and most people will call to mind Aran, Fair Isle and Shetland: but Caithness? - Never! And yet the fishing communities of the Caithness coast in the past century shared with similar communities down the whole East Coast of Britain a lively tradition of patterns which were incorporated in fishermen's jerseys and guernseys.....

An example of a Caithness Gansey recently knitted by
Judy Harper (nee Buchanan) from Wick.
The Gansey is currently on display at
Wick Heritage Museum with some small pattern samples.

A Wick crew at Yarmouth in their Ganseys
Photo supplied by Judy Harper - her great grandfather William Farquhar is middle front row and her grandfather second from the left at the rear