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The Scottish Fisheries Museum holds a collection of over 50 hand-knitted ganseys. Together it forms a unique record of the regional variations and similarities in material, design, pattern, and colour of these iconic garments.

Most Scottish fishermen (between the late 19th and early 20th century) would have owned at least one gansey, usually dark blue (but sometimes grey, cream or even red) tightly knitted sweaters, created for them by a family member. Made of strong and water-resistant wool, ganseys were designed to be practical and comfortable, and came to play a vital role in Scotland’s fishing communities. Over time, they became fisherfolk’s distinctive knitted workwear, often worn as a source of pride.

Zigzag and chain pattern from Whitehills, Banffshire
Flag and mock cable pattern, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire
Rib and cable pattern from Dalintober, Argyll and Bute

In 2020 - 2021, the Knitting the Herring Project researched, documented and celebrated these wonderful garments, creating an online resource where you can see many of the examples in the collection, read about gansey history and traditions, be inspired by a range of talks, stories and demonstrations and an online exhibtion, and even find simple knitting activities based on gansey heritage.

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To find out more about the project, explore the Online Gansey Gallery or see our 3D model of an exquisite Eriskay gansey, visit the Knitting the Herring website.

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The Scottish Fisheries Museum Trust Ltd | Charity Number: SC 006185 | VAT Reg Number: 270 2790 64
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