Before our trip to America and quite by chance, I discovered that a Gansey Symposium would be held in late September at the museum in Sheringham. I booked for the two days and it more than lived up to expectation marrying the social history of ganseys and their creation.
A knitting workshop revealed how traditional patterns were charted and we were able to test out ideas on paper and in wool. A number of experts, Stella Ruhe (collector and writer), Rita Taylor (designer and knitter) and Deb Gillander of Propagansey, guided and inspired, giving us insights into the significance of these garments.
The museum displayed beautiful examples of ganseys hung on poles above boats and other fishing paraphernalia. These were both from Holland and our own coastlines, some so fine they had been knitted on size 17 needles and with three-ply worsted wool: the stitch count 13 stitches and 19 rows to the inch. Such beauty created on the move, in spare moments within a busy day. The single-coloured surfaces carrying motifs connecting maker and wearer to the sea and the landscape of home.
These fascinating two days were an ideal way of trying to get back on track. I am attracted to the repetitious way gansey motifs are used. I wonder whether it's possible to create knitted surfaces out of these patterns not in wool, but in string and then use these surfaces either to emboss handmade paper or make rubbings.