If you are a fan of traditional clothing, you may have heard of a mens fisherman sweater, but have you heard of a Gansey? Let’s take a look at this traditional piece of clothing.

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What is a Gansey?

A Gansey is the traditional name for a mens fisherman sweater. It is a hand-knitted and hard wearing woollen jumper that has been worn by British fishermen for centuries. Traditionally, it was navy blue, and its primary function was to keep its wearer dry and warm during their work.

The cultural significance of the Gansey

Also known as a Guernsey, the Gansey had a different pattern for each family and each village. If bodies were recovered after a shipwreck, the Gansey could be used to help identify any bodies washed up on the shore.

How Ganseys are made

A mens fishermans sweater from a specialist retailer such as https://shoparan.com/mens-aran-sweaters/mens-fisherman-sweaters can take around five to six weeks to knit by hand. The patterns were traditionally passed down through the generations by word of mouth only – they were never written down. They were usually knitted by wives, mothers, and sweethearts.

A Gansey is knitted as one piece without seams, using at least five fine needles and five-ply wool. The knit is very tight so that the Gansey is weatherproof. Extra warmth is knitted into the upper body with a thicker and more concentrated pattern. The features, such as cables, ladders, ropes, diamonds and anchors, are symbolic of the daily lives of fishermen.

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How Ganseys were worn

A Gansey would traditionally be worn without any layer underneath. A pure silk scarf would usually be added to protect the skin around the neck from chafing when the wool got wet. Fishermen wore them every day – even to church!

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