• Berties Of Bay

Our Gansey Story - Where It All Began


Back in the late 1800’s many fishermen’s jumpers, or ganseys as they were known, were knitted by fishermen and their wives to keep them warm whilst living and working along our bitterly cold British coastlines.

Many fishing villages knitted their own patterns using unique motifs to help identify their loved ones when swept overboard. If found, their bodies could then be returned back home to their grieving families.


A large number of these ganseys were knitted on the round, as it was known back then. This consisted of 9 very slim needles and made to an individual’s own unique measurements. To obtain one of these ganseys today, only a handful of knitters will take on the challenge, as it can easily take up to a year to knit and so you’d need to keep that tummy in check. Then comes the price, because this is a made to measure service you can expect to pay anything from £390 upwards depending on your size.


Having a strong family link to Whitby going back to my childhood, along with my passion for the heritage, my mum (affectionately known as Granny Baba who has been associated with Whitby for many years) bought wool and started to knit me a gansey 5 years ago. Sadly her eyesight began to deteriorate before she had chance to finish and so I began the search to find someone skilled enough to undertake the task without it costing me a small fortune.

Everywhere I enquired it was the same outlay which I totally appreciated, but by the same token thought it was lot of money to pay out for a jumper. With clothing manufacturing playing a large part in my earlier career and wanting to educate people on all the heritage of the local area, I decided to set myself the goal of finding a way to bring back this fantastic staple of times gone by. I gathered many old photographs, visited heritage centres and museums and talked to lots of knowledgeable people to help me work on a plan. It was so important to get this right, especially with many experts out there who would be quick to shoot down this Yorkshire man if he put a foot wrong.

After months of searching and conversing, I finally found a wonderful British family who had knitted fishermen’s jumpers for many years who were happy to work with me to get my project started.


The 4 goals of my project were:-


  1. Knit a gansey of the highest quality

  2. Make it readily available

  3. Create a unisex size scale to accommodate everyone

  4. Make it accessible in terms of price


To achieve these goals all our ganseys are machine knitted using 100% British Oiled Wool. This means the natural lanolin is left in the wool which reduces itching and repels water in light to moderate showers.


Two years on, we now offer ganseys in 3 local patterns from surrounding towns and villages in various colours along with matching beanies and other beautifully knitted nautical-style jumpers linked to the coast.

We are so proud of what we’ve achieved so far and will continue to revive key pieces of our much loved heritage if it means we can educate and see the joy in people wearing a wonderful link to our past.


Matthew

Founder and Creator


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