From when they started out in the industry as young men, 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.
During 2020, the Knitting the Herring project collated information on these unique hand-made garments and brought it together online, with associated activities and events. Now we are pleased to be able to show the source material - the ganseys themselves - in person for visitors to see within the museum.
The exhibition also incorporates:
When we launched our “Knitting the Herring” project back in autumn 2020 we invited our network of knitting and gansey enthusiasts as well as the wider public to “pick up sticks” and collaborate with us on the creation of a knitted Shoal of herring which would expand into the space of our exhibition gallery. Now on display, the SHOAL includes herring from across Scotland, the UK and beyond, created by knitters of all ages, from first-timers to old hands. Together they comprise a beautiful artwork which represents unity and symbolises the anticipation with which we looked forward to being together again.