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The Hand Knitted Gansey Cardigan

The Hand Knitted Gansey Cardigan

A fisherman's knit

The Hand Knitted Gansey Cardigan

…It is cold, wet and dangerous out there, riding the waves in a wee trawler with the light fading and the storm advancing. This is where the Gansey was born and thrived. Keeping those herring fishermen warm in the worst of weathers, fiercest of winds and wildest of seas. No wonder they are revered by so many designers, knitters, historians, wearers and me.

"I grew up by the North Sea with the salt in my blood and, it seems," says Di Gilpin our Connolly hand-knitter and designer, "knitting needles for hands from an early age and thus the Gansey has been a passion for ever."

For Di, the Gansey in all its complexity and beauty represents the harmony between the Utilitarian and Art. "Created out of necessity, the density of the hand-knitted yarn, with an incredible tension of up to 60 stitches to 10cm, keeps the wearer warm in the face of the coldest of days. The cashmere wool, worsted spun and plyed by 5, wears forever and develops an almost shiny surface with time and wear. Often created in dark blue indigo for practicality, the intense patterning raises itself out of the surface in defiance of the depth of tension in the fabric. These patterns, motifs, symbols, seeding stitches have an age to them. Simply put, they have been created over generations and refined and reworked, always showing the hand of the knitter, as I like to call it, each family using favourites."

"To create a limited edition, special piece for Connolly, classic motifs and designs were chosen and knitted into the piece in the finest English Cashmere. The Tree of Life, hearts, starfish, anchors and wee heapies! Many of these designs originated in the far North of Scotland and are representative of the land and seascape of the knitters. The Tree of Life was not only a symbol of strength and longevity but also a landmark to sailors searching for a port or safe haven. Heapies, from the Buchan dialect of the Scots language, describe small peat stacks drying in the wind and visible from the sea, representing home and hearth. Hearts were sometimes knitted into the Gansey by a mother or wife to keep their son or husband safe."

For us at Connolly, like Di, the love and history imbued in the Connolly Gansey is about keeping our loved ones safe and feeling protected and cherished.