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The Gansey Jumper

One of the most popular garments to wear in winter, jumpers are also a piece of clothing which had different meanings during the centuries, which differ from place to place and from design to design.

The Gansey, or Guernsey jumper – named after the island of Guernsey, part of the group of the Channel Islands in the English Channel, where it was created – is a woollen fisherman’s jersey, part of the traditional clothing of the island.

Gansey jumper of combed and hand-knitted worsted, made in Staithes, 1980. Collection Victoria and Albert Museum, CC-BY-NC

Gansey jumper of combed and hand-knitted worsted, made in Staithes, 1980. Collection Victoria and Albert Museum, CC-BY-NC.

This type of navy coloured sweater was favored by fishermen for its characteristic close-fit, which resulted in make them feel warmer, and its tight knit, which repelled water. The one in the picture, designed by Joseph Ettedgui, is part of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection and dated 1980. Made in the East Yorkshire fishing village of Staithes, it is worked in the round, without side seams, in a pattern of vertical panels with alternate cable and double moss stitch.

The first Guernsey jumpers were produced in the early 16th century, when the island obtained, by the Crown, the license to import wool from England and export knitted goods. They were originally hand–knitted in one piece and designed to keep the wearer warm and dry in all conditions. In the 19th century they become part of the rating uniform of British Royal Navy and during the 1880s there was a craze for a fashionable female version of the jersey.

In addition to Guernsey jumpers, a consistent part of Europeana Fashion collection is composed of knitwear designs, from folk costumes to designers’ creations! Browse it to find more beautiful records!

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