This pattern appears all over the British Isles, everywhere from Cornwall through to the north coast of Scotland. I was tempted to file it under Edinburgh, since we live here now and there are many pictures of Scottish fishermen wearing it – but I decided to honour the great Henry Freemen of Whitby instead. (Most of the books carry photos of him taken by the famous Whitby photographer Frank Sutcliffe.) Henry Freeman was the sole survivor of the 1861 Whitby lifeboat disaster, his first mission.
This was also the first gansey pattern I ever knitted, in a version for chunky yarn just after I’d learned how to knit back in the 1850s.
It’s a very simple pattern, just alternating bands of knit 2/purl 2 divided by rows of purl stitches – no cables, no yarnovers, no fancy knittin’.But it’s remarkably effective, especially under a noonday sun which highlights the geometric regularity and textured look of the pattern.
Note the traditional rectangular collar and neckline. In most of my ganseys I shape a deeper, rounded neck on the front. Here I’ve kept it much shallower, as was traditional, though it’s still slightly deeper on the front.
To read about how this gansey was knit, start here.