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Week 15: 27 October – 2 November

Now, here’s an interesting thing. As part of an exhibition on the role of women along the north-east coast, the church of Robin Hood’s Bay has recently hosted a display of ganseys. You can see a newspaper report HERE and a BBC News video HERE, and jolly interesting they are too (especially the video clip, which also shows plenty of happy, apple-cheeked children frolicking in their ganseys back and forth in front of the camera, as happens all the time in the cobbled streets of fishing villages of the North East).

So well done to the organisers and to York St. John University which instigated it all. The idea of a church decked out with traditional ganseys sounds like fun, and it’s good to see traditional knitting in the news without a hint of patronising from the media. (Mind you, I had to smile at the reported comments of a lifeboat man who “admits that modern garments have the upper hand when it comes to practicality and insulation and so the gansey has for many years been in steady decline as a working garment” – though the decline of the fishing industry may have had something to do with it too!)

It’s worth noting, by the way, that two hoary old gansey chestnuts feature prominently in both articles about the exhibition – namely, that ganseys have waterproof qualities, and that a drowned fisherman could be identified by the patterns on his gansey (or at least the village he came from could be). These claims crop up quite often, and I shall be returning to them in next week’s blog and subjecting them to closer scrutiny.

Meanwhile, I continue my slow but stately progress down the sleeve, like an ant making a leisurely stroll down the Statue of Liberty – an elderly ant who’s early for an appointment, with plenty of time on its hands, and who keeps stopping every few paces to catch its breath and take in the view.

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