I recently have been looking into the idea of creating a range of Sea Dogs Fishermen’s Jumpers (proper name Gansey), something hand crafted by a local maker here in Tasmania. I mentioned this to my friend Mark Benz, who crafts amazing leather products through his business Cherry Brand. Mark’s workshop is underneath the home of Felicity Dawson, and unbeknownst to me, Felicity can craft almost anything out of wool AND has a passion for traditional sea ganseys. Good old tassie one degree of separation!
So I thought I’d write up a quick blog post, for Felicity and I have decided to embark on a new voyage together, which will hopefully result in the creation of a Old Sea Dogs traditional Tasmanian sea gansey.
From Felicity: “I’m rather excited by the thought of “inventing” a true Tassie sea gansey, along the traditions of the English model. I’ve planned research into the subject during my trip to the UK in May and have set up meetings with special collectors, museums and historians in various English maritime communities.”
“There is something special about a handknit, especially if there is something unusual about them – and this one would come with a story and maybe even individualised with the new owner’s initials.”
“Traditionally, the gansey is dark navy and the wool is left slightly oily. It is a nice feel and look.”
Felicity also mentioned in an earlier conversation that the Ganseys were traditionally made with patterns on them specific to the seafarer’s family, and usually knitted by the men. The patterns were used so that the men could be recognised if having lost their life at sea.
The image on this post is a reference for the type of gansey we’re considering, I’ll post some more info on the history of sea Ganseys and how our project is going as interesting things develop!