Mar 05, 2015 :: by Pam Allen
I love Bristol Ivy's new collection of gansey-inspired projects, At the Lighthouse. She drew inspiration and ideas not just from the knit/purl patterns found on the iconic fishermen sweaters of the Channel Islands, but from the women who stayed on shore, the women who worked hard to keep things going, children growing, clothes clean and mended, soup in the pot, tea in the kettle, while husbands were gone.
A friend recently mentioned a brain study that showed that portions of women's brains stay active while they sleep, whereas the male counterpart shuts down and snoozes. Doesn't surprise me. It's a cliche to mention the variety of things that women have to 'juggle.' But it's true. Things domestic, workaday, and personal need to find a way to sort themselves out. And often the only time women have for that kind of thing is when they're sleeping.
I dislike generalizations that begin, "Men this...," "Women that...," That said, I think it's fine to salute the hardworking wives of fishermen. In Bristol's words, "These patterns are a second generation of traditional gansey knitting, inspired by and designed for the women with calloused hands, clear eyes, firm land beneath their feet and salt sea in their blood."
I like that.
And, while I'm on my soapbox, may I add that I don't think there's anything un-strong about women (or men) who knit and sew. Authors' of children's books for girls who have the princess throwing her embroidery out the window in favor of more active pursuits, please take note. Gender aside, we all benefit from the pleasures of creative, contemplative activities as well as active ones.
Now back to gansey sweaters: The never-ending possibilities of knit/purl patterns and the pleasures of knitting them. Pictures say it all. See below.