Have you ever been so inspired by a hand-knit that you just need to find out more?
This is what happened after Jean long’s visit to the Stolen Stitches studio where she brought us a stunning Irish gansey. We had to visit Cape Clear during Heritage week, here in Ireland this summer, and find out more about the local history and the Geansaí Chléire she brought us.
Join us and press play below, and enjoy our visit to the Irish Island:
The Geansaí Chléire: A Link to the Past
Ganseys are traditionally associated with the east coast of England and, more broadly, the UK. So, finding one on Cape Clear, an island off the south coast of Ireland, was intriguing. In our vlog, Jean Long shares this discovery, and it’s safe to say that the history and significance behind it piqued my interest. This jumper wasn’t just any piece of clothing; it was over 100 years old! The intricacies of its knit were astounding, and the patterns seemed to reflect an era gone by.
Preserving the Story
The primary concern was not just to marvel at this gorgeous sweater, but to preserve it. With no written patterns and only oral traditions, Jean aimed to recreate and archive this pattern. So that it wouldn’t fade into history, and future generations would know about the island’s knitting legacy from a century ago.
Upon examining the geansaí, you can see how skilled and detailed the construction is. Knit in the round, it showcased a beautiful side seam and a combination of a simple cable with a double moss stitch pattern. What stood out, however, was the vertical stitch pattern on the yoke typical to ganseys and an underarm gusset, emphasising the fine craftsmanship from a century ago.
What might seem like modern knitting techniques, Jean discovered, were rooted deep in history.
The sweater’s dense knitting was created with tiny needles with a gauge of 30 stitches. The techniques used were advanced for the time, bringing home that there’s truly very little that is ‘new’ in knitting. We’re simply rediscovering old techniques with modern tools.
During our conversation, you’ll find out about Diarmuid O’Driscoll and Catherine Cadogan as well as the cultural and historical significance of ganseys.
I do hope you enjoy our visit to the island!
Live Gansey Discussion from Cork, Ireland.
I’ve become so interested in this topic that I really want to dig a bit deeper and keep learning. We have set up a zoom chat with Di Gilpin and Sheila Greenwell to talk about gansey design, its origin, and how they are working on keeping the tradition alive.
Meeting time: Nov 9, 2023 04:00 PM Dublin
A recording will be available after the event.
If you would like to come and join us, you can buy your ticket here: