The Gansey Tradition Continues: A Look Inside Knitting Ganseys Revised and Updated
Twenty-five years. How could that much time have passed since the first edition of Knitting Ganseys was published? It almost seems like last week that I sat huddled next to the space heater in a cold, dark, windowless room, punching out chapter after chapter on my Apple IIe, my first computer. (Every four pages, I would have to save the document to the floppy disk because the computer only had 128kb of memory. That seems so laughable now, when my current Mac, which is getting on in years, has one terabyte of storage!)
As I look back on that time, I realize that this book was a door that I stepped through into a new life. Of course I didn’t know that then. But this book paved the way for me to travel, to create and teach workshops, to design more garments. . and my wandering, eager mind went from the British gansey to the Irish Aran, the Scottish Fair Isle jumper, and on to Scandinavia. I gathered the courage to travel to Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, and later many other countries, searching through museums, because I had lost my heart to traditional knitting.
The further I travel on this knitting road, the more I want to know about all traditional knitting and those who practice it. The best part is meeting so many knitters, from all walks of life around the world, who share my passion. I have been invited to teach all over the United States and Canada and in England, Scotland, New Zealand, Iceland, and Sweden, on cruises, and via the Internet. I am still amazed!
The gansey tradition encompasses so many aspects of life: the practicality of clothing your family, the financial aspects of knitting for pay, the broader economic context of supporting fishing industry workers, the social history of knitters who relied on knitting for comfort and pleasure in the off hours after a hard day’s work. That era has passed, and yet, every day I teach I see aspects of this tradition continuing: the bonding between knitters and the creative passion to knit something warm and beautiful for oneself or a loved one.
And now, full circle, here is my updated gansey book, Knitting Ganseys Revised and Updated and the digital Lookbook for it below. The book is bigger and brighter than before, but still full of reverence for the tradition of clothing that you love. That there is still interest in my book is a testament to the enduring qualities of the humble gansey sweater itself.
I have been privileged to meet thousands of knitters on this path. My students inspire me with their enthusiasm and determination. They, along with my many talented colleagues, have enriched my life immeasurably. The first edition of this book started it all for me. I am so blessed to have experienced this and so much more. I wish the same for you, dear knitter—a passionate experience between you, your yarn, and your needles.
The Wool-life is good.
— Beth Brown-Reinsel