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Knitting the Herring - Following Fife's Fishing Heritage

ORGANISATION // Scottish Fisheries Museum Trust Ltd
PROJECT // Knitting the Herring - Following Fife's Fishing Heritage

‘Knitting the Herring’ comprises a series of workshops, exhibitions and events to record and celebrate the unique knitting heritage of coastal fishing communities of Scotland and the east coast of England.

This project will work with residents who live in the communities where the herring fleet once berthed to record and share gansey patterns and construction methods, and to share those findings with local, national and international audiences through the creation of a digital database and a series of events.

In addition to developing a database of historic ganseys, project participants will create a ‘shoal’ of knitted herring, featuring examples of traditional stitch patterns. Alongside ganseys from the Scottish Fisheries Museum, the fish will form part of a travelling exhibition with attendant workshops and events, which will make its way along UK’s coast as the fishing fleet used to do.

The project would also aim to work with specialist woollen mill and social enterprise Uist Wool to develop a specific yarn for knitting ganseys and the herring. The traditional oiled five-ply yarn is no longer made in Scotland and it is difficult to source an authentic alternative. The possibility of using local wool in the development of this yarn represents a real opportunity for modern rural businesses, whilst at the same time reviving a traditional product.

As well as developing a digital database and working closely with coastal communities, ‘Knitting the Herring’ would also act as a scoping and audience development project for GANSEY: Scotland’s Festival of Heritage Knitting, an international festival of gansey knitting planned for September 2021, to be held at Bowhouse, Fife. The aim of the festival is ultimately to develop a National Collection of Scottish Ganseys, in partnership with museums, universities, businesses and archives from across Scotland, so that the country’s unique knitting heritage is both preserved and celebrated for generations to come.