Artisan collaboration results in very first Isle of Wight Gansey jumper

The first Isle of Wight Fisherman Gansey Jumpers will be raising funds for Freshwater Independent Lifeboat and you can learn how to make one on an 8-week course with knitting aficionado, Gail Downey.

Freshwater - Whistle and Hound - Marianne Cheung and Gail Middleton

The owner of a new artisan shop in Freshwater, which opens next month, has joined forces with knitwear designer, Gail Middleton of WearDowney, to create an original Isle of Wight Fisherman Gansey jumper – and raise funds for the Freshwater Independent Lifeboat!

Based in the heart of Freshwater Village at 51 School Green Road next to Mrs Middleton’s Bookshop, Whistle and Hound will be a place to shop, meet and make. The shop is being opened by Island resident Marianne Cheung who has spent the past ten years working from her Totland studio home as an illustrator, children’s author, photographer and dressmaker.

Marianne Cheung and Gail Middleton at Whistle and Hound, Freshwater

The Isle of Wight currently has no official Gansey, or Guernsey jumper as they are also known. Traditionally made for those working in the fishing community the yoke of each Gansey had distinctive designs to identify the port of the wearer.

Freshwater Independent Lifeboat fundraiser
To raise funds for the Freshwater Independent Lifeboat, an original Island design for men and women of this seafarers knit has been created by Gail.

The finished garments will be revealed in April at the shop and the men’s Isle of Wight Gansey donated to the Lifeboat for auction later in the year.

IOW Gansey at Whistle and Hound

Marianne says,

“Historically patterns would only have been passed on word of mouth and Whistle and Hound are keeping with this tradition.

“The Isle of Wight Gansey pattern will be taught over an eight-week course for knitters of all levels at the shop starting in April.”

Strong knitting heritage
This collaborative project is being taught by Gail whose knitting heritage stretches back to the 1980s as former knitwear designer to John Galliano, followed by the launch of her own couture knitwear label WearDowney and pattern designer for Rowan Yarn.

Gail says,

“Going back to my artisan roots and the tradition of learning to knit through word of mouth is really exciting. Especially as there is such a deep connection with the sea for our Island Community with this project.

“I’m looking forward to introducing new people to the art of knitting and helping experienced knitters customise their own Gansey pattern as we work together.”

Opening soon
With plenty of space to sit and make, a calendar of contemporary craft and art workshops, classes and courses will run all year led by Isle of Wight teachers. The space will also specialise in drop-in craft kits for anyone to come in and make.

Whistle and Hound opens 6th April 2019 and can be found at 51-53 School Green Road, Freshwater, Isle of Wight PO40 9AS.

Friday, 15th March, 2019 2:24pm



Filed under: Community, Freshwater, Top story, West Wight

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What a lovely fashion story. I definitely want a jumper :)