For years I travelled back and forth from Saudi and somehow developed an idea that not a lot really happened around my locality. True the countryside is lovely and the coastal views stunning!
Having a wee walk along ‘my’ beach!
However, it always seemed to be that when I visited other places there always seemed to be interesting ‘cultural’ things going on there, but I was never aware of anything close to home. Now that I’ve been home for 2 years I have been very pleasantly surprised to find I was very wrong with my initial impression. There are some very good and interesting things happening locally and by some very talented local people.
Last Saturday was one of those. A play written in Doric, the local vernacular by a woman from the next village was performed at the local Warehouse Theatre. Entitled ‘Netting’ it was her second play about the effect the loss of a fishing boat can have on its community.
Having been brought up in a fishing family in a fishing community the play definitely resonated with me and I’m sure many others in the audience. It was a very powerful and emotive production which held me transfixed throughout. I was so glad that our small local theatre had organised the 2 showings and I had been able to attend. Before being performed in Lossiemouth ‘Netting’ had been on tour to various venues around Scotland, hopefully being enjoyed just as much as I did.
Today I noticed a poster for ‘Robert Burns- The Musical’ which is being produced by the Rock Academy which is a dance and drama school situated in Lossiemouth. It was written by the owner of the school based on an idea by Michael Jackson and David Gest! It has already received acclaim and been performed in many of the big theatres around Scotland.
So I was definitely wrong to think nothing very ‘cultural’ happens in my own backyard!
One of my lasting memories of my maternal grandmother is that she was always ‘wyvin’ -or in English knitting. And the garments that were always on her ‘wires’ or knitting needles were Ganseys- patterned fishing jumpers. My father and uncles were fishermen so she always had someone to appreciate her knitting. Despite this she found time to knit for other people who were not so skilled in the art of the Gansey. She never used a pattern and used to mix and match ideas from other jumpers she had seen. Using 4 shiny, silver, metal, double-pointed needles always looked a dangerous procedure to my young eyes. Added to this she wore a knitting sheath/belt where she stabbed one of the needles into, to take the weight of the Gansey whilst she knitted. Each time she thrust the needle into the belt I could hardly believe she hadn’t done herself an injury!
After my grandmother died in 1993 I don’t think I ever saw anyone knit a Gansey again. The fishing industry had declined and the younger fishermen bought ready made clothing (perhaps their womenfolk had other things to do with their time?).
This week the Gansey came into my life again when I read that there was an exhibition in The Maritime Museum in Aberdeen of Ganseys. I just had to go!
One style of neck detail.
i am so happy that this skilful art has been recognised and examples saved for posterity. But even better The Moray Firth Gansey Project has not only made more people aware of this knitting heritage but has also encouraged knitters to keep the art alive and evolve new ways to use the patterns like this ladies jumper by knitwear designer, Di Gilpin.
Jumper by Di Gilpin.
I also got a lovely surprise to see that 2 of the Ganseys were credited to Mrs. Isabella Stewart- my grandmother!