Knitting in the Netherlands, part 1

by Carol Christiansen, Shetland Museum and Archives

During Shetland Wool Week 2014 we invited Stella Ruhe to teach classes based on her book, Dutch Traditional Ganseys.  Stella has had a busy year since then: she has given talks about her research, published a second volume (in Dutch only so far) Vissers Truien 2 and exhibited the ganseys at museums in the Netherlands.  I visited Stella in Amsterdam at the end of November and we travelled to the Rotterdam Maritime Museum to see the exhibition there.  Ganseys related to the Rotterdam area were given pride of place and the museum displayed fascinating information about the lives of fishermen and fisher families.  The ganseys were hung in two groups by colour, which allowed for close inspection of the different yarns used – from traditional smooth gansey wool to fuzzy Icelandic léttlopi.  Each gansey was identified with a tag naming the port of origin.

The ganseys have moved to Katwijks Museum and will be on show through April 2016.  Fishermen from Katwijk visited Shetland each year and their ganseys, along with those from other Dutch ports, were common sights in Lerwick harbour.  If you are considering knitting one of these beautiful jumpers, go and see the garments first to choose a favourite – it won’t be easy!