N.E. Fisher Ganseys


Cullercoates Gansey

I have been knitting Ganseys for 30 years and am happy to knit any traditional gansey,
or to work with you to design one which reflects who you are and what you do.
Each Gansey takes a minimum of eight weeks to knit.

A Gansey is a distinctive woolen jumper, originally designed to provide protection for fishermen from wind and water.  Using a tightly spun 5-ply worsted wool (popularly known as "Seamen's Iron") the intricately patterned Gansey is knitted in one piece on five needles.  The wool is knitted tightly so as to "turn water"; the lack of seams ensures greater strength and impermeability; the underarm gusset allows freedom of movement; the lower sleeves where most wear is sustained, are left plain so the worn part can be unraveled and re-knitted, while the patterning across the chest provides extra insulation.  The patterning is the same, back and front. This means that the Gansey is reversible, so that areas which come in for heavier wear, such as the elbows, can be alternated.

North Pennines Gansey,
pattern written and jumper knit by myself


It was the custom that each fishing community would have its own identifiable pattern based on a selection of motifs related to the sea: nets, ropes, ladders, herringbones, and so on. Although it is now impossible to ascertain precisely when the patterns came into being, this style of knitting originated during the reign of Elizabeth I and the patterns were fixed by the beginning of the nineteenth century. This means that it is possible to tell where a fisherman came from by the pattern on his Gansey; it is also the factor which, more than anything, makes the Gansey unique.

Every Gansey tells its own story. This was originally for a very practical, if morbid, reason. As each village fishing community could be identified by the design on its Gansey, if the body of a fisherman was found it could then be returned to his home for burial.

In larger fishing communities, small alterations to the basic pattern could even allow for the differentiation of families within that village.

Days were long but, in addition to such essential tasks as baiting the lines, time would be set aside for Gansey knitting, either for members of the immediate family or else for sale to raise a few extra shillings. Great pride was taken in this knitting, especially for the ‘Sunday best’ Gansey (often not in the traditional navy) to be worn at such occasions as the Flamborough sword-dancing or Filey fishermen’s choir.

Eventually, however, the craft of Gansey knitting went into steady decline as younger people moved out of the fishing villages and was in danger of dying out completely. Ganseys are  a living part of history and I believe it is essential that the craft is maintained.

Sizing Information

If possible, select a similar style of knitwear or T-shirt which you currently wear and feel comfortable in, and measure across the chest, from underarm to underarm.  Double this measurement to arrive at the actual garment size. A gansey will need to be between 2” and 4” bigger than your actual chest size.  A size 44 Guernsey sweater, for example, will measure 44 inches all round, but this does not fit a 44” chest, it will be suitable for someone with a chest measurement of 40” or 42”


Size (inches)

Size (cm)


36"   chest



38" chest



40" chest



42" chest



44" chest



46" chest



48" chest



50" chest



52" chest



Colour Chart
  • Black
  • Bretton Tan
  • Burgandy
  • conifer
  • Denim
  • Fleet
  • Natural
  • Navy
  • Oatmeal
  • Olive
  • Scarlet