Blyth gansey story, captured in a book to be launched on International Gansey Day

To coincide with International Gansey Day, local woman Astrid Adams is launching her book It Started with a Stitch – the story of the Williams Gansey Project.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 6:00 am
Astrid Adams, who has written It Started with a Stitch – the story of the Williams Gansey Project.
Astrid Adams, who has written It Started with a Stitch – the story of the Williams Gansey Project.

Ganseys were traditionally made by wives and girlfriends of sailors and fishermen, though many men also knit their own ganseys.

The Williams Gansey project began when someone suggested that the crew sailing on Blyth’s tall ship Williams II should have a traditional uniform.

Long-time friends, Astrid Adams and Janice Snowball set about designing the Blyth gansey and raising the necessary grants to fund the project.

Astrid Adams' book 'It Started with a Stitch – the story of the Williams Gansey Project'.

With knitting volunteers from around the world, the project delivered over 100 ganseys for the ten crew on the successful round Britain voyage from March to May 2019.

The Williams II is named after the original Williams, a ship captained by Blyth sea captain William Smith, who discovered Antarctica in 1819 but was never credited with it.

Astrid, who is also secretary of the Friends of Blyth Tall Ship, said: “So much material was gathered on how the project began, developed and succeeded to provide warm and weather-resistant clothing for well over 100 crew and volunteers that documenting the whole experience in a book was the obvious thing to do.

“The book also contains a history of William Smith and how the Blyth Tall Ship project came about, as well as heart-warming stories from the people who knitted the ganseys and those who wore them.”

The book is being launched at a drop-in event from 4 15pm to 5.45pm at Blyth Library on Thursday, November 25. There will be books for sale and the opportunity to see the ganseys, hats scarves and gloves.