Traditional Guernsey jumpers were originally knitted for local fishermen to protect them from the elements, knitted with close stitches from tightly twisted wool to withstand sea spray and rain.
The navy sweater dates back to the 16th century. Trade links established in the 17th century saw the Guernsey being adopted by coastal communities around the British Isles – as well as the military.
They were first widely used in the rating uniform of the 19th Century British Royal Navy and it is said that they were worn at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots both owned Guernsey knitwear. Mary Queen of Scots even wore Guernsey stockings at her execution.
The Guernsey that is still produced on the island remains much of the original design and patterning. The rib at the top of the sleeve represents a sailing ship’s rope ladder in the rigging, the raised seam across the shoulder a rope, and the garter stitch panel waves breaking upon the beach.
Robust in design, it is not uncommon for a Guernsey to last several decades and be passed down in families. In fact, it takes a couple of decades to wear a traditional Guernsey in.
All Guernseys and clothing featured are available from Creasey’s Menswear, Womenswear.
Guernseys available in Navy, Oatmeal, Charcoal, Blue & White Stripe and Red.
Photography: Etienne Laine Photography Hair: The White Room Hair & Beauty, Make-up: Benefit at Creasey’s, Guernseys: Le Tricoteur