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Page last updated at 12:07 GMT, Monday, 14 December 2009
Celebrating an icon of Guernsey
Olive Sarre
Olive Sarre still makes Guernseys the traditional way

The traditional Guernsey jumper has been around for hundreds of years and is still produced in the island.

With Guernsey's unpredictable weather the durable garment has become known worldwide for its protective qualities.

Designed to be used by fishermen, it has seen celebrity endorsement from the likes of Ben Fogle.

Traditionally navy blue in colour the jumpers are made with specially coated worsted wool which makes them water proof and exceptionally warm.

The worsted wool is twisted in a specific fashion making it stronger than regular wool and giving the Guernsey its famously sturdy character.

All traditional Guernseys are made to the same pattern with a square neck, making them reversible, and patterning at the shoulders.

In the past this patterning often featured a parish or family pattern, one reason for this is that it would help identify fisherman lost at sea.

Knitting machine
Modern Guernsey's are made on knitting machines like this

Amanda Bennett from the Priaulx Library said that during her research on the subject she found that Guernseys from St Peters would have "a line of basket stitch across the front and into the sleeve" while the Forest would have basket stitch just around the arm.

She said other elements of the Guernsey also represent maritime themes with the arm "ladder" designed to represent sand on a beach and the way the ribbing is designed around the bottom of the Guernsey represents fishing bobbers.

While in modern times fewer people wear the traditional garments they have become famous worldwide.

As well as fisherman and the aforementioned TV presenter, Guernseys are also the official name for the shirts worn by Australian Rules Football players and share a common ancestry with the local garment.

In November 2009 the Culture and Leisure Department, along with BBC Guernsey, announced 1 December as Wear Your Guernsey Day to help celebrate this island institution.


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