A while ago I wrote a post about Guernsey jumpers. Guernseys have been around for centuries. Traditionally they were heavy woollen jumpers, hand knitted by Channel Islanders. Often navy blue, with distinctive stitch patterns designed to mirror a sailing ship’s rope ladder, a panel depicting waves breaking on the beach and stitching representing pebbles, stones and sand. Apparently Admiral Lord Nelson recommended their use as part of the naval uniform and in more recent times they were worn by local fishermen. However since the decline of the local fishing industry, and the rise of synthetic fabrics to keep us warm, Guernsey woollens, the only company in the world making these amazing jumpers, has had to find a new market – which they seem to be doing with great success. More about that later.
I was lucky enough to be given a voucher for a Guernsey as a present by my Dad, so whilst on the Island, I went along to choose my Guernsey, and to see where they are made – and this is that place! No bigger than a large garage, here they make 8,000 Guernsey’s a year.
These are some of the newer designs of Guernseys – ecru with navy stripes. They weren’t quite yet complete when I was there. Still in pieces, they were then to be sewn together, part by hand and part by machine by…..
these two lovely ladies who are incredibly skilled at what they do.
As to the way in which the company has adapted to reflect the change in the market place, they are now supplied to Sea Salt, Fred Perry and Pedlars. Alexa Chung is pictured here wearing an ecru Guernsey with navy “tips”. Cardigans are now also available and the jumpers can be made in cotton, as well as wool with a different neckline to the traditional one.
The jumper that I am wearing above is the only one in the world! A sample made for the Japanese market because the company were experimenting with a different design, it is slightly more boxy in design that the traditional ones. It is made of cotton and, surprise surprise, is striped! I knew that it had my name on it from the minute I saw it. However I must say that I also fancy the striped one above, which is in the traditional style.
In addition to the fact that these are beautifully made jumpers with a great history – something really special in a world of disposable fashion – the most amazing thing about the company is the fantastic service that they offer. If, for example, you were a size 10, Guernsey woollens would send out a size 10 jumper to try which you would then send back, together with your amended measurements. Whether it’s a couple of inches off the arms, an inch or so on the length, or a change to the chest measurements, they will make a bespoke one for you. Saville Row service from the Guernsey’s Island home.
You can find out more by calling Arthur Eldridge on 01481 258183 or taking a look at www.guernseywoollens.com – but I would ring Arthur if I were you. I am hoping that there might be enough of us out there to get some pink striped ones made!