Knitting the Herring logo (c) Scottish Fisheries Museum
The Scottish Fisheries Museum
have knitted together crafters from across the UK and Europe to create their latest online exhibition “SHOAL”.

When the Scottish Fisheries Museum launched their “Knitting the Herring” project back in the autumn of 2020 they invited a network of knitting and gansey enthusiasts as well as the wider public to “pick up sticks” and collaborate with them on the creation of a knitted “shoal” of herring which would expand into the space of the Museum exhibition gallery but also be captured in photography and shared online.

Knitted fish have been sent in from Wester Ross in the North West of Scotland right down to London and even as far as Portugal. Margaret Currie (nee Buchan) in Westhill, originally from fishing town Fraserburgh sent in her fish with a photograph of her Granny Bella knitting.  She wishes “that memories of the fishing communities live on in subsequent generations”.

As well the wonderful, knitted fish sent in, the exhibition showcases as a dynamic 3D tour of a traditional gansey where you can see the intricacy of the patterns covering every inch of these historic garments.  Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 and the latest lockdown the physical “Knitting the Herring” Exhibition the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther had planned, has been postponed until further notice.  Luckily, lockdown could not put a stop to “SHOAL”. You can view the exhibition here.
Knitted herrings (c) Scottish Fisheries Museum

The LEADER funded project, “Knitting the Herring”, brought knitters together from all over via video chats and workshops and through their love of the traditional craft from knitting fish to also having a go at our teddy, bunting and square patterns.  It even inspired those new to knitting from the Families First St Andrews Support Group to the kids at Kirkton of Largo Primary School.  Alexis Evans at Families First St Andrews said, “The families are really enjoying their knitting kit and learning a new skill”.

The East Neuk herring, the Eriskay herring and the Moray Firth bunting patterns were created by Di Gilpin Ltd, Uist Yarn Studio and the Moray Firth Gansey Project.

Scottish Fisheries Museum Learning and Engagement, Officer, Carolyn is one of the project leaders: “It has been so heart-warming to know that we have connected with folk at home through the Shoal exhibition, who may feel socially isolated during difficult times of Covid-19.”

 There is still time to add your fish to the shoal too!  If you want to contribute to the online exhibition you can go to the ‘how to’ page on the Scottish gansey website.  Once you have completed your fish, send a photograph of your herring, pennant or square to by the 28th of February.

With funding from Outer Hebrides LEADER and Fife LEADER, the Scottish Fisheries Museum is collaborating with the sustainable community enterprise Uist Wool, Fife knitwear designer Di Gilpin and Uist Yarn Studio - Craft-maker studio on the Isle of Benbecula.  This has created a real opportunity for modern and rural businesses through the revival of a traditional product.

Find out more about our Shipshape Network Scotland Projects here.