Thursday, January 26, 2012

More Heroic Explorers and their Knitwear

Crew of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition wearing
Fair Isles knitwear. Source: Images for All
I got quite excited when I came across this image from the 1902 - 1904 Scottish National Antarctic Expedition.  The Fair Isles pullovers worn by the three men look amazing. They were supplied by the Paisley firm of J & P Coats Ltd, the main financial backers of the expedition.  The company also supplied the expedition crew with Fair Isles caps and mufflers.  The black and white image gives a hint of the rich variations in design described by Pirie, Mossman & Brown (1906) as extraordinary and meaningless. 

"Fair Isle jerseys were universally worn, of which, by the generosity of Mr James Coats jun., we had a large supply on board. They are thick jerseys, handknitted in wool of every brilliant hue, red, green, and yellow  side  by  side  in  endless,  different,  and  all extraordinary  and  apparently meaningless  designs. We also  had  caps  and  mufflers  of  the  same  material  and make, and all proved of wonderful wearing quality."
Pirie, Mossman & Brown (1906)

Christine Arnold (2004) notes that the crew all seemed to wear garments with high necks, a design that would have necessitated the customary shoulder fastening of a fisherman's jersey to allow a snug fit.

Arnold, C (2004) An Assessment of the Gender Dynamics in Fair Isles (Shetland) Knitwear. 

Pirie, J.H., Mossman, R.C., and Brown, R.N. (1906) The Voyage of the Scotia. Edinburgh: William Blackwood & Sons.

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