Local Community News


L-R: Gail Middleton and Marianne Cheung

‘Whistle and Hound’ will be opening its new artisan shop in Freshwater, complete with creative arts and craft workshop space, on 6th April 2019.

The mark the special occasion an original Isle of Wight Fisherman’s Gansey jumper will be created in collaboration with knitwear designer Gail Middleton of WearDowney. The exclusive piece will be using Rowan yarn to raise funds for the nearby Freshwater Independent Lifeboat.

Based in the heart of Freshwater Village at 51 School Green Road, next to Mrs Middletons Bookshop, Whistle and Hound will be a place to shop, meet and make.

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The shop is being opened by Island resident Marianne Cheung who has spent the past 10 years working from her Totland studio home as an illustrator, children’s author, photographer and dressmaker.

Marianne says:

“Whistle and Hound is all about the artisan, introducing people to contemporary and traditional crafts in a fresh and modern setting.

“We have some very talented designers and makers on the Island plus a huge amount of independent UK businesses. It’s great to be stocking them on the high street in the West Wight and supporting the #shoplocal movement to regenerate our rural high streets.

“I’ve had lots of encouragement from local businesses, especially The Freshwater Coffee House who are great supporters of the Freshwater Independent Lifeboat, so I hope our Isle of Wight Gansey will also bring in funds for them and raise awareness of the work of all lifeboats and their crew across the Island.”

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The Isle of Wight currently has no official Gansey, or Guernsey jumper as they are also known. Traditionally made for those working in the fishing community, the yoke of each Gansey had distinctive designs to identify the port of the wearer.

To raise funds for the Freshwater Independent Lifeboat an original Island design for men and women of this seafarers knit has been created by Gail. The finished garments will be revealed in April at the shop and the men’s Isle of Wight Gansey donated to the Lifeboat for auction later in the year.

Historically patterns would only have been passed on word of mouth and Whistle and Hound are keeping with this tradition. The Isle of Wight Gansey pattern will be taught over an 8 week course for knitters of all levels at the shop starting in April. This collaborative project is being taught by Gail whose knitting heritage stretches back to the 1980s as former knitwear designer to John Galliano, followed by the launch of her own couture knitwear label WearDowney and pattern designer for Rowan Yarn.

On the project Gail says:

“Going back to my artisan roots and the tradition of learning to knit through word of mouth is really exciting, especially as there is such a deep connection with the sea for our Island Community with this project. I’m looking forward to introducing new people to the art of knitting and helping experienced knitters customise their own Gansey pattern as we work together.”

As an official stockist of Rowan Yarn each Gansey will use Cocoon, a wonderfully soft British yarn made from a blend of 80% merino wool and 20% kid mohair for a modern and wearable knit for women, or Denim Revive a 100% recycled cotton yarn sourced from the fashion industry. Its impressive environmental credentials giving a signature rustic finish for the traditional men’s design.

Whistle and Hound will be selling housewares and gifts by talented local designers alongside independent UK made products and sustainably sourced goods by global artisans. With plenty of space to sit and make, a calendar of contemporary craft and art workshops, classes and courses will run all year led by Isle of Wight teachers. The space will also specialise in drop-in craft kits for anyone to come in make.

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