Back to blogging (and knitting)

Actually, over the last few weeks I have been knitting like mad – two pairs of gloves and a huge pair of mittens – but they are for a magazine so I’m not able to share them, or at least not just yet. So I better stop there; I was about to say what they are like and so on, but that will have to be a surprise. Suffice it to say I have been out of my comfort zone.

So this evening, coming home after spending the day sorting out several boxes of Fair Isle garments at the KCG collection, I went and found my work in progress, the brown and blue gloves for my friend Geof. I had started a finger taking the pattern round and round, but for some reason, that may have something to do with quantum mechanics, the pattern won’t repeat properly. I think it’s due to the ‘jog’ that happens in circular knitting. Anyway, coming back to it after a few weeks I thought it looked a mess and unpicked it. I didn’t even take a photo. I had been planning to take the pattern all round each finger, but I’ve now re-designed so that part of the finger is the same as the palm and part the same as the back of the hand.

Because the pattern does not go all the way round the finger the problem with the ‘jog’ is eliminated.



Back of the hand facing

Palm of the hand facing

Palm of the hand facing

Look at the colour difference in the two images – I have trouble with the camera on my phone but it is so handy – just not always accurate or consistent.

Visiting gloves in collections

This month I’ve been to two collections to see and study the gloves they have. These dates have to be arranged months in advance as the appointments get booked up so I went to Bath in early November to the Fashion Museum there and last week to the V& A Clothworker’s Centre.

In Bath, the Fashion and Costume Museum

houses the early part of the collection which belongs to the Worshipful Company of Glovers.


They have a great on line catalogue and from that I was able to see that they have about a dozen, perhaps more, knitted gloves from the 16th and 17th centuries, most of which are, or were, ecclesiastical. These gloves are beautifully stored and conserved, each pair, or sometimes a single glove, has its own archival box and is wrapped in calico within that. The gloves have a hand shaped support inside them that extends from the wrist so the whole thing can be lifted from the box and turned over.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the quality and fineness of the work. The gauge that I was able to measure seemed to be about 10 sts = 1cm, or 25 sts to the inch. Bear in mind that all the yarn was hand spun and dyed without the aid of chemical dyes. The amount of work and skill needed to make these is unbelievable.


In their archival box

In their archival box

Wrapped in calico

Wrapped in calico

The gloves


The gloves themselves

A close up of the gauntlet, stranded knitting

A close up of the gauntlet, stranded knitting

The earliest examples are certainly hand knitted but later ones are frame knitted and shaped by cutting and piecing the fabric. Many are embellished with hand embroidery in metallic thread, either silver or gold.


A couple of interesting points: some later gloves were made as fashion items but in ecclesiastical workshops while two pairs from the 17th century, one ecclesiastical and one ‘fashion’ are very similar.


Similar gloves, one pair ecclesiastical, one 'fashion'.

Similar gloves, one pair ecclesiastical, one ‘fashion’.

At the V& A I visited the relatively recently opened Clothworkers’ centre which is in a huge Victorian building just by the Olympia trade exhibition centre. They only have 3 pairs of early knitted gloves so the two hours I had with them allowed me to examine them very closely.

There will be more about these in a later post.

Amazing coincidence

I wrote this post a while ago but have just added to it – here it is:

Fiberarts was a journal published in the USA from the 1970s through to about 2008. Those dates may not be completely accurate but they’re enough to give you the idea. I thought it was the most wonderful read. Evey issue, almost. was packed with great textiles, a lot of it fiberart as you would expect but also crafts, exhibitions and making. I came by a stack of these in the depths of the collection of the Knitting and Crochet Guild, and not featuring knit or crochet, or only very occasionally, they were deemed to be surplus to requirements. They then sat in my house for some months until I got round to going through them.

Glen’s gloves, a whole page article in the September/October issue, September 1985 caught my eye as I was filleting them prior to passing them on to a friend of mine who is an artist, printmaker and paper maker.  The piece is about a textile artist called Glen Kaufman who had been using the glove as a format for exploring ideas. He exhibited in the 1974 miniature textile exhibition, organised by Ann Sutton, and which I think I saw in a mill building in Wakefield.

Glen Kaufman called the gloves special exercises in ‘small thinking’ and this particularly resonated with me. He did not always construct the gloves but used ready mades from thrift stores (charity shops). There is an interesting article about the significance of the glove as a piece of clothing – from ceremonial to workwear in Knitting Traditions 2010, reproduced on Knitting Daily  here.







Glove heaven

Last Saturday, as part of the Knitting in the Round project, there was a Sanquhar glove study Day at A’the Airts, the arts centre in Sanquhar. Lynn Abrams from the project gave a presentation about the project, which is focusing on the Sanquhar glove knitting, as well as Tom of Holland who showed his gloves and showed some contemporary designs which use the Sanquhar pattern.

But the star for me was May McCormick who was demonstrating glove knitting as well as showing a display of the Sanquhar designs. while I can still keep count of the gloves I’ve knitted, May has probably knitted hundreds. Here are some of them in the display at the event:

Display of gloves knitted by May McCormick of Sanquhar

Display of gloves knitted by May McCormick of Sanquhar


There were more of May’s gloves in a shop window over the road:

May McCormick's gloves in the craft shop window, Sanquhar

May McCormick’s gloves in the craft shop window, Sanquhar


And in A’the Airts window, more Sanquhar goodies.

There was also machine knitting, which I love, as the arts centre has had a grant to enable them to buy some state of the art electronic machines and software, on which they are going to produce Sanuqhar pattern scarves and other things.

That’s all for now, as I’m off to see some historic gloves from the Glovers Collection in the Fashion Museum in Bath and have to be on the train by 8.30 this morning!





Geof’s gloves

I’m up to the little finger on my latest pair, for my friend Geof. I thought that I’d posted about these, but obviously after the making a mistake post I must have lost my umph for writing about them. I really like them as the contrast is strong and the patterns likewise. They are an attempt to capture some aspects of what my friend does and who he is, if that’s not too high falutin. Well it is, but I don’t care, because those are some of the factors that have driven the design process. I have sketchbook pages to prove it!

The left and right hands are in opposite colours, an idea I first saw on Click’n’knit’s blog: but as the two colours are slightly different in weight, I’ve had to change the swapping around or the difference in size would have been too apparent. You can see that the cuff with the pale blue as the main colour is larger than the brown dowminated one. So then the blue becomes the main colour above the brown to try to balance it out.

Here they are so far.



And here’s the cuffs:


Making mistakes

Thought that I’d do a few rounds before turning in and just realised that they’re wrong … I did not look at my chart and just carried on. So now I have to undo about 8 rounds and get it right. That is actually part of the appeal of this knitting – it has to be correct or not at all but just now I could do with some way of fudging things.
In the morning I might take some photos.

But the process of making mistakes and correcting them is all part of it. Some I can correct without much undoing but this is far too much :(

Stash revealed – well a bit of it!

As I’ve bought a new camera I decided to spend a bit of time photographing (at least) some of my stash. The stash facility on Ravelry sounds very good and I haven’t really used it up to now and it would be handy to know what I’ve got when thinking about new projects without having to root through the tin trunk that keeps it all.
So I started on the 3ply wools, those I use for gloves usually. I have just counted from the photos and there’s enough wool for about 60 pairs I think. The colours are rather unevenly distributed, lots of yellow and hardly any white. I try to make it a rule not to buy more yarn but like all rules it can be broken, especially when Marion Foale’s colours are so wonderful.

At about 6 – 7 pairs annually that’s about enough for 10 years. I think that sounds just about right as I’ve certainly got that many ideas and I might even start knitting at least part of them on the machine.

You can look on my Ravelry pages to see what’s there so far. There’s 4 ply, enough for a couple of sweaters, and some denim cotton, a tiny bit of cashmere, some DK in various colours and that’s about it. I’ll add them another time.

Here’s some of the more photogenic balls and skeins, from the early 1950s to the mid 60s I think. All pure wool and all spun in the UK. All in imperial weights too, so a bit of the past in some balls of wool.


P1000027 copy



Sirdar, from the early 1950s


Vintage wools

Jaeger, from the 1960s

P1000057 copy


Patons again, but perhaps 1960s

P1000060 copy

A skein of about 4 ounces, again from the 1950s?

P1000042 copyPatons and Baldwins, Purple Heather, possibly from the 1950s?