December newsletter

 

Only a bit late this month!
I’ve been far too busy this month machine knitting. I’ve been knitting a batch of hand warmers for John Alexander Skelton ready for his next show early in the New Year. Keen readers of this blog (!) will remember that a couple of pairs of gloves knitted by me and my daughter were part of his last collection. I blogged about these earlier this year: https://wp.me/p2ctxi-Og

There are images of the show here – do go and look – you won’t see anything like it.

https://www.wallpaper.com/fashion/john-alexander-skelton-shelley-inspired-collection-is-poetry-in-motion

This time though, we agreed that I would machine knit which then meant that I could produce more, so I have done. Suddenly batch knitting felt like being back in the 1980s when I had a small business producing garments on the machine. When you have to do the same thing repeatedly – 40 thumbs and 64 fingers – for example, you find ways to refine and speed up the process along the way. Anyway, these samples were hand related so not big pieces and very enjoyable to do, although it has to be said that yoga was essential  last night to straighten out my poor old back and neck. The big plus of all this activity was that I have caught up on my Radio 4 listening.

I have been supporting Knit for Peace in the UK for a while now but I subscribe to Beth Brown-Reinsel’s newsletter here: and this post caught my eye. 

The Project Peace is an initiative that Beth mentions, organised by Christina Campbell, who has Knit Along with a pattern available on Ravelry

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/project-peace-2017

and a blog at TheHealthyKnitter where she shares ideas for doing peaceful things

So I will leave you with this inspirational project. We have to do what we can in these troubled times. I joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament yesterday as a non knitting way of peace promotion, although I’m more than slightly embarrassed to admit that I haven’t been a member for years.

Seasons greetings and have fun over the festive season, and a peaceful and enjoyable New Year. 

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November newsletter

 

I wonder if anyone has noticed that these missives are getting later and later in the month? By early next year I’ll be able to miss a month and get back on track.

The first weekend of October was the twice yearly (is that bi-annual, or does that mean every 2 years?) Rag Market in Hebden Bridge. The Knitting & Crochet Guild had a stall there, selling all sorts of haberdashery, wool and fabrics, and here’s some of them:

Mid-October was marked by the end of my exhibition at Farfield Mill on the 15th. I was scheduled to teach a workshop there too on that day but it was cancelled as there just weren’t enough people to make it viable. I was sorry about that, because although I don’t teach very much, I do enjoy it, and I had designed a pair of fingerless mitts or hand warmers specially for it. I hope that Farfield Mill might be able to use it in a kit with the very lovely pure wool that they have there, spun by Blacker Yarns.

 

The rest of the month of October was taken up with either Knitting & Crochet Guild activities, of which more later, or half term type things, definitely not for this blog!

On the knitting front, I’m hand knitting some gloves for my friend Jenny, these are the cuffs so far …

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and I’m busy on the knitting machine with a secret project that I can’t tell you about … but here’s a bit of it anyway. Those of you who machine knit will realise that this is a close up of the tension swatch.

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Piecework, the American needlecrafts magazine, published an article about the collection of the Knitting & Crochet Guild. I helped Barbara Smith write it and she also designed and made the companion project, a Fairisle beret adapted from a vintage magazine in the collection. I received a copy of this, twice in fact, both the copies looking as though they had been through a hedge backwards. but never, mind, here it is:

 

This is the Tam O’Shanter that is the companion project: So that’s all for now. When it comes to reporting on November there’s 2 events that have happened already, so I will have more news!

October Newsletter

Late as usual, but hello to all my readers!

There’s been lots going on, and I hope to give you a taste of the textile-y bits at least.

At the start of the month I was up at Farfield Mill where I have an exhibition of my gloves. It is a lovely location with lots of textile history just outside the small town of Sedburgh. I have a light filled corner room that has space for half a dozen large frames and a display case. The pieces are the same as they were at the Bankfield Museum in Halifax.

Here it is:

And here’s what was left after the exhibition was put up: but much easier to carry out to the car than the large frames.

I’m giving a workshop on the 15th October and at the time of posting there are some places left. Contact the mill via the web site to book, or contact me. You will learn to knit Yorkshire Dales style gloves and start a pair of wool hand warmers like these below. The yarn is a really robust Blacker pure wool in a double knitting – I’ve really enjoyed knitting with it and it will be available to buy at the workshop as Farfield has a small quantity in some lovely colours.

After that, I went to California where I have family. My first textile-y visit was having lunch with June Hemmons Hiatt author of one of the most important books on knitting, The Principles of Knitting. If you don’t know it, do take a look as it contains everything that you could ever need to know about knitting.

This is the cover of the second edition:

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June and I also took the opportunity to discuss knitting using a knitting belt which June now sells on her web site.

In the little town of Point Reyes Station I found a wonderful little yarn shop selling hand spun and hand dyed yarns and knitted and woven items. It is called Black Mountain Artisans. I bought a couple of skeins of hand dyed yarns for presents (really) and a book of patterns that use the local yarns, Knitting Woolscapes. 

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A Verb for Keeping Warm is one of my favourite places to visit on a California trip and while I was there Clara Parkes was presenting her new book about yarn stashes. This is a picture of the event – as you can tell, I am right at the back of quite a crowd.

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I thought I should include a few pictures from California – we went to some wonderful places and saw some wonderful things, the best of which was possibly the humpback whales about a mile from the beach we were on, jumping out of the water and blowing. However, the views from the Tilden Regional Park of San Francisco Bay were good too. I especially like the industrial landscapes around Oakland Harbour which you see from the SF Bay ferry, so I’ve included one of them too, including a surprise siting of Mahatma Ghandi striding purposefully on the harbour edge in San Francisco.

 

Since I’ve been back I’ve been busy with the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection, where I volunteer, getting the hand warmers finished, and planning some exciting new projects.

 

 

 

September newsletter

 

Some news, some pictures and some plans ….

I finished the music themed gloves for my friend Nick apart from darning in the ends – which is quite a big apart from … but if I sit down with a good radio programme on it should only take about an hour so I need to get a grip and get on with it, mostly so that I can start the next pair.

Here they are with the ends not darned in:

Nick’s gloves, not quite finished, palms

 

Nick’s gloves, not quite finished, backs

I went on holiday to France and Spain, mainly in the Pyrenees, as usual, but we started with friends in the Corbieres region. I’d seen the name on wine bottles but never visited so it was lovely to be there.Here’s some pictures of a house in the small town of Fabrezan with the most lovely art nouveau decorations in ceramics:

We started and ended in Toulouse and also had a short stay in Albi at the end of the trip. Both were centres of the pastel industry in the Middle Ages, to the extent that the motorway connecting the two places is called the Autoroute de Pastel. Pastel was a blue dye, extracted from the same plant as woad, and was used before indigo became available from India. It’s interesting as the activity has been used to generate new businesses making cosmetics like Graine de Pastel. Another one in Albi is Terre de Pastel which has a shop right by the cathedral in Albi with rather lovely blue scarves and lots of other things. Vanessa France’s blog has more on the history of the pastel trade.

A further textile interest was found in Albi, not just in the clothes shops (several rather nice ones) but in the form of a producer of local textiles, Les Toiles de la Montagne Noire. These are locally produced cottons, plain, striped or checked and sold as yardage or made-up into household textiles including tea towels, tablecloths, aprons and so on. Naturally some had to be bought as presents – there’s a bit of a tradition building up in the family of giving tea towels, hardly original but useful. This production is similar to some of that found in Wales and Ireland where locally made textiles add to what’s on offer for both local and visitor markets. I would have bought the whole shop had I not had to carry it all back on the night train from Toulouse to Paris and then onto Eurostar and so home to Huddersfield.

Knitting wise I took socks with me as my partner had said that he would like some. He doesn’t often make requests so I thought that this was a Good Idea as a change from knitting gloves. I fully expected to finish the pair in a fortnight, long train journeys, easy evenings on the terrace etc. I’m just above the rib on them both so lots to do still.

 

Gloves for John Alexander Skelton

I’ve been busy this year but a lot of what I’ve been up to has had to be kept under wraps. I was contacted by John Alexander Skelton, a fashion designer based in Sarabande Studios, London, to work with him to make two pairs of gloves based on traditional glove designs and his ideas for his collection launched on March 17th.

The name of the collection is RADICAL NORTH and these words are knitted in to the cuff of one pair.

The second pair has the date of the Peterloo Massacre, 1819, knitted into the gauntlet and a heart on the hand, to be worn on the back of the hand or on the palm.

They are knitted in Jamieson’s double knitting Shetland wool in black and natural white. I was helped in the knitting by my daughter which meant that it was not too much of a scramble  to get them to John by his deadline.

She was able to go to the show at Sarabande Studios which sounded wonderful. The models, who were street cast – that means they were found in cafes and so on, rather than from a model agency. There was no music and the men read from Shelley’s poem ‘The Masque of Anarchy’ as they walked on stage. The last person was a wearing a head dress made from sheeps’ skulls with two candles burning in it.

Here are the gloves – they are big, 12 inches or 30 cms in length.

There are more on John’s Instagram page:

The fringes are a feature found on a very old pair in the Wordsworth Museum, Grasmere

  And here are the pictures from the show:

 

 

Hand in Glove exhibition

Last Saturday, 12th November, the exhibition of my gloves opened at the Bankfield Museum, Halifax, West Yorkshire. It is on until Saturday 14th January 2017. The Bankfield is open 10am – 4pm Tuesday  – Saturday but it will be closed over Christmas and the New Year.

It was great fun setting up and preparing. The curator, Angela Clare provided me with large fabric panels for the gloves (pinned on) which went into frames and I had 5 glass cases to fill with contextual material. In these are items on loan from the Collection of the Knitting & Crochet Guild where I volunteer, sketchbooks and design work, and items that I’ve designed for magazines. There are five information panels and two frames of vintage glove patterns. There’s also a frame with ball bands from some of the yarns I’ve used over the years. Most of it was planned weeks before so that I could be sure that there was enough material for the space. I used A1 boards and laid out the gloves and items for the cases at home ages ago so I knew that there was sufficient material.

I gave a talk to open the exhibition, just so that people could find out more about why I have knitted all these gloves and some of the research work behind them. I had notified the Huddersfield Examiner   who ran a piece about the exhibition about 10 days ago, and I also had an interview on Radio Leeds. I had Tweeted a bit too, but on the day there were 30 chairs in the hall and about 80 people! Lots more chairs were found so only a few people had to stand. So thank you, print and broadcast media, and social media for getting so many people there. It was very exciting and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Here are some pictures:

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The first case with a variety of Sanquhar gloves: 2 pairs from the KCG Collection and one from the Bankfield Collection

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The Yorkshire case: gloves from the KCG Collection, with a first edition of the Old Hand knitter of the Dales, and knitting sticks from the KCG Collection.

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  I’m the one at the front, wearing a white poppy for peace

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With Angela Clare, from the Bankfield. She’s really lots taller than me!

Barbara, my fellow volunteer at the KCG has blogged about the exhibition here: and her blogs are always worth a read.

Knit for Peace

I’ve been experimenting with knitting gloves or mittens to send to an amazing organisation called Knit for Peace. Based in London they both bring people together to knit and understand each other better, but also collect garments and other things that are then sent out to people in need of them, in Syria, mainly.

So as a break from knitting fine gloves, I decided to make some simpler gloves and mittens for Knit for Peace, with the aim of designing a pattern for them; more on that later.  This I saw as an opportunity to explore some different structures for covering the hands, with a view to perhaps using them in my own designs, so not entirely philanthropic in aim! I started with their own patterns for hand warmers which are a garter stitch square that has a gap in the side seam for the thumb. Very straight forward.

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Waiting to be sewn up

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Ready to wear

These are knitted in 2 strands of vintage pure wool Jaeger 4ply which should be nice and warm, and which came from the Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention stash swap. I’ve got another pair on the needles and it’s great to have something straightforward to knit as a change from complicated gloves!

So far I have also knitted 2 mittens from Elizabeth Zimmermann, the 36 stitch pattern from Knitters Almanac, and the garter stitch mitts from Knitting Around. These are in the same vintage pure wool as the hand warmers. You can see these below, and although the 36 stitch mitts look rather long and thin they are actually fine once they are on a hand – like mine!

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EZ 36 stitch mitts

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EZ sideways garter stitch mitts

The sideways garter stitch mitts are interesting to knit, and cunningly constructed but I don’t think they are one of EZ’s most inspired creations – however, I’m still glad that I tried them.

I offered to write a pattern for mittens and perhaps gloves for Knit for Peace and apparently most of their contributors like to knit on 2 needles from patterns that they provide, not Ravelry or the internet. So, I started knitting some mittens on two needles, and I’m almost there with the pattern having realised that you have to knit the thumb before progressing up the hand. I struggled with this, having knitted a whole mitten and gone back to the thumb in the round with a pair of straight pins. It didn’t work. I then had to find a pattern for mittens on two needles, which is not as easy as you might think, to see how it’s done. I found a Canadian booklet for gloves and mitts which explained the process, so now I can progress with my pattern.

So that’s all for now about Knit for Peace, but I plan to be writing more soon.