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!

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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.

 

 

 

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:

 

 

Project finished

In the new year, I set myself a challenge to design and knit a group of gloves that I would enter for an exhibition with the deadline of 1st March. Well, the challenge is completed, the entry is sent off, even though it hasn’t turned out as I expected.
I decided to machine knit so that I could make a group of gloves. In previous years I’ve hand knitted and made either two or three pairs in this period. The odd thing is that I still only made 7 pairs of gloves or mitts as I spent a lot of time researching and designing the range.
I actually went down some blind alleys too, and then had to start again … and in between times life intervened.

I went to the Lake District to stay with some very old friends (5 days out), then again to the Lakes to give a talk with my partner on his recent book about the Pyrenees (2 days away and lots of preparation), then half term and a 70th birthday party ceilidh to cater for – chilli con carne for 80+ anyone? which took a whole 7 days out of action but this included going swimming in the Splash Pool at Huddersfield and going to Leeds and visiting the university and family). Then there was the visit to Birmingham with the Knitting & Crochet Guild Trunk show, a further 2 days out. Plus I went to the opera in Leeds twice and to Lee Mills two days a week most weeks. So all in all, not really two months of designing and making at all …..

So this is the finished group. I hope you like them.

Gloves, mittens and armwarmers

Gloves, mittens and armwarmers

 

So now I’m wondering what I’ve learnt from this. In terms of designing:

  1. Stay focused
  2. Work around one theme.
  3. Not to get too complicated.
  4. Ugly colour combinations may be a novelty in folk art but are still ugly if you use them in designs to be worn now

In terms of machine knitting

  1. You can make many more problems when machine knitting than hand knitting as it’s so much quicker
  2. The quality of finish depends on the quality of make – very dependent on edge stitches and selvedges
  3. There’s no substitute for making good design decisions. If you don’t, then you are always compensating for it.
  4. You can never have too much good quality yarn.
  5. It’s harder to pay the same attention to detail when machine knitting as hand knitting  – WHY?
  6. You have to make the machine do what you want it to do – concentrate!

So what am I going to knit next? I’m not sure but watch this space.

 

A ten minute blog

I’ve had a page of prompts, one for every day of the year to ensure that I blog more frequently, if not every day. The prompt for today is this:

Ready, set, go

Set a timer for ten minutes. Open a new post. Start the timer, and start writing. When the timer goes off, publish.

So this is it:

The exhibition that I’ve been working on for nearly a year went live last week and was launched at Vogue Knitting Live in New York last weekend. The exhibition is about Sanquhar gloves and brings together a lot of information about them in one place. The link is here:

It has been organised by the Center for Knit and Crochet in the USA and co-curated by me and Beth Brown-Reinsel. The web work and the launch has been done by the CKC and it looks fantastic. I hope you go to have a look at it.

London exhibitions

A great textile-y start to 2016. Last weekend, 9 – 10th January 2016, I caught a couple of textile exhibitions in London just before they ended. In fact, I went down specially for them, as one in particular had work that I’d only seen in books.

 

The first one I went to was the Fabric of India at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

 

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/the-fabric-of-india/

 

This was a huge show, taking up all of the galleries that the V & A use for their temporary shows. It was pretty comprehensive too, covering work from thousands of years ago to that produced by contemporary fashion designers. I watched a video about Ghandi and Khadi cloth which was interesting and I enjoyed the contemporary work too.

Then it was a 2 mile walk to St James’s to the White Cube Gallery in Mason’s Yard, itself worthy of a special trip, to see both the yard, which appears little changed since the time of Dickens, and the large modernist building that houses the White Cube in the middle of it. (You can Google images of it, but I wasn’t able to download an image to put here, sorry).

 

The exhibition, entitled ‘Losing the Compass’ featured textile work by a range of artists and included selection of quilts which were labelled as Amish and Gee’s Bend. As I have only seen Gee’s Bend quilts in the book of the same name, I wanted to see some of these in the flesh as it were. They were displayed in a very odd way, I thought and you can see it here.

http://whitecube.com/exhibitions/losing_the_compass_masons_yard_2015/

 

Most of the quilts laid out on large steps overlapping with each other, which didn’t allow the viewer to see the whole quilt.

Amish and Gee's Bend quilts laid out on steps

Amish and Gee’s Bend quilts laid out on steps

On the opposite side of the gallery three were hung from a single point on the gallery wall. I was reminded of the dormitory of one of my favourite French refuges, the Marialles, where I saw the same thing done with the blanket for each mattress in the communal dormitory. I think this is quite stylish for a fleece blanket, as each one has a large eyelet so it can go on a nail above each bed, but as a way of displaying a pieced quilt I think it is deeply flawed. Firstly the quilt can’t be seen in its entirety, because of the deep folds that are created, and secondly, and possibly more importantly, the quilt is put under a huge strain as its weight is being supported by one point.

Gee's Bend quilt at the White Cube Gallery

Gee’s Bend quilt at the White Cube Gallery

 

Blankets hanging in a French mountain refuge

Blankets hanging in a French mountain refuge

 

So although it was wonderful to have the chance to see these textiles overall it was a rather frustrating experience. There was no context or provenance given for the quilts and I couldn’t help contrasting both the way in which they were displayed and the lack of information with what might have been had they been shown in the gallery of the Quilters’ Guild in York. This ironically closed at the end of October last year due to low visitor numbers but was the site of some excellent displays of historic and contemporary quilts. You can see images of it here.

 

The third exhibition I visited is on for a while longer and that was at the Whitechapel Gallery about a movement called the Kibbo Kift. This was a display of memorabilia which included banners and costume as well as papers, photos and letters. You can see some of it here:

http://www.kibbokift.org/

 

So lots of interesting things to see at the beginning of 2016. Please keep reading, there’s another exhibition that I’m going to post about SOON!