February newsletter

February newsletter

I’m not sure if this post should be called news from January rather than February newsletter … but that’s what is it really.

Social media
After thinking about it for ages, my social media is now more pulled together. The Welsh Minx has gone and I am now I’m angharadt, except Twitter, which already had one, so there I’m angharadtphd.

I’m on Facebook, which I use for both personal and textile-y posts and news, sometimes public and sometimes private. You can find me as Angharad Thomas; I have 2 Instagram accounts, one of which is public and one private, and I also have a Linkedin account. I have a Pinterest page; both of the latter are fairly dormant, but I do keep pics of lost gloves there.

More importantly perhaps, I’m on Ravelry, where you can see my projects, groups, stash and so on, and message me.

My activity on all of these is fairly sporadic, a bit like on this blog actually.

Yarn for glove knitting

Dreadful news. In the last few days I’ve discovered that my favourite yarn for glove knitting, and the one used by the knitters in Sanquhar, Regia 3 ply wool and nylon, is being discontinued. Supplies of some colours have been tricky for a year of so now, resulting in me bringing some back with me from California, supplied by a shop in Canada. I had a query, through this blog, about what yarn to use for Sanquhar gloves, so I thought I had better check my suppliers, only to find out of stock and discontinued notices on web pages. So it’s back to searching for vintage yarns and fine 4 plies to substitute for the Regia. There is a German yarn that appears to be suitable but the web site is all in German …..

What I’m knitting now – silk gloves
In the meantime I’ve been knitting in Jaipur Fine Silk, in white, on 1.5 mm circulars. The knitting is very very slow both because its so fine – and because I can’t knit more than about 4 rounds without getting pain in my left hand. So what I was hoping to have complete in about a week is very incomplete now. Even if I knitted solid all the time I’m awake I wouldn’t get them done. It’s been a bit of an eyeopener and makes me look at the silk gloves that I studied a few years ago with renewed awe.

Here’s a real unedited snap of my worktable with the silk gloves in progress. It looks as mess, probably because it is one. Every item is of use.

And here’s the thumb of the right hand, a little offset into the palm.

Knitting & Crochet Guild news
I volunteer in the collection of the KCG where my rather grand title is Textile Curator. I’m usually there two days a week but this week we had a concerted initiative to have an early spring clean, so a group of us were in for an extra day. We also had a visit from second year students at the University of Huddersfield, a picture of which is on the KCG Facebook page, and a visit from the editors of Slipknot, the quarterly magazine of the KCG. This is a great little (A5) publication and in itself a good reason for being a member of the KCG. There’s no advertising, and lots of interesting pieces written by members. Often there’s something about the collection too, usually written by Barbara Smith whose blog is highly recommended at Barbara Knits Again.

The big clear out included a massive sort out of the knitting needles and you can get some idea of the scale of the operation from these images:

 

My UFOS and WIPS (Unfinished Objects and Works In Progress)

The light is getting brighter and the days longer so it might be time to take stock of the UFOs and WIPs that fill the bags and baskets in my workspace (actually a spare bedroom, the bed is a handy space to spread things out on). There are at least 3 pairs of gloves that might never become pairs, 3 pairs of mittens ditto, a jumper that has a couple of inches of the trim started, a crochet blanket with perhaps half the hexagons started but not finished, and several pieces of Estonian knitting started at Craft Camp and waiting for attention … then there’s still some swatches and samples which could be turned into blankets and throws. They’ve been waiting many years and might have to wait longer still. Some of them are waiting patiently in these bags:

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January 2018 newsletter

This comes with best greetings for the New Year. I’m planning to do lots of great projects and go to lots of great places this year in my knitting life. Let’s see how many actually happen. In the meantime what have I been doing?

Gloves for Jenny

A pair of gloves for my friend Jenny. I showed the cuff for one of these gloves in the November newsletter, but they have progressed since then. The name and dates are knitted in and I am progressing up the thumbs here:

These are really complicated and inspired by a historic pair that are in a collection in London. There are so few pairs of these two colour knitted gloves still in existence that it’s really exciting to find some that I haven’t seen before. These were pictured in Text, the magazine of the Textile Society a few years ago and I think they have the same sort of charm as nineteenth century cross stitch samplers.

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Marianne Clarke’s gloves from 1835 in the Hopkins Collection, School of Historical Dress, London

Socks on circular needles

This is the first time that I’ve knitted socks for a long while so I decided to do them on circulars in the same way as I knit gloves. I used to be a dab hand on a set of four double pointed needles by the way. They are for my partner who suddenly announced that he would like a pair of socks. He makes specific requests very rarely so I thought I should take notice. I dug out some red four ply yarn from a charity shop that contains wool and some silk and should therefore be fine for socks. As usual when I knit anything like this – socks, mittens and so on, I went for a copy of Woolcraft. If you don’t know this publication which ran for years published by Patons then I can’t recommend that you find one as soon as possible. I’m well down the feet at the moment and aiming to keep going.

Copies of Woolcraft from the collection of the Knitting & Crochet Guild

I have plans for a glove exhibition perhaps later in the year or in 2019 and will keep you all in the loop as these develop … and plans to knit more gloves …

 

In case you don’t get these, here are links to the web sites for some of the newsletters that I’ve had in the last few days and are well worth a look depending on your exact interests.

Schoolhouse Press, includes a re-released pattern for EZs sideways mitts in garter stitch featured in this blog here.

Knitter’s Review  Clara Parke’s excellent account of yarns

Hand/Eye magazine (not knitting but some very inspirational work, mostly textiles)

Textile Art  Lots of practical and free advice on your career as a textile artist

Beth Brown-Reinsel With lots of information about her classes and travels

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!

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.

Workshops

Birmingham Saturday October 15th and Sunday October 16th I will be teaching two workshops:

Saturday is the Birmingham branch of the Knitting & Crochet Guild meeting and the subject is lace. There will be a show and tell of lace garments and samplers from the KCG Collection followed by a hands on workshop of lace knitting, using a sampler from the collection as inspiration. Participants can make their own selection of yarn and needles with a view to knitting samples or a scarf.

Yellow lace sampler

Sunday is an independent workshop on glove knitting. Participants will have the opportunity to learn and practice the techniques used in knitting two colour gloves and will need to bring 2 colours of plain smooth yarn in 4 ply or DK and double pointed or circular needles in appropriate sizes.

Sanquhar glove

There are a few places available on both. Cost for the lace workshop is £12.50 and the cost of the glove workshop is £20.

Both take place in the Community Room of the John Lewis store in central Birmingham.

Contact me via this blog if you would like to reserve a place.

Double filet crochet

Going back to the Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention in early July, one of the workshops I did was the Double filet crochet, on the grounds that it was something that I had never done and know little about. 

This is what I produced:


The piece is about 4 inches or 10 cm square and the top view is the face and the lower one the reverse.In the centre you can see the 2 layers of filet mesh, one over the other. The technique was very ably demonstrated and taught by Barbara a and Michael Mann, who have made this a speciality, running the East London Double Filet Crochet Group for many years. See their web site here for more about this fascinating technique. There’s also a Double filet/Interlocking crochet group on Ravelry.

So my scrap is but a tiny start, a beginning of many potential projects and design challenges.