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.

 

 

 

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News round up for May 2017

Someone asked me if I have a newsletter and I thought no I don’t but perhaps I could try having one. At least that way I might post more regularly.

So, I had an article published in Vogue Knitting, about Sanquhar gloves. I felt extremely honoured to be invited to do this and very much enjoyed doing it, especially going to visit Sanquhar again, staying at the Blackaddie and meeting fellow glove knitter, May McCormick.

Here’s the cover and the first page of the piece:

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I’ve restarted knitting gloves for friends and so I’ve been sampling and designing for my friends Nick and Jenny.  Nick is a musician and he chose the vintage Sanquhar colours of brown and yellow. These are the cuffs so far:

I have also opened a glove knitting Instagram account where you can find me as Angharadt. The pics are the same as what’s here though.

My work got retuned from the Make exhibition at Ruthin Craft Centre after a lot of kerfuffle with the post office or Royal Mail. It turned out they were just trying to be helpful but t seemed as though the parcel had gone astray for a few hours.

Finally, I write this from Latvia where I am attending a mitten knitting retreat. It is the last evening of a packed week in which we have seen other places than Riga, being based inThe southern city of Liepaja. We have seen more mittens than I would have thought possible and met more knitters ditto. I have tried techniques I’ve not even heard of and been to places I didn’t know existed. I’ll leave you with a picture of the Russian Orthodox cathedral here, the nearest I’m likely to get to the Kremlin.

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:

 

 

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.

Knitting in California

It’s time I caught up on what I’ve been doing lately, which is mainly being in California for two weeks. Although it’s very warm there a lot of the time I was still able to fit in some knitting activity. However, I have to admit that I did not do a single stitch of knitting, not even on two long haul flights. In fact, I even almost left my knitting bag behind under my seat on the flight home. But luckily I had a dig around the debris of the flight and found it there.

A while ago June Hemmons Hiatt, author of the Principles of Knitting, was in the UK and we planned to meet up, having met at the inaugural Center for Knit and Crochet conference in 2102. That didn’t happen for various reasons so when I found out that June lives quite near where I go to visit my step daughter we agreed to meet. For those of you who are familiar with Principles of Knitting you’ll know that June is a total expert on knitting. Her book covers everything from how to actually make the stitches to all aspects of planning a project.

June is also working on producing knitting belts which are available from her web site. They are all top quality leather and hand made, so a real work of art and craft. Plus, using a knitting belt is a great way to knit.

So as well as having lunch, we talked a great deal of knitting ‘shop talk’, fairs and events. June was due to go to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, October 15th and 16th, so just coming up now, techniques, needles, and all sorts of textile-ly things.

Here’s June and I having had lunch:

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Then June introduced me to a unique shop and gallery called Lacis which has haberdashery, tools, books, textiles and costume. It really is amazing, and if I wasn’t used to seeing huge quantities of old and vintage textiles in the Knitting & Crochet Guild Collection, where I volunteer, I would have been even more amazed that I was. I have never seen such a selection of thread, needles, gadgets, patterns, pins, ever. And that’s including John Lewis haberdashery in its heyday and Duttons for Buttons and all those wonderful places down side streets in London ….

When I’d recovered from that, at least a week or ten days later, I went to visit A Verb for Keeping Warm, a shop and centre for all sorts of textile activities in Oakland, so about 30 minutes away from where I was staying and not so far from Lacis. If you have a look at the web site you get a sense of the place and what they do there. Have a look at the pictures of the outdoor space at the back of the shop – it is quite special. I asked if my partner could sit here while I browsed and it was fine. We were both happy.

Here’s some pictures:

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Natural dyed yarn and dried marigoldsfor dyeing with in the outdoor space

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Verb has knitting and spinning and dressmaking/quilting supplies so there was a lot to look at and all of it beautiful – lovely things, well presented, plus some that I hadn’t seen before, like this magazine from Canada, Uppercase. I bought this edition, more or less for the image on the front cover, which looks like a patchwork quilt, but made of pieces of painted wood from salvaged houses. You can see more of them at the artist’s web site.

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I also bought a copy of the natural dyeing book, written by the Verb’s owner, Kristine Vejar. A clever move, calling it The Modern Natural Dyer, as I have several books on natural dyeing, and have done some natural dyeing, but I obviously need an update. I left this in California with my daughter. I’ll get it back next time I visit if she hasn’t used it by then.

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And the last couple of things I bought (remember, I never buy yarn, and I don’t buy books when I’m abroad as they are too heavy to carry home) was a skein of Brooklyn Tweed yarn in a sludgy green that is my favourite colour more or less, and a Brooklyn Tweed book. I look at BT books on line and they are wonderful – beautifully produced and photographed and this one is no exception. It will probably be a present, as I really do not need another knitting book. I even forgive the incorrect spelling of Woolens. Joke.

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And finally, I bought some Blue Faced Leicester tops in Verb, as the spinning wheel was out at my daughter’s house. I took the wheel over there after my mother died, over ten years ago, literally in a box, held onto wheels with some bungies. It travelled as checked in baggage. Anyway, the white tops were quite ok to spin with, although not a nice as some grey Gotland which had come from the local knitting shop in Lafayette. Here’s me spinning on a Hebridean wheel in California:

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And that’s all for now. Thanks for reading if you got this far.

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.

Estonian Craft Camp 2016

Estonian Craft Camp 2016

Readers may remember that I went to this in 2015 and posted about it here:

and here:

You can see the wristlet I made here:

I enjoyed myself so much that the only doubt I had about returning was that it could be as good again. In the end I decided to take the chance and signed up for Craft Camp 2016, the third one.

You can read about the organisation and aims of the camp here:

The Estonian Government takes the promotion of ‘folk crafts’ seriously and they are taught at university level, for instance at the Vilanjdi Culture Academy.

The camp, for me, is a perfect combination of activities, location and people, and the language is English, which makes it possible, as I don’t speak any of the languages heard there – Estonian, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, German, Dutch ….

The activities I chose this year were all textiles:

Fringed wedding gloves,

Techniques used in knitted garments in Saaremaa, an Estonian island,

Mugli embroidery, and

Saaremaa and Kihnu knitting bags

There are descriptions of the workshops here:

 

The fringed gloves workshop was taught by Kristi Joeste, author of Ornamented Journey, probably the most attractive knitting book I know. Fringes on gloves are said to protect against the evil eye and in this capacity they were worn for weddings. The fringes can be knitted in or sewn: this workshop did the latter. Kristi had studied three examples from the Estonian Museum collection and we knitted small pieces of these, flat rather than in the round, to have a base on which to sew the fringes. These samples incorporated purl ridges onto which the fringes are sewn and some two colour work. Here are the materials (note the 1.25mm dpns) and one of my samples:

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The next was Archaistic embroidery from the Mulgi region, taught by Liina Laaneoja and Annika Vaalma, see here for more information.

The teachers of this workshop are graduates of the Viljandi Culture Academy and have a business making garments decorated with embroidery. We were given the materials to make a game of noughts and crosses using a felt base and 9 small felt squares which were to be embroidered using the following traditional motifs: circle, cross, tree of life and rose. These are worked in only 3 stitches: blanket stitch, chain stitch and stem stitch.

There was a free choice of colours (fine wool thread) to use on a light brown base. I was stuck for colours until I decided to use a photo I had taken in the grounds of the camp that morning as a source:

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I chose to embroider 7 of these squares (about 2 inches/5.5 cm)  to put in a frame, rather than make the game. I discovered that I am a fast and accurate embroiderer (I did lots when I was a child), probably better at that than I am at knitting. This is what I made:IMG_0385(There’s a couple more too, but you get the idea)

The motifs are documented in this wonderful book and this is the page that gave me particular inspiration:

 

The day out was to the Setomaa region of Estonia, but I might post about this separately.

 

The third workshop was Knitted Sweaters and garments from Saaremaa, a large Estonian island. The workshop was led by Riina Tomberg, author of a book about these garments, see:

The project is a wristlet that incorporates some of the details found in these garments. This is tricky technically, as is all Estonian knitting, due to the extremely fine needles – 1.25 or 1.5mm – and relatively thick wool – 2/8s or about a woollen spun 4ply. Making stitches is physically difficult with this combination.

This is the completed wristlet, Riina’s example, NOT MINE, but one person did complete theirs in the course of the camp and showed it on the last day. However, I think they stayed up almost all night to achieve this!

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The opportunity to make a ‘traditional’ knitting bag was the last workshop and for this we were asked to bring fabrics cut ready for patchwork and a lining. These were to supplement those provided in the workshop by Riina. I decided to mix up the two types of fabric and was very pleased with the result:

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The national museum has examples of these bags in their collection and they can be seen here:

(not all have a picture, but it’s worth clicking through to see the variety). Most are clearly made from scraps and some include fabric and crochet; many have a similar aesthetic to the quilts of Gee’s Bend, which I blogged about in January this year.

So that’s all for now apart from a last picture, of me with my products at the show of work on the last morning:

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