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:

 

 

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Why I love volunteering in the KCG collection

From the collections

One of the best things about volunteering in the collection of the Knitting & Crochet Guild is the opportunity to see the pieces close up. As we sort them out, the ones that are really in need of a wash, which is in fact, most of them, come home with us volunteers to be given the treatment.

This week I brought home these:

A full length crochet evening dress, pink synthetic

A knit and crochet jumper with the front and back in small granny squares

A hand knitted colour and texture jumper – very home made

A crochet curtain in a vine and grapes pattern

And last but not least, a crochet apron (yes really).

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Here they are, draped artistically on my garden seat, after being taken off the washing line

So, with a nod to the Orange Swan, author of one of my favourite blogs ‘The Knitting Needle and the Damage done’, let’s have a look at these.

The pink dress is notable for several reasons – it’s beautifully made and has been worn, perhaps for a special occasion as it is floor length (one of several in the collection). I think it’s from the late 60s or early 70s but could be wrong on that. There is a lot of work in it, especially when compared to many current projects. This piece is from a time when crochet was high fashion, and you could have a piece of that fashion by making it yourself. The yarn is a light synthetic which has a rayon-y look to it, but I’m not sure exactly what it is. The armhole trims have been finished in another lighter colour yarn, turned under,  and the index card for the piece says that the maker ran out of yarn before quite finishing the dress. It has a zip up the centre back, nicely put in.

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The pink dress, looking refreshed

We have a box for items that are made from both knit and crochet and that is where this next piece will go on its return to Lee Mills. I think it’s a work of art. The front and back are standard ‘granny’ squares, in probably 4 ply wool or perhaps a light DK, but then they’ve been turned into a jumper by being knitted into and given sleeves, a neck and trim. The skill with which this has been done can be seen, I hope in this picture of the neck edge where the edges of the crochet have been picked up and knitted, with sharp decreases and I think, increases making the knitting lie flat.

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Neck detail from the knit and crochet jumper

The next garment is also a jumper – this time in colour and texture combined, similar to the Bohus garments. It’s in wool, perhaps left overs, and it’s been well worn. It’s not a perfect piece of knitting by any means but it has a life and character about it which make it very special I think. Here’s a close up of the front – the sleeves are plain fawn knitting.

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Fabric detail from the ‘Bohus’ style jumper

And then there’s two more pieces of crochet, a hostess apron and a curtain. The apron is one of several that we have in the collection. They seem to have been popular in the 1950s, when housewives were being told that their place was in the home (post war, men returning, needed their jobs back etc ). As the theme for the Knitting&Crochet Guild shows is ‘Afternoon Tea’ this year, we have an excuse to get these out, along with tea cosies, tea dresses, tableclothes, doilies, sugar basin covers and all sorts of things.

The hostess apron, with handy pocket:

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You’d wear this over your best dress if you had friends for tea

However, the last piece, a curtain/hanging (?) references not tea, but wine, with its crochet vine leaves and crochet grapes. It is possibly Italian and meant to go in a doorway where it could be seen to advantage. In the mean time, here’s a close up:

P1000910Life size vine leaves and grapes in cream cotton

Next time I have a batch of exciting and precious washing I’ll try to remember to take some pictures and show you more from the KCG Collection.

New Duke pattern being knitted

I’ve been working on an exhibition about Sanquhar gloves (will tell more when it’s further on) and realised that I have only knitted one pair of Duke gloves. I wanted to explore the construction further and test the various written instructions about a year ago and got them all together:

The People’s Friend version (2, The Scottish Knitting Book and the Sanquhar Knitting book) from the mid 1950s

The Patons & Baldwins version, again from the mid 50s

and the SWRI version, I think from the 60s.

Then there’s the charted one from a Japanese web site.

They are all slightly different from each other – for instance the P & B pattern specifies 2 ply wool while the others say 3 ply and some have the thumb set at the start of the round (P & B) while some (People’s Friend) have it in the middle.

Here’s what I’ve done so far: and it’s only going to be one glove!

P1000885The pattern is a copy of the one that I have had in my personal collection for many years but we also have it in the collection of the KCG.

Patons & Baldwins Duke glove

Patons & Baldwins Duke glove

It’s coming out very small – vintage 2 ply pure wool and 1.5mm (old 15/16uk needles) mean that it is barely adult size. Were people’s hands smaller 50 years ago?