This year’s Knitting History Forum will be venturing out to picturesque Leiden in The Netherlands for a special event focused around seventeenth century knitted stockings. Please join us!
Knitting History Forum Invitation to Leiden 2019
Held jointly with the Textile Research Centre Leiden, the conference will include a full day of lectures about the Texel shipwreck reproduction silk stockings project, stocking production, studying historical knitting and textile research. The date of the knitting history conference is Saturday 2nd November 2019, with the KHF AGM held on Sunday at the TRC. Click on the images or download the PDF to learn more. Further information will be available on the Knitting History Forum website once details are confirmed.
After a year notable for the extraordinary, in weather and in much else, November has rolled around once more. Knitting History Forum’s unique annual conference and AGM for 2018 was held last Saturday. The day’s proceedings informed, amused and intrigued.
The conference itself was packed with more papers than at any previous KHF event. Six very different but equally eloquent speakers presented. Our Chair Prof Sandy Black opened proceedings, then Annemor SundbĂ¸ opened an apparently unremarkable suitcase to reveal a wonderful selection of knitted garments she had rescued from destruction.
These treasures, ranging from the strictly utilitarian and functional to highly decorative expressions of love, form a record of Norwegian knitting traditions and dress history, many with signs of multiple repairs and multiple lives, such as cardigans and jumpers turned into underwear or swimming costumes.
Celia Pym’s paper followed on directly from this, beginning with a jumper from Annemor’s ‘ragpile’ that Celia had visibly darned in white wool and going on to deeply moving accounts of repair work, including two well-loved jumpers, one belonging to her family GP Bill, and the second to Celia’s great-uncle Roly, which involved adding to her great-aunt Elizabeth’s sturdy and very individual darning.
Rachael Matthews discussed her work as textile artist, writer, teacher and activist with refreshing honesty. Her paper took the form of an humourous but candid alternative to her recent book, expressing knitters’ struggles and low points illustrated by examples from Rachael’s own practice and experience and observing truthfully how knitting can divide as well as unite.
After a short break, the conference resumed with Cary Karp speaking on the use in Great Britain of hooked-tip knitting needles, the distinction from and adoption of crochet hooks and the terminology and structure of the different techniques. His precise and incisive paper, tracing this history through the published work of nineteenth-century knitting writers, was a model of clarity. Jana Trepte’s well-received paper examined the fragments recovered in Bremen of everyday knitted garments of the early seventeenth century and concentrated on one large piece from a knitted wool waistcoat with knitted-in shaping, comparing it to surviving examples of elite waistcoats of silk and wool.
Ellie Reed’s paper presented an evaluation of the target readership of ‘Woman’s Weekly’ in 1958. Her analysis of the social and cultural significance of ‘ordinary’ domestic knitting as presented in the magazine was confirmed and expanded by the memories of several delegates. Both this and the final presentation by Lorna Hamilton-Brown underlined the importance of collecting oral history from living knitters of all backgrounds. Lorna’s paper on black knitters was both revelatory and entertaining, enlivened by a brilliant video, ‘Knitters of the Caribbean’. Securing funding for further, doctoral research is vital. The memories Lorna collected from older generations of black knitters in the Caribbean showed similarities to otherwise very different geographical and cultural knitting traditions, such as knitting needles made from palm leaves, a practice also found in Malaysia, or more expensive metal bicycle spokes, still frequently used in Peru.
Sandy had loosely arranged the conference presentations around a theme of mending and repair. Other themes emerged during the course of the day, such as recovery of unexplored, hidden or unvalued histories of knitters and knitting; of moving beyond limits of tired tropes and preconceptions; of fresh methods and fields of research; of breaking new ground while re-considering and consolidating the old. One point certainly highlighted by all six presentations is that the ingenuity and resourcefulness of knitters, crafters and needleworkers everywhere is unbounded.
The KHF AGM in the morning was hopeful in outlook, with suggestions for future events and new ways for Knitting History Forum to participate in wider discussion and continue to build up networks of knitting history research. The display tables held an eclectic array of knitting-related items, including exquisite nineteenth-century garments and a stunning modern reproduction from the collection of Gieneke Arnolli; modern publications by Annemor SundbĂ¸, Rachael Matthews and Lise Warburg; nineteenth and twentieth-century knitting books brought by Joyce Meader from her extensive collection; new work by Philippa Thomas incorporating real gold, and much more.
Many thanks to all of our fantastic speakers for their papers, our delegates for stimulating discussion and to Sandy Black for arranging another really thought-provoking conference that could be enjoyed by scholars and knitters of all levels of interest. KHF Membership Secretary and Treasurer Tricia Basham deserves special thanks for valiantly joining us straight after a very long Knitting and Crochet Guild board meeting. It was wonderful to see friends old and new and see the results of some exceptional scholarship. Here’s to another excellent year of knitting history networking and research.
Tom van Deijnen’s Darning Masterclass has proved very popular and is already fully booked. Apologies to those who have missed out. If you are one of the lucky twelve and you have already paid by bank transfer, please remember to contact us by email so we can confirm your booking.
Darning Masterclass with Tom van Deijnen
Friday 16th November 2018 2-5 pm.
London College of Fashion, 20 John Princes St, London WC1 0BJ
Learn to darn with Tom van Deijnen, aka tomofholland. Best known for his Visible Mending Programme, he will teach you two darning techniques (Swiss darning and stocking darning). Tom will also bring along his darning showcase for plenty of inspiration, and talk about why darning and repairing clothes is important to him. You’ll take home a comprehensive hand-out, two darning needles, and the skills to tackle any holey sock or thinning elbow, and be able to wear a beautiful darn as a badge of honour. All practice materials provided.
Cost ÂŁ40 payable in advance. Places are limited to 12 so please ensure that payment is made as soon as possible.
We are delighted to invite the wider craft community to join us for this absorbing afternoon masterclass.
Workshop places can be paid directly to the Knitting History Forum HSBC bank account sort code 40-39-16 account number 81487760, quoting your full name as reference. You can also pay via Paypal below.
Join Knitting History Forum on Saturday 17th November 2018 for our annual Knitting History Conference!
The 2018 programme varies between seventeenth to twentieth century history of knitting and contemporary practice of knitting and its social history, with a focus on mending and repair. Among the speakers and papers confirmed for this year are:
Annemor SundbĂ¸, textile designer and author on Everyday knitting in Norway – treasures from the ragpile
Celia Pym, textile and knitting artist on The Norwegian Sweater: Darning Damage
Rachael Matthews, knitter, craftivist, artist and author on Knitting effect, wellbeing and health
Cary Karp, independent scholar on Investigating 19th Century âTricot ecossaisâ and âCrochet Ă la Tricoterâ
Jana Trepte, student at Kiel University on Piecing the Bremen waistcoat together: an everyday knitted garment of the early 1600s
Eleanor Reed, PhD graduate in domestic culture on Post austerity consumerism and thrift â 1958 knitting patterns in Womanâs Weekly
Lorna Hamilton-Brown, artist and Royal College of Art MA graduate on Black people donât knit?
Once again our venue is the London College of Fashion, 20 Princes St, just off Oxford Street in central London. The Knitting History conference itself starts from 1.00pm and runs until 6.00pm. The AGM for KHF members runs from 10.30am to 12.00pm and registration starts from 10.00am with time for Show and Tell. Please bring items for discussion during the morningâs Show and Tell. There will be further time for questions and general discussion after all the speakers have delivered their papers.
Materials and equipment will be provided but please bring your own if you prefer. The day costs ÂŁ50 per person including tea and coffee.
A weaver and textile historian as well as a knitter, Ruth’s background is one of both hands-on experience and wide-ranging scholarship so this is a wonderful opportunity to learn from someone with evidence-based knowledge and practical expertise. Full information will be available when you book: contact Ruth by email, by phone or in person at the Loft Space.
Thank you to everyone, KHF members and delegates, for contributing to making our 10th Knitting History conference such a success! Special thanks to our Chair Sandy Black for arranging an excellent programme and venue, and to our Membership Secretary and Treasurer Tricia Basham for all her hard work. It was a wonderful day with outstanding speakers, interesting discussion and good friends, old and new!
The day ended with a champagne reception for everyone to celebrate our achievements so far and look forward to the future. Here’s to the next ten years of Knitting History Forum!
A quick reminder to book your tickets for the Knitting History Conference on Saturday 18th November 2017 at the London College of Fashion. The presentations will cover a variety of subjects on knitting and crochet history, from surviving sixteenth and seventeenth century knitting, to crochet practices and twentieth century knitting yarn, from Huddersfield and London, via Denmark, Sweden and Italy to Egypt. It’s an interesting line-up for KHF’s tenth anniversary year! Further information and tickets available from the Knitting History Forum website. We look forward to seeing you!
Join us on Saturday 18th November 2017 as we celebrate 10 years of the renamed Knitting History Forum and our pioneering annual Knitting History Conference!
Once again the venue is the London College of Fashion, 20 Princes St, just off Oxford Street in central London. The programme for 2017 is full and includes the following speakers:
Maj Ringgaard on The development of stockings 1600-1800: evidence from the Copenhagen excavations
Helena Lundin on Shipwrecked knitting: Fragments from the Swedish Seventeenth Century Flagship Kronan
Lesley O-Connell Edwards on Of stockings and sleeves: insights from some 16th century knitted items in the Museum of London
Matteo Molinari on Crocheting Cultures: traditional Italian crochet practice in private and public spaces in Veneto
Barbara Smith on âWools for the Worldâ – Wakefield Greenwood of Huddersfield and
Ruth Gilbert on A complex knitting technique from Egypt: the evidence and some ideas
There will also be a display of British Wools by Zoe Fletcher
Registration starts from 10.30am and the KHF AGM runs from 11.00am to 12.30pm. The Knitting History Conference starts promptly in the afternoon at 1.45pm and closes at 5.30pm. Lunch is not provided so please bring your own or buy locally. Further details are available in the KHF AGM & Conference programme.
Please bring items for discussion during the morningâs Show and Tell. There will be more time for questions and general discussion from 5.15pm, after all the speakers have delivered their papers.
Angharad Thomas, Textile Archivist for the Knitting & Crochet Guild, is speaking on Knitted Gloves, their history, design and knitting. Angharad’s work was recently exhibited at the Bankfield Museum in Halifax, together with items from the KCG Collection.
Another documentary that may be of interest to delegates is ‘Fabric of Britain â Knitting’s Golden Age’. First shown in 2013, this programme was made by the BBC and is available to viewers in the UK with a TV Licence and access to BBC iPlayer (and possibly a few other viewers too). The similarities and contrasts to ‘The Secret History of Knitting’ are pertinent to our discussion. Viewers may recognise another interviewee â see above! There are 8 days left to catch this episode online. Click the link to watch ‘Fabric of Britain â Knitting’s Golden Age’ at the BBC website http://bbc.in/1CyVEmV.
Knitting History Forum is pleased to announce that Dr Roslyn Chapman will be speaking at the Knitting History Conference on Saturday 19th November 2016, at the London College of Fashion. Her presentation, Cultural Sensitivities: Debunking the myths of Shetland lace, uses case studies to illustrate how traditional narratives of knitting history can be altered in retelling, and that even “detailed provenance cannot always be accepted as fact.”
The final programme of speakers and sessions for the Knitting History Conference , is now confirmed as:
2.00-2.45 Gieneke Arnolli â Curator of Textiles & Fashion, Fries Museum, The Netherlands Typically Frisian lace knitting, between fact and fiction and Curating the Knitting exhibition ‘Breien!’
2.45-3.25 Hanna BĂ¤ckstrĂśm â PhD Candidate in Textile Studies, Uppsala University, Sweden The publication of knitting and crochet patterns in Northern Europe 1790-1870 and Brief remarks on recent knitting history research in Sweden
3.35-4.00 Michelle Hanks â PhD Candidate London College of Fashion The Hand-Knitted Gift: using knitting as a research tool
4.05-4.35 Roslyn Chapman â PhD, University of Glasgow Cultural Sensitivities: Debunking the myths of Shetland lace
4.05-4.35 Discussion: Reflections on knitting in the media â how would we represent the history of knitting?
With Joyce Meader, Jane Malcolm-Davies and Sandy Black, following their contributions to a documentary, The Secret History of Knitting. All contributions are welcome â please follow the link to watch the documentary online before this session [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJiN9GNrDpA].
Join us for the Knitting History Forum 2016 Conference and AGM on Saturday 19th November, at the London College of Fashion, 20 Princes St.
Registration opens in room 418 at 10:30AM, with the first session an informal Show and Tell. Please bring items for discussion! The AGM for KHF members runs from 11.00AM to 12:45, followed by a break for lunch. Lunch is not provided so please bring your own or buy locally. The London College of Fashion is just off Oxford Street and there are many places to eat nearby.
The Knitting History Conference starts promptly at 2.00PM. Speakers and sessions for 2016 include:
2.00-2.45 Gieneke Arnolli â Curator of Textiles & Fashion, Fries Museum, The Netherlands Typically Frisian lace knitting, between fact and fiction and Curating the Knitting! exhibition.
2.45-3.30 Hanna BĂ¤ckstrĂśm â PhD Candidate in Textile Studies, Uppsala University, Sweden The publication of knitting and crochet patterns in Northern Europe 1790-1870 and Brief remarks on recent knitting history research in SwedenÂ
3.30-4.00 Michelle Hanks â PhD Candidate London College of Fashion The Hand-Knitted Gift: using knitting as a research tool
Fourth on the provisional programme for this year’s Knitting History Forum Conference is a group discussion, “The Media Representation Of Knitting â reflections on knitting in the media and how would we represent the history of knitting?”
In order to participate fully in the conversation, before the session conference delegates will find it useful to prepare by watching the documentary âThe Secret History of Knittingâ, made by Blue Ant Media. Joyce Meader, Jane Malcolm-Davies and Sandy Black were all interviewed for the documentary and will be leading discussion. ‘The Secret History of Knitting’ can be viewed at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B63vxlRIcfrOcDY0OWF1Nm4yZm8/view?usp=sharing
The day began with our AGM, showcasing KHF successes of the past year, as well as suggestions for improvements going forward. Positive feedback highlighted the growing need for the network for knitting history, which we hope KHF events, our discussion group, the website and social media presence provide. The Show and Tell was, as always, an eclectic mix of early to modern knitting, with contributions from members’ collections and historical reproductions from members’ needles.
Carol Christiansen’s much-anticipated presentation explained the process of creating historically accurate reproductions for the Shetland Museum, of late seventeenth century knitted items found with the Gunnister Man find. Exhaustive testing of the originals and experimentation with modern fibres was necessary to accurately recreate or simulate the variety of textiles, not all of which had come from Shetland. The different colours were due primarily to peat-staining and the original shades of the natural, undyed wool.
Kirstie Buckland brought her considerable knowledge and experience to bear on early Spanish knitting, particularly the finely-knitted silk cushions recovered from thirteenth-century tombs at the monastery at Las Huelgas. Kirstie also shared a medieval image she tracked down from a reference, showing the Virgin and Christ, accompanied by industrious saints. One of the saints knits a patterned sock on five needles, but no stitches in the painting connect the sock with the knitting needles – how miraculous!
Lesley O’Connell Edwards presented her research into the work and identities of the Hope family of Ramsgate, early Victorian knitting pattern designers or compilers, and publishers of several books on knitting, including patterns for essential items such as Magic Penwipers and Magic Puzzle Kettle Holders. Lesley recounted her trawl through reviews, advertisements and census records as well as hunting for clues in the knitting books themselves. A fascinating, ongoing investigation with as many twists and turns as a detective novel.
Zoe Fletcher presented a summary of her recent work into the possibilities of British wool, researching the properties of wool from different British breeds of sheep and how these properties could be exploited in knitwear design. She also demonstrated how this could be applied using Shima Seiki CAD and design systems, a marriage of traditional and modern technology. The project focussed on the 72 British breeds promoted by the British Wool Marketing Board and Zoe surprised and delighted all with her innovative approach to presenting the information in a way that is accurate, accessible and beautiful.
Finally, Jane Malcolm-Davies introduced the research project Knitting in the Early Modern Era, or KEME. As we related last month, KEME is based around detailed examination of surviving sixteenth century knitted caps, the wider aim of the project is interdisciplinary research, creating an economic map of early knitting and laying a foundation of terminology information on which further scholarship on knitting in Early Modern Europe may be built. In an informative and amusing presentation, Jane discussed the work so far, the methodology they would establish and invited contributions and assistance.
All in all, it was another interesting event. The Knitting History Forum thanks our speakers for their engaging and informative presentations. Thank you also to everyone involved in organising the event and to all the delegates, members and non-members. This year’s symposium proved once again that the study of knitting history, while deeply interesting and often highly entertaining, is also vital both to our understanding of the past and our development of future textile technologies.