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 â€˜The 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.
Join us for the Knitting History Forum 2015 Conference and AGM on Saturday 14th November 2015, at the London College of Fashion, 20 Princes St.
The Knitting History Conference starts promptly at 2.00PM. Speakers and papers for 2015 are:
Â Carol Christiansen on ‘Late seventeenth century knitwear from the Gunnister Man find‘;
Â Kirstie Buckland on ‘Saintly Socks and Silken Pillows â€“ a glance at the mysteries of some medieval knitting in Spain‘;
Â Lesley Oâ€™Connell Edwards on ‘Who wrote what when? A study of the publications of the Hopes of Ramsgate in the 1840s‘;
Â Zoe Fletcher on ‘Designing for breed: Enhancing the potential for British wool in UK knitwear manufacture, through design, new technologies and marketing strategyâ€™ and
Â Jane Malcolm-Davies on ‘A knitting revolution? A scientific survey of sixteenth century knitted caps‘.
There will be time for questions and further discussion from 5.00PM, after all the speakers have delivered their papers.
Doors open at 10:30AM for registration. The first session from 10:30 to 11.00 is Show and Tell so 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 so there is plenty of choice!
We welcome non-members and new members! Tickets cost Â£25 and can be booked in advance or on the door. If you are not a KHF member, you can use the PayPal button below to buy your ticket. See payment methods page for alternative ways to pay.
Joyce Meader of The Historic Knit has confirmed more information ahead of the open house at her Hampshire home next month. The date is Wednesday 29 April from 10:00am to 16:00pm. Joyce says there is ample parking and she will kindly be providing bread, soup and homemade cake.
Please email or message Joyce ahead of the visit and let her know you are coming. Her personal details will not be posted here for obvious reasons. For more info log into the KHF Groups.io to read Joyce’s latest post and respond to Joyce directly.
See our earlier post for photos from Joyce’s presentation at the Knitting History Forum Conference in November 2014. You can also see more of Joyce’s historical knitting and knitting pattern collection at her website.
Loraine and Tricia have arranged a KHF visit to see knitting from the Victoria and Albert museum in London. The V&A has a rich and varied holding of knitting in their collections, ranging from very early to the latest in modern knitwear. Only a tiny fraction is on display in the museum itself: the rest is stored in controlled conditions at the V&A’s new purpose-built facilities at the Clothworkers’ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion, Blythe House, in Olympia. The museum collections can be searched online. If there are specific items you know would like to see, please email your suggestions with your booking.
Once again the event is open to members of the Knitting & Crochet Guild as well as Knitting History Forum. There are two dates available, the afternoons of Friday 13 and Friday 20 March. Although it was intended that the 13th would be for KCG and the 20th for KHF members, there is some flexibility across both dates to ensure this wonderful opportunity is open to as many interested people as possible.
Tricia is still finalising all the details but she will let you know as soon as all the arrangements are made. Places are almost gone but there is still time to book yours. Contact Tricia directly or email ‘KHF Events & Bookings’ to reserve your space, arrange payment of the Â£5 deposit and suggest items to view. Don’t miss this opportunity to see items not usually on display, in the company of some extremely knowledgeable members of both Knitting History Forum and the Knitting & Crochet Guild!
For those of you who do not know her, Joyce, a long-standing KHF member and supporter, is an expert on historical knitting who owns an extensive collection of knitting patterns from 1817 to the present day. She also recreates historical knitting for re-enactment, film and museums. Below is a sampling of Joyce’s reproduction hand knitting and her collection of nineteenth and twentieth century patterns, from those accompanying her presentation at the Knitting History Forum Conference in November 2014.
Joyce Meader’s presentation at the Knitting History Forum Conference 2014
Detail of a reproduction by Joyce Meader
Detail of Joyce Meader’s reproduction of a Crimean War era jumper from her presentation at the 2014 Knitting History Forum Conference
Detail of a 1910s knitting pattern for a Belgian soldier’s kepi, collection of Joyce Meader
Detail of a 1910s magazine with patterns, collection of Joyce Meader
Early knitting patterns and historical reproductions by Joyce Meader
More details will be confirmed nearer to the time. If you are able to attend, please let Joyce know you are coming by logging into the KHF Groups.io and replying to her post.