This knitted item, found in a crypt in a Danish manor church, was photographed on the day it was recognised as an Early Modern cap by Jane Malcolm-Davies during examination at the National Museum of Denmarkâ€™s store in Brede in May 2014. It is recorded in detail in the forthcoming Archaeological Textiles Review issue no. 60 by Maj Ringgaard, together with another cap found in Copenhagen. Click on the image for a larger view.
Available by subscription, the 2018 volume of Archaeological Textiles Review will focus on knitting in the Early Modern period, with 99 pages devoted to knitted fragments and garments with many colour photographs and detailed specifications. Collaborating authors and articles are as follows:
Ruth Gilbert â€“ reviews published evidence for Early Modern knitting Susanne Lervad â€“ contributes to terminology for studying knitwork Helena Lundin â€“ reports knitted items from the c17th Kronan shipwreck Jane Malcolm-Davies â€“ introduces the issue and proposes a protocol for reporting Early Modern knitwork Rosalind Mearns â€“ discusses crowdsourcing for experimental archaeology to reconstruct knitted items Lesley Oâ€™Connell Edwards â€“ discusses c16th stockings in the Museum of London Sylvie OdstrÄŤilovĂˇ â€“ surveys c17th silk stockings in the Czech Republic Maj Ringgaard â€“ reveals the remains of two Early Modern knitted caps found in Denmark Annemarieke Willemsen â€“ reports mittens found in a c17th Dutch shipwreck There will also be an article on Karen Finch, our late Honorary President, by her colleague, Rosalind Janssen.
BREAKING NEWS! The 60th edition of Archaeological Textiles Review has finally been published. This long-awaited diamond issue is devoted to the study of Early Modern knitted items with more than ten articles focussing on extant evidence, including two sixteenth century caps (one being the earliest known example of Danish knitting), sixteenth century wool stockings, seventeenth century silk stockings, items recovered from shipwrecks including mittens from the Netherlands and Sweden, and the full version of the proposal for a new protocol for recording evidence for knitting (read more here). One of the articles is an obituary of Karen Finch, our late Honorary President. A major outcome of the Knitting in Early Modern Europe (KEME) project, funded by a Marie SkĹ‚odowska Curie Research Fellowship, the volume contains 99 pages devoted to knitted fragments and garments with many colour photographs and detailed specifications such as the tension or gauge, yarn and fibre for each item.
In the twenty-first century, Dr Tahani Baakdhah of the University of Toronto makes models in crochet to illustrate her research on stem cells in the retina and promote science literacy. She has just published a book of patterns, ‘Crocheting Neuroscience: The Retina’. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries British chemist and mathematician, Alexander Crum Brown (1838-1922), also made teaching models using a variety of techniques including knitting. Some of Dr Crum Brown’s models, including multi-dimensional knitting demonstrating his mathematical work on inter-penetrating surfaces, are shown in this article from the National Museums of Scotland blog https://blog.nms.ac.uk/2017/11/15/alexander-crum-browns-mathematical-models-interpenetrating-models-of-beknottedness/, and it is really encouraging this connection between textiles and teaching science continues today.
Two very different studies on the history of knitting are available online. One taps a vein of research that had been hardly explored before, the other re-visits a popular topic of knitting literature, but both dispel old assumptions.
‘Myth: Black People Donâ€™t Knit â€“ the importance of art and oral histories for documenting the experiences of black knitters’ by Lorna Hamilton-Brown can be read and downloaded here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-RM7D5lhgCYV2xHcnljX2g3UzQ/view. Her MA dissertation moves beyond facile ethnic stereotypes, examining art and using oral history from living knitters to record firsthand the experience and culture of knitting among people whose stories are often marginalised or misrepresented. Lorna spoke at the Knitting History Forum meeting last November and her lively presentation both informed and entertained.
Roslyn Chapman’s PhD thesis, ‘The history of the fine lace knitting industry in nineteenth and early twentieth century Shetland’, is available in an edited form on the University of Glasgow website http://theses.gla.ac.uk/6763/. Roslyn’s continuing examination of Shetland lace knitting and its many imitations sheds light on how knitting traditions are created, emulated and sometimes inaccurately disseminated. Her much-anticipated presentation at the Knitting History Conference in 2016 highlighted that traditional narratives of knitting should be evaluated against the historical record.
‘Groundbreaking’ is an adjective rarely applied with sincerity, but the work of both Roslyn Chapman and Lorna Hamilton-Brown genuinely breaks new ground in knitting history scholarship, challenging preconception not by deliberate provocation but research that speaks for itself.
Following on from Jana Trepte’s presentation on Saturday, ‘Piecing the Bremen waistcoat together: an everyday knitted garment of the early 1600s’, Pat Poppy has pieced together her own helpful overview of knitted waistcoats and jackets of the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries. The post lists details of select recent scholarship on early knitted waistcoats and jackets, both ordinary and elite, with links to online records of several examples in museum collections. Pat is herself an historian as well as a long-standing member of Knitting History Forum and her post is a sound springboard for further research. Visit her blog to read more https://costumehistorian.blogspot.com/2018/11/early-modern-knitted-waistcoats-and.html.
The Center for Knit and Crochet (CKC) is a non-profit organisation whose aim is to preserve and promote the art, craft, and scholarship of knitting, crochet, and related arts. One result of this aim is the establishment of a digital repository of knitting and crochet. The new CKC Collections Resource is an online-only collection bringing together items from different sources such as museums, galleries, libraries, archives and other public and private entities.
More than 5000 items relating to knitting and crochet may now be browsed in the Library and Museum Collections. Currently in an experimental phase, the database is drawn from the Digital Public Library of America. Other contributions are to be found in the Crowdsourced Collection, which is being used to refine the design, features and functionality of the online interface before continuing expansion. The CKC are in search of further partner organisations willing to share their collections of knitting and crochet.
We are pleased to publish an aid to knitting terminology by Ruth Gilbert, available now for downloading from the Knitting History website.
Entitled ‘Words for recording knitting and knitted fabrics. An introduction to important distinctions and concepts’, Ruth’s concise but precise paper aims to avoid confusion by promoting the use of clear and accurate terms in the description of knitted fabrics and artefacts, many of which are already used in machine knitting and in the knitting industry. Please visit our Knitting History Resources and scroll down the page to view or download Ruth’s paper.
It is part of a wider movement towards improving understanding and will undoubtedly become essential to future knitting history research. More information will be available in the forthcoming and much-anticipated 60th edition of Archaeological Textiles Review, to be published this Autumn. As the Archaeological Textiles Newsletter website explains : “Issue 60 will primarily include articles on evidence for knitting in Early Modern Europe, and we hope our readers will appreciate the importance of this long needed initiative and embrace the scientific impact and upgrade of this over-looked research direction.”
Lise Warburg’s book, “Den strikkende madonna: 12 essays til strikningens geografi”, has been published by Vandkunsten. This collection of 12 essays discusses select aspects of the cultural history of knitting using evidence drawn from many disciplines, including archaeology, ethnography and language research, enlightened and enlivened by Lise’s depth of understanding and breadth of knowledge. This edition is in Danish but we hope public interest may encourage the publishers to issue an English edition as it deserves a wider audience. Visit Vandkunsten’s website for more information and a lovely photo of the author https://www.forlagetvandkunsten.dk/112372/.
The Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change have made Remco Ensel’s article ‘Knitting at the beach: tourism and the photography of Dutch fabriculture‘ open access. The article discusses late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century representations of women and girls wearing regional Zeeland dress while knitting in the open air, examining the meanings of the images, their role in tourism marketing and their relation to reality. In addition to the title comment, French artist and photographer Ludovic-Georges Hamon gave his opinion on the region’s knitting, as seen on his trip in 1906 : “Reneetje is still busy knitting. In Holland, one does not knit with the fingertips, as in France. In their belt, the knitters have a sheath of carved wood; they put the needle in it and the wool is processed into knit stitches at an amazing speed, accompanied by a constant buzzingâ€‰â€¦â€‰Reneetje knits.” An absorbing piece of research, which may be read here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14766825.2017.1335733.
We are pleased to publish the Bibliography of the history of knitting before 1600, which may now be downloaded from the Knitting History website. The Bibliography was a project of the original Early Knitting History Group, founded by Montse Stanley and now reborn in the Knitting History Forum. It is an unique document, the most complete bibliography of early knitting history currently published and an important aid to research.
Originally compiled by Richard Rutt, author of ‘A History of Handknitting’, Lesley Oâ€™Connell Edwards has since taken charge of keeping the Bibliography current and relevant. In the nearly two decades since it was published in Bulletin du CIETA n.77 (2000), new work has been published and older work rediscovered. Lesley diligently updated the bibliography over the years and has now kindly permitted publication on the Knitting History website. Please visit our Knitting History Resources page to view or download the Bibliography. We hope this will be a valuable resource for further study into knitting and its origins.
Please note that while the bibliography is now open access, permission to reproduce the document whole or in any part must be sought directly from Lesley Oâ€™Connell Edwards. She can be emailed using the address in the downloadable PDF.
At a previous Knitting History Forum Conference, historian and KHF member Lesley Oâ€™Connell Edwards brought a fascinating glove she had knitted from a nineteenth-century pattern by Miss H. P. Ryder. Undated but probably published in the 1860s, Henrietta Pulleine Ryder’s set of instructions for the Richmond glove create a very warm accessory, a glove with fully fashioned fingers and an extra layer over the wrist and hand. Lesley has reworked the instructions and this, together with original research on Miss H. P. Ryder and her sister Miss E. Ryder, is being published in the March/April 2018 issue of Piecework. There are more details of Lesley’s pattern on the Piecework website https://www.interweave.com/article/needlework/pair-ingenious-knitted-gloves-richmond-gloves-knit/ and more information on the life and work of sisters Henrietta Pulleine Ryder and Elizabeth Ryder at Ann Kingstone’s blog https://annkingstone.com/search-richmond-glove/
Hyperallergic, the arts blogzine, posted a review of ‘People Knitting: A Century of Photographs’ a compact book by Barbara Levine,Â an artist,Â collector and curator. Published in 2016 by Princeton Architectural Press, the images in People KnittingÂ are drawn mainly from Barbara Levine’s collection. Shown here is Sojourner Truth, the African-American women’s rights activist and abolitionist.
Ruth Gilbert, textile historian and weaver, has kindly offered access to her 2009 MPhil thesis, “The King’s Vest and the Seaman’s Gansey: Continuity and Diversity of Construction in Hand Knitted Body Garments in North Western Europe Since 1550”. For a dropbox link to an electronic copy, please email Ruth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hard copies of the final version are available at the Winchester School of Art and the Hartley Library at the University of Southampton, and Ruth informs us she will place a copy of the unrevised thesis in the library at the Knitting and Crochet Guild Collections. Please note that Ruth retains copyright in her work and the pictures are for personal use only.
More news on Joyce Meader : the publication of her new book on the knitting for the military. ‘Knitskrieg: A Call to Yarns!’ has the subtitle ‘A History of Military Knitting from 1800s to Present’. Accessible but informative, it relates the contribution of knitting to warfare and soldiery throughout the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with an emphasis on domestic knitting and the patterns produced for the ordinary home-knitter. The book is well illustrated with items from Joyce’s incredible collection of military knitting patterns, ephemera, and knitted items as well as reproductions she has knitted, with a selection of modernised knitting patterns. For more, see the publisher’s website.
Dr Bennett’s introduction states “The purpose of this study […] is to examine the evidence for the antiquity of the wearing and making of knitted garments in Scotland, and to establish a framework for the emergence of the industry in different parts of the country”. Ruth Gilbert, who kindly sent in this link, describes the thesis as the best general background available free online and we agree!
Knitting designer Susan Crawford, with the assistance and support of curator Dr Carol Christiansen, spent several years studying hand-knitted garments and accessories in the rich collection of the Shetland Museum and Archives for The Vintage Shetland Project. Susan, co-author of ‘A Stitch in Time’, has now selected twenty-five pieces from the 1920s to 1960s for development into comprehensive, multi-sized knitting patterns. These will be published in a book with full-colour pictures, accompanying essays about each of the items and the knitting traditions of Shetland, and a chapter about the book’s creation, the history of the Shetland Museum and a foreword by Dr Christiansen.
The Vintage Shetland Project took four years and involved repeated trips to Shetland; recording the construction of vintage items stitch by stitch; the creation of custom software for ‘translating’ the stitches and the development of a new 2-ply wool yarn in the old style, ‘Fenella’, manufactured in a range of colours to match the garments from the archives.
Our followers on Twitter (@KnitHistForum) will already have read about a crowdfunding campaign towards the cost of self-publishing the book. Every day of the campaign, which ends 8 August 2015, Susan Crawford will be posting pictures from The Vintage Shetland Project on Instagram. The initial, modest target was met in a matter of days though there’s still time to donate and help cover further costs as detailed on the campaign page. Donations vary from low to high and each has an appropriate reward. Details, pictures, a video by Susan and an excerpt from the book can be found at https://pubslush.com/project/7016
The Costume Society was founded half a century ago. In honour of their fiftieth anniversary, fifty articles from the Society’s journal Costume have been digitised by publisher Maney of Leeds and are available free online to the end of July 2015. Many seminal, scholarly articles on the history of dress can be downloaded for free, including “The Englishman’s Swimwear” by Richard Rutt, published in Volume 24, 1990. While not specifically covering knitting, styles and construction of knitted garments and hand-knitting patterns are briefly (no pun intended) discussed. The article is a must for anyone interested in the serious history of men’s bathing costumes and swimming trunks, so often the subject of vintage knitting patterns.
Another article of interest currently with unlimited access is “The Hodson Shop” by Sheila B. Shreeve, from Volume 48, 2014, on a twentieth-century draper’s and haberdasher’s shop whose surviving stock is now kept at Walsall Museum. Small shops of this type throughout Britain sold supplies for knitting, crochet and other needlework as well as affordable, ready-made clothing including, no doubt, rayon jumpers of similarly unfortunate proportions to those sold in Edith Hodson’s shop! The article contains little information relating directly to knitting, but this evocative glimpse into a shopping experience common to many British knitters is invaluable.
To download these and other articles on costume history, visit Maney Online.