More news about the Holy Hands research project into early knitted liturgical gloves: the latest issue of The Journal of Dress History includes the article ‘Holy Hands: Ceremonial Knitted Gloves for Elite Churchmen in Europe from the Twelfth to Nineteenth Centuries’, by Lesley O’Connell Edwards, discussing the Holy Hands research project, with extensive discussion of the documentary evidence and technical analysis of the gloves themselves as well as reflecting on their makers. The Journal of Dress History is published by the Association of Dress Historians. Volume 5, Issue 5 for Late Autumn 2021, is free to download at the ADH website https://dresshistorians.org/journal/
Elizabethan knitting is the subject of a newly-published article in the journal ‘Textile History’. Lesley O’Connell Edwards’s paper is entitled ‘The Stocking Knitting Industry of Later Sixteenth-Century Norwich‘ and its focus is a subject with popular interest but surprisingly little academic investigation. As the abstract explains: “Knitted garments became increasingly common throughout the sixteenth century in England, and it has been estimated that the production of stockings alone occupied at least 90,000 knitters at the end of the century. Knitting as an economic process in England has been little studied in this period. This paper examines the evidence for knitting as an industry in the later sixteenth century in Norwich, the second city in England, when it provided a source of employment for over seven per cent of the poorest people. It provides quantitative data for the socio-economic background of knitters in the 1570s, and for the minimum volume of production in the early 1580s. It analyses other evidence for this industry, including the production process and contemporary writings.”
The Early Summer 2021 issue of The Journal of Dress History includes Dr Eleanor Reed’s article on twentieth century knitting, ‚ÄúFor Those Who Enjoy an Interesting Piece of Knitting:‚ÄĚ Handknitting and Handknits in British Domestic Magazines, 1910‚Äď1939. The abstract reads: “Although early to mid twentieth century histories of handknitting are well documented, comparatively little research has been undertaken into the role in these histories of domestic magazines, which, appealing to and working to generate mass readerships of skilled and enthusiastic knitters, supported ‚ÄĒ and sought to profit from ‚ÄĒ a precipitous rise in the handicraft’s popularity. This article uses quantitative and qualitative analysis of The Knitting and Crochet Guild‚Äôs collection of 1910‚ąí1939 British domestic magazine knitting patterns to explore these publications’ treatment of handknitting and knitwear during a period in which knitting’s popularity soared, and the women’s magazine market boomed. Surveying a sample of 2538 patterns from 367 magazines representing 46 titles, this article spotlights, besides a rise in the popularity of knitwear and handknitting, a fall in the assumed expertise of knitters targeted by domestic magazines, and a growing intimacy in the commercial partnerships between these publications, yarn manufacturers, and pattern designers.”
The focus of Dr Reed’s research is on early to mid twentieth century domestic magazines and she gave an insightful presentation on 1958 knitting patterns in Woman‚Äôs Weekly magazine at the Knitting History Forum Conference in 2018 (in those heady days when we could all gather in person). The Journal of Dress History is peer-reviewed and published by the Association of Dress Historians. The Early Summer 2021 edition, Volume 5, Issue 2, is free to download at the ADH website¬† https://dresshistorians.org/journal/
At the Knitting History Conference last year, Sandy Black mentioned her latest book, ‘Classic Knits of the 1980s’, which was published in January 2021.
Many of us know Sandy Black as Professor of Fashion and Textile Design and Technology at the London College of Fashion and Chair of Knitting History Forum, but prior to that she had a successful career as designer and director of the ‘Sandy Black Original Knits’ label from the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s.
Publisher Crowood Press notes how the book discusses “the principal fundamentals of knitwear design and features original, colourful, textural and fun knitting patterns that capture the fashion zeitgeist of the 1980s
designer knitwear boom” and includes “a range of innovative designs from Sandy Black knitting kits, many published here for the first time.”
“Part 1 establishes the fashion and knitwear context of the period and its influence on the development of the designs, examining the entire creative process from inspiration to final pattern.
Lavishly illustrated with photographs, diagrams and charts, special features include patchwork (modular) designs and intarsia or colour-block knitting, with techniques and tips for pattern calculations, working from charts and handling several colours.”
“Part 2 then offers twenty-one original patterns and designs, grouped into themes of textural, graphic, heraldic and ornamental, plus the unique Siamese cat, leopard and tiger accessories. Contemporary photography, together with original images from the 1980s, illustrates the designs’ timeless appeal, with close-up images of intricate pattern details and suggested design variations to aid creative knitters.”
Some may consider the 1980s so recent as hardly to seem like history at all, yet then as now it was a time of revived interest in traditional knitting and intense creativity in new knitting design. Knitwear of the period is already receiving academic attention and one of Sandy’s designs, ‘Fairisle Fun’, with her kit and the jumper knitted from it (as seen to the right), are held in the collections of the V&A Museum https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O68250/knitting-kit-black-sandy/.
Well-illustrated and with technical information as well as patterns of Sandy’s fresh and ebullient
designs, ‘Classic Knits of the 1980s’ is a welcome
introduction to the work of a pioneer of modern fashion knitwear which will be of interest to
knitters and historians of knitting and dress alike.
It was first compiled by Richard Rutt, author of ‘A History of Handknitting’, before passing on the task to Lesley, who has faithfully maintained and updated it for two decades. The work is unique and remains, as stated in 2018, the most complete bibliography of early knitting history currently published and an important aid to research. Permission to reproduce the document whole or in any part must be sought directly from Lesley O‚ÄôConnell Edwards, who can be emailed via the address in the downloadable PDF. This, and other useful articles and information, can be found in the Resources section of the Knitting History website.
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 Denmark‚Äôs 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 ‚Äď reviews published evidence for Early Modern knitting Susanne Lervad ‚Äď contributes to terminology for studying knitwork Helena Lundin ‚Äď reports knitted items from the c17th Kronan shipwreck Jane Malcolm-Davies ‚Äď introduces the issue and proposes a protocol for reporting Early Modern knitwork Rosalind Mearns ‚Äď discusses crowdsourcing for experimental archaeology to reconstruct knitted items Lesley O‚ÄôConnell Edwards ‚Äď discusses c16th stockings in the Museum of London Sylvie Odstrńćilov√° ‚Äď surveys c17th silk stockings in the Czech Republic Maj Ringgaard ‚Äď reveals the remains of two Early Modern knitted caps found in Denmark Annemarieke Willemsen ‚Äď 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 SkŇāodowska 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 Don‚Äôt Knit ‚Äď 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 buzzing‚ÄČ‚Ä¶‚ÄČReneetje 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 O‚ÄôConnell 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 O‚ÄôConnell Edwards. She can be emailed using the address in the downloadable PDF.
At a previous Knitting History Forum Conference, historian and KHF member Lesley O‚ÄôConnell 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/