Ruth Gilbert has written a new book, “Knitting Unravelled 1450-1983”. Covering knitting and its uses from medieval to almost modern, it is, uniquely, aimed primarily at re-enactors, living historians, historical interpreters and all involved in period textile demonstrations. Described as “a practical guide” it answers fundamental questions for re-enactors such as “1. Should I be knitting? 2. What should I knit? 3. How should I knit? 4. Does it matter?”
Ruth is a textile historian who has published articles and presented conference papers on spinning and knitting history, includingĀ at the Knitting History Forum, with which she has been involved since it was the Early Knitting History GroupĀ in the 1990s. Ruth is also known to many in re-enactment as Beth Frend or Beth the Weaver, an authority on weaving, spinning and knitting and many, if not all things textile! This booklet will be invaluable to re-enactors and many others.
“Knitting Unravelled 1450-1983” is a slim but affordable A5 volume published by Hogwash Press at Ā£4 plus postage. It will also be available in the UK from Ruth herself at the Textile Fair, Kentwell Hall Open Days (participants only), Whittington Castle’s May Day event or the Loft Space at Standedge.
The UK government’s Intellectual Property Office have issued a new copyright notice explaining copyright law for knitting patterns, "aimed at individuals and small businesses who may wish to use or create knitting, sewing and related patterns".
It isn’t a revision of existing laws, merely a guide to current practice in the UK. With the increase of independent designers publishing PDF patterns, so much online pattern-swapping, and so many sellers making illegal reprints of knitting and sewing patterns that are still very much in copyright, this is a timely reminder of where we all stand when making or using knitting patterns.
The Centenary Stitches WWI project began as a response to plea for assistance from WAGscreen, makers of the film āTell Them of Usā. Set in the First World War and drawing on surviving letters, memoirs, photographs and other artefacts, the film follows the fortunes of a real Lincolnshire soldier, Robert Crowder, showing through the view point of his family and the home front how the war affected an ordinary British household.
Producer and costumier Pauline Loven understood the significance of knitting and crochet in 1910s Britain and tweeted for help sourcing original patterns and creating reproductions for the cast. The response was overwhelming, with researchers, knitters and crocheters all over the world mobilising to form a group recreating period garments and supporting the film. British yarns were donated by Rowan, Texere, Jamiesons of Shetland, Frangipani and Blacker. In less than a year the group grew to over 300 volunteers, co-ordinating efforts via Facebook and Ravelry, and accessed funding through the Heritage Lottery Fund āFirst World War, Then and Nowā programme. Period patterns were supplied by several sources including the collection of the Knitting and Crochet Guild. These were tested and modernised and feature in the film together with new designs by Elizabeth Lovick, based on Crowder family photographs. Volunteers have blogged their progress at http://orkneytoomaha.wordpress.com/, a testament to the extraordinary motivation and generosity of the textile community.
The project has developed even further, with Elizabeth Lovick editing ‘Centenary Stitches’, a book of over 70 knitting and crochet patterns inspired by or reproduced from 1910s originals. āCentenary Stitches’ will be published to coincide with the release of āTell Them of Usā, which premieres this November. Visit the website to learn more about this unique group and see pictures of their work, including a shawl by Joyce Meader, speaker at the KHF conference this November http://centenarystitches.wordpress.com/
The latest issue of āTextile: The Journal of Cloth and Cultureā is a special edition devoted to knitting. Edited by Jonathan Faiers, it contains articles based on presentations originally given at the conference āIn the Loop 3: The Voices of Knittingā, held in Winchester, September 2012.
The papers are:
āāIn the Loopā: Challenging and Disrupting the Stereotypes of Knittingā ā Linda Newington
āA Sweater to Die for: Fair Isle and Fair Play in The Killingā ā Jo Turney
āKnitting and Well-beingā ā Betsan Corkhill, Jessica Hemmings, Angela Maddock, Jill Riley
āDiscovering Knitting at the Regent Street Polytechnic, 1898ā1948ā ā Anna McNally
āKnitting and the Olympic Games: Clothing, Competition, Culture, and Commerceā ā Martin Polley
āStitched UpāRepresentations of Contemporary Vintage Style Mania and the Dark Side of the Popular Knitting Revivalā ā Emmanuelle Dirix
āKnitting and Catastropheā ā Jonathan Faiers
Dr Maj Ringgaard, an expert in textiles and conservation from the Centre for Textile Research at the University of Copenhagen, has researched early knitted waistcoats or vests. At the Knitting History Forum Conference in 2011 she delivered a paper on 17th and 18th Century star-patterned, knitted waistcoats in Scandinavia. Some of her findings will be published later this month in an exciting anthology which she has also co-edited.
‘Silk Knitted Waistcoats – a 17th-century fashion item’ will be available in ‘Fashionable Encounters: Perspectives and trends in textile and dress in the Early Modern Nordic World’, together with 15 other papers on dress, fashion and consumption in Denmark, Norway, Sweden Finland, Iceland, the Faroe Isles and Greenland. ‘Early Modern’ is defined here as 1500 to 1850, though the majority of papers are 17th or 18th century. Topics are both object-based and theoretical in their analysis and include merchant and shop inventories, the whaling industry, sumptuary laws, christening garments, taste and consumption, clothing construction, liturgical textiles and an English fashion doll, among others.
‘Fashionable Encounters: Perspectives and trends in textile and dress in the Early Modern Nordic World’ is jointly edited by Tove Engelhardt Mathiasen, Marie-Louise Nosch, Maj Ringgaard, Kirsten Toftegaard, and Mikkel Venborg Pedersen. It will be published by Oxbow Books on 30 May 2014 as Volume 14 of their Ancient Textile Series.