Knitting History Forum Conference 2024

A Korsnäs sweater at the National Museum of Finland

Date and time

Saturday February 3, 2024

11.15am to 4.45pm GMT/UTC


Online (Zoom)

Please ensure you use your correct name and up-to-date email address when purchasing your ticket as the link for this online conference will be sent via email, closer to the event.

Access 2024 recordings


The 2024 Knitting History Forum conference took place on Saturday 3rd February 24

This year’s tour of knitting traditions and techniques features a range of archival and technical research into historical knitted artefacts and documents together with contemporary design and reconstruction for practical research investigations. Our speakers are based in the UK, Finland and Germany.

Read the conference report by Julia Holm:

Confirmed Speakers

Beatrice Behlen

Senior curator of fashion and decorative arts, Museum of London, UK

Senior conservation scientist at The National Archives, Marc Vermeulen, undertaking microfading testing with Museum of London textile conservator Emily Austin, 2022 (Image: Beatrice Behlen, © Museum of London)

A royal waistcoat re-examined

In 1924, a waistcoat knitted in fine blue silk said to have been worn by King Charles I on the scaffold in 1649 was donated to the Museum of London (inventory number A27050). This royal undergarment has been the subject of studies over the years, often with a focus on the stains on its front, and there have been attempts at drawing up a pattern and making a reproduction. Over the last 18 months, the waistcoat has been the focus...

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Lesley O’Connell Edwards

Independent scholar researching the history of hand knitting, using archives and artefacts, UK

Recreations of knitted-in cuff patterns of three knitted liturgical gloves, showing the variety of such patterns, which will be discussed in the presentation (Image: © Lesley O’Connell Edwards)

When there are no words: using reconstruction as a tool for understanding the creation of knitted liturgical gloves

Reconstruction is becoming increasingly used as a tool by textile and clothing historians to understand extant garments. Historical knitted items have generally been overlooked by those studying textiles in depth, which is reflected in the lack of detail on these in most collections, including information on construction. This paper considers the usefulness of recreation of the knitted-in patterns on the medallions on backs of the hands and the cuffs of knitted liturgical gloves as a means of understanding their construction...

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Sally Kentfield

Independent scholar researching historical knitting documentation in digital and physical archives, UK

Miss Lambert’s ‘My knitting book’ (7th edition, 1844), reference number ao-krl00394035 (Image: University of Southampton)

The lost biography of Frances Lambert

This talk is about the research process that helped expand the limited biography of the successful Victorian knitting book author Miss Frances Lambert. The author's biography was expanded using information found in physical and digital archives. The talk will discuss how corpus analysis techniques were applied to the prefaces of the books to find new research paths to investigate. Digital humanities techniques were used to manage the volume of source data that is now available from digitised book archives around...

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Dr Marketta Luutonen

Author and former managing director at the Finnish Crafts organisation, Taito, Finland

A Korsnäs sweater at the National Museum of Finland

The fascinating Korsnäs sweater

The most attractive Finnish design of sweater comes from Korsnäs municipality on the Ostrobothnian coast and is known by this name. The earliest Korsnäs sweaters were made for men just after the latter half of 19th century, and although the design has varied in popularity since that time, the tradition has never been broken completely. Throughout their history, Korsnäs pullovers have primarily drawn attention for their visual qualities. Seldom are they noted for their warmth or other practical properties. The...

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Dr Katrin Kania

Freelance textile archaeologist and reconstruction practitioner, Germany

The difference between knitting with plied and non-plied yarns shows clearly after wetting the piece. Knitted with plied yarns, the fabric stays straight (bottom). It ‘leans’ when knitted with two unplied yarns held together (top)

Yarns for knitting – the influence of twist

Yarns form the basis of most textiles, making spinning the cornerstone technique for almost all other textile techniques. Historical spinning, though, is still not fully understood – nor is the influence of yarn on how textiles will behave. This presentation looks at the differences between modern and medieval spinning. Based on images and ethnographical sources, the technique used for spinning with a hand-spindle in the European Middle Ages can be reconstructed. Hand-spindles, consisting of a spindle whorl and a spindle...

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Dr Jennifer Daley

Former millinery designer with Philip Somerville and specialist in clothing and textiles for sailors in the British Royal Navy, UK

Ten Fair Isle fishermen’s keps, designed and handknitted on Fair Isle by Jennifer Daley, 2023

Past and present knitters on Fair Isle: a case study of Fair Isle knitted fishermen’s keps

During 2022–2023, I lived on Fair Isle, the historic birthplace of Fair Isle knitting, and the most remote inhabited island in the United Kingdom. A total of 44 people live on Fair Isle, many of whom are knitters, including me. This paper will present insight into my life on Fair Isle and the knitters there, told through the lens of Fair Isle knitted fisherman’s keps. Long associated with Fair Isle, fisherman’s keps are caps or hats of conical shape and...

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