Knitting History News

Knitting History Forum 2020 Conference Report

Due to the global pandemic, the KHF Committee decided to hold the 2020 AGM and Conference virtually and to extend a welcome to attendees from all time-zones around the world. The response was extremely enthusiastic and tickets were booked up very quickly. Approximately 120 attendees joined via Zoom from countries including the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Sweden, Finland and the Nether-lands.

Alongside the excellent presentations, fascinating points and questions were raised by participants via the Zoom chat function. Some of these have been included in this report. However, there is no doubt that the discussions will continue on the KHF group discussion forum, https://groups.io/g/knittinghistory. Please join in!

The morning began with a warm welcome from our Chair, Professor Sandy Black. After the AGM, which will be reported separately, participants joined one of two breakout groups. The first group was a show and tell open session, exploring “What I made during lockdown”. This session began with Susan North’s amazing crochet toys. During lockdown, Susan has so far crocheted forty-three different critters. Her creative and colourful creatures range from a selection of urban pests to an English beaver, a Highland cow and a Louisiana alligator. Her wide range of subjects also includes sea creatures, monsters and dinosaurs and her next project is a “creepy critters” collection!

Roxanne Richardson shared the extensive learning opportunities from knitting a 1920’s knitting pattern. The 1920’s jumper can be viewed on Ravelry https://www.ravelry.com/projects/Rox/indian-slip-on-no-13a and there is an accompanying video https://youtu.be/4cxNbJoWXB4. A link to a 1904 pattern ‘Edwardian Sweater’ can also be viewed on Ravelry. https://www.ravelry.com/projects/Rox/columbia-sweater

Kirk Dunn, a textile artist who apprenticed with Kaffe Fassett, shared three hand-knitted stained glass windows that took 15 years to create. http://www.kirkdunn.com/knitting#stitched-glass

Marleen Laag shared that the company EE Exclusives made a knitting wall-hanging for King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, which had a lot of media coverage. https://www.ee-exclusives.com/portfolio/furniture/for-sale-bouquet-v-a-unique-double-sided-wall-hanging/

The second group attended two presentations by PhD candidates.

Michelle Hanks, London College of Fashion, considered knitting as a thinking tool in her presentation “I’ll have to knit about it”. Michelle selected four items from her research to illustrate her ideas and processes. A large knitted blanket project was a fascinating record of her own mood and feelings as compared to the same day’s Twitter headlines. A double-sided, reversible sweater with mirror-imaged lettering “Good enough” was extremely thought-provoking, especially when Michelle revealed her discovery that the words on the inside of the sweater became readable in selfie photographs. The links between the complexity of knitting project and an individual’s mood and feelings provided fascinating insights. Maintaining control over the knitted stitches was also considered as an important element linked to well-being.

Emily Rickard, Nottingham Trent University, introduced us to her free knitting experi-ments. These knitted responses are used as a means of exploring the use of creative, open-ended knitting as a form of journaling to record emotions, with consideration for mental well-being. A discussion point raised during the presentation suggested that free knitting has parallels with “automatic writing” and with Julia Cameron’s “morning pages”. Emily developed her free knitting proposals though interviews with knitters. This allowed her to establish clear parameters for her research. At the end of her presentation, Emily made a request for new participants to join her research. If you are interested in finding out more, please do contact her on emily.rickard@ntu.ac.uk.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, Director of the Textile Research Centre (TRC), Leiden, The Netherlands, opened the afternoon Conference with her presentation about knitted highlights from the TRC Collection. In particular, the Socks & Stockings Exhibition (2019) featured exhibits from many different countries, and the results of the Texel Silk Stocking project led by Chrystel Brandenburgh. This exhibition included a wall of socks created with items borrowed from Annemor Sundbo’s Ragpile Collection in Norway https://annemor.com/. Gillian showed a surprise object in this section — a knitted snake! This snake had been constructed using seventeen different styles of sock heels, demonstrating just how many techniques exist within only one aspect of sock knitting.
https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc/index.php/en/
https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc/index.php/en/2-uncategorised/840-socksastocking-a-world-full-of-surprises

Lynn Abrams, University of Glasgow, presented an excellent overview of “From Fleece to Fashion: researching the history of knitted textiles in Scotland”. The following quote is from The University of Glasgow knitting and textile history blog, where you can find out more about Fleece to Fashion and other research projects. There are also links to the University’s own Cochno yarn. “This project’s aim is to transform understanding of a) creativity: the relationship between materials, designs, techniques, and skills used to produce knitted textiles across Scotland; b) authenticity: why and how knitted textiles have become synonymous with Scottish heritage and c) sustainability: how knitting has survived — through adaptation — as both an indigenous craft and industrial practice from the late-eighteenth through late-twentieth centuries, and what is required for its survival in the twenty-first century and beyond.”
http://knithistory.academicblogs.co.uk/university-of-glasgow-wool/

Jade Halbert, University of Huddersfield, drew on her own family experiences in her fas-cinating talk, “Knitting for Money: homework in Glasgow and beyond in the 1980s”. Using interviews with her aunts and her mother, Jade described small-scale knitwear businesses that were set up and run within the Easterhouse area of Glasgow in the 1980s. Using knitting machines, her aunts made sweaters and cardigans and sold them to local residents. Jade highlighted the contrast between this machine-knitted garment production and her mother’s experience of hand-knitting garments for a “designer” shop. These ob-servations showed the difference between what the garment knitter was paid and how much a garment could subsequently be sold for. Several participants shared their own family experiences, including teaching machine-knitting and making garments for shops and local communities.
https://pure.hud.ac.uk/en/persons/jade-halbert

The 1980s theme continued into Sandy Black’s presentation,” On being a knitwear designer in the 1980s”. Sandy’s creative use of a wide range of different inspirations, including landscapes, texture and colour in her work, prompted many admiring comments in the chat. Sandy was also asked about her background in mathematics which prompted a discussion of the strong links between maths and science and knitwear design. The presentation concluded with the exciting news about Sandy’s forthcoming Crowood Press book! For the book ‘Classic Knits of the 1980s’, Sandy has recreated some of her favourite knitwear from the 1980s, placing them in context with the inspiration for the designs. Another of Sandy’s excellent books, ‘Knitting: Fashion, Industry, Craft’, is currently available from the V&A bookshop.
https://www.arts.ac.uk/research/ual-staff-researchers/sandy-black
https://www.vam.ac.uk/shop/knitting-fashion-industry-craft-110124.html

The next two presentations explored the subject of knitted gloves. In “Two pairs of 18th Century Abbess’s gloves from Prague”, Sylvie Odstrčilová, an independent researcher from the Czech Republic shared her fascinating research. The audience were entranced by Sylvie’s detailed examination of the construction of the gloves, especially the differences between the pairs of gloves that became apparent upon close viewing. For example, slits present on the thumb and two forefingers of each glove had several possible uses. Each were carefully considered by Sylvie before reaching the fascinating conclusion of linking them to rosary beads. Sylvie’s research will be published in the Archaeo-logical Textiles Review (no 62) at the end of the year. It will be free to access online from early January 2021. https://ctr.hum.ku.dk/articlesbooks/atn/

Lesley O’Connell Edwards and Angharad Thomas, both independent researchers from the UK, introduced us to their current shared research, “Holy Hands: studies of knitted liturgical gloves”. In one section of their talk, they explained the development of a protocol to record observations where there are a large number of elements to be included. Deciding on a consistent approach to the order of examination is key to gaining an understanding of the gloves. When considering the reconstruction of a glove, several challenges emerged including charting the motifs and patterns, as well considering how colour-work was handled. The extremely fine gauge of the knitting was also highlighted. This prompted a fascinating discussion of the tools required to knit with this fine gauge silk. A participant suggested that fine smooth needles could have been supplied by goldsmiths or armourers. The project will also be written up as a work in progress report in Archaeological Textiles Review (no 62). Liturgical gloves can be found in the collection of the Worshipful Company of Glovers. http://www.glovecollectioncatalogue.org/

For the final presentation of the day, we were joined by Emily Whitted, PhD candidate from the University of Massachusetts, USA. Emily presented her Master’s research, “Made in Germantown: Analysis of an Early American Frame Knitting Industry”, tracing the life cycle of Germantown stockings as they passed through the hands of their makers, users, and repairers in eighteenth-century Philadelphia. To gain an understanding of frame knitting machine operation, Emily undertook hands-on research at Ruddington Framework Museum in the UK. Learning to set-up and make her own samples on a frame knitting machine showed her the complexity of working in this way. Her descriptions of carrying out repairs to the knitting machine and actually making the spare parts were in-sightful.
https://www.umass.edu/history/emily-whitted
https://www.frameworkknittersmuseum.org.uk/

Thank you to the KHF Committee for organising and hosting this excellent event.

Please do keep in touch with Knitting History Forum through the following links to continue the excellent discussions and conversations started during the Conference.

Knitting History Forum the international society for the history of knitting and crochet. Eight-pointed star, a common motif in knitting across many cultures.

http://knittinghistory.co.uk
https://groups.io/g/knittinghistory
https://twitter.com/KnitHistForum
https://www.facebook.com/KnittingHistoryForum
https://www.instagram.com/knittinghistoryforum/
https://www.ravelry.com/groups/knitting-history-forum

Emma Vining

Bibliography Of The History Of Knitting Update

As promised at the KHF AGM on Saturday 7th November, Lesley O’Connell Edwards has updated the Bibliography of the history of knitting before 1600 and once again has kindly permitted publication on the KHF website.

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’Connell 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.

Virtual Knitting History Conference 2020

Knitting History Forum would like to thank everyone, our excellent speakers, members, delegates and KHF friends old and new, for taking part in our first ever virtual AGM & Conference and for making it so enjoyable and interesting. The event was entirely online this year, perhaps the first virtual knitting history conference of its kind in the world but certainly, we hope, not the last! We would also like to express our thanks to KHF Chair Sandy Black and Treasurer Tricia Basham, who worked particularly hard both behind the scenes and onscreen on the day hosting the meeting. Speakers and delegates alike came from around the world, many joining us bright and early from time zones where lesser mortals were still asleep, yet all were fully engaged and enthusiastic. Questions and comments were insightful and discussion lively as ever, and though it was not possible to meet in person, this event brought us together, our shared interest creating sense of community and a buzz we hope will continue.

We look forward to seeing you all again in the future and though the conference has ended, you can still contribute and join in the conversation online:

http://knittinghistory.co.uk
https://groups.io/g/knittinghistory
https://twitter.com/KnitHistForum
https://www.facebook.com/KnittingHistoryForum
https://www.instagram.com/knittinghistoryforum/
https://www.ravelry.com/groups/knitting-history-forum

2019 Knitting History Forum Conference Report

Knitting History Symposium
Conference organised by the TRC Leiden and the Knitting History Forum
Leiden, November 2, 2019

Or

A Knitting Weekend in Leiden

Almost a year ago I spent a fantastic weekend all about knitting in Leiden, taking part in the Knitting History Symposium on the 17th century “Texel Silk Stocking” on Saturday and visiting the TRC Leiden where the KHF AGM was held on Sunday, as well as some of the sights of Leiden. I was so busy taking notes I did not take any pictures at the conference itself but I did in the exhibition on Sunday, which showcased most of the samples and reproduction stockings of the project.

The keynote lecture of the symposium was about the reconstruction of the 17th century Texel stocking finds by a citizen science community, under Chrystel Brandenburgh.

The stockings came from wreck number BZN17, and we now know it was an armed Dutch merchant ship that sank about 1645-1660.

The two goals for the project were to involve people who are not normally part of archaeological research but have the expertise needed for a reproduction, in this case experienced knitters, and to be able to repeat the experiment. More than a hundred people volunteered!

The original stocking was made from reeled, not spun, silk, and knitted in the round. It was examined with a Dino-Lite microscope. All information was gained from that examination, the stocking was not turned or otherwise disturbed.

The citizen science project involved knitting test swatches with different types of silk (some already de-gummed, some still containing the sericin, and different size needles, 0.7mm and 1mm, to find the right material and gauge for the reconstruction. The original measured 83 stitches and 100 rows for a 10cm square! The test pieces measured 5x5cm and took on average 5 hours to complete, and required 15m of silk, which means a stocking would need 1080m.

After the test swatch stage, about 40 people continued with the experiment by knitting a complete stockings, and as of the date of the conference 27 stockings were finished. Knitting with the silk that still contained the sericin proved easiest and quickest, and blocking the stocking after removing the gum also brought the most uniform result.

Using a wooden former to shape the stockings after washing (and de-gumming) was based on the existence of an extant example of the period in Denmark, and English records mentioning wooden stocking formers. Uneven knitting and a certain amount of difference in gauge did not matter after removing the sericin and blocking the stocking.

It is impossible to tell how long it would take to knit a stocking in period. Those knitters that knitted more than one stocking reported that the time it took to knit the second one was almost half of the first, showing how much familiarity with the material and the way to knit speeded up the process.

The papers in the Knitting History conference itself were all connected to the Texel Stocking project. The first section was about stocking production in Europe, showcasing current research in knitting history:

  • Lesley O’Connell Edwards’ “A hidden workforce: hand knitters in 17th century England” focused on evidence of who was knitting and what was being produced, and the research is centred on Norfolk and Suffolk. There is less information available on this topic for the 17th century than for the 16th century, and council and probate records are so far the best sources. Items produced by knitting included caps, gloves, petticoats (short jackets), stockings or hose, and waistcoats. There was no guild for knitters, but knitting was something taught, not necessarily learned in the family. Interestingly, although men were listed as teachers, very few men were listed as being taught. Silk hand knitters are mentioned in 1619 but there is not much more information about this aspect of knitting.
  • Sylvie Odstrcilova’s paper “Early modern stockings from the Czech Republic and neighbouring countries: The story continues” offered a fascinating glimpse into the variety of extant stockings in this area, and built on her research published in NESAT and ATR. Her findings of the similarity of the stockings of Imrich Thurzo in Orava Castle to the Texel stocking opened questions regarding manufacture and import of silk stockings throughout Europe.
  • Hanna Backstrom’s paper “The earliest printed knitting patterns” compared what the printed patterns looked like and who they were made for, to a hand written 17th century notebook, possibly from a knitter’s workshop. This was one of the highlights of the conference for me. It raised lots of interesting questions as to how they used the charts, diagrams and sketches contained in this book, especially in contrast to the printed books which seem to have been designed for a different audience.

The first afternoon section was dedicated to projects inspired by the Texel Stocking project:

  • Art Ness Proano Gaibor’s “Dye experiments on the Texel Stocking” was an interesting paper on how period dye recipes can have an impact on our modern lives, and how diverse the period recipes for dyeing black were – some doing more harm to the fabric than others.
  • Geeske Kruseman’s findings of her report “wearing 17th century knitted silk stockings” really surprised me. Two people wore two pairs of the stockings produced by the citizen science project with period reproduction shoes in everyday life and recorded their subjective and objective observations. Although the experiment was cut short, they still got some data. The stockings showed no signs of wear after an accumulated 139 hours of wear, kept their shape after washing, and were comfortable to wear in hot and cold weather. Afterwards everyone with the right foot size (European 38) got a chance to try the stockings , and I personally loved the experience! The stocking is very light and smooth to wear, you sort of forget you have it on, and the lack of stretch that we have come to expect from wool stockings wasn’t missed due to the garter holding the stocking up, and the fact that the stocking fitted me perfectly. It would be interesting to repeat this experiment with a wider range of participants.
  • Sally Pointer reported on her experience of making a replica for the re-enactment market based on the Texel stocking and using a 19th century knitting machine. She started with a wool version to test the design and then made a version with spun silk. She had to alter the key features to work with the much lower stitch count possible with the knitting machine, reducing the patterns produced by the purl stitches by about one third, and producing a stocking with a similar pattern but clearly different to the original. key question: “Though we can do it, should we?” The stocking she produced is much quicker to produce than the hand knitted ones, but still took a considerable time to make and it leaves the question how it would compare being worn to a non-patterned, machine-knit silk stocking and the replica hand knitted ones.

The last section consisted of papers based on Citizen Science Projects:

  • In “How not to knit: Sourcing silk, research and reconstructions reviewed” Susan North shared with us her insights into the problems encountered and mistakes made when making reconstruction silk stockings for the Original Practice at the Globe Theatre, and how difficult it was to find any information on tools, materials, and methods.
  • Jane Malcolm-Davies’ paper “Modern Slavery and the early modern work ethic: Lessons learned from volunteer participation in knitting in early modern Europe” gave insights into the experiences made by her and the volunteers in the Knitting in Early Modern Europe (KEME) project. She discussed how using volunteers in knitting (a notoriously underpaid work activity) raises the question to what extent Citizen Science is exploitative, and how much can be learned from the knitwork produced, and the process of knitting it. The focus has to be on what the benefits for the volunteers are as well as the researcher/scientist, and it is interesting that the KEME volunteers listed a similar range of benefits as the Texel stocking project participants.

The following panel discussion followed along similar lines, and I loved the new-to-me emphasis on the social aspect of taking part in a Citizen Science project, and the emphasis on being mindful of the nature of these experiments versus lab experiments, and that there have to be mutual benefits for the researcher and scientist as well as the volunteer.

My stay extended to Sunday for the Knitting History Forum AGM, and so I had a chance to visit the exhibition about the stockings in the Textile Research Centre, showcasing all the finished stockings, the former, all the samples and the ingenious holders some of the knitters had come up with to keep the cone of silk from unravelling while being able to knit off it easily. Also part of the exhibition was a treasure trove of patterned socks and stockings, and sample boards of different heel and toe varieties, as well as other knitting samples. I came away with so much inspiration!

We also were given a short tour of the facilities, making me want to come back to study some of the beautiful knitted and crocheted items in the collection. In the afternoon we visited the weaver’s house and the Laakenhal museum, all places I am looking forward to visiting again!

Christine Carnie

Knitting History Forum 2020 – Virtual AGM and Conference

TICKET BOOKING HAS NOW CLOSED. The 2020 edition of the Knitting History Forum Conference will be brought to you online via Zoom from several different locations.  Last year, as part of our visit to the Netherlands in collaboration with the Texel Stocking Project, the KHF AGM was hosted by the Textile Research Centre in Leiden.  We start our conference Knitting History Forum/Early Knitting History Group Reconstruction Knitted Sanquhar Glove courtesy of Kirstie Buckland. PLEASE DO NOT USE IMAGE WITHOUT PERMISSIONthis year with a presentation from the TRC’s director Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood about their collection and will see some of its knitted items.

The next group of presentations focus on the experience of knitting at home with examples from research based in Scotland and elsewhere.  Lynn Abrams will give an overview of current research into the history of knitted textiles in Scotland, followed by Jade Halbert speaking about knitting for money as a homeworker in the 1980s.  Sandy Black responds to this with her personal perspective of being a knitwear designer and producer in the 1980s.

We then return to the early history of knitting with two presentations on gloves worn by religious figures.  The first, from Sylvie Odstrčilová in the Czech Republic discusses two pairs of 18thC Abbess’s gloves from Prague, and the second reports on a project by Angharad Thomas and Lesley O’Connell Edwards, mapping the existing liturgical gloves as worn by bishops from the sixteenth century. We conclude with a talk by Emily Whitted from Massachusetts USA on the stocking frame knitting industry in Germantown, near Philadelphia, including Emily’s experience of trying out frame knitting herself in Ruddington Museum.

Join us for a pre-session Show and Tell (including what did you make during lockdown?) or see and respond to the fascinating new knitwork produced by Michelle Hanks as part of her PhD research.

See the detailed schedule below…

We look forward to seeing you online on 7th November via Zoom.  It’s free for everyone but donations to Knitting History Forum are always welcome by Paypal to khfcommittee@hotmail.co.uk.

Please register via the Eventbrite link below and joining details will be sent to you.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/khf-agm-conference-2020-tickets-125632816135

Best wishes

Sandy Black

Chair, Knitting History Forum

 

 

 

 

Knitting History Forum 2020  AGM and conference – Saturday 7th November via Zoom 

Schedule

We ask for your understanding if the schedule is subject to change at short notice due to the current pandemic.

10.30 -11.00 am Welcome and AGM  – see separate agenda (to follow)

Breakout groups

11.30 – 12.30pm Show and Tell open session – Moderator:  Tricia Basham

  • Bring along something to show and discuss  including “What I made during lockdown” – kicked off by Susan North’s crochet toys.

OR

11.30 – 12.30 pm PhD research student presentations – Moderator: Sandy Black

  • 11.30 Michelle Hanks, London College of Fashion “I’ll have to knit about it…”  Knitting as a thinking tool Showing her knitted pieces made whilst exploring ideas in response to interviews with knitters
  • 12.00 Emily Rickard, Nottingham Trent University Exploring the use of creative, open-ended knitting as a form of journaling to record emotions, with consideration for mental wellbeing

Break or keep chatting informally

1.20 pm conference welcome: Sandy

1.30 – 2pm    The Collection of the Textile Research Centre Leiden, with some knitted highlights.
Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, Director of the TRC Leiden, The Netherlands

2 – 2.15     From Fleece to Fashion: researching the history of knitted textiles in Scotland
Lynn Abrams, University of Glasgow

2.15 – 2.45    Knitting for Money: homework in Glasgow and beyond in the 1980s
Jade Halbert, University of Huddersfield

2.45 – 3.15   On being a knitwear designer in the 1980s
Sandy Black,  London College of Fashion, UAL

Break

3.30 – 4.00   Two pairs of 18thC  Abbess’s gloves from Prague
Sylvie Odstrčilová, Independent researcher, Czech Republic

4. – 4.30      Holy Hands: studies of knitted liturgical gloves
Lesley O’Connell Edwards and Angharad Thomas, Independent researchers, UK

4.30 – 5      Made in Germantown: Analysis of an Early American Frame Knitting Industry 
Emily Whitted, PhD candidate, University of Massachusetts, USA

5 – 5.05      Closing remarks – Sandy Black

Knitting History Forum Sanquhar Gloves

At our previous AGM in 2019, Kirstie Buckland generously presented a pair of gloves which our Chair, Sandy Black, accepted on behalf of Knitting History Forum. The distinctive black and white knitted gloves will be familiar to long-term KHF members and supporters as we frequently use an image of one of the gloves on our website and social media. Kirstie has kindly written a little more about these very special gloves and their significance.

Knitting History Forum/Early Knitting History Group Reconstruction Knitted Sanquhar Glove courtesy of Kirstie Buckland. PLEASE DO NOT USE IMAGE WITHOUT PERMISSIONWhen discussing the Castle Howard sock we once talked of having a section for ‘knitting myths’ to share some of the funnier ones. However, such myths should not be confused with symbolism and its roots.

Many KHF notices appear beneath a photograph of a single Sanquhar glove knitted in the ‘Duke’ pattern.

At the last AGM I donated these gloves to the KHF as a symbol of our connection with the aspirations of the Early Knitting History Group (EKHG) on which we were founded. They were made for me by Alison Thomson, the wife of the former vicar of Sanquhar and we had replaced the traditional date, which was worked into one wrist, with the EKHG initials. My initials are on the other glove.

The history and symbolism of Sanquhar knitting is well recorded:- http://www.futuremuseum.co.uk/collections/life-work/key-industries/textiles/sanquhar-knitting.aspx, and in Richard Rutt’s ‘History of Handknitting’, pages 199-202.

Knitting History Forum/Early Knitting History Group Reconstruction Knitted Sanquhar Gloves courtesy of Kirstie Buckland, being worn by Chair Prof. Sandy Black at the KHF AGM in Leiden 2019. PLEASE DO NOT USE IMAGE WITHOUT PERMISSION
Sandy Black wearing the EKHG/KHF gloves at the 2019 KHF AGM in Leiden

The gloves give us links with our group’s history, with British textile history, with Montse Stanley’s KRL* and with our loyal supporters. I hope that others will supply or suggest their own items, pictures or stories of direct significance to KHF to inspire and continue the achievements and independence on which we were founded. It would provide somewhere interesting to direct old friends and potential members who ask what we are doing.

Meanwhile Australians are being asked to knit pouches to comfort baby marsupials orphaned by their tragic bush fires, a new challenge for knitting.

Kirstie Buckland

* In 1999 the collection of EKHG co-founder Montse Stanley, including the Montse Stanley Knitting Reference Library, was acquired by the University of Southampton Library. Further information is available here: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/intheloop/knitting-reference-library.page

ADH Lecture & Conversation Series

The Association of Dress Historians are launching an ADH Lecture & Conversation Series and have issued a Call For Submissions with a deadline of 1 October 2020. The aim of the ADH Lecture & Conversation Series is to provide a virtual space for ADH members to connect and share knowledge about dress history. Knitting and crochet intersects the history of dress – perhaps KHF members would consider a submission? For further information visit the ADH website: https://dresshistorians.org/virtual/

ADH Lecture & Conversation Series

KCG Un-Convention 2020

Un-Convention 2020 is the Knitting & Crochet Guild’s first virtual convention. Running from this Wednesday 9th September to Tuesday 15th September 2020, the convention has a broad range of free events across the seven-day schedule, including speakers familiar from KHF conferences. Videos with closed captions (subtitles) will be available on Youtube and you can also join in on the Guild’s Facebook group, Ravelry KCG or follow the hashtag #unconventionkcg on Instagram.  Visit the Un-convention 2020 website to see the exciting programme in full.

Knitting History Forum AGM and Conference 2020

Saturday 7th November 2020

In order to recognise the extraordinary circumstances of the 2020 global coronavirus pandemic, the Knitting History Forum has decided to stage an online event on Sat 7th November. This event will be free to attend and open to all, following registration, and will comprise speakers, discussion groups/show and tell and opportunities for research students to give short presentations or present posters online of their current work-in-progress.

Watch this space for further announcements!

Knitting History Forum AGM & Conference 2020

This has been an extraordinary year. Many have been affected by the events of the past ten months and it seemed in poor taste to continue posting. Indeed, mentions of the date of the next conference here and on social media received some objections and though made last year, were removed to avoid giving offence. Now as we return slowly to the new ‘normal’, it seems appropriate to resume. KHF is pleased once again to confirm Saturday 7th November 2020 as the date of this year’s Knitting History Forum Conference. We are working towards an event that is safe and accessible. Further information about the conference will be released in due course and we will post additional details here on the Knitting History website and on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook when they are available. We hope you will feel able to join in and look forward to seeing you in November.

Knitting History Forum Conference 2019 Reminder

Join us in beautiful Leiden for a weekend of Knitting History! We welcome scholars, knitters and everyone with an interest in knitting.

The Knitting History Forum Conference 2019 with the culmination of the TRC Leiden Texel Stockings Project is on Saturday 2 November at De Tuinzaal (The Garden Room) at the Grand Café de Burcht in the historic city centre (at Burgsteeg 14). On Sunday 3 November Prof Sandy Black will chair our AGM for KHF members and we have a special visit to Het Leids Wevershuis (a textile workers’ house built circa 1560). The knitting exhibition ‘Socks & Stockings: A world full of surprises’ at the Textile Research Centre will open especially for conference delegates on Friday 1 November from 12.30pm to 2pm and again on Sunday 3rd November 10am to 12.30pm.

You can register for the conference and pay on the door (€25 or €15 for KHF members).

If you prefer you can pay in advance via PayPal using the “Donate” button on the home page of the Textile Research Centre – scroll down the right-hand column) or via PayPal directly to the TRC’s email address (info@trc-leiden.nl). Please visit our membership page for more information about Knitting History Forum and apply to join if you wish. You can also register for the conference online using this form if you are a KHF member or use this form if you are not. The conference hotel is Hotel Nieuw Minerva and a discount is available – email hotel@nieuwminerva.nl mentioning KHF2019.

The full conference programme is available here. Speakers and papers for the Knitting History Conference will include

Keynote speaker Chrystel Brandenburgh: ‘Knitting for science. The reconstruction of the 17th century Texel Stockings by a citizen science community’
Lesley O’Connell Edwards: ‘A hidden workforce: hand knitters in 17thcentury England’
Sylvie Odstrčilová: ‘Early modern stockings from the Czech Republic and neighbouring countries’
Hannah Bäckström: ‘The earliest printed knitting patterns’
Art Ness Proaño Gaibor: ‘Dye-experiments on the Texel Stocking’
Geeske Kruseman: ‘Wearing 17th century knitted silk stockings’
Sally Pointer: ‘Clues from the deep: Reconstructing for the re-enactment-market -silk stockings based on the Texel project’
Susan North: ‘How not to Knit: Sourcing silk, research and reconstructions reviewed’
Jane Malcolm-Davies: ‘Modern Slavery and the early modern work ethic: Lessons learned from volunteer participation in knitting in early modern Europe’
Panel discussion with Katrin Kania, Heleen van Londen and Roeland Paardenkoper: ‘Knitting leads the way! The perils and potential of citizen science in textile research’

It is not too late to register for the conference and book last minute flights, Eurostar tickets or even drive to Leiden to enjoy a knitting history event which, in a way, is itself historic. We look forward to seeing you this weekend.

Socks & Stockings Knitting Exhibition

A new exhibition, ‘Socks & Stockings: A world full of surprises’, has opened at the Textile Research Centre in Leiden , tying in with the Texel Stockings Project and our 2019 Knitting History Forum conference. On display are the original seventeenth century Texel silk stockings, the hand-knitted reconstructions made by the team of volunteers for the project as well as many socks from around the world in knitting and nalbinding, including some from Annemor Sundbø’s “Ragpile-collection”, in an informative and fascinating array of techniques, patterns and colours as inspirational to knitters as scholars and students of knitting history. The exhibition runs until 19 December 2019 but is also opening especially for us on Friday 1 November from 12.30pm to 2pm and again on Sunday 3 November from 10pm to 12.30pm, so Knitting History conference delegates may enjoy viewing at leisure.

The text boards accompanying the exhibits are also available to read in PDF format, English language and Dutch language formats. More information and images of some of the items are available on the TRC Leiden website.

Knitting History Forum & TRC Leiden Conference & KHF AGM 2019

The weekend of the KHF Conference & AGM 2019 approaches quickly : Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd November 2019. For those who still might be considering joining us for the weekend here is a reminder of the registration details.

The Knitting History Forum Conference is on Saturday 2nd November and a copy of the conference programme is available here https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc/images/stories/pdf/full%20programme%2020190918.pdf

Conference delegates are also encouraged to support the Knitting History Forum. The annual fee is £25 and you can join via the Membership page.

Please register for the conference (Sat 2 Nov) and/or participation in the AGM (Sun 3 Nov) using this link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd_LmFUjpddmZ5LRvhJ_7fTipc1pgZpM3L4cVSK4L5U4sxN1w/viewform?

Then, pay for your ticket for the conference via PayPal using the “Donate” button on the home page of the Textile Research Centre (https://www.trc-leiden.nl – scroll down the right-hand column) or via PayPal directly to the TRC’s email address (info@trc-leiden.nl).

Normal entrance fee is €25, but for KHF members this is reduced to €15. This is the link for members of KHF to register: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd_LmFUjpddmZ5LRvhJ_7fTipc1pgZpM3L4cVSK4L5U4sxN1w/viewform?

If you have any problems registering via the google form or payment to the TRC Leiden, please email the TRC directly (info@trc-leiden.nl).

Knitting History Forum the international society for the history of knitting and crochet. Eight-pointed star, a common motif in knitting across many cultures.

On Sunday 3rd November, Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, Director of the Textile Research Centre in Leiden, will host us at the TRC, for the Knitting History Forum Annual General Meeting, followed by a visit to the Wevershuis Museum.

You are welcome to arrive from 10am and we will start the AGM promptly at 10.30am, dealing with KHF business and planning for the year ahead. The meeting will close by 12 noon and we recommend everyone finds their own lunch in the old town centre (minutes of AGM 2018, more info and suggestions of places to eat will follow a fortnight before the event).

Reconstruction Knitted Sanquhar Glove courtesy of Kirstie Buckland. PLEASE DO NOT USE WITHOUT PERMISSION!

In the afternoon there will be the opportunity to visit the Wevershuis Museum (The Weaver’s House), Middelstegracht 143, 2312 TV Leiden. http://www.wevershuis.nl

Geeske Kruseman has kindly offered to give tours; the museum is very small and has an interesting collection showing the “other side of Leiden”, located in the old town centre and less than one kilometre from the Textile Research Centre.

The tours will last 45 minutes and cover Leiden textile history, the building’s history, and some social history. The first tour will be at 1.45pm and the second at 3pm and we will meet outside the museum 10 minutes before the start of the tour so that we can all go in as a group. (i.e. 1.35pm and 2.50pm).

If you are with us on Sunday please email KHF Membership Secretary Tricia Basham (pbasham87@gmail.com) as soon as possible to let her know which tour you’d like to attend so that we can finalise arrangements.

The conference hotel is Hotel Nieuw Minerva and a discount is available – please email hotel@nieuwminerva.nl mentioning KHF2019 to book your room.

We look forward to seeing you all in Leiden.

KHF TRC Leiden Conference 2019

This year’s Knitting History Forum will be venturing out to picturesque Leiden in The Netherlands for a special event focused around seventeenth century knitted stockings. Please join us!


Knitting History Forum Invitation to Leiden 2019

Held jointly with the Textile Research Centre Leiden, the conference will include a full day of lectures about the Texel shipwreck reproduction silk stockings project, stocking production, studying historical knitting and textile research. The date of the knitting history conference is Saturday 2nd November 2019, with the KHF AGM held on Sunday at the TRC. Click on the images or download the PDF to learn more. Further information will be available on the Knitting History Forum website once details are confirmed.

Wool: Cloth, Clothing and Culture – MEDATS Conference 2019

Wool: Cloth, Clothing and Culture” is the subject of the next MEDATS (Medieval Dress and Textiles Society) conference in April. Many of the papers confirmed for MEDATS this Spring will be of interest to KHF members. The history of wool and the early history of knitting are closely linked, as highlighted by the fact that three of the speakers are Kirstie Buckland, Jane Malcolm-Davies and Lesley O’Connell Edwards, members of Knitting History Forum who presented highly-regarded papers at KHF conferences. All of the MEDATS presentations look fascinating:

‘A warm house for the wits’: The craft, trade or science of capping
Kirstie Buckland, Independent scholar
‘Home or away? Woollens, worsteds and the “industrious revolution” in England
John Styles, The University of Hertfordshire
Hanging by a thread: Anticipating structural damage in Tudor Tapestries through the study of photo-oxidation in historic wool
Nanette Kissi, Independent Scholar
Turning wool into silk: How sixteenth century craftspeople created legal luxuries
Jane Malcolm-Davies, Centre for Textile Research, University of Copenhagen
The “industry” of knitting of wool stockings in later 16th century England, especially Norwich
Lesley O’Connell Edwards, MSc student in English Local Studies at the University of Oxford
The first cowl of St Francis of Assisi and the mantle of Bishop Guido
Maria Giorgi, Adjunct Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera and Independent Textiles conservator and Conservation Consultant
The St Clare intermediate tunic
Tina Anderlini, Independent scholar
Distaff spinning: a forgotten aspect of medieval wool textile production
Mary A. M. Cleaton, Jane Hunt, Alice R. Evans & Cathelina de Alessandri

“Wool: Cloth, Clothing and Culture” will be held on 6th April 2019 at Saint Stephen’s Church Hall, Knightsbridge, London, from 11:00am to 5:30pm. There is an Early Bird discount for MEDATS members and non-members if booking conference tickets before 31st January 2019. After that date, all tickets except for students will cost £45, so remember to book by the end of January.

Further information and booking enquiries should be directed to MEDATS at their website http://medats.org.uk/events/wool-cloth-clothing-and-culture/

Early Modern Knitting in Denmark

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’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.

Early Modern knitted cap, National Museum of Denmark, photo by Jane Malcolm-Davies
Early Modern knitted cap, National Museum of Denmark, photo by Jane Malcolm-Davies

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 – reviews published evidence for Early Modern knitting
Susanne Lervad – contributes to terminology for studying knitwork
Helena Lundin – reports knitted items from the c17th Kronan shipwreck
Jane Malcolm-Davies – introduces the issue and proposes a protocol for reporting Early Modern knitwork
Rosalind Mearns – discusses crowdsourcing for experimental archaeology to reconstruct knitted items
Lesley O’Connell Edwards – discusses c16th stockings in the Museum of London
Sylvie Odstrčilová – surveys c17th silk stockings in the Czech Republic
Maj Ringgaard – reveals the remains of two Early Modern knitted caps found in Denmark
Annemarieke Willemsen – 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.

Archaeological Textiles Review 2018 60th Issue Early Modern Knitting Special
Archaeological Textiles Review 2018 60th Issue

The print deadline has been extended, but only until after the weekend, so if you prefer a print copy, reserve yours soon. Subscriptions for the 2018 issue of Archaeological Textiles Review cost DKK250, approximately €34, £30 or US $38, and are available from the University of Copenhagen website http://www.webshophum-en.ku.dk/shop/2018-subscription-archaeological-2310p.html.

Archaeological Textiles Review Knitting Issue

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 Skłodowska 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.

Archaeological Textiles Review 2018 60th Issue Early Modern Knitting Special
Archaeological Textiles Review 2018 60th Issue on Early Modern Knitting

This issue is available by subscription and the University of Copenhagen is now deciding how many copies to print. Don’t delay! The print deadline is today (12th December 2018). Volume 60 of Archaeological Textiles Review costs dkk250, approximately €34, £30 or US $38. Visit the University website to subscribe: http://www.webshophum-en.ku.dk/shop/2018-subscription-archaeological-2310p.html.

1930s Hand–Knitted Bathing Suits

Emmy Sale won the undergraduate student Design History Society Essay Prize with an essay based on her BA dissertation examining hand-knitted bathing suits in the 1930s, particularly how they were made and worn by young working women. She wrote a shorter essay, ‘The 1930s Hand-Knitted Bathing Suit: Cost, originality and adaptation’, based on the collection of Worthing Art Gallery and Museum, as part of their joint Objects Unwrapped research project with University of Brighton. A downloadable PDF is available on the Objects Unwrapped website https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/objectsunwrapped/essays/.

Knitting History Forum the international society for the history of knitting and crochet. Eight-pointed star, a common motif in knitting across many cultures.

Emmy has also written a post for the Association of Dress Historians, discussing her research and showing images of knitted bathing suits in other British museum collections. ‘Homemade Garments in Museum Collections: 1930s Hand–Knitted Bathing Suits’ is available on the ADH website https://www.dresshistorians.org/single-post/2018/10/23/Homemade-Garments-in-Museum-Collections-1930s-Hand%E2%80%93Knitted-Bathing-Suits.

Textile Tools for Teaching Science

'Crocheting Neuroscience: The Retina' by Dr Tahani Baakdhah
‘Crocheting Neuroscience: The Retina’ by Dr Tahani Baakdhah

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.