Knitting History News

The Kitchener Stitch: Knitting in Wartime Study Day

Another exciting study day for the calendar. ‘Kitchener Stitch’, the seamless method of grafting the toe that is the joy or bane of many a sock-knitter, is said to have been devised or at least inspired by Herbert Kitchener, British Secretary of State for War from 1914 to 1916, in an attempt to prevent chafing. Whatever the truth of the story, this study day explores the relationship between knitting and wartime and highlights how knitting meant much more than the popular image of women on the home front knitting for the troops.

"Your Country Needs Knitters" Kitchener Stitch Study Day
“Your Country Needs Knitters” Kitchener Stitch Study Day
Speakers include Jane Tynan of Central St Martins on ‘Comforting Body and Soul: Knitting in First World War Britain‘ and Maggie Andrews of University of Worcester on ‘”Men went to war and women knitted” : domesticity and  crafts on the Home Front in Britain‘. Joyce Meader of The Historic Knit and Barbara Smith of Knitting & Crochet Guild will reprise their papers from the 2014 Knitting History Forum Conference, ‘Knitted Comforts from Crimea to the Modern Day‘ and ‘Useful Work for Anxious Fingers – Knitting & Crochet in the First World War‘ respectively. You can discover more about knitting in wartime from the Crimea to Afghanistan and also browse the Glasgow Women’s Library historical knitting pattern collection. A full programme will posted closer to the event.

The Kitchener Stitch Study Day is on Friday 27 March 2015, from 10am to 4pm at The Lighthouse, Mitchell Lane, Glasgow. See University of Glasgow Knitting and Textile History for details.

450th Anniversary Jacket

450th Anniversary Jacket knitted by Tricia Basham
450th Anniversary Jacket knitted by Tricia Basham

The 450th Anniversary Jacket was recently displayed on the KCG stand at the Creative Crafts Show in Esher. It was knitted by KHF Treasurer and Membership Secretary, Tricia Basham, as part of her City & Guilds in Hand Knit Textiles.

Designed to tie-in with the 450th anniversary celebrations at the school where she then worked, this exquisite jacket was influenced by seventeenth-century textiles in the V&A collection, winning the V&A’s “Inspired by…” Fashion and Textiles Prize in 2012.

Emma Vining's 'Gladioli' made the cover of The Knitter magazine
Emma Vining’s ‘Gladioli’ on the cover of The Knitter magazine

The photo of the 450th Anniversary Jacket on the KCG stand was taken by Emma Vining, another Knitting History Forum member and supporter whose knitwear design just made the cover of The Knitter again.

Congratulations to both!

Knitting & Crochet Guild Trunk Show – 21 February 2015

A quick reminder that our next event is only four weeks away. The Knitting & Crochet Guild Trunk Show is on Saturday 21 February 2015, from 1pm to 4pm at the Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street, London. There’s more information here.

Items from a previous Knitting & Crochet Guild Trunk Show. Photo by Angharad Thomas
Items from a previous Knitting & Crochet Guild Trunk Show. Photo by Angharad Thomas

Places cost only £10. Please contact our Membership Secretary and Treasurer, Tricia Basham, to book yours.

Knitting History Website Re-vamp

Knitting History the website of Knitting History Forum the international society for the history of knitting and crochet up to January 2015
The old Knitting History Forum website

Welcome to the new look Knitting History website. The re-vamp has landed! Knitting History now is easier to use, has improved visibility and is more mobile-friendly. The old URLs are no longer valid so please visit http://knittinghistory.co.uk/ and update your bookmarks. Further developments are on the way. We hope you enjoy the changes and our fresh new format.

Knitting History the website of Knitting History Forum the international society for the history of knitting and crochet re-vamped website January 2015
The new Knitting History Forum website from January 2015

Knitting History Forum Visit the V&A!

Loraine and Tricia have arranged a KHF visit to see knitting from the Victoria and Albert museum in London. The V&A has a rich and varied holding of knitting in their collections, ranging from very early to the latest in modern knitwear. Only a tiny fraction is on display in the museum itself: the rest is stored in controlled conditions at the V&A’s new purpose-built facilities at the Clothworkers’ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion, Blythe House, in Olympia. The museum collections can be searched online. If there are specific items you know would like to see, please email your suggestions with your booking.

V&A Victoria and Albert Museum
V&A Museum, London
Once again the event is open to members of the Knitting & Crochet Guild as well as Knitting History Forum. There are two dates available, the afternoons of Friday 13 and Friday 20 March. Although it was intended that the 13th would be for KCG and the 20th for KHF members, there is some flexibility across both dates to ensure this wonderful opportunity is open to as many interested people as possible.

Tricia is still finalising all the details but she will let you know as soon as all the arrangements are made. Places are almost gone but there is still time to book yours. Contact Tricia directly or email ‘KHF Events & Bookings’ to reserve your space, arrange payment of the £5 deposit and suggest items to view. Don’t miss this opportunity to see items not usually on display, in the company of some extremely knowledgeable members of both Knitting History Forum and the Knitting & Crochet Guild!

FTM Course on Software for Knitting Designers

Next week the Fashion and Textile Museum in London will be running a three-day course on using software to illustrate and chart knitting designs. ‘Illustrator for Knitwear Designers’ runs from Wednesday 14 to Friday 16 January. Numbers are limited, so enroll early to avoid disappointment. There’s more information and a downloadable course outline at the FTM website http://ftmlondon.org/ftm_courses/illustrator-for-knitwear/.

Joyce Meader’s Open House

Joyce Meader has graciously invited Knitting History Forum to an open house at her home in Hampshire, on 29 April 2015.

For those of you who do not know her, Joyce, a long-standing KHF member and supporter, is an expert on historical knitting who owns an extensive collection of knitting patterns from 1817 to the present day. She also recreates historical knitting for re-enactment, film and museums. Below is a sampling of Joyce’s reproduction hand knitting and her collection of nineteenth and twentieth century patterns, from those accompanying her presentation at the Knitting History Forum Conference in November 2014.

More details will be confirmed nearer to the time. If you are able to attend, please let Joyce know you are coming by logging into the KHF Yahoo group and replying to her post.

Read more about Joyce, her knitting pattern collection and reproduction historical knitting at her website, The Historic Knit, military and historic knitting.

Christmas Jumper Day 2014

Christmas knitwear has come in from the cold. Rescued from the icy wastelands of taste and fashion, it is assured of a welcome with the return of Christmas Jumper Day on Friday 12th December 2014.

The charity Save The Children would like as many people as possible to wear a Christmas jumper to work or to school for suggested donations of £2 for adults and £1 for children. Their website has more info and additional suggestions for fundraising (http://jumpers.savethechildren.org.uk/about/faqs).

Two of 30 jumpers specially customised in aid of Save the Children's Christmas Jumper Day 2014
Two of 30 jumpers specially customised in aid of Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day 2014

Others are getting involved too. As well as donating £2 from every sale of their exclusive Penguin Christmas jumper pattern, Deramores are offering free jumper patterns on their website http://www.deramores.com/christmas-jumper-day. Well-known British designers as well as students of the London College of Fashion have customised 30 identical bespoke jumpers by Wool and the Gang. Atterley Road will be holding a Secret Jumper Sale on 3rd December, selling the jumpers in aid of Save The Children. This is a rare opportunity to own an unique piece of knitting history AND do your bit for charity. Visit their website for more info and a preview of all 30 jumpers http://www.atterleyroad.com/the-road/do-your-bit-with-a-knit/

Knitting & Crochet Guild Trunk Show – 21 February 2015

Our next Knitting History Forum event is the Knitting & Crochet Guild Trunk Show on 21 February 2015, from 1pm to 4pm at the Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street, London. This is a joint meeting with the KCG.

The Knitting & Crochet Guild are making their collection, held at Lee Mills, more accessible by taking a selection on tour. Angharad Thomas and Barbara Smith, respectively the KCG’s Textile Archivist and Publications Curator, will bring an array of historical knitted and crocheted items, publications and knitting equipment.

Places are limited and cost £10 per head. If you are interested please contact our Membership Secretary, Tricia Basham.

KHF AGM and Conference 2014

Another great day at our annual KHF AGM and Conference on Saturday, with a broad range of topics and plenty of discussion! Angharad Thomas took us on a tour through the history of two-colour glove-knitting, starting right from the earliest nalbindning examples in only one colour, presenting her conclusions so far. Tom van Deijnen introduced us to different methods of repairing knitting and wowed us with his meticulous mending skills, including a jumper repair commissioned by the Knitting and Crochet Guild. Amy Twigger Holroyd recapped the last ten years’ development of ‘Keep & Share’, the experimental knitwear label and open craft practice, impressing us with her beautiful knitting and thoughtful approach to her work. Barbara Smith shared her research on knitting and crochet in Britain and the Empire during the First World War, revealing some surprising facts and surviving items including some which can be matched to patterns in wartime magazines.

Detail of Joyce Meader's reproduction of a Crimean War era jumper from her presentation at the 2014 Knitting History Forum Conference
Detail of Joyce Meader’s reproduction of a Crimean War era jumper from her presentation at the 2014 Knitting History Forum Conference

Joyce Meader showed us a small portion of her collection, a veritable treasure trove of knitting and crochet patterns for the armed forces from the 1800s to now, with remarkable garments she reproduced from them. Our progress was recorded at the AGM with lively debate and fresh ideas for moving onwards and upwards. Look out for some interesting events next year!

A big thank you to our wonderful speakers for their inspiring and intriguing talks. Thank you also to Professor Sandy Black, Tricia Basham and all involved in organising the event, for making the day so enjoyable. And finally thanks to everyone who brought open minds, interesting questions, stimulating conversation – and their knitting!

Here’s a taste of the event in pictures, from our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.746156772144413.1073741827.338624112897683&type=1&l=835323cc2b

In the Loop 4: Call for Papers

In the Loop 4 will be held 26-28 August 2015 at the University of Glasgow, in association with the School of Humanities and the ‘Knitting in the Round’ project. It is intended to reflect the place of Scotland in the history of knitting and the city of Glasgow in the world of fashion.

In the Loop is a series of interdisciplinary and international conferences on knitting and crochet. 2015 sees the fifth to be held so far (the numbering is correct, the fourth conference in 2013 was In the Loop 3.5). Professor Sandy Black, Knitting History Forum’s Chair, was keynote speaker at the first conference and the following events have featured an impressive array of speakers and topics.

The Call for Papers for next year invites proposals for papers and poster presentations on the theme “From Craft to Couture”,  encompassing the range of applications of knitting (and crochet) in the past, present and future and in a variety of contexts. Applications are encouraged from all “practitioners, academics and researchers, designers, makers, artists, technicians, those working at home, in business and industry, education, archives, libraries and museums.” The deadline is 15 January 2015.

See more at the University of Glasgow site.

Sanquhar Knitting Workshop

Fans of Kirstie Buckland’s wonderful black-and-white glove as featured on our website may be interested in the Sanquhar Knitting Workshop this Saturday 1 November 2014 in Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire. Hosted by University of Glasgow it’s billed as an “ideal opportunity to watch, question and learn how to knit Sanquhar from the experts”.

Sanquhar knitting detail
Sanquhar knitting detail

This is an informal event for knitters and non-knitters alike. Throughout the day there will be tours of the Sanquhar Tolbooth Museum focusing on the Sanquhar knitting collection, local knitters demonstrating traditional Sanquhar patterns and designs and opportunities to try Sanquhar knitting yourself (wool and needles provided). The Sanquhar knitting project will demonstrate Sanquhar knitting by machine.

A’ the Airts, Sanquhar
A’ the Airts, Sanquhar

Three speakers are also scheduled: Lynn Abrams of the University of Glasgow on ‘Scottish knitting in the Scottish landscape’, Tom van Deijnen (TomofHolland) on ‘Sanquhar Gloves: from piecework to a modern classic’ and Fiona Scott of Makeworks on ‘The value of making: focus on Sanquhar’.

The knitting workshop runs from 11.00-3.00 at A’ the Airts, High Street, Sanquhar. Admission is free. http://all-the-airts.com/

Centenary Stitches WWI Commemorative Project

The Centenary Stitches WWI project began as a response to plea for assistance from WAGscreen, makers of the film ‘Tell Them of Us’. 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 ‘First World War, Then and Now’ 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. ‘Centenary Stitches’ will be published to coincide with the release of ‘Tell Them of Us’, 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/

Knitting History Forum AGM & Conference 2014

This year’s Knitting History Forum AGM and Conference will be held on Saturday 8 November 2014, once again at the London College of Fashion, 20 Princes St.

Doors open at 10:30 for registration and Show and Tell so please feel free to bring items for discussion. The AGM will start at 11 and we break for lunch from 12:30 to 1:45. The KHF Conference will start at two. Speakers this year include Angharad Thomas, Tom van Deijnen (Tom of Holland), Amy Twigger Holroyd, Barbara Smith and Joyce Meader, covering topics from the history of two-colour gloves, sustainable knitwear and knitting during the First World War to traditional repair techniques. There will be more time for questions and discussion from 4:45, after all the speakers have delivered their papers.

Non-members are very welcome to attend. Tickets cost £20 and can be booked in advance or on the door. The price of a ticket is included in KHF membership which is £15 annually. Members may renew or subscribe on the day. Lunch is not provided so please bring your own or buy locally. The LCF is just off Oxford St so there is plenty of choice!

For more information, to book tickets or renew membership, please visit our website Knitting History (http://www.knittinghistory.co.uk/events.html) or the Facebook event page (https://www.facebook.com/events/589204064541162/). A PDF of the conference programme can be downloaded here (KHFAGM2014Programme).

“Knitwear Has Become Interesting” – Visionary Knitwear at the Fashion and Textile Museum

According to the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey, one unnamed journalist said “knitwear has become interesting”. This is hardly news to students of knitting history. Knitting constantly evolves, develops and surprises.

The thoughtful, intelligent selection on display in the mezzanine gallery at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey is proof, if proof were needed, that knitting is not only relevant now but at the forefront of design and technological development. ‘Visionary Knitwear – new directions’ is guest-curated by our very own Sandy Black, Chair of the Knitting History Forum and Professor of Fashion and Textile Design and Technology of the London College of Fashion. ‘Visionary Knitwear’ showcases contemporary knitting design at its best: innovative, bold, sophisticated and subversive.

Exploring the work both of established designers and recent graduates, all of whom have studied in the UK, the exhibit also highlights the influence of UK design education on knitwear in the global fashion industry. Of the designers featured, Juliana Sissons gave a presentation at the Knitting History Forum Conference in 2011, while Amy Twigger Holroyd will be speaking at the 2015 KHF Conference this November. Head of the Fashion and Textile Museum, Celia Joicey said, “The Museum is privileged to be working with the globally respected academic and designer Sandy Black to highlight the most exciting aesthetic and technical developments. Her expertise and keen eye provide a snapshot of why contemporary knitwear is so exciting.”

“knitwear has become interesting”

‘Visionary Knitwear – new directions’ complements the museum’s main exhibition, ‘Knitwear Chanel to Westwood‘ and ends similarly on 18 January 2015. Don’t miss it.

http://ftmlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/KNITWEAR-VISIONARY-press-release.pdf

KNITWEAR Chanel to Westwood

The exhibition ‘KNITWEAR Chanel to Westwood’ is now at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London. Curated by Mark and Cleo Butterfield, this exhibition views twentieth century knitting through the lens of their personal collection. The exhibits are nearly all drawn from their archive and cover everyday handknits to high fashion, including early swimwear, 1960s crochet, punk, WWII, folk designs, Pop Art novelty knits, 1980s clubwear and couture. A separate, complementary display of 21st century knitwear, ‘Visionary Knitwear – new directions’, is being staged in the mezzanine gallery.

Open from now until 18 January 2015, tickets can booked in advance or purchased at the door. More information available on the F&TM Facebook page or their website http://ftmlondon.org/

KHF AGM & Conference

Reconstruction Knitted Sanquhar Glove courtesy of Kirstie Buckland. PLEASE DO NOT USE WITHOUT PERMISSION!Save the date! Our annual Knitting History Forum AGM and Conference will be held on Saturday 8 November 2014, at the London College of Fashion.

The conference programme is yet to be finalised but the AGM is usually held in the morning, and the conference after lunch. Speakers are drawn from a wide range of specialisations and discussion is always lively. Non-members are welcome.

The Look of Austerity – 2015 Conference on Post-war Dress

A Call for Papers has been issued for a two-day conference hosted by The Museum of London in September next year. ‘The Look of Austerity’ will “explore the effect of post-war austerity on the appearance of people and cities… ‘The Look of Austerity aims to re-examine the post-war period, looking at the changing meaning and the face of austerity and exploring the real implications of austerity policies and culture on sartorial aesthetics. Focusing on the immediate post-war period, specifically the years 1945-1951, we invite papers that examine the popular experience of obtaining and wearing clothes throughout the western world during these turbulent and changing times, exploring the often overlooked areas of ready-to-wear innovation, international dialogues, and approaches that look beyond some of the popular myths of post-war fashion.”

The conference will take place at the Museum of London, on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 September 2015. Presentations are invited of 20 to 25 minutes’ duration – material culture and interdisciplinary contributions are particularly encouraged. Topics for discussion may include:

  • fashion consumption and austerity, particularly popular and everyday experiences of obtaining and wearing clothes
  • the production and distribution of ready-to-wear
  • the role of couture after the war
  • dialogues across Western nations and fashion capitals, particularly Paris, New York, Berlin and Rome
  • visual and written representations of fashion in newspapers, magazines, advertisements, cinema and amateur film
  • biographic approaches, for example diaries, novels and short stories
  • the designer in a culture of austerity
  • the connection between austerity and glamour
  • re-emergence of the austerity look in later periods, for example in the 1970s/1990s
  • the legacy of the look of austerity

The effects of war did not end immediately in 1945. In Britain clothes rationing lasted until 1949 while rationing only ended altogether in 1954. The ‘Make Do And Mend’ mentality of the war years continued long after, as Europe began the slow process of rebuilding. Knitting played vital part in the budgets of many households and really should be represented appropriately by a paper at this conference. So put on your [knitted] thinking caps!

The deadline for submission of proposals is Monday 27 October 2014. Further information is on the Museum of London website, where you can also download a copy of the Call For Papers.