Knitting Unravelled 1450-1983

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?”

Knitting Unravelled 1450-1983 by Ruth Gilbert
Knitting Unravelled 1450-1983 by Ruth Gilbert

Ruth is a textile historian who has published articles and presented conference papers on spinning and knitting history, including at the Knitting History Forum, with which she has been involved since it was the Early Knitting History Group 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 £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.

UK Copyright Guidelines for Knitting Patterns

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.

Copyright Notice Number: 4/2015 on Knitting And Sewing Patterns can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Thank you to Kay Lacey who brought this to our attention.

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, 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

Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture

The latest issue of ‘Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture’ is a special edition devoted to knitting. Edited by Jonathan Faiers, it contains articles based on presentations originally given at the conference ‘In the Loop 3: The Voices of Knitting’, held in Winchester, September 2012.

Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture.  Special Knitting Edition
Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture. Special Knitting Edition

The papers are:

‘“In the Loop”: Challenging and Disrupting the Stereotypes of Knitting’ – Linda Newington
‘A Sweater to Die for: Fair Isle and Fair Play in The Killing’ – Jo Turney
‘Knitting and Well-being’ – Betsan Corkhill, Jessica Hemmings, Angela Maddock, Jill Riley
‘Discovering Knitting at the Regent Street Polytechnic, 1898‐1948’ – Anna McNally
‘Knitting and the Olympic Games: Clothing, Competition, Culture, and Commerce’ – Martin Polley
‘Stitched Up—Representations of Contemporary Vintage Style Mania and the Dark Side of the Popular Knitting Revival’ – Emmanuelle Dirix
‘Knitting and Catastrophe’ – Jonathan Faiers

Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture, Volume 12 Issue 1, is published by Bloomsbury. Ingentaconnect gives abstracts but unless you have access to a subscription, each downloadable article is $32.99.

Alternatively, the print edition is currently available at a discount, directly from the publishers

‘Fashionable Encounters: Perspectives and trends in textile and dress in the Early Modern Nordic World’

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.

Fashionable Encounters: Perspectives and trends in textile and dress in the Early Modern Nordic World
Fashionable Encounters: Perspectives and trends in textile and dress in the Early Modern Nordic World

‘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.

Further details and a full list of articles are on the publisher’s website: