Knitting History News

Fibres in Early Textiles from Prehistory to AD 1600

News of an event for next year, Fibres in Early Textiles from Prehistory to AD 1600. This biennial conference of the Early Textiles Studies Group will be held at the University of Glasgow, 6th to 7th June 2019. Dedicated to the memory of Karen Finch, Knitting History Forum’s inspirational and much-missed Honorary President, who sadly passed away earlier this year, the conference themes are:

– developments in the identification and analysis of early textile fibres
– contributions to the chronology of fibre use at a local or global level
– fibre procurement and use within specific historical or archaeological contexts
– the qualities of fibres and their contribution to finished textiles

Fibres in Early Textiles from Prehistory to AD 1600, Early Textiles Study Group biennial conference 2019The ETSG have issued a flyer, download here for information. Their Call for Papers invites 15-minute papers and posters and encourages submissions from early-career and experienced researchers : email abstracts to Margarita Gleba, by 11 January 2019.

Registration and booking will open in early 2019 and further details will be posted on the ETSG website:

The Knitting Madonna by Lise Warburg

Lise Warburg’s book, “Den strikkende madonna: 12 essays til strikningens geografi”, has been published by Vandkunsten. This collection of 12 essays discusses select aspects of the cultural history of knitting using evidence drawn from many disciplines, including archaeology, ethnography and language research, enlightened and enlivened by Lise’s depth of understanding and breadth of knowledge. This edition is in Danish but we hope public interest may encourage the publishers to issue an English edition as it deserves a wider audience. Visit Vandkunsten’s website for more information and a lovely photo of the author

Knitted Replacements

Knitting really does improve well-being

Even if you’re not a rabbit and you don’t wear knitted ears, you are still very welcome to join us for the Knitting History Forum Conference on Saturday 17th November 2018. Click through to read more :

“The women knit and share their secrets with one another”?

The Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change have made Remco Ensel’s article ‘Knitting at the beach: tourism and the photography of Dutch fabriculture‘ open access. The article discusses late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century representations of women and girls wearing regional Zeeland dress while knitting in the open air, examining the meanings of the images, their role in tourism marketing and their relation to reality. In addition to the title comment, French artist and photographer Ludovic-Georges Hamon gave his opinion on the region’s knitting, as seen on his trip in 1906 : “Reneetje is still busy knitting. In Holland, one does not knit with the fingertips, as in France. In their belt, the knitters have a sheath of carved wood; they put the needle in it and the wool is processed into knit stitches at an amazing speed, accompanied by a constant buzzing … Reneetje knits.” An absorbing piece of research, which may be read here:

2018 Knitting History Forum Conference Programme

Details of the Knitting History Forum Conference have now been confirmed. The speakers and papers on Saturday 17th November 2018 will be

  • Annemor Sundbø, textile designer and author on Everyday knitting in Norway – treasures from the ragpileReconstruction Knitted Sanquhar Glove courtesy of Kirstie Buckland. PLEASE DO NOT USE WITHOUT PERMISSION!
  • Celia Pym, textile and knitting artist on The Norwegian Sweater: Darning Damage
  • Rachael Matthews, knitter, craftivist, artist and author on Knitting effect, wellbeing and health
  • Cary Karp, independent scholar on Investigating 19th Century ‘Tricot ecossais’ and ‘Crochet à la Tricoter’
  • Jana Trepte, student at Kiel University on Piecing the Bremen waistcoat together: an everyday knitted garment of the early 1600s
  • Eleanor Reed, PhD graduate in domestic culture on Post austerity consumerism and thrift – 1958 knitting patterns in Woman’s Weekly
  • Lorna Hamilton-Brown, artist and Royal College of Art MA graduate on Black people don’t knit?

For more information download the 2018 Knitting History Forum Conference programme and book your place here.

Knitting History Forum AGM & Conference 2018

Join Knitting History Forum on Saturday 17th November 2018 for our annual Knitting History Conference!

The 2018 programme varies between seventeenth to twentieth century history of knitting and contemporary practice of knitting and its social history, with a focus on mending and repair. Among the speakers and papers confirmed for this year are:

  • Annemor Sundbø, textile designer and author on Everyday knitting in Norway – treasures from the ragpile
  • Celia Pym, textile and knitting artist on The Norwegian Sweater: Darning Damage
  • Chair Sandy Black and Co-founder and former Co-ordinator Kirstie Buckland at Knitting History Forum Conference 10th Anniversary Celebration
    KHF Chair Sandy Black and co-founder Kirstie Buckland at last year’s Knitting History Forum Conference 10th Anniversary Celebration
  • Rachael Matthews, knitter, craftivist, artist and author on Knitting effect, wellbeing and health
  • Cary Karp, independent scholar on Investigating 19th Century ‘Tricot ecossais’ and ‘Crochet à la Tricoter’
  • Jana Trepte, student at Kiel University on Piecing the Bremen waistcoat together: an everyday knitted garment of the early 1600s
  • Eleanor Reed, PhD graduate in domestic culture on Post austerity consumerism and thrift – 1958 knitting patterns in Woman’s Weekly
  • Lorna Hamilton-Brown, artist and Royal College of Art MA graduate on Black people don’t knit?

Once again our venue is the London College of Fashion, 20 Princes St, just off Oxford Street in central London. The Knitting History conference itself starts from 1.00pm and runs until 6.00pm. The AGM for KHF members runs from 10.30am to 12.00pm and registration starts from 10.00am with time for Show and Tell. Please bring items for discussion during the morning’s Show and Tell. There will be further time for questions and general discussion after all the speakers have delivered their papers.

We welcome members and non-members alike! Non-members can book a place for £35, payable in advance or on the door, but please contact us or email ‘KHF Events & Bookings’ beforehand to let us know if you are coming. Non members can pay using the button below. Admission is also included in Knitting History Forum membership, currently £25. For alternative ways to pay, see the payment methods page.

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

The final conference programme is available for download. Please visit the Knitting History website for updates.

Knitting History Forum Conference 2018 Non-members’ Ticket

The Mary Rose Anniversary Lectures

Dr Jane Malcolm-Davies will present a paper on early knitted caps at The Mary Rose Anniversary Lectures, on Saturday 13th October 2018 at the University of Portsmouth. Other speakers will include Dr Sean Cunningham, Head of Medieval Records at The National Archives; Lauren Mackay, Tudor historian; Dr Dominic Fontana, Historical Geographer and Hayley Simon, a PhD student with the Mary Rose Trust’s cannonball conservation project. Tickets and further information available from the Mary Rose website.

In the Loop at 10 Conference Schedule

It’s a good month for knitting and crochet history events! Just as the KEME seminar has closed, the final two-day programme is confirmed for In the Loop at 10. The breadth and diversity of presentations at In the Loop is always remarkable and this year’s schedule includes one on British designer knitters of the 1970s and 80s by Knitting History Forum’s Chair, Professor Sandy Black, as well as many others. See the full programme here.

In the Loop will be held from 19th to 20th July 2018 at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. Visit the University of Southampton website for more information on this series of conferences

Knitting in Early Modern Europe Seminar July 2018

The final programme has been published for the KEME study day in Copenhagen on Saturday 7th July. Subtitled ‘Textile and Fashion in Theory and Practice through 3,000 years’, confirmed speakers and subjects include Maj Ringgaard on Sugar Loaf hats of Copenhagen, Ruth Gilbert on ‘The Great Knitted Waistcoat Conspiracy’, Sandy Black on British designer knitters of the 1970s and 1980s, Chrystel Brandenburgh on seventeenth century silk stockings from the Texel shipwreck, Jane Malcolm-Davies on recording early modern knitwork, Hanna Bäckström on researching early German knitting and crochet manuals using bibliographies, Lesley O’Connell Edwards on reconstructing sixteenth century woollen stockings, a presentation of archaeological knitted fragments from Maersks Hovedsaede, Esplanaden(1690-1770) by SAXO summer school students and discussion of the recent article in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology regarding possible “two-needle knitting” from the early Bronze Age. There will even be time to learn or teach knitting! Definitely worth a visit to beautiful Denmark. Full details of this plentiful programme are available in the notice on the Strickersvej Facebook page

Bibliography Of The History Of Knitting Before 1600

We are pleased to publish the Bibliography of the history of knitting before 1600, which may now be downloaded from the Knitting History website. The Bibliography was a project of the original Early Knitting History Group, founded by Montse Stanley and now reborn in the Knitting History Forum. It is an unique document, the most complete bibliography of early knitting history currently published and an important aid to research.

Originally compiled by Richard Rutt, author of ‘A History of Handknitting’, Lesley O’Connell Edwards has since taken charge of keeping the Bibliography current and relevant. In the nearly two decades since it was published in Bulletin du CIETA n.77 (2000), new work has been published and older work rediscovered. Lesley diligently updated the bibliography over the years and has now kindly permitted publication on the Knitting History website. Please visit our Knitting History Resources page to view or download the Bibliography. We hope this will be a valuable resource for further study into knitting and its origins.

Please note that while the bibliography is now open access, permission to reproduce the document whole or in any part must be sought directly from Lesley O’Connell Edwards. She can be emailed using the address in the downloadable PDF.

Dr Karen Finch

It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Dr Karen Finch OBE, esteemed academic, pioneer of textile conservation and Honorary President of the Knitting History Forum since 2006. We extend our sincere condolences to her family and friends at this time and give thanks for her generosity, her friendship and her extraordinary contribution to textile and knitting history.

A brief and personal profile of Karen was written by fellow Knitting History Forum founder member, Kirstie Buckland, in September 2015, with a follow-up post last October. One of Karen’s many lasting achievements was to found the Textile Conservation Centre at Hampton Court, now incorporated into the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Textile Conservation. Frances Lennard, Professor of Textile Conservation at the Centre, has written a moving notice on the Textile Conservation blog.

Miss H. P. Ryder’s “Richmond” Glove

Miss H P Ryder's "Richmond" Glove
Miss H P Ryder’s “Richmond” Glove

At a previous Knitting History Forum Conference, historian and KHF member Lesley O’Connell Edwards brought a fascinating glove she had knitted from a nineteenth-century pattern by Miss H. P. Ryder. Undated but probably published in the 1860s, Henrietta Pulleine Ryder’s set of instructions for the Richmond glove create a very warm accessory, a glove with fully fashioned fingers and an extra layer over the wrist and hand. Lesley has reworked the instructions and this, together with original research on Miss H. P. Ryder and her sister Miss E. Ryder, is being published in the March/April 2018 issue of Piecework. There are more details of Lesley’s pattern on the Piecework website and more information on the life and work of sisters Henrietta Pulleine Ryder and Elizabeth Ryder at Ann Kingstone’s blog

The School of Textiles 2018 Events

The School of Textiles in Essex has announced new events for 2018. The talks, short courses, study days and workshops cover many topics including Tapestry, early Coptic and Peruvian textiles, Artist-designed Textiles 1900-1930, Orla Kiely and Images from Nature: Textile Art. Visit the School of Textile’s Events page to find out more

History of Knitting in Portugal

'Punto portugués' by Rosa Pomar
‘Punto portugués’ by Rosa Pomar

Rosa Pomar’s ‘Malhas Portuguesas’ has sold out its latest Portuguese language edition. Luckily it is now available in print and as an ebook as ‘Punto portugués’, an abridged Spanish translation by Ana Belén Fletes, published by Editorial Gustavo Gili.

This beautiful book on the history of knitting in Portugal merits an unabridged translation and in other languages too.

In The Loop At 10 – Call For Papers

News just in: a Call For Papers has been issued for In the Loop. Please email submissions of abstracts and other information to Dr Jo Turney at the address below.

In the Loop at 10
Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton
19 – 20 July 2018

Keynote Speakers
Professor Jessica Hemmings
Professor Ingun Grimstad Klepp
Linda Newington, Founder of In the Loop

Call For Papers

The sixth interdisciplinary and international In the Loop conference will be held at Winchester School of Art (WSA), University of Southampton 19-20 July 2018. This year marks the tenth anniversary of In the Loop and to celebrate this WSA will be hosting In the Loop at 10, a special conference which will celebrate the outstanding contribution that the conference, its organisers, and its participants have made to knitting scholarship, while also promoting new research on all aspects of knitting.

One of the major successes of Loop has been the development of a unique archive of knitting-related material at the University of Southampton, housed both in the Knitting Reference Library at WSA, and in the University’s Special Collections. To help mark the significance of this legacy, we will particularly welcome papers this year on the theme of ‘Collections’. We will interpret this theme broadly to include archives, libraries, private collections, company papers, personal documents, and knitwear design collections.

In addition, we are interested in receiving papers on any aspect of knitting, past, present, and future, and we look forward to hosting a conference that will bring together artists, designers, practitioners, knitters, academics, theorists, curators, archivists, and librarians.

Abstracts should be no longer than 500 words and include full contact details and affiliation where appropriate. Send to

Deadline 27 April 2018.

Early Modern Stocking Study Day 2018

Ruth Gilbert MPhil is holding an Early Modern Stocking Study Day on Saturday 24th March 2018, from 10am to 4pm. In this study day at the Loft Space, Britannia Mills, Slaithwaite, Huddersfield, Ruth will cover the evidence for early knitted stockings and its interpretation as well as knitting techniques, tools and yarn.

Ruth Gilbert speaking at the Knitting History Conference, 2017
Ruth Gilbert speaking at the Knitting History Conference, 2017

Materials and equipment will be provided but please bring your own if you prefer. The day costs £50 per person including tea and coffee.

A weaver and textile historian as well as a knitter, Ruth’s background is one of both hands-on experience and wide-ranging scholarship so this is a wonderful opportunity to learn from someone with evidence-based knowledge and practical expertise. Full information will be available when you book: contact Ruth by email, by phone or in person at the Loft Space.

For more details, download the Early Modern Stocking Study Day flyer and contact Ruth directly.

Seventeenth Century Silk Stockings Research Project

Delegates at the recent Knitting History Forum Conference in London will remember Chrystel Bandenburgh of Leiden University mentioned a forthcoming knitting history initiative in the Netherlands on seventeenth century stocking-knitting. The Textile Research Centre (TRC) Leiden have now announced their exciting new research project. Starting from January 2018 they will lead an investigation into seventeenth century knitted silk stockings, focussing on the examples recovered in 2014 near the island of Texel, from a shipwreck believed to have sunk c.1640.

Textile Research Centre Leiden Seventeenth Century Silk Stocking Texel 2The finely-knitted silk stockings have received initial conservation treatment and are the inspiration for the project, which seeks to discover more information, including how the stockings were originally constructed, if they were custom-made and how they were worn. Through a series of practical workshops and lectures at the TRC Leiden, participants will attempt to create reconstructions using very fine silk thread and knitting needles.

The TRC invite knitters to participate in this important project. The first workshop will be held in February 2018, led by Chrystel Brandenburgh and Lies van de Wege (TRC volunteer), and a second two-day workshop will be held in March, with regular progress meetings to follow. Materials and equipment will be supplied and while expertise in knitting stockings would be beneficial, it is not necessary, though with 1mm knitting needles this may not be a project for the faint-hearted! Interested knitters should email directly describing their knitting skills. Further information is available on the Textile Research Centre Leiden website.

Celebrating 10th Knitting History Forum Conference

Celebrating our 10th Annual Knitting History Forum Conference!Thank you to everyone, KHF members and delegates, for contributing to making our 10th Knitting History conference such a success! Special thanks to our Chair Sandy Black for arranging an excellent programme and venue, and to our Membership Secretary and Treasurer Tricia Basham for all her hard work. It was a wonderful day with outstanding speakers, interesting discussion and good friends, old and new!

Chair Sandy Black and Co-founder and former Co-ordinator Kirstie Buckland at Knitting History Forum Conference 10th Anniversary CelebrationThe day ended with a champagne reception for everyone to celebrate our achievements so far and look forward to the future. Here’s to the next ten years of Knitting History Forum!

The Great Knitting Workshop

An interesting historical knitting workshop in Newcastle upon Tyne on Thursday 23 November 2017. PhD student Leanne Cane leads ‘The great knitting workshop: picking up dropped stitches’, part of the Being Human festival of the humanities, organised by the University of Northumbria. More details on their website