Introducing Warm Hands

Happy new year, everyone! Today I’m thrilled to reveal the project that I, my co-editor, Jeanette Sloan, and the rest of the KDD team, have spent much of the past year developing and producing – Warm Hands.

Edited by Jeanette and myself, Warm Hands is a collection of 15 fresh patterns for mitts, mittens, gauntlets and gloves created by designers from around the world in our Milarrochy Tweed and Àrd-Thìr yarns. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be revealing one design (and designer) from the book each day here on the KDD blog – so do follow along to see the full collection as it is revealed! The first pattern – designed by Jeanette and which features on the cover of Warm Hands is Toasty Cosy — a pair of mitts or mittens featuring calliper cables, slipped stitch stripes and two shades of Milarrochy Tweed held double (which creates a wonderfully warm fabric). We felt it was fitting to introduce Jeanette’s design with an extract from our introduction to the book.

“All items of clothing have their own stories to tell, but the gloves, mitts and mittens with which we warm our hands are surely among the most communicative. If our hands routinely speak through movement and gesture, then the gloves and mittens that we wear can also transmit complex human meanings. In many countries around the world, in poetry, narrative and especially in visual art, gloves frequently appear as signs of attachment and connection. A dropped glove could suggest an invitation, while a lost glove, separated from the other half of its pair, is always a sad, lonely sight which might stand in, metaphorically, for its owner’s romantic longing. In losing a glove, one perhaps also loses one’s heart or soul, and that strong sense of gloves as necessary couples explains their long associations with love and companionship in cultures where the knitting and giving of mittens plays a central role in traditional wedding rituals. The rich folklore of different regions around the world reveals the symbolism of hand-knitted mittens to be profound, complex and all-encompassing, mediating many essential human stories from tragic losses and absurd misunderstandings to remarkable discoveries and moving reconciliations.”

“Hand-knitted gloves and mittens, then, can carry many meanings. To celebrate their global significance, we began imagining a diverse collection of designs. As a reference to attachment, connection and meaning, we settled on the title Warm Hands. We began by issuing an open call for submissions, on Ravelry and Instagram, in which new and previously unpublished BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) talent was publicly encouraged. In the open competition, 125 submissions were received, and seven designs from this list were eventually selected. The remaining contributions were commissioned from new or established designers whose individual aesthetics really strengthened the collection in various ways. For some of our contributors, this is their first published pattern, while for others, it’s an addition to an existing portfolio of highly distinguished work. Our contributors hail from all corners of the globe, and are at many stages in their careers, but our intention here was never to offer a comprehensive selection of positions, identities or styles (which would be impossible in any case). Rather, our key aim in curating this diverse and exciting group of patterns was to open the door to fresh new talent, and to bring important design work to the fore. As the founder of BIPOC in Fiber and an experienced knitwear designer, Jeanette was keen to encourage and help develop emerging BIPOC talent so that at last it can rightfully take its place in the spotlight.”

“Working with each other has been an unexpected joy. We met more than a decade ago, and have often identified with one another for reasons both personal and professional, but Warm Hands has given us an opportunity to develop a working relationship that, through discussion of many things from our shared enjoyment of David Sedaris to our own mental and physical health, has also become a mutually supportive friendship. Meaningful conversations have been an important hallmark of our work with the diverse contributors to this book as well. During the editorial process, we’ve been able to learn about everything from the weather in Tokyo to a range of different cultural attitudes to hands and bodies; from our personal identities, families and heritages to the varied landscapes we all inhabit and our contrasting senses of place in the world. These conversations have been surprising, personal and often very frank. Our openness with one another as collaborators has enabled us, in very particular ways, to think carefully about what the range of designs in this collection might be communicating, as well as to reflect on the way our differences inflect our sense of solidarity and connection. We’ve chosen to use the BIPOC acronym in order to include those people who, up to now, have been missing or under-represented in the fibre industry. However, because ‘people of colour’ often doesn’t include those who are black, and vice versa, we understand and accept that as a label it doesn’t suit everyone.”

“If hands communicate, if hands converse, then we hope that our own particular collection of Warm Hands has something important to say. We’ve loved putting this group of captivating, curious, compelling and cosy designs together. We hope you’ll want to knit them all.”

Words: Jeanette Sloan and Kate Davies
Photography: Tom Barr
Models: Samiratu Kargbo and Mimi Onyekwere

Warm Hands
Toasty Cosy pattern on Ravelry
Toasty Cosy yarn pack
Find out more about Jeanette’s work at her website
BIPOC in Fiber

Come back tomorrow to meet the book’s next designer!