Hello! Hope you are all doing ok, and have been enjoying the spring weather. We are having a particularly busy couple of weeks, as we finish off a new book (of which more in a moment) and allow members of the KDD team to take some long awaited (and very much needed) time off. I thought you might like to know a wee bit about what we’ve been working on, and two new projects we’ll be launching in May, about which I am very excited.
But first of all, I have to mention that we are expecting a huge delivery of yarn which will at last allow us to restock every single shade of Milarrochy Tweed in the KDD shop. If you’d like notification of when a particular kit or shade is back in stock, just email Mel on firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll pop you on our list – we hope to be fully stocked in the shop by the end of this week. Whew!
Also Milarrochy Tweed related is my next (happily imminent) book – a collection of fifteen different projects to knit and weave – called Inkling.
Inkling includes all of my favourite recent Milarrochy Tweed designs, many of which arose out of my learning and research during and after my Applied Arts Scotland / British Council residency with a group of talented Mexican designer-makers (which you’ve already heard a lot about here!) Some of the book’s projects were directly inspired by my collaborative work on this project, such as the Collar de Pilar sweater and Carbeth Creature overalls strap (which I created in honour of my collaboration partner, Pilar Obeso Sánchez).
. . while other patterns arose more generally out of my new interest in weaving inkles, which I learned about while working on the collaboration. The notched and ribbed design of Land o’ Cakes, for example, echoes the visual effect of many plain-weave narrow bands.
. . . and of course has a woven belt to match . . .
. . . while other projects, such as Yorlin
. . . or Beamer . . .
. . . intersperse panels of patterning with plain sections – a structural echo of some of the pick-up weaving techniques I’ve enjoyed exploring over the past year. With 7 garments, 4 accessories, and 4 simple hand-weaving projects, the collection is fairly wide-ranging and eclectic, but each design is connected to the other by the fact that they all originated with a freely-pursued very small idea – an inkling. And in the book’s introduction (which very much follows on from the pieces I wrote for Wheesht), I talk about how important such inklings are to my creative practice.
With lots of colourful photography, and a group of designs I loved working on, I think Inkling looks set to to be a really fun book! It will be available from the KDD shop later in May.
The other project I’m working on right now involves several pairs of socks which I can now announce will be part of a forthcoming club, collection and book of Bluestockings, which it is my very great pleasure to be co-editing with my old friend and colleague, Prof. Nicole Pohl of Oxford Brookes University. Nicole (a knitter and all-round brilliant craftswoman as well as academic) is also editor in chief of an innovative new digital edition of the letters of Elizabeth Montagu – whose eighteenth-century intellectual and social gatherings were where the term bluestocking (to designate a woman of independent mind and learning) first originated. As a brilliant British woman of letters, whose correspondents included many of the major literary and political figures of her day, it’s hard to overestimate Montagu’s huge influence and significance in eighteenth-century terms, and yet because her work is still largely held in manuscript, she is a writer of whom I imagine very few of you will have heard. Read aloud, and widely circulated, letters formed an important (semi-public) literary form for eighteenth-century women, but because such letters are now dispersed, in manuscript, in research libraries around the world, they remain largely inaccessible and their writers little known. Digitisation projects like EMCO, are beginning to change that, allowing eighteenth-century women’s writing to reach a much wider general audience.
Our Bluestocking Club will open to new members around the end of May, with the release of the Elizabeth Montagu stockings pattern (designed by me) and an EMCO launch event (hosted at Oxford Brookes by Nicole). This event will be online, and free for everyone to attend (via zoom) and you’ll be able to listen to lectures about eighteenth century socks and stockings from colleagues at the V&A and other museums and universities while you knit along. How exciting!
After the launch event, our Bluestocking Club will take us through the summer, with a range of different sock patterns (involving lace, colourwork and texture) each of which has been inspired by a different eighteenth-century writer. We have lots of fun things planned: there will be a Bluestocking knitalong, a competition (with prizes!), interviews with historians and writers about their research, and different pieces exploring the lives and literary outputs of a range of eighteenth women (in both Britain and the United States). The Bluestocking Club will provide an opportunity for us all to celebrate eighteenth-century women writers, but also to interrogate and question their legacy. And there will also be a lot of sock and stocking knitting!
What else can I tell you about the Bluestocking Club at this stage? I can say that each of my sock patterns has been created with a wonderful woolly yarn, produced in Devon, and that we will be able to reveal the details of the timing of the launch event and the club signup arrangements in the second week in May. I can also tell you that it really is a huge and genuine pleasure for me to work on this project – combining, as it does, my ‘old’ research with my new work in design. Massive thanks to Nicole, as it is all her idea.
So – it’s time for a wee break for team KDD – but do look out for the publication of Inkling, and more news about the Bluestocking Club in just a couple of weeks time!