in which I discover Scottish Madras

The other day Brenda, my lovely neighbour, appeared with a piece of paper in her hand, a gift for me. When I unfolded it, the piece of paper turned out to be a rather interesting and very beautiful hand-painted floral design, which I could immediately tell was some sort of pattern repeat. But what sort…

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Lopi & Band interview

Today I want to share with you a conversation I recently had with Margret Linda Gunnlaugsdóttir and Ásdís Birgisdóttir – two of Iceland’s most important and influential designers of hand-knits. I knew of Ásdís and Linda’s work with the 1990s Icelandic magazine Lopi & Band, and was fascinated with their designs, which seemed really distinctive…

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A day at Sanquhar

Have you been to Sanquhar? I am ashamed to say that I hadn’t — until Saturday. Sanquhar Knitting Workshop was part of Glasgow University’s Knitting in the Round project and was held at A’ the Airts, a lovely community arts centre at the heart of Sanquhar. At the workshop May MacCormick, who has knitted literally…

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knitwear and cultural relativism

One of the issues I’ve found myself thinking about an awful lot while writing my book is how knitwear “traditions” are never completely national or regional in origin, but are always interwoven and interconnected. Knitting is a fluid and mobile medium in so many senses, traveling around the ocean on the backs of seafaring men,…

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yoke collection

One of the many fun elements of researching my book has been seeking out yoked sweaters on eBay and in charity shops. I have learned a lot from these garments, which are often a hybrid of machine and hand-knitting, and thought I’d share a few of them with you today. I think I showed you…

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yoke in a bag!

What’s this? Some “Shetland” yarn of very vintage hue, spun and branded here in Scotland? . . .and an accompanying pattern? But wait! There’s more . . . . Yes, this is a kit to knit your own yoked cardigan or jumper! Having heard of the existence of these kits (from your comments and elsewhere)…

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Brilliant women

Hello! I’m back again after a fantastic (and productive) couple of weeks research. I’ve had an amazing time in Sweden and Shetland, but what has really stood out to me about this past fortnight is the number of brilliant women whose company and conversation I’ve enjoyed. It has been a very long time since I’ve…

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Great Tapestry of Scotland 124-160

Panel 140: Cumbernauld Well, this is my final post on the Great Tapestry of Scotland! I have really enjoyed revisiting my photographs, and thinking more about the tapestry, and your comments have also provided much food for thought. These photographs are, of course only snippets, and you’ll find much more thorough information in the two…

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Great Tapestry of Scotland 93-123

Panel 94: Hill and Adamson The silver herrings and striped petticoats of the Newhaven fisherwoman. In the comments on yesterday’s post, Heather linked to an interesting take on the “when is a tapestry not a tapestry” question from a tapestry weaver who strongly objects to the misappropriation of the term in reference to non-woven textiles.…

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Great Tapestry of Scotland 60 – 92

There have been some interesting questions in the comments on my previous posts about the Great Scottish Tapestry. Elaine and Deborah asked what materials had been used in the creation of the tapestry – well, the stitchers used Peter Grieg linen and Appletons crewel wool throughout. Terry asked why it was called a tapestry at…

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Great Tapestry of Scotland 1-23

On Sunday I finally got to see the Great Tapestry of Scotland. I was completely blown away by the vision of Alistair Moffat (who produced the tapestry’s historical content and context), Andrew Crummy (the superb artist who designed these 160 panels) and perhaps especially by the skill and beauty of the work of the thousand…

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A conversation with Hélène Magnusson

(Hélène, Hiking and Knitting between Fire and Ice, against the spectacular backdrop of Eyjafjallajökull.) When I visited Iceland I had the very great pleasure of finally meeting Hélène Magnusson, whose research and designs I have admired for many years. I visited Hélène in her lovely home in Reykjavik, where we drank tea, ate some delicious…

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my tam – at Gawthorpe!

While I was away in Lancashire I popped over to Gawthorpe to see preparations for the new season’s exhibitions. Excitingly for me, my Richard the Roundhead Tam is included, – the first time my work has ever been displayed in a museum or gallery context. I can tell you that the thought of the tam…

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Lancashire Weekend

We have been away in Lancashire for the weekend. Tom will shortly be participating in a rather testing race, and the Bolton Hill Marathon provided the ideal training run. While he was off doing that, me and my parents visited Helmshore Mills Textile Museum. For someone interested in textile history this is a truly wonderful…

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today’s inspiration

Kerstin Olsson in Karen Invarsson’s Bohus design “The Swan”. Twiggy iconic in Fairisle The McCartneys in Shetland Yoke design by Unn Søiland (1951) Yokes, knitted & crocheted pre-1950 Can you guess what my next book is going to be about?

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Ecclefechan Mitts!

Over the past couple of days, quite a few of you have contacted me to ask about the black and white mitts that appeared in the header image at the top of this page. Well, this is my new design — the Ecclefechan Mitts! I was so happy with the photograph that I just couldn’t…

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