sock of the week no.2

Eighteenth-century stockings in miniature

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sock of the week no.1

Philippe Mercier’s popular portrait of an eighteenth-century stocking knitter

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the fabric of memory

Do you dream in textiles?

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on the uses of handwoven tapes and bands

I really enjoyed reading your comments on my last weaving post – especially hearing about the impressively wide range of new skills you are all currently picking up! I’m continuing to enjoy my weaving, and am finding it very inspiring. It really interests me that one of the first things many people think of when…

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Mood Indigo

(top illustration: William Simpson, An Indigo Factory in Bengal (1863) I am currently completing a design project using yarn that has been dyed with natural indigo by my friends at Shilasdair. As I’ve knitted, I’ve often found myself thinking about the links between Scotland and natural indigo dye. Indigo isn’t, of course, a Scottish plant…

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Jenny Jones

Over the years I’ve gathered a small collection of knitting ephemera. This includes a few different styles of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century sticks, wisps and sheaths (used throughout Britain for supported knitting) and different kinds of representations–largely photographs or prints–of knitting all over Britain. Such representations do not afford some sort of transparent window onto…

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Estonian Knitting I: Traditions and Techniques

Years ago, I wrote the occasional piece for Selvedge. I pitched a few ideas to them for short features which combined the history of knitted textiles with some account of how they were actually made, but was told that any sort of technical instruction was verboten “we aren’t interested in how-tos.” But why not, I…

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thankyou, KCG

A few weeks ago, I visited the home of the UK Knitting and Crochet Guild – a fantastic organisation that exists to support and promote the crafts of knitting and crochet. The KCG is supported entirely by charitable donation, and is staffed by a group of wonderful volunteers, who administer a growing international membership; organise…

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Journal des Dames et des Modes

Over the past few months, while working on the project that has now become The Book of Haps, I’ve examined countless images of wrappable textiles. I’ve encountered many ways to wear such textiles, and also reflected on the many different contexts for their wearing. Some of these groups of images were very useful for me,…

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In the steps of Jane Gaugain

In the Steps of Jane Gaugain From the quiet restraint of the Regency buildings that line Edinburgh’s George Street, you would never guess that this, a century and a half ago, was the scene of a knitting revolution. Here the ladies of the city gathered to exchange “receipts,” compare their success with the latest stitch…

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Miss Rachel’s yoke and gauntlets (a closer look!)

As discussed in the previous post, this design is inspired by an early nineteenth-century shawl, collected by Rachel Kay Shuttleworth, and now part of Gawthorpe Textile Collection. The colourful, ribbon-like bands of the shawl immediately reminded me of one of my favourite colourwork motifs, a small, simple pattern which resembles an interlocking vine. The pattern…

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Inspired by Gawthorpe

You may remember that, a couple of years ago, I was involved with a project to create a design inspired by the wonderful textile collections at Gawthorpe Hall. I designed the Richard the Roundhead tam, inspired by a crewel-work coverlet that Rachel Kay Shuttleworth had embroidered over several decades, in memory of her parliamentarian ancestor,…

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hap-py

I am extremely hap-py, because I am about to leave for a research trip to Shetland to do some work for a very exciting book that we will be publishing later this year. Do you want to hear a little more about it? The subject of the book is haps – the beautiful everyday shawls…

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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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Cockatoo Brae

Yes, you did read that correctly — Cockatoo Brae. This remarkable phrase is, in fact, the name of a lane in Lerwick, Shetland, and it is also the name of the final yoke in my collection. This design emerged from an exciting collaboration with my friend Ella. In Shetland, machine and hand knitting go very…

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