Tag Archives: Knitting And Crochet Guild

The Knitting And Crochet Guild

Given that you’re here, and assuming that you’re not right now scratching your head and thinking “Hang on, this isn’t the blog about oxy-acetylene welding that I was searching for,”* it’s probably safe to assume that you’re partial to looking at a bit of knitting/crochet. (I used to call it ‘yarn p♥rn’, but then I noticed that a few folk were landing here via some questionable search terms – and no doubt being deeply disappointed when they arrived – so I gave that up.)

One of the best places to look at yarn you-know-what is deep in the historical archive of the much under-publicised Knitting and Crochet Guild (KCG), up in West Yorkshire. If you saw my last post about our Stylecraft Blogstars meet-up last weekend, then you’ll know that we were very kindly treated to a trip to the archive on the Friday. I sincerely wish that you could have been there with us, because it was fascinating. But I did bring back some photos to share with you. Would you like to see?

The KCG archive houses thousands of knitted/crocheted items and patterns as well as knitting/hooking tools, dating from as far back as 1826, although most are from the twentieth century. They’re all tucked away in an unprepossessing industrial unit behind a housing estate in Scholes, West Yorkshire. And as I stepped through the door with the other Blogstars, I had very little idea of what to expect.

Irish crochet lace.

I should mention at this point that this is an archive and not a museum, and so what you see when you enter is mostly shelves (and shelves, and shelves) of boxes with intriguing labels such as Vogue Knitting, 1970-1990.

There are a very few items on display, such as the vintage Singer sock-knitting machine that caught our imagination, but what you really need in this place is a guide, or better still, three guides. Permit me, please, to introduce Angharad (third from left, navy jumper), Barbara (red jumper at the back), and Alex (far right, navy jumper).

Knitting and Crochet Guild

In the archive. From the left: Kathryn (Crafternoon Treats), Julia (Handknitted Things), Angharad (awesome KCG volunteer), Sandra (Cherry Heart), Sarah (Annaboo’s House), Lucia (Lucia’s Fig Tree), Barbara (awesome KCG volunteer), me, Jane (Janie Crow), Alex (awesome KCG volunteer). Photo credit: Charlotte @ Stylecraft.

These wonderful women are volunteers at the KCG, and from deep in the archives they fetched some choice exhibits to share with us. Do I even need to tell you how grateful and intrigued we all were? Would you like to see what they showed us? Yes? OK, take a pair of white cotton gloves from the box so that you can safely handle the artefacts, and let’s begin.

I’m guessing that a fair few of you will know immediately who designed this knitwear. Yup, you’re looking at Kaffe Fassett’s ‘Foolish Virgins’, circa 1989. One of the KCG volunteers is a rare genius at matching pattern to knitwear/hookwear:-

And here’s a granny square shawl from 1955, a Vogue Knitting pattern to be worked on 2.25mm hooks in 3-ply yarn. Somebody had a lot of time on their hands to make and join all 250 squares:-

Gorgeous, no? And here with the pattern:-

It was fascinating listening to the archivists talk. They told us about samples of Patricia Roberts’ stranded designs that were held in the collection, in which you could examine the reverse and see the knitter’s progression from clueless leaver of l-o-n-g floats to confident float-trapper and all-round stranded expert.

And just look at this crochet!

It was made in 1930 by someone with disturbingly exceptional patience, and it’s stunning. The yarn is mercerised cotton at some insanely fine gauge, and the tiny squares are sewn together. Here it is with its pattern:-

Just wow.

Oh, and see this below? This was made by Queen Mary, but we weren’t particularly encouraged to photograph it because it’s not very good!

There are also hooks, needles, and other equipment in the collection.

And if you thought that circular needles were a new idea, then think again. Here’s one from the 1930s. It’s rather springy and has a mind of its own:-

As the daughter of a patent examiner, I was fascinated by the patent declarations for strange and unusual innovations, such as knitting needles with measurements along their lengths:-

I do like this crochet hook:-

Here’s a very early 20th century yarn holder. (It’d be perfect for my walking-the-children-to-school knitting.)

There is so much that I could show you.

But I’m saving the best (IMHO) for last. Would you like to see what’s inside this box?

There’s no point in asking you to guess, because it’s THIS:-

Just look!

Now there are three reasons why, to me, this is the most amazing piece of knitting ever:-

  1. It just is. How stunning? How original?
  2. Only slightly behind knitting and crochet (and well ahead of running) in the list of stuff-I-love is geology. I’ve even let it sneak into this blog a little, eg here. My idea of a heavenly day out involves walking up a mountain and poking about in the strata. So, knitted rocks? I’m in love.
  3. This objet was knitted by none other than Jan Messent. Have you heard of her? She’s here. She’s more into embroidery than knitting these days, but I first discovered her when I found an old book of her eccentric knits/crochet in a second-hand bookshop. I was intrigued by her crocheted/knitted gardens, and they were part of the inspiration behind my ridiculous chair project. Look, here’s a shot of some of the work in her book:-

From Jan Messent’s ‘Have You Any Wool?’ (1987)

So yeah, I was very happy to see this stunning creation in the archive.

The Knitting and Crochet Guild website is right here. You can join for a mere £25 per year, and access a whole wealth of history, information, and expertise. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

 

∗In which case, you’d be better off trying here. You’re welcome.

21 Comments

Filed under Crochet

Story Of My Life

So shall we get back to discussing knitting and crochet? That said, I do have lots more ‘musical’ (I use that word very loosely) tales to tell you about The Purlz, if you’d like to hear them?

Anyway, in other yarn-related news…

A while ago, the Knitting And Crochet Guild (KCG) ran a competition with lovely Yarn Stories yarn to design knitted/crocheted squares inspired by the KCG historical collection. These squares were for a blanket. This was my entry: a crazy messy knitted hybrid of stranded work and intarsia that placed severe pressure on my sanity. T’was knitted with lovely Yarn Stories DK. (Speedy disclaimer: no, I didn’t pay for the yarn. But nobody told me to say it was lovely. Or if they did, I wasn’t listening.)

fairisle jumper design

Here’s a hint for sane and healthy living: NEVER try to combine stranded/fairisle and intarsia. (You’re welcome.)

Anyway, they published the shortlist of finalists, and my entry wasn’t on it. OK, fair enough. But then I happened to see THIS on the Yarn Stories Facebook page:-

image

Ha ha ha ha ha! Story of my life. Great idea, too flippin’ complicated/difficult. (In my meagre defence, I’ll say that I thought that the squares themselves were for a one-off blanket, rather than the patterns being made available. So old, so slow to understand…) But honestly, if I ever have a crown (unlikely), it’ll be as the queen of over-ambitious-and-slightly-impractical plans.

And this is the reason why I still don’t yet have a finished object to show you in relation to the big-secret-crochet-furniture-related-house-project. I’ve been beavering away, and the garden is progressing, but my goodness this beast eats time. How do you crochet a lawnmower, anyway? And do you have any idea how many hours I’ve put in to just crocheting a crazy-paving path to cross the lawn and circle the pond? It’s coming, though, and I promise you it’s going to be… unusual. And striking. And over-ambitious. I’m about 80% of the way there, and I’m seriously excited. More photos very soon. Thank you for being kind and patient souls. But I’m not the sort of blogger who turns out super-quick, knit-this-in-half-an-hour projects. Sorry.

Speaking of time, life round here is about to change dramatically. The Tyrannical Twinnage begin school next Thursday (may I just pause there to weep a little?) and this means that I will actually have some time when I’m neither (i) twin-wrangling, nor (ii) at work. I’m over-reacting to this prospect by moping as though we’re sending our children off to school on the moon. (We’re so not.) I even took them out to lunch at a local restaurant yesterday as a soon-you’ll-not-be-with-me-every-second-that-I’m-not-at-work treat. It was an interesting novelty, having only a couple of four-year-olds as my lunch dates, but they behaved near-perfectly. Here, distorted by a water bottle, is one of them, wondering when on earth his meal is going to arrive.

child through a glass

I hadn’t intended to take them somewhere formal, but the venue I chose used to be a relaxed café, and by the time I realized that its tone had changed, a waitress had pretty much already ushered us to our table. Some of our companions were on the elderly side:-

20150825_144905

Where do they even find these things? I need one for my sitting room. Seriously.

Maybe I’ll be able to research the answer to this with all my new-found time.

Oh and by the way, do you like rock cakes? Our neighbours have just had a baby, so I couldn’t go round there empty-handed. I took home-made hummus last time, and this time I took rock cakes. Recipe here. T’was easy to mix up:-

rock cakes

…And bake.

rock cakes

Enjoy, if you decide to give ’em a go.

🙂

18 Comments

Filed under Knitting

Subverting The Medium Of Colourwork

Friday, my fine friend, you have been a long time coming this week. And by the way, ANYONE WHO RECEIVED AN EMAIL NOTIFYING YOU OF A BAG PATTERN POST THAT DOESN’T YET EXIST, PLEASE SEE THE END OF THIS POST!

Anyway, the Knitting And Crochet Guild / Yarn Stories competition is closing. Did you enter? Best o’ luck if you did. I can’t wait to see everyone’s entries when they’re shown online.

For anyone who hasn’t seen it, the Knitting and Crochet Guild promotes both crafts within the UK and also houses a collection of historical and modern samples of knitted/crocheted objects, as well as yarn and associated paraphernalia. Anyone with a passion for these crafts can join, whether you’ve been knitting/hooking for a week or a century. The competition involved designing and working a 15cm square in either knitting or crochet, with a design inspired by artefacts in the collection. The best entries are apparently going to be sewn together to make a blanket, and the winner will receive lots of luscious Yarn Stories yarn.

Anyway, being more than a little in love with stranded colourwork, I was drawn to this image of a higgledy-piggledy pile of intricate fairisle jumpers. Some of the colour combinations are maybe reminiscent of decades past, but the designs are timeless, and I decided to try and capture both of these elements in my entry. Perhaps I should have spotted that this was quite ambitious in a little square 36 stitches by 45 stitches. Oh well, you live and learn… or possibly just live, in my case.

First, to the yarn. I chose some Yarn Stories merino double knit in a combination of shades inspired by the ’70s.

image

Can you spot the tell-tale signs of frenzied package-opening?

And then I got out some knitter’s graph paper and began to doodle, and erase, and doodle, and erase, and fetch green tea, and doodle, because I love the fun and the freedom of creating stranded designs. And eventually the green tea ran out, and I came up with this:-

stranded jumper design

What?! You took an entire pot of green tea to come up with THAT?!

The problem is, I decided to go a bit off piste with the whole colourwork malarkey, and instead of sticking to a cosy, sensible two shades per row, I used up to four shades per row, and worked a sort of stranded-intarsia hybrid (“strandtarsia”??) that made for some – ahem – not especially tidy knitting. Don’t try this at home, people: it will hurt your fingers and it will hurt your brain. But how else was a girl to cram a world of orange-laden 1970s shades into one small square? So here we have it (after a certain amount of swearing): my tiny take on the Guild’s penchant for fairisle jumpers:-

image

And though I’d usually show you the back of a piece of stranded work because, y’know, the Knitting Police demand that you show off your ultra-neat floats, I think I’ll pass on doing that just now, and show you another shot of the front instead:-

fairisle jumper design

Yikes, please don’t look closely. I used intarsia to keep the three strong colours all within the outline of the jumper, and worked a mad jumble of twisted floats as I tried to marshal the chaos into an identifiable representation of a jumper.

I Will Not Be Doing This Again.

Meanwhile thank you for your kind comments about the IVF after my last entry. Posts may continue to be a bit more infrequent than usual for another month or so, after which time, normal regular silliness will return.

________________________________

Now, for anyone who subscribes to this blog by email, you will have received a message a few days ago saying there’s a new post up with the crochet house bag pattern inside. But had you clicked on the link, you’d have seen nothing much of anything other than a load of ellipses and drafted notes. I was working on the pattern and accidentally hit ‘publish’. Yikes! I clawed back the post, I clawed back notifications from every social medium out there, but the one thing I couldn’t retrieve was the messages sent out automatically by email. Apologies. Blame my IVF brain. The pattern is coming soonish, but it needs a goodish chunk more work before it’ll be done.

20 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Socks. And Mint Tea.

Oh, happy feet! Just look at this colourful sockage!

Noro socks

(Let’s just gloss over what the Stoic Spouse said about my sanity when he found me lying on my back on the hard tiled floor, crunched upwards in order to photograph my own feet.)

Yes, these chaps are the Noro Kureyon socks, and I won’t mention again the prima donna-ish proclivities of this yarn. The colours are stunningly intense, and the way they slowly shift makes for knitted fabric that’s reminiscent of a painted landscape. Happy feet. Oh yes indeed. But I don’t think I’ll be knitting any more socks in Noro. And judging by some of your comments about your own experiences of Noro when I posted about this stuff before, neither will many of you.

image

As you can see, these socks are fraternal twins. Yes I know, some of you would rather eat your own knitting needles than fail to create perfectly identical twin hosiery. But I do like the quirky individuality of non-identical socks, and it’s a medium effective defence against the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome.

The thing is, having given birth to identical twin children, identical twin socks feels like a match too far. Here are my children’s feet:-

image

So that, my friends, is why there are no matching socks at The Twisted Yarn.

Meanwhile, the deadline for the Knitting And Crochet Guild competition is almost upon us, and I’ve just finished weaving in the ends of my entry. I’ll snap a few photos of it for you before I send it off. Are you entering? Good luck! It’s been a bit of a last-minute rush (just like everything else in my life, really). I’ve been working fuelled by mint ‘tea’, made using leaves of the mint plants that sneak through our fence from next door in late spring.

Minty yumptiousness

Minty yumptiousness

The easiest pick-me-up in the world: put a few leaves in teapot and pour over boiling water. Job done.

image

It’s super-refreshing and tastes sweet even though it contains no sugar. Win!

Now, I know I’ve been uncharacteristically quiet on here for the past couple of weeks. It seems that the side-effects of IVF medications include a reduction in blogging activity, and even – yikes – a reduction in knitting! In six weeks’ time, it’ll all be over and I’ll either be pregnant or I won’t. Meanwhile, I might be a slightly unreliable blogger. Sorry about that.

50 Comments

Filed under Knitting

Competition! The Knitting & Crochet Guild

And a very happy Tuesday to you all. May your day be filled with cuddles, blueberries, wine, and some unusually luscious yarn.

But here are the serious bits. Happy, but serious. First, do you remember the Stylecraft competition that I co-judged with Sarah from Let’s Knit magazine and Lucy from Attic24? Well, I’m finally allowed to talk about the shortlist because it’s time for YOU to judge which of the ten colours that we selected should be added to Stylecraft range. We were rather pleased with our choices:-

Stylecraft competition

But judge for yourself which one should be added to the range. Voting is open now.

And second, I must tell you about a competition being run by the Knitting And Crochet Guild. This more than averagely impressive organisation exists to unite knitters and crocheters worldwide, and for those of us in the UK, provide access to their archive of knitting/crochet-related artefacts. Go take a meander around their website: you won’t regret it.

image

Image callously stolen from the Knitting And Crochet Guild website. Seriously, go take a look to prevent me committing any further acts of theft.

Anyway, they’re running a competition in conjunction with Yarn Stories yarn. Details are available here, but in short, they want you to design and make a 15x15cm knitted or crocheted square in DK yarn, inspired by the collection at the Knitting and Crochet Guild. If you’re on Pinterest, you can view a few highlights of the collection here. The competition closes on the 12th June, and the winner will win £100 of Yarn Stories yarn. As someone who’s had the pleasure of knitting with this yarn, I can tell you that it’s properly soft. You want this prize, trust me. Actually I want this prize too, which is why I’m busy working on my own entry. Best of luck if you’re entering! Send your finished work to Yarn Stories/KCG Competition, Spa Mill, New Street, Slaithwaite, Huddersfield, HD7 5BB.

7 Comments

Filed under Knitting