The latest Blogstars meetup at Stylecraft’s Yorkshire mill happened last weekend. In my hazardously overactive imagination, you were all there with me because frankly, you’d’ve loved it. It was a weekend filled with yarn, and laughter, and creativity, with a side order of snowy hills, and a few glasses of wine. This pretty much achieves ‘bingo’ on my list of favourite things.
Let’s take it from the top. On Friday morning, I waved goodbye to the twinnage and the stoic spouse, loaded up the car with yarn, plus – as an afterthought – a change of clothes, and set off on the four-hour drive north. Yeah I know, I was taking yarn to a woollen mill, but… but… WHAT IF THEY RAN OUT?! Frankly, that wasn’t a risk that I was willing to take.
The weekend kicked off with a visit to the knit/crochet designers of tomorrow. We – some of the Blogstars, plus a couple of Stylecraft staff – met at the textile design department of Huddersfield University. Hang on, I’ll dig out a photo…
Two second-year undergraduates (Echoe and Liam) were kind enough to show us around. First, they showed us samples of their own work:-
…which was splendidly innovative, and then they showed us the department. All that colour! Look!
One of the interesting things was the mix of shiny new technology with other equipment that wouldn’t have completely befuddled our ancestors. Here, for example, is an enormous and fancy machine that prints onto fabric (and probably makes you a coffee and streams Netflix whilst it’s doing it):-
Whereas here are some weaving looms that do the same thing that looms have done pretty much forever:-
We wandered through rooms variously dedicated to screen-printing, embroidery, weaving/knitting/rug-making, laser-cutting, costume-making, and… well then the fire alarm went off, so we had to troop outside and shiver.
As far as anybody could tell, nothing was actively burning so we were allowed to return. Back inside, there was great hilarity amongst the students in the embroidery room. Wait… what?! Embroidery can be many things, but it’s very rarely hilarious. Naturally, we went to investigate. “They’re mourning their dead unicorn,” one woman told us, and we nodded as though we had the faintest idea what she was talking about. I realize that grief can do strange things to people’s emotions, but this was odd. We eventually found the answer in the far corner of the room:-
This, my friends, is a 3d printer. And it had been busy printing a plastic unicorn. (I’m not sure why textiles students need plastic unicorns, and it seemed rude to ask.) When the fire alarm sounded, the machine switched itself off and settled down to wait… which was why, when everybody trooped back in, there was a nearly-completed unicorn, missing only the tiny detail of its be-horned head. Oops.
Not wishing to intrude any further upon the students’ unicorn-related grief, we moved on.
Though it was late on Friday afternoon, there were students everywhere, hunched over knitting machines, or working on costumes. It was abundantly clear that they were united in their dedication to their work.
And everywhere, there were displays of brilliant creativity and originality. We could have stayed for a week. Echoe and Liam were endlessly helpful in answering our questions.
One thing was very clear. Judging by the quality of work displayed on the walls, and the obvious passion and dedication of the students, good things lie ahead from the next generation of knitwear/textile designers.
I’ll save the rest of the Blogstars weekend for another post, AND I’m drafting a post about the now-finished knitted pictures of Oxfordshire. (Photos here, if you fancy following my Instagram page and taking a look.)
With huge thanks to Huddersfield University’s textiles staff and students, as well as to Stylecraft for organizing this trip.