Blog of Chrissie Freeth tapestry weaver, features writer for UK Handmade, weaving features editor for the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, Artist in Residence National Trust and trustee of the Heritage Crafts Association
One thing that has started to make Mondays bearable is the thought of a Knit and Natter group I’ve started going to. It was set up and run by Heather, a lady whose determination and enthusiasm to get people knitting is boundless and very infectious. They meet in the Costa Coffee at Shipley College on Victoria Road on a Monday evening during term time, 5-7pm. (There’s a Ravelry group here) It’s largely college staff that go but anyone can be guaranteed a very warm welcome. Heather has lots of ideas and plans, especially in the build up to the Saltaire Festival and she the group were behind the yarn bombing of the lions in the village during the Arts Trail.
One fab outcome of this group for me is the rekindling of my love for spinning. To my shame Morag (my Haldane Hebridean) had been gathering a wee bit of dust but when a member expressed an interest in meeting her I was happy to take her along. It was great to get her going again and for other people to have a go.
My problem was the unmitigated wrist-slitting, tear inducing horror that is handcarding. I’ve been shying away from the obvious solution, a drum carder, because of the cost but with some loot earned from the rag rugs I finally took the plunge and got my mitts on a lovely David G Barnett drum carder. I only hope I have the discipline to keep it in as good a condition as it arrived!
So this is my first batt; there are a few noils in it but it looks like the fleece might have had some second cuts in it so not my fault guv. I do though need to be more careful in checking over the fleece in the future. The UK spinners forum of Ravelry were a splendid source of advice but by far the best was to spin it anyway and call it rustic. Love that – it’s not crap, its rustic! I’ve also been doing a great job in carding my knuckles.
But should the nation be fearful all this means I have been neglecting the rug frame, fear not. Here’s one I finished off yesterday. It’s destined for a fab new shop in Shipley called Junc, and I’ll post more about that once I’ve gone down there with my camera. Ta ta for now!
Folksy made mention of this so I’m passing it on – the Richard Rutt Collection, held at the Winchester School of Art is now on-line. An amazing collection of nineteenth century knitting books, with a few nods to crochet, netting etc. A fantastic resource and free to all!
Early patterns can also be found at the lovely Antique Pattern Library, for those who do not know of it already. Again, an amazing resource – knitting, crochet, cross stitch, tatting etc. Inspiration galore!
Oh my lordy me – I’ve been crocheting all day trying to get ready for an event this weekend. My one problem is there are sections where I have to work between four to twelve rows even. Not only is this TEDIOUS I tend to forget which row I’m on and have to stop and work it all out and count, count, count! Yes I could use a row counter but, well, they’re in a tin downstairs and where’s the fun?
Earlier I made a pile of crochet hooks, one for each row, and for every row finished I put one back in their jar next to my work desk. Great, job done – but it just occurred to me – what if they were jelly beans or some other sugary goodness? What more incentive would I need to work through the boring bits? And although counting beans are nothing new, what better way to keep track of your crochet and knitting rows? Eureka!
So this is my first post. And it’s not about crochet. This’ll be the ‘bit beyond’, then.
The 18th April is World Heritage Day and the theme this year is “The Cultural Heritage of Water”. Smashing. In amongst the event-packed bank-holiday weekend planned here at Saltaire, there will be plenty of opportunities to learn more about the canals that were the lifeblood of the village, bringing fuel and alpaca bales to the mill.
An item of clothing no well-dressed canalman would be without was a jumper known as a gansey. Knitted from an oiled woollen yarn, they were warm as well as shower-proof. They were decorated with a panel specific to a canal, similar to a seaman’s guernsey where patterns were unique to an area or even to a family, and for a rather gruesome reason. Should someone drown and not be found in a recognisable state, the pattern at least gave a clue where its wearer was from.
This pattern for the Leeds-Liverpool gansey is kindly provided by Mike Clarke and is based on an original (above) now in the National Waterways Museum in Gloucester. It is something I would love to have a crack at, but I’ve seen the light and now only crochet. If you have a go do let me know how you get on, I’m sure Mike would be interested too.
Mike will be giving a talk on World Heritage and Canals at the launch of the Saltaire International World Heritage Celebrations on Friday 15th April at 6.30pm in the Old Salt School Building opposite Victoria Hall. Over the bank-holiday weekend there will also be knitters in Robert’s Park doing exciting things with alpaca and angora yarn…