Saturday, 15 November 2014

The Knitting History Forum Conference 2014

The Knitting History Forum is an international society originally founded in 1993. Members "advance and promote the history of knitting through research, historical reconstruction and by exchanging information". The annual Conference and AGM is an excellent way to find out all sorts of interesting information about knitting history. I really enjoy attending as I always learn something completely new about my favourite activity! This year's conference was no exception and had a great line up of speakers, who brought along some very interesting knit related objects.

Joyce Meader's "The Man In Khaki" Sock Measure
Our first speaker was Angharad Thomas, Textile Archivist, Knitting and Crochet Guild and her presenation was "Piecing Together a History of Two-colour Knitted Gloves – from medieval times to the present." In her talk, Angharad showed us many gorgeous examples of knitted gloves that she had looked at as part of her research. The silk Ecclesiastic/ Fashion Gloves from the Worshipful Company of Glovers were very beautiful. You can see the gloves in more detail here and here and you can read more about gloves on Angharad's blog, Knitting Gloves.

Angharad was followed by Tom van Deijnen, Practitioner in knitting and mending, also known as tomofholland. Tom's presentation was titled "Old techniques and new cardigans: a case study in traditional repair techniques." Through his excellent Visible Mending programme, Tom maintains that if we build a relationship with clothes, we are much more likely to look after them. He showed us some lovely samples of darning techniques from his recent trip to the Fries Museum in the Netherlands. Tom then took us through the mending process he applied to the Fair Isle Cardigan that the Knitting and Crochet Guild had commissioned him to repair. Not only was the repair incredibly well done, but it has made the garment an excellent way to highlight that visible repairs can enhance as well as mend.

Tom being introduced by Sandy Black
Visible Mending of the Knitting & Crochet Guild Fair Isle Sweater
by Tom van Deijnen
Amy Twigger Holroyd is a Post-doc Research Fellow, Leeds University School of Design. Amy began Keep and Share 10 years ago as an experimental knitwear label and open craft practice to encompass fashion, making, design and sustainability. Her presentation was an overview of these 10 years and a look at her PhD research and practice, "amateur knitting practice as a sustainable strategy". I particularly liked Amy's "Timeline of Activity" and her "Treatment" diagram that looks at ways to rework an existing garment.
Amy being introduced by Sandy Black
Amy's diagrammatic timeline of 10 years of Keep and Share
Reworked Cardigan by Amy Twigger Holroyd
Barbara Smith is an independent scholar and publications curator of the Knitting & Crochet Guild. Her presentation, "Useful Work for Anxious Fingers - Knitting & Crochet in the First World War" brought home the scale of the numbers of servicemen involved in WW1. These huge numbers, 85,000 men in the British Expeditionary Force, 260,000 Territorials and 750,000 volunteers for Kitchener's New Army created enormous challenges when it came to housing, feeding and clothing everyone. Barbara told us about the many charitable committees that were set up to help and the appeals for clothing on very tight timescales. There were also examples of patriotic Fancy work and Barbara had recreated a crochet handbag in regimental colours. You can read more on Barbara's excellent blog, Knitting Now and Then.

Barbara with the Crochet Handbag in regimental colours
Our final speaker of the day was Joyce Meader, The Historic Knit. Joyce's presentation on "Knitted Comforts for the Soldiers – from the Boer War to WW1" was illustrated by the amazing garments she had knitted from the original patterns. Joyce had brought along many garments, examples of the patterns and interesting items such as "The Man in Khaki Sock Measure" shown at the beginning of this post.

Joyce Meader describing the knitted comforts
Sweater by Joyce Meader
Balaclava by Joyce Meader
One of Joyce Meader's Pattern Booklets
For more information about the KHF or to become a member, please see the website or follow us on twitter @knithistforum.

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