Monday, 14 October 2013

Little Knitted Pumpkins

Its been a while since I posted, so here is a simple, seasonal little something to cheer up an autumn day:
These are a doddle to make starting with a short section of tubular knitting. I cranked mine out on the antique sock machine, but you could knit yours or even re-purpose an old sweater sleeve or a dead but decent sock. Mine is a good size for a pincushion, but any size goes with these.

I've written up instructions over at Downsizer:

And finally, because I can, here's Tesla the kitten modelling one. I have been warned that ginger kittens will eventually get their revenge for such sartorial slights, but I'm going to enjoy it whist he's small enough to put up with it without complaint ;)

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Knitted Archaeology: The Mold Cape

Recently (July/Aug 2013) the bronze age masterpiece known as the Mold Cape has been on tour in Wales, away from its usual home at the British Museum.

I've had the great privilege of being involved with some of the activities associated with its visit to National Museum Wales in Cardiff, amongst which was being invited to design a knitted interpretation of the cape to be used in the Clore Discovery Gallery as a handling and discussion tool.

Our bronze age ancestors did not use knitting, but they certainly had an eye for design, and the original beaten gold cape is ornamented with textures believed to represent beads and draped textiles. Knitted structures work well to evoke the general feel of this in a fun way which also stimulates discussion about comparisons between flexible textile forms and the rigid structure of the metal version which would have restricted arm motion.

Several people have expressed an interest in having a go at knitting one of these themselves, so I'm delighted to be able to announce that the pattern for my 'knitted Mold Cape' is now available as a Ravelry download:

Bronze Age Capelet:

Friday, 31 May 2013

Welsh Wig, part two

You may remember that a few weeks ago I went to study the Welsh Wig in the textile collections of St Fagans National History Museum, dated c 1854. I've just finished my first replica interpretation to see if I'm on the right track with the pattern, and so far, I'm very pleased with progress.

I used a 2ply yarn for this one, purely because that was what I had to hand. I also used a paler yarn that the original to make it easier for me to see the details if I needed to make any adjustments as I went along. The original is in a single ply yarn and my next example will use a more appropriate yarn in a darker shade.

The original Welsh Wig is a very small size in appearance, but I've found the replica, which fits the measurements of the original nicely, stretches to fit almost all head sizes. To illustrate this, its shown above on a really large head form, about 24.5 inches, where its really a bit too stretched, but it does mean that on most ordinary real heads its a very flexible fit.

I'm still gathering together a few references to help put the cap into a wider context, and once I've got those together and have worked up another sample in a more appropriate yarn, I should be able to finalise writing up the pattern. Ideal for Crimean and Dickensian costuming, and definitely a bit different!

Update Feb 2014: Pattern is now available

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Braidmaking & Points

We've not long come back from a lovely weekend in the relatively newly reconstructed Haverfordwest Merchant's House at St Fagans, where we've been demonstrating Tudor period fingerloop braiding in silk, ribbon weaving, silk wrapped buttons, and the making of aiglets and points.

The weather was kind to us, Saturday was gloriously sunny and the visitors were out in force, its a small building and in gloomy weather it can be a bit dark inside, but in bright light it was lovely to work in. Sunday was a little more overcast, but nothing major and although it wasn't quite as busy, the visitors all stayed a good long time chatting, and finding out more about the materials and techniques we were exploring.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Welsh Wig, 1854

I’ve had the great pleasure today of spending several hours at St Fagans studying this fascinating hat.

(Accession number: F69.353) c 1854, donated to the Museum in 1969 by Miss M. L. Horsfall of Devon.

In a letter addressed to the curator, she refers to the cap as “the Welsh wig treasured at the back of my grandfather’s desk”. She goes on to state the following: “There is no indication as to where it was made, but my grandfather was the only son of William Horsfall who was shot by the Luddites, and being in Yorkshire in touch with woollen industries sic.”

Rutt mentions it in ‘History of Hand Knitting’, and it has been catalogued by the Museum as a sample sent from Bangor to Leeds, with the intention of supplying soldiers fighting in the Crimea. This is based on some text on a label affixed to the tin in which is reached the museum.

I’ve had permission to share photos! So here it is, the legendary Welsh Wig in all is somewhat daft glory:

I was priviledged to be permitted to handle the hat extensively, so I’ve had a chance to see it inside and out, the curls are particularly interesting: 

I had several hours with the hat, so I was able to measure and count everything in detail, to the point where I was able to write up the pattern with the hat in front of me to cross reference, so pending me knitting it up to double check my calculations (its 9 st to the inch, in singles, so its pretty fine) I should be able to make the pattern available soon! Perfect for all the Crimean re-enactors out there.

Yay, I love my job! A huge thanks to Elen Phillips, Texile Curator at St Fagans for arranging access today.

I'm collating references to Welsh Wigs to go with future updates, and am hoping to track down an image somewhere of one in use, but so far, I'm still searching for that one. If anyone happens to know of an image of a Welsh Wig of this type in use, please let me know.The search is slightly complicated because the term 'Welsh Wig' gets applied to a fair range of hats across a relatively wide daterange.

Read part two of my explorations of this hat here: