Dusty, Musty and Mothballed, March’s Close Knit at the Gallery of Costume

March’s Close Knit workshop took place at the Gallery of Costume at Platt Hall and was another well attended event to say the least! The lovely weather didn’t deter our keen group and yet again the gallery resounded with the clitter, clatter and chitter, chatter of our friendly party of 60 or so knitters, some of whom even ‘cast a clout’ and indulged in some al fresco knitting in the Hall’s beautiful urban parkland surroundings!Image

This event took the theme of  ‘Dusty,Musty and Mothballed’ and was led by Kate Day, the Gallery of Costume’s Community Development Officer, and, despite being a self confessed new-comer to knitting, she kicked off proceedings by giving an interesting talk about the gallery’s collection of knitting patterns, it’s role in inspiring the Close Knit programme of events and the knitted pieces within the gallery’s collection.Image

We were all bowled over by the piece that Kate had chosen to share with the group: the oldest knitted piece in the collection, which was the best preserved of six knitted hats from the sixteenth century! This incredibly evocative piece was preserved by the mud of the River Thames for around four hundred years before it was discovered at the beginning of the twentieth century. The style is immediately familiar, similar to those muffin top flat caps often worn by the lowly characters in Shakespeare plays, and it is just that familiarly that makes the piece fascinating to examine at such close-quarters: when you can see that the incredibly fine yarn was knitted in the round and contemplate that the same decreases that one uses when knitting a beret today were worked so beautifully by this hat’s anonymous creator so long ago, that is when the engagement with these historical knits becomes magical. What a joy!

The practical section of the workshop focused on the age old technique of cable-work, the history of which Kate spoke about before drawing our attention to the selection of cable patterns that had been drawn from the collection. These spanned the history of the printed patterns and included those poignant WWII knits that must have been a godsend to those serving at sea, right through to those much parodied super-kitsch patterns of the 70s.

There were three patterns to attempt, for beginners, intermediates and experts and, as always, there was enough advice available for everyone to leave having made something, even if it was only some progress in learning to knit! Image

To read more about the session, written by Sara Adie, one of our keen knitters, please click here:


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