July’s Knitting Re-mixed at Gallery of Costume

The sun shone again at Gallery of Costume for last month’s Close Knit workshop.  We were joined by the fabulous Jane Sarkar who opened our minds to the creative potential of textiles, textile production’s future and knitting’s place in all of that.

One of Jane’s machine-knitted dresses is in our collection and we’re thinking of putting it on display at Gallery of Costume early next year.

Jane showed us a ‘non-woven’ fabric and talked about it’s environmental benefits as a product that can be washed and dried quickly and cheaply.  With these qualities in mind, Jane drew our attention to the kinds of fabrics we have all around us that we could re-use to make new functional items.

Jane told us about a new technique she is developing using old pairs of tights or stockings, cut in to strips, re-knitted and manipulated to created a whole new fabric.

Jane encouraged us to begin trying this technique and emphasised the importance of experimenting and exploring the limitations of the material.  Bev got some help remembering how to start knitting with an over-sized knitting dolly – we thought the result made the beginnings of a great grocery bag.

In her own work, Jane is looking to get to a point where the knitted material no longer resembles pairs of knitted tights.  Jane reminded us of the light-weight, quick-drying nature of the nylon to get us thinking about the useful things we might create from it – bag handles (Jane had a great Moroccan leather bag with a woven handle that was very popular), bath mats, shopping bags, all sorts.

Jane gave us these pointers for starting to knit hosiery:

  • Keep it simple – start with small stitch samples.
  • Cast on 25 stitches using small and then large needles, feel what the ‘yarn’ is doing.
  • Experiment with creating your own yarn.
  • You tights can be cut in long lengths from top to toe.  You can also cut in circles around the legs in varying widths.
  • You can create! Don’t forget this!
  • Use a medley of colour and mixture of textures.  You can fairisle and cable.

As usual we had great fun sharing our ideas, and Jane said speaking with so many talented knitters really helped her think about her work too:  ‘ I really enjoyed the session with what was such a diversity of people, levels and interests – they were very enthusiastic!’

New-comer Geoffrey said he wasn’t a good knitter but got stuck in anyway with a bit of help from one of the more experienced regulars.  After the session he said ‘I was very proud of my achievement… all three inches of it!’

For more info and further reading take a look at Jane’s slideshow:  Knitting Hosiery and more by Jane Sarkar


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