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Sheep, Socks and Wire Woollies at the Manchester Museum

This month’s Close Knit session, ‘Sheep, Socks and Wire Woollies’ was at the Manchester Museum, as part of the Manchester Science Festival. The Museum was extremely busy with all the festivities going on so we were up in the Resource Centre on the 3rd floor.

Anna Bunney curator of public programmes started the session and welcomed everyone to the museum. She talked a little bit about the museum’s collection which were on display for the purpose of the workshop and about making yarn from natural materials such as nettles. The collection display included showed the 10 stages from raw wool to yarn, woven camel hair and natural fibres including hemp all used for making textiles.

The session began properly with Jude beckett talking to the group about the wonders of spinning. She explained the process from beginning to end advising on the best type of sheep wool to use, sourcing raw wool from farms or EBay and about washing the coat. Jude had brought with her a number of different examples of hand spun wool in a variety of colours and types as well as different things she had made.

The demonstration started with carding which aligns all the fibres in one direction and fluffs them to make drafting easier. Jude’s friend Belinda had a hand-cranker with which she transferred the raw wool into fibres which Jude could begin spinning with.

Using a lot of hand, eye and foot coordination Jude fed these fibres into the spinning wheel creating even, smooth yarn. She made it look very easy and everyone at the workshop was very envious.

After the demonstration Jude invited some people to try out her wheel while other sat down and got on with some knitting.

There was a wide mix of abilities at the session form expert knitters to beginners including a 6 year old boy who came with his Mum and managed to knit a whole line. There were a variety of patterns available, including slugs, acorns and leaves for Ordsall Hall and older sock patterns from the Gallery of Costume.

Everyone had a great time and Jude inspired a new group of spinners.

For more information about spinning take a look at this spinning magazine:

Local groups include the Stockport Spinners who meet at The Plough in Heaton Moor on the first Tuesday night of each Month:


Gripping Yarns – at the Manchester Museum

Our second workshop this Saturday at the Manchester Museum was again full to the rafters with over 40 keen knitters turning up to take part and share their skills. Led by Anna Bunney, Curator of Public Programmes, the session used an Egyptian sock from the Museum’s collection as the focus for the workshop and as inspiration for the knitting.

The little child’s sock, knitted in blue, red, and white wool, with a split toe, originates from the Egyptian period from Oxyrhynchus (el-Bahnasa) surviving for 2000 years before becoming part of the Museum’s collection in 1912.

Following the way it is believed the Egyptians would have knitted, we used a knotting technique with one needle rather than two. Although rather challenging, everyone got involved and had a go at knitting their own sock.

If you would like to have a go our continue working on your sock click here for the instructions.

Inspired by the collection

The Close Knit project has been inspired by over a hundred years of knitting patterns found in the collection of the Costume Gallery at Platt Hall.

Collected over many years with examples ranging from Vogue to Leaches, there are thousands of patterns held in the stores of the gallery. The Close Knit project hopes to make this collection available and on hand during the sessions hosted by the Costume Gallery to be browsed through and used as a source of inspiration for your next project.

Making these patterns accessible to the public is so important as so many have been lost because they are out of print or because the magazines have been destroyed.  Due to copyright issues I am unable to upload our collection directly onto this blog and am therefore using free versions from the internet. I will also link to some fantastic websites such as Skiff Vintage Knitting Patterns which has many free patterns available to be downloaded

Here is a selection of the wonderful knitting magazine covers, similar to the ones which inspired the design for our leaflet.

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A Stitch in Time

The workshop at the Costume Gallery last Saturday was a great success and we had over 34 knitters attend, ranging from those who had been knitting for years to those who were only just starting. Check out our photos below.

How to Knit – The Basics

The Close Knit workshops are for everyone, from people who have ben knitting for years to those who are only just starting. I  am a complete beginner and find YouTube really useful when I’m at home and can’t remember what I am doing. So if you are a beginner too, here is a video which may will help you get started and ready for our next session at the Manchester Museum at the end off the month.


Hello, and welcome to the CloseKnitManchester blog!

This blog is to coincide with a series of year long knitting workshops being held across Manchester at Whitworth Art Gallery, the Manchester Art Gallery, the Manchester Museum and Gallery of Costume .

Each session will have a different focus and a different location, but all will fall on the last Saturday of the month. They will be a great chance to meet new people, show off your own projects or perhaps learn something new. It doesn’t matter if you are a complete novice or a semi-pro, everyone is welcome.

The first session is on the 28th January at the Costume Gallery and it would be great if you could join us! The ‘Stitch in Time’ workshop will be a chance to hear all about the programme and get started on some knitting. We’ll do some ‘get to know you knitting’ and share some of the hidden gems of the Gallery of Costume’s knitted collections.

Download the leaflet for more information.

Hope to see you there,
Closeknitmanchester Team