Saturday, March 18, 2006

Day out

but alas no pictures as I forgot to take my camera.

Went to the open day at the Knitting & Crochet Guild this morning. Decided that I might as well spring eighteen pounds for membership so I did so and thusly got in for free (if you don't count the eighteen quid obviously). Had a quick look at the collection that was on show which was cool, but necessarily limited as the space they have is not ideal for exhibiting (which is why they require financial support to get better, more permanent premises).

One of the guild members then gave a "hands on" talk about part of the collection. This was fascinating and I wish I'd taken the camera so that I could share it with you. We sat around a table, donned white cotton gloves and not only looked at but were able to touch some of the precious items in the collection.

These included three beautiful 18thC. beaded misers purses, some knitted and some crocheted. The colours were absolutely lovely and so bright still and the work was so fine it made your eyes hurt just to think it was done by hand. There was a white cotton knitted Victorian bedspread which weighed an absolute ton.

A crochet sampler book and a sampler piece about four inches wide and four foot long. There was a shawl knitted in linen (probably, though apparently at the time other vegetable fibres were in common use such as nettle) and probably dyed with coffee which again must have been done on the tiniest wires possible.

We were shown three of the most beautiful Irish Crochet dresses which were probably made up by nuns for export to Britain from pieces of crochet made by Irish women during the famine as a way of raising money to feed their families.

We were shown a christening gown and shawl which had a story attached of a sailor who was given the Merino roving by family in Australia, brought it home where it was spun by his mother and then knitted up by an aunt. The gown and shawl were a wedding present to him and his wife but the marriage ended "without issue" so they were never used and no-one else in the family wanted them.

There was a lovely crocheted cardigan in rayon from the thirties which wouldn't have looked out of place worn today; a jumper from the forties knitted in space dyed wool (which I assumed was a modern invention) but both sides matched up perfectly (dunno how they did that). As well as some more modern items (including a particularly repellent crocheted bright yellow (raffia????) trouser suit.

There was other stuff too which I've probably forgotten now, but it was worth it to go and get the chance to get up close to some of this stuff.

I managed to be quite good and only bought a tiny part of the yarn mountain and some laceweight merino in pansy sort of colours, dark purple and goldy yellow I've been inspired to try my hand at some lace.

Worth a visit, mainly for the talk. But well worth supporting. Apparently now the V&A have stopped collecting domestic knitted and crocheted items the Guild is the next port of call, so they need financial support to keep our knitted heritage alive.


Ali said...

I've got exactly the same laceweight merino in my stash - only one skein mind you but I love the colours! If only I could cast on a scarf but with so many UFOs flying around I can't afford to!
Can't wait to see what you knit with it?

acrylik said...

Sounds like a really interesting day out - I shall have to look out and see if there is anything similar in my area.

Chris said...

Wow, that is some gorgeous yarn!