Thursday, 8 December 2016

Jadeite Sweater on the Cover of The Knitter 105

I am so excited to see my Jadeite Sweater design on the cover of this month's The Knitter Magazine! Jadeite is knitted in West Yorkshire Spinners Blue Faced Leicester DK Yarn. The beautiful yarn really shows off the contrasting textures of the sweater.

Jadeite by Emma Vining on the cover of Issue 105
Image from The Knitter Magazine

The main body of my design is knitted in stocking stitch with the Jadeite detail featuring around the neck and the cuffs. Twisted stitches form the circular Jadeite Gems which drop down from the neckline and emerge from the cuffs.

Jadeite Cuff detail
Image from The Knitter Magazine

Jadeite neck detail
Image from The Knitter Magazine
As well as having a variety of solid shades of BFL yarn available, West Yorkshire Spinners have recently released gem inspired shades of their Wensleydale DK and any one of them would suit my gem inspired design!

Jadeite by Emma Vining
Image from The Knitter Magazine
I am absolutely delighted to have a design in this lovely issue of The Knitter as it has lots of wonderful designs and interesting articles. Alice Starmore's gorgeous designs and amazing sense of colour feature in an excellent article about her yarns. The photography by Jade Starmore shows how the Hebridean landscape has inspired the beautiful colour palette.

Knitting History features in this issue with Penelope Hemingway's fascinating article on Victorian knitting writers. I particularly like the delicate original illustrations that accompany this piece.

There is a lovely "Meet the Team" interview with Faye Perriham-Reed, the brilliant technical editor at The Knitter Magazine, showcasing some of her beautiful published patterns and giving insights into her day-to-day work at the Knitter. I can't tell you how much it means to me to get a mention in her reply about her favourite designs! Yay!

You can see the knitting designs from Issue 105 on Ravelry and read more about The Knitter Magazine on The Yarn Loop website.

Errata Update 21/01/17
Thank you very much to Sue K for alerting me to problems with the published charts and abbreviations for Jadeite. I will post a link here to The Knitter Magazine as soon as the updated charts and pattern are available on the Yarn Loop Website.
In the meantime, I hope the following explanation will help anyone who is currently knitting the pattern.

The Jadeite pattern errata relate to the abbreviations and chart symbols and are as follows:
All of the "Jadeite clusters" are knitted using either T2B or T2F twists. These twists are worked in 'knit stitch' only.
T2B is the abbreviation for "knit into the front of the second stitch on left hand needle, then into the front of the first stitch”.
T2F is the abbreviation for "knit into the back of the second stitch on the left hand needle, then into the front of the first stitch”.
Throughout the text of the published pattern, any abbreviation referred to as “Tw2B" should be worked as a T2B. Any abbreviation referred to as Tw2F should be worked as a T2F. 
Within the charts, the abbreviations and symbols should be T2F and T2B only.

Errata Update 23/01/17
Here is the link to the errata for Jadeite on the Yarn Loop Website, where you can download a PDF of the corrected charts.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The Knitting History Forum Conference 2016

I always enjoy the Knitting History Forum events and this year's Conference was really good. Our host at the London College of Fashion, Professor Sandy Black, had arranged an excellent afternoon of presentations.

Our first speaker was Gieneke Arnolli, Curator of Fashion and Textiles, Fries Museum, The Netherlands and her two-part talk began with a fascinating exploration of "Typically Frisian Knitting, between fact and fiction". The second part of Gieneke's talk was about "Curating the Knitting Exhibition 'Breien!'". There is a great short trailer for 'Breien' on Youtube which gives a taste of the exhibition. I wish that I had been able to visit the Exhibition when it was on.

Gieneke was followed by Hanna Bäckström, PhD Candidate in Textile Studies, Uppsala University, Sweden on "The publication of knitting and crochet patterns in Northern Europe 1790-1870. Hanna represented her data on maps and it was fascinating to see the geographical changes in the concentration of publications in Europe during this "forgotten publishing boom". Hanna concluded with some "Brief remarks on recent knitting history research in Sweden".

Michelle Hanks is a PhD Candidate at the London College of Fashion and she presented her research on "The Hand-Knitted Gift: using knitting as a research tool". The discussion that followed was very lively! As well as members sharing their own experiences of giving and receiving hand knitted gifts, the issue of the "unwanted" gift was raised......

Roslyn Chapman PhD, University of Glasgow gave an excellent and very entertaining presentation on "Cultural Sensitivities: Debunking the myths of Shetland lace". This thought-provoking presentation challenged our definitions of some well known knitting terms and labels. You can read more about Roslyn's research with the Shetland Museum here.

Our final discussion topic covered reflections on knitting in the media - how would we represent the history of knitting? In particular, we all watched a documentary made last year, The Secret History of Knitting, to which several of our members had contributed. You can view the documentary here.

The Knitting History Forum AGM and Conference is held in early November each year. You can read about previous speakers and topics covered here. Annual membership is £25 and this includes the Conference. All are welcome to join us!

Monday, 17 October 2016

The Knitting & Stitching Show 2016

The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace is such an inspiring event and I really look forward to going every year. This year's Show was on from Wednesday 5th to Sunday 9th October. For the the last few years I have been volunteering on the Knitting & Crochet Guild (KCG) Stand and I am very proud to represent the Guild at the Show. 

The entrance at Alexandra Palace
Our stand showcases items from the Guild's Collection and this year we had seasonal display boards with motifs made from stitch patterns. The stand featured the Autumn and Winter boards with their gorgeous colour palettes. We were also able to show visitors designs from the Spring and Summer boards plus all the amazing background work in an excellent display folder. 

KCG Autumn Display Board

KCG Winter Display Board
A selection of lovely sample knits were also displayed on the stand and we had some interesting discussions about stitch construction as visitors looked through them all.

KCG Collection Knitted Samples
Visitors also stopped to chat to us when they spotted us in our smart new aprons: what an excellent idea by Tricia! The aprons were in white cotton with the Guild logo at the top and had deep front pockets for our yarn and needles. It was great to be able to stand and knit while talking to visitors. I was delighted to find that lots of people were interested in my short row shaping sample. One visitor from Melbourne, Australia even came back to see me on Sunday for another demo!

Short Row Shaping sample

This year the Guild had a whole afternoon slot every day for "Crafters in Action". We were able to demonstrate all kinds of knitting and crochet techniques as our volunteers had brought along lots of exciting projects to share. The table was decorated with beautiful knit and crochet designs and we had many visitors stopping for a closer look. There were plenty of questions and comments about crochet techniques and we had some great discussions, especially about Tunisian crochet. There were several happy visitors leaving with a successful sample. 

The Guild's stand at the show relies on members volunteering their time and skills and this year we had lots of helping hands. This meant there was time for everyone to have a look around the show! I was able to attend two excellent Japanese design events. On Saturday afternoon Katie from Japan Crafts demonstrated how to put on the many layers of a kimono. Katie dressed a tailor's dummy to show us the stages involved. Kimono dressing is a much more physically demanding process that I could ever of imagined, designed to firstly turn the wearer into a cylinder shape with many layers and much padding, then to precicely fold and drape the kimono over these layers. Finally a stunning obi is arranged and folded to compete the dressing. Katie's descriptions and commentary were fascinating and the kimono and obi were very beautiful. 

Kimono and Obi
Japan Crafts
Detail from Obi
Japan Crafts

On Sunday morning, I attended Katie's Sashiko workshop in the Learning Centre. Sashiko is a traditional Japanese stitching technique and the beautiful designs are very inspiring. It was great to actually try some stitching. Katie is an excellent tutor and explained clearly how to tackle these complex patterns. I'll be looking out for more talks and workshops from Katie and Japan Crafts (although Katie is in such demand that she is fully booked through 2017!). I can't wait for next year's show already!

Sashimi Stitching Samples
Japan Crafts

Sunday, 2 October 2016

The Forum: A New Norwich Wrap

From Saturday 1st until Saturday 15th October 2016, my hand knitted wrap, "The Forum: A New Norwich Wrap" will be on show to visitors at the Hostry, Norwich Cathedral. In "Norwich Shawls: Past Glory Future Inspiration", the Norwich Costume & Textile Association (C&TA) is taking a look back at the stunning shawls in the collection and then looking forward with interpretations and inspirations from the shawls. I am very proud and excited about my wrap being part of this exhibition! In this post, I would like to share some of my research and design development.

The Forum: A New Norwich Wrap
by Emma Vining
Norwich, Edinburgh and Paisley were all major British centres for Shawl production in the 19th Century and each centre had its own distinctive style. You can read more about Norwich Shawls in this Antiques Info article by Zita Thornton and more about British shawl production in Meg Andrews' article in Victoriana Magazine. A large number of original Norwich Shawls are held in the Costume & Textile Study Centre in Shirehall, Norwich. As part of my research for the Exhibition, I visited Shirehall for a Norwich Shawl Study Day. The chance to get up close to the wonderful shawls and to view the fascinating blue-prints of shawl designs from the Board of Trade Design register was not to be missed! I thoroughly enjoyed the day and appreciated all the fascinating insights shared by the curator. Sketching the delicate details on the shawls really helped me to understand the flow of the designs and patterns.

Detail from my sketchbook
Copyright Emma Vining
During my trip there was time to take a look around the beautiful city of Norwich and my visit to the Sir Michael Hopkins "Forum" building provided the present-day inspiration for my design. The seating in the public area in front of the building suggested a curved design with a smooth stepped surface to contrast with the delicate pine cone and leaf details that I had seen earlier in the day.

Seating outside the Forum Building, Norwich
Photo by Emma Vining
Further research took me to the V&A Museum's Clothworkers Centre where I spent a day surrounded by fabulous Norwich Shawls from the V&A's collection. The Clothworkers team were extremely patient with folding, unfolding and turning the shawls and I particularly appreciated being able to climb the ladder for an overview of the largest shawl! Reading books and publications in the National Art Library in the V&A Museum helped me understand how Norwich, Edinburgh and Paisley competed in the 19th Century for the market in printed and woven shawls. The wonderful books by Pamela Clabburn, The Norwich Shawl, and Helen Hoyte, The Story of the Norwich Shawl, were particularly insightful and helpful.

I spent considerable time thinking about all that I had learned and working on my own interpretations of the designs. Through drawing and sketching, then charting and knitting, I experimented with a wide range of designs. However, it was the combination of the elements of time and scale that became prominent. My final design, The Forum Wrap was inspired by details in a beautiful original 19th Century Shawl in the Shirehall Handling Collection, as well as the modern architecture of the Forum Building in the centre of the city of Norwich.

Detail from my sketchbook
Copyright Emma Vining 2016
My Forum Wrap is knitted in Rowan Silk Wool DK weight yarn that was perfect for this project. The yarn has excellent stitch definition and the elegant sheen of silk. This combination meant that the detailed twisted stitch sections stand out clearly and that the long curved lines inspired by the Forum building look smooth and ribbon-like. The wrap begins and ends with five individual knitted points. The pine cone and leaf twisted stitch design flows from these points and changes in scale as the wrap narrows. A gentle curve to enhance drape and fit around the shoulders is created by working more depth at one side of the wrap.

Detail of The Forum: A New Norwich Wrap
by Emma Vining
I hope that visitors to the Exhibition will enjoy viewing the beautiful Norwich Shawls as much as I have. There are several stunning examples displayed in their full glory in the Hostry and the new textile art that has been inspired by these stunning shawls is fascinating.

Exhibition Poster by the Norwich C&TA

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Staircase Inspirations

To celebrate my staircase inspired Balustrade Sweater being in The Knitter Magazine Issue 102, I've been sharing some of my favourite staircase photos on Instagram. In case you did not get to see them, here are a selection. If you'd like to join me on Instagram, here is the link to my profile - please come and say hello!

My first staircase post is the amazing installation by Studio Glithero in the centre of a 17.5m deep stairwell at the V&A Museum in London. This installation was part of London Design Festival and was developed in collaboration with the watchmaker Panerai. Exploring the concept of time, this stunning installation is called The Green Room, after the V&A stairwell.

The Green Room by Studio Glithero at the V&A
Photo by Emma Vining

Here is the view inside the stunning Mackintosh Tower at the Lighthouse, Glasgow. The Lighthouse exhibition space always has a great selection of displays and events. Here's the link to my post about my last visit when I went to see the excellent Hello My Name is Paul Smith exhibition earlier this year.

The Mackintosh Tower, The Lighthouse, Glasgow
Photo by Emma Vining
My next stairwell is in Cornwall and is the central staircase at the Falmouth Hotel. I love the way that he beautiful circular set of curving light fixtures contrast with the angular layout of the stairs.

The Falmouth Hotel Staircase
Photo by Emma Vining

Staying in Falmouth for my next staircase inspiration and this one is inside the Lookout Tower at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall. There are fantastic views from the top of the Tower, but I love these stairs too!

The National Maritime Museum Cornwall Lookout Tower Staircase
Photo by Emma Vining
This staircase view is from underneath the stunning central stairs in the Museum of Liverpool. We had a great tour of the nearby Edmund Gardener Pilot Ship led by extremely knowledgable and friendly volunteers from the Museum. Such a great place to visit!

The Liverpool Museum Staircase
Photo by Emma Vining
There are many stunning art nouveau decorative details in the buildings in Brussels, Belgium. I just happened to look up and saw an amazing view of this staircase!

Staircase in Brussels, Belgium
Photo by Emma Vining
My last staircase photo for the moment is from Tate Britain, London: another stunning curved staircase with beautiful lines and details that never fails to inspire me!

Staircase at Tate Britain, London
Photo by Emma Vining

    Wednesday, 21 September 2016

    Balustrade Sweater in The Knitter Issue 102

    My Balustrade sweater is on the front cover of The Knitter Magazine! I am very proud to have my design on the front cover with a gorgeous sweater by Lisa Richardson. You can see more of all the lovely designs in Issue 102 on the Yarn Loop website and Ravelry.

    The Knitter Issue 102
    with Balustrade by Emma Vining & Bassey by Lisa Richardson
    The stepped design on Balustrade is inspired by the way shadows can add to an extra dimension to a view. I am always fascinated by the way light shining through "things" can elongate and distort lines and stairways are particularly good for this effect. In my sweater design, the combination of lace and cables creates soft lines of steps that move across the garment and meet in the centre. Each step has a twisted stitch and eyelet shadow. A great staircase example for dramatic lighting and shadows is the stunning Nelson Stair at Somerset House, London. I really recommend a visit to Somerset house and there are free tours on Tuesday's and Thursday's that take in many of the highlights and explore the history of this wonderful building.

    Balustrade by Emma Vining
    Image from The Knitter Magazine
     I love the way the cable steps form a wavy edge on the front of the sweater.

    Balustrade by Emma Vining
    Image from The Knitter Magazine
    I am always on the lookout for interesting stairways and to celebrate Balustrade being published, I will post some of my favourites on Instagram!

    Many thanks to Janet T. for contacting me about some errors in the published pattern. The Knitter Magazine will add the errata to their website shortly and updates can be found on the Yarn Loop website.

    Monday, 19 September 2016

    More Details about The C&TA Norwich Shawls Exhibition

    The  Norwich Costume & Textile Association have produced a lovely poster for the Norwich Shawls Exhibition. There are more details about opening times and I hope that lots of visitors will be able to make it along to the Exhibition at the Hostry to see the stunning Shawls.

    C&TA Poster for the Norwich Shawls Exhibition

    In "Norwich Shawls: Past Glory Future Inspiration", the Norwich Costume & Textile Association (C&TA) will take a look back at the stunning shawls in the collection and then a look forward with interpretations and inspirations from the shawls. I am so pleased that my hand knitted wrap, "The Forum: A New Norwich Wrap" will be in this Exhibition at the Hostry, Norwich Cathedral, from 1st to 15th October 2016. Here is a close up of part of my Wrap. More details soon!

    Detail of The Forum: A New Norwich Wrap by Emma Vining

    Thursday, 15 September 2016

    The Knitting & Crochet Guild Journal, Issue 152

    The Knitting & Crochet Guild publishes an excellent journal, Skipknot, full of fascinating articles written by Guild members. The latest issue, number 152, has just been delivered and is a great read as usual!

    Front Cover of Slipknot Issue 152

    The content shows the diverse interests of Guild members, with articles on Hebridean Knitting, Worldwide Knit in Public Day and a Guild visit to the V&A Clothworkers Centre. There are several book reviews including a special focus on Irish Crochet. Alison Ellen's recent exhibition "Soft Engineering" is reviewed (you can visit the Exhibition in Sleaford, 12th November 2016 to 8th January 2017 - see Alison's website for details). Along with branch meeting reports and knitting event reviews, the journal reflects the busy knitting lives of the members!

    I am very proud to have three articles published in this issue. My first is a review of the Guild's excellent 2016 Convention (which you can also read on my blog). A visit to Graduate Fashion Week showed that hand knitting is being used in very creative ways by students and recent graduates and you can read more about this in my second article. My third article in this issue is all about my visit to discover more about luxury cashmere garments at Barrie Knitwear in Burlington Arcade, London during this year's London Craft Week. 

    If you aren't yet a member of the Guild, please do consider joining. Its a great way to keep up to date with all that is going on in the world of Knitting and Crochet. There is a wealth of information and knowledge amongst our members that is enthusiastically shared at Branch meetings and Open Days. Details of how to join are on the Guild's website. In the meantime, if you don't yet have access to Slipknot, here is my article about my visit to Barrie Knitwear.  

    Barrie Cashmere at London Craft Week 2016
    (Slipknot, Issue 152)

    London Craft Week is an annual event that showcases luxury craft skills. It provides opportunities for highly skilled craft workers to demonstrate their skills. Anyone can attend these events and demonstrations and although some of the events charge a small fee, most of them are free. Looking through the extensive programme for this year's London Craft Week, I noticed an interesting event hosted by Barrie Cashmere at their Burlington Arcade boutique. This was a chance to find out more about the production of luxury cashmere knitted garments. 

    Burlington Arcade, London

    The Barrie Mill in Hawick produces beautiful cashmere garments for several luxury brands. Founded in 1903, the Mill was famously rescued from bankruptcy by Chanel's Parafection subsidiary in 2012. The Parafection subsidiary is known as the French group's "artisan division", which seeks to promote and preserve artisan skills in fashion. Although the mill is now owned by Chanel, customers continue to include many other luxury brands such as Hermes, Dior and Yves Saint Laurent. In the last few years, Barrie, a distinctive own label, has also been developed. The Burlington Arcade shop is Barrie's second stand alone retail unit. The first shop opened in Paris on the Rue Saint Honoure in June 2014.

    Knitwear for the Barrie label is designed by Creative Director Odile Massuger, part of Chanel's own knitwear team. Her beautiful garments combine technical excellence with stunning luxury cashmere fibres. 

    The LCW16 event at Barrie was hosted by Claire, who is the head of design. The Barrie mill in Hawick employs approximately 250 people and also runs its own training scheme to develop the specialised skills needed to work with fine cashmere fibres. To our delight, Claire had brought along two big bags of cloud-like soft cashmere fibre for us to feel.

    Claire described how each garment is meticulously planned before being knitted up in pieces. Once the main parts of the garment are knitted, they are joined and then washed and pressed. Claire had brought “before and after” samples with her and the difference was amazing to feel. With all the lanolin washed out and the garment pressed, the fibres had softened and the stitches had relaxed. We all had the chance to try on this gorgeous sweater to feel it’s softness first hand!

    I particularly wanted to look at some interesting textural open work knitting that I had spotted on the Barrie website. Claire took us for a close up view and explained how the design was formed by knitting each small section separately then joining up these sections and repeating. The resulting machine knit openwork fabric is lightweight and of course, has the beautiful drape of cashmere.

    This LCW16 event was a fascinating insight into an own label brand working along side, but distinct from, a large world renowned brand. It was also an interesting example of a big brand nurturing creativity with a view to the long term. Preserving the skills and knowledge at the Barrie mill is a key aim for Chanel. 

    For more information on next year's London Craft Week programme, that runs from Wednesday 3rd to Sunday 7th May 2017, visit

    Sunday, 21 August 2016

    Norwich Shawls: Past Glory Future Inspiration

    The Norwich Costume & Textile Association (C&TA) have a fascinating Exhibition coming up at the Hostry, Norwich Cathedral. In "Norwich Shawls: Past Glory Future Inspiration", the C&TA will take a look back at the stunning shawls in their collection and then a look forward with textile art inspired by the shawls.

    C&TA Exhibition Leaflet detail
    I am absolutely thrilled to have had work accepted for this Exhibition! My hand knitted wrap, "The Forum: A New Norwich Wrap" will be in the Exhibition from 1st to 15th October 2016. I will be posting more details about the Exhibition and my work over the next few weeks, so please look out for updates!

    Thursday, 7 July 2016

    The Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention 2016

    This year The Knitting &Crochet Guild Convention took place on the first weekend in July on the Endcliffe Village Campus of the University of Sheffield. It was an excellent weekend with many highlights. Most of all it was a wonderful chance to catch up with Guild members and be completely absorbed in knitting and crochet for three consecutive days!

    The Knitting & Crochet Guild Collection
    Knitting needles from the Collection
    Along with a large group of other delegates, I arrived the day before the Convention so that we could visit the Guild's Collection, near Holmfirth on the Friday. I had never visited Lee Mills, the home of the Collection before, but have always enjoyed seeing items at Knitting Shows and through Trunk Show presentations by Barbara and Angharad. As there were a substantial group of us, the Collections Team split us into four groups to ensure we got a close look at everything.

    First stop for my group was Barbara, showing us publication highlights. The Guild Collection contains 1,200 catalogued books and approximately 50,000 pattern leaflets as well as the Patons Archive. Barbara had prepared a great overview and my favourite book was The Stitchery Annual from 1913, edited by Flora Klickmann, with its beautiful cover and gorgeous illustrations. 

    Knitting & Crochet Guild Collection
    The Stitchery Annual, 1913, ed by Flora Klickmann

    On stop number two, Angharad presented us with a wide selection of garments and accessories from all over the British Isles, from gainsay sweaters to fair isle shawls and from aran jumpers to rare gloves from the Yorkshire Dales. These beautiful Dent gloves were dated 1910 and were most likely "knitted for best" as they are in such great condition. 

    The Knitting& Crochet Guild Collection
    Close up of 1910 Yorkshire Dales gloves

    Maureen's presentation began with her taking the top off an old shell canister to reveal that it was full of knitting needles! The canister and needles had been donated to the Guild, but there was little information about the owner. Cataloguing information had to be worked out by the approximate date of the canister and the materials used to make the needles. This was a great example illustrating the kind of social history clues that the Lee Mills team use to date items n the Collection. Another section of the knitting equipment collection includes a huge number of needle gauges and a clue for dating these items is the conversion from imperial to metric systems in the early 1970s. Some of the gauges also have yarn company logos and magazine names printed on them. 

    The Knitting & Crochet Guild Collection
    Needle Gauges 

    The Guild visits many knitting and crochet shows throughout the year and our stand is always decorated with a theme. This year we are focusing on colour work. In our last presentation at Lee Mills, Julia showed us her design development for the boards that will be used on the stands. Each board relates to a season and Julia has selected stitch patterns from lots of items in the collection to create beautiful borders, birds, animals and scenery. I really enjoyed hearing about all the work Julia put into the boards and how she selected the designs. This innovative way to promote colour work had us all guessing which part of which design came from which garment!

    The Knitting & Crochet Guild
    Autumn Display Board
    Thank you very much to the whole Collection Team for making our visit so informative and inspiring. We'll all be looking out for more opportunities to visit again.

    Members of The Knitting & Crochet Guild Collection Team

    We returned to the University for the formal welcome and introduction to the Conference, followed by two breakout sessions before dinner. Delegates explored "How to host a trunk show" with Angharad and "Turning a group into a Guild Branch" with Barbara. 

    Our Conference dinner was held at Halifax Hall on the Campus and after our meal we were delighted to hear from our keynote speaker, Susan Crawford. Along with other Conference delegates, I have been following Susan's amazing work over the years. In particular, her current project on Vintage Shetland Knitting has generated a huge amount of excitement in the world of knitting! The crowdfunding for the Vintage Shetland project was so oversubscribed that Susan has been able to add more information, detail and images to the book of the project than she had originally planned. Susan told us about her long-held passion for Shetland knitting and about the challenges she faced in recreating these stunning garments. Her husband's system for translating the data she gathered from the archive garments into new charts and a virtual knitted fabric was really clever. There were gasps from the audience when Susan revealed some of the stunning finished garments. Each one had a very interesting story and it was fascinating to hear how much work had gone into getting each one just right. Thank you so much to Susan for this personal insight into the project and the chance to look closely at the garments. I can't wait for my book to arrive in mid August!

    The Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention 2016
    Keynote Speaker, Susan Crawford

    The Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention 2016
    Keynote Speaker, Susan Crawford discussing garments with delegates

    The second day of the Conference began with a very colourful talk by Nic Rudd about her journey from full time teacher to indie yarn dyer as "Yarns from the Plain". This is the Cheshire Plain and Nic uses lots of local names for her yarns. Her yarn range includes a special blend by John Arbon that is made up of Exmoor Blueface and Alpaca and has a very soft feel. Beautiful scarves made in Nics Yarn were passed around the room including a lovely design that was on the cover of Inside Crochet. Nic said that she probably should streamline the colours she produces, but she is inspired by so many different things that she frequently feels like a kid in a sweet shop when it comes to colour choices! Look out for Nic and her lovely yarns over the next few months at Shows all over the country.

    The Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention 2016
    Nic Rudd, Yarns from the Plain
    The Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention 2016
    Yarns from the Plain Crochet Scarf

    Our AGM in the late morning took care of the formal business of the weekend.The Guild currently has 29 active branches and our membership recently increased by over 30%, with new members joining from all over the world. Our 763 members all receive Slipknot, our Guild publication. Slipknot has recently been updated and reformatted and now includes colour photos as well as lots of interesting articles and news items by members. The Yarn Shop Scheme is also expanding. Fiona has written to over 200 yarn shops to tell them about the Guild and encourage them to join. So far 25 have signed up and Fiona is actively looking to expand our links to many more.

    The AGM was followed by a very helpful session on "how to get the best out of the Guild's Facebook page". Rebecca and the Guild's Facebook moderating team, Marion, Jacqui and Lin lead us all through the main points, from logging on, to sharing photos and this was much appreciated by delegates.

    The Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention 2016
    KCG Facebook Moderating Team
    The Guild Convention is known for hosting a great selection of workshops and this year was no exception. Five excellent workshops ran during the afternoon, covering a variety of knitting and crochet techniques and, from the positive feedback afterwards, all delegates enjoyed themselves. I certainly enjoyed the Möbius knitting workshop that was run by Sarah Cage. Sarah had brought some of her own möbius knits for us to see, including a fascinating hat design. She also provided us with great handouts on the möbius technique, focusing on the critical cast on. The other workshops were Two colour double knitting with Fiona Morris; Advanced Tunisian crochet with Lindy Zubairy; Shawl design (crochet) with Ann Flanagan; Victorian knitting patterns with Lesley O'Connell Edwards. Barbara has blogged about Lesley's workshop and you can read her post here.

    My favourite part of the convention was the Show and Tell. This year delegates had brought along an amazing selection of fabulous knitting and crochet. Unfortunately it was a bit dark in the bar area for photographs, but I hope that the photos below show some of the wide range of skills we have amongst our members.

    The Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention 2016
    Show and Tell

    The Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention 2016
    Show and Tell
    The Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention 2016
    Show and Tell
    The Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention 2016
    Show and Tell
    Sunday morning began with a very interesting presentation by Zoe Fletcher. Zoe's research for her PhD, "Designing for Breed" is all about promoting British Breeds in the world of design and pushing the perception of British wool from coarse and itchy to luxurious. Having collected samples of 72 pure breed sheep fibres, along with SEM imaging scans for them all, Zoe has created a database using Shima Seiki 3D knitting technology. This allows virtual knitted samples to be mapped onto body shapes for a realistic finished garment look. Zoe's beautiful illustrations nd user-friendly designs are integral to her PhD and her aim to communicate the properties of each individual type of sheep fleece in a way that encourages wide-spread use. Lots of us also took the chance to buy one of her lovely sheep breed posters.

    The Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention 2016
    Zoe Fletcher

    The Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention 2016
    A selection of Zoe's samples

    Our second set of workshops began mid morning and again, it had been hard to choose which one to do! Although I have designed several wraps, I always want to learn more about design techniques and was therefore delighted to be in the Shawl Design workshop lead by Ann and Katie. This workshop was a great example of collaboration within the Guild. Ann and Katie had never met before the Convention, but as they both have lots of Shawl knitting knowledge, they had decide to do a joint workshop. The planning took place via email and Skype and the resulting workshop was a great success. They started us all on a miniature Stonington Shawl sample and then shared some of their own amazing shawls with us. We looked at several different kinds of shawl construction in different weights of yarn and at a range of books and publications. I really enjoyed this workshop and once again, have learned very useful new techniques. The other workshops running at the same time were Mitred Squares with Anne Scahil; Double Filet Crochet with Barbara Mann; New Approaches to Fair Isle knitting with Rita Taylor and Broomstick Crochet with Helen Jordan.

    The Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention 2016
    Shawl Design Workshop with Ann and Katie

    The Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention 2016
    Shawl Design Workshop with Ann and Katie

    All too soon it was time to leave, but we all have details of next year's convention in Birmingham 7th - 9th July 2017 and I am so looking forward to seeing everyone then. Thank you very much to Tricia and all our Board members for an excellent Convention. I really value the opportunity to learn new techniques, socialise with other members and most importantly, be part of such a welcoming, inclusive, positive community.