So, last post I said the following, and at the time I really thought that it would happen…
Huzzah! IngridMurnane.com is fully up and running, and IngridNation will be going into stasis, so please do come and join me over there instead.
The key bit, the ‘IngridNation will be going into stasis’ part, well… by the fact that you’re reading this you can perhaps guess now that that is no longer true.
I have been struggling for a while with the parallel threads (for me) of textile history, and textile art designing and making. For my practice, it isn’t very often that the two worlds entirely collide. I have tried cajoling them into better alignment, wondering whether I should designed a hat that is inspired by the movies of the 1930s, or make more work investigating the domestic interiors of the interwar years. However the problem with this is that it is forced. I’d much rather be experimenting on my spinning wheel, or adding to my exhibition plans with the Sherlock Holmes socks. Try as I might, I can’t get that excited about making anything which comes out of the ideas and areas that I get so insanely excited to research and write about. Anyway, Susan does vintage design so much better than me!
So, in explanation for the future… for textile history of all kinds, craft skills acquisition research, and general museumy stuff, go to IngridMurnane.com. For textile art, making, patterns, techniques and tutorials, stay here with IngridNation. Or maybe (and I’d really like this), read both!
I’ll be posting to both blogs a couple of times each week, as well as to the knitonthenet blog which is up and running again after a bit of a sabbatical, so I do hope that you come along for the ride.
It’s been a big decision and a long time coming, so after biting the bullet, I’d love to know what you think about the split and this new set up. Let me know in the comments.
I first met one of the owners of Historic Crafts, Eddie, a couple of years ago when I started attending a local knitting group. We didn’t speak much at first, and I really don’t know why, because she turned out to be a very friendly Danish archaeologist who crochets the most amazing gloves. (and knits, and weaves, and sews …and I could go on).
As she knows, I’m a textile historian and big craft geek, so it wasn’t long before Eddie asked me if I’d like to get involved in her new website, Historic Crafts. So late last year I signed up as a blogger and on the launch in January 2010, wrote a little bit about what I do, and more recently some posts about spinning. There are all kinds of articles including using natural dyes, as you can see Historic Crafts blogger, Louise from Haandkraft doing in the image below (image copyright, Haandkraft).
The Historic Crafts website was set up by Eddie Roued-Cunliffe and Helene Agerskov Madsen and is a really great resource for anybody interested in craft history and making in general. It is based on a series of blog posts, how-tos and reviews by a little group of collaborators (you can find them here: bloggers). Some of the posts are even available in Danish!
In June 2010 Eddie and Helene launched the Journal of Historic Crafts as a supplement to the website. It isn’t exactly a more academic tome, but has much more in-depth information. Whereas the blog-posts on the website are slightly more informal and divided into series such as “learning a new craft”, “Easter” or “Spinning”, the Journal has a more overriding theme. You can see one of my posts about the language of flowers there.
Go and take a look! From woodworking to tablet weaving, there really is something for everybody.
This is the lady who got me onto my lifelong making kick. I was first taught to knit, sew and craft by my Nan, Myrtle Francis when I was about 5 years old, in the early 1980s. She seemed to be constantly knitting when I was young – she would make jumpers and cardigans for me with intarsia Mr Men, Smurfs or Care Bears on them, then later ones with Postman Pat for my sister. My Mum also knitted but with less enthusiasm (and probably with less time available). I remember her making a mohair cardigan for herself which my Dad washed soon after it was completed, shrinking it irretreivably.
She was a prolific knitter and sewer all her life and could easily adapt patterns to fit anyone. She also crocheted and I think kept all this going to ease the pain in her hands from arthritis: the more she used her hands, the longer her joints would keep going.
It was so exciting to go on holiday to her house on the Isle of Wight. I would be collected from the mainland by my Grandad (always known to me as Georgie), and we would take the bus down to get the passenger ferry across to the Island. It was a slow, slow journey on the ferry at that time. Taking almost a hour, there was enough time to have a leisurely lunch and to get out on the top deck to see how close we were to Ryde.
After another ride on the bus to Newport, we were finally there. My Nan had the most wonder understairs cupboard which doubled as a food larder for pickles and jams, and craft supply area, with a good stash of wool and hundreds of patterns from the 1930s on. I was in my element in that cupboard and would sit and play for hours with my friend Amber from across the road.
I was a real bookworm when I was younger (actually, who am I kidding. I’m still a real bookworm. Nothing changes.) One school holiday, after I had read all of the children’s books in the house, and all of Amber’s ones too. My grandparents were fed up with me complaining of being bored, so my Nan taught me to knit on short metal green needles. It was an epiphany and the beginning of an itch that I still have to scratch every single day. I had all the usual problems with dropped stitches and adding about 25 more stitches as my garter stitch scarf grew and grew. It ended up a nicely triangled bright orange thing, but my teddy bear, Robert didn’t seem to mind.
So that’s how I got started. I’m still inspired by my Nan: in photographs, in her knitting patterns and her 1930s sewing book and even when I’m making something and think to myself ‘what would Nan do with this bit I’m stuck on?’
Tell me then, who taught you to make things? What were they like? Do they still inspire you today? Tell me about them in the comments: I’d love to have a conversation about this.
I wrote a micro-study of the above men’s glove pattern which has been in my family for three generations. The pattern is well travelled and means different things to different people, having been used a lot for teaching. It has come to mean much more in my family than ‘just a pattern’; it has a whole life of its own with many layers of social connotations.
The article is adapted from a paper which I first presented at University of Southampton’s In the Loop knitting conference last summer. This is the first time I have submitted an article to be published. When I saw the theme was ‘techniques and traditions’ I thought it might fit right in, so I was delighted when editor Susan Crawford accepted it.
Issue 9, Wanderlust has lots to read and includes some really good patterns: go take a look.
I’m off to make a Mia hat.
Tea is important in my life. In fact it is important in British and Irish life, full stop. I don’t function well without four or five mugs of tea a day. Not at all. …and although I don’t always use one, I do think that tea tastes better when made in a teapot. Which brings me on to a real stereotype: the knitted tea cosy. You know the one. I bet that your Nan had a couple. Mine did.
It looks much like this…
Yep. I made one …and if you put it onto a teapot that is not meant for just one person, it looks far better too!
I didn’t feel that I could very well investigate the insulating properties and constructions of wool without having made its defining entity. I’m secretly rather pleased with it too. I used a beautiful sparkly purply/blue sportweight (I think) wool handspun by a friend as the main colour. The stripes are provided by using some pink and green DK wool.
The inspiration came from an old pattern which was my Nan’s and which I believe she used to make her tea cosies from. Notice the frankly terrifying doll in the right hand pattern.
I used a combination of the above pattern and this one by Keren Smith of Tea By The Sea as I liked her idea of using horizontal stripes. My cosy is neither one pattern nor the other really, but a mash-up and reconstruction.
The reason this kind of pattern makes such a successful cosy is the construction of the knitting which provides two layers of wool with air pockets inbetween. It really does insulate beautifully.
So, I have knitted the prerequisite tea cosy. I thought that would get it out of my system. Well, I suppose it has for knitting tea cosies themselves. I probably won’t be knitting another. How many can you possibly need? However the construction is so good I wouldn’t be surprised if I revisit it somewhere along the line in the other insulation work. Maybe in drawings, maybe as experimentation. Watch this space.
24/5/10: Finally! Here is the tea cosy on a properly fitting teapot.