London Trip

So my husband and I did this honeymoon do-over (let’s not talk about the first one, which was full of sickness and tropical storms) in August. Yes, that is over two months ago. My life has been crazy busy.

London was fantastic. We did so much in the nine days we were there, but could definitely have spent more time.

Not only did I most definitely find a knitting store:

from whence I got some lovely English yarn.

(it’s called Bowland DK by Eden Cottage Yarns. I fell in love with the colour. I also picked up a shawl pin, plus they gave me the bag for free!)

but I also chronicled my fibre-related exploits for y’all. In true librarian fashion.

The sign says:

               This door was at Westminster Abbey, if you’re curious.

I’ll start with a very cool find at All Hallows-by-the-Tower. Though it’s right by the Tower of London, it’s easy to miss. I only found out about it through an obscure blog post. Even my guide book didn’t mention it, but it’s totally worth a visit. Not just for the fibre-craft related objects I’m going to show you, but it’s a beautiful old church. In fact it’s the oldest in London. It was built on the remains of a Roman house and road, which you can still see in the basement. An added bonus? It’s one of the few churches that lets you take photos inside.

See the weird rectangle-shaped objects hanging below the pews? They are cushions: each handmade by a member of the congregation, going back generations. Here are some close-ups:

There is also this lovely weaving near the altar.

Another very cool find was the textile collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

I was SO excited to see these very famous ancient Egyptian socks made for wearing with sandals (ignore the “shoes” description. That’s for another item). These socks are often cited as an example of early knitting made using one needle, much like nålbinding.

The works below are woven tapestries from Byzantium.

The above is a woven silk piece depicting a bishop. It dates to 12-1300’s Germany or Italy. The very modern (i.e.: cartoon-like) looking face (complete with what looks like spectacles!) just kills me.

These woven pieces date to early Christianity in Egypt, around 400-600:

Here is a close up of the tapestry on the left. It depicts ankhs – an ancient Egyptian symbol of life that was adopted by the Christian Copts around the 4th century.

Below we have a quilt dating to 1360-1400. Probably made as a wedding gift, it depicts fourteen episodes from the adventures of Tristan. It was hard to take in all the detail on our camera, but you get the idea: lots and lots of stitching BY HAND. So gorgeous. It really has to be seen in person.

This next one is obviously a passion of the Christ scene. Probably from France around 1400-25. Once again woven BY HAND, folks. Our tour guide told us it took a professional weaver about a month working full time (sunrise to sunset) to make 1 square meter. Remember, most of these were big enough to cover a castle wall!

By the way, if you’re curious why tapestries were so common in the medieval period, here’s an answer: no central heating. Well-to-do homes that could afford tapestries were also typically made of stone. That sh*t gets cold!

We also got to see the famous, and enormous, ‘Boar and Bear Hunt’ woven wool tapestry, probably made in Arras, France or Tournai, Belgium around 1425-30.

The last fibre arts related stop that we made was at the Globe Theatre. I was super stoked to find a whole reproduction of an Elizabethan costume textile workshop in the museum.

Can you say “heaven”?

I really doubt that the following close-up images need introduction. Fleece, yarn, dye pots, sewing, pattern drafting, embroidery and lace work, it’s all here.

Pssst: the velvet above is authentic 15th-17th century Spanish and Italian handmade velvet.

And here we have the costume worn by an actress who played Queen Elizabeth at the Globe re-opening.

Check out the handmade lace!

I’ll end with this cool video my husband took of the Swiss Glockenspeil in Leicester Square near Piccadilly Circus/Covent Garden. Not textile related, but still a pretty cool handicraft.

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TTC Knitalong 2014

A little late, but I changed jobs last week so I’ve been a bit swamped.

Saturday July 12 was the annual TTC Knitalong. It’s that annual event where Toronto’s knitters (and others! I know people come from far and wide) break off into teams and travel from LYS to LYS via Toronto’s public transit system, the TTC. I was on the best team (sorry, everyone else): Team Lace. We got to visit Passionknit, Creative Yarns, The Purple Purl, and Romni Wools.

Here is a great photo of us at the Purple Purl that I stole from Lynn.

Jennifer the Happy has another version of the same picture on Instagram and Twitter:

And here is the day’s stash additions of my 3 knitting group friends and myself. Not too shabby.

I especially enjoy Alia‘s open mouth of joy and Kara’s fingering of the silk ball in the bottom right corner. I regret none of the innuendos in the preceding sentence.

There are more awesome photos in Lynn’s blog post.

Here’s what I got 😀

(click on the photo for what store and colourway/dye lot info)

100% silk! And Passionknit had 25% off all yarn so… I really couldn’t say no.

NEON SOCK YARN. Need I say more? Lynn, Kara, and I decided we had to have it as soon as we saw it at Creative Yarns. Other team members judged us, but I don’t care. At one of our knit nights we plan on all showing up with neon socks-in-progress. It’s going to be epic.

And that is all the yarn I bought. I KNOW, right? But Lord knows I have enough stash at the moment.

BUT, Passionknit was lovely enough to give out free Mirasol lace weight. Yes, you read that right.

Other awesome freebies included this gorgeous wooden crochet hook and some stitch markers from the Purple Purl,

 

 

 

 

and this cool button from Wool Gathering (then again, I love buttons) sporting a sentiment I happen to share,

 

 

 

 

 

 

as well as a bag, back-issue magazine, and yarn from Romni Wools. How incredibly generous LYSes can be.

And here is this year’s official button and bag, both of which are probably my favourite of the three years I’ve been doing this.

I also won a prize! Which floored me, because I never win anything. I won a copy of French Girl Knits by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes and a skein of Diamond Luxury Collection Fine Merino Superwash Lace from Knitty and Diamond, respectively.

And I like almost every pattern in French Girl Knits. Bonus! I mean, how could you not. Look at this gorgeousness:

I also bought two books. This is likely not a surprise to anyone who reads this blog…

Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Workshop is a classic. The late Mrs. Zimmermann was a master knitter from a European generation who memorized “recipes” for patterns, rather than rely on following written patterns verbatim. Take this page from her instructions for The Original Shetland Shawl as an example:

Marianne Kinzel’s First Book of Modern Lace Knitting is in the same vein, albeit the lace work featured in it is so detailed, some instructions are needed. I would like to try this doozy. Wish me luck.

Of course I will be using it as a shawl rather than a dinner cloth 😉 I’ll be damned if I let anyone eat off of this sucker.

Can’t wait till next year’s TTC Knitalong. It will be the 10th anniversary!

Old stuff

I loves it.

I nerded out pretty hardcore when I saw that the decor theme at this restaurant was all vintage knitting and sewing stuff.

And at a used bookstore I recently acquired these:

   

Early American Weaving and Dyeing by J. & R. Bronson was first published in 1817. It discusses how to weave 35 designs and includes 41 dyeing recipes and tips. There is detailed coverage of wool processing, calculating thread, carding and spinning, loom operation, more.

Here are some excerpts:

Needlework as Art by Lady M. Alford is rather self explanatory. It explores the history of needlearts around the world.

Excerpts:

Remember, all of this would have been done by HAND. It blows the mind. This is why I love textiles: it’s history you can hold and use.

Another cool find recently has been a flea market with a large collection of antique crochet. Did you know that all crochet is done by hand? Machines can’t duplicate it like they can with knitting. You can have faux lace made on a machine, but it is just fibres crimped and pressed together cheaply, or in some places acrylic/plastic (shudder), but it will never be true crochet like these beauties:

 

 

 

I included the cake lifter in that last shot because it’s petit point themed. How awesome is that.