Monday 22 October 2012

Yorkshire Wool Week

This week has been Yorkshire Wool Week  at Armley Mills Industrial Museum in Leeds, organised by the Baa Ram Ewe yarn shop.  I went to the closing event today - a class given by Amy Singer of Knitty on designing a lace shawl.  She was teaching what she calls "plug-and-play"  techniques that you can use to turn any rectangular or square lacy stitch pattern into a triangular shawl.  It was a lot of fun, and I now have a test swatch of my chosen lace pattern and a tiny knitted triangle which in time will grow into a much larger knitted triangle, i.e. a shawl. 

We all got enough yarn to make a sizeable shawl.  The original plan was that it should be Titus, a new wool and alpaca yarn developed for Baa Ram Ewe, and reviewed in Knitter's Review  earlier this month.  But the review was so favourable that the shop has run out of Titus, so instead we got 4 balls of  Excellana, a British wool yarn that comes in a range of lovely vintagey colours.  Mine is eau de nil, a very 30s colour (or "Nile Green" as it says on the ball-band, which isn't half so evocative).  And we get the Titus yarn as well, when they get some more in stock.  Lucky us!

At Lee Mills, we had put together a display of some of  the Knitting and Crochet Guild's collections for Yorkshire Wool Week.  Now that the collections are better sorted and recorded, it's possible to choose a theme and find a suitable selection of items.  This one was of picture sweaters (mainly from the 1980s).   When Verity of Baa Ram Ewe came to visit Lee Mills and discuss what should be in the display,  she saw some picture sweaters and thought they were completely charming. ("Bonkers" was the word she actually used.)

I took some photographs of the display before I packed up the sweaters to bring back.  Judging by the reactions of the people at this morning's class,  they created a lot of interest - especially one with a picture of the Ribblehead viaduct, with train.  That was one of four by Sandra Inskip with Yorkshire landscapes in natural grey sheep colours, all beautifully knitted.

Another sweater with salmon (?) leaping up a waterfall and integrated mittens in the shape of a fish's head also attracted a lot of attention (in a "What on earth?!" kind of way).   The mittens are enormous - it must be intended for a large man.  It was paired in the display with a beautifully-made cardigan with a landscape all round the body as well as on the sleeves, involving different textures as well as a whole range of subtle colours.   If picture sweaters are at all acceptable, that one is my favourite.

There were some rather more ordinary landscape sweaters, too, and two wonderful creations with a tiger and a polar bear.   (I'm sure I have seen someone wearing a polar bear sweater recently.  Hopefully, it was in a spirit of irony.) 


 And there was also a panel of children's picture sweaters. If a child is small enough, you can put it into any clothes you like, so these may not be a product of 1980s - more the effect of adults thinking that children in picture sweaters are really cute.

The handiwork in some of these sweaters is admirable.  I still don't think that you should wear a knitted picture of the Ribblehead viaduct across your chest.  Of course, it was different in the 1980s - we didn't have any taste then.  

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