#knitsonikmittsalong

Following the KNITSONIK blog post series on swatching I have been thinking about the next KNITSONIK swatch-a-long.

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I’ve made no secret of my love for THE SWATCH! But I also sympathise with comrades wishing to WEAR the results of any time spent knitting. And I am thrilled every time a new project turns up on Ravelry in which an ingenious knitter has applied The KNITSONIK System to the production of wearable garments.

swatch-mitts made by Torirot;Acernegundo; and skazyla
swatch-mitts made by Torirot;Acernegundo; and skazyla

These objects reveal their maker’s creative process. They are true originals and one-offs, as beautiful in concept as design. Each pair of mitts that is made as a swatch reflects the particular priorities and creative focus of its maker: they couldn’t have been made by anyone else.

The KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook advocates the swatch as a superlative testing ground for ideas because sometimes the pressure of having to make something wearable can inhibit our impulse to take risks and to try things out. But knitters are thrifty and practical folk and reading your comments on my swatching post series and also the notes on these projects makes me think that perhaps for some comrades the prospect of making a swatch that can’t be worn is more of a barrier to creativity than the pressures of wracking your brains to make something you’d be proud to wear.

All of which is a long preamble to say that in the next KNITSONIK swatch-a-long, the Fingerless Mitts pattern from the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook will be our playground for swatching. It is a MITTS-A-LONG rather than a SWATCH-A-LONG (though if you want to make a swatch of course I won’t discourage you!)

KNITSONIK MITTS-A-LONG: OCT 1ST 2015 - JANUARY 31ST 2016
KNITSONIK MITTS-A-LONG: OCT 1ST 2015 – JANUARY 31ST 2016

The mitts-a-long runs like this: comrades cast on Fingerless Mitts on 1st October, making up patterns and ideas as we go, and each ending up with a pair of mitts based on the same inspiration source. By all working from the same source and with the same sorts of colours, we will learn TONS from each other about how yarn shades interact with one another.

I put the subject of the inspiration source to public vote and it was this photos of the ancient Roman wall at Silchester that seemed to hold the broadest appeal. I am immensely happy that you all liked this beauteous old wall as much as I do! I photographed it in the midst of working on my book last year. It was Mark’s birthday and we had gone for a walk. Working on the book had put stranded colourwork to the forefront of my mind, and the glorious flint stones, velvety moss and greeny shades struck me as a treasure trove of inspiration. How lovely it will be to now explore that all with you.

Roman Wall at Silchester
Roman Wall at Silchester

I also consulted with comrades on Ravelry in the KNITSONIK forum on whether or not my producing a kit would be enabling for knitters wishing to participate in the mitts-a-long. Some folks were excited about the possibility of having that option so I have been assembling a very limited number of kits that include 8 balls of Jamieson & Smith 2-Ply Jumper Weight in appropriate shades. These kits will go on sale at the Yarn in The City pop-up marketplace tomorrow. Unsold kits will be posted up for sale afterwards on Sunday in my online shop.

KNITSONIK mitts-a-long kits
KNITSONIK mitts-a-long kits

Jamieson & Smith have a stupendous range of greys and greens and other appropriate Roman wall shades of yarn…

yarn shades for the mitts-a-long
yarn shades for the mitts-a-long

As well as 8 balls of Jamieson & Smith 2-ply Jumper Weight yarn these kits contain a card printout with several views of the inspiration source for reference; a print out of the Fingerless Mitts pattern that appears in the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook (includes blank chart templates to fill out as you go); two sets of bamboo DPNs in the appropriate sizes; and a button-badge declaring your participation in the mitts-a-long:

MITTS-A-LONG BADGE!
MITTS-A-LONG BADGE!

All this comes in a canvas tote with KNITSONIK emblazoned on the side and costs £25 + P&P. There is no requirement for you to buy this kit in order to participate in the mitts-a-long and you don’t have to use the Fingerless Mitts pattern supplied in the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook as your template if you would rather use an alternative pattern. I have merely created these guidelines and options to make translating the world into stranded colourwork as easy and appealing as possible.

When you have finished experimenting with your palettes, patterns and shading to create a pair of mitts based on the Roman wall at Silchester, please upload your project photos to Ravelry with the tags #knitsonikmittsalong, and #KNITSONIK as this will enable other participants to see your work as in previous KNITSONIK swatch-a-longs, #knitsonikpomegranates and #knitsonikcaterpillars. At the end of the #knitsonikmittsalong I shall write about our endeavours so that we can all learn from each other’s amazing knitting adventures.

While we are on the subject of amazing mitts as a canvas for colourwork creativity, can I show you Fidlstix’s Color Study Mitts and More Color Study Mitts? I am a huge fan of Fidlstix and her mitts are a delight for the wealth of ideas they contain and for their matchy-by-not-matching aesthetic. I’ll bet they are as fun to wear as they were to knit, and for anyone considering using fingerless mitts as an experimental canvas, I think the idea to repeat the same motifs on each hand but to change the colour sequencing for each one is genius…it is one of many things you could try out if participating in the mitts-a-long!

Some more color study mitts -Happy #fairislefriday Happy #knitting

A photo posted by fidlstix (@fidlstix) on

…for further ideas please feel free to visit the KNITSONIK mitts-a-long Pinterest board.

MITTS-A-LONG KITS FROM KNITSONIK, £25 + P&P
MITTS-A-LONG KITS FROM KNITSONIK, £25 + P&P
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KNITSONIK at Yarn in the City this Saturday

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The KNITSONIK HQ is a hive of industry this week because on Saturday I shall be one of the vendors at the Yarn in the City pop-up Marketplace. I am really looking forward to it!

I always enjoy these sorts of things but I am extra excited about the YITC pop-up Marketplace because I loved working with Rachel and Allison of YITC earlier this year and it will be great to see them again; because my good friend Brenda Dayne is presenting her brilliant project A Memorable Yarn and it will be wonderful to experience this work; and because my tremendous partner – Mark – is putting in a rare appearance on the KNITSONIK stall, and I know that him being there will just be lovely.

Mark - superlative booth babe!
Mark – superlative booth babe!

Those of you who listen to the KNITSONIK podcast might know Mark as the composer of this amazing jingle:

Mark is also an expert in the art of fruitcake appreciation and has become quite knowledgeable on the subject of selecting yarn shades for stranded colourwork projects! He has seen the less glamorous side of the KNITSONIK mission (our house filling up endlessly with yarn, books and sometimes stress…) and I confess to being rather excited to share the really fun stuff with him, i.e. meeting comrades and huffing yarn fumes. Because the best thing about these events is meeting YOU and sharing our mutual delight for knitting.

Carol Thorpe from the Oxford Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers turning up on the KNITSONIK stall at WOOLFEST - one of many social highlights of the show!
My friend Carol Thorpe from the Oxford Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers turning up on the KNITSONIK stall at WOOLFEST – one of many social highlights of the show!

I’ve been thinking hard about what to bring to YITC and, as well as copies of the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook, there will be several other things on sale at the KNITSONIK booth including paper patterns for Layter, Blayter; KNITSONIK Knitted Speakers Concept; and SLICE!

KNITSONIK paper patterns
KNITSONIK paper patterns

There will also be WOVEMBER button badges for sale for those of you who want to WOVIFY YOURSELVES ahead of this year’s celebrations; some button-badges made from the very last pieces of custom-printed KNITSONIK fabric; badge-sets celebrating the translation of everyday inspirations into stranded colourwork, and a few extra surprises dependent on the speediness of PARCELFORCE.

In the meantime: if you are near Oxford tomorrow, don’t forget that I will be at Darn it and Stitch collecting textile stories for this!

SEE YOU IN OXFORD AND/OR LONDON,
YOURS IN TEXTILES, SOUNDS AND FUN,
FX

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KNITSONIK 10 – EDDIE, my beloved digital sound recorder (Part 3)

Part 3 of the EDDIE epic is here! For context you might want to relisten to parts 1 and 2; in this final installment we are ALL ABOUT THE SOUNDS because we have a really special guest on the show – my long-term comrade in sound and fellow composer and soundartist, Patrick McGinley of framework radio.

Patrick doing some kind of silly tea face on our road trip to Hawick in 2013
Patrick doing some kind of silly tea face on our road trip to Hawick in 2013

As ever, you can hear the podcast by subscribing through iTunes, listening through the player below, or downloading it directly from its page on Internet Archive. The KNITSONIK podcast is now also available through Stitcher Radio.

Part 3 of the epic EDDIE trilogy opens with myself and Patrick discussing the now long gone Estonian spring, and listening to some beautiful recordings of a woodpecker on a tree in Finland. This tree.

The dead tree in Finland in which a woodpecker was pecking, the sound of which features in this KNITSONIK episode. Recording and photo by Patrick McGinley.
The dead tree in Finland in which a woodpecker was pecking, the sound of which features in this KNITSONIK episode. Recording and photo by Patrick McGinley.

We reflect on some of the things that have been going on chez KNITSONIK… family illness; going to Woolfest; being not very well; working on The Fabric of Oxford for The Museum of Oxford and acquiring ducks

DUCKS! Say hello to Honey, Bonbon & Pretzel; the new family additions chez KNITSONIK
DUCKS! Say hello to Honey, Bonbon & Pretzel; the new family additions chez KNITSONIK

We continue with the theme from parts 1 and 2, looking at the sonic inspirations sourced and found with my trusty EDIROL R-09.

EDDIE my affectionately nicknamed EDIROL R-09 digital sound recorder
EDDIE my affectionately nicknamed EDIROL R-09 digital sound recorder

Some of the sounds in the podcast this week…

I share a custom ring-tone created out of nephew Barnaby’s new words “ndunga” and a new composition created with elastic bands, tupperware and coffee pot. (We are keeping it real here on the KNITSONIK podcast.) There is also a nice sheep recording from Woolfest.

framework:500

KNITSONIK has been contributing content and shows to framework:radio show since 2004. Framework is the longest-running show of its kind and a focal point for many artists working with sound and especially with field recordings. In this show, Patrick McGinley reflects on this show and talks about the commemorative release produced earlier this year to coincide with its 500th episode. Framework is completely run on volunteer work and listener donations.

framework:500 - a special audio release created in celebration of the 500th(!) edition of framework radio show which premiered on sunday, february 22nd, 2015
framework:500 – a special audio release created in celebration of the 500th(!) edition of framework radio show which premiered on sunday, february 22nd, 2015
handmade editions of framework:500 available from the framework radio website for donations of €40 or more towards the continuation of the show
handmade editions of framework:500 available from the framework radio website for donations of €40 or more towards the continuation of the show

Tracks from framework:500 featured in this podcast include Peter Cusack’s recording of milking a camel; my own recording of fermenting madder; and Echo by Keith de Mondenco.

In my recording you can hear fermentation taking place in a saucepan full of madder root and water
In my recording you can hear fermentation taking place in a saucepan full of madder root and water

I also include Patrick’s amazing recordings of the paper mill and printing press wherein the sleeves for framework:500 were created.

Patrick recording the sounds of the printing press where the CD sleeves for framework:500 were printed
Patrick recording the sounds of the printing press where the CD sleeves for framework:500 were printed

More sounds…

As Patrick and I are both field-recordists, we have plenty of things to share in terms of our appreciation for sound, so after talking about framework:500 we discuss the joy of some of our fortuitous sonic discoveries and recording moments.

Most of these encounters between ourselves and the sonic world are documented on the aporee sound maps built by our mutual friend Udo Noll… you can find the original recordings by searching our names under the extended search function:

to find sounds on aporee, click on extended search and enter your terms...
to find sounds on aporee, click on extended search and enter your terms…
Search for sounds, place names, artist names, anything...
Search for sounds, place names, artist names, anything…
many hours of sound uploaded by Felicity Ford to the aporee soundmap by Udo Noll
many hours of sound uploaded by Felicity Ford to the aporee soundmap by Udo Noll

In this episode I play Clanging wires inside a lamp-post in Reading; Spontaneous fermentation in the Cantillon brewery in Belgium; Snow on roses in Berlin… and myself and Patrick McGinley talk about our memories of recording those sounds. We focus especially on recordings made with our respective small recorders. I use EDIROL R-09 and Patrick uses a Sony PCM M10.

KNITSONIK recording kit with EDDIE, Wonders of Electricity Mitts and Caller Herrin' hat - high wool content for recordist comfort and lack of annoying clothes noises in the recordings
KNITSONIK recording kit with EDDIE, Wonders of Electricity Mitts and Caller Herrin’ hat – high wool content for recordist comfort and lack of annoying clothes noises in the recordings

KNITTING!

It’s been all about the swatching here on KNITSONIK and there was a long series of blog posts on the topic which you might enjoy reading if you’ve not already read it:

On swatching: have your say!
Reasons for swatching
On swatching: redefining useful
On swatching: Frangipani Caterpillars
Money, Time and Swatching
Is swatching indulgent?
Yarn costs and swatching

There were also some amazing swatches produced by KNITSONIK comrades during the Frangipani caterpillars swatch-a-long; if you click on the picture below it will take you to the projects on Ravelry but you can also read our thread about it here.

Swatches by Ines1, julischkam, me, sorosa and Fiberfryd...
Swatches by Ines1, julischkam, me, sorosa and Fiberfryd…

I then reveal my plans to celebrate the amazing Missy Elliott in Stranded Colourwork.

Missy Elliott and Timbaland in Under Construction album artwork
Missy Elliott and Timbaland in Under Construction album artwork

I discuss working from the album artwork for “Under Construction” as an opening point for developing my epic Woolly tribute to my favourite megastar.

Missy Elliott inspired stranded colourwork
Missy Elliott inspired stranded colourwork

I describe how the signature phrase “This Is A Missy Elliott Exclusive” has influenced my design.

The podcast wraps up with a mention of progress on The Fabric of Oxford and The KNITSONIK Audible Textures Resource.

Until next time,
YOURS IN SOUNDS,
FX

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#fabricofoxford update – tell me your stories!

As some of you may know, I am working on a commission for The Museum of Oxford’s 40th Anniversary Celebrations. The project is called The Fabric of Oxford and it celebrates the history of the city of Oxford through stories and sounds relating to its textiles.

Like many of my projects – and my podcastsThe Fabric of Oxford celebrates the links between sounds, textiles and a sense of place.

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Some of the stories collected so far include memories of Textra – a textile-design company that produces fabric for many of the city’s hotels and hospitals; discussions of outfits worn by the Ashnah Bellydancers and the Oxford Roller Derby; interviews from members of the Oxford Barn Weavers; a description of Subfusc (the academic uniform worn by students attending the University of Oxford) and recollections of Miss Doering who roamed Portmeadow tending to the horses in a most memorable outfit.

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But there are yet more stories – more yarns – to be gathered, and that’s where you come in.

The Museum of Oxford and Darn It And Stitch are kindly supporting two public KNITSONIK collection events scheduled for Saturday 29th August and Thursday 3rd September. On these days I want to record your Oxford-based textile stories… your accounts of clothes you have made or worn in the city; your memories of special shopping experiences buying significant outfits; your amazing charity-shop discoveries; outfits which are in some way important to you. I’m also interested in stories about:

Witney Blanket production in Oxford
Crafts and dressmaking in Oxford
Festive outfits and party clothes
Academic garb – Subfusc, outfits worn to balls and parties etc.
Clothes worn for the purposes of cycling in Oxford
Your favourite High Street experiences, purchases and memories
Amazing charity-shop finds
Memories of Annabelinda’s shop on Gloucester Green
Garments worn for special occasions

Your textile stories are amazing

In the course of this project a few very modest souls have said “I’d love to speak to you but I have nothing interesting to say”. Folk who preface their words in this way invariably go on to say something fascinating and I have honestly not yet heard a boring story in my quest to explore Oxford’s history through its textiles.

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No story is too mundane or trivial for this is a project precisely about the little things and how individual decisions and actions collectively shape a city and contribute to its atmosphere. History projects can sometimes be quite generalised and epic in their scope, but The Fabric of Oxford celebrates a regional history that is both specific and quotidian. In forgotten hat boxes, old dancing shoes, hand-knitted acrylic jumpers for school, treasured ensembles worn for best, how sewing used to be taught, first sewing projects, spare buttons kept in a tin…

The Fabric of Oxford is made of many slender threads.

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So do come along and add a few of your own! You are warmly invited to a yarn-gathering event to tell your story and to make a special fabric badge as a memento of your contribution.

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FORTHCOMING YARN-GATHERING EVENTS

THE MUSEUM OF OXFORD
St. Aldates, OX1 1BX
Sat 29th August 2015. 11am – 4pm

DARN IT AND STITCH
Blue Boar St., 6 St. Aldates, OX1 1DL
Thu 3rd September 2015. 11am – 5pm

I really hope to see you there, please feel free to share these images and this invitation widely across your networks and please use #fabricofoxford if discussing on Twitter or instagram!

When the only available microphone stand is me… #knitsonik #fabricofoxford #fieldrecording

A photo posted by Felicity Ford (@knitsonik) on

YOURS IN STORIES,
FX

POSTER 4 with logos

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The Vintage Shetland Project

The Vintage Shetland Project by Susan Crawford
The Vintage Shetland Project by Susan Crawford

I am sure that by now you have all heard of Susan Crawford‘s fantastic Vintage Shetland Project. Several years of research have gone into the project already and Susan is now summarising her work into a majestic book that I am sure you will want to own.

Get your mitts on Susan's book in time for Christmas by donating to the Pubslush campaign
Get your mitts on Susan’s book in time for Christmas by donating to the Pubslush campaign! (TEX 2004-416 1950s ladies mittens)

Susan’s Work

I first learnt of Susan’s work through our mutual friends and comrades Rachael Matthews and Louise Harries. Earlier books produced by Susan are sold at Prick Your Finger – the haberdashery and gallery owned by Rachael – and I have a vague memory of sitting in the shop one day with Louise and Rachael and hearing all about Susan’s wonderful way of working… her attention to detail… her fabulous sense of dress… her wondrous husband and graphic designer, Gavin… and how thorough she is in her work. I got the impression from my friends that all Susan’s books are a true labour of love, crafted to the highest possible standard, thoroughly researched, and made with epic respect for VINTAGE. This impression was confirmed when I met Susan for myself at a lovely afternoon tea held here in Reading in 2010 by Jelly. Susan brought along sample garments from Vintage Gifts to Knit and gave a talk. I took a fan-girly photo of her surrounded by her knitting and radiant in a vintage dress to which my dodgy photos really don’t do justice!

Susan Crawford in Reading!
Susan Crawford in Reading!

In this photo Susan was holding up a vintage knitting pattern and explaining how the design and style of this pattern had informed decisions about the layout and fonts for Vintage Gifts to Knit.

Susan explains about typefaces
Susan explaining about typefaces

This typifies Susan’s approach to celebrating the whole premise of Vintage knitwear – everything about it from the contexts in which knitters of the past knitted to the typefaces and styling on vintage knitwear patterns. Susan’s books are not simply about how to recreate vintage garments; they are immersive tomes in which time, knitting and history are intertwined. One of the things I am especially excited about with The Vintage Shetland Project is how Susan will apply her unique vision to the amazing context of Shetland with its long and rich history of knitwear production.

What’s in The Book?

The Vintage Shetland Project has been supported by Carol Christiansen, textile curator at the Shetland Museum, and Susan has researched hand-knitted garments and accessories held in the museum’s archives from the 20th Century. She has studied 25 pieces, recorded their construction stitch for stitch, and recreated them for the Vintage Shetland Project. The pieces have been developed into comprehensive multi-sized knitting patterns, complete with instructions and technical advice, and illustrated with colour photography shot in a special location in Shetland. As well as all this, each garment featured in the book will be presented with its back story and context, enabling contemporary knitters to understand the particular history of each one.

I am excited to see how Susan will recreate the garments, such as with this contemporary version of a 1950s beaded yoke sweater…

TEX 203-179 Beaded yoke jumper - 1950s
TEX 203-179 Beaded yoke jumper – 1950s
TEX203-179 contemporary sample in Fenella blocking out
TEX 203-179 contemporary sample in Fenella blocking out

…and thrilled by her emphasis on exploring the original story of each piece of knitwear featured in her book.

This sweater was knitted for Ralph Paterson by his fiancé, Doris Hunter, and described by Sarah Laurenson in Shetland Textiles: 800 BC to the Present as “a site of personal and political meanings containing traces of world events and the lives of individuals.” This is an especially self-evident example, but I think that all clothes are in one way or another a site of meaning, and I’m thrilled that this aspect of the textiles in the Shetland Museum will be a focus in Susan’s book.

A much darned and very poignant sweater from the Shetland Museum archives which will feature in Susan's forthcoming book
A much darned and very poignant sweater from the Shetland Museum archives which will feature in Susan’s forthcoming book

Shetland

My own visits to Shetland have been life-changing. The people and the landscape and the sheep and the knitwear occupy a very big place in my heart and the wealth of knitting knowledge held in the islands is astounding. Susan clearly feels the same! I have loved following the whole blog tour associated with Susan’s Pubslush campaign, but it has been particularly exciting to read about it on the blogs of some of my Shetland comrades – Louise Scollay, Ella Gordon, Jamieson & Smith, Hazel Tindall – and to get extra insights from them about some of the pieces Susan plans to feature in her collection.

TEX 1995-103 'prisoner of war' jumper
TEX 1995-103 ‘prisoner of war’ jumper

Many of the items in the textile collection are not in pristine conditon. Some have needed heavy repair or modification and others have had holes darned with different coloured threads. Even kept in archive conditions the garments will deteriorate. Susan explains how recreating these items helps to keep the items alive for future generations.

“I hope to extend their life in another way, recording their image, their patterns, their stitches, and their past and enabling knitters to read these histories and to be able to recreate these perfectly flawed knits too.”

The ethnologist in me is cock-a-hoop – design, social history and true narratives are all knit in each stitch and it is fantastic that these garments can now be knit and loved by so many others, rather than safe in an archive.”

Louise Scollay

Susan studying knitwear in the Shetland Museum
Susan studying knitwear in the Shetland Museum

We, as Shetlanders, have to appreciate the people who have an interest in Shetland and Shetland Knitting and that are willing to publish things like this, I know from my work at J&S that people are constantly looking for books about Shetland knitting and Fair Isle.

– Ella Gordon

TEX 1996-22 Sleeve join details and evidence of wear and tear
TEX 1996-22 Sleeve join details and evidence of wear and tear

This book will be a welcome addition to anyone interested in Shetlands textile heritage, here at J&S we work very hard to keep this strong heritage alive and well so we are really excited to see the book when it comes out!

Jamieson & Smith

TEX 852 Beautiful shoulder detail
TEX 852 Beautiful shoulder detail

I don’t knit a lot of lace but the “Aald Shell” pattern is one of my favourites, most commonly seen in “da bord” of a hap. It’s a favourite as I can keep it in my head as it’s so easy. It’s versatile and effective when worked in two or more colours, and can be varied by having different numbers of stitches between the grouped decreases. I have used it a few times in garments, for example Jolbeth. It is fascinating to see one of the short sleeved tops Susan has chosen to recreate. It is from the 1960s and is knitted in what I call “Aald Shell” but others may call “Feather and Fan” or “Fan and Feather”. This beautiful top has an attractive button fastening – and beautiful buttons too – at the neck, and shaped sleeve tops. I can see this being very popular with knitters.

Hazel Tindall

I have seen some of the garments that will feature in Susan’s book for myself in the archives of the Shetland Museum and the thought of being able to understand them more completely through Susan’s texts and patterns is a fine prospect indeed…

TEX 8946 1920s cross over front tunic with matching tam
TEX 8946 1920s cross over front tunic with matching tam
TEX 8945 full detail
TEX8945 full detail
 TEX 0229 beret
TEX0229 beret

…what is brilliant about Susan’s book is that it will allow contemporary knitters to connect with historic textiles personally, through the actual practice of knitting. It is this physical connection with the past – and with the knitters of the past – that makes The Vintage Shetland Project so exciting.

Support the project!

As with my own book and Kickstarter campaign, Susan needs to raise money for the actual printing and shipping of the book. Many knitters are obviously really excited about the project as the initial funding target was smashed just a few days after the campaign went live! However extra pledges made at this stage will go towards the enhancement of the final object, and pledging towards the campaign is now the only way to ensure that you receive a copy of this wondrous tome in time for Christmas.

Thank you for reading and do remember to visit Susan’s campaign page for more information here; it’s been a pleasure having The Vintage Shetland Project on the KNITSONIK blog!

YOURS IN AMAZING SELF-PUBLISHING VENTURES,
Fx

Photos used with kind permission of Susan Crawford

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