can i start by saying how much i missed blogging while i was away?
after all our careful planning, with david spending an inordinate amount of time figuring out how i could put together posts with photos on my iPad, i was crushed to find out that i couldn’t even log onto wifi with the darn thing. it worked fine on my phone, but not on the iPad (apparently, this is a known issue that no one knew how to work around, argh).
so i could talk to david via skype and answer a few emails, but blogging on the little device was really awkward. sorry!
before i get into showing you a week’s worth of photos, let’s get a little unfinished business out of the way—i’m sure you’re all anxious to know who one the beautiful debbie bliss book. and that would be . . . kathleenC! congratulations kathleen; enjoy your future baby knitting.
i spent a bunch of time this morning updating the classes and events page; now all of my definite and tentative teaching dates for the next few months are listed. if you’ve been waiting for one to be scheduled near you, please click here to find out if i’ve been invited to a venue in or near your town.
ok, that’s enough business; let’s look at some london travel photos.
when i arrived bright and early last tuesday morning on the imperial college campus, cookie and alice were there to greet me with big hugs. the rest of the teachers arrived throughout the day and we gathered in the early evening for dinner
this was a wonderful trip for getting to know the other teachers better; during the event, i got to sit with almost all of them to share a meal and talk for a bit. the first evening, we went off for a thai meal
poor clara; she had to wait for hers (this soon became the theme of the evening). however, she was well acquitted at dessert time, being the first in line at the gelateria . . .
the next day, all the teachers met for a selected tour of the textile collection at the victoria and albert museum (if you’ve never been, you can see it online). we began with some items in the costume collection and i thought this piece would be of interest to the beaders among us
the entire dress is beaded in such a way as to produce the optical effect that it is pleated. however, the dress has just one actual pleat (down the left bodice, above)—the rest are an illusion of the beading pattern
humbling, isn’t it?
the earliest piece of actual elastic fabric we saw was part of this coptic religious costume and in real time, it came at the end of the tour, but i’ll show it now for the sake of the timeline i’m drawing
isn’t that red fantastic? just wait til you see what goes with it—i know you’re gonna want to knit a pair . . . all the cool kids are wearing them
these coptic socks are created by nailbinding, not knitted, but i knew you’d like them (and hey, you can replicate them in knit fabric).
the V&A does not own many examples of knitting, but i thought our guide, anne (or ann; i’m not sure), did a great job of choosing interesting pieces of fiberwork and needlework for us to view that represented all of our interests in a progression from the middle ages through the present day, beginning with woven textiles from the middle east and india
i was arrested over and over again by the ones with green and black combinations
we looked at wovens, such as rugs and religious robes, then embroideries
this exquisite floor covering, so well-preserved, is thought to have been a rug that a prince might sit on so as not to have contact with the floor or the ground. it is entirely embroidered in chain-stitched silk flowers to give the impression that he might be seated in a garden.
of course, there were other objects in between which connected the textile story as we moved form room to room, such as these gorgeous screens, carved in arabesques of geometrics and curving patterns derived from the natural environment
these mesmerizing abstract patterns reflect the journey to, and experience of, a more ethereal plane of existence and can be seen everywhere in islamic and middle eastern art, in place of representative images.
as we moved on to printed fabrics, still mostly from the middle east and india
you can see how the same patterns are translated from one art form to another.
notice also, the fine weaving that goes into the fabric; these were produced well before the time of machine looms and some of the garments we saw are absolutely gossamer, using yards upon yards of sheer, handwoven cotton fabric.
(another green and black favorite; i just love cypress trees)
next we moved on to great britain to examine textiles of the tudor and renaissance periods. this fascinating robe is woven in velvet cloth of gold
(it was hard to capture in the darkened gallery, but quite literally, the velvet is aglow with threads of gold woven into the fabric)
in contrast with the lush abstractions of the arabesques, the motifs used here are comprised of more literal, earthbound symbols of the christian faith
as well as what passed for “everyday” scenes from life for the upper classes of the time.
we began to see a few examples of knitting at this point—these three caps are a few of the early handknit pieces they have
this corner gallery is kept quite dark to protect the fabrics, but you can see it better and read more about the knit caps here.
these fabric socks get their stretch from bias-cut fabric, but had to be more tailored to achieve the proper fit. these were worn underneath knit stockings to camouflage leg hair and create a smooth look (but i’m curious about all that stitching that must have been visible through thin stockings . . .)
we moved through the next couple of centuries very quickly, focusing on the examples of handknits in the collection, as well as the influences on modern print design. freedom from religious oppression brought forth a huge evolution in expression and learning of all kinds. the advent of mechanized printing and wider availability of dyes and methods, meant that patterned fabrics were more plentiful to more people. clothing took on a fresh and colorful aspect—an artform of its own for many more people . . . fashion was born.
(i’m simplifying a LOT, but you get the idea)
soon we were seeing more modern examples of handknit pieces, such as these victorian stockings
as well as some novelty machine knits
i love those slate blue and red socks.
our tour ended with this incredible handknit christening gown
after which, we were walked to the textile study room, where we were allowed to browse the racks of textile examples at our leisure. the study room holds quite a large number of such examples for examination by anyone who might want to research something specific. it is, however, closing in a year or so to be moved to another location, so if you live in the area and want to take advantage of this resource, do it soon.
by this time, most of us were well-sated with information about textiles, so we made our way through the halls of ironwork to the courtyard, where jess and ysolda corralled us for a group photo
some of us were more attentive to their urgings than others (cough, cough)
once we had the requisite portrait put together, we made our way through the streets of kensington
passing by the royal albert hall and monument and through kensington gardens as we went, a little tired and hungry
to the royal garden hotel for tea, hosted by alice and cookie
for the next several hours, we were treated to a leisurely tea, accompanied by quiet chatting (well, as quiet as 15 knitters can be . . .), pretty sandwiches
and a little knitting here and there (you thought i forgot about knitting, didn’t you?)
there is my newest les abeilles; i cast on right at the table and knit on it intermittently throughout my trip.
of course, no proper tea is finished til there is cake
and i think most of us will agree that we may have overdone it there, haha. it was just so irresistible . . .
we finished up with a glass of champagne to ring in the start of knit nation classes the next day and wandered home, leftovers in tow to be shared with the helpers at the show the next day
quite a bit different than the lunch i’m about to eat today, haha
but you know, this lunch is dear to me too—i’m home now and enjoying the luxurious fruits of our own garden.
i have many, many more photos to share, so i’ll be back next time with the highlights of the event itself and the day after that, you’ll see the knitting.
if we’re lucky and the stars align right, i may have the luciole shawlette pattern all set to release tomorrow. and if not, then monday . . .