The Glasgow University knit forums is a wealth of knowledge and articles about the history of knitting and craft in general. This article from the Atlas Obscura includes accounts of remarkable women throughout modern wars who knitted messages into their knitting both on the home front and on the front lines.
Knitting became public property with War Office knitting parties to knit for the boys on the front lines. Unauthorised knitting patterns were banned due to rationing with the Make Do and Mend campaigns gaining momentum in the UK on the home front. Yarn companies such as Sirdar produced authorised patterns such as the one below to send out to loved ones overseas.
However, Knitting was taken to the front lines in many modern wars and used by female operatives to smuggle their messages past checkpoints and enemy guards to send their messages on to the authorities. from the American Revolutionary war to the Soviet Union, the old lady stereotype has been turned on its head by remarkable women using established codes. A far more secure method than pen and paper.
So next time you pick up a pattern, just think of the endless possibilities you have in your hand to create a secret message to your loved ones or other knitters in general, you will be carrying on a long line of espionage before you.
To all of those knitters who have gone before us. Ladies, We salute you!
Karen ‘ s post over at Fringe Association is one of the most comprehensive guides out there. If you have ever wanted to knit a top down sweater or just improvise your own pattern, keep a lookout on instagram or fringeassociation.com for more details and awe inspiring projects.
I am very lucky that before I could knit and crochet, I was gifted hand knitted sweaters by my mother. My mum is a very talented knitter with many years experience. If I was to tell you just how many years experience she would disown me.. haha Just watching her knit for me is incredibly relaxing and at the same time fascinating. She was taught to knit by her Gran as a child and hasn’t stopped since!
She is an English knitter and I knit continental. I am the rebel of the family because of my ability to crochet and continental knitting.
During the last 5 years I have been gifted many cable cardigans and sweaters and I cherish them. I am fascinated by the cables and sheer perfection of every stitch. my sweaters continue to have little imperfections or modifications that make them mine. But the sweaters I have been gifted are immaculate, and I am determined to keep them that way. I have developed little rituals along the way. At the end of every winter I put away my heavier pieces of knitwear, washing and re-blocking them all and putting them away in a safe place away from the moths.. but of course living in Yorkshire means that not all of my knitwear gets put away but we all have our favourites.
One of my favourites that I have made is my moss stitch cowl in Frank Ochre by Malabrigo. The yarn was bought as a Christmas present by my brother from Loop in London. This cowl started because I saw a cowl in topshop on sight I wanted it… but it literally came apart in my hands… which had me thinking about my wardrobe and buying habits. Because of one afternoon I buy a lot less.. but what I buy or thrift is quality but it has to fit my style and I have to love it. If not, I walk away from it. I don’t need it. We all carefully select our patterns, choose the right yarn, fibre and colour then why not our clothes..? There isn’t a day goes by when I don’t wear something I haven’t made myself..
This cowl is also my most commented item. Many people have come up to me shopping and asked me where did I buy it? or have said that they love the colour. Even with the imperfections.. We’ve all gone slightly skewiff on our moss stitch.. but it brings a smile to fave every time I wear it and that’s why I knit.
I have been following with interest the Slow Fashion movement on Instagram and reading all the blog posts from Karen @Fringeassociation and I have decided to throw my voice into the mêlée.
My name is Emma and I’m 27 years old. Recent Yorkshire resident and by day I am the latest member of the team at West Yorkshire Spinners ltd. But by night I am a thrifty crafty person and I have now been knitting 2 and half years and crocheting for 3 years; knitting and crafting is in the blood. 4 generations of women in my family can knit, sew and have been involved in textiles so I have been surrounded by it all my life and makes me genuinely happy.
Slow Fashion October for me is to inspire you to be a little curious about where your clothing comes from. Yes I love the high street as much as the next women. I won’t lie but I’m equally passionate about the idea of knowing where my clothing and in particular my knitwear and knitting stash comes from.
I am incredibly fortunate that I am involved in a company who share this ideal and I can explore this everyday.
But wouldn’t it be great for everybody to know where the wool from your sweater came from? Where is the farm? And did the farmer receive a fair price for his fleeces? The idea that it was more profitable to burn fleeces instead of spinning them into yarn??? This makes me so angry and strengthens my belief that the British Wool industry should pay fair prices and share the information it has with its consumers so we can make the right choice. **
This Slow Fashion October I want to share with you garments and accessories that I love and yarns that have I found along my knitting journey that I love and give something back to us all.
** please excuse the rant… but the more I hear and see things makes me so frustrated..**
Life in Yorkshire is moving along far quicker then I ever could have imagined.. the last three months have flown by me completely. Weekends are spent exploring the dales and towns of West Yorkshire. I caught up with the end of the Saltaire Festival last weekend and it was wonderful to see people wandering around the David Hockney gallery space, listen to the hustle and bustle of the festival and wander around the little shops catching the last warm summer days.
I have also casted off and blocked my Hitchcock sweater from PomPom Quarterly the Wool Issue last week and on the whole. I am 75% happy with it. I loved the yarn, as I have said here before that I love 100% Bluefaced Leicester in teal and I have used the yarn in many other projects which I bought direct from the mill but I am disappointed with the overall finish. My sweater will still be worn this winter proudly. If the start to the autumn has shown me, I’m going to need it.
Illustrious is here and is finally mine at last!
I have bought enough for my first every colourwork sweater. I have casted on Willard by Quince and Co. Designed by Hannah Fettig, this top down sweater and simple colourwork will be a wonderful first colourwork project for me.
Even after 2 months of working at West Yorkshire Spinners, I still love to wander around the mill and stumble across these gorgeous bales of wool tops.. but I can’t help but wonder…what will they become? Working at a worsted spinning mill does funny things to you like that.
My current knitting project is from the latest issue of PPQ The Wool Issue. Hitchcock.. isn’t it lovely? Not glam but essential in every knitters wardrobe.. a definite winter staple for my first yorkshire winter! I’m knitting mine in our BFL dk weight yarn in teal.
Elsewhere currently writing up my post on my wonderful trip to Paris last month. . Leaving you with the sun setting over Paris from the rooftop of the Generator Paris.
It’s finally here!! I leave for my first ever trip to Paris this week and I’m very excited as you can imagine!
I am staying in Paris for a long weekend. Flying into Charles De Gaulle Airport and staying at the Generator Hostel in the 10th arrondissement from Thursday to Monday.. I hope to fill my time in the city with museums, cafe’s and yes.. just maybe a little bit of shopping. Perhaps a flea market or two? Wandering down the Boulevards and watching the world go by sitting outside cafe’s. A visit to the Louvre and Notre Dame, certainly. Paris is a glamourous city and this of course means that I can ‘dress up’ everyday! yay!
The news stories of pickpockets in Paris means that I’ll have to leave my trusty backpack at home in Yorkshire and take my new Laguna crossbody in Bordeaux from Reiss, this means that my ‘Less is More’ packing will have to work overtime on this trip away.
But this wouldn’t be a trip away without visiting a few wool shops along the way I am visiting :L’OisiveThe, inspired by many instagram posts from Stephen West and the wonderful account from Aimee herself! This is a must visit for me.. although an expensive one no doubt! Speak soon and have a great week wherever you are and thanks for visiting!