Sunday, 20 March 2011

A treasure trove of old patterns

I have been working a consumer show in London for a couple of days, hence the silence. I find these pretty hard work as I'm not really a people person and I have to spend all day chatting to members of the public (and things kept getting stolen – only little things like yarn and magazines or needles, but it's such a depressingly scrotey thing for people to do...).

However, one of the talks being given was by Linda Newington from the Knitting Reference Library at the University of Southampton. In case you've never heard of it, the core of the collection is the Montse Stanley collection, an absolutely immense archive relating to knitting. It contains not only historic patterns, but artefacts (from humble bumblebees knitted to be sold at a village fete to vintage Balenciaga stockings), postcards and photos of people in interesting woollies – a real treasure-trove of all things vintage knitting. Linda gave a really fascinating talk on the Montse Stanley collection. She had a folder of example patterns with her, but they had to stay in their plastic cases, otherwise I'd have loved to take a look at the booklet on knitting from the Festival of Britain.

The collections of Richard Rutt and Jane Waller also form part of the Knitting Reference Library. It really is the most amazing collection! They're always interested in new acquisitions, so if you come across something knitting-related you don't want, do contact them to see if they need it. They're looking at ways of making older patterns accessible online (and doing all the right things with regards to copyright), so eventually anyone with online access will be able to enjoy a little piece of this hoard.

Textile historian and artist Ingrid Murnane gave a talk too, on one of her art projects, and when we were chatting she mentioned she also has an interesting project relating to vintage knitting planned, but I shouldn't talk about it here. All I will say is, I know lots of people who read this blog will find it very interesting, and when it's made public I'll definitely be posting about it.

3 comments :

  1. Hope you can recover a bit next week. By the way, scrotey is a superb adjective that will be featuring in my vocab list asap!

    I would love to nose through Jane Waller's collection - I can't wait for the new book.

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  2. People steal things? Very depressing. I am a people person, but only when lm in the mood ;-)

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  3. I went to Southampton University - wish I'd been a knitter then!

    (though there was an art project in the city that consisted of a roomful of Daleks with phrases from the Declaration of Human Rights on the walls, so my time there wasn't completely lacking)

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