Friday, 13 August 2010

My mother (sitting), Shan y Lliwdy and Bontfaen maid

One of my favourite photographs in the collection. Yes, it's stereotypical, but again, it's one of John Thomas' works, so it's a reflection of the people he found on his travels.

The idea of knitting in Wales intrigues me. We're known for our sheep, our wool, our weaving, but I've yet to find evidence of a knitting tradition akin to that of Scotland and Ireland. There are occasional patterns that come from Wales, but apart from that - nothing. Was our knitting tradition simply functional? I think it very strange. If you know otherwise, please let me know.

Penmachno Woollen Mill

Penmachno Woollen Mill
Originally uploaded by LlGC ~ NLW
Another photograph from my locale; Penmachno woollen mill is in the next valley from where I grew up, and sits alongside the young Conwy river. It's now been turned into 'residential units', so I believe, which is a shame, because its woollen products were famous - though perhaps eclipsed by those of the nearby mill in Trefriw.

Taken in 1952, this photograph is stunning. I love how the light falls across the fabric, and picks out the warp threads above. I wanted to post this because I'm off to the National Wool Museum tomorrow, and with any luck, I'll know a bit more about this whole process by the evening.

Newtown Women's Institute knitting comforts for the troops

If ever there was a craft-based photograph that would make me smile, this is it! As the note says, this is David Lewis, helping the war effort in Newtown. He's wearing a balaclava of his own creating; do you think the women are smiling at that, or the novelty of his being the only male knitter in the town? In any event, it's a joyous photograph, and I love it.

Capel Garmon natives

Capel Garmon natives
Originally uploaded by LlGC ~ NLW
I'm sure most of you know where I work from day-to-day, and although I'm not directly involved with any of our collections, I occasionally stumble across a gem that catches my eye, and makes me think about my crafting work. Here's one.

John Thomas was a photographer who travelled around Wales simply documenting what he saw. Capel Garmon isn't all that far from where I grew up in North Wales, but I associate it with an amazing burial chamber, rather than wool work. This photograph is arresting, though; there's a look of determination on each face, and you know that these women are industrious and hard-working. When I look at this photograph, I wonder whether they were producing wool and fabric for themselves and their families, or did they sell their products in the shop behind them? You can see bolts of fabric there, and a woven rug, so it's not impossible - but who knows?

There are a couple of other photographs that I want to share with you; sit back and enjoy!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Calum and Sky

Calum and Sky
Originally uploaded by ziedu_mate
I've always been fascinated with tartan, but I know practically nothing about it. Going to my cousin's wedding last month, I was reminded what an amazing fabric it produces; most of the men were wearing kilts in a variety of tartans - this picture here shows Calum wearing the MacKenzie Clan tartan, which is entirely fitting.

I've just found the website of the Tartan Authority, and I've been fascinated with the resources listed there, and all the information that it contains.  I think my favourite is the article about designing tartans - have a look at the genius that is the Financial Times tartan! - and whilst I don't think I'll ever do this for real, I can imagine how much fun it must be to play around with graph paper and felt tips!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Real Men Knit

You've probably all seen this, and I'm sure I'm woefully behind in hearing about it, but this is wonderful:

Real Men Knit

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Useful fonts

Thank you to Claire for the heads-up on these two very useful fonts: StitchinKnit(Tm) and StitchinCrochet(Tm).  I haven't yet started writing my own patterns, but when I do, I think these will be invaluable.

Saturday is light blue

Last month, I attended my first meeting of the Ceredigion Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, a society that meets once a month in Aberaeron. After buying my wheel, I knew within a couple of days that I wanted to join the Guild, as it's the best way that I'm going to learn the craft; my first meeting confirmed this as a good move. From the moment that I arrived, I was welcomed with enthusiasm, introduced to all the members, and showered with advice and encouragement.

The Guild is wonderful. The meetings are held in the Community Hall, which also houses the Guild's well-stocked library. There's a bring-and-buy stall (stocking plants, equipment and fleeces), as well as a bookstall, but the most important aspect is the cameraderie. I was invited to sit with the Joy spinners, and within no time I had a crowd of people clustering around me, just saying hello and inspecting my work (in nothing but a friendly way, of course). I felt as though I was fitting in straight away, and, my confidence bolstered, I decided to move onto some more adventurous spinning when I got home. This photo is the product of the next day's work.

Not only that, but I was amazed at the variety of skills and talents that surround me here in Ceredigion. Rural crafts really are alive - nay thriving - and that's such an inspiration.

The next Guild meeting will be held next Saturday, when we'll be visiting the National Wool Museum, a place that I love very much: I can't wait!