Friday, 1 December 2017

Finding Inspiration From Books and Books That Inspire. . .

Last weekend I traveled to Harrogate for their annual Knitting and Stitching Show. It's a different type of experience in that the proportion of yarn vendors is much less than the usual shows I attend and they are spread out among fabric and embroidery booths (which is not to say that I didn't buy any yarn as one of the booths was Jamieson and Smith, but that wasn't my prime reason for going).  There are lots of displays by talented textile artists which I really enjoy seeing.  Two in particular caught my eye.

Hue is a collective of textile artists working in Hertfordshire, in the south of England. They got together to read Robert Macfarlane's book The Old Ways, about all the paths made by nature, the weather, history and folklore, that one can find - hidden and visible - across the U.K.  While I still haven't read it, I do own a copy and this exhibit has really inspired me to crack it open.

The artists decided to create works out of fabric and stitching in response to the parts of the book that really resonated with their reading experience.  In the photo below, are a number of works in the same size as the paperback copy, re-imagining the cover. These were sold in aid of charity.

This was my favourite with its 3D effect.  I'm sorry I don't have the artist's name - I couldn't see it listed with the work.

Other works in the room included Landmarks; Green Hollow by Elisabeth Rutt. She hand stitched over old maps and felt.

She also created these "Pebblescapes".  Above is Coast and below is Gneiss, with their "darned" pebbles.

This piece is titled An Unquiet Sea by Carola Garvie.  She drew an outline of the Shetland islands on linen and then embellished the sea around it with wool and silk.

This was also this stunning 3D piece  - Where Are the Crickets? by Janette Day-Brown. The bark is created with machine embroidery. 

The second room that really caught my eye was an exhibit by Amy Twigger Holroyd.  One wall was dedicated to showing how to re-fashion or repair a basic child's sweater.  

She also had some amazing embellished knitwear inspired by English cathedrals.  Her approach to sustainable fashion was so creative and interesting that I had to pick up her recent book which will no doubt make for some fascinating and thought provoking reading alongside The Old Ways. Meg, aka Mrs M's Curiosity Cabinet reviewed the book on her latest podcast here.

Speaking of projects inspired by books and books that will definitely inspire, I should be getting my copy of Karie Westermann's This Thing of Paper any day now.  This is a collection of eleven knitting patterns, all inspired by the love of books - their history, their construction, the pure physicality of this most beautiful and powerful object. 

Books and knitting - is there a better combination?  I got to test knit the Rubrication Shawl for Karie and will do a separate post on that shortly, but this book has really inspired me to go to my bookshelves, delve into my stash and celebrate both.  I'll be casting on the Psalter Shawl first and I have chosen colours that reflect my love of Persephone Books.  They are the most gorgeous books I own with their classic grey and cream covers and then that unexpected burst of colour inside as their endpapers reproduce fabrics from the era in which either the book is set or was published.  I shall be using some Titus 4ply and Lichen and Lace in the pewter colourway.  And then adding a third colour - Ripple Crafts' Assynt Storms 4ply which is just a riotous explosion of colour. 


I can't wait to cast on.

1 comment:

meg said...

I wish I had been more clued up about who was attending the Harrogate Stitching and Knitting Show. I don't go to the one in Alexandra Palace as it is too large and overwhelming but I saw, far too late, that there were some interesting exhibitors in Harrogate, like the two you highlighted. So thanks for sharing photos. (By the way, I very much enjoyed The Old Ways.)

I also know that Alice Fox, a textile and paper artist was at Harrington and I would have liked to have seen her exhibit based on work that breathed new life into old, discarded, battered books.

I am also still eagerly waiting eagerly my copy of The Book and have also been planning my makes based on my relationship with the written word, printing and books. I love the idea of a Persephone Books inspired shawl. I think one of my makes will be inspired by the colours of oak gall ink and parchment, and for the Psalter, I think I'll leave the world of religious books for the coffee house culture that printing and greater literacy gave rise to. I remember writing my high school matriculation treatise on freedom of the press in the early days of printing. Funny how interests come full circle...

ps - And thank you for mentioning my review of Folk Fashion