Our first speaker was Susan North from the V&A Museum, who spoke on A (Knitting) Needle in a Haystack: knitting information found whilst researching other things.
Susan has recently complete her PhD at Queen Mary, University of London, and as she said if you are going through archives looking for information of one thing, it is as well to make notes on other things while you are there. She had lots of references to knitting and knitting needles in the 16th and 17th centuries, and she pointed people to an article on knitting in Naples in the journal Jacquard.
She suggested comparing the pattern of the V&A jacket in Seventeenth Century Women’s Dress Patterns, with the garment in the Royal Ontario Museum, a picture of which from Wikimedia Commons appears here.
Our second speaker was Amanda Mason from the Imperial War Museum, and her subject was Wartime Knitting: collection of the Imperial War Museum. She showed us garments in the collection made by POWs using wool unravelled from old socks and jumpers and knitted on needles made from wood from packing cases. She also spoke about a lady on the home front who tried to knit a jumper from darning wool, because it wasn’t on ration.
Next up was Maria Price who followed on the WW2 theme as she was costume designer for Foyle's War, and she spoke on the problems of Researching and designing costume and knitwear for film and TV. People will spot anything that is wrong, and write in.
Rachael Matthews, who followed her is an artist and knitting/textile practitioner. She runs a shop called Prick Your Finger, and the best way to find out about her work is to look at her website
Matteo Molinari, is bravely working for a PhD at the LCF and spoke on Crochet: Ubiquitous Craft, Iniquitous Historiography. He was looking at the origins of crochet and how various myths have grown up about it. One of his pictures showed a c.1700 metallic chain lace. Unfortunately when you search the V&A collection for it by its accession number the website does not have an image.
Finally we had Barbara Smith who spoke on The evolution of Aran Style. It is more recent than you think. She talked about Muriel Gahan of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association who visited the Aran Islands in 1931, and provided a commercial outlet for Aran knitters in her Dublin shop. A jumper bought in that shop in 1937 was illustrated in Mary Thomas’s 1943 Book of Knitting Patterns.