Sunday, December 31, 2006


Love yarn. Love the idea of knitting. I have in my possession a collection of thirty to fifty sets of knitting needles (I haven't ever been bored enough to count them) and other knitting accoutrements: stitch counter doo dads and bits and bobs whose precise use I'm not sure of. All passed down to me by The Grannies.

Another reason I love all things wool and cashmere may be that I grew up living in an old, draughty house where there was a strict rule about the thermostat being kept under 15 degrees and heating was something you used between November and January, whatever the weather.

So having always needed to "put another jumper on" I do love knitwear, which I even studied at one point. It was more the industrial machine type of knitting using (eugh) acrylic yarns with which we made mostly hideous test samples. I only ever completed one piece of clothing: a metallic silver camisole which I still have. We also had a ferociously scary knitting teacher, the type who thought she should have been a famous knitwear designer - come to think of it it's a wonder I don't break out in hives at the thought of yarn, with all this past trauma - but I'll get to the point in a minute.

I have this idea that I'll go to Loop, I'll go to Weardowney, but then I keep reading about how trendy knitting is now and it puts me off. I want to re-learn because it's a precious part of my past that's lost. It's not just for the sake of a passing fad. I wish I still knew someone who could guide me through it again, but um, they're all dead so I think I'll have to bite the bullet and pay for those classes.

When I went to Cockpit Arts the studio that fascinated me the most and induced a pang of wanting to pull up a chair and stay, was that of knitwear designer Jennifer Lang. Her sculptural pieces hung limp on a rail (you have to see them on a body to fully appreciate them) with alarming price tags and the Stella McCartney s/s 07 show (in which I can see no knitwear!) played on a big screen. Jennifer sat in a chair in the corner, calmly knitting away with knitting needles the size of snooker cues and thick, chunky yarn, as her studio swarmed with important fashiony looking Japanese people who all had Marc Jacobs bags. One of them even contained a miniature pooch whose head protruded from the bag which I found impressive and memorable for some reason.

But the person whose incredible work I really wanted to shout out about is knitwear genius Sandra Backlund from Sweden. Just look at those pieces! Power knitting fit for a warrior queen. Wow. Remember her name, I know we'll be hearing a lot more of it.


lottie said...

'Put another jumper on...' was my family motto too! In fact, it was uttered a few times this week as I layered on the wool and stood in front of the fire to keep warm. If only Sandra Backlund had created her leggings when I was growing up - I'd have been toasty warm all the time!

Holly Burnham said...

I'm afraid we live in a big old drafty victorian and the bulk of our conversations are over the worthiness of our wool socks and sweaters.

Get knitting girl and turn that heat down!

nomdedelphine said...

well i too lived in a house where the instructions every winter were "turn down the heat and put on a sweater". sadly i admit: i do not know how to knit. i am faced with telling my lover to turn down the heat and put on a sweater (my parents are european, his are quebecois) i have to hunt for great sweaters.