Sights for sore eyes: Textile art and Kim Hargreaves’ North

I haven’t had much time for my blog for several weeks, but now that my latest commission is finished (you’ll be hearing more about it, not to mention seeing it, this autumn) I can share a few of the sights and activities that have kept me sane and inspired in the interim.  I have been to a few exhibitions and started a new season knit or two, but first – textile art.

I’ve probably mentioned here and elsewhere that my mum is, to put it mildly, very nifty with a needle and thread, and my appreciation of textile art probably stems from her making my beloved Snoopy pencilcase from an old pair of jeans.  You can see how well loved and used it is!

SnoopyPencilcase1 SnoopyPencilcase2Since my pencilcase is far more attractive than pencils, rulers and squared paper, I was inspired to start looking at textile art online.  My usual fix of this is at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace: year after year there are so many beautiful exhibits.  When I do go, I try to visit that room first – it is very easy to be overwhelmed with the scale of the exhibition and it isn’t long before I start feeling tired and at risk of spending too much money.  That said, my allowance this year extends to a ball winder and swift – just imagine the time I’ll save…but enough about that, back to textile art!

I loved the use of colour in this flowery embroidered landscape by Caroline Mann, from Allendale Forge Studios.  On the right is a detail from Carolyn Saxby’s mixed media art, inspired by her hometown of St Ives, Cornwall:






There is much more to look at on Carolyn’s website – she also has some fun scripts/.gifs to enhance the marine inspiration for her work.

My favourite discovery is the Colossal blog: I was lured in by these stunning embroidered animals by Chloe Giordano.  I keep looking at them, thinking how eminently strokeable they are.  There is much more to see at Colossal if you haven’t discovered it already: make sure you give yourself a decent amount of time to look around.  The exhibits are beautifully curated and the artists’ use of media and colour is fresh and inspired.

These were some of my guilty pleasures, but there’s much more.  I also managed to stop by the William Morris Gallery and the Matisse cut-outs exhibition at the Tate Modern, but will write more about these once I’ve visited Lucy Sparrow’s corner shop and the rebozo exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum.  Not much time left for either!

The biggest treat of all was Kim Hargreaves’ North.  In true fangirl fashion I ordered the book on the day and was excitedly unwrapping it less than 24 hours later.  It has been a few months (feels like longer) since I worked on a personal knitting project.  The Pisces pullover is about 55% done, but I’ll be finishing it soon.

Back to North: it is another beautiful collection, full of traditional textures.  I’ll be knitting the Grit sweater, Heart cardigan and North jacket with yarn from my stash (read: adding them to my long list of projects to knit), but I couldn’t resist casting on the Bleak cardigan.  It’s cropped, so my best chance of having one of the designs to wear within the season – and long overdue as a complement to my full skirts and dresses 🙂

NorthAndBleakI’m using Rowan Kid Classic in Precious (a long-discontinued colourway) run with Fine Lace in Chalk.  The Fine Lace doesn’t adhere to the Kid Classic as Kidsilk Haze would, but it bulks up the weight nicely, is no trouble to knit, creates a gentle, subtle marl, and I will never complain about using 6mm needles!  The colour is a bit bright in the photo above, so here is another one, albeit washed out – from one extreme to the other! – but you can see the marled effect:

North-Bleak2Many of North’s designs, specifically the aran-esque ones – use fairly meaty needles, which is especially welcome in the face of disappearing sunshine.  Another reason for embarking on some selfish knitting – as if I needed it right now!

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