Lucy Burscough

The ‘Close Knit Manchester’ Project

In Arts for Health, Community Arts, Gallery/Museum Projects, Knitting on 26/11/2012 at 13:44

For the past year I have been working with and blogging about a monthly knitting group, Close Knit Manchester. We are an unusual group because, instead of meeting at a coffee shop or library, we meet at the cultural institutions of Manchester who host the sessions as part of their adult/arts for health programmes of events. They are The Costume Gallery at Platt Hall, The Manchester Museum, Whitworth Art Gallery and Manchester Art Gallery.

Each session is designed to explore links to knitting within the host institution’s collections allowing us access to related pieces that may not be on display to the public, and has had a practical knitting aspect which stretches and develops our knitting skills. I have delivered sessions which have explored the history and techniques of fair isle knitting, knitting as an art/protest medium and the use of artworks to inspire creative knitting, notions in the collections (that is the gadgets and gizmos that knitters use), knitting the I-cord, and designer knitwear and the techniques of working in the round.

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Every month we have been amazed and thrilled by pieces from the collections, including 1,700 year old Romano-Egyptian socks, a 16th century Elizabethan cap dug up from the mud on the banks of the Thames in near perfect condition, a box-wood and straw-work yarn holder made by French prisoners during the Napoleonic Wars and, not least, the 100 years worth of knitting patterns that inspired the events! Another highlight was meeting Lokesh Ghai and Shamji Vishram Siju, weavers from Gujarat, India, who shared with us their incredible hand woven pieces and even brought along a loom to demonstrate their incredible craftsmanship.

If you would like to find out more about the project, please visit The Close Knit blog.

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