Kensal Library’s weekly Crochet/Knit group were delighted to be interviewed for our blog and very eager to show off their beautiful handiwork.
So amongst all the thread, needles, fabrics and the odd packet of biscuits we settled down to have a chat and examine the knitting and crochet work.
They all agreed that the best thing about the group was the friendships they had made and the social aspect, of meeting together and having a general chat, almost like receiving therapy! The entire group look forward to Mondays.
You can join the group at any level so you don’t need to be a pro or a beginner just come along and try it out and Tuula Petitlo the tutor will guide and assist you.
As one member Elizabeth said –“I learned how to cross stitch here and Tuula has been very good, teaching me how to progress”.
Tuula also took part in a successful family workshop at North Kensington Library in January; Harry Potter Hogwarts Scarf Knitting where Tuula taught some basic knitting stitches to some very excited children.
Faith Ndirangu who works with ‘Healthier life 4 you’ who help and administer the crochet and knit group explains that the sessions often include health visits from professionals e.g. Stop Smoking and Healthy Eating.
The group have also showcased their work at events like the Golborne Festival, the Portobello Christmas Fete, at St Charles Hospital and the Age UK Health Fair at Kensington Town Hall.
So if you want to join a fun friendly group and learn something new then this could be the one for you!
Crochet/Knit – Mondays 1pm to 3pm, Kensal Library
We have lots of books at Kensal Library and in our catalogue, to help you learn or improve your crocheting and knitting techniques.
By Natasha Chaoui
Senior Customer Services Assistant, Kensal Library
On Saturday 18 May the Crocheting Divas came to show us how to crochet like a Diva! This was part of our Adult Learners’ Week events.
They taught us to crochet flowers, brooches and hats. Crocheting relaxes the mind and is good for the emotional wellbeing.
If you would like to crochet (like a diva!) they will be at Kensal Library every Monday, 1.15pm to 3pm.
The DIVAS provide the wool and refreshments. Bring your own crochet hooks (size 3 and 4) and a £1 donation.
Senior Customer Services Assistant, Notting Hill Gate Library
New baby rhyme time
We have recently changed our storytime session to a baby rhyme time session every Friday at 10.30 to 11.00am. We have a regular nursery group attending who are very enthusiastic and love hearing a few stories before we embark on a round of nursery rhymes ending with the very popular ‘Jumping Bean’ song.
We will be having a half term craft event on Friday 31st May at 3 to 4pm. We will be making butterfly crowns so keep a look out for any children wearing them in the north of the borough!
We had an interesting Chatterbooks session this month. The group read a fairytale (Rapunzel) and then we wrote our own fairytales but we wrote one paragraph then passed it on to the person sitting to the left of us and carried on until the story was finished. We ended up with some very wacky and funny tales!
On Thursday 25 April our Chatterbooks group met at our usual time of 4 pm in children’s library. As this was part of our Cityread London events we chose London and the London Underground as themes for this meeting. Nine children attended the session; most of them were eight years old. We had one participant who was only four years old but he desperately wanted to join us and with his mother’s assistance he enjoyed every minute of it!
First we read one story from ‘London Stories’ book written by Jim Eldrige. The stories describe London through its history up to today as seen through the eyes of the city’s children. We read the first story which gave us some facts about London in Roman times. Four children participated in reading and then we had short discussion about the historic facts in the story we read.
The second part of the session was the most enjoyable for the children as they used their creativity and imagination in creating futuristic posters for the London Underground. They cut some images and did drawings and at the end we got a few lovely posters for our display.
After successful work they all deserved quick refreshment with Jaffa Cakes. Before leaving the children wanted to know when the next meeting was going to be and they were told that our next Chatterbooks meeting is held on the last Thursday in a month – which is 30 May next time. Goodbye till then!
Senior Customer Services Assistant, North Kensington Library
Words about the World – travel writing book display
Summer is coming and for the adventurous and even the armchair traveller we have we have a display of travel writing and travel guides. We also have readers’ wall inviting you to recommend your favourite book about travel or holiday destination. Contributions so far include destinations Brazil and Venice recommended travel books Brazil by Michael Palin, Lonely planet guide to Croatia and Eye witness travel guide to Vienna.
Books on display include old favourites such as Dervla Murphy’s ‘Full tilt: Ireland to India with a bicycle’ and Bill Bryson’s ‘Down Under’. My favourite new titles are Tom Fort’s ‘The A303: Highway to the sun’ and John Osborne’s ‘Don’t need the sunshine’.
I have many treasured memories of travelling along the A303 in the 1960s to Devon and then on to Cornwall. And was there sunshine? I remember windy days playing cricket on the beach and clambering up the rocky cliffs to retrieve the ball. We had lots of fun and we didn’t need the sun.
Adult Learners’ Week is the UK’s largest annual festival of learning, inspiring thousands of people to discover how learning can change their lives.
It is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of the benefits learning can bring, and to inspire adults of all ages to try something new. We have events in five of our libraries during Adult Learners’ Week -we hope to see you there!
What makes people happy?
Sharing the practical lessons from well-being research – Birkbeck academics have put together a series free of workshops which unpack cutting-edge research from a range of disciplines to help you better understand the science behind the smile, as well as giving you practical tips to increase your well-being.
Please book your free place for these sessions on Eventbrite.
How to be happy: some quick wins (and losses)
Saturday 18 May, 10 to 11.30am, Brompton Library
This workshop will focus on what psychologists have learnt about the science of happiness, in particular the characteristics that allow people to remain hopeful and optimistic in the face of challenging and busy lives. We will also explore how this knowledge has been translated into practical interventions that increase hope and optimism. Participants should leave with ideas around how to translate this information into small and meaningful improvements to their own levels of hope and optimism and those in their care.
Using positive psychology to stay healthy and happy in your work
Monday 20 May, 10 to 11.30am, Brompton Library
Find out how to safeguard and improve your happiness and well-being in professional settings. This workshop will help you better understand the science behind the smile, as well as giving you practical tips and strategies to increase your well-being.
Saturday 18 May, 10.30am to 1pm, Notting Hill Gate Library
Friday 24 May, 12 noon to 1.30pm, Brompton Library
Learn, chat and make with the Crocheting Divas. All materials and equipment will be provided – all you need to bring is your enthusiasm and creativity. There’s no need to book a place – just come along.
Online taster sessions
Want to do more online? Please book your free place for any of these sessions at Chelsea Reference Library.
Social media: how to make the most of Facebook, Twitter and more
Tuesday 21 May, 2 to 4pm, Chelsea Reference Library
Beyond Google: high quality learning materials available free from your library
Wednesday 22 May, 10am to 12 noon, Chelsea Reference Library
Career information online: finding the best career and training information for you
Thursday 23 May, 12 noon to 2pm, Chelsea Reference Library
Colville Community History slideshow and talk
Tuesday 21 May, 5.30 to 7.30pm, North Kensington Library
Colville Community History Project’s Tom Vague presents a slideshow and talk about the history of the area. Come along to join in the discussion, share your experiences and find out more about the Colville Community History Project. Please book a free place for this event at North Kensington Library.
Writing Creatively in Kensington – a creative writing workshop
Wednesday 22 May, 1.30 to 4.30pm, Kensington Central Library
Using photos and other artefacts from our Local Studies Library to inspire creativity participants will be encouraged to write their own pieces. Please book a free place for this event at Kensington Central Library.
Deep Recording Studios – information stall
Wednesday 22 May, 12 noon to 4.30pm, Chelsea Library
Want to find out more about music technology or sound engineering? Then come along to our information stall run by Deep Recording Studios in West London. They run Levels 1,2 and 3 City and Guilds accredited Music Technology and Sound Engineering Courses (no qualifications required). Deep has a fully operational recording studio facility near Ladbroke Grove tube station in West London, running Logic Pro and Pro Tools music software .
Hand Sewing Workshop – make a felt badge with Eithne Farry
Thursday 23 May, 2 to 4pm, Kensington Central Library
Are you passionate about clothes and accessories? Would love to create something of your own, but are unsure of how to get started? Then come along to our hand sewing workshop with Eithne Farry, where you will create your own badge out of felt.
Please book your free place for this workshop at Kensington Central Library.
How to Use Skype – over 50s session with Open Age
Friday 24 May, 10am to 12 noon, North Kensington Library
Are you over 50? Have you heard about Skype? Skype allows people to talk for free to friends and family around the world via a computer using the internet. Come along to this session to learn how to use Skype. Places are strictly limited for this class, so please book your place early at North Kensington Library.
OK, so knitting is not strictly a game more of a hobby. Saying that it is something that is done in your spare time, a skill that can be improved on and with lots of perseverance and imagination great things can be achieved.
I myself am an avid knitter and have been knitting on and off for many years…I won’t say how many, but more than four and less than 100.
Previously I wrote a piece on knitting, this time round I hope to elaborate more on the history of the craft. Hopefully it will inspire someone, who may have a glimmer of interest, to take it up.
Interesting facts about knitting
When I started writing this section, I thought it would be difficult to create this list, actually it was quite easy. I thought back to when I first started knitting and my hobby turned from an interest into an obsession. I collected hundreds of magazines for patterns from all decades. Along the way I learnt a lot about knitting and the people who knit, I thought I would share some of this with you.
Below I have just touched on five things I found interesting about knitting, more indepth research can be done if I you find this interesting. At Chelsea Library we have many books in our Costume Collection, dating back many decades on the fashion, techniques and history of knitting.
1- It’s older than you think
One of the earliest known examples of knitting occurred in ancient Egypt around 400AD. Where members of the Christian sect known as Copts knitted sandal socks, bags and dolls.
Older examples of nalbinding which has often been confused with knitting, have been found including the famous Dura-Europos fragments, which is considered by many to be the oldest example of knitting in existence. Found in the Indus River Valley and dating back several thousand years, it is listed in many books and the original dig report as knitting.
2 – Do you know your knit from your purl?
All knitting consists of just two stitches?
Yes that’s right, all knitted garments, whether they are cabled, lace, or contain blocks of colour are all created using just the knit and purl stitch. Therefore if you can knit (and purl) you can create anything.
There are hundreds of knitting stitch patterns, which many may find daunting, but once the basics are mastered, the world as they say is your woollen oyster.
Knitting stitch patterns, or combinations of knitting stitches, are a wonderful way to expand your knitting skills. There are hundreds of ways to combine just knits and purls to form different designs. They have been in use since people first began to knit. All knitting uses stitch patterns…even garter stitch (only knitting) is considered to be a stitch pattern.
Contrary to popular prejudice, men knitting used to be commonplace and was not exclusively a female occupation. Originally a male-only occupation, the first knitting trade guild was started in Paris in 1527. With the invention of the knitting machine, however, knitting “by hand” became a useful but non-essential craft. Similar to quilting, spinning, and needlepoint, knitting became a leisure activity.
In the Yorkshire Dales until the nineteenth century men and women alike knitted stockings as they walked about, which then sold for £2 a pair.
Knitting for the troops In a piece about the Knitting for Britain, knitting project written by Clinton W Trowbridge for the Christian Science Monitor in 1997. He tells a wonderful story of American schoolboys knitting squares to sew into blankets for British troops during World War Two.It highlights the normality of men knitting.
“…at boarding schools during World War II, however, everyone knitted – including the headmaster, the teachers, and the whole football team. We knitted 9-inch squares, which somebody else sewed together to make blankets and scarves for British soldiers…”
And once the boys had learned how to knit…
“…good many of us took up knitting seriously and made socks, sweaters, and woollen hats. We would knit in bed after lights out and, some of us, even more surreptitiously, in chapel.”
The project was seen by the boys as something of an escape from more serious work, but…
“… no one ever thought it odd that a school of 200 boys should be busily whiling away the hours in such an activity”.
4 – Tribal Markings
The guernsey or gansey came into being as a garment for fishermen who required a warm, hard wearing, yet comfortable item of clothing that would resist the sea spray. The hard twist given to the tightly packed wool fibres in the spinning process and the tightly knitted stitches, produced a finish that would “turn water” and is capable of repelling rain and spray.
It has also been said that the guernsey or gansey jumper patterns were for regional or local identification. It is said that the county, parish, or township of a sailor or a fisherman could be identified by his jumper pattern. Additionally, the wearer’s initials were traditionally knitted into the bottom of the garment, which would have been a far better indication of identity than the stitching pattern and also aid its return if a gansey was lost or stolen.
Each part of the design had a specific meaning. The rib at the top of the sleeve is said to represent a sailing ship’s rope ladder in the rigging, the raised seam across the shoulder a rope, and the garter stitch panel waves breaking upon the beach. Twenty-four principal patterns have been identified in Cornwall alone, each one again drawing inspiration from ropes, chains, waves, nets and sand-prints.
Worn as a source of pride and often knitted by prospective wives “to show the industrious nature of the woman he was about to marry”, the “finer” guernsey was more elaborately patterned than its working cousin. With the advent of the machine-knitted guernsey and the decline in the knitting industry, this type of elaborately knitted guernsey is a much rarer sight.
5 – Famous knitters
The original one, not the singer. Yes that’s true, The Virgin Mary knitted as we can see below.
When you give this some thought it is not that surprising, what mother would not want to knit for her newborn? Below we can see Mary presenting Jesus with the finished garment.
Your country needs you to sew up a sock.
The kitchener stitch, also called grafting or weaving, is the favourite knitting method for creating an invisible seam. It’s most used for closing the toes of socks, but can be used on other seams as long as the garment is not too bulky.
During the First World War the Red Cross held a campaign to encourage British, American and Canadian women to knit various ‘comforts’ for British troops, such as hats, gloves, mittens, scarves and socks.
Lord Kitchener, the British secretary of state for war, is said to have contributed his own sock design to the campaign. The design included an invisible grafted toe seam which made the socks more comfortable to wear, as the knitted sock patterns of the day used a seam up the toe, which could rub uncomfortably.
This finishing technique later became known as the Kitchener stitch.
Sex and the Knitty
Over the years many actors and actresses have picked up the needles, from Doris Day, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and more recently serveral members of the cast of Sex and The City. While on the set Sarah Jessica Parker was heard to have said : “On the set of a movie. I could not think of a better way to pass the time between scenes…”
World record holder
The current holder of the Guinness World Record for Knitting with the Largest Knitting Needles is Julia Hopson of Penzance in Cornwall.
Julia knitted a square of ten stitches and ten rows in stockinette stitch using knitting needles that were 6.5 centimeters in diameter and 3.5 meters long.
If I have piqued your interest and you would love to learn more, why not join the groups that are hosted at our sister libraries of Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham libraries:
A female colleague goes away on maternity leave, what do you give them?
What to give a relative that’s hard to buy for?
Winter’s coming and you want to look fashionable but be warm…what to wear?
Unique handknitted garments, of course!
What’s it all about:
Knitting is a method by which thread or yarn is turned into cloth or other fine crafts, it may be done by hand or by machine and there exist numerous styles and methods of hand knitting.
Different yarns and knitting needles may be used to achieve different end products by giving the final piece a different colour, texture and weight.
Want to know more?
For inspiration, techniques and patterns come and browse our fantastic collection of knitting books in Kensington and Chelsea’s libraries.
Visit our Special Fashion Collection to find out more on how knitting has changed over time and the influence it has had on the fashion world.
Don’t know how to turn a heel?
Don’t know the difference between intarsia, fair isle or slip stitch colour knitting?
Getting your purls mixed up with your knit?
If you need answers to the above questions and more or would love to learn a new skill, why not join the groups that are hosted at our sister libraries of Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham libraries:
Think you could teach, guide or help?
If you are interested in knitting and would like to start a group here at any branch of Kensington and Chelsea library come in and talk to a member of staff or call the library for more information on: 0207 361 3010.
By Charmaigne Powell, Online Developer and Coordinater