Introducing Lace Knits – Part One

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Cover design by Alex Tomlinson

My latest book, Lace Knits, is now available from Rowan stockists worldwide!

The book is a celebration of lace knitting, and a celebration of my part of Yorkshire, where I was born, raised and still live. This is mostly Huddersfield and the surrounding area, an historic mill town in West Yorkshire that has been a centre of the woollen textile industry for hundreds of years. ‘Made in Huddersfeld’ is printed on the selvedge of fine worsted wool cloths made here, and is recognised around the world as a guarantee of excellence.

Spinning and weaving in this area began as a cottage industry, and this is reflected in some of the photos in the book which were shot by fellow designer and friend Woolly Wormhead in and around some ruined weavers’ cottages on the outskirts of Slaithwaite. This is a village near Huddersfield, namesake of the Slaithwaite socks.

Yorkshire weavers’ cottages are recognisable by the long runs of windows on the top floor. These were to maximise light where the looms were placed, for the benefit of the weaver:

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Back of the ruined weavers cottages where some of the images in Lace Knits were shot.

The cottages we used for the shoot were inabited as recently as the 1950s. I did of course fantasise about buying them as a major renovation project, almost because there is no road to them, nor mains water, nor mains electric! We were delighted to find a datestone on the wall of one of the outhouses. It is somewhat worn, and discoloured by lichen, but the original owner’s initials and date can still be discerned:

DSC_2260The photos from this shoot were particularly atmospheric, many of them minding me of Jane Eyre. The cottages are adjoined by a barn, testament to the subsistence lifestyle of Yorkshire weavers in times gone by, who worked the fields as well as their looms. We loved this old gate, which leads from the field beside the cottages to the lane in front of the cottages. There were several other gates like it in the vicinity:

DSC_1755And of course, the cottages were surrounded by many beautiful Yorkshire drystone walls. This tumbledown one is the style of drystone wall particular to West Yorkshire, and like many of them it is now resplendent with barbed wire to discourage animals from clambering over it:

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Alice is wearing Linthwaite, a large triangular shawl in Rowan Fine Lace.

In my next post I’ll tell you more about the items we shot at the cottages, which were the most summer-appropriate designs in the Lace Knits collection.