Sunday 28 September 2014

The Gloves Are Off

Yesterday I spent a wonderful afternoon in Skipton Auction Mart at Yarndale, a two-day festival of wool, spinning and designers, with a particular focus on companies and small traders from Yorkshire. Being a Yorkshire lass myself I admit I am rather biased towards the county. Yorkshire, however, with its centuries of woolly expertise and so much modern talent in the knitting industry certainly deserves to be the focus of a knitting show.

My review of Yarndale will appear in The Knitter magazine in a few months' time. Meanwhile, as well as having my journalist's head on I was also on a knitting mission for myself. I want to knit a pair of gloves. Easy to find a pattern you would think? Not so. I deliberately didn't want to search for one on Ravelry, hoping instead to support a British designer at the show and buy a pattern and yarn all in one go.

Fashion, however, is fickle, and apparently gloves this year are the sartorial equivalent of spandex hot pants and acrylic jogging suits. No-one wants them. Now wristwarmers/handwarmers are another story - stands were heaving with patterns for those. Along I went from stand to stand asking whether they had a pattern for a pair of gloves. A lovely lady from Purl & Jane said that had written a pattern in a book but it was now out of print. Rachel Coopey, whose Catterick hat I knitted back in April told me she has a gloves pattern in a forthcoming book but it's not published until next year.

Madonna and her fingerless gloves
Back in the 1980s when I was a child I remember turning up to visit my Grandparents wearing Madonna-inspired fingerless gloves. My Grandma immediately asked me if I was too poor to afford a proper pair. Handwarmers and fingerless gloves are great if it's not very cold but as Grandma knew, they're not much use when the temperature drops. Last year the ends of my fingers went white because I continued to wear my home-knitted handwarmers because I didn't want to pay to buy a pair of gloves made in an Asian sweatshop with acrylic yarn when I could knit myself a pair in British wool instead. Except I never got round to it. Too much to knit, so little time ...

Finally, on my last try, I found a gloves pattern at Susan Crawford's vintage stall. The pattern doesn't appear to be on her website at the moment, but it's for a pair of 1940s-style gloves and a scarf knitted in her 4 ply Excelana yarn. Beauty and functionality combined.

Perhaps nowadays wristwarmers are seen as an easier sell by yarn companies because knitting them isn't as complicated as knitting gloves? Or are gloves so cheap to buy in the shops that no-one wants to knit them anymore?

Although I have a multitude of items in my 'must knit' pile, and Christmas is looming, I'm going to fast-track the gloves to the top so as not to spend another Winter wearing gloves that don't do their job properly. How Grandma would be proud of me if she were still here today.

1 comment:

  1. I so agree with you not wanting to buy some cheap, nasty acrylic gloves made in a sweatshop. I made myself a cozy pair of mittens recently, then embroidered them, and I love them. Years ago I made a pair of 'shorties' in red angora - I wore them until they got threadbare. So warm.


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