Preservation is one of the key aims of the Knitting & Crochet Guild. The history of our crafts can only be maintained if we preserve what has been created in the past: the objects themselves as well as the methods and techniques used to create them. Our Collection provides inspiration for future projects, whether we are seeking to recreate an item from the past using modern yarns or to find new ways of using forgotten techniques.
Contents of the Collection
Although the Guild was formed in 1978 it was not until 1990 that its Collection was started. In recent years, the Guild has collected material relating to domestic knitting and crochet in the UK. Work is ongoing to review and catalogue the material so that we can rationalise our holdings and make the Collection more widely accessible to members and others in the knitting and crochet community.
Briefly, the Collection consists of
- knitted and crocheted items;
- tools and accessories;
- yarns and shade cards;
- publications (books, magazines and pattern leaflets & booklets).
Some items date from before 1900, although the majority is post-1945. It is probably the largest collection of domestically-produced knitted and crocheted textiles and related material in the UK.
We are building an online catalogue of the items in our Collection. This is very much a work in progress, but you can view and search the catalogue at https://kcguild.omeka.net.
The menu item “Help – Using the Collection” on the catalogue website explains how to search for items and the terms used to describe them.
Some entries in the catalogue contain links to “high resolution images for members”. Before you follow these, please make sure that you are logged into the main Guild website (kcguild.org.uk).
Knitted and crocheted items
There are about 2000 of these: hand knitted, domestic machine knitted or crocheted, with some combining these techniques. There are garments of all sorts (men’s, women’s and children’s), household items and decorative pieces. Materials include wool, for many of the knitted pieces, and cotton for much of the crochet. In age, the Collection contains items ranging from pre-Victorian to late twentieth century, which vary from museum-quality pieces to pieces representative of ‘everyday’ domestic production typical of the mid twentieth century. There are samples of regional patterns such as Shetland and Aran and ‘designer’ pieces from the 1980s when knitwear was high fashion.
Making the Collection more accessible
May 2019 marked the start of an exciting project, funded by a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant to the Collection of the Knitting & Crochet Guild. Made possible thanks to National Lottery players, the grant of £10,000 enabled the Knitting & Crochet Guild (KCG) Collection to become known to bigger audiences, especially those who are not able to visit the Collection in person.
The project, officially entitled Digitisation of the Knitting & Crochet Guild Collection, unofficially the 100 Objects project, resulted in the creation of a digital resource that enabled a selection from the Collection to be accessed online, from anywhere at any time. This resource is of interest to a wide range of people, including knitters and crocheters, fashion students and designers, as well as the members of the Knitting & Crochet Guild, of course.
Volunteering for the Collection
We always welcome members to volunteer to help us manage our Collection. Please get in touch if you would like to learn more.