I do research on and recreate garments and objects from the past. My sources range from original items to photographs in books, periodicals, art works, literary references and period patterns. My research also involves the history of knitting needles and related implements.
The portrait in the corner is by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842) of Elisabeth Alexeyevna (?), location and ownership unknown.
The history of Halloween has interested me since childhood. I have always loved stories of ghosts, haunted and spooky places. No horror, gore or violence - just the mystery, legends and general autumnal atmosphere and glorious colours associated with this season.
For some years, I portrayed an 18th century witch at an annual fun-filled, campy Halloween festival. Knitting, of course, had to be part of the act. I found large orange plastic needles (19mm/35 US) to whose ends I glued the decapitated heads of small plastic dolls. With their now messy hair and eyes that opened and closed, the dolls’ faces now took on a rather stunned and confused expression.
I then knit a scrappy piece, complete with holes and dropped stitches, out of Silver Berrrocco yarn which shimmered in the lantern and candle light. At the Halloween event, dressed in ragged 18th century clothing, I would ask the children if they liked my knitting. Some would say yes but when they said no, I informed them (in a suitably crackly voice) that I once knew two little girls who didn’t like my knitting but “I dealt with them!”, as I furiously knit, making the dolls’ heads move up and down and those eyes flutter all of the time. This would produce laughter, some of it nervous, from the children.
I am not, however, reprising the Halloween role this year so I decided to decorate a pointy black hat with the witch’s knitting, all sewn on with nylon invisible thread.
The Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory (1806-1808), J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) Oil on canvas, 1708 x 2388 mm frame: 2181 x 2860 x 190 mm Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856 British Tate Gallery, London, England