Knitting,  museum reproduction,  Natural dyes,  Needlework History,  Stitching Inspiration

Stitch some history with the Colours of Huron

They are done! My very first knitting kit is all put together and ready to be delivered!

The Huron Wrister Kit, inspired by history & featuring the ‘Colours of Huron’, will be able at FACTS in Blyth on Friday for the FACTS Forest Exhibit Opening! And, the Huron County Museum will have a small number available for sale on Saturday. It’s so exciting to be able to work with FACTS and Steele Wool Farm on this creative fibre collaboration and to have the encouragement of the Huron County Museum.

Planning the Huron Wrister Kit

The origin and inspiration for the Huron Wrister lays with the historic textiles in the collection of the Huron County Museum & Historic Gaol and one item in particular: the pair of approximately 100 year old knit gloves featuring a colourwork pattern most fascinating.

After a lot of time and research, it turns out I can’t find a historical reference to the pattern of the glove, but there appears to be both Scottish and possibly Estonian influences. I can find patterns that are similar but not an exact match. For instance, the motifs in the colourwork band are similar to both the Shetland Fair Isle tradition as well as Estonian patterns. And the fringe on the glove cuff may be Estonian or from the Dales in England. Further research is needed and that will follow at a later date when a full glove reproduction is planned. The how of how the glove was knit may provide clues as to the pattern origin; an Estonian fringe is done one way and a Dales fringe is attached another way. Knitting a full reproduction will answer those questions.

For the Huron Wrister, I decided to reproduce the colour-stranded banding featured in the vintage glove. In planning the Huron Wrister, working in my favourite fibre, 100% wool from Steele Wool Farm, was an obvious choice – the wool is beautiful, lovely to work with and locally produced. A naturally good fit for a Huron Wrister Kit.

One of a pair of vintage knitted gloves from the collection of the Huron County Museum & Historic Gaol. The gloves, once owned by Mr. Herbert Wheeler and donated in 1972 by Mrs. Pearl Wheeler, are believed to date from 1870, the museum record indicating they were knit by a man. The 8-stitch repeat pattern is similar to both the
Shetland Fair Isle knitting pattern, ‘Little Flowers’ as well as an Estonian pattern called, ‘Cat’s Paw’. Further research will be done to find out more.

So then the discussion became, what colours do I choose? I went to Jennifer Triemstra-Johnston, owner of FACTS in Blyth and we talked about my idea: a unique Huron Wrister Kit inspired by vintage knitted gloves in the collection of Huron County Museum and knit using local Blyth wool.

The Colours of Huron

The colours of natural dyes seemed to be the right choice, given our rural location and Jennifer’s textile dyeing expertise and experience. I wanted to use colours that were somehow connected to the area. We began talking about the idea of the ‘Colours of Huron’ and thinking about what colours they would be. What colours truly represent Huron?

One day, I realized the answer was there all the time. I was driving home from work and I saw it. It’s there when you see Huron’s sky, hills, forests, green and gold fields, rain, snow and sunshine. So I found an image I knew would give me a good visual aid to start the conversation – one of Greg Sherwood’s landscapes. I shared the image with Jennifer & Marg and said this is what I want. Can we do this? I want to knit with these colours.

Jennifer created the assortment of naturally dyed colours you will find in the Huron Wristers Kits. And I couldn’t be more happy. Huron’s landscape – sky, earth, fields of green and gold, water, air, trees, sunshine, rain – all turned into dyed wool fibre to knit and create with… Huron’s history and colourful landscape as inspiration.

And my first kit, the Huron Wrister – the Colours of Huron, will be available at FACTS in Blyth tomorrow and on Saturday at the Huron County Museum. It’s hard to believe. It’s been a long and challenging process for me as a newbie knitting designer (and my long-suffering supporters – you know who you are). Thank you to everyone who has been there with me through it all and helped me turn this new corner. And thank you so much to Irene Kellins at Stitches with a Twist for all of her technical pattern editing and extensive patience.

If you’d like to order a kit, just reach out to me by email or call 519-357-7578. Or, if you have any questions, please email me at sbolen@stitchrevivalstudio.ca at any time.