The inspiration for this piece came from my fabric tour of London and Shanghai in 2016. If you’re interested in that trip (it was so good!), you can read all about that here
The short version is that inspiration came from everywhere and the seed for this little number was first planted when I stepped into the Cloth House in Soho and was blown away by the raw beauty of the fabrics made of natural fibres. I have always been a fan of the ‘natural fibre ‘ but there was something about the way they were displayed in the Cloth House that took my love to a whole new level.
Now as odd as this may seem, my other source of inspiration was the Florence Nightingale Museum in London, www.florence-nightingale.co.uk/
Just in case you don’t know, the Florence Nightingale Museum celebrates the life and work of the world’s most famous nurse. Many say Florence Nightingale invented nursing. She did in my book.
Anyway, why was I inspired by this museum? Well the truth is I’m not really sure. My thought process went along the lines of…….
I wonder if the nurses who served in the Crimean War ever had any time to do craft? I wonder what sort of craft they would have done if they did have time……and if they did, how would they have sourced materials?
You see, I cannot imagine a life without craft because for me, craft is the fuel that keeps me going. And the more difficult life is, the more of that fuel I need. So projecting, I wondered, how could those nurses have kept going the way they did unless they had fuel? I know I couldn’t have so what would I have done?
I searched every image in that museum to find something that I might have used for materials to make things with. And the thing that really jumped out at me was the bandages (not that there was ever an abundance of bandages, as far as I am aware, in any of the wars)……..but what could you do with bandages? Well you could knit them of course!
Now this is in no way meant to be flippant or insensitive. I am in awe of the nurses and the unbelievably selfless contributions they have made to all wars. This was simply about craft and inspiration, in isolation from the reality of war.
Knitting with rags
So, armed with an idea and plenty of downtime on our fabric tour, I bought size 10mm needles and some cheap white cotton fabric. Before I started the project, I sat in my hotel room in London after dinner one night, glass of wine in hand, and ripped the fabric into strips and then tied them together. I decided I wanted to add some texture to the overall look so I collected all sorts of bits and pieces to add to the mix. The only criteria was the material had to be white….ish.
I love this top but I found making it, hard work. This was because it was heavy, even on a circular needle, and despite the fact it was all garter stitch, it made my hands ache. Because it is cotton, the lack of give also added to the heaviness. That’s why it took so long to finish it. I mean, I loved the look of it and loved watching it grow but it wasn’t a comfortable project. It’s also a little heavy to wear so will definitely be a Spring/Autumn addition to the wardrobe. I deliberately left the knots visible because I wanted to retain that raw look.
Would I make another one?
Absolutely!!! I’ve started all ready. This time I am using muslin, dyed in cherries (yes cherries). And it feels much much lighter and more comfortable on the hands. Fingers crossed.
I hope you have a lovely week, full of fuel.