Bath Knitting & Crochet Guild – Amigurumi

For the September session of the Bath Knitting & Crochet Guild Karina talked us through the history of knitting and crochet in Japan, and how this evolved into the craft known as amigurumi.

So, what is it?  Well, the name is made up of a combination of words: ami = knitted/crocheted, nuigurumi = stuffed doll, and together they make amigurumi. This gives you a few clues about how they’re made.  The other key elements of amigurumi creatures are that they must be SMALL and CUTE.

The term first appeared in 1951 and by 2006 amigurumi items were reported to be the most popular items sold on Etsy. This popularity isn’t reflected in the number of books on the subject, however if you put the term into Google you’ll get over 14 million results!

In Japan, ‘kawaii’ is the word used to denote how lovable, cute, or adorable something is and is ‘the quality of cuteness in the context of Japanese culture’ and this too gained popularity in the early 1950s. This love of things small and cute was promoted as a distraction from and to cover up the atrocities of the atomic bomb as Japan regrouped and reformed as a nation and a political power.

The way the Japanese use the skills of knitting and crocheting to create amigurumi are very different to the traditional, functional, uses in the West.  However, some of the first knitters in Japan were Samurai warriors who would make their own socks with individual toes to aid movement – which is very functional indeed.

After Karina’s introduction to all things amigurumi, it was time for us to have a go and there were many dragons, birds, bears and bunnies to choose from.  It was one of our quietest sessions ever as everyone was concentrating so hard on making tiny pieces or attempting a new technique. While the Japanese may have distracted themselves from the atomic bomb with the ‘kawaii-ness’ of the crafted creatures, I think perhaps the level of concentration required also helped to focus the mind!

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Shetland Museum Neckwear Competition

Earlier this year the Shetland Textile Museum put out a call for knitters all over the world to submit their designs in a neckwear competition.  From the submitted entries there would be winners, there would be items accessioned into the Museum collection and there would be items sold.  Excited by this idea, I submitted a sculptural collar…

Shetland Museum entry v0.1My design is a small blue collar which fastens at the front, in Jamieson’s Shetland Heather. Versatile and practical, it can be worn with or under a close-fitting jacket, where scarf ends might be too bulky. A combination of short-row shaping and Aran weight yarn creates a sculptural effect while only using garter stitch.

The entries had to be an original design in Shetland wool, and either hand-knitted or hand-framed. Within these guidelines you could submit anything, so long as it could be worn around the neck.

While my entry didn’t win overall, it could still win the public choice award.  If you would like to vote for my sculptural collar, head over to Facebook or Ravelry to cast your vote before 31 July – all you need to do is enter a comment saying you vote for No. 11.

Thank you!

Bath Knitting & Crochet Guild – World Wide Knit in Public Day

Saturday 18 June was World Wide Knit in Public Day and also the first birthday of the Bath Knitting & Crochet Guild.  To mark the occasion we held a knitting and crochet extravaganza at the Boston Tea Party cafe… and it was FABULOUS!

It was wonderful to see familiar faces and meet new friends – there were about 50 crafters there, proud to show off their skills in public.  Most of the other cafe patrons were intrigued by our group and what we were doing, although there were a couple of puzzled looks too.

BKCG newsletter montage v0.2

To start the day off we held a craft pub quiz – in teams of up to five, participants had an array of knitting and crochet related questions to answer… and there were some tricky questions!  The competition ended in a tiebreaker with the team ‘Knit 4 Together’ emerging as the winner. Thanks to Carmen from A Yarn Story for creating the quiz.

Next up was the fastest knitter competition.  Entrants each had 15 stitches on 4mm needles using a DK or 4-ply weight yarn and three minutes to knit as much as they could!  Our winner on the day was Anne, with 3.5 cm of work created.

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Something everyone can have a go at is untangling a twisted up ball of yarn, and this was our next contest (getting the materials ready for this one was harder than we imagined!). Contestants each had a tangled up length of yarn to undo, and then wind up into a small ball.  In a few short minutes Sue had managed the tricky task.

Even though it was World Wide Knit in Public Day we were embracing crocheting in public too, and the next event was for those who prefer hooks to needles.  The fastest crocheter competitors had the same length of yarn each and whoever used up the yarn in the shortest amount of time was the winner.  There was some strategic use of stitches here, although most utilised a chain… and this turned out to be a good choice by our winner, Lucy.

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We also had a raffle to raise funds for future Bath Knitting & Crochet Guild events, and Harriet was the winner of the afternoon tea at the Pump Room.

Thank you to everyone who came along and made the day such a success, and to our sponsors (A Yarn Story, Searcy’s, and the Fashion Museum) who donated such an amazing array of prizes and to Boston Tea Party for hosting us.