Knit­ting world

Top knit­ter, Joyce Meader, and her huge his­tor­i­cal pat­tern col­lec­tion

Simply Knitting - - Contents -

Hav­ing al­ways been a keen knit­ter, Joyce ini­tially started to fo­cus specif­i­cally on his­tor­i­cal pat­terns af­ter sell­ing some mil­i­tary web­bing to some­one she met on eBay. “I asked him what it was for and he said he was in the Yorks and Lancs WW1 re-en­act­ment so­ci­ety,” she rem­i­nisces. “He asked if I could also knit some socks for him – and the hunt for mil­i­tary pat­terns went on from there!”

What started as a new knit­ting in­ter­est soon turned into an ab­so­lute pas­sion for Joyce, largely due to the ex­cit­ing an­tic­i­pa­tion of what the fi­nal out­come would be. “You just never know how his­tor­i­cal knit­ting pat­terns are go­ing to turn out,” she ex­plains. “Some­times, there’s no pic­ture, as these didn’t start un­til the 1890s, and then how it turns out is pot luck – I love this as­pect of it. Even if there’s a hand-drawn pic­ture, I still don’t be­lieve it – as the fin­ished gar­ment often doesn’t look like that at all!”

So, how big is Joyce’s col­lec­tion ex­actly? “I have a very, very large col­lec­tion that cov­ers all as­pects of hand­knit­ting, start­ing from 1817,” Joyce tells us. “I be­lieve I have the largest col­lec­tion of mil­i­tary knit­ting pat­terns in the UK – if not the world!” Joyce’s old­est pat­tern is a copy of The Knit­ting Teacher’s As­sis­tant, pub­lished for The Na­tional Girls’ School – dated 1817! “It was an ed­u­ca­tional book­let, writ­ten in the form of ques­tions and an­swers,” she says. “It came from a lady in the USA, but there’s ac­tu­ally a later edi­tion in the Richard Rutt col­lec­tion which you’ll find at Winch­ester Col­lege of Art.”

Joyce’s rare col­lec­tion isn’t her only claim to fame – her won­der­ful knits have even fea­tured on the big screen! “I’ve knit­ted for The Wildest Dream, a film about Mal­lory and Irvine climb­ing Ever­est,” she says. “It came about be­cause I’d recre­ated knit­ted gar­ments for a pro­ject done by Lan­caster Uni­ver­sity to see how they’d ac­tu­ally per­formed on the moun­tain.” In ad­di­tion to this, her work has fea­tured in the block­buster film, Warhorse, for which she knit­ted the bal­a­clavas and mu ers for the key ac­tors, in­clud­ing the swoon-wor­thy Jeremy Irvine and Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch!

Joyce is very pro-ac­tive in the knit­ting world. As well as do­ing talks and lec­tures on his­toric knit­ting across the UK, she also takes her work to care homes and groups for peo­ple that su er with de­men­tia. “I take my knit­ted bits and bobs, along with mag­a­zines, toys, house­hold items, school bits and cloth­ing,” she ex­plains. “We have great fun dis­cussing their mem­o­ries of the things I bring along – my large bar of car­bolic soap is one of the great­est hits, along with the knit­ted swim­ming cos­tumes, which are my favourite things to knit! We al­ways fin­ish with a record or two, played on a wind-up gramo­phone and a sing-along.”

And what is Joyce’s great­est achieve­ment? “This would have to be the Shack­le­ton-style bal­a­clava I made for the Antarc­tic ex­plorer Henry Wors­ley,” she smiles. “He sadly passed away dur­ing his last trip to the South Pole, but he used the bal­a­clava dur­ing all of his trips and it’s the only thing that I’ve knit­ted that has stood the test of the South Pole.”

Out of all of the in­cred­i­ble things that Joyce has col­lected and ac­com­plished through her knit­ting, it’s a won­der she’s able to choose a favourite at all! Dis­cover more about Joyce’s amaz­ing col­lec­tion at www.his­torick­


Pat­terns from Joyce’s col­lec­tion hark back to the 1800s Joyce Meader, mil­i­tary knit­ting pat­tern ex­pert Some items have been knit­ted for films and TV Joyce takes her bits and bobs to care homes and de­men­tia groups to show them Her hunt for mil­i­tary pat­terns was spurred on by a chat over eBay

“You just never know how the pat­terns are go­ing to turn out!” Gar­ments were also knit­ted for Lan­caster Uni­ver­sity Knits of the past were de­signed to last… Joyce’s favourite pat­tern is this dap­per two piece!

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