So what exactly is knitting in circles. Its most obvious use is in circular shawls, however the circles can be constructed from the outer edge, from the centre out, as wedges worked backwards and forwards, sideways, even as spirals. Also known as circular medallion knitting, this particular type of knitting was extremely popular in both the 18th and 19th centuries when circular medallions were used as bonnet backs or linked together for bed spreads. Mary Thomas talks about medallion knitting at length in her Book of Knitting Patterns first published in 1943. I also found the pattern for a beautiful bedspread created by medallions in The Encyclopaedia of Needlework by Th de Dillmont, a much earlier publication. Montse Stanley and June Hemmons Hiatt both cover knitting circles in their books too. However, Nicky's book really explains what you are doing and why, so that you grow in knowledge as you work from the book.
And if you are not sure how to use these knitted circles, Nicky has also created a beautiful collection of patterns all using circles. There are a wide range of projects in the book, but three in particular caught my eye.
The first, the Rotunda Cape is cleverly formed from one huge circle and is constructed using short rows in a very similar way to my own Shrimpton Collarette which will finally be released as a single pattern next month!
The next project I particularly like is the Hoopla Bag. It has great make do and mend potential as odd balls of yarn can be used to make each circle. The way the bag is constructed also reminded me of a vintage pattern I had failed to reconstruct several years ago, and looking at Nicky's fantastically clear construction diagram, I can now see where I went wrong!
Another project I fell in love with is the Circle Sampler Afghan. I don't know if I would wear it myself but it is a remarkable garment.
The colour scheme, the shape and the drape have a real early 20th century feel to them. There are echos of Paul Poirot, Lanvin and Mme Vionette. I could see one of The House of Elliot girls curled up in this in their London flat, wearing it with coordinating silk pyjamas and a stunning pair of ear rings of course! I also love that you could so easily put your own stamp on this by changing the order of the circles or even completely changing which circle pattern you choose to knit.
So, how do you get a copy of this beautiful, inspirational book? It can be purchased via the GMC website OR you can enter my competition to win a copy. GMC have generously provided one copy to be won by one lucky reader. If you would like a chance to win, please leave a comment on the blog answering this question:
Which era do you feel deserves the title the 'golden age of knitting' and why?
To help you along, here is Nicky's own response to the same question:
Ours..right now!...It was the forties when the world noticed, Fairisle, Aran, Estonian knitting etc. People knitted for economic and functional reasons…Today we knit for pleasure, relaxation and to create fashionable designs that express our individual sense of style.
The closing date for entries will be midnight (UK) on Thursday 4th October and I will choose and announce one winner in a random draw on Friday 5th October. Please make sure you include your email address when you post your comment so that I can get in touch with you if you win.
To read more about Nicky's book and for more chances to win a copy do pop by the other blogs taking part in the tour, which are:
27th Sept – Knitting Institute
1st Oct – Cut Out + Keep
2nd Oct – Make and Craft
3rd Oct – Black Cat Originals
4th Oct – Jessica Biscoe
5th Oct – Jo Simmonds
8th Oct – Kate Heppell
9th Oct – Alix Beech
10th Oct – ConnieLene Johnston