Saturday, October 19, 2013

Vale: Ludmilla Wisniowski
Wearable Art

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Ludmilla (Milla) Wisniowski was born on 21st May 1934 and died in her beloved Melbourne on 21st October, 2012. She retired in 1994 from dressmaking where she worked for some of the leading fashion houses in Australia. She was a hand knitter from childhood and a machine knitter since 1986. Her blogspot – Ludmilla’s Blog – chronicled her passion for hand and machine knitting in which she solved many technical problems for her followers.

Her first blog featured her work on “Snake Scarves” - a conversion from hand knitting to machine knitting. She found the original hand knit on a blog belonging to "wiseneedle" owner Kim Salazar. However, the whole design concept had to be changed for the machine knitted version. For starters, the knitting had to commence upside down and had to be done in parts as against the all-in-one approach in the hand knitted version.

Snake Scarf I.
This one required rewinding of the yarn in order to get a continuation in the shading.

She made different snake scarves using various types of yarn in order to cater for all tastes and preferences.

Snake Scarf II. This version is held in my personal collection.

Snake Scarf III.

Her last blog listed some of her health problems that were to become a challenge for her later in life. She is survived by a partner (Joe) and three daughters (Elizabeth, Rosalie, and myself) as well as grandchildren and great grand children.

This post is my small tribute to her creative art and craft.

A Brief History of Knitting
Knitting has evolved over thousands of years. Knitted fabrics tend to deteriorate with great age, although one of the earliest pieces to have survived was discovered on a Syrian site dating from the 3rd century AD. For earlier forms of knitting, historians have to rely on written accounts or art forms such as sculpture. Many ancient Egyptian, Greek and Persian statues and reliefs depicted figures wearing garments that have the textured appearance of a knitted fabric.

Nail binding fragment from Dura-Europos, Syria, 256 AD.

Whilst knitting originated in the Middle East, it spread along the trade routes to Venice and North Africa. The Arabs learnt the technique from Christian Copts, who introduced it to Spain with the conquest of the Moors in the eighth century. In the following centuries Spain became the cradle of knitting and crafted geometric patterning, an important development that became the basis of almost all folk knitting in Europe and the near East.

Romano-Egyptian socks, made by nailbinding (Fifth Century).

Knitting is the process of using two or more needles to loop yarn into a series of interconnected loops in order to create a finished garment or some other type of fabric. The word is derived from knot, thought to originate from the Dutch verb - “knutten” - which is similar to the old English cnyttan – “to knot”. The word itself also has origins from Sanskrit “nakyat” meaning “net” or “weave”.

There are several methods for casting on and the one shown here is often used because it produces a strong flexible border, which looks just as effective on either side of the work.

Patterns have evolved along the way. Myth has it that Eve knitted the pattern on the serpent’s back and Jacob’s coat of many colors was thought to have been a patchwork knitted piece. It is also suggested that the Crucifixion robe that Jesus wore was knitted, since “...the coat was without seam, woven from top throughout”. This could not be divided so the Roman soldiers cast lots for it.

Jacob, recumbent in his dream of angels descending and ascending the ladder to Heaven, and below him Adam and Eve flanked by a lion and unicorn. This hand knitted carpet comes from Alsace and is dated 1781.

In Homer’s “Odyssey”, Penelope knitted a shroud as she waited for the return of Odysseus. In order to avoid choosing a husband, Penelope came up with a plan. She announced that she was knitting a shroud for Laertes, her father-in-law. She said that once she had finished the shroud, she would choose from among the many suitors a husband. Each night she would unravel her knitting to keep her suitors at bay.

Penelope and her suitors.

By the Middle Ages knitting was a well established craft throughout Europe. A network of Knitting Guilds was established in France, Germany, Britain and other countries. Young men served lengthy apprenticeships before they were considered to be sufficiently skilled to take the title of “Master Knitter”.

Depiction of "Lismers" - since the late Middle Ages. 
Stocking knitters in Germany were called Lismers.

Emblem of the Berlin Weaving and Knitting Guild. 
Three weaving devices and a flax plant with blossoms are shown on the emblem.

By the middle of the 16th century the Channel Island of Jersey had a thriving hand knitting industry, exporting hosiery to France and England. Queen Elizabeth I of England wore hand knitted stockings or “Jersey Hose” and so was anxious to protect the industry that in 1589 she refused a patent to Reverend William Lee, who designed the first knitting machine.

Rev. William Lee and his knitting machine.

It was inevitable that knitting machines would eventually force the decline of the hand knitting industry. In fact this occurred in Europe by the middle of the 18th century. By the 19th century a number of different knitting machine designs revolutionized the cottage industry into an industrial one.

1816 - First circular knitting-frame (England).

With the introduction of the electronic revolution and with computerization of equipment, knitting machines invaded the homes of crafters heralding a new era in the art/craft of machine knitted garments.

Singer System 9000 Model Knitting Machine with four-color yarn change.

The Knitted Wearable Art of Ludmilla Wisniowski
Below are some of my mother's machine knitted wearable art that she especially knitted for me, and that is in my collection.

Machine knitted "Sun" jumper employing hand dyed and metallic yarns.

Detail of "Sun" jumper.

Machine knitted jacquard 'Geometric' vest employing black and white yarns. Geometric design was one of my very early black and white drawings, which my mother converted to digital format to create the vest on one of her digital knitting machines.

Detail of "Geometric" vest.

Machine knitted complex jacquard "Multi patterned" mini dress employing hand dyed yarns.

Detail of "Multi patterned" mini dress.

Machine knitted complex jacquard "Scallop patterned" jumper employing variegated and black yarns.

Detail of "Scallop patterned" jumper.

Machine knitted "Variegated" jumper. Pieced and stitched employing variegated mohair yarn.

Detail of "Variegated" mohair jumper.

Machine knitted "Beret and Scarf" employing variegated black and white long haired yarn.

Detail of "Beret and Scarf" long haired yarn.

Machine knitted "Couture style" evening jacket employing high gloss and black yarns.

Detail of "Couture style" evening jacket.


Flora Fascinata said...

We'll Marie, I am gob smacked! I knew your amazing talent must have come from somewhere! I love those knits your mum has produced. The mini dress (hand-dyed yarns!!!) the evening jacket.....utterly beautiful. What treasures. And, those snake scarves are amazing!!! In QLD we call textile teachers Home Economists and every single one of us up here (;) should be using your posts in class. Because you make EVERY topic so incredible. With your reference, I'll be showing your mum's creations and the back story of 'humble' old knitting! A beautiful tribute to your mum. X

Annette said...

Marie-Therese so sorry to read your mum has passed away, hugs from me. Her talent for knitting was stunning... so clever...