2017 Eisteddfod at Snowdonia Wool
Eisteddfod Gwlân Eryri 2017
You might have heard of an ‘Eisteddfod’, but not know what it is. Here at Snowdonia Wool, Abergele, North Wales, we are going to use the idea of the Eisteddfod as a cultural competition to acknowledge the skill of local knitters. Wales is renowned for its sheep farming and the use of wool to make flannel for clothing and blankets or quilts, yet there is very little to celebrate the use of wool in knitting. Abergele was the town chosen to host the National Eisteddfod in 1995, so it is not a new experience in the town.
An Eisteddfod is:
An eclectic mix of old and new, the traditional and the modern, the Eisteddfod is a celebration of Wales, its culture and its language…. To offer something for everyone – whatever their ages and interests…..
Visit Wales describes it as: http://www.visitwales.com/explore/traditions-history/national-eisteddfod
Many competitions happen in a large temporary pink pavilion (see below), and Glenys from Snowdonia Wool remembers as a child home from Kuwait sitting on the stage in the pavilion being welcomed back to Wales.
Whilst we can’t aspire to radio and television coverage like the National Eisteddfod we are going to try to have categories for all ages- those under 16 years old; the knitters and crocheters who are beginners, with categories such as the luxury dishcloth providing a small project which can be practised and improved; categories for the more accomplished, who might want to show skills from modern patterns on-line; and categories for those who are happier with traditional paper patterns. There is certainly an excitement within the shop’s community and a pride in our accomplishments.
The beginnings of a Welsh list of terms for knitting is a part of the launch of the Eisteddfod and we would really love for people to add to this list see the website for future postings. We have already identified different ways of translating the fundamental term – casting on, and we wonder if there are regional Welsh variations for terms. We are determined not to be defined by descriptions of knitting from other places; we want to celebrate living here and being part of a new tradition which has its roots in a wider culture. We have some famous and accomplished Welsh knitters and our towns have given their names to types of knitted garments.
In spite of the apparent geographical connotations of ‘raglan’ sleeves and ‘cardigan’, both names are derived from aristocratic generals of the Crimean War (1854-6) and have no real connection with Wales. Nor has Wales given its name to any sweaters associated with the fishing industry, such as Aran or Guernsey, but Wales has some particular associations withknitting. As early as the 16th century the Monmouth cap or Welsh wig was a type of male knitted headwear gathered at the crown and sometimes with flaps over the ears. Between 1700-1900, however, Wales became known for its hand-knitted stockings, at a time when frame knitting was increasingly replacing hand knitting in many parts of the UK. During the same period Wales was a fashionable destination for intrepid travellers in search of dramatic mountain landscape, picturesque scenes and good fresh air. Vincentelli 2016
Although Vincentelli above describes knitting as a relatively new tradition in Wales, it is certainly popular now as there are over 3,000 Welsh members of the on-line knitting forum, Ravelry, and Welsh is a language option for patterns on this international forum.
“As Georgia O'Keefe used her paintbrush to convey the beauty of her world, so has Sasha Kagan with her needles and wools. In her case, the shapes of the garments she produces are her canvas, and she fills them beautifully with colour, texture and her expression of her world. For over 40 years, Sasha has produced an astounding body of work, never tiring in her creativity, never losing inspiration, and never failing to impress with her new designs. She has created a signature look that is distinctively her own, and is instantly recognizable to knitters and knitwear lovers all over the world” Trisha Malcolm, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Knitting magazine.
“Wales has a proud history of knitting and Sasha Kagan has played an important part in it, through her contribution as one of the leading designer knitters in the UK.” Moira Vincentelli, Professor of Art History and Curator of Ceramics at Aberystwyth University in Wales
Who will be the Welsh knitters of note in the future? The Snowdonia Wool Eisteddfod will be a step in the direction of celebrating our knitters and those who would like to be part of this celebration.