Kiev: Ivan Gonchar Museum

Here’s the second of many posts to come, on places I visited, and hope others will too, in Kiev.

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I first found out about the Ivan Gonchar Museum (aka Ukrainian Centre of Folk Culture) on the Folk Costume of Polissya website, which features traditional ensembles from various parts of Ukraine, nearly all of which are from the museum. So, naturally, it was top of my sightseeing list.

IvanGonchar01The museum is situated in the eastern part of the city, next door to the famous Pecharsk Lavra monastery site and close to the banks of the Dnieper river. Although small, it houses a varied collection of Ukrainian handicrafts, including pottery, clothing, woven fabrics, paintings, photographs and painted eggs, all informatively labelled in Ukrainian and, helpfully, English. The focus of the collection is to represent items from across the regions Ukraine, rather than give a historical survey. The majority of objects are no older than the nineteenth century, but show the range of styles, colours and patterns traditionally favoured by different regions.

Textiles

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Detail of embroidered sleeves of women’s full-length shirts (sorochka dodil-na), from various provinces. Early 20th century, homespun embroidery thread on homespun hemp or linen cloth.

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Hand-woven wrap skirts (plakhta, “zirchatka”), from various provinces. Early 20th century, wool, wool and cotton, wool and linen

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Women’s woven sashes (kraika), Poltava province. First half of 20th century, wool.

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Man’s Costume, Western Podillia. Late 19th – early 20th century

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Woman’s costume, Ivano-Frankivs’k Province. Late 19th – early 20th century.

IvanGonchar19I was, of course, particularly drawn to the costume display, with its exquisitely embroidered linen or hemp full length shirts, worn under multi-coloured hand-woven woolen wrap-skirts tied with sashes. The amount of time that must have been spent making these outfits and all their constituent parts is staggering, and demonstrates the importance and pride placed in their making and wearing.

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Woven rug, on which I failed to write down notes – if you visit the museum please let me know and I’ll update the info

The museum also has a display of ‘rushnyk‘ – long strips of cloth traditionally embroidered or woven with symbolic patterns and/or imagery. They still play a part in modern Ukrainian wedding ceremonies, being used to literally tie the bride and groom together at the wrists.

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Embroidered ritual cloths (rushnyk), 18th – 20th century. Homespun linen or hemp cloth embroidered with wool or cotton thread.

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Woven cloth, late 19th to early 20th century. Linen, hemp, cotton and/or wool.

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Woven Krolevets’ ritual cloth (rushnyk “krolevets’kyi”), early 20th century. Cotton.

IvanGonchar17I loved seeing some of the tools of textile-making on display too – these giant wooden prongs are the combs used by weavers to separate threads.

Admittedly, my interest waned after passing the textiles section, so  apologies for the under-representation of the beautiful ceramics and paintings also on display..

Ceramics

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Teapot (chainik), 1930s. Cherihiv Province, Korop District, Village of Verba.

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Oven tile (kahlia pichna), mid 19th century. Ivano-Frankivs’k Province, City of Kosiv.

Paintings

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Folk Painting ‘Stepan and Yaryna’, by Yakylyna Yarmolenko(?). Mid-2oth century, Kyiv Province, Pereyaslav-Khmel’nyts’kyi District, Village of Stovp’iahy. Oil on panel.

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Folk Painting ‘Oh there is a fire burning on the hill’, P. Shtorma, 1952. Kyiv Province, Obukhiv District, village of Husachivka. Oil on panel

 

The Ivan Gonchar Museum is open Tuesday – Sunday, 10 – 17:30.

Address: 19 Lavrska Street, Kyiv.

Nearest Metro station: Arsenalna

Bye bye Wool Week

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Wool Week is nearly over. As anticipated, I spent much of it knitting, talking about knitting and lusting after other people’s knitting.

Much of this indulgence went on in a couple of visits to the Oxford Street branch of John Lewis, which has been playing host to five days of knitting workshops. What a wonderful event! But woefully under-advertised by the store. Their beautiful and entertaining ‘live knitting’ window would have surely attracted many extra customers both into the haberdashery department and the rest of the store if displayed up front. Instead, it was relegated to the far side of the building, where few but staff on their fag break got to see it.

Ah well, at least I can show you here.

Tuesday

I bounded up the escalators with great zeal and camera/ knitting needles at the ready; slightly nonplussed to discover, on my arrival at the haberdashery department, a distinct lack of Wool Week activity. Shop assistant not sure where it is. Am I in the right store? I wonder on way back down to the information point on ground floor.

Directed up to first – through shoe section and into ladieswear, round to the right – and eventually find the woolly haven. It’s an admittedly intimate spot, squeezed between clothes rails; browsers step over balls of wool and beanbags, knitters make friends fast as they rub elbows on squashy sofas. I meet today’s knitting gurus – Norwegian duo Arne and Carlos  – and get to work on Magnus Mouse. Having expected a variation on the beginners staple garter stitch square, I’m pleased to discover Arne and Carlos’ mouse cuts an elegant, elongated figure, knitted in the round on double-ended needles. After nearly two hours I am still working up Magnus’ ankle and am well into a continental style (left-handed) vs English (right-handed) knitting debate with Arne, Carlos and accomplished Canadian crafter Natalie Selles. Time to go, unfortunately, but will return – soon.

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Thursday

I return on Thursday night, armed with a better camera and greater resolve to use it. Meet the designer of tonight’s workshop and pattern, Sarah Hatton, who kindly demonstrates her extremely efficient underarm knitting technique. Her design for Rowan’s workshop this evening cleverly comes in garter, stocking stitch and cable options for all knitting levels. DSC_4874

DSC_4877DSC_4876DSC_4880There was some awesome cable needle accessorizing on the part of fellow knitter/ blogger, Snowfox of I am Snowfox.

Look, look!

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We wrap up the evening snapping away at the Toft Alpaca team in their glass tank of yarn. I leave with a warm fuzzy feeling.

Goodbye Wool Week! Until next time..

Odd socks

Last week I bought some beautiful Noro sock yarn from the Knitting and Stitching show.

DSC_4864Here’s the result of my first attempt at sock-knitting. It’s a much more enjoyable and interesting process than I’d previously thought, and made especially easy by Charlene Schurch and her book ‘Sensational Knitted Socks’. She’s basically done all the possible calculations you might need to knit a sock regarding guage, fit and pattern variations, and then put them in handy charts.

While I was teaching new knitters to cast on at Ally Pally, I got a lesson myself from a very kind Danish lady on how to knit continental style. Instead of holding the yarn in the right hand, as I was first taught, she, along with much of Europe, knits with the yarn in the left. Once you’ve got the hang of it, this is supposed to be the most efficient and fastest method, although I think I need to finish the other sock before my brain gets round the switch.DSC_4865

One side effect of the Noro yarn coming in beautifully graduated colours is the difficulty in making two socks roughly the same. Here’s my second attempt at starting sock no. 2 – which came with the realisation that ball no. 2 was wound in the opposite direction to ball no. 1.

See?

DSC_4867But I figure that the colour scheme isn’t crazy enough to warrant worrying about matching them up. They’ll be odd, but in an endearing, eccentric way, not in a ‘where’s the other sock?’ way. Let’s hope my Dad* thinks so anyway when he unwraps them.

*don’t worry, he doesn’t read my blog so his Christmas present will still be a surprise

Tweed swiggle

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I’ve started another swiggle piece (here’s the original design, the first swiggle jumper and its progress – one, two, three), this time a birthday present for my mum, who will be sixty in September. I went for Rowan tweed yarn in a mossy green and cream. Since the yarn is a bit thicker than what was used for this design before, the design is bigger and I’m reworking my original ‘pattern’ (I say ‘pattern’ because it’s shamefully strewn between various notebooks and sheafs of paper, many of which have uncertain whereabouts).

This time I’m making sure to remember exactly what’s already been done by literally attaching notes to the knitting on luggage labels. It’s the only way.

Thursday’s paradigm knit

Having been a bit lax about posting lately, I’ve given myself a pinch this week. I started this blog and want to continue it because  a) I want to post things that I think others would find interesting/ inspiring/ helpful and give something back to the huge online pool of amazing talent and work that I dip into so much, b) I have a poor memory and need an easily accessible archive full of images to remind myself what I’ve been doing and making and c) my self-motivation varies hugely from obsessive and hyper about getting something done to chewing nails and staring into space – I wanted a long-term project that would keep both it and me going. However, being in that uninspired, flat state of mind makes it difficult to write or photograph or DO anything.

So.. the point of this particular post is to have a regular feature that I have to post every week because ..otherwise that bomb on the bus*/ milk float** will go BOOM!! and Bruce Willis*/ Father Ted** won’t be around to help this time.

Anyway.

Every Thursday I’ll post a new design with a little bit about its source of inspiration. The design might be taken directly from a historical piece of knitting, adapted from another medium e.g. ceramics or emerge from the jelly-like substance of the sea on the surface of the planet Solaris.

Here, like this:

Oak leaf design

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A new knitting pattern, taken from a piece of embroidery in Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire. The yarn is Jamiesons of Shetland spindrift in ‘moss’ and ‘scotch broom’.

Detail of a framed cushion cover of crimson silk worked in long-armed, cross or tent-stiches with various types of oak leaves. From the Paved Room, Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire.

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*popular culture reference for the general readership

**popular culture reference for Aunty Penny

Wool House III + Tom of Holland

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My last few pictures from Wool House (sigh!).

More sheep, some wool couture and a darning session with the very delightful and diligent Tom of Holland. Holey socks, darning thread and mushrooms at the ready, he showed a flock of wool enthusiasts the power of darning. There was much lamentation and sympathy over the destructive capacity of clothes moths, but not enough to dampen spirits, darn it!

Inspired, I’m determined to a) fill my wardrobe with sprigs of lavender against the winged wool nemeses and b) scour local charity shops for a darning mushroom of my own.

wool12wool13wool14wool16Goodbye Wool House! Until next time…(there will be a next time yes?)wool11wool17

Wool House II

After quite a busy week I’ve finally got round to uploading my pictures from a second visit to the Wool House, last Friday. I’ll try to be better in future, I promise.

The rooms of Wool House were put together by different artists and designers, with a bedroom, lounge and nursery, amongst others.

These were my two favourites, Natural Room by Josephine Ryan and Nursery by Donna Wilson. I liked the first for its fairytale-like sinister edge (Little Red Riding Hood’s Grandma’s woodland cottage), the second for it’s soporific dreaminess (the designer’s alternative to adding brandy to the baby’s bottle) and both for their all-encompassing warmth and imaginative design. Walking into them practically felt like being hugged by the fleecy walls.

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Wool House

woolhouseYesterday I chanced across the ‘Wool House’ at Somerset House. The week-long exhibition and series of events set up by the Campaign for Wool is dedicated to all things wooly. During my brief visit I had a spinning lesson with Sheila from Dovecot Studios and bumped into a familiar face from The Handweavers Studio. I’m going back this morning for more, armed with a camera. I’m just so sad to have missed the sheep parade!

The exhibition finishes this Sunday, 24th March. Go to the Wool House‘s or Somerset House‘s website for more details. Catch it before it goes!