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 Mordacious Knits
biting in style, strange and scary, knitting in art stories, 1602~2020.

leesproef Vincent van gogh

Hans von Bartels girls faces and arms are so purple red in his  painting of the Dutch island of Urk on the front cover of my book  Mordacious Knits.
No, it's not that he could have painted those faces and arms any less red, and here's the reason why.

At the end of an hour, a dark spot appeared on the horizon, which  gradually resolved itself into a huddle of red-roofed houses, grouped  behind a dyke; and at 8.30, we ran into a somewhat complicated harbour  and tied up at the pier.There was a  crowd of people waiting, for the arrival of the boat is the one event of the day at Urk, and they stared at us, as we went ashore, more  curiously even than we stared at them.
The costume of Urk has no  especially noteworthy feature. The women wear a multitude of skirts,  which give them great breadth of beam. The skirts end some inches above  the ankles, and truth compels me to add that the ankles are anything but shapely.The upper part of their dress consists of a closely-fitting  waist, which represses all curves and which is always elaborately  embroidered. During the week it is protected by an over-covering of  linen, also embroidered.
Their sleeves end just above the elbow. And from there down, their arms, exposed ceaselessly to all sorts of  weather, are baked by the sun and frozen by the cold to a dull,  repulsive, and most painful-looking purple. I am told that the women are proud of this colour, because, I suppose it proclaims them to be good  workers. They wear a close-fitting little cap of lace, under which the  hair is tucked, except for a protuberant bang in front. On week-days the cap, also, is protected by a linen cover, and the front of the skirt is protected by an ample apron, with a queer inset of embroidery at the  top, something after the Marken fashion.

´The Spell of Holland´€¯ Burton Egbert Stevenson, 1872-1962, American.
Written by Burton  in the Netherlands  in 1903.

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Mordacious Knits,
biting in style, strange and scary, knitting in art stories, 1602~2020.

is based on true historical facts of all artists who have been researched by me in the past 4 years.

And based on knitters, who walk, stand or sit, knitting on a rock, a chair, sofa or on a park bench, inside or outside, in the living room, bedroom, in the conservatory, work shed, barn or in the kitchen, in the garden or a park, by a river, lake, by the sea or in the mountains, or between wartime ruins, in peaceful and not so peaceful times, they knit on from 1602 to 2020 in these artist´s paintings.
We will have to wait and see what happens after 2020.

I wish you much pleasure reading this book,  21 x 29,7 cm with 244 pages full of pictures and 3 patterns, that was  published on November 22, 2019.

Constance Willems


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 Dutch Knits, breisels in Nederland 1635-1969 was published in May 2015 .

The maker Constance Willems did a 3 year long research dedicated to knitting in the Netherlands during more than 3 centuries, and this cultural history is mainly told through paintings, drawings and later on in photographs as well as through literature.

This 40 pages A4 booklet takes the reader from the Dutch Golden Age to the end of the 1960s and surprisingly shows that even the feared by his enemies admiral Piet Hein, to be a dedicated knitter.

The series of illustrations also show that in each family and on each social level, knitting was very much widespread. Wealthy ladies in the 17th century used wool, but also the posh in lace dressed ladies from the baroque period handled the knitting needles.

No idle Dutch hands.

People did not stay behind and participated in this craft. Knitwear was durable and can be used under various weather conditions as shown by the knitted and felted head wear of the Dutch whalers on Spitsbergen in the 1650s.

Towards the end of the 18th and early 19th century, more knitters were depicted in art. That was due to the increasing interest in 'ordinary' people. What is striking then is that many women and girls worked  in the sandy dunes with wool. They waited, according to Willems, that way for the return of their husbands and relatives who sailed out to sea as fishermen. Their waiting time could be well used by doing something productive with this centuries-old handcraft.

Press release for Dutch Knits, breisels in Nederland 1635-1969 by Constance Willems.
  A mini history of Dutch knitting in art, photography and literature, in Dutch and English.


more Piet Hein designer socks by Constance Willems

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