Interruption . . . by Linda

6 Feb
by Richard Dunkley at Schmidts, UK Vogue 15 Apr 73

"Mad English at Schmidts" by Richard Dunkley, UK Vogue 15 Apr 1973

Mel says I can interrupt her blog for one of my rants. This should be fun, then. It’s not about Mel; she’s a lovely lady, a good friend and a great designer. It’s not about you, our lovely knitters. It’s not about other designers. It’s about certain people who make designers look daft when they’re not.

The naming game . . .

A million years ago in the early 20th century, before even I was born, UK patterns came in leaflets, and each one tended to have exciting names, like Sirdar 8438 and Beehive 7811. The lucky patterns which made it to books and magazines got called Blue Cardigan, Baby Hat and the like. So now, today – what’s with all these girls’ names given to patterns? And what happens when you design a man’s sock? Call it Leaves? Lancaster?

Now designers are artists, and they can call their pattern whatever they like. If they want to name their jumper after a relative, friend, celeb, fictional heroine – that’s romantic and lovely, and good luck to them. If their stitch pattern and yarn colour remind them of banana leaves, then of course they can and should call their pattern Banana Leaves if they want.

But all that only counts if it’s their own idea, and where this is going wrong is in knit mags, where the editor first invents a story (what?) and then hastily cobbles together a list of names – any old girls’ names and place names; same number of names as pattern pages in their mag – and asks their designers to design on a theme. Well, the last bit is fine – and these mags all have great designers doing gorgeous designs. So then the editor slaps the names on the designs as they come in, and there you have it – pretentious pattern-naming that has nothing to do with the patterns.

So that is why Mel’s and my patterns have these more-pretentious-than-thou names. “Opus” just means a work, and tends to be used for classical musical compositions. “Untitled” tends to be a name given to fine art pieces along with catalogue numbers. (For our overseas audience, this is called British humour, and has to do with irony).

. . . and stories

Oh, and what about the design “story”? What’s that when it’s at home? As far as I can see it means getting together those designs made to the editor’s theme, and bunging the whole lot in front of the same photo location. That’s not a story; stories have plots.

Back in the 70s, Vogue UK (fashion mag, not knit mag) used to feature a wonderful photographer called Richard Dunkley, who would put all his very young fashion models in a public location and make them muck about and run riot. I remember one rather blurred photo in particular, where there’s a bunch of very brightly-dressed and over-made-up girls giggling and crashing through a quiet and grey restaurant. Now that’s a story. Wake up, knit mag editors!


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