Hilary Mantel’s third and final volume of Wolf Hall series “The Mirror and The Light” came out in the US on March 10, 2020. BBC announced that the TV adaptation of the new Wolf Hall volume is in works. As I cannot wait to see Damian Lewis wear the crown as Henry VIII one more time sooner than later, here is the sweet story behind Damian’s “very own ‘Enry” from Knitting Witch UK!
I met the lovely Denise Salway also known as the Knitting Witch in early 2015. I had recently launched Fan Fun with Damian Lewis and was glued to Wolf Hall on TV writing weekly reviews of the series. Denise, at the time, had already knitted a number of the royals such as Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II but the fantastic BBC series had inspired her to go back in time.
I remember that she told me she felt very lucky about being able to recreate the stars of Wolf Hall in wool. And she started with the ladies! Meet Henry’s six wives!
We, her followers on Twitter loved the ladies! And Denise let us know that Henry was now a work in progress…
…and the majesty arrived shortly after! Brilliant.
This is not just a BRILLIANT Henry in wool but he also looks very much like our Henry in Wolf Hall! Look at the costume! Denise made it with utmost care paying attention to every single detail. Magical work.
When I asked Denise about how she was inspired to knit King Henry and his six wives, she said:
“I love history, and historic places, and I am a royalist. I did Queen Victoria before Christmas.”
Meet Queen Victoria!
It turns out Denise also knitted Queen Elizabeth II and sent it to her as a gift. She later received a kind letter from the Queen’s lady-in-waiting talking about how much the Queen loved her design. Moreover, Denise’s knitted Duchess of Cambridge along with Kylie Minogue and Kim Kardashian made it into the papers. How cool is that?
Here is a few excerpts from Denise’s interview on Wales Online:
“The retired factory worker has managed to capture Kylie’s pert bottom in her iconic gold shorts, and she’s knitted Denise Kardashian’s buxom in a body con dress in a classic over the shoulder pose. But Kate Middleton is clothed in an elegant, miniature version of her teal Jenny Packham gown.”
“Denise says she starts with a picture of her famous subject to study all the little details that make them unique.
She even goes so far as colour matching skin tones and copying the minutest details of clothers, including the beading on Kim Kardashian’s dress.
“I start all my dolls with the biggest part – the head and torso body and move on to the fiddly bits later on,” said Denise, from Penyfai.
“Buttons, eyes and jewellery can be tricky but I enjoy testing myself. People think knitting is for boring grannies in their rocking chairs but when I make my dollas I have loud rock music on in the background.”
“I don’t knit cardigans and scarves – it’s far more fun to knit a celebrity.”
Well, who can disagree with that?
In my own online conversation with her, I asked Denise whether she would send Henry VIII as a gift to Damian Lewis. She said she could, but first she needed an address to send it. And because she always kept the originals, she always had to make a new one and send to a celebrity when given an address. Hmmm… I felt like Viki from the Vikings! I do not know if any of you had The Vikings on TV when you were a kid but I was a big fan of this little boy who was the best problem solver I had ever seen in my life…
…and lo and behold I had a mission! I would find that address for Denise!
In the meantime, Denise added Queen Elizabeth I to her collection: Don’t you think Henry would be proud of his daughter? 🙂
And then Thomas Cromwell arrived!
Spitting image of our Thomas, isn’t he?
Ah, and the pleasure of seeing Thomas and Henry together 🙂 PRICELESS! Thanks so much, Denise, for sending me this photo that brightened my day!
And then… Denise made a very HANDSOME gift for Damian! She wanted Damian — who is a unique talent — to have a unique Henry and so, instead of making a copy of the original Henry, Denise designed and knitted a completely new Henry for our favorite actor!
And isn’t he a spitting image of our Henry?
And on the day Damian found out about Fan Fun one of the first things I shared with him right after I told him about the blog was Denise, her fabulous work and the very special Henry she was knitting for him! Damian was intrigued and gave me his then PA Michael’s contact information so I could connect Michael and Denise. The two of them agreed on the best way for Denise to send the wool Henry in its special box to Damian. And, in a few months time, Denise got word from Michael that Damian has his Henry in his dressing room at the Wyndham’s Theatre during his successful American Buffalo run and that he was sending his thanks! Can it get sweeter than this?
I am proud to call Denise aka the Knitting Witch a friend and thrilled to see that her work is being appreciated by many. Please visit her wonderful portfolio, varying from the characters from Game of Thrones to Elton John to Harry and Meghan and many many more on her Flickr page and follow her at @KnittingWitchUK on Twitter as well as on Instagram for constant updates!
Let me close with the most hilarious exchange between Damian and Jamie Theakston who dares ask what that is poking through his majesty’s breeches 😀
— Damian Lewis (@lewis_damian) September 16, 2019