Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Earth Stripe stole is now about 98cm long – 2/3rds of the way home. There, for the moment, it will rest. We are going to Strathardle tomorrow, insh’Allah, and for today I mean to allow myself a bit of gansey-knitting.

I think Earth Stripes will be just the thing for your poor shoulder, MaryJoO. I was sorry to hear about that. I have had two broken arms in recent years, and neither time did I seem to have much treatment. The first, worse-r one, just spent some weeks in a sling. Last year’s, which looked worse to the innocent eye, with bone-ends going this way and that in the x-ray, had plaster for a while. Both have made excellent recoveries. It would be truly dreadful to have to cap all those weeks of pain and discomfort with surgery.

I spent some time in Ravelry yesterday, and am nearly up to date.


It’s here. My friend Helen received the Special Delivery yesterday, and came rushing round with it. It’s in tip top condition for a 75-year-old magazine. I will not have it subjected to the slightest stress, so I can’t scan any of it for you. I am happy to report that Feed the Children didn’t put pictures up on eBay, either, except for the cover.

It is designed as a stand-alone knitting instruction book, with pages of sage advice on swatching and such, followed by some pages of stitch patterns, before it gets started on actual Vogue-knitting.

It kicks off with a full-page photograph I’d love to scan for you. It would show you how to knit. She might be approaching 50 but dreadfully well-preserved, if so; immaculately coifed bobbed blonde hair, lots of pearls, silk blouse. The caption reads:

“This photograph shows you the correct position for knitting without tiring yourself. Seated on a chair without arms, the knitter rests her elbows on a cushion placed behind her back. The wool is passed over the index finger of the right hand, which, with a barely perceptible movement, glides it over the needle. The two hands are almost motionless. The thumb of the left hand moves forward with the stitches on the left needle. The work is held on the knees in a white cloth.”

It has long been a contention of mine that that paragraph we constantly read is an old one, ever-repeated: about how knitting has finally thrown off its grandmotherly connotations and moved on to the fashion stage. I am overjoyed to have confirmation in the very first paragraph of the very first Vogue Knitting: “We are very far from the days when hand-knitting was only used for warm but inelegant garments. Rejuvenated by a perfected technique and by new ways of using the resulting fabric, knitting now holds an important place in the mode.”

Written before many of today’s grandmothers were born!

There is an interesting two-page spread on how to mend knitting – how to darn a hole by re-creating knit stitches. Both st st and garter are illustrated. I’m not sure in all my extensive library that I’ve ever seen that before. Maybe Montse Stanley or POK? I’ll look.

I note yesterday’s advice about getting proper archive-quality sleeves for my babies, and will act on it.


  1. oh that is a hilarious excerpt from VK. and from reading ravelry this is still an issue with knitters. funny to think about when considering that knitting was a man's craft or way of survival for so many years. when i take my knitting to a park i always get approached by men who want to know if i'd possibly knit them a hat, a pair of socks anything goes. i interpret it as a cadeau to knitters.
    your earth stole is certainly proceeding nicely and the stripe report looks lovely.
    i have to rush to get montse stanley at bookdepository.co.uk. do you know that bookstore link? v ery good customerservice, free shipping on any needlework book still in print.

  2. Anonymous12:37 PM

    Regarding the replacing stitches method of mending knitting - Rae Compton's Illustrated Dictionary of Knitting under Repairing Knitting. But . . . I have not had this book for more than a year or so, and I have a nagging memory of seeing the method explained in a book from way back fifty years ago. If I track it down, I will let you know.

  3. I would love to learn that darning technique. And congrats on the progress on the stole.

  4. Thank you ever so much Jean for my continual Earth Stripes "fix" -- I think I'll definitely make it. Your photo really does give credit to the colors, and the future warmth for my shoulders.

    This broken arm "thing" has gone on for a long time: I was just "unlucky" that the break didn't heal itself. But then when you consider I finally had 2 plates and 12 screws it MUST have been a bad break, no? I nearly wept for joy when I could pick up knitting and crochet and do something for 10 minutes in the beginning. DPNs were impossible at first, so I have a lot of crocheted granny squares waiting to be worked on. It is truly amazing about anatomy, muscles and the like that are involved with knitting!

    I had to recuperate in London for 10 days after the surgery, and somehow found the stamina to walk to John Lewis' on Oxford street from my Grosvenor Square hotel to find some Rowan wools. There were very sympathetic sales ladies (I had to sit down immediately upon arriving in the section -- not much stamina then)! But PT is coming along well -- it's just slow.

    Thanks also for the VK excerpts -- what fun! Maryjo

  5. how lucky you are to have it! I would love to see it. The ES Stole is lovely. Is it a long stripe is stocking stitch or is there more pattern

  6. Stripes = lovely.

    I think I saw that mending technique for duplicating stitches somewhere online. Knitty? Ysolda? Something.

    The VK magazine is so cool. I have a couple of books from the 1930's-40's but nothing as old as yours.

  7. For stocking stitch alone, I found this method in Mary Thomas's Knitting Book (p 240 of my 1938 hardback). For stocking stitch and for ribbing, I found it illustrated in 'Needlework for Student Teachers' by Amy K. Smith (my copy is the fifth edition, 1899 - it also contains a very early reference to grafting). None of my 1940s Odhams knitting books seem to mention mending knitting!

  8. Anonymous6:01 PM

    How exciting. Thanks for the paragraphs.

  9. Anonymous10:37 AM

    Yes, I echo the thanks for your paragraphs from your no. 1 VKB. What a thrill to have acquired it.