Thursday, 26 August 2010

Today I am off to help with the judging

of the knitting section at our Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society Annual Show. It sounds impressive doesn't it? I hope I can be of genuine assistance to the senior judge. She is a woman of great talent in the field of embroidery - something about which I know very little. My manual dexterity is limited and it certainly does not extend to threading a needle.
I have however managed to learn to knit and acquired some knowledge of the craft over the years.
Knitting, in one form or another, has been around for several thousand years. Some of the earliest knitting was done on frames in a similar fashion to so-called French knitting, spool knitting or tomboy stitch = you know the yards and yards (now metres and metres) of long thin worm you used to turn out and then wonder what to do with. One of the boys in one of my primary schools made enough to go around the entire circumference of the school yard.
There is also the thought that Christ's garment, said to be 'without seam', was actually knitted.
In mediaeval times knitting was done by men. It was a seven year apprenticeship. At the end of it they had to produce, under great pressure, a diverse range of items such as a 'carpet' and 'stockings'. The women did the spinning and were only permitted to knit if they were widows and their husbands had been knitters. Now men knit less frequently than women but I do know men who knit and knit very well.
Knitting comes in all sizes, colours, shapes, forms and textures. You can knit wire and rope and ribbon as well as wool, alpaca, mohair and silk. There is sock yarn with nylon of course but there is also sock yarn with sea-shell. There are modern yarns made from bamboo, banana palm, milk and chitin (sea shell). There are all sorts of combinations, both cheap and expensive.
It is all, if you are interested in that sort of thing at all, very interesting.
There will be all sorts of garments there to day from hat to socks and everything in between. I do not however think that there will be the strangest knitted items I have ever come across - a pair of socks knitted from licorice shoestrings. No, I am sure they never got worn. Did they get eaten?


jtwebster books said...

Interesting history on knitting, esp the men knitters of mediaeval times.
Enjoy your judging day.

Anonymous said...

The person who knitted the licorice socks had an iron will or hated licorice ..... most people would have eaten the second sock while knitting the first!

Judy B

Rachel Fenton said...

On the Isle of Skye there is a very accomplished male knitter! Alas I was too impoversished to buy his creations!

Best of luck with your judging.

catdownunder said...

It was interesting - and I managed to learn a good deal!
I would not have wanted to eat the sock after it had been manhandled that much!
One of the best knitters I know is a male Rachel!