Shakespeare Knits: Act I

William Shakespeare was one writer who was familiar with the fiber arts, and he referenced them often in his work. Thinking about “the ravll’d sleeve” made me curious enough to look up more references. Here are the first few:

Antony and Cleopatra

II 2:

To hold you in perpetual amity,
To make you brothers, and to knit your hearts
With an unslipping knot, take Antony
Octavia to his wife
; whose beauty claims
No worse a husband than the best of men.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I, i:

HERMIA. My good Lysander!

I swear to thee by Cupid’s strongest bow,

By his best arrow, with the golden head,

By the simplicity of Venus’ doves,

By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves,

And by that fire which burn’d the Carthage Queen,

II, 2:

O, take the sense, sweet, of my innocence!
Love takes the meaning in love’s conference.
I mean, that my heart unto yours is knit
So that but one heart we can make of it;

IV, i:

THESEUS Fair lovers, you are fortunately met:
Of this discourse we more will hear anon.
Egeus, I will overbear your will;
For in the temple by and by with us
These couples shall eternally be knit:
And, for the morning now is something worn,
Our purposed hunting shall be set aside.

V, 1 :

Thisbe
O wall, full often hast thou heard my moans,
For parting my fair Pyramus and me!
My cherry lips have often kiss’d thy stones,
Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.

The Tempest

III, 3:

My high charms work
And these mine enemies are all knit up
In their distractions; they now are in my power
;

Macbeth

II, 2

Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep’, the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course

How many people realize that sleave, as the word was spelled in Shakespeare’s work, means, not part of a shirt, but a knot or twist of silk fiber?

About these ads

4 thoughts on “Shakespeare Knits: Act I

  1. Shakespeare’s father was a wool merchant, and in those times a lot of women and craftsmen made their money through knitting or spinning… I assume the entire family had a good bit of exposure to the fiber arts!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s