Oldest Western Knitting Images

 

Most representations of knitting in art have been produced from the 18th century on. The earliest ones are knitting Madonnas.  The Holy Family, by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, c. 1345, shows Mary knitting, but what she might be making is not clear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3c8e17f881dba2917b93bcdbb016c9f6This is a detail from a polyptich by Tommaso da Modena, whose dates are 1325-1375). Mary is knitting something in the round using four needles. I believe this is in Bologna.

 

The next painting, by Meister Bertram von Minden, Germany, was done c. 1400-1410, in
the right wing of the Buxtehude Altarpiece.  Titled “The Madonna Knitting Christ’s Seamless Garment”,  it represents the Virgin Mary making a tunic in the round, using 4 needles. The tradition of the seamless garment describes a scene at the crucifixion, when the Roman soldiers cast lots to win possession of it, not wishing to tear up such a valuable item of clothing. Two churches, the cathedral at Trier and the parish church of Argenteuil, claim to have possession of the actual garment. Trier claims that it was brought to them by the Empress Saint Helena, who also is supposed to have found the True Cross. The French believe that theirs was brought there by Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Emperor. Both claims date from the 1100’s. Most probably, Christ’s clothing was woven, not knitted. But it’s a lovely painting and a lovely thought.

 

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The Madonna appears to be knitting a sock in this altarpiece painted by Nicolás and Martín Zahortiga, c. 1460 for the Museo de la Colegiata de Borja in Spain.

Does anyone know what the other two women are working on?

 

 

Huntley Gift Bag

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If you love to crochet, head on over to Little Monkeys Crochet , a blog full of cool patterns in all sorts of categories. The one that caught my eye is this pretty bag, made with about 275 yards of  medium weight cotton using a couple of stitches on a size H hook. It’s a free pattern, and Rebecca gives permission to sell things made with her free patterns so long as credit is given. The finished bag is 9″L x 3″W x 6″H. It looks easy enough to make larger or smaller.

This looks like a perfectly portable summer project, especially for a plane trip. No needles to scare security. One summer I lost an $18 pair of knitting needles at Charles deGaulle Airport checkpoint…. Now I bring plastic. Or crochet.

Sigh. Here’s the pattern. Thank you, Rebecca!

Fiber Arts: How to Wear an 18th Century Pocket

Reblogged from that most excellent site, History Myths Debunked.

 

 

History Myths Debunked

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Thanks to Rose Linden for submitting this myth–and yes, it is a myth.

I found an MA thesis written in 1994 by Yolanda VandeKrol of the University of Delaware entitled “The Cultural Context of Women’s Pockets” that treats this topic thoroughly. According to Ms. VandeKrol, pockets were common from the end of the 17th century until around 1800, when the neoclassical dress styles (high waists and clingy lines) made wearing interior pockets impossible. Dresses with hoops or bustles more easily accommodated pockets. By the early 1800s, pockets had been replaced by drawstring bags called reticules.

Pockets were defined in 1688 as “little bags set on the inside with a hole or slit on the outside, by which any small thing may be carried about.” They were “not visible for reasons of orderliness, privacy, and crime,” says VandeKrol. “Women did not deliberately display their pockets,” but sometimes they were briefly visible…

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Dyeing and Those Blue Sugar Loaf Wrappers

This interesting article was posted a few months back and is of relevance to all fiber artists.

History Myths Debunked

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A sweet story, but experts in historic crafts say that no actual instances of this practice are known in America’s colonial era. Apart from lack of evidence, it is illogical. Refined sugar was an expensive, imported luxury—think caviar—that only the wealthiest could afford. Not the sort who are scrimping and recycling their wrapping paper or dying their own fabric. (If the family budget couldn’t stretch to include sugar, what did folks back then use for sweeteners? Maple sugar, honey, molasses, or muscovado sugar. Or nothing.)

But lo and behold, several household management books published in the mid-nineteenth century do mention this practice. In one of them, The American Frugal Housewife (1835), author Lydia Childs tells how to make various cheap dyes, including “a fine purple slate color” by boiling sugar wrapping paper in vinegar with alum and boiling it in an iron kettle. In another, Eliza Leslie’s Lady’s Frugal House-Book; a…

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Felted Mitten – keep your hands COOL

Felted Oven Mitt

This pattern features an unusual 2 piece construction, knitting separate fronts and backs. I don’t see why it couldn’t be used to make cold weather mittens as well as oven mitts.

Materials:

  • 100% wool worsted weight yarn: 150 yards ecru (MC); 50 yards red (CC)
  • size 11 straight knitting needles
  • stitch markers (M)

Gauge:

11 stitches and 18 rows = 4 inches in stockinette (St) with yarn doubled

Notes:

Yarn is doubled throughout. Abbreviation M1: Make 1 increase by making a backward loop on right hand needle.

Pattern:

With MC, cast on 19 sts. Work 16 rows St stitch.

Row 17: *K to last 2 sts, K1, M1, K1

Row 18: Purl

Rows 19-30: Rpt rows 17 & 18 (27 sts).

Row 31: K 19, BO 1, K7.

Thumb:

Working on 8 thumb stitches only, work even in St stitch for 3 rows.

Row 4: K1, ssk, K2, K2tog, K2.

Row 5: Purl

Row 6: K1, ssk, K2tog, K2.

BO last 4 sts.

Hand:

With RS facing, attach yarn and work on remaining 19 stitches.

Row 1: purl.

Row 2: K2, place M, beg Chart, place M, K1, M1.

Rows 3-25: Work in St st, following Chart.

Rows 26-28: Remove markers,work in MC.

Row 29: K1, ssk, k to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.

Row 30: purl.

Rows 31-34: Rpt rows 29 and 30.BO remaining 13 sts.

Make second piece, reversing pattern and omitting chart.

Finishing:

With RS together, sew pieces of mitt together and weave in ends.

Optional: Blanket stitch around edges with CC, placing sts 1/2 inch apart and 1/2 inch deep.

Felt using your favorite method.

You can easily knit some matching potholders using chart and sizing as desired.

Plants for Dyeing: Comfrey

I’ve been doing natural dyeing for a long time, and was always exasperated about the absence of a good plant source for the color green. Paradoxical, isn’t it? But the green coloration in plants is due to the presence of chlorophyll. In fall, the chlorophyll ceases production and gradually disappears, leaving the leaf’s true color to show. Once, while making a dye with fern fiddleheads, the only plant material available that early spring day, I discovered to my dismay that I’d left my brass kettle at home. Had to make do with the iron one, and had a pleasant surprise. The result was a lovely, soft gray-green.

But fiddleheads are around for just a short time every year. I needed a source available in the summer. Comfrey to the rescue. This plant has many advantages, the primary one being the size and abundance of its leaves. Making comfrey dye is easy: Simmer the leaves, about a grocery bag full, in about a gallon of water for about 1/2 hour, then remove the plant material. Submerge wet, alum mordanted wool into the bath and simmer in an iron container for another 1/2 hour or so. Olive green should be the result.

Using brass, glass, stainless steel containers will not yield the same results; probably a watery yellow will emerge, but who knows? Natural dyeing is more art than science.

Comfrey in New England is a perennial known for its abundant proliferation. Its tiny flowers start to blossom in  June, but the flowers aren’t used for dyeing. Medicinally, comfrey has been used to treat bruises, sores, broken bones, hemorrhoids ( there they are again), gout and joint pain. It used to be eaten in salads and tonics but has been found to cause liver damage.