Textile History: The Carpet

If you haven’t yet discovered the Atlas Obscura site, check it out. The writers over there cover all sorts of little known places, people, and things, and the newsletter almost always offers articles that I want to read. Today they posted about the history of carpets, which goes back thousands of years. The picture below is of the  Pazyryc Carpet, which was discovered in Siberia in 1947 and is now displayed at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. It is currently the oldest ever found.

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The carpet’s incredible state of preservation is due to the fact that it was preserved for 2 millennia within a block of ice.  According to Carpet Encyclopedia , it measures 183×200 cm and has a knot density of approximately 360, 000 knots per square meter, a higher knot density than most carpets seen in stores today. The pattern includes a central ribbon motif, border a procession with deers and another border warriors on horses. This carpet was probably manufactured in Armenia or Persia around 400 BC.  Head over to Carpet Encyclopedia for more info on this amazing work of art.

It is believed that the carpet was developed by nomadic peoples living on the plains of Central Asia, as a more easily portable source of warmth than animal skins. Their looms, in their simplest form, were made of two wooden ribs which were secured to the ground and between them the warp was fastened. Similar looms , which fold easily for transportation, are still used today by the nomads, as pictured below.

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Amazing, no?

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Pivot Cowl

img_0985Some knitters find garter stitch to be tedious, and avoid it whenever possible. But as this cowl shows, garter doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, it lends itself quite nicely to shaping, in a neat, tailored sort of way that stockinette or fancier stitches can’t quite match. This design combines short row triangles with rectangles, and one of the things that appealed to me when it caught my eye on the Purl Soho site this afternoon is the way it drapes without bunching up around the neck the way many cowls do. I also like the stitch definition that the yarn, Cashmere Merino Bloom, produces. Having now knitted several garments from Purl Soho kits, I can testify to the excellent quality of their yarns. Pivot is made on size 5 US straight or circular needles.

As soon as I finish the Purl Soho Drachenfels shawl that currently occupies my needles, the Pivot Cowl may just be my next project.

Little Christmas Extras to Knit

While hopping about on the web this week, I’ve discovered several cute, traditional Christmas patterns, and thought it’d be helpful to list them in one place. Cute as package decor or on the tree. Just in case you didn’t have enough to do this week! Click on the word pattern to access each.

 

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Christmas Sweater Ornament pattern.

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Snowflake Ornament pattern.

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Celestine Star pattern

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Rudolfino pattern

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Polar Bear Ornaments pattern

 

 

 

Knitting News: Is That a Scarf Tied Around That Tree?

10929024_10152695917758262_2448200790972217037_nNo, it’s not a yellow ribbon, it’s probably not even yellow. Neither is it another form of yarn bombing, which is sort of wasteful when you think about it. Rather, there’s a new trend spreading across the country. People are tying scarves, handmade or store bought, around trees is urban areas, parks, and neighborhoods. They’re labelled with messages like, “No, I’m not lost. Please take me with you if you’re cold. Hope it helps.” Since the trend started in Seymour,Indiana, church groups, schools fundraisers and kind random strangers from almost every state are pitching in to make sure a good portion of the 1.56 million homeless Americans are a little warmer this winter! A bit of good news in this most difficult of months following the elections. A fuller version of this heartwarming little story can be found on Facebook or at HeartlandEternal.com.

Going down right now to my stash of handknits to find a couple to share.

Round Yoke Poncho

This pattern caught my eye immediately when it was posted. It’s by Lion Brand, and though they’re calling it a poncho, it actually has cuffs, so it seems to be one of the new sweater-shawl  designs that have been cropping up lately. I ordered the yarn, LB’s Amazing, which is a single strand, wool acrylic blend, in the Strawberry Field colorway. The set up is a bit tricky, because the increases depend on moving markers every row, but after a few false starts, I got it right and it’s now working up quickly, on a size J-10 (6 mm) hook. Free pattern can be found here.

Knitted Poppy

Memorial Day 2016 come and gone , but this little poppy pattern would be perfect for next year, or  for Veterans’ Day, which is coming  up fast.   Most knitted or crocheted flowers tend to be fluffy or floppy, but Lion Brand’s poppy is smooth and simple. Nice by itself  for a pretty, summery pin, or for embellishing bags, hats, sweaters, or just to wear on special days to show gratitude to generations of vets.

The pattern is free, but you must be a member to access it. Free and easy to sign up.

Pattern

 

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?