Glamorous Knitters: Audrey Hepburn

Yes, it’s true. The lovely, elegant Audrey Hepburn was a knitter just like us. This photo was taken on the set of The Unforgiven, in 1960.

And who could forget this scene with George Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffany’s?

One more reason to be just like Audrey!

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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.

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?

 

 

Knitting History: What are Buff Mittens?

Good question. What are buff mittens? I’ve never heard of them before, but today, Knitting Daily e-newsletter featured an article from PieceWork magazine that was published in Fall 2011. The following is quoted from that article, “Annis Holmes’s Buff Knitting: Preserving and Updating a North Country Tradition.” The North Country cited includes  New England, which increased my interest, being a lifelong native of the region.

According to author Joanna Johnson,  “In winter during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, warm, windproof, and waterproof mittens, deemed ‘buff mittens,’ were a mainstay for loggers and others laboring in the woods of the Adirondack region of New York, New England, and neighboring Canada….The term ‘buff’ may refer to the felted pile or to the undyed yarn that typically was used to make the mittens.”

Curious about the term “buff”, I checked it out in several dictionaries, but none of the definitions I found relate to mittens or even to knitting. Instead, a soft, thick leather with a napped surface, often made from buffalo skin, was known as buff. Then there were the more common meanings, such as a brownish yellow color, a polishing process, bare skin, a devotee of some particular subject or activity, or the slang for physically fit. Interestingly, American colonists in the 17th century wore a short, thick coat made of buffalo leather, called a buffcoat.

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But back to the mittens. For PieceWork’s 10th annual Historical Knitting Issue, available now, Joanna designed the child’s buff mittens seen in the photo. If you want to know how that soft fuzzy surface is made, you can order a kit, or read about it in the magazine. Basically, it involves knitting the fabric with loops on the surface, then cutting, trimming, and fulling the finished product. Sounds like the embroidery technique of Turkey work, aka Ghiordes Knot, for which there are numerous tutorials online.

More info about this project, including where to get the mitten kit, is available right over  here .

(Wonder how these mittens hold up after multiple washings and wearings. They recall to mind some dusting mitts my mother used to have.)