Jane Austen Knits, Summer 2012
Jane Austen Knits Summer 2012
“I’m an unabashed reader of novels, sir, but I don’t think it has clouded my judgment.”—Fanny Price in the 1999 film adaptation of Mansfield Park
I’ve always loved this scene in the movie when Fanny defends her decision to reject Henry Crawford’s chameleon attentions as well as her preferred reading material while holding a woolly shawl around her shoulders. And yes, the movie portrays a hardier, less distraught, and more selfassured Fanny than we know through Jane Austen’s novel published 198 years ago, but still (at least in my mind), the actress captures the mettle of Fanny Price. Th e scene would have been even more perfect had her shawl been handknitted. I can imagine Fanny knitting symbols of her secret love for Edmund into her shawl—symbols to give her strength and forbearance during days when she was plagued by her Aunt Norris’s persistent nettling or when she had to watch quietly as Edmund was falling in love with Mary.
I was thrilled as we were selecting projects for the Summer 2012 issue of Jane Austen Knits that several of the designers noticed that Fanny was sadly neglected in our 2011 premier issue, and they rose in defense of Fanny, wanting to make sure her voice was heard in the 2012 issues.
It is the personal connections to the stories that give these knitted garments depth—each one tells a story with yarn. How often in our lives as knitters do we use yarn to communicate rich narratives? Jane Austen playfully dismisses the importance of fashion in her letters to her sister, Cassandra, and yet the details of wearing and making garments are contained in nearly every letter that survived.
We—in this era of ready-made clothing—have to stretch a bit, though, to really grasp the importance of cloth and garment making at the turn of the nineteenth century, just as the Industrial Revolution literally was changing the way cloth was made. But as knitters, our understanding is probably greater than that of the average twenty-fi rst-century person—we know the pleasure of making something from scratch as well as the disappointment when things don’t go as planned. We can only hope that with hard work and persistence, as well as a bit of luck, we’ll achieve the same potential bright futures with our knitting endeavors as Jane Austen’s heroines gain at the ends of her novels. Happy knitting,
Amy Clarke Moore, editor