Archaeology & Knitting
The discoveries made by PieceWork’s indomitable contributors constantly amaze me. Those presented in the January/February 2014 issue, our eighth annual issue on historical knitting, are no exception. Three articles deal with knitting brought to light in archaeological excavations, and each is accompanied by a project inspired by the article.
Carrie Brezine takes you to the north coast of Peru, where “[e ]xcavations of the colonial town of Magdalena de Cao Viejo have provided another textile first: the first material evidence of knitting in the Americas” (“The Oldest Knitting in the New World”). Half a world away, M. Elaine MacKay discusses mariners’ clothing recovered in the excavation of a Basque whaling station in Red Bay, Labrador (“Wool, Whaling, and the Red Bay Burial: Resurrecting a Sixteenth-Century Basque Whaling Cap”). And Penelope Lister Hemingway writes of the ill-fated London-bound English merchant ship General Carleton, which sank in a storm off the coast of Poland in 1785. Two centuries later, after a scuba diver discovered the wreck, the Polish Maritime Museum in Gdansk spent several seasons exploring it and salvaging artifacts, including numerous articles of knitted clothing (“Knitting from the Ocean Floor: Treasures from the General Carleton”).
The Red Bay and General Carleton excavations are unusual in yielding rare examples of workingmen’s clothing, which ordinarily would have been worn until they wore out. Most surviving examples of historical clothing belonged to royalty or the well-to-do.
My very best wishes for a New Year filled with joy!