Discover Knitting Connections

It seems that knitting traditions and connections are everywhere, sometimes in the most unlikely places. The newest edition of PieceWork’s Knitting Traditions offers a number of these. I especially love “Jeune Fille d’Aibling en Bavière.” Donna Druchunas explains:

Donna Druchunas's Bavarian leg warmers and her treasured drawing of a young Bavarian girl in knitted leg warmers that she discovered in an antiquarian book shop. Photo by Joe Coca.

The best surprises lurk in dark corners in the back of used-book stores. Last year, when the cruise ship on which I was teaching knitting put in at Portland, Maine, I went ashore and soon found myself in Carlson Turner Antiquarian Books on Congress Street.

My most interesting discovery, hanging on a nail on the end of a shelf in the very back of the store, was a cheap frame holding a colored illustration of a young girl wearing a knee-length dress, a hat with a feather in it, and leg warmers. The price was $25. Because I didn’t think that it would fit in my luggage, I reluctantly left the picture hanging in the shop. I had, however, taken a snapshot of it with my phone, and a few days after returning home, I was emailing the shop to order the picture. Googling the caption, Jeune Fille d’Aibling en Bavière [Young Girl from Aibling in Bavaria], revealed that my picture was just one of many included in a book published in France in the early decades of the 19th century by the writer and engraver Georges-Jacques Gatine and the painter and illustrator Louis-Marie Lanté. Examining the girl’s clothing, I decided that the leg warmers must have been knitted. The patterning reminded me of stitches I’d seen on knitted counterpanes. I envisioned the horizontal lines as being worked in garter stitch, the vertical lines knitted in a textured Ears of Wheat pattern, and the band of swirling shapes at the calf as lace-leaf motifs.

Magnus Colvin, younger son of Jeremina Colvin, and his wife, Berthe. Magnus is wearing the last sweater that his mother knitted. Circa 1976. Collection of the Cowichan Valley Museum and Archives, Duncan, British Columbia. (1997.103.1zz). Photo © the Cowichan Valley Museum and Archives.

Needless to say, we are so glad Donna found this treasure, re-created the leg warmers, and shared all with us. They are a perfect example of fashion transcending centuries!

Other connections you’ll find in Knitting Traditions Fall 2012 include the lifelong bond formed between Jeremina Colvin and Mary Edwards. Jeremina emigrated from the Shetland Islands to British Columbia where she met Mary, a Cowichan. Together, they established a new knitting tradition combining the heritage of Fair Isle and Cowichan knitting.

Welcome to this installment of PieceWork’s Knitting Traditions. It’s packed with historical context on the craft’s rich history, stories about extraordinary knitters, and projects for new and lifelong knitters.