Find Your Favorite Knitting Traditions

What’s the best thing about PieceWorks special issue Knitting Traditions?

That depends on the issue. With issues back through 2010 (six issues total!), there’s a lot to love. Each issue of Knitting Traditions has a unique way of bringing the past to life by connecting historical knitting stories with modern, adapted patterns accessible to today’s knitter.

Here are some of my favorite features from Knitting Traditions.

Knitting Traditions 2010

Where Sand Falls Like Rain: Needleknitting from Ancient Peru tells the story of ancient textile remnants found in the sand of the Paracas Peninsula on the south coast of Peru. Among these ancient textile remnants were found tiny figures needleknitted (a precursor to knitting) with great patience and precision, using cactus thorns as needles. A pattern for finely needleknitted Peruvian-inspired finger puppets accompanies the article. These small figures caught my eye: a masked figure with plied hair, a bluebird and a quail, and a cactus in bloom. I loved the intricacy of the small figures and the connection forged by figures inspired by 2,000-year old Peruvian designs with modern needles and thread. This type of connection—putting ancient patterns and techniques into the hands of modern needleworkers—is exactly what Knitting Traditions is all about.


Knitting Traditions Fall 2011

Bopoluchi Socks are designer Gryphon Perkins’s interpretation of an old Indian folk tale about a young girl who uses quick wit to evade being forced into marriage by a wicked robber. In the designer’s words:

“I first read the story of Bopoluchi in a book of Indian folk tales, which included a drawing of the girl encountering the peacock. I was so charmed with the image and with the quirky, somewhat gory tale, that I began working on a sock design right away. The idea of having the girl’s skirt flowing over the front of the sock while the peacock’s tail spread over the heel and created the gusset struck me from the first.”

Read the story of Bopoluchi and knit the beautiful socks with the intricate peacock design in this issue of Knitting Traditions.


Knitting Traditions Winter 2011

My favorite feature in this issue, Safe Return, features an excerpt from Catherine Dexter’s novel of the same name. “The centerpiece of this children’s novel, set in the 1800s, is the first pair of mittens that young Ursula knits while anxiously waiting for her aunt, a knitter from the island of Gotland, Sweden, to return from Stockholm across turbulent seas.” What caught my interest is the way the author describes young Ursula’s first attempt at knitting a pair of mittens—the frustration of starting with a tangle on a set of knitting needles, the patience required to pull out all the first stitches, and the excitement as Ursula tries to knit the mittens a second time and has her first taste of knitting success. To me, these are relatable feelings for any knitter remembering their first project. Plus, the accompanying pattern for the Safe Return Mittens in varying shades of blue is irresistible.


Knitting Traditions Spring 2012

Swimsuits and Sweaters: What Historians Can Learn from Knitting Patterns takes a look into what knitting patterns produced by companies such as Sirdar, Templeton’s, Stitchcraft, and Weldon’s can tell us about not only the fashions but also the social norms of the past. I was intrigued by the stereotypes revealed through the photos included with these knitting patterns:

“Similar stereotypes prevail in the pictures depicting leisure activities. Men drink beer; women drink tea or coffee. Men drive cars and ride scooters; women go shopping. Men go to their sheds and workshops to do woodwork while women stay in the living room and arrange flowers. These narrow, conservative images change very little over the course of the century.”


Knitting Traditions Fall 2012

Snoods Through the Ages
Explore the history of the snood (a crocheted, tatted, or knitted hairnet worn in the United States in the Victorian era) and regional variations from around the world—snoods were worn differently in England and France than in Spain and Italy, and while many were worn for decorative purposes, they became a necessity for female factory workers during World War II to keep hair from becoming tangled with machinery—fashionable and functional! Plus, you can knit your own snood with a pretty lace pattern.


Knitting Traditions Spring 2013

The Sock Knitters of Sobibor somberly recounts the story of knitters in a Nazi camp in German-occupied Poland, who were spared death only because they were useful to Nazi soldiers to knit garments. By camp standards, these knitters lived in luxury with access to clean clothing, water, and soap, safe from “The Path of Heaven” that led to Sobibor’s gas chambers. Author Heatherly Walker recounts her visit to Sobibor:

“I went to the death camp at Sobibor, and I knitted my sock because I wanted to, not because my life hung in the balance. I knitted for the sock knitters of Sobibor whose names we don’t know and for those who survived incredible odds. I knitted for life. In remembrance there can be hope.”

You can knit your own beautiful and hope-filled commemoration with the Remembrance Socks pattern.

Find all this and more in Knitting Traditions—from ancient Peruvian needleknitting to peacock socks, Swedish knitted mittens to Victorian-era headwear, and all the accompanying patterns and stories, this is just a small taste of what each issue has to offer. For a limited time, you can get all six digital issues of Knitting Traditions in the Knitting Traditions Kit for just $39.99 (that’s a savings of $49.95) and have instant access to hundreds of historical knitting projects, articles, stories, and more. Download your Knitting Traditions Kit today.