Knitting Traditions Fall 2010 (The Debut Issue)
Welcome to Knitting Traditions! Our journey begins with vividly colorful Turkish stockings, and author Anna Zilboorg describes the tradition best: “The beginning of knitting in Turkey goes back to the unknown beginning of knitting itself as an uninterrupted oral tradition.”
Although a precise date for knitting’s origin cannot be assigned, we do know that people of various cultures and in diverse geographic areas have been knitting for centuries. Peruvians used a technique—knitting’s precursor— called cross looping or needleknitting, to fashion exquisite tiny figures, using cactus thorns as needles, between 200 B.C. and A.D. 200. Fourteenth century Italian artists painted pictures of the Madonna knitting. A glove with a romantic history knitted in Sweden during the sixteenth-century is preserved in a museum, and Swedish knitters have been using the two-end technique since at least the seventeenth century. By the mid-eighteenth century, Russian shawls from Orenburg achieved international status.
Prolific Victorian knitters fashioned all sorts of knitted items in the nineteenth century. German designers such as Christine Duchrow were producing hundreds of patterns for “art knitting” in the early decades of the twentieth century. And a veritable “Who’s Who” of late-twentieth- and early-twentyfirst- century knitting designers share their passion within these pages.
In addition to knitting’s obvious provenance, there are an amazing number of similarities among techniques and motifs. The technique of knitting stockings from the toe up is a custom in several countries, including Turkey and Bulgaria, and the unusual knitting-from-the-back technique is used by knitters in the Peruvian highlands and the Samí people, who used to roam freely with their reindeer over a vast open area that encompasses part of modern- day Sweden, Norway, Russia, and Finland. These are just two examples. You’ll find many more.
The contents for Knitting Traditions were selected from previous issues of PieceWork magazine, most of which are no longer available. Interweave’s founder, Linda Ligon, began PieceWork in 1993 to honor handwork and the people who created that work. Sincere thanks to each of the authors and designers included here for her or his words and designs, which allow us to continue honoring handwork. A special thank you to Nancy Bush for her ongoing support and for her help with this project.
More and more people are picking up needles and yarn or thread and beginning their own knitting journeys. Whether you just started knitting or are an old hand, the stories and projects in Knitting Traditions provide some context for the journey—we are, after all, following the paths created by master knitters of the past. Enjoy!