Living Knitting Traditions

We often think of knitting as a relaxing way to spend time, creating beautiful things to wear and to enjoy. It's easy to forget that in the past many turned to knitting as a way to earn their livelihood and take care of their families. In the 8th edition of Knitting Traditions, we examine the stories of individuals who knitted for their survival, as well as the cottage industries and cooperatives that thrived and worked to preserve the traditions of their countries.

Knitters during competition, Haapsalu Lace Day, August 2012. Photo courtesy of Nancy Bush.

Master Lace Knitters, Haapsalu Lace Day, August 2012. Photo courtesy of Nancy Bush.

Sometimes we like to live vicariously through our contributors as they travel the world pursuing their knitting passions, and from them we learn about traditions that are still alive and well today. In her article, “On the Promenade: The Lace Knitting of Haapsalu, Estonia,” Nancy Bush explores the rich history of the cottage industry of handknit shawls that began in Haapsalu in the early nineteenth century. We learned from Nancy that the town of Haapsalu continues to proudly celebrate its history with its annual festival, Haapsalu Lace Day. Each year, Estonian women gather, some wearing their finest handknits, to share their wares, take part in knitting competitions, and to simply knit together, preserving the tradition of Haapsalu lace.

Beth Brown-Reinsel's Sanquhar glove swatch. Because of the fixed layout of the glove, the easiest way to adjust size is by changing the yarn and needle size. Swatching is an imperative part–the larger the swatch, the better!

In Scotland, Sanquhar gloves have captivated knitters and provided income since their creation in the early 1800s, and today the presentation of gloves is still an important part of the local celebrations and sporting events.  Beth Brown-Reinsel made a stunning pair for the issue, with a pine tree and snowflake pattern of her own design. In her new DVD that will be available May 8th, she breaks down the complex process of designing and knitting these gloves, and it’s fascinating to see just how much work is behind the perfect finished product featured in the issue.

Check out the spring issue of Knitting Traditions to discover stories from around the world about the amazing people who helped bring knitting to where it is today, and those who continue to pick up their needles. There are also over twenty companion projects to knit!