Old Knits

I have a relic from my babyhood that looks like a piece of junk. It's a little knitted cap made of fluffy white angora yarn (or at least it was once white). It's a simple helmet style with a little chin strap and a tiny crocheted border of either silk or rayon. It's ratty and moth-eaten, and I can't throw it away. It turns up every now and again when I'm sifting through old stuff, of which I seem to have a lot. And every time, I puzzle over it. Which of my mother's friends, or which great aunt, knitted it? Where on earth did she get real angora yarn in the darkest days of World War II? What happened to that baby? (Oh—I guess I know that answer to that one, though it's hard to connect the dots.)

Scottish kilt hose. Photo by Joe Coca. 

Every time we start planning a new edition PieceWork's special issue Knitting Traditions I marvel at all the stuff we knitters hang on to and puzzle over. Fortunately, most of what our readers send us is both better documented and in better condition than my little artifact. And they do send us an abundance of riches. Our newest issue is a testament to the saving natures of people who love knitting and the curiosity that drives us all to try to understand our knitted past.

"Eskimo" sweater originally designed by Annichen Sibbern Bøhn. Photo by Joe Coca.

We have Scottish kilt hose, a pair of sixteenth-century stockings, an "Eskimo" sweater which is really a Norwegian sweater, lace gloves from Geneva, a spectacular traditional Finnish sweater and a pair of mittens that adopt its techniques. Add to that a pair of "buff" mittens dating to the turn of the twentieth-century from upstate New York, a dear little knitted snow suit from Susan Strawn, who stars in our recent DVD, Knits of Yore—a snow suit of similar age as my angora cap, only in much better condition—and oh, so much more.

We produce an issue of Knitting Traditions a couple of times a year, and every time we send one of the chunky 148-page volumes off to press, we ask ourselves, "Will there be more?" And every time, the answer is "Yes, there is." Our readers keep coming through with their stories, their research, their family treasures, their museum and flea market finds. Two simple sticks, a ball of yarn, and endless possibilities.


P.S. We know how much you've loved these special issues of Knitting Traditions, so we're planning two more issues for 2012! Do you want to join in the fun? Email us to receive information about how to send us all your article and project proposals.


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