Transported Back in Time
We asked Louisa Demmitt, assistant editor of Knitscene, one of PieceWork’s sister magazines, to talk about two of her favorite things.
The September/October 2014 issue of PieceWork is particularly special; it is all about needlework in literature! Like editor Jeane Hutchins, these are two of my favorite things.
A book that will always have a special place in my library is Time and Again by Jack Finney (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970). The story follows an illustrator living in 1970s New York City on an amazing adventure as he, through a revolutionary government project, travels back in time to the horse-and-cart New York City of 1882, when dresses were made at home and knitting and needlework were necessary life skills. There’s no time machine, no magic wand, rather an immersion in the clothes, foods, and day-to-day experiences of the 1800s that help make time travel possible. I don’t want to tell you how it all works (read the book!), but suffice it to say, in reading this novel, you, the reader, are transported back in time.
This is the exact same feeling I get when I read PieceWork, like I am snuggled into and experiencing a different time and place from the comfort of the here and now. I have learned about Queen Victoria’s passion for lace and The Oldest Knitting in the New World. I have traveled from Iceland to India. I have read about the people who have kept beloved handcrafts alive and thriving and evolving.
In the September/October issue, I traveled around the world with Isabella Bird and learned to rug hook on Prince Edward Island through none other than Lucy Maud Montgomery. I experienced the Red Cross of WWI and learned about Edith Wharton’s dedication to wartime causes. The modern patterns paired with these stories are breathtaking and honor the rich histories that inspired them. As a knitter, I am immediately drawn to the knitted patterns, especially the delicate lace of Carol Huebscher Rhoades’s "Isabella’s Scarf to Knit" and Mary Lycan’s Red Cross-approved "All-of-a-Kind Family Red Cross Sleeveless Sweater to Knit." There are also rug hooking and cross-stitching patterns, techniques that have long existed but here used in patterns with modern sensibility.
The thread running through this issue is the appearance of these crafts in literature and how our favorite authors and characters create works of art in their daily lives (Si Morley, the leading man in Time and Again draws and photographs his way through his 1800s adventure; the book is peppered with “his” creations).
I suggest making a cup of tea and curling up with an issue of PieceWork. I guarantee that, like me, you’ll be transported.