Spinning a treat for Jane Austen

Amy and her sister, Julia (left), at the Denver-Boulder Region of the Jane Austen Society of North America's tea in honor of Jane Austen's birthday. Amy is wearing the Barton Cottage Shrug from Jane Austen Knits, designed by Kristi Schueler.

The Kensington Mitts from Jane Austen Knits, designed by Annie Modesitt.

Miss Morland's Neckcloth from Jane Austen Knits, designed by Kendra Nitta.

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

On this day 236 years ago, Jane Austen was born. I have a hard time imagining the world without Jane's witty insights, social commentary, quiet feminism, and fairy-tale-esque stories of love. My spinning and knitting is imbued with her stories because when I have a chance to sit, spin, and knit, I often choose a movie based on her novels or an audio book to listen to while I work. Some of my most enjoyable hours making things have been passed in this way, and I certainly agree with Jane when she says, "…but for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short." I guess that is why I re-read my favorite books over and over again. I'm re-reading all of Jane's novels in the order that they were published—I'm in the middle of Mansfield Park.

And apparently, I'm not the only knitting Jane Austen fan. After the first issue of Jane Austen Knits sold out before it was actually on sale (don't worry—we printed more copies!), I started thinking about what I would knit for Jane on the occasion of her birthday. Wouldn't it be great to be able to knit her a beautiful sweater like the Barton Cottage Shrug? I really love the muted green of the shrug Kristi Schueler designed for the magazine (and very kindly let me borrow to wear to the local chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America's tea this last weekend in honor of Jane's birthday), and I wonder what color Jane would like. Maybe she'd wear the Kensington Mitts to a musical event in Bath or put on Miss Morland's Neckcloth to keep the chill at bay as she writes.

Jane Austen's birthday is special to me in another way as well, as today my sister, Julia, celebrates her birthday—she was born 195 years after Jane! We share a Jane Austen addiction, often giving each other Jane Austen–inspired gifts, sending links to stories about Jane (it's amazing how often she crops up in the news!) and watching all the movies inspired by her novels when they come out. Happy Birthday, Jane and Julia!

Happy spinning,

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