My fishy egg cosies are currently having their few days of fame on the 2017 Knitting Calendar (published by Andrews McMeel Publishing) so it seemed apt to write a knitting related blog post.
I love knitting, and I’ve been doing it, with ever-increasing adventurousness, since I was seven or eight. The Knitter’s Badge was one of the first Brownie badges I got. Mum was a knitter too, and she taught me and my sister to knit. She patiently picked up all our dropped stitches and untwisted stitches, and it wasn’t too long before we were competent enough to end a row with the same number of stitches that we started it with. And thus began a lifetime’s hobby.
I’ve been through phases: chunky jumpers, picture knits (known as intarsia) – both from patterns and then my own designs, baby clothes up to and including dungarees, and most recently socks. I throw in the odd cardigan, and pairs of gloves and snoods along the way, as well as the occasional novelty knit, to keep things interesting. However, I’m definitely into socks. I’ve grown more impatient over the years I think and like to get something rattled off quickly. I can do a sock in a week’s worth of evening knitting sessions in front of the telly: one evening for the ribbing, two for the ankle, one for turning the heel, two more for the foot and the last evening for shaping the toes and then finishing off. Sorted.
Knitted socks are the earliest examples of knitting that have been found. Socks dating from the eleventh century were excavated in Egypt in the nineteenth century. A German painting of the Madonna in 1390 or thereabouts shows her knitting in the round. This sort of knitting is when you produce an item without a seam by using four needles, or a circular needle. I’m about to embark on my first pair of socks using the latter sort of needle.
Knitting guilds arose in the 14th century. Knitted socks and stockings in different styles and yarns were the rage for centuries and kept cottage industries flourishing. Come the industrial revolution machinery began to take over from the hand knitters and deprived many of their livelihood.
Knitting as a hobby has fallen and risen in popularity over the years. In the first half of the twentieth century, everyone knitted. Kids were clothed in hand knitted outfits, and husbands kept in socks, scarves, mittens and even ties by a devoted knitting wife. During the two World Wars soldiers were kept cosy with hand knitted socks, balaclavas and gloves. However, knitting then went into a bit of a decline and became associated almost exclusively with little old ladies. Fortunately, some celebs who loved knitting made this absorbing, creative and completely harmless pastime popular again. Meryl Streep, Sarah Jessica Parker, Uma Thurman, David Arquette and Princess Kate have helped to make knitting cool again. But those of us who have knitted all our lives already knew that it was!