Have Your Say

13th March 2020

This week we are sharing some of your responses from recent articles featured in All Stitched Up!, starting with some terrific memories and even a question about our story regarding male knitters from All Stitched Up! issue #220.

Sandra Paul

‘I seem to remember that men were the first knitters. Am I wrong about this? Way back in England, didn’t they knit their own fisherman jumpers?!  Not sure if this is correct.’

Sandra, indeed you are correct. In the 16th and 17th centuries in Scotland in particular, knitting was often a way for a whole family to earn some money during winter, and jumpers for fisherman were very much in demand.

In fact, the origins of knitting are unclear but there is evidence that it was practiced all the way back in the 4th century in Egypt.

Socks from Egypt C.250 – 420 AD (source)

Unfortunately, because textiles tend to deteriorate over time, there is very little historical knitting left, but what is clear is that it is an ancient practice and has been done throughout history by men and women alike.

Clare Burford

‘Your section on male knitters reminded me of when I was 9 years old (70 years ago!). I was in hospital and used to sit on the veranda in the afternoons with an ‘old’ man who was knitting a very lacy purple thing. It was a dress for his mother, so perhaps he was not so ‘old’ after all?

I was intrigued. I never thought a man could knit. He said he had been in the navy and the seamen used to knit to keep boredom at bay when they were off duty. It was very fine wool he was working with. Big man, big hands, delicate knitting!

This was my first introduction to questioning gender stereotypes.’

Clare, your memories remind us that knitting has been enjoyed by all for a long time. We can just imagine the joy that gentleman’s mother must have felt when presented with a lacy, handknitted dress made with love by her adult son.

Responding to our question regarding stitching in adverse conditions from All Stitched Up! issue #221, we received some unexpected stories!

Yvonne Pel

‘I am from Stockholm in Sweden. A couple of years ago I was a student at ‘Handarbetets Vänner Skolan’ or the ‘Friends of Handicraft School’. We had a project which had a deadline. At the same time our son had booked a trip on a large cruise ship to Finland with a couple of friends.

The Swedes sometimes have problems with drinking alcohol which is why the owner of the cruise ship wanted parents to travel with their children up till 23 years old. Our son was 21 at that time, so we were invited to babysit this group of ‘children’.

So, there I was, sitting and quilting, on a cruise ship where everyone was partying and drinking!

I managed to get the project finished and it was a success despite all the riotous drinking happening around me. Everyone was asking what I was doing and why I was doing it instead of having ‘fun’ drinking with them. They never imagined that I was having more fun doing my quilting!’

Yvonne, well done for successfully completing your project under what we would probably all agree were adverse conditions!

‘Quilting Through the Garden’ by Jill Newton

Shirley Smith

‘Reading your recent article about stitching by candlelight reminded me that traditional lace makers here in the UK often had to work by candlelight.

As your reader says, very little light comes from one candle. Lacemakers were poorly paid and so had to be as economical as possible. The solution was to magnify the candlelight by using a glass globe filled with water, traditionally said to be snow water. This was placed by a tall candle stick and increased the light of the flame.’

‘Golden Glow’ by Penny Wolswinkel | Inspirations issue #104

‘Several workers could use the light from one candle by each using their globe between them and the flame.  It is also thought that the phrase ‘Jack be nimble, Jack be quick’ originates from a game which used to be played on holidays, when the participants had to leap over the candle stick without knocking it over. I would imagine the glass globes were removed first!’ 

Thank you, Shirley. It just goes to show how resourceful people could be under adverse conditions, doesn’t it?

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