Thursday, September 25, 2008

Would you fancy this one?

It is a guernsey pattern worn in Whitby in Yorkshire, well some 50, 60 years ago. This is an amazing book, quite widespread anyway, so nothing new under the Sun. Still, the way that the book is put together calls for an attention. The woman who wrote it made a perfect ethnographic research on old knitting patterns in fishing areas along the British coast, the fishermen wore it at work so that the sweaters (should say jumpers or better guernseys) would keep them dry! They were knitted tight on thin needles and survived generations.

So the book is first of all presented like a collection of patterns but the interesting part, I think, are the little stories that the woman experienced while hunting for the damned patterns. I am imagining her as a little crazy (in a good sense) woman whizzing down the streets, chasing the well-built guys asking them: Would you show me your guernsey? I am sure her little stories are part of the ethnographic image she wants to give with the pattern, she even describes a landscape of each pattern area so that our impression would be complete.

Also, she mentions what the particular patterns mean, they are symbols of their everyday things that they use and see, so there is a whole knitting iconography to each area. So the cables are originally ropes, maybe just in this area, who knows, but it is interesting, then there is an anchor, sea wave, fisher net etc.

Have you ever knitted anything out of this book?


raining sheep said...

Hi, I have never even seen the book but you know, it sounds good. I love that kind of thing, especially if there are little anecdotal stories that go with finding the patterns. You know, knitting is a people's passtime, it was required and so I love to know where some of these everyday textile arts originated.

Bohemian girl said...

As for patterns, it is very classical, if you like elegant sweater for your Babe, then it is a good book to outsource. If you want the stories more, I recomend the original edition, that I have never seen myself, but it is supposed to be in full lenghth regarding the text. Hope you feel better now.