Tuesday, August 24, 2010

KNIT ONE PURL ONE ON THE CIRCLE LINE

Rustic knitting, we hear, is making yet another revival. Anecdotally, there is the clickety-clack of needles on the London, U.K. Circle line underground trains, (very apt) that stop at places like Westminster - the station for The Houses of Parliament - and various parts of up-market and fashionable Kensington. What are we to make of this? That perhaps, some of our parliamentarians and their cohort of support staff are preparing for austerity. Are they leading the way for the fashionistas who alight at the other stations on the line?

As a seven year old, I was put through the torture of girls' classes to learn to knit.  Sitting at a wooden desk, small as I was, using over-sized needles, a well used ball of wine red wool, was a clumsy and unproductive affair. There were loops on one needle, whether they reduced or grew I cannot relate. Even producing a red dishcloth with holes in it would have been an achievement.  That didn't happen.  It was a relief when the class ended and the next one began.

Then, there was the bunny-making craft afternoon for girls. A significant group of girls were on the periphery of the activity, improving our running stitching skills without harming a bunny in the making, or at least, that's what we were led to believe.  The girls who were producing the prized toy sat smug and secure in their glory and in the light of the window. Thinking back, I wonder if some payment had to come from home to make bunnies. It was certain, that amongst those of us not making the toy, there were quite good, fairly small even stitchers. And,we were practising this eye-straining activity with white stitching yarn on well-worn white rags. Mercifully, I have no recollection of the size of the sewing needles, if, or, how many times someone may have pricked themselves.

I admit these early craft experiences were akin an aversion therapy. Necessity though, meant I had to challenge that Armageddon. The current rise of interest in knitting and other crafts does not stir me into action now. I have already satisfied that perverse urge, I can do it if I want to.

9 comments:

adamantixx said...

my wife used to do lots of knitting but has completely forsaken it now...it went by the wayside aorund the time i bought her laptop.

ZACL said...

I can't say I'm too surprised that the laptop superseded the knitting interest. In your port, men used to be rather skilled at knitting and crochet.

adamantixx said...

i suppose it was a short leap from mending fishing nets to knitting their own winter jumpers, it does make sense.

ZACL said...

Indeed, a nets are crocheted loops make with a very large shuttle and repairs to nets are undertaken the same way. There are fewer skilled hand makers of nets now.

Knitting is creating from a range of different sized loops, twists of loops, bobbling of loops and so on. It is somewhat different to crochet, but as said works on the principle of creating loops and making creations from loops.

The more closely allied skill to net making and repair, is that of creating with fine and not so fine crochet.

Though considered to be a hand-craft, (when not produced by machines set up through programming or by hand) the arts of knitting and crochet are technical skills.

ZACL said...

oops, first line should read...indeed nets are crocheted loops made with a....

There is another craft that uses very fine yarn and a really small shuttle, a miniature kid sibling of the fish net shuttle, tatting. A friend made me a very pretty collar using tatting.

adamantixx said...

i've never heard of tatting but i can well imagine that i'd get into just as dreadful a tangle with that as i would if i ever tried knitting or crotchet.

ZACL said...

No you wouldn't get into just as dreadful a tangle with tatting as with crochet or knitting. You'd probably get into a worse one! ;)

adamantixx said...

how very reassuring! :)

ZACL said...

Crochet hooks come in a variety of sizes; tatting hooks are fine. The small shuttle, held usually between finger and thumb could be hard to hold and manipulate.

There again, you might surprise yourself if you could find a tatting shuttle and try out the skill. You'd probably adapt to a net shuttle, they are very large. The comparison between them and the tatting shuttle is rather like seeing Gulliver with the Liliputians.