Mississinewa 2000

Mississinewa 2000
We need it tomorrow!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Historical Knitting workshop

Recently our 7 Years War (French & Indian War) reenactment group had it's annual meeting. A few of us had planned the afternoon workshop on the history of knitting and how to knit. My ulterior motive was to get everyone knitting, even the guys and the kids. Much later, glancing around, we realized how nice and calm the room was and almost everyone was knitting, including the two girls and one of the guys. Mission accomplished!

Our project was to be simple slippers to wear inside our sabots or to wear to bed. We have been plenty of cold places camping and warm feet are so nice - I don't sleep well if my feet are cold. One of the ladies had prepared knitting needles from dowels and supplied wool yarn from Knit Picks. Another lady and myself had knitted sample booties. I had plenty of helpers to help get everyone started.

These are Mike's, made by Marianne of 2 strands of sport weight

These are mine, made from 2 strands of homespun

Mike's, to wear inside his heavy modern snow boots

Kids size, handspun

                                                                          My main source for the history of knitting was Mary Thomas' first book, and I mentioned the second one.  Here are links to Amazon for these books.



I had hope to find Knitting in the Old Way, but was not able to. I hoped it would have helped.


Anyway, I explained that knitting is an ancient craft, from before Jesus' time.  I started in Assyria, spread to Egypt and then to ancient Europe. Many things were made, not just socks and hats and sweaters. The first Thomas book has wonderful photos of a knights surtout, purses and more. I especially wanted the guys to know that everyone knitted - we all needed garments! there is a great illustration in the Thomas book of a man and a woman knitting. One of my favorite paintings - I hope to get it someday - is "Dreaming on the Windowsill" by August Fredrich Siegert. It has both of my favorite fiber crafts - spinning and weaving - in a historical setting. Perfect!

Knitting was such a skill that it became a guild.  People specialized in certain items until certain towns or regions became known as "the" place to get stockings, etc. Some inventions were created, like the knitting looms in rectangular and round shapes. These exist today and are often used to make hats or socks, blankets or shawls. Many stores carry the knitting looms in plastic. One of my uncles has turned out thousands of hats for children's charities using the knitting loom in the round shape. I just purchased a new version of the rectangular version which is adjustable for knitting different sizes of socks.  As soon as I finish the knee socks I am working on, I will try it. A historical term for the rectangular looms is "rake". One photo here shows the knitting in progress.

sets from Joann Fabrics

I also showed the knitting spool - a good craft for kids, but I have used mine instead of making i-cord on knitting needles. I plan to take these along on our history camping trips to let the little kids use.