French shepherd knitting on stilts

French shepherd knitting on stilts
2011 - as a proud novice knitting mother of 3 pairs of gloves, I wonder again about this drawing I'd glimpsed in a knitting book a few years ago. Why knit on stilts? Why a man knitting? The answers to these questions and others are my quest and form the focus of my blog.....

Monday, October 17, 2011

Shepherd on stilts, knitting, with his flock, 1905

echassier_1905[1] (2007) les landes - its forestry industry life before the forest
Viewed 12 Oct 2011

The Landes, in south-west coastal France, was marsh land of very poor soil, supporting one sheep per hectare. Shepherds used stilts to travel long distances each day to find better grazing for their sheep, and to be able to see them better, as well as keep dry feet.

"The shepherds of the Landes spent whole days on stilts, 15 foot ash-wood poles with webbed feet that allowed them to vault across a canal 26 feet wide. They used a stick to form a tripod when they wanted to rest. Perched ten feet in the air, they knitted woollen garments and scanned the horizon for stray sheep. People who saw them in the distance compared them to tiny steeples and giant spiders. They could cover up to 75 miles a day at 8mph (or horse trotting speed). It was such an efficient mode of transport that letters in the Landes were still being delivered by postmen on stilts in the 1930s."
Robb, G. 2007, The Discovery of France, Picador, London

Monday, October 10, 2011

Knitting around town early 1800's in England

Wensleydale knitters 1814 (loitering around town knitting)

Rutt, R. 1987, A History of Hand Knitting, B. Batsford Ltd., London


Harvey, M. 1985, Patons: a story of Handknitting, Springwood Books, Ascot

Edward Llwyd of Bala, Wales, 1875, believed to be one of the last local stocking-knitters

The last Welsh stocking-knitter 1875

Rutt, R. 1987, A History of Hand Knitting, B.T. Batsford Ltd., London

Richard Rutt, Bishop of Leicester, author of "A History of Hand Knitting", wearing a beautiful hand knitted jacket (is it a Kaffe Fassett design I wonder?)

Rutt, R. 1987, A History of Hand Knitting, B.T. Batsford Ltd, London

Richard Rutt, Bishop of Leicester, was taught to knit by his blacksmith grandfather when he was 7 in 1933. His grandfather had learned to knit about 1873 when he was a little boy in the village of Henslow in Bedfordshire. Richard pestered his mother to learn more and before long had mastered the turning of a sock heel. Because his shop bought gloves never fitted, he designed and made his own with longer fingers. He struggled to knit a pciture of his pet guinea pig and discovered the principles of intarsia knitting. During the war knitting was positively encouraged because of clothing shortages, and was still acceptable as a craft for men, and he knitted on long train journeys to Plymouth (he was in the navy but didnt ever go to sea). 1954 - 1974 he was in Korea and gave up knitting because he couldnt obtain yarn, but started again as a therapeutic thing when depresseed on his return to England. He says in his introduction to this book that "it is the first monograph on hand knitting history, it is incomplete and an amateur work but I hope that it will be useful in stimulating others to write in greater detail and with greater accuracy". He studied medieval and modern languages in Cambridge and was a missionary priest in Korea, before being consecrated Bishop in 1966. Because he could find no book of hand knitting history, he wrote one himself.

Kaffe Fasset - designer and knitter of luscious stuff

My gloves knitted recently
Kaffe Fassett the right way up IMG_1749

Fassett, K. 1988, Glorious Colour, Century Hutchinson Ltd., London
(cover photo)

Knitting renaissance of 1970s and 1980s - design and colour. Kaffe Fassett's first design appeared in Vogue Knitting in 1969. He won a scholarship to study painting at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and painted portraits of especially children. He visited a friend in England and discovered the coloured wools produced for Shetland knitting and bought 20 colours. He learned to knit on the train from Inverness to London using all 20 colours. The colour of his knitted designs is what makes his work outstanding - he uses lots of hues and shades in one garment sometimes several score of colours. His first book "Glorious Knitting" in 1985 is one of the most artistic knitting books produced and was a runaway success.

The Knitting Room (ie the "knitted" room)

ABC Arts Online (2010) "The Knitting Room"
Viewed 8 October 2011

The "knitting room" is in fact a knitted room. Familiar objects such as plates and telephones and furniture were knitted by elderly residents of the United Church Strathaven Home as a project designed to keep hands and minds busy and it resulted in being shown at the Moonah Arts Centre, the Salamanca Arts Centre, and has travelled interstate.

Yarn bombing - an international movement to beautify public places

Yarn Bombing

treehugger_31 (2010) "Yarn Bombing"
Viewed 8 October 2011

Yarn Bombing, or guerilla knitting, started a few years ago in America and has grown to an international movement. There's even examples of yarn bombing in Hobart as reported in the Mercury, from Salamanca and around town to the suburbs of Moonah and Mt Stuart.