Monday, January 12, 2009

Medieval knitting

For my Western Civ. History course at the end of the quarter we have a choice of what we'd like to do. We can a) Read a book and write a paper, or B) do a project of our choosing. When the teacher first threw out this option, I thought "Project? For history? Yuck." But he gave a few examples; a girl recreated a Roman feast for the class. One guy tanned hides (one method involve a lot of urine). The other example he gave piqued my interest. A fashion/textiles major recreated parts of an Ancient Egyptian wardrobe.

Can you guess what popped into my mind? Of course you can. Knit my final project! The only snag is that the teacher requires an 'original source'. I'm not quite sure how strict the 'original source' requirement is.

After digging around a bit (In both Google and Ravlery) I decided to go in search of A History of Handknitting by Richard Rutt. I say 'in search of' because this book is out of print and originally published in the year I was born. This book was one that many people had referenced in their suggestions and articles, so I decided it was probably the definitive source of information, or at least a very good starting point. I scouted about for it on the internet, found that the cheapest copy you could buy (at least on Amazon) was about $35 used, so I was hoping that a local library carried it.

Google books is a wonderful thing for finding books (Imagine that!). I found A History of Hand Knitting through Google Books, hoping that it would be available online (it's not). But, Google has a feature that searches your local libraries online databases and compiles the results. The Columbus Metropolitan Library had a copy, but it was checked out (or likely stolen, it didn't tell when it was checked out...), and The Upper Arlington Library had 2 copies, and they were both in! Yeah! I checked out their hours to make sure they were open on Sundays (they are), and yesterday I went to nab it.

They actually only had 1 copy (that I saw), but they had it, and a formidable collection of knitting books (The Granview Library had.. 7ish). So I grabbed a book on Fair-Isle gloves (don't remember the title, currently) and signed up for a card and headed out the door.

Hopefully this book will suffice for an 'original source', as it has pictures of the knitted items and I'm not too likely to get closer to an 'original source'. We'll see, I'm going to talke to him today after class.

I'm eyeing fair-isle bag in A History of Handknitting , I think it's knit from silk but obviously I'd just make mine from wool. Probably Knit Picks Palette, on size 1 or 2 needles. I have a 40" size 1 harmony needle and I'm wondering if that's big enough to Magic Loop a bag without being cramped. Most of the knitting was done in the round until the 1400s (Don't quote me! I'd have to look up the exact date/era.) until they figured out how to purl, so in the round is how I'll go, albeit not on DPNs as they would have done.

I may even go so far as to authentically dye my yarn. This involves urine. And plants. We'll see.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great class! I wish I could knit my final project for my legal ethics class. I can't wait to see photos of the finished project.

By the way, I'm trying a new posting ID, so maybe this time the email reply will work properly!

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