Monday, January 31, 2011

Stuff in the New Year

First of all, this made me snort my breakfast up my nose:

In other ... stuff I've been knitting a lot lately. I like it, I've missed it, and this project became a challenge about the time I ran out of pattern charts before I got the size I wanted (this is why checking your gage is a GOOD THING)

One of the things I've discovered in my desperate hunt for easy-access patterns (the internet is devoid of proper shetland or orenburg knitting motifs) is just how ... odd fine openwork traditions are. Apparently it "lives" in six places: Iceland, the Faeroes, Shetland (all of which are islands) Orenburg (isolated in the middle of mountains) the Ukraine and Estonia. And while these are all noticeably different traditions, they are also very, very alike. Kind of like looking at Latin-derivative languages and recognizing the source of certain words. The connective thread (ha ha) appears to be the Vikings. I'm gonna have to go get a map and color the areas this stuff comes from. The weirdest thing is the most complex and similar traditions are in Shetland, Estonia and Orenburg. Admittedly Estonia and Orenburg knitters communicated somewhat, but the Shetland isles are (according to Wikipedia) little piles of rock out in the Atlantic and if you did lace knitting during its heyday you were also poor. Too poor to make trips to Europe (or to want to).

So this is really cool. You know, to me. I remember reading a book about a mermaid when I was a kid which never identified the geographic location of the family. I knew the book took place on a coast, probably on an island, that the people in the book were Irish/Scottish, and that was all. Well, there's a couple of paragraphs halfway through it where the grandfather of the family (who has sailed away because the mermaid wants to kill him. It was one of those not-for-kids kids books) has sent his wife a lace shawl because both these foreign knitters and his wife can knit lace that passes the wedding ring test. Now I know where this island is.

So I have decided that one of my projects this year is to study the living crap out of this old-fashioned, unpopular hobby and see where it gets me. I know most people don't find knitting to be interesting, but damn it, I do.