Friday, June 26, 2015

A Social History of Knitting

Women's History I Can Enjoy
No Idle Hands takes a unique approach to telling history. While we remember famous battles or pivotal presidential elections, most of history has been populated by regular people, doing what they could and should do. For American women, much of that history consisted of maintaining a decent home for a family under difficult conditions: an untamed wilderness, a wagon train, a war-ravaged South, or a home with the men gone to fight in Europe. Knitting was one of the ways they achieved their objectives. From baby caps to socks for soldiers, women have found comfort in and given comfort with knitting.
Anne MacDonald spent fifteen years as chair of the history department at the National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C. She has spent many more years than that as a knitter, making her eminently qualified to write this excellent and engaging history book.
My Own History with Needles
I have used needle and thread since I was a preschooler. I learned to crochet around age ten. Then I found my passion--knitting--as a teenager. Having knit for most of my life now, I can understand the comfort our ancestors found in knitting. It was one necessary chore they could do while sitting down in dim evening light. I can imagine the relief of finally sitting and stitching after a long day of hauling water, doing laundry, watching children, tending fires.....
That knitting is more pleasure than work is evident in that even today, when socks can be purchased in packages at convenience stores, women (and men) still knit, even when it is not the only way to keep our families' feet warm. I hope this book will inspire readers to knit something for someone in need--family, friend or stranger.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hawaiian Quilts

I started my first quilt around 1976, when everyone wanted to get in touch with our founding mothers in celebration of the bicentennial of American independence.  It was a basic trip-around-the-world design made of little squares.    As I read about the craft of quilting, I learned that Hawaiian women took the quilting of the missionaries to their islands and created a new way of quilting--one consistent with the gorgeous vegetation surrounding them.

Judith Sandstrom has authored a beautiful book with plenty of photographs.  Even if you don't want to make one of these exquisite designs, you may enjoy the photographs and use this as a coffee table book.  The book debuts June 28.  I was blessed to see an advance e-copy via NetGalley.