Knitting makes my mind wander

I was cranking away on the second Marshmallow Ho last night, doing the cable thing, and I started thinking about all the different techniques that I’ve learned or heard about in the course of knitting. Some of them seem to have originated in different places, others are pretty particular to a specific region. I wonder about the first people to come up with some of the techniques, like cabling. Were they doing it in response to a specific need in their knitting, or were they just messing around? I’ve heard that cable stitching has the special property of evening out tension in fabric made from yarn of varying thickness – is that why they first did it, or is that just a happy accident?

I’d like to learn more about the evolution of knitting techniques around the world. Anyone have any suggestions on good historical knitting books?

No Responses to “Knitting makes my mind wander”

  1. janna Says:

    I think someone accidentally cabled, and then thought, “Gee, that’s pretty!”

  2. Laritza Says:

    This is a great book:

  3. Ellen-Mary Says:

    “Knitting in the Old Way” Priscilla Gibson-Roberts. It’s a good book where she explores knitting without written patterns, traditional old world knitting. She includes some history and the “whys” and “hows”. I highly recommend it.

    There is also “the History of Hand Knitting” by Richard Rutt. Another goodie. I don’t own it but borrowed it from the library last summer (too hot to knit but I could read about it) and it was really interesting.

    Alice Starmore’s “Aran knitting” and her “Fairisle Knitting” if you can find them, are front loaded with history. She disects the mythology surrounding Aran sweaters and their evolution. In the Fairisle book she explores the possible roots of fairisle design in Estonian knitting. It’s fascinating. The books are out of print and outrageously overpriced on the Amazon marketplace but if you come across either one in your travels they are worth a look.

    Does that help?

  4. Marnie Says:

    I second the recommendation about Starmore – seems like there was some excellent stuff about history in the first chapter of Aran Knitting. I seem to recall reading that not only does cabling produce double-thick, more windproof fabric, cables can also help correct the natural tendency of stockinette stitch to distort in the direction of the twist of the yarn. Does that make sense?

    Just in case you didn’t know that I am the ultimate knitting nerd… 😉

    BTW, my local library has lots of good books on knitting, including Starmore… might try there before blowing a lot of money on eBay.


  5. Mary, Mary Says:

    The very origins of knitting is disputed to this day as there are so few remaining clues. The aforementioned sources are great reads, but you may want to find them at the library first.(read:dry as dust)

    In the meantime, love the calf but the rollerderby pix are great. Going to Fredericksburg tomorrow for the grape stomp–stay tuned for Luci, Desi, and Little Rickies 1 and 2!

  6. TheAmpuT Says:

    Just catching up on your blog. Not in order of importance:
    * The History of Handknitting , by Richard Rutt
    * I already knew you were totally cool, but the rollerderby photo hobby just made you my superhero
    * Who’s the lucky bitch who did photo shoot of your ‘mallow, and do you sleep with your socks on…LOLOL

  7. Ai Ferri Corti Says:

    Hi! I am an italian knitter and a programmer too. I’ve found your blog while I was looking for Aran patterns on the Web. Congratulations for your sweaters, they looks great!
    And knitting makes my mind wander too! Last evening I saw a woman from Ucraina (ex USSR) while she was knitting. I’d never saw such a way of knitting. I tried to do the same thing… but I was not able! That’s incredibile how many ways of knitting you can find all around the world! I’m sure that my way of knitting is completely different from yours.
    … Thank you for your attention, and… now you are in my blogroll, I would like to look at your future sweaters. Hope you’ll do the same with mine. I’m sorry but my blog is in italian only…
    Bye bye!