Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Contemplation on Knitting While Commuting

My commute this morning had a lot of this:



Such a panorama makes me feel the world still has magic. When you live in a metropolitan region like I have for most of my life, snow doesn't always remain picaresque once 24 hours have passed. This got me thinking on how people who live with this monochromatic palate cope with it. I love how it looks now, but could I face this day in and day out for months on end like some parts of the world do. No way, Jose.

Of course that made me think of fair isle knitting, which hasn't been too far out of my mind as I hope to incorporate some into a baby project. Now, as a knitter, when I think of fair isle knitting I think of Lopi and Dalegarn yarns. Now I'm not a yarn or knitting history buff, but it seems understandable that the northern countries associated with each of these yarns, Iceland and Norway respectively, probably have more than their share of bleak, wintry vistas. That makes the development and/or tendency to this type of knitting understandable. Color makes us humans happy and when nature is not so generous it make sense that we would devise a way to bring color with us into the winter months by incorporating it into our winter clothing.

Now since fair isle knitting originated in Fair Isle, one of the Orkney Islands off the northernmost tip of mainland Scotland, I couldn't help but think how hundreds of miles south the occupants of Ireland's Aran Islands developed their knitting. The much more temperate, and dare I say colorful, region focused their creative energy into developing textured knitting as opposed to color knitting. Maybe they didn't need color in their life?

The commonly held belief that the intricate cable and stitch patterns that define Aran sweaters serve a double duty, one, to keep the fisherman warm and dry, and two, as an identifyer in case of death at sea, is one I've read all over the web. Both of these suppositions are being put down as myth in the the wikipedia entry for Aran Sweaters. Everyone knows the wiki can be wrong, but it is still food for future thought.

2 comments:

Hobbygåsa said...

Well, here the snow starts to fall in November and it disappeares in April - I have often thought of emigrating much longer south in Europe.... We often knit the Fair Isle in bright red colors, yeah maybe it is right that we need the lovely knit and colors to cheer us up. The homespun wool helped the fishermen, farmers, people who worked in the woods to stay warm. Wool is warm even when wet, and the more the i.e. the mittens or socks were used, the more felted they became and then they got even more warm. It is strange to think about how they even could stay warm without these fine new fibers we have these days, but they did...

Nell said...

That's so pretty! I really miss snow living in California. Although, driving in it? Not so much!

 

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