January 14, 2010

January Musings

There is a great degree of comfort in bitterly cold January days in Nova Scotia that are passed in quiet solitude with lovely yarn, periodic fitness walks, travel books from the library, newly discovered Irish authors, new knitting books, BBC podcasts, and an ever present bottle of Italian Orvieto Classico chilling in nature outside the back door! This winter break from physical work provides a much needed rest before spring and the immense amount of toil that an acre of woodland garden requires in the growing season.

I have read a great deal recently about the Shetland Islands and traditional Shetland knitting - both lace knitting and the stranded work of Fair Isle. Lace wedding shawls usually measured six feet square. The cobweb lace yarn and needlework was so fine that a shawl could be passed through a wedding ring.Women knit continuously (even as they walked) as part of a cottage industry aimed at helping to feed their families and keeping bodies and souls together. Fishing and/or farming on the islands simply was not enough. To make matters even more difficult, the women were usually paid with tea and dried goods, not cash, and they had to further barter these goods for supplies they really needed for the family.

And while this lacework does not meet any of the standards of my Scottish ancestors (and mine, in fact, were from Perth, on the mainland), the alpaca content of this scarf is well suited to the cold, damp maritime winters of New Scotland!

Pattern: Strangling Vines Scarf
Designer: Nicole Hindes
Yarn: Classic Elite Alpaca Sox
Needles: 4.5 mm Harmony wood circulars

Nancy Bush in Knitted Lace of Estonia reports that lace knitting there was usually done on wooden needles, hand carved from apple or lilac wood. My experience with lace knitting is still extremely limited but I do find, so far, that the work flows with greater ease on wooden needles.

The Alpaca Sox was a generous gift from Movita, who purchased it on a trip to Toronto last year.

If courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to carry on despite it, then my brother shows a lot of quiet courage and I admire him greatly for it.

1 comment:

movita said...

Oh Rosie! So lovely! I'm knitting a scarf with the Kidsilk Haze you gave me. It is lacy like yours. Great minds...