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Knitting with Jane

May 9, 2012
Frederica Shawlette by Susanna IC

Camden Place Cardigan by Marianne Hobart

Middleton Waistcoat by Kristi Schueler

A note from Kathleen: My sister is back from a year in Egypt. Hooray! She and I share a wonderful relationship that reminds me of Jane Austen and her beloved sister, Cassandra. We jokingly call each other "dearest," just as Elinor and Marianne Dashwood did in Sense and Sensibility.

But the scene in the movie where Marianne is on death's door about kills us both. The first time we saw Sense and Sensibility we reached over and grasped hands, tears in our eyes. We couldn't live without each other, either! We are each others' confidants and biggest fans.

What made me reflect on this relationship with my sister is the new Jane Austen Knits. It's just as fabulous as the premier issue; full of interesting articles about the Regency period in England, Jane Austen history, and beautiful knitting patterns that evoke Jane Austen's novels and her place in history. The new Jane Austen Knits is full of lace knitting, sweater knitting, knitted accessories, and much more. Oh, and the settings for the photos are fabulous!

Here's editor Amy Clarke Moore to tell you all about it.

"I'm an unabashed reader of novels, sir,
but I don't think it has clouded my judgment."

—Fanny Price in the 1999 film adaptation of Mansfield Park

I've always loved this scene in the movie when Fanny defends her decision to reject Henry Crawford's chameleon attentions as well as her preferred reading material while holding a woolly shawl around her shoulders. And yes, the movie portrays a hardier, less distraught, and more self-assured Fanny than we know through Jane Austen's novel published 198 years ago, but still (at least in my mind), the actress captures the mettle of Fanny Price.

The scene would have been even more perfect had her shawl been handknitted. I can imagine Fanny knitting symbols of her secret love for Edmund into her shawl—symbols to give her strength and forbearance during days when she was plagued by her Aunt Norris's persistent nettling or when she had to watch quietly as Edmund was falling in love with Mary.


Beloved Baby Bonnet by Kathleen Sperling

A Book Cover for Edmund by Melissa J. Armstrong

I was thrilled as we were selecting projects for the Summer 2012 issue of Jane Austen Knits that several of the designers noticed that Fanny was sadly neglected in our 2011 premier issue, and they rose in defense of Fanny, wanting to make sure her voice was heard in the 2012 issues.

It is the personal connections to the stories that give these knitted garments depth—each one tells a story with yarn. How often in our lives as knitters do we use yarn to communicate rich narratives? Jane Austen playfully dismisses the importance of fashion in her letters to her sister, Cassandra, and yet the details of wearing and making garments are contained in nearly every letter that survived.

We—in this era of ready-made clothing—have to stretch a bit, though, to really grasp the importance of cloth and garment-making at the turn of the nineteenth century, just as the Industrial Revolution literally was changing the way cloth was made. But as knitters, our understanding is probably greater than that of the average twenty-first-century person—we know the pleasure of making something from scratch as well as the disappointment when things don't go as planned.

We can only hope that with hard work and persistence, as well as a bit of luck, we'll achieve the same potential bright futures with our knitting endeavors as Jane Austen's heroines gain at the ends of her novels.

Jane Austen Knits will be out soon; reserve your copy today so we can send it to you as soon as it hits our warehouse!

Happy knitting,

P.S. Do you have a favorite scene from a Jane Austen book or movie adaptation? Let us know about it in the comments!

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on May 13, 2012 2:48 PM

I have never seen a knitted Book Cover! This one for Edmund is very classic and fits a gentleman!

ZassZ wrote
on May 11, 2012 11:03 PM

Yes Fanny was neglected & I am glad that someone listened and rose to her defense.  After all wasn't Fanny the heroine?  Also Washington Square, set in 1870's New York and written by Henry James has oodles of gorgeous gowns, ruffles, lace, & embroidered items that are truly a find.  The book was good.  I suggest reading it before seeing the movie.  

There are so many talented writers of the era and I am hoping to be able to see these books/plays put onto film.  It is such a treat to see Albert Finney & Maggie Smith in their roles.  Does anyone remember Gaslight?  Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotton, Angelea Lansbury (1944).  Paula's carries a beautiful handbag with her to the piano concert at Lord and Lady Dalroys, and her husband's missing watch turns up in her handbag.  Just one of the many suspenseful scenes in the move.  This movie is full of suspenseful scenes.  Ingrid Bergman won an Academy Award for Best Acress in this movie.   So many possible themes available for knitting magazines to make good use of and at the same time educate.    

janemormino wrote
on May 10, 2012 7:49 AM

I always re-watch the scene in P&P when Elizabeth Bennet runs in the rain across the bridge to the rotunda, after church at Rosings. Darcy finds her there and proposes-most awkwardly!  She is truly disgusted with him, but in one short moment you see him dip his head as if to kiss her-then she proceeds to tell him he is that last man on earth she could ever be prevailed upon to marry.


Nancy@292 wrote
on May 9, 2012 8:47 PM

My favorite scene is from Persuasion. It's Wentworth's letter to Anne and her acceptance of his proposal. One of the most romantic scenes ever!

wibbus wrote
on May 9, 2012 7:19 PM

I agree with Shimal - Sense & Sensibility - Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) standing at the door listening to Marianne play and sing - you can tell he's smitten.

And with classicknits - Persuasion with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds - when he writes the letter starting, ""I can listen no longer in silence.  I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach.  You pierce my soul.  I am half agony, half


on May 9, 2012 4:58 PM

LuanneR@2--thank you for your thoughtful comments on my post. However, here's some evidence that handknitted sweaters (and I think it is safe to say that if someone could make a sweater, they could certainly make a shawl!) were made in England during the Regency era and before. Here's an example of an exquisite sweater from the V&A collection from the 1600's (a century before Jane Austen's lifetime).

on May 9, 2012 11:31 AM

I'm so excited to see another edition of Jane Austen Knits!  I'm glad that Fannie is getting her due as well, I wanted to knit something from the first Jane Austen Knits to go along with my reading of Mansfield Park and was dismayed to find that there weren't any patterns for that book.  My favorite scene from a Jane Austen book is the scene with the letter from Captain Wentworth in Persuasion, I just love that letter and it makes me sigh every time.  I thought they did a good job with that scene in the 90's movie version as well.  

suecow wrote
on May 9, 2012 11:17 AM

This is so timely-almost eerie. I just watched Mansfield Park last night for the first time. It was a lovely film.  My favorite Jane Austin moment is in Sense and Sensibility when Marianne is Ill and Col Brandon implores Elinore, "Give me an occupation, Miss Dashwood, or I shall run mad."

LuanneR@2 wrote
on May 9, 2012 10:19 AM

The reason Fanny's shawl would not have been handknitted is that (I believe) they did not knit shawls at that point in history.  Sweaters and shawls came a bit later in history.  Knitting was for lace edgings, tiny keepsakes like bags and pincushions, and of course stockings, always lots of stockings.  Servants would have made the stockings and gentlewomen the fancier, less necessary items.

You are absolutely right about the importance of fabric and clothing at that time.  I learned once at a history workshop that a woman of Jane Austen's station at that time would have had 4-5 gowns!  So you can imagine, they took great care in choosing gowns, which they would have to have for quite a while and wear many times, and in their upkeep and repair.  

Aurinel wrote
on May 9, 2012 9:03 AM

I had to get the new editionn immediatly! I loved Sense and Sensibility, both the film and the book, and I had to get the first edition as well. *Dancing for joy*

Shimal wrote
on May 9, 2012 7:06 AM

I love everything about the movie Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson!  When COL Brandon first sees Marianne playing the harpsichord, the look on his face just melts my heart!