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A Rich History: Knitting Traditions

Sep 19, 2012
A cap lovingly—and flawlessly—knitted for the knitter's grandson. Pitumarca, Peru. 2011. (Photograph by Joe Coca.)

What's the tiniest gauge you've ever knitted? I think my smallest is probably 8 stitches per inch, and chances are your smallest is about that, too. Well check out the hat at left—it's knitted at 18 to 20 stitches per inch. That's right: per inch! I'm lucky enough to own one of these hats, and I can tell you that it is the best hat ever. It has ear flaps, which I love, and it is so warm. Not to mention beautiful.

The latest issue of PieceWork's Knitting Traditions features Interweave founder Linda Ligon's article on the Peruvian knitters who knit these hats and many other things. Here's Knitting Traditions Editor Jeane Hutchins to tell you more about this new issue.

A sweater knitted by Jeremina Colvin. Circa 1932. Collection of the Quw'utsun' Cultural and Conference Centre, Duncan, British Columbia. (Photograph by Caroline Sommerfeld.)
Inspired by gloves knitted on Estonia's island of Muhu, these gloves incorporate traditional Estonian techniques, motifs, and colors. (Photograph by Joe Coca.)

A New Issue of Knitting Traditions

Imagine: you're twenty-seven years old, you leave your family and the only life you've ever known, take a few meager possessions (but do include your beloved spinning wheel), and embark on an 8,000-mile journey to the unknown.

This is what Jeremina Robertson Colvin did in 1885 when she left her home in the Shetland Islands for Cowichan Station in British Columbia, Canada. When Jeremina met Mary Edwards, a Cowichan, the two women formed a bond that remained steadfast throughout their lives: knitting played a major role in their friendship.

Jeremina and Mary's story is just one of many compelling accounts in this fifth edition of PieceWork's Knitting Traditions. Other passionate knitters whom you'll meet include Cornelia Mee, a nineteenth-century English author of knitting books and certainly one of the first knitting entrepreneurs, and the American poet and knitter Virginia Woods Bellamy, who received a patent for her "Number Knitting" in 1948.

You'll also learn how the surprise discovery in an antiquarian bookshop of a color illustration from a nineteenth-century French book led Donna Druchunas to develop her Bavarian Leg Warmers project. It seems that knitting traditions and connections are everywhere, sometimes in the most unlikely places. Sprinkled throughout are projects taken from PieceWork's collection of vintage magazines (look for the word "vintage" in the title of each project).

All instructions are reproduced exactly as they appeared in the originals, warts (and errors) and all. A group of intrepid and talented knitters worked the projects from the original instructions using modern yarns and needles. Photographs of the finished articles give you an idea of what to expect.

I welcome you to this installment of PieceWork's Knitting Traditions. It's packed with historical context on the craft's rich history, stories about extraordinary knitters, and projects for new and lifelong knitters.


P.S. Get your new issue of PieceWork's Knitting Traditions today! You can also get Knitting Traditions as a downloadable eBook!

Featured Product

Knitting Traditions, Fall 2012 (Digital Edition)

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Digital Magazine Single Issue

Knitting Traditions Fall 2012 special issue magazine traces the history and traditions of knitting through a variety of techniques, such as lace and colorwork, and over 32 patterns.


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turtle606 wrote
on Sep 25, 2012 11:48 AM

I"m not sure of the gauge but I knitted a small piece with sewing thread and Glass head sewing pins for a doll house scene. Sure do not want to do much of that lol

helenpat wrote
on Sep 19, 2012 2:53 PM

I knit 23 stitches to the inch with embroidery thread. I am making loops for buttons for my granddaughter's coat. I couldn't find any loops or cord to match to make the loops after I decided the knit fur material would not hold up to the strain of an active 9 year-old's activity. The knit material is bright turquoise fake fur. Very pretty but I am pretty sure buttonholes would not wear well if machine made or even french bound. I finally found embroidery thread to match and two strands, twisted and doubled and knit into an i-cord is a perfect strong loop. I'm going to thread elastic through the middle of the cord. It took me several months to think how to solve this.