This sixth edition of PieceWork’s Knitting Traditions is all about intersections and unexpected connections. Those familiar with Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and Agnes Grey know that the Brontë sisters sprinkled references to knitting throughout their novels. What came as a surprise to me was the sisters’ probable intersection with one of mid-nineteenth-century England’s most popular authors of knitting manuals, Elizabeth Jackson. Discover the details in Penelope Hemingway’s “Knitting and the Brontës” (page 122).
Family connections abound. Finding handknits created by an ancestor and passed down from generation to generation prompted several authors to explore their genealogy and bring family treasures to the forefront. Darlene Watson’s “My Grandfather’s Stockings” (page 62) is an example.
For years, I have been a fan of master knitter Anna Zilboorg. On a chilly day last December, our paths finally crossed when Anna came to Loveland for the production of her recently released DVD, Knit Free- Sole Socks: Handknit Socks to Last a Lifetime (an Interweave Knits Workshop in collaboration with PieceWork). Over an extended lunch (sorry, video crew!), we discussed knitting and its history. The Italian fried donuts with powdered sugar and milk-stout caramel and raspberry sauce just made the conversation that much sweeter. Anna’s project for this issue is her flattering rendition of the classic English riding vest (“An Aran-Stitch Vest” with her signature “Perfect Buttonholes,” page 101). Thank you, Anna.
Thanks also to the men who formed the Groenlo Mitten Society in the Netherlands expressly to save the traditional Groenlo Mitten pattern. Bianca Boonstra discovered the organization and charted the pattern from a photograph sent her by a group member (“Almost Lost: The Pattern for Groenlo Mittens,” page 90).
Then there is the intersection of good and evil. The good were knitters; the evil, Nazis during World War II (1939–1945). In “The Sock Knitters of Sobibor” (page 131), Heatherly Walker tells how a few women and girls escaped certain death in Sobibor’s gas chamber because they knew how to knit—two, Esther Raab and Regina Zielinski, are still alive.
The knitters and the story remind us of the power of knitting. Knitting’s spellbinding history continues here. Immerse yourself in the tradition.