Again, in June

The last blog entry I wrote was in September of 2018. And now it’s June of 2020! My WordPress renewal comes up at the end of the summer, so I’m giving blogging another go between now and then. I want to figure out if this is something I want to do or not. If you’re reading this, welcome to my blog!

In the spirit of just leaping in, I’m going to share the projects I’ve been working on this week. This first project has nothing to do with knitting or spinning. I’m taking an online sketchbook class at the Cleveland Institute of Art. This week we superimposed a blind contour drawing over a grid that we drew. I had fun drawing this, losing myself in the lovely intricacies of the peony as I moved my eyes over every little petal.

I spent the past ten days knitting a hat for Dad for Father’s Day. After sending my mom a knitted scarf that I call The Neon Marathon (more on that another day), I wanted to knit something for my dad too. It took a year to knit Mom’s scarf…and ten days to knit Dad’s hat. It is my third Antler Toque, knit in Malabrigo Rios. It is drying now, and I don’t think it will be fully dry until Tuesday. I hope I get it in the mail in time!

I don’t think I actually enjoyed the knitting of this hat, though I like the finished hat very much. I wore it around the house this morning after weaving in the ends. I used my Addi circulars, and I think wooden needles would have been better with this slippery yarn.

I kept getting distracted as I knit, so I reversed cable direction without realizing it early on. Rather than tinking back, I decided to just add in some random cable direction changes through the remaining rows of the hat. Does it work as a design element? I haven’t spent enough time with the hat to know for sure, but I think it’s okay.

Finally, I sewed a tote bag this week. I’m continuing to practice my sewing skills, enjoying every minute I spend at my sewing machine. For this denim bag, I used a denim needle for the first time, and wow, what a difference! That needle sewed through layers of denim and webbing like they were butter.

I’m learning that so much of sewing is cutting and pressing and pinning. I probably spent more time doing those things than I did sewing seams! For this tote bag, I sewed French seams for the first time, which means the inside of this bag is neat and tidy and won’t unravel.

This project comes from Sew-It Academy, an online series of sewing classes that have helped me to relearn some basic skills.

So that’s it for today. A year ago, when I told a friend about my dormant blog, she said it takes at least three attempts to restart a blog that has gone dormant. This is attempt number two. Maybe I’ll find my way this time.

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Coming Back to Blogging

It has been a year now since my very first post–and seven months since my last post. I was still feeling my way into blogging, still finding my voice and style, when, in March, my husband died suddenly of a heart attack.

In the immediate weeks after his death, I didn’t knit a stitch, much less think at all about this blog. In the weeks and months since, I did come back to knitting and to spinning. I have been so grateful for both as I grieve and mourn. A couple of times I attempted and failed to write a blog post.

Today, a rainy Sunday, I have been reading Kate Davies’s new book, Handywoman. This book about adapting to a new and devastating reality speaks to me in many ways. As I finished her chapter on the knitting community, I once again felt compelled to come back to this blog.

So here I am.

I have wonderful friends.

Still, I spend a good amount of time alone now.

I have lost the person that I told everything to.

Whorled Enough calls to me with more urgency now, as a place where I can pass on my ideas, thoughts, and experiences around my fiber practices to others who share my passion. When I stopped blogging, I had two readers I knew about: Fred and my knitting buddy Lisa. There were a few other readers as well, I think, from my rudimentary understanding of the blog stats. I am grateful for all readers, whether a reader offers a comment or not.

The morning that Fred died, when I thought it was just another day, I cast on stitches for a baby blanket. This blanket was for the baby, due in late May, of a good friend of Fred’s. Together, Fred and I had chosen pattern and yarn. He wanted a grayish blue for this baby, and we found just the right shade in Madelinetosh’s Well Water. The pattern we chose was Tin Can Knits’s Little Tern Blanket in Jen Arnall-Culliford’s A Year of Techniques.

I am glad that I cast on that blanket on that day, though it was weeks before I picked it up again. Fred did not get a chance to meet the baby, but that baby now has the blanket that Fred imagined for him, and that I knit for him as I was making my way through a dense fog of grief. The rhythmic waves of knit and purl stitches soothed me and carried me. It felt right and good that my first project after losing Fred was for a baby about to be born.

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Learning Curve

As we near the middle of February, Spring seems distant, almost impossible. How could those bare branches ever sprout green leaves again? This weekend (much like last weekend) has been gray and icy. I am lying low, enjoying doing nothing much. Last week I completed my first FO (finished object for any non-knitters out there) of 2018: the socks I cast on a few months ago in yarn I spun myself. I love these socks! They are warm and woolly! They fit perfectly.

I’ve also been knitting my Lovage sweater, round and round. I’m at that point in the body where I keep knitting and nothing seems to be happening. The pattern calls for the body to be ten inches to the armholes. I’m just about there, but I want a longer sweater. I’m going for maybe thirteen inches.

I finished spinning and plying the multicolored merino silk top. It’s a pretty yarn, muted yet full of color upon a closer look. Not sure what I’ll make with it.

This week I’ve been flicking and carding the Yellow House Cheese fleece. I’ve got a bunch of rolags ready for spinning, white and fluffy.

And I’ve been sewing leather soles onto the slippers I knit for my parents for Christmas of 2016. When I visited them last month, I wondered if these slippers were a little too, well, slippery. My mom, in particular, expressed delight at the thought of non-skid soles. So I tucked her and my dad’s slippers into my suitcase and brought them back to Cleveland with me.

I found two-piece suede slipper soles at Lavender Hill Knits on Etsy. They are exactly what I was looking for. Last weekend I sat down to sew the soles onto the knitted slippers. I thought it would be a simple and quick task, a job of a couple of hours or so.

Oh no. I quickly realized that sewing an unstretchy piece of leather onto a stretchy knitted fabric is full of unforeseen perils. I started stitching and the leather patch moved–even when I was holding it in place! Fred suggested pinning the suede in place, a suggestion which I initially shrugged off. But then, after pulling out my stitches again–and trying not to pull out my hair–I anchored the sole with three locking stitch markers. That helped. But when I tried on the slipper, I realized I had sewn the heel piece too far forward on the sole. I unstitched again.

After a couple of hours of stitching, unstitching, and restitching, I had successfully sewn on one heel piece. What I thought would be a simple job turned into a rather frustrating and slow process. I’m not sure why I thought it would be so easy. I had never sewn soles onto slippers before. It took me a while to appreciate that each time I had to unstitch, I had actually learned something useful.

Yesterday, I sewed the remaining pieces onto my mother’s slippers. Everything I learned last weekend served me well. I placed the pieces accurately, pinned them before sewing, and did not attempt more than I could successfully complete in a couple of hours. The stitching went smoothly.

It’s funny to me that I, who am a teacher after all, can be dismissive of the skill involved in something like stitching a sole onto a slipper. I assume no learning will be required, and I get annoyed when I don’t immediately succeed in doing something I’ve never done before. Now, though, I know a little more than I did about this particular task. I’d better make more slippers before I forget!

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2018: The Year of the Sweater

As I embark on a new year of knitting and spinning, I am slowly letting go of some habits I acquired last year.

For the entire year, I was knitting to deadline. Every month I cast on, knit, and bound off a Honey Cowl. It has taken a couple of weeks to let go of that sense of the need to maintain a certain pace. Now I can relax into the feel of a yarn and the rhythm of a pattern. The yarn from Uist Wool that I’m knitting with now is textured and rugged. It doesn’t slip easily through my fingers. When I pay attention to the yarn and go a little slower, I enjoy the knitting more.

When I was knitting gifts for students, I learned to keep my knitting out of sight at school. Now, a knitting project sits on my desk at school more often than not. When I need to take a step back from the demands of my day, when I need a little perspective, I knit for a couple of minutes. It’s restorative, the equivalent of taking a few deep breaths.

Dreaming about my fiber pursuits in 2018, I feel like a kid in a candy store. There is so much to choose from, so many different things I want to try, so much more to learn. There are books to read, swatches to make, fiber to card and spin, KALs to join, Instagram challenges, sweaters and shawls and socks and baby things to knit. It’s all so enticing. Given that there are only twenty-four hours in a day, however, I’ve made a few choices.

For me, 2018 is going to be the year of the sweater. As I thought about what I most wanted to make next, sweaters rose to the top. I want to make some useful, wearable, attractive garments–and learn a few new techniques along the way. My goal is four sweaters, one of which will be a sweater vest. I am not holding myself to this goal; it’s just something to aim for. Here are the sweaters I have in mind:

  1. Lovage. I’ve knit almost ten inches of the body of this sweater. I love the look and feel of the 4 x 4 rib.

2. Cockatoo Brae. Started a long, long time ago. I’m really looking forward to knitting and wearing this sweater.

3. Lopi sweater made from wool I bought in Iceland last summer. I have a number of patterns I’m considering, but I’m drawn to the idea of designing the yoke myself.

4. A button-up sweater vest. This will be made from the yarn I’m spinning from Bloomers, the Jacob Sheep.

Along with the sweaters, I plan on knitting more socks and more baby things. And I’d like to finish the Nordic Wind shawl I’m knitting from some of my first handspun. I’ll need to spin more fiber to make it as big as I want it to be.

I’ll be continuing to spin the fiber from Yellow House Cheese, as well as the remaining Jacob fiber. I’ll spin what else I need for the shawl. And then I’ve got a Shetland and a Gotland fleece to scour, prep, and spin…plenty there to keep me treadling and learning at my wheel.

Here’s to a woolly 2018! Alons-y!

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2017: A Look Back

Oh boy, has it been cold this week. My Icelandic sweater has sprung a hole in the left elbow from being worn constantly. Now I can learn to mend it!

Tuesday was a day of faculty meetings at school. That meant about four hours of knitting time. I had two projects with me, and colleagues nearby, as they often do, complimented me. When I pulled out the second project, one colleague expressed (a somewhat concerned) admiration that I had two projects going at once. I did not feel able to inform her of the other two projects sitting at home. It was one of those moments when I felt out there on the edge, knitting-wise. I guess I thought that a non-knitter might not understand how reasonable it is to have three, four, five projects going at once.

This past week I’ve found time to turn the heel and knit the heel flap of my Sockmatician toe-up sock. What a genius pattern! Toe-up with a gusset and heel flap. I couldn’t picture it as I read the instructions, but as I knit along, following the formula, everything worked and began to become clear.

I’ve also made progress on my Lovage sweater, after frogging when it became clear I was knitting a sweater with about fifteen inches of positive ease. Now that it’s a more reasonable size, I’m settling into the pleasing rhythm of the K4, P4 rib and the rugged beauty of the yarn.

2017 was my biggest year yet in terms of knitting, spinning, and fiber. I started knitting again in 2014, and according to Ravelry I completed three projects that year. In 2015 I completed six projects, and in 2016 twelve. Last year I completed twenty-six knitting projects, including eight Pussy Hats and eleven Honey Cowls. That means I’ve doubled my output for each of the last three years!

While I didn’t learn many new knitting skills or techniques last year, I did learn how to manage a large knitting project; I knit those cowls and completed them well in advance of my deadline. I learned how to set reasonable goals (about 30 minutes of cowl knitting a day), and I learned that I could increase my knitting output (quite a bit).

I started knitting baby things in 2017: three pairs of baby booties and a little sweater. It’s fun to make adorable wee things. There are more babies on the way this year, so I’ll be casting on more booties, wee hats, and wee sweaters.

Most of my knitting last year was for other people. Of those twenty-six projects, only four were for me. It feels good to send my knitting out into the world. I hope the items I’ve made last a long time and provide years of warmth, whether they stay with one person, get passed on, or even find their way to a secondhand shop.

My biggest and most fun learning curve of 2017 involved working with raw fleeces and learning to spin on my Schacht Flatiron, purchased in May. I love working with fleece, prepping fiber, making yarn. It has been joy, pure and simple, to make things from yarn I’ve spun myself.

I also learned that knitting can serve a political purpose. The Pussy Hats were the highlight of my knitting year. Although I could not make it to the Women’s March myself, I sent hats on the heads of students, friends, and friends of friends. On the day of the march, I sat at home, knitting, and watched the entire live stream. The sight of all those pussy hats made by women coming together in resistance was incredibly heartening. There’s so much more I have to say about this…material for another post, perhaps.

Finally, there is this blog, started in 2017, which is still very much a work in progress. I have found it useful and challenging to put my thoughts into words on the “page” here. It helps me chart my path, make sense of what I’m doing.

And here we are in 2018. I’m planning on another post to lay out my fiber plans for the year. In the meantime, readers, I’d love to hear about your knitting/spinning in 2017.

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Gifts: Part Three

Happy New Year! Here is my final post on the gifts of the season. I received two other gifts of yarn, both of which will inspire me to keep learning in the new year. The first is a gift I gave myself: a membership to Kate Davies’ West Highland Way club. I purchased the option that includes twelve balls of her new yarn: Milarrochy Tweed.

Aren’t the colors beautiful? You can read about the making of this Donegal Tweed at Kate’s blog, here, here, and here. It’s a single-ply fingering weight yarn, 70% wool and 30% mohair. I can’t wait to start knitting with it and experimenting with color combinations. 2017 was a year without stranded colorwork for me; I’m excited to get back into it. I’m also excited to join in on the fun in Kate’s Ravelry group. I know I’ll learn a lot from what others are doing with this yarn. Already one intrepid knitter has a sweater well underway.

The other gift of yarn is a gift certificate to Harrisville Designs from my parents. When I was visiting them last winter, my father suggested a day trip to Harrisville. It’s a beautiful historic mill town in New Hampshire that has kept its Textile heritage alive with a working mill. You can read about the town and mill here. We were not able to see the mill in action, but we did visit the store, which has a wonderful variety of yarns–those spun in Harrisville and other yarns as well. Their yarns are robust, sturdy, and long-wearing. They come in a lovely range of colors. I think I’m going to use my gift certificate to purchase yarn for Amy Herzog’s Acorn Trail sweater. It would be a great way to become more adept with cables. But I may yet change my mind. It’s fun to explore the possibilities!

Finally, as the year winds to a close, I want to say thank you to all who have read Whorled Enough! Thanks especially to Lisa who has been, so far, this blog’s sole commenter, and to Fred, who has provided behind the scenes feedback and encouragement. I’m glad that I started writing in a more public way this year, and I look forward to growing in the year to come–as a knitter, a spinner, a writer, a human. Cheers!

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Gifts: Part Two

It’s cold (and snowy) here! I’m sitting in a warm room, but I can feel the cold seeping through the window at my back. It has been good weather for knitting, that’s for sure. I cast on a sweater project last week, the Lovage sweater from Uist Wool, with this yarn (in DK weight) that my parents brought back from their trip to Harris and North Uist. I finished a second pair of baby booties. I scoured the remaining Jacob Fleece (Bloomers). And I’ve been knitting on my shawl and blue socks. All in all, a lot of woolly wonderfulness.

This is my tenth blog post. In my first post I wrote about the honey cowls I was knitting for the girls in my advisor group. Two weeks ago, I gave them their cowls. I’m not posting a picture of the group here; I don’t have permission to do so. But I will say that the giving was as much fun as the making. The cowls that had lain on the shelf in my closet for months came to life as girls pulled them out of gift bags, wrapped them round their necks, and expressed genuine delight, happiness, and gratitude. They loved the softness of the yarn, declared my stitches “perfect,” and asked how long they had taken me to knit. It felt so good to send my cowls out into the world around the necks of these young women I’ve grown close to over the years.

I also gave to Kristyn of Yellow House Cheese the first small skein of yarn I made from her sheep. (I neglected to photograph this lovely little skein.) She, too, was delighted by my gift, telling me it was the “best” present and even raising the soft skein to her cheek–a universal gesture performed by fiber-lovers to express joy in yarny goodness. We talked for a while about the making of the yarn, her sheep, possibilities for making more yarn. (There’s another sheep’s fleece saved from the recent shearing!)

Finally, I gave to my sister-in-law (also Beth) two skeins of this yarn, some needles, and the pattern for the Honey Cowl. Beth used to knit and expressed interest in taking up her needles again. Look how far she is already:

The Honey Cowl lives on! Although I can’t take credit for making a new knitter, I’m happy that I provided the materials for Beth to find her way back to an activity she enjoys.

Wearing woolly hand knit sweaters, scarves, hats, and mittens keeps us warm in cold months. But giving gifts of yarn and knitting warms my innards in a way that no woolly outerwear can do. It’s a warmth that grows and lasts and is as welcome in July as it is in January.


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As the winter solstice passes and we enter the heart of the holiday season, I’m curled up at home, enjoying a two-week break from school. My festive mood has been enhanced by a couple of wonderful woolly gifts: a cone of Icelandic yarn from Uppspuni and a raw fleece from a Yellow House Cheese sheep.

My friends Karen and Lisa brought the yarn back from Iceland for me. It comes from Iceland’s first mini-mill, a mill I learned about and then was lucky enough to visit. Last year, I read about Hulda Brynjólfsdóttir, an Icelandic teacher and farmer. Hulda’s dream was to start a mini-mill to process wool from her sheep and those of other local farmers. She started an Indiegogo campaign to purchase wool processing equipment from Canada. As it turns out, her farm is in Hella, along the south coast of Iceland, where I stay when I bring groups of students to Iceland. Hulda was kind enough to host a visit from us last June. Although the mill equipment had only just arrived and wasn’t yet set up, Hulda and her spinning group were so generous in talking with us about the mini-mill and about their community of spinning sisters. The girls couldn’t get enough of the bottle-fed lamb that Hulda’s daughter showed us, and they loved chasing the new lambs and their mothers around the nearby fields.

A few months after my visit to Iceland, I was delighted to receive two skeins of yarn from Hulda, as a thank-you gift for contributing to her Indiegogo campaign. I’ve not yet decided what to make with these precious skeins. They are beautiful natural colors, silky soft.

And then Karen and Lisa began planning a short trip to Iceland. Lisa, an avid knitter, had also contributed to Hulda’s Indiegogo project and had also delighted in the yarn she received from Hulda. Interested in more yarn, and in seeing the mini-mill, Lisa contacted Hulda, who invited her to the farm. And the next thing I knew, I was sipping a beer at my local bar (The Bottlehouse) with a large cone of beautiful grey Icelandic wool at my side, listening to Lisa and Karen’s stories and marveling at the generous worldwide community of spinners, knitters, and wool-loving folk.

A few days before that evening at the bar, I was at our local farmers market, talking with Kristyn of Yellow House Cheese. Kristyn and her family raise sheep and make cheese here in Ohio. I reminded her that I was a spinner, and I mentioned that I was sorry I would not be able to attend their sheep shearing event later that day. I really didn’t have anything in particular in mind when I said those things, but without any hesitation, Kristyn said, “Would you like me to bring you some wool?” “Yes!” I replied, excitement growing. I told her I would spin it into yarn for her. We discussed details. She said she would try to remember. I couldn’t believe my luck.

And so this past Saturday I arrived at the market, and there it was: a cardboard box that contained a full raw fleece, much more wool than I had expected.

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the wool, to sort and clean it, to card and spin it, to knit it up into a swatch. I’m still a beginner at all of this, but with this fleece I found a nice rhythm, sorting the usable wool from the too-dirty bits, the burr-encrusted bits, the funky stuff. When I was done, I had a box full of woolly locks ready for washing.

I spent Sunday and Monday mornings washing wool, pound by pound, in super hot water and Unicorn Power Scour. The hot water and Power Scour remove dirt and lanolin.

After the wool was dry, I used my flicker to flick open the matted tips into clouds of fluff. I carded the fluff into rolags, and I started spinning.

There’s much more flicking and carding and spinning to go, good work for these cold, dark days. When I’ve spun enough, I’ll ply a small sample and then knit a swatch to see what this yarn might be good for. I think it will be sturdy and strong.

My heart is warmed by these gifts, by the webs of connections and community that they represent. That cone of yarn comes to me by way of Karen and Lisa, from Hulda, in Iceland, whose mill was made possible by the hard work of Hulda and her family—and also by a global community of supporters. The raw fleece comes to me from Kristyn, who raises sheep here in Ohio and who sensed I wanted a fleece before I realized it myself.

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I currently have five projects on the needles. For me, it might be a record.

  1. Honey Cowl #11
  2. Cockatoo Brae
  3. Nordic Wind Shawl
  4. Sockmatician’s Toe Ups
  5. Baby Moc-a-Socs

The Honey Cowl is my go-to project, the knitting I reach for even on my most busy of work days. I never need to think about what I’m doing. I just pick it up where I left off and round and round I go. All of the cowls I’m giving to my students for the holidays are finished. This last and eleventh cowl is for me. I’m aiming to finish it in the next ten days or so.

I cast on Cockatoo Brae in the summer of 2016, and I worked on it for a good spurt this summer. Since it’s fingering weight yarn, I’ve knit just about six inches of the body. I love the yarn and pattern, but it might be a little while before I get back to it. First, after the Honey Cowl Project is done, I will turn to making a sweater from the yarn my parents brought back from Uist Wool.

The Nordic Wind shawl is languishing. I love it. It’s soft and squishy, made from some of my first handspun. But I’ve cast on other projects, which means that this lovely thing has just been lazing about in a basket in the wool closet.

From the Fiber Optics blend (described in this post), I spun a blue/grey sport weight yarn. Eager to see how the yarn would look and function when knit, I cast on my first toe-up socks, using Sockmatician’s toe-up pattern. I’ve knit to where the increases begin along the instep, and now I need to plug some numbers into the formula. Even though I’ve read through the pattern several times, I’m having trouble envisioning the heel construction. The instructions couldn’t be more clear, so I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

I have two colleagues who are expecting babies soon. I plan to knit two pairs of baby booties before we break for the winter holidays. I’m knitting the Baby Moc-a-Soc from Bekah Knits. Stephanie Pearl McPhee knit these booties for her grandson, and I thought they were adorable.

I’ve learned that I tend to rotate through two or three (but not more) projects at a time. I like having a few different things going: big and small, complicated and simple. And it’s fine with me if a project sits for a while in the basket in the wool closet. It’s not homework. There’s no deadline, no requirement that projects move at a certain pace. I don’t even have to finish what I’ve begun. I can frog a project that has lost its appeal.

For now, though, I won’t be casting on a sixth or seventh project. I wouldn’t want it to end up lost and lonely in some dark recess of the wool closet.


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Wool Gatherings

I’m planning to make “Wool Gatherings” a regular feature of my blog, a way for me to record and collect knitting and spinning allusions, references, words of wisdom or humor or whatever. Here’s the first installment:

Once I became a knitter, I started noticing knitters all over the place in literature. I am an English teacher, and there are novels I read again and again. I have probably read Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre fifteen times. But until a few years ago, I had never noticed that Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper of Thornfield Hall, was a knitter, even though she is often seen with her knitting or her knitting basket. It’s the sort of thing that once you notice it, you can’t believe you never saw it before. But I had simply never pictured Mrs. Fairfax with knitting needles in her hands.

The very first time Jane sees her, Mrs. Fairfax is knitting. For those who don’t know the novel, the passage below occurs as eighteen year old Jane Eyre, the protagonist and narrator, has just arrived at Thornfield Hall. She had applied for and was given the job of governess there.

“A snug small room; a round table by a cheerful fire; an arm-chair high-backed and old-fashioned, wherein sat the neatest imaginable little elderly lady, in widow’s cap, black silk gown, and snowy muslin apron; exactly like what I had fancied Mrs. Fairfax, only less stately and milder looking. She was occupied in knitting; a large cat sat demurely at her feet; nothing in short was wanting to complete the beau-ideal of domestic comfort. A more reassuring introduction for a new governess could scarcely be conceived; there was no grandeur to overwhelm, no stateliness to embarrass; and then, as I entered, the old lady got up and promptly and kindly came forward to meet me.”

And here is Jane several months later, bored out of her mind and wanting more from her life:

“Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”

I love how in the first passage, the knitting adds to the coziness of the scene, while in the second, it’s a target of anger and frustration, part of the narrow world to which women are confined. Jamming together four very different activities–making puddings, knitting stockings, playing on the piano, and embroidering bags–somehow serves to diminish each of them.

Hannah, the housekeeper at Moor House is also knitting when Jane first sees her through a window. When Jane becomes a teacher at a little rural charity school, she is charged with teaching the girls “knitting, sewing, reading, writing, ciphering.” Teaching these things is considered something of a waste of Jane’s education. She knows French. She can draw.

As I consider all of this, I wonder if Brontë is revealing something of her own bias. Knitting is part of what adds to the wholesome appeal of a servant like Mrs. Fairfax or Hannah. It’s a useful and appropriate skill for farmers’ daughters. But for someone more refined, of higher status (even a governess or a teacher), knitting is emblematic of the ways in which women were confined to the domestic sphere.

Knitting is also used figuratively in the novel–a few times. Brows are knit and unknit. When Jane experiences a revelation, “Circumstances knit themselves, fitted themselves, shot into order.” And finally, as she is contemplating the happiness of her marriage, she wonders about the impact of Rochester’s blindness: “perhaps it was that circumstance that drew us so very near—that knit us so very close.”

Readers, I would love to hear your thoughts. Have any of you explored knitting references in literature? There must be a PhD dissertation out there somewhere.

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