This book is a beautiful object – the dust cover is lovely. It was languishing in my pile for quite some time. It is well worth reading, part exploration of different types of fabric (Barkcloth, cotton, linen, silk, wool, polyester) and part grief memoir. Ms Finlay travels widely to research different fabrics and adds personal anecdotes about her family, in particular her mother her died unexpectedly and with whom she had planned on doing some of this travel.
Here’s the blurb …
A magnificent work of original research, unwinding history through cloth –how we make it, use it and what it means to us.
From our earliest ancestors to babies born today, fabric is a necessary part of our everyday lives, but it’s also an opportunity for creativity, symbolism, culture and connection. Travelling across the world and bringing history to life, bestselling author Victoria Finlay investigates how and why people have made and used cloth.
A century ago in Wales, women would sew their own funeral clothes over tea with friends. In Papua New Guinea, bark is stripped from trees and beaten into cloth. Harris Tweed has a particular smell, while Guatemalan weavers use dazzling colours. Uncovering the stories of the fabrics people wear and use from sacking to silk, Fabric combines science, history, tradition and art in a captivating exploration of how we live, work, craft and care.
It is beautifully written and there are photographs.
This book is great. It contains very useful information. The focus is on why and then the how just happens. The structure of each stitch is described; knit, purl, m1l, k2tog, etc, and then there is information about how to improve each stitch. There is information on joining a new ball (always at the start of a row? maybe not), stitching pieces together, casting on and off, and shaping.
There is a great discussion on gauge and why we should all be knitting a swatch and then how to use your swatch to modify the pattern to suit your gauge.
I bought the Kindle version, but on my Kindle Oasis, the images were missing. However, when I used the Kindle app on my Ipad the images were there. Just something to be aware of when purchasing the e-book.
It is definitely something I will refer to in the future.
I am not sure where I first heard about this book, Brenda Dayne may have mentioned it on her podcast. I found a copy on Abebooks and it slowly made it’s way to me (I wasn’t in any hurry).
Here’s the blurb …
In an era of global warming, war, escalating expenses, declining income, and drugs and violence in schools, many mothers feel they have little control over their families or their worlds. Nora Murphy eloquently demonstrates that many women do control one tiny thing: their next stitch.
While tracing the frustrations and joys of knitting a sweater for her son through the course of one cold, dark Minnesota winter, Murphy eloquently brings to life the traditions and cultures of women from many backgrounds, including Hmong, American Indian, Mexican, African, and Irish. Murphy’s personal stories — about her struggles to understand esoteric knitting patterns, her help from the shaman of the knit shop, and her challenges sticking with an often vexing project — will appeal to knitters as well as everyone else who has labored to create something from scratch.
We follow Nora as she knits her son a jumper and muses on the roles of knitting, textiles and craft in the lives of women. Ms Murphy’s writing style is conversational, you feel like you are sitting together knitting over a cup of tea.
If you like knitting, social history, women’s history, then you will enjoy this book. It is an easy read, with short chapters (I did a lot of ‘just one more chapter’).
I have had this book (on my Kindle) since 2020, but I had a sample of it for much longer. I finally decided to read it.
Here’s the blurb …
“Fascinating . . . What is remarkable about this book is that a history of knitting can function so well as a survey of the changes in women’s roles over time.”–The New York Times Book Review
An historian and lifelong knitter, Anne Macdonald expertly guides readers on a revealing tour of the history of knitting in America. In No Idle Hands, Macdonald considers how the necessity–and the pleasure–of knitting has shaped women’s lives.
Here is the Colonial woman for whom idleness was a sin, and her Victorian counterpart, who enjoyed the pleasure of knitting while visiting with friends; the war wife eager to provide her man with warmth and comfort, and the modern woman busy creating fashionable handknits for herself and her family. Macdonald examines each phase of American history and gives us a clear and compelling look at life, then and now. And through it all, we see how knitting has played an important part in the way society has viewed women–and how women have viewed themselves.
Assembled from articles in magazines, knitting brochures, newspaper clippings and other primary sources, and featuring reproductions of advertisements, illustrations, and photographs from each period, No Idle Hands capture the texture of women’s domestic lives throughout history with great wit and insight.
This was great, if you are at all interested in knitting and history, then this is the book for you. This was published in 1988, and therefore doesn’t cover the last thirty years, but, despite that, it is very interesting. Who knew that knitting was big in the 1930s (and not during war time)? What it also highlights is how women’s roles have changed over time, and how knitting has changed from a necessity to a relaxing hobby that’s good for mental health.
I do love a knitting history/essay book and was very keen to get this one. After much stuffing around by amazon, I bought it from the book depository.
Over the course of a year, Esther Rutter – who grew up on a sheep farm in Suffolk, and learned to spin, weave and knit as a child – travels the length of the British Isles, to tell the story of wool’s long history here. She unearths fascinating histories of communities whose lives were shaped by wool, from the mill workers of the Border countries, to the English market towns built on profits of the wool trade, and the Highland communities cleared for sheep farming; and finds tradition and innovation intermingling in today’s knitwear industries. Along the way, she explores wool’s rich culture by knitting and crafting culturally significant garments from our history – among them gloves, a scarf, a baby blanket, socks and a fisherman’s jumper – reminding us of the value of craft and our intimate relationship with wool. This Golden Fleece is at once a meditation on the craft and history of knitting, and a fascinating exploration of wool’s influence on our landscape, history and culture.
This was a fabulous book – I enjoyed the combination of knitting (she knit a bikini!, history and travel). It is a bit like ‘Julie and Julia’ we follow Esther’s journey we she learns about knitting in various places and attempts to knit the ‘signature’ garment of that place.