Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cast On! Victorian & Edwardian Knitting & Needlework Manuals Now On-Line

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Susan reporting:

My apologies for the lateness of today's post, the fault of a missing internet connection. Here's a quickie featuring a wonderful on-line resource:

Historians come in many forms. Richard Rutt (1925-2011) was an Anglican bishop, scholar-missionary, and, late in life, a Roman Catholic priest. While his interests ranged from Classical Chinese to Korean history, he was also passionately interested in the craft and history of knitting. He wrote what many consider the definitive book – A History of Hand Knitting – that is fascinating reading even for non-knitters. Armed with careful documentation, he wasn't afraid to debunk well-treasured myths about the craft, including the "legend" of the Irish fisherman sweater.

His extensive collection of early knitting manuals and books is now held at the Winchester School of Art Library, University of Southampton, and has recently been digitized. These early "how-to" books are a treasure not only to adventuresome knitters who wish to make the projects (though be forewarned: terminology has changed over the years, and early patterns often don't make sense to modern knitters), but to costume historians as well. They also show the many ways that needlework is viewed by society: a necessary skill to help clothe a woman's family; a lady-like endeavor; "good works" via charity knitting; patriotic effort during war-time; and artistic expression.

Here's the link to the whole collection.

Above left: Cover, The Seventh Book of "Hows": or How to Knit and Crochet Wools, 1911, London.
Right: Cover, Ladies Work for Sailors, late 19th c. published by the Mission to Seamen, London.
Both images courtesy of The Richard Rutt Collection: Winchester School of Art Library


Pauline said...

Thank you so much for passing this along. My daughter is an accomplished knitter at the tender age of 14 and she'll really appreciate the links.

Unknown said...

I emailed this to my sister who does fine art pieces in crochet.

gio said...

How interesting! Thanks so much for sharing.

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