Hearth and Home
I was thinking the other day that many of the traditions passed down to us from our ancestors are very rich in history and meaning. For instance, just a simple garment could be a sign of protest. Sometimes whole classes of people were restricted from wearing certain types of garments as these garments were reserved for the aristocrats. It seems strange to us how a hat could unify a cause, so much so that you could be arrested for wear said hat.
In many ways we have lost our connection to our knitting tradition and what it represented to our societies at large. A woman’s worth was measured by her ability with needles and yarn. At the time, it was important to be skilled in these arts as the family would be very cold without clothing. Many people think the work load of the family was tipped unfairly for women and they were oppressed in their roles of keepers of hearth and home, but I would have to disagree on some levels―though I agree some women were undoubtedly oppressed, and in the case of my ancestral history, there was not an oppressed woman in the bunch. They contributed to the stability of their families by working with their hands. They took pride in their work and their skills, whether it was sewing, knitting or cooking. It is not to say they didn’t work outside the home—indeed they did―but for many of them, the skills they learned as children to help provide for the family in the most basic ways were the most important.
It is from women like these that I learned to knit. I was taught to knit as a young child along with many other skills like quilting, sewing and cooking. My mother and I made most of my clothes; I remember how difficult it was going into a store with ready-made clothes and trying to choose something to buy. I was so used to choosing a fabric that worked with a design that I choose, that I had envisioned in my mind, and it was very confusing and limiting to choose off the rack.
I approach knitting in much the same way—I don’t want to be limited. I want to try, experiment, see if that idea in my mind can be translated from yarn into something wonderful through my needles. It doesn’t always work out, but I love the process of trial and error. It is like working a puzzle―you can’t wait to see the picture, but it takes time and patience to put all the pieces into place.