• 06Feb

    If you haven’t come by to visit my text {isle} blog yet, there is quite a bit of new content and I am continuing to post weekly. Recent articles include an exploration of topics like physical vs. digital books in Liquid Text, Emily Dickinson’s correspondence in Embellishments, the digital archives and our quest for information in Searching…or the Holy Grail of Information, the reader’s journey through an Escher-esque book in Literary Labyrinth, and the ties between weaving and digital media in Fabricating Society.

    Come over and join the conversation!

     

  • 16Jan

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    I’m not sure if I have any readers left, since the frequency of my posts has dwindled, but in just in case there are more than spam bots trolling my site…

    I started graduate school last fall to pursue my MA in literature, and I have a new blog dedicated to my academic interests in textuality.

    (Full disclosure: I created it for a class about technology and literature.)

    Feel free to join in the conversation on my text {isle} blog if you’re interested in the intersection of technology and literature, from the invention of the printing press to today’s digital media!

     

  • 25Jul

    While doing some research on artistic depictions of textile production, I came across several 14th century paintings depicting knitting madonnas.  I became very intrigued.

    This first painting, Madonna dell’Umiltà by Vitale da Bologna [source] depicts Mary holding her knitting in one hand and a knitting needle being grasped by both mother and child.  Her gaze is tenderly focused on her child.

    Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s The Holy Family depicts the family at home, seated together on a rug.  Once again Mary is knitting, this time on a set of double pointed needles, and the child Jesus is at her side.

    The final image I have to share is Meister Bertran von Minden’s Buxtehude Madonna [source].  This depiction, done later than the previous paintings (early C15), shows Mary knitting a garment in the round on double pointed needles.  An older Jesus occupies himself with a book and appears to be thinking as he gazes heavenward.

    What I find fascinating about these paintings is the knitting.  Medieval art is full of depictions of Biblical scenes and saints’ lives.  The above paintings are depictions of Christ as a child and his mother caring for him, and on a historical timeline would have taken place around 0-10 A.D.  The earliest known examples of knitting, however, date back to sometime between the 11th-14th centuries (about the time of these paintings), and do not coincide with the historical timeframe of Christ’s nativity.

    The Madonna, as depicted in art, has long been a symbol of Christian virtue.  In artistic depictions she embodies an idealistic image of motherhood, modesty, and religious devotion.  The imposition of industriousness in the form of textile production on this image of feminine virtue is an interesting one.  Was this depiction designed to show that Mary was industrious and clothed her family?  Was it to show that an idealized woman produced textiles?  Does this hearken back to the classic Odyssian model of Penelope the weaver, who engaged in a weaving project to preserve her marriage and family?  Does it present her performing a commonplace task, one that other women of the era would identify with or find relatable?

    How are these images related to C20 representations of women knitting?  Find out in my next post…

  • 02Jul

    I’ve recently become very interested in knitting with a greater variety of natural fibers.  I’ve had plenty of experience with the standard merinos, alpacas, silks, and cashmeres readily available at my LYS (local yarn shop).  Then, a couple of years ago, I discovered BFL (blue-faced leicester) and I developed a schoolgirl crush on this springy wool.

    I spent some of my birthday money this year on some 1-ply gossamer weight shetland supreme from Jamieson & Smith in the natural grey shade (purchased from Yarns International because I live in the US).  After narrowing down my long list of queued lace wraps on ravelry, I decided that what could be better for shetland wool than a shetland-inspired lace pattern.  I settled on Jared Flood’s Stonecrop, wound the yarn into a delicious little wooly cake I couldn’t wait to sink my needles into, and then I cast on with a nice sharp pair of Addi Turbo Lace needles and a favorite set of handmade stitch markers. I was so enamored with the yarn that I was inspired to write a little ode to my shetland wool in prose.

    Shetland

    The knitted fabric is scratchy-soft and springy in my hand.  Garter stitch ridges mimic the color and pattern of undulating rows of a freshly plowed field.  The varying natural woolen shades can be catalogued like botanical specimens: mooskit, shaela, moorit, gaulmogot, sholmit, katmollet, yuglet.  My worsted-spun singles resemble the color of loblolly pine bark, of weathered boat docks, of lichen-speckled rocks jutting out into the sea.  The crisp wiriness of the fiber is softened by a wooly halo, and its slightly sheepy smell evokes memories of chilly nights and flickering firelight.  Seemly as insubstantial as cobwebs, the woolen stole warms my lap as I work, warding off the creeping chill that advances under the cover of night.

    Smooth circular brass needles slither through the stitches, the yarn entwined about them like vines.  The shiny sharp tips flick in and out of the looped yarn like the tongue of a garden snake – catching and grabbing the wool, undulating through the rows, charming my fingers.

  • 29Jun


    Quite a lot of cobwebs have gathered on this dusty site since I last posted.

    Maybe I should address any readers like I would a support group:
    “Hi. I’m Heather and it’s been 2 years, 5 months, and 25 days since my last post.”
    Hmmm. But what if I’m greeted with only chirping crickets, or worse – silence?

    So where have I been?
    Two years ago I decided to enroll at a local university to earn a bachelor’s degree in English literature. The hard work has paid off and I am nearly done (I graduate in August!!!), but I start a master’s program in August as well…. Yes, I really do enjoy torturing myself with long hours reading, researching, and writing.

    Although I deserted my blog, I have not abandoned my knitting, although my production has slowed considerably. Sometimes it stands completely still or even moves backwards. I was recently very proud of myself for finishing a pair of socks I started last December. How times have changed. Instead of finishing a pair per month, I’m now excited about completing a pair per year. Unlike some knitters (of whom I am quite envious!), I have not been able to master the technique of reading while knitting. I always seem to need a hand or two for holding pages open and writing notes. If I could only figure out a way to grow an extra set of arms, I think I could manage the whole knitting-while-reading-and-notetaking thing. Every mother I know also wishes for a spare pair of appendages, so if anyone can figure this out, it sounds like a good way to make a fortune.
    Maybe I should have chosen to study biology instead of literature.

    As for my knitting, my fingers have more work to fidget through than time available. I have all of my usual projects: lacy shawls, socks, etc., but a new batch of projects has soared to the top of my WIP (work in progress) list. My sister recently added to her family and gave me a new nephew. He came six weeks early, but he is doing very well. His arrival has ignited a frenzy of preemie knitting, and I have been happily cranking out preemie beanies for him and to donate to the NICU where he is staying.

    So here I go, casting on once more with my blog. It’s a WIP (work/writing in progress). I look forward to sharing my knitting (mis)adventures, projects, and other fiber-related anecdotes!