Thursday, July 13, 2006

The forecast is for more socks...

but not knitted by me!
I potter about on the fringes of re-enactment, the wearing of period clothing (done properly it is NOT costume) at various historic events. I hope one day to have time to become actively involved, demonstrating weaving and other crafts to introduce people to the various pleasures to be gained from handcrafting goods, but at the moment I'm amongst those who just add colour to events by showing up in my garb. I can be early medieval wealthy middle class, wearing c. 8m of silk-lined fox-coloured wool over a silken shift (at least the bits that show are silk), or I can be early medieval presentable (ie clean) peasant, in a lighter wool gown and linen shift. I even have fake hair to wear under my headcovering, as only a condemned harlot or woman at death's door would have had hair as short as mine. Every time I wear these clothes I think about social history. For example, each time I stand up or walk in my wealthy persona, I am reminded of my social position by the sheer weight of fabric. I am stately -- given the weight of the dress I have to be -- and I was interested to discover that I hold my skirts up when necessary (to climb stairs, for example) in the same way as the women in a host of medieval illustrations. There's no other way to do it. The peasant garb is much better suited to housework. It's positively comfortable and extremely flattering regardless of weight: women who'd honestly look *terrible* in shorts and a t-shirt look comfortable and attractive in this style. I'd happily wear it every day, although I'd be arrested for carrying my belt knife :-)

Anyway, as usual, I digress. Earlier this week a friend asked if a friend of hers could talk to me about Saxon/early medieval clothing, as she's to be a demonstrator at a local Archaeology Day event. We arranged that O and her husband would drop by on Tuesday evening to have a look at the peasant dress. Which they did. And two hours later we were still talking, about weaving, lucetting and knitting, with much of my stash spread out on the floor, and both husbands watching with that look of tolerant amusement I find so touching. She stopped knitting about the same time that I stopped knitting, for roughly the same reasons, and had just realised herself that Yarn Has Changed. And then she saw (and felt) The Blue Socks, and her husband realised they didn't have the seam that makes his toes sore in standard socks. So I showed her the Socks In Progress, and we discussed knitting on two circs, and then I loaned her Cat Bordhi's book and gave her all my old circular needles to use Right Now until she can buy better. Then I emailed her all my knitting bookmarks: online retailers (we have no good LYS), magazines, patterns, blogs :-) Now she's replied me to say that on seeing the book her son instantly demanded she learn how to knit socks so she can teach him. She mentioned it at work and her co-workers want to learn to knit socks...

I emailed back to point out that, bearing in mind I'm only making my third pair (but I've made short-row 8 heels :-), perhaps we could meet as a group one evening and learn to Knit Socks together. I was thinking of meeting in one of the rooms of the village hall, but if we don't do it soon we might need something quite a lot larger!

One of the other students in my Pilates class has been watching me knit as we wait for class to begin told me about her Aunt (who knits) and her Mother (who knits), and how she'd quite like a reason to learn to knit one day because it looks interesting. She's a dancer, beautifully thin, so I excised the Teva Durham Ballet top pattern and the Anne Modesitt camisole from my Interweave knits and passed them to her on Wednesday. Turns out she's going away for a week with her Aunt and her Mother, and now she's decided she'll learn to knit while sitting by the pool :-)

A gratuitous cat photo: nothing escapes his notice, I'd better get back to work.


ra said...

good work on turning people to the dark side! LoL!!

sarah said...

It can't be dark, must be light. They're like moths to a flame, the beacon of handknit socks :-)

It's a bit overwhelming: O just proposed that I be PAID to run an afternoon workshop to teach people the rudiments. I said truthfully I don't know enough to deserve payment, I'm just very, very good at passing on enthusiasm and my unshakeable conviction that 'anyone can do this, it's not difficult'. I think the compromise will be a trial 'Yarn Afternoon' for people to bring current projects and chat, with the opportunity to try knitting, crocheting, tatting, and lucet. Luckily later in the autumn, so I'll have a chance to remember how to do the stuff I haven't done for years!

Alice said...

How wonderful, to meet someone that unexpectedly shares some of the same interest as you. And all the people wanting to learn to knit! That's great. At least they won't stare vacantly at you every time you even mention the "k" word (that's how people look at me these days)

I like reading about the court of Henry VIII, so it's interesting to read your account of wearing period dress.