Friday, September 28, 2012

Steel needles in the Low Lands

I went off to Flanders without crocus cloth.

Here in California, it tends to be dry enough that my knitting polishes my needles as fast as they can oxidize, and with a reasonable amount of knitting, my steel needles stay shiny and smooth.  That turned out not to be the case in the Low Lands. Even knitting with a coarse, oiled wool, over the course of a week the steel turned gray.

 It was not really so bad, I was traveling and knitting with them where-ever,  and being less slippery, they were less likely to fall out and go where-ever needles go on the train. Over all, in a month, I lost one needle.

Nevertheless, those remaining needles are going to get a good rubbing with crocus cloth for wondering abroad without protection.

The only knitter that I met in Europe that uses a knitting sheath was a Docent at the Anne Franks House Museum in Amsterdam.

I looked and did not see any knitting sheaths.  As part of Monument Day and there was a large street market in Delft, with a large number of antiques dealers.  Two said they had knitting sheaths at home, but never brought them to street markets because such things never sell.

The only other person that I saw knitting in public was the lady that ran the sewing and knitting department at Bon Marche in Paris.

A train did not come, so I taught an 8-year old girl waiting next to me on the platform how to knit and gave her needles and yarn to knit a scarf.  Actually, it was my wife that did the teaching.  She does not knit, but she is a much better knitting teacher than I am.  Anyway, there is one more knitter in Amsterdam.

The lesson from the trip was the very high quality of spinning in Flanders circa 1500, and the fact that they were working with wool/silk blends at that time.


=Tamar said...

Wool-silk blends? More details, please? Which museum? What products? Socks? tapestries? hats?

Aaron said...

Start with the "North European Decorative Arts" at the Louvre, and look at the tapestries. Wool, silk, gold and silver. Circa 1500 - 1550.

Look at the ecclesiastical robes.

Then, go upstairs to the North European Paintings,and look at what they are wearing. Yes there are clearly woven leg coverings, but there are also . . . . hose with little stretch marks across the knee that look like knit silk. That becomes plausible, when just down stairs there are these huge tapestries from the same region and time, that are a wool silk blend.

I was a bit disappointed with the textiles in the new Islamic Exhibit, but since you are going anyway to see the whorls for silk spindles - you might as well spend the day.

Do not forget to look at the Egyptian textiles. Those guys knew how to spin and weave linen.

Take a good camera - no flash allowed, and some of those halls are dark! Buy your tickets in advance and save an hour of waiting in line. Pauls has a menu so you can get a meal for 8 or 9 Euros - a pretty good deal by SF museum standards.

Sandra Augiga said...

I guess you looked in the wrong part of the Netherlands. I live in the North of the Netherlands and I knit with a knitting sheath. Though I admit I'm the only one and I use an old... what is the word for a thing that catches rain water and tells you how many millimeters have fallen? It is plastic and I stuffed it full with sponges so it holds little needles and big ones thightly. And I had to cut a big part of it off, since it was too long. I'm handicapped and do not have a thumb on the right hand. I also lack a elbow, but my desire for the knitted garnments was too big. It is hard to get fitted knitweat in the shops and even then it is crappy yarn and crappily knit. So when I was 14/15 I found out I could knit with the needle wedged between the legs. But with dpn's that does not work, because the sharp end. So until I found out of the existence of the knitting sheath I could not knit in the round. There certainly are not a lot of ancient knitting sheath around although there is this museum in Burdaard (???) which did hold a collection of knitting sheaths. My knitting group now are very interested in the knitting belts, since some of them went to Shetland. I now also have one, but I can only knit on 15 cm long needles on that. And I am not really able to get the right and comfortable way to position the knitting sheath. Also the horse hair does not hold the needle as good as sponge does, so I'm thinking about making one with a sponge inside and see how that works.

Okay, this turning out to be a very long comments. I guess I'm just so exited to see someone who also knits with a knitting sheath. On Ravelry I'm Sandraugiga.

Aaron said...

Sandra, Some of the antique dealers at the big market in Delft have old knitting sheaths in stock, but they do not take them to market days.

I know old knitting sheaths are around, it is just a matter of meeting the dealers at their shops, where most of their stock is.