Thursday, January 09, 2014

Dutch in NZ

One way or another, I am frequently thinking about how the old seamen stayed warm.

It turns out that the Dutch were in NZ 50 years before Captain Cook. Circa 1700, European sailors were braving the Southern Ocean.  Those sailors survived because European knitters had experience clothing fishermen/whalers to work along the edge of the Arctic Sea ice.

While the Southern Ocean has its own special sea conditions, the great enemy of polar seamanship is hypothermia.  The great friend of polar seamanship was the elaborate knit seaman's outfit.  The outfit kept them warm enough to do their job.

The only way to understand such knitting, is to wear it out in a storm.  Knitting with a knitting sheath and long steel needles produces a garment that is unlike any other garment in modern life.  If you have not worn one, you cannot understand it.

You cannot drive "framing" nails into wood with your bare hands, but with a carpenter's hammer, it can be done.  Sorry, when you are building a house, tacks and pin nails that can be pushed in without a hammer just do not count.  Likewise, you cannot knit a weatherproof woolens without a knitting sheath, but with a knitting sheath, it can be done.  Without a knitting sheath, you can knit a sweater that is warm by modern standards, but by polar weather standards, it does not meet performance standards.

3 comments:

Keith Holyoake said...

Hmmmmm. So within the parameters of this hypothesis, how did Polynesian sailors make it to NZ and the Chaham Islands centuries before Europeans, in open canoes, without any wool or fibre-bearing animals?

Schone Vrouw said...

Hi Aaron, I like your reflections. At the Rijksmuseum in Holland their are several hats on display, found in the graves of the whalers in Nova Zembla. IN 2010 the restorer of the old textiles organised a 'Brijksmuseum' (knitting is 'breien' in Dutch), and blogged about it at http://brijksmuseum.blogspot.nl/. Maybe interesting for you (with Google Translates help, it's in Dutch)

Aaron said...

Keith,
Polynesian sailors did not go around the Horn. They island hopped across the Pacific. see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polynesian_navigation