Monday, September 12, 2016

Jerseys and Guernseys

See Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys and Arans by Gladys Thompson, Page 5, line 12.

See L'Ouvre by E. Zola.  It seems that "Ouvre", as a name for "Jersey" dates only to Victorian Times.

And, yes, ouvre at that time could only be knit with techniques that could not be mentioned in polite society.


Ruth B said...

I'm not sure what you think those knitters were using, but I suspect they were needles or knitting pins, which is just fine to mention in "polite society."

Anonymous said...

Zola wrote "L'Œuvre". Your spelling means something totally different.

Aaron said...

Ruth B

They used knitting sheaths. Even now, many knitters carry that irrational, Victorian bias against knitting sheaths. Reading Zola, we find that the Victorians and the contemporary French had some unpleasant biases. My critics are no better (and no worse) than Zola's critics.

A textile expert that knows fabrics knit using a knitting sheaths, can distinguish fabric knit with a knitting sheath from that knit with say a knitting belt. Thus, Jersy fabric is/was knit with a knitting sheath, and can be distinguished, while Guernsey fabric is/was knit without a knitting sheath, and is different.

Yes, the technique is some effort to learn, and yes much of what is knit with a knitting sheath is more effort to make, but I think that knitting sheaths add enough extra value, to be worth the extra effort.

YOU are rude to me for years and years, and then you want me to GIVE you the technology? Not likely! I often carry an extra set of of needles and knitting sheaths, and will teach a young person to knit; and, GIVE them a full set of tools, but these are nice people, not people that have been rude to me!

Much of character of the fabric is in it's hand and drape. Hand and drape is not conveyed by photograph, so I have stopped worrying about folks wanting pix. They are not serious. If they were serious, they would have spent a couple of hours making a knitting sheath -- and then 10,000 hours learning to use it. (I did.) At the very least, they would have read Mary Wright on Cornish Ganseys or really thought about Mary Thomas, or Gladys Thompson for that matter or looked around and found some of the knitters that worked in Paris for the designers before the war, or . . . .

The fabric is everything.

Aaron said...

Yes the spelling is different, and the subject of the book seems to have nothing to do with knitting, and Zola seems to have nothing to do with textiles.

However, the translation is masterpiece(s), which is what Jerseys were called in English, and the knitters were unmentionable in polite English society, just like many of Zola's subjects. It was a clever name by someone like O. Wilde, W. S. Gilbert, or even Zola himself.

Ruth B said...

I haven't asked you to give me anything, Aaron, so you can Put your ego back in its box.. BTW, I use a knitting belt, often and successfully. I like teaching others about them, but Continental knitting doesn't seem to work with a knitting belt, and I know many exceptional knitters who knit in that style. I'm not going to be foolish enough to tell them they're doing it wrong when their finished garments are perfect in design and completely suitable for the use they are intended.

Aaron said...

In the old days, professional knitters working Fair Isle, carried all the yarns on their right hand. More recently, many carry a yarn in each hand, so yes, they are knitting one color - continental. It is very fast, but does not does not work as well for very tight fabrics. And, for tight fabrics, there is more stress on the wrists.

The key term is "suitable for the use they are intended." Circular needles are perfect knitting soft, loose fabrics very quickly (e.g., Fabrics knit to craft yarn council are well suited for conditions where there is a heated space (car, lodge, house) available within an hour.

Knitting belts with DPN can knit much warmer objects than can be knit with circular needles. e.g., for conditions where there is a heated space (car, lodge, house) available within 4 hours.

Knitting sheaths can knit much warmer objects than can be knit with knitting belts. That is the knitting sheath with longer needles can provide more leverage to pack the yarn together. If the yarn is more tightly packed together, air cannot flow through the spaced between the wool to carry heat off. These are objects for folks that have to stay in the weather for days or weeks or months or even years.

Air molecules are so small that even if you pack the wool together with a big hydraulic ram to make commercial felt, there is still lots and lots, and lots of space between the wool fibers to trap air and thereby avoid heat loss by conduction. Do the math. (

Knitting sheaths can knit much faster than can be accomplished with knitting belts (e.g., swaveing, as in