Sunday, 13 July 2008

Tools and Totes

Mademoiselle Brongniart (1788)
Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun
Oil on oak, 65.1 x 53.3 cm.
The National Gallery, London

Over the course of knitting for many, many years, I have amassed a huge collection of knitting tools. (We will not even begin to discuss that other component of knitting, “the stash.”) Needles that number in the hundreds, made of different types of woods, horn, bone, bamboo, plastics and metals. Just as the wand chooses the wizard, the project, in my case, always chooses the needles. My Aran sweaters have always demanded strong (now vintage) Aeros, fine lace work those sharp metal Inoxes and socks now glide into existence on recently acquired glorious Harmony Wood dpns. Reproduction knitting over two centuries in historically accurate ways in public also requires specific needles. At this point in my knitting career, however, I know what I like and what I need so many needles have been passed on to other knitters as my new policy concerning everything in life is to only keep what I absolutely need or will expect to use.

By extension, I have picked up some interesting knitting accessories along the way. The waist hook, which attaches to one’s pocket, belt or apron waistband, the knitting belt from the Shetland Islands and the knitting sheath from I cannot remember where. I just seem to have had it for a long time. Needles do not come in standard sizes and neither do needle gauges so many are needed.

Once the knitting is on those needles, I like to keep or carry it in some sort of textile storage such as reproduction workbags of Indian cotton prints and velvety cotton, 18th century pockets, and modern bags from the gift shops of various museums and institutions. Two of my current favourite carriers/storage bags are a gardening bag with extra tool pockets for the three or four pairs of socks always in progress, and the cloth bucket which stands so tall and holds so much and is the current home of The Garment as well as the Desolation Island mittens. The latest pair of half-gloves, historic or modern, make excellent walking or exercise knitting in their weatherproof nylon bag that clips onto clothing A zippered toile bag or the fold-over clasp bag made from left-over chair upholstery fabric, holds miniature knitting or the latest miser’s purse on the needles. Favourite reproduction fabrics that might never become parts of a quilt are either lining my needle boxes or are turned into more workbags of various sizes.

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