Monday, 30 December 2013

2013 Reviewed

The Fisher Girl
19th Century
Salenson, Eugenie Marie
Private Collection
Credit: Bridgeman Art Library*
Image Number: CH42892
Photo © Christie's Images

As I scroll backwards through this blog for the year 13, I find only twenty-two posts out of eighty-nine were about historical knitting projects. This was due, in a large part, to a mandatory respite from knitting anything on needles smaller than 2.00mm/US 0, and, in particular, anything in cotton or linen, those most two inflexible kinds of threads, both of which wreaked havoc on my hands, wrists and arms in the previous Year of Completion. There is still a backlog of thirty-two reproduction knitting projects (and several stitching ones) so the plan is to tackle at least one a month in the coming year. They range from small 19th century purses to the baby jacket or waistcoat in the collection of the V&A, which now needs to be entirely ripped out and started again, thanks to new images I found last year.

The past year’s quasi-hiatus gave me a chance, however, to search for images of actresses from the decades of films that I love best – the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. I, and many of the readers of this blog, spend so much time researching the clothing and accessories of the past, let alone trying to reproduce them. So apart from the fact that I enjoy the performances, storylines, cinematic techniques, etc., of those films, they also give me a chance to see the actors wearing and moving in the clothes, hairstyles and make-up of their own era. These are not costumes in the sense that the actors are portraying another era but costumes that were contemporary clothing for them. I will admit that probably no one really wore some of what Kay Francis did in her films but we must have a few flights of fancy. I sometimes think that her extravagant ensembles are an homage to another favourite era of mine, the Edwardian.

I also wanted to see how many images I could collect of knitting needles, knitting bags and, possibly, projects from the 1920s-1960s.  I took a lot of detours on the way, as we do on the Internet highway, and found some wonderful things. There were, of course, so many other actresses I wanted to feature but could just not find any images of them doing handwork of any kind or in period knitwear. I am still on the lookout, though, and have a few more people to feature in the coming year who surfaced after their birthdays this past year.

It was a good year for other knitting, though, as I worked on small decorative and seasonal projects, socks, finished a few mini-quilts and read a lot of great books.

This was also a year of anniversaries. Due to 21st century technical difficulties, I was not able to post the photograph below on December 16th of this year (Jane Austen’s birthday)  - truly, pen, ink and paper are so much more reliable! Pride and Prejudice is two hundred years young, and, in spite of all of the various attempts on its life, it remains as fresh and as relevant as when it was first published in 1813. The wealth of phrases or quotations in it made it difficult to choose which one to stitch. I selected this one from the end of the book. There is so much simple joy in it, and there is universal joy amongst most of the characters by then, too, even with Austen’s trademark irony.

Dr. Who (on television) is fifty years old this year although the most famous handknitted scarf in the world is slightly younger. Those regenerated doctors have kept me amused and have fed my imagination practically all my life so I had to pay tribute to the most famous (and my favourite) villains of all time – the Daleks.

 Finally, I wish all the followers and readers of this blog a happy and healthy 2014.  May your stitching be smooth, your hands not hurt and your deadlines met without despair!

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