Gentle Readers! ~ I welcome today Janeite Lynne, a JASNA-Vermont member and occasional contributor to this site, as she writes on Jane Austen and knitting!
They were entering the hall. Mr. Knightley’s eyes had preceded Miss Bates’s in a glance at Jane. From Frank Churchill’s face, where he thought he saw confusion suppressed or laughed away, he had involuntarily turned to hers; but she was indeed behind, and too busy with her shawl. [Emma]
Have you ever wanted to create the kind of shawl that Jane Fairfax might have hid behind or slippers that would have kept Elizabeth Bennet’s feet warm? If your answer to this question is yes!, then, like me, you may be both a Janeite and a knitter. I imagined that people with these two interests would be a very small subset of the larger groups, but this month Interweave Knits made me think I was wrong. They have released a special edition of their magazine: Jane Austen Knits.
The patterns in the edition are organized around places: country, manor, garden, and town. There are over thirty patterns including: shawls, shrugs, scarves, handwarmers, slippers, reticules, Mr. Knightley’s Vest, and, of course, a tea cozy. If you are a lace knitter, you will be in heaven. Lace abounds!
Jane Austen Knits goes beyond the patterns, though. There are articles about knitting during Austen’s time; both Mrs. Austen and Cassandra knit. People speculate that Austen herself probably knit, but there is no concrete evidence for this. We know that she did needlework. But knitting may have been one of the household chores that the family sheltered her from so that she could write. There are other articles in the special edition on regency fashion, muslin, a timeline of her life and the historical events that happened during her lifetime, and even suggestions for Austen-inspired movies and auidobooks to watch or listen to while you are knitting.
Knitting during the Regency Period was a utilitarian activity, and therefore was a job for those without money. Mrs. Bates in Emma, Mrs. Smith in Persuasion, and Mrs. Jennings in Sense and Sensibility all mention projects or engage in knitting. Of course, Mrs. Jennings would be undaunted by fashionable society’s prejudices and continue to knit even when she was wealthy. Still, I like to imagine that knitting not only served a necessary household function for the other characters but also gave them solace and satisfaction. As Mrs. Smith says about Nurse Rooke: “As soon as I could use my hands, she taught me to knit, which has been a great amusement.” I couldn’t agree with her more.
[Images: from the Interweave website]
More information at the Interweave website where you can order this special issue for $14.99. http://www.interweavestore.com/Knitting/Magazines/Jane-Austen-Knits-2011.html
Thank you Lynne for sharing this! – makes me want to dig out my old knitting needles and get to work!