Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a chicken. (With apologies to Peter Steiner.)



29 November 2006

Knitting in Beatrix Potter Books


In The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, the color plate opposite the title page shows old Mrs. Rabbit sitting at the door of her burrow knitting with her yarn ball in the sand at her feet. In the story, it says "Old Mrs. Rabbit was a widow; she earned her living by knitting rabbit-wool mittens and muffetees [sic] (I once bought a pair at a bazaar)."

Rabbit-wool is mentioned again in The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, at the very end. In gratitude for Thomasina Tittlemouse waking Benjamin Bunny and helping him and his wife Flopsy free their children from the bag Mr. McGregor has tied them in, " . . .next Christmas Thomasina Tittlemouse got a present of enough rabbit-wool to make herself a cloak and a hood, and a handsome muff and a pair of warm mittens." She is shown dressed in all these things, but it is impossible to tell if they are knitted, because they look so furry.

In The Tale of the Pie and the Patty Pan, when Ribby runs to fetch the doctor, and Cousin Tabitha Twitchit says "I knew they would over-eat themselves!" Tabitha is standing in the door of her store knitting with her ball of yarn on the ground.

In The Tale of Little Pig Robinson, Robinson is supposed to buy darning wool for his aunts. He has a sample of the color, but forgets and sells it tied around the stems of a bunch of primroses.

Luckily he meets Sam the fisherman's wife Betsy:

"Why, I noticed the wool round the little primrose posy; it was blue-grey colour like the last pair of socks that I knitted for Sam. Come with me to the wool shop -- Fleecy Flock's wool shop. I remember the color; well I do!" said Betsy.

It's a good thing he has Betsy with him:

Such a shop! Such a jumble! Wool all sorts of colours, thick wool, thin wool, fingering wool, and rug wool, bundles and bundles all jumbled up; and she [Fleecy Flock] could not put her hoof on anything. She was so confused and slow at finding things that Betsy got impatient.

"No, I don't want wool for slippers; darning wool, Fleecy; darning wool, same colour as I bought for my Sam's socks. Bless me, no, not knitting needles! Darning wool."

"Baa, baa! Did you say white or black, m'm? Three ply, was it?"

"Oh, dear me, grey darning wool on cards; not heather mixture."

"I know I have it somewhere," said Fleecy Flock helplessly, jumbling up the skeins and bundles. " . . . my shop is completely cluttered up --"

It took half an hour to find the wool. If Betsy had not been with him, Robinson never would have got it.


In Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes, it says
You know the old woman who lived in a shoe?
And had so many children
She didn't know what to do?

I think if she lived in a little shoe-house --
That little old woman was surely a mouse!
The illustration shows a mouse in a dress and bonnet, sitting in a chair knitting a stocking from the cuff down with five needles.

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