After a week or two of the hay fever season and an attack of … something nasty. I am back to writing about knitting!! Knitting is in fact one of the few things I do even when ill and it takes a serious bout of’ nasties’ to put a stop to knitting which it did so I was officially ill onward…
I am looking forward to Kate Davies’ new book on haps (shawls) not least because it is collaborative, 12 other designers are contributing but also to her research on the history of haps. History has until recently, only ever documented the big and dramatic (and usually male) events. The everyday and mundane or the orally passed on seems to have been so common place as not to need recording. When it comes to handmade crafts they are/were too unremarkable to even get space or waste ink on. The every day ordinariness of clothing to keep you warm true necessities are not the domain of writing words. Ha ha ha all is changed ……..we delight in ordinary and we revel in mundane – now is the time to record the history of real people hahahaha ………… oh sorry manic evil villan moment
Anyway Haps – shawls – Welsh wool got me thinking — I have just finished my version of a hap a red traditional knitted triangle with an old shale border. And a shawl is part of the national costume for Wales. As far as I can tell from the little on the net it was more than likely woven either local wool in checks or a Paisley one (Posh Victorian Sunday best)…. I did find an old photo of a Welsh lady in a knitted shawl, it looked a bit like my Shetland hap with a lace edge. Since many old photos were staged it is hard to tell what ladies wore on a day-to-day basis. But as the local cottage industry was knitting socks it would safe to think that there were at least some Welsh knitted shawls around? The Siol Fagu (nursing baby shawls) were a South Wales tradition but they were a blankets with long fringes not knitted.
So knitting a Welsh shawl may not be a tradition as such like it is in Scotland but there is no reason to suppose that they weren’t made. Long wire needles weren’t used for socks but wire was available in rural communities and we are an inventive lot. Unless it was easier to head for the local weaver? After all knitting a triangle or square shawl is a very simple set of increases. So with the new Cambrian wool waving at me from the shop floor I have started my idea for a Welsh knitted Siol- a plain garter stitch body half triangle with occasional coloured stripes as a nod to the local made blankets and along multi-coloured fringe as a memory of the Siol Fagu . I will remember in about a week just how boring knitted shawls are when I get to the 600 st per row stage but for now it is growing fast…. Photos tomorrow