WWW: 150-year-old Fair Isle, swaddling fruit trees, balloon airlifted socks

A generous and wonderful donation.

Amazing story from the Shetland Museum and Archives…. a hand-knitted Fair Isle hat, purchased on eBay for about $12, has been identified as being approximately 150 years old. It was found in a house in London while the owners packed for a move, and it was very nearly thrown away. Instead, a lucky impulse to put it up for sale on eBay meant that it caught the eye of Masami Yokoyama, a knitter based in London. Ms. Yokoyama identified that it was something special, and while on a trip to Shetland for Wool Week, she donated it to the Shetland Museum.

Best Fair Isle sweater ever?

The staff at the Shetland Museum were very excited by the donation, and have confirmed that the piece is definitely 19th century, and the colors used suggest that it was most likely knitted on Fair Isle. The pattern is classic OXO Fair Isle, and the colors all come from natural dyes.

In addition, the Shetland Museum hosts a wonderful online photographic library, including a small but fabulous collection of textile-related images.

Ms. McDermed and some of the more than 400 items her group contributed this past year.

A nice profile of Mary McDermed, a knitter from Homewood, Illinois, who is leading an army of volunteers to make scarves, helmet liners, neckwarmers and other warm items to ship to US Military personnel in Afghanistan. She leads a group of 45 crafters, most of whom are senior citizens. She was inspired to start the effort after reading an article in a 2009 Homewood Veterans Committee newsletter sent to her husband, Ed, a World War II veteran.

Schoolchildren in North Yorkshire have been enlisted to help knit blankets to cover fragile young fruit trees recently planted in nearby Dalby Forest.

The Guardian entertains us again with another slide show from another great knitting book: Knitlympics. Knitted replicas of famous Olympians. So very, very good.

I have to agree with Mary Mooney of the Oregonian, who alerted me to this story: although it’s not about hand-knit socks, it’s still pretty great: a defector from North Korea, currently living in Seoul, South Korea, is using helium balloons to send socks over the border to residents of North Korea. There’s a long history of such balloon airlifts to take information pamphlets over the border, but this is the first initiative to send clothing. Winters in North Korea are bitterly cold, and Lee hopes he can help keep his countrymen warm, and perhaps help them by providing a valuable product to sell or trade for other goods.

Burberry does cables in their own fabulous way.

The New York Times’ Style section weighs in on the current crop of cable knits on the runway.  The high-fashion interpretations of cable sweaters are fascinating.  The history lesson is a bit dubious, but the eye-candy is great.

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3 thoughts on “WWW: 150-year-old Fair Isle, swaddling fruit trees, balloon airlifted socks

  1. Erica

    I love the story about the socks and the people that knit to make a difference. It is great to remember that there is so many great people in the world. It has inspired me to try to make a difference too. Thanks

  2. Moondancer5

    Ok, that NY Times story was pathetic! Staggeringly cluesless. But nice to see cables in fashion. They usually are…

  3. Seanna Lea

    I didn’t even try to read the NYT story, but I have a strange desire to give myself the biggest arms and shoulders ever with that Burberry top (only make it myself so it has a chance of staying within budget).

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