Sunday, March 05, 2006

More Local Knitting History

I've been reading another interesting book: A West Virginia Mountaineer Remembers by Homer F. Riggleman. 1980. McClain Printing Company, Parsons, WV. 140 pp.

Homer Riggleman was born about 1890 in a log cabin on Point Mountain, in Randolph County, WV. Starting in the early 1970's, Mr. Riggleman dictated these reminiscences, and they were later transcribed and edited by Leslie Ware and Leonard Riggleman (Homer's younger brother). There are hunting stories, observations on how things were done in his childhood days, and descriptions of the various ways he made a living. The stories are vivid and detailed. If you can find the book, it's well worth reading.

Here is an entry for my "Knitting History" category, from pages 18 and 19. It demonstrates the quality of detail he brings to all his stories. This book is a little gem.

Mother knitted all the socks worn in our family. First, sheared sheep's wool was washed and all burrs and foreign objects picked from it. Then it was carded into fluffy rolls using steel brushes similar to curry combs used to brush horses. These fluffy rolls of wool were spun into yarn on the old spinning wheel, and the yarn wound up on a spool. Later mother knitted the yarn into socks using four long darning needles. All this took many hours; my sisters were helping mother make yarn and knit by they time they were thirteen or fourteen years old.

Usually the finished socks were dyed either red or brown. To make red dye, we boys gathered sumac berries, sumac bushes kept their berries all winter. The berries were boiled in a kettle of water until the water turned red, and then the socks were put in the kettle and boiled about ten minutes. The socks were then hung up to dry. They were now a beautiful brilliant red. To make brown dye, we used the bark of a walnut tree; otherwise, the dyeing process was the same.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Homer Riggleman was my great grandfather, I was 3 years old when he passed away, I do have all of his belongings left to me by my grandfather. I have heard many stories passed down to me from my family, he was a very good but strict man. Melissa Riggleman Kisner