Saturday, January 02, 2010

What Would Eleanor Roosevelt Knit?

What would Eleanor Roosevelt knit? Mittens, it turns out. Knitty, the online knitting magazine, features Mittens from Mrs Roosevelt, including an interview with Mary Ann Colopy, a seasonal park ranger at the Roosevelt/Vanderbilt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York. She describes some manuscript knitting patterns found among Mrs. Roosevelt's papers at her work site, and shares what she knows about Mrs. Roosevelt's knitting history.

Franklin Habit, Knitty regular, tested and rewrote the directions, which produce mittens just like the ones my mom and grandma used to knit. Neither fancy, time-consuming, nor expensive to produce, they are the sort of mittens you just use until they wear out.

Ms Colopy says of Mrs. Roosevelt:

Eleanor's knitting was something she did for herself, to feel active even when sitting. She would ask other knitters for patterns, and share patterns with other knitters. But outside of the world of women producing garments for their families, the patterns and artifacts were not appreciated. And this is still true in many ways for knitters. Knitting is a folk art, passed from hand to hand. Unlike many textiles -- such as lace, quilts, weaving, and samplers -- it has not received academic attention until very recently and has not been appreciated as a craft.

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