Today I’ll share some reflections on this project from a historical perspective as well as a practical one. If you have read my earlier musings about this endeavor, then you know that I casted on this mohair stole with the intention to enter into the mindset of a knitting themed historical research project. I kept my idea vague because I knew it would change as I read and experimented more. A few weeks ago, my idea shifted from one that highlighted knitting kits and consumer culture to something a little different. I’m still working on it, but I’m excited to take this new direction for the spring.
My new approach was partly inspired by my discovery of a collection of recent articles that dissect the practice of knitting in the twentieth century. They were enlightening to read, and encouraged me to consider moving my time frame from the 1950s and 1960s to the 1920s and 1930s. Instead of asking about consumer culture, I’m beginning to frame questions about labor inside and outside of the home. I imagine I will still address questions related to marketing and advertising, but they will likely be sub-themes in the larger project.
From a practical point of view, this project is supposedly nearing completion. As the saying goes, “trust the pattern,” though I’m a little skeptical that this much fabric is supposed to be a stole for an adult! I still have four skeins that haven’t been used yet, so I’m wondering if I should work until they are gone or if I should bind off when I finish the written repeats and have faith that it will block to the appropriate size. Any knitters have advice? There is irony that I attempted a relatively easy project to understand how women may have handled it in the past, and I may have managed to make a mistake.
The stole is becoming rather heavy, so it is becoming challenging to keep up my usual knitting speed with this one. In terms of the yarn itself, it is really dreamy to knit. I’ve worked with mohair before and found that it tangled easily; this blend of mohair, nylon, and wool makes for a smoother process, in my opinion.
On a final note, I’m thinking about the aesthetic design of this stole and what it might tell us about culture in the mid-twentieth century. The variation in the surface pattern may have been utilized by designers to encourage women to play with their knitting skills or to boost their confidence that they too could knit glamorous items (and then, perhaps, return to the store to purchase more kits). At the same time, I wonder how much thought designers gave to making the handmade stole look fancy. To look high class, to look elegant. To smooth over the fact that it wasn’t purchased at a department store like Wanamaker’s, but made at home. These ideas are merely speculation and I don’t have actual answers yet, but I hope to find out more as I move forward with this concept.
Until next time,