Monday, June 17, 2019

Summer Soltice

Sunshine - most people in northern countries crave sunshine, fresh air and if you can have both with a topping of water - WOW - you have summer at it's finest.

Ellis Bird Farm is celebrating Summer Soltice this Saturday, June 22! As I sit here writing this, the sparrows are singing, the bluebirds and robins are hunting the worms/bugs in the grass - and the noise the crows are making in the spruce trees!! And the Soltice is still 6 days away!

Quoting Wikipedia: "Sun worship was prevalent in ancient Egyptian religions. The earliest deities associated with the Sun are all goddesses: Wadjet, Sekhment, Hathor, Bast, Nut, Bat and Menhit. First Hathor. Then Isis gave birth to and nurse Horus and Ra. Hathor, the horned-cow, is one of the 12 daughters of Ra, was gifted with joy and is a wet-nurse to Horus."
A solar representation on an 
anthropomorphic stele dated from between the 
Copper Age and  the Early Bronze Age
discovered during  an archaeological excavation
 on the Rocher des Doms, 
Avignon, France
Taiyang Shen, the Chinese solar deity

Buddhists, Celts, the Aztec, Hindus, Indonesians, peoples of the Baltic regions - all worship a sun god.

In Chinese culture, the sun chariot is associated with the passage of time. For instance, in the poem Suffering from the Shortness of Days, Li He of the Tang dynasty is hostile and even deviant towards the legendary dragons which drew the sun chariot as a vehicle for the continuous progress of time. A relevant excerpt of the poem:

"I will cut off the dragon's feet, chew the dragon's flesh,
so that they can't turn back in the morning or lie down at night.
Left to themselves the old won't die; the young won't cry."[1]

Knitting is not nearly as old as sun-worship. The Egyptians are famous for their woven linens, many so fine you could see through them. Weaving is not an easily portable craft especially for larger items. Many of the beautifully woven pieces in South America are woven on a back-strap loom, which is looped around the waist of the weaver and hooked around the weavers toes, a pole or a doorway. 

Earlier pieces having a knitted or crocheted appearance have been shown to be made with other techniques, such as Nålebinding, a technique of making fabric by creating multiple loops with a single needle and thread, much like sewing. Some artifacts have a structure so similar to knitting, for example, 3rd-5th century CE Romano-Egyptian toe-socks, that it is thought the "Coptic stitch" of nalbinding is the forerunner to knitting.
Whereas knitting uses two needles to make loops within loops with string, nålbinding uses one needle to splice and knot string together – a process more akin to sewing. However, both knitting and nalbinding produce near-identical looking fabric. In a police lineup, you’d be hard-pressed to pick out knitting from nålbinding.
Nalbinded socks originally thought to be knitting. Can you tell the difference? Circa 250 – 420 AD (Victoria & Albert Museum)

Unlike weaving, knitting does not require a loom or other large equipment, making it a valuable technique for nomadic and non-agrarian peoples.
Some of the earliest known knit items in Europe were made by Muslim knitters employed by Spanish Christian royal families. Their high level of knitting skill can be seen in several items found in the tombs in the Abbey of Santa Maria la Real de Las Huelgas, a royal monastery, near Burgos, Spain. 
The oldest knit artifacts are socks from Egypt, dating from the 11th century CE. They are very fine gauge, with complex colour work and some have a short-row heel, which requires purling. These complexities suggest knitting is even older than archaeological record can prove. 
Most histories of knitting place its origin somewhere in the Middle East, from where it spread to Europe by Mediterranean traders and later to the Americas with European colonization. 

These cotton socks found in Egypt are some of the earliest knitted pieces. From L to R: Textile Museum, ca. 1000 – 1200 AD; Victorian & Albert Museum, ca. 1100 – 1300 AD; Textile Museum, ca. 1300 AD

Many knitters and crocheters believe summer is a time for smaller projects. Working on a bulky weight afghan is not practical to drag around, or have on your lap at the beach/park. Small projects like squares, hexagons or socks are very do-able. 

This week's very special 75% off sale is perfect for summer projects - you can buy the scarf as a pre-made gift or knit a shawl or a pair of socks directly out of the scarf. 

by Regia
100 g/366m
75% Wool
25% Manufactured Fibers - Nylon
Reg. $20.00

75% OFF

Written by Anne, who is also knitting socks 

[1] Bien, Gloria (2012). Baudelaire in China a Study in Literary Reception. Lanham: University of Delaware. p. 20. ISBN 9781611493900.

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