Friday, January 4, 2013

Old Books and Warm Hands

My first pattern of 2013 has been ready for awhile and was just waiting for a name. Being January, it's now very cold outside and perfect weather for a set of armwarmers: Whisper Down the Lane. They're very quick to knit in worsted weight yarn with beaded edging. The yarn is Ella Rae Bamboo Silk in colorway "Sugar," and though the size medium calls for 2 skeins, that's just to be safe - I was able to complete them with just 1 skein.

Sometimes patterns name themselves. This one didn't; it's taken nearly 2 months to come up with one that fit. So where did the name finally come from? It’s my description of a story in Creative Chemistry, a 1919 textbook by Edwin E. Slosson. Its full name is The Century Books of Useful Science - Creative Chemistry, Descriptive of Recent Achievements in the Chemical Industries, by Edwin E. Slosson, M.S., Ph.D. Though the research is nearly 100 years old, the explanations are easy to understand, and they're just plain fun. If you never thought you’d be entertained by a textbook, you should definitely check this one out; it’s available free from Project Gutenberg. I LOL'd out loud - a lot. In the beginning of chapter 11, “Solidified Sunshine,” we find this gem:

Just as mankind is now divided into the two great classes, the wheat-eaters and the rice-eaters, so the ancient world was divided into the wool-wearers and the cotton-wearers. The people of India wore cotton; the Europeans wore wool. When the Greeks under Alexander fought their way to the Far East they were surprised to find wool growing on trees. Later travelers returning from Cathay told of the same marvel and travelers who stayed at home and wrote about what they had not seen, like Sir John Maundeville, misunderstood these reports and elaborated a legend of a tree that bore live lambs as fruit. Here, for instance, is how a French poetical botanist, Delacroix, described it in 1791, as translated from his Latin verse:

Upon a stalk is fixed a living brute,
A rooted plant bears quadruped for fruit;
It has a fleece, nor does it want for eyes,
And from its brows two wooly horns arise.
The rude and simple country people say
It is an animal that sleeps by day
And wakes at night, though rooted to the ground,
To feed on grass within its reach around.

Doctor Slosson certainly had a way with words. I laughed so hard picturing those trees full of sheep! Happily for us, though, sheep don’t have to grow on trees for a knitter to keep herself warm. When the weather turns cold, stay toasty with these feminine lace armwarmers. Columns of easy lace travel up the arm, while increases are incorporated into a leaf accent. Optional beads add extra shine at the wrist. Soft worsted-weight yarn makes the armwarmers both luxurious and quick to knit.

Whisper Down the Lane Armwarmers - $5.95 RavelryPatternfish