Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gird Your Loins

Prepare to Rubberneck, my friends ...

May 31, 2010
Wide-eyed Forum User: I am making a crocheted petticoat out of fingering alpaca/wool blend by looking at a period image and description of a petticoat and working up my own. [actual quotations will be indicated by ""; otherwise I will be paraphrasing]

Perfectly Lovely Woman: I admire your skill, but "I thought that the focus of this group was using actual patterns and fiber that can be documented as having been used during the Civil War Era."

WFU [probably missing the dig]: "Thanks so much hon! You made my evening!"

June 1, 2010
Doyenne #1: "You are right, [PLW]..that is our purpose on this list, and we need to be aware of that. Back to documented patterns and methods, folks! :-)"

Our Heroine [who has been sitting on clear evidence of exactly this "documented method" since mid-May, and who has been biting her tongue on whether or not fingering-weight wool is the "only" choice for said petti, and who has also decided against bringing up the "issue" of an alpaca/wool blend]: Wow what a great skill to have, WFU! Here is some documentation of your skill:
  • Crochet Explained and Illustrated, by Cornelia Mee (1846): By cutting a paper pattern the shape of the article required, almost any thing may be made, by increasing or diminishing the number of stitches, as may be required. Crochet can also be used with great advantage for travelling caps, carriage bags, table covers, purses, slippers, ottomans, chairs, loose coverings of chairs, shawls, waistcoats, hearthrugs, flower mats, &c. &c., (pgs v-vi).
CWNeedleworks Forum: [silence. OH's post does not appear].

OH [aside]: How odd! Perhaps I hit cancel and not send. I will try again.

OH: Wow what a great skill to have, WFU! Here is some documentation of your skill:
  • Crochet Explained and Illustrated, by Cornelia Mee (1846): By cutting a paper pattern the shape of the article required, almost any thing may be made, by increasing or diminishing the number of stitches, as may be required. Crochet can also be used with great advantage for travelling caps, carriage bags, table covers, purses, slippers, ottomans, chairs, loose coverings of chairs, shawls, waistcoats, hearthrugs, flower mats, &c. &c., (pgs v-vi).

Doyenne #2 [via email, not on the forum]: "Do you have any other supporting documentation for making crochet patterns by cutting paper patterns? I have checked with several other knitters and crocheters and none of us have seen anything like this. [emphasis added] Before suggesting folks do it (and I'm not saying that they didn't), it would help to have evidence that they did!"

OH [extremely puzzled at the call for documentation of documentation]: Do you mean you want documentation for my 1846 documentation? Here's a link to the actual book. Are my posts being moderated?

D2: "Everyone is on moderated status for our group."

OH: Why?

D2: because of spam. We don't often have other issues.

OH [aside]: Hmmmm. I wonder if I'm an "other issue." [aloud and trying to remain neutral]: "What a burden for you."

D2: Not really.

June 2, 2010
CWNF: [silence. OH's posts still do not appear.].

OH [trying on the forum again]: My earlier posts may have been lost in moderation. Here is some additional documentation WFU of your method:
  • My Crochet Sampler by Frances Lambert (1844) : Crochet has been applied, with considerable success, to the production of numerous useful and decorative articles, such as shawls, table covers, couvre-pieds, pillows, ottomans, chairs, rugs, slippers, bags, cabats, purses, caps, waistcoats, and the like. (pg 10)
    Waistcoats, shawls, knee-caps, sleeves, comforters, mittens, gloves, etc. may be made, without difficulty in crochet. It has not, however, been deemed necessary in the following pages to give directions for any of these simple articles, as, when the crochet stitch is acquired, the modes of working such, and a variety of others, in daily use, will readily present themselves. A paper pattern, the size of any desired object, can easily be cut,- and the making a stitch at the commencement, or the decreasing in the middle, or the end of a row, and vice versa, render this work subservient to almost any form. (pg 11)
  • Knitting, crochet, and netting By El√©onore Riego de la Branchardi√®re (1846): Crochet shoes. Berlin wool, pattern No. 6. The shoes must be worked from a paper pattern the size required. (pg 81)
  • My crochet sampler by Frances Lambert (1844): It is advisable before commencing a [crochet] slipper, to cut a paper pattern of the desired size and shape. (pg 87)

CWNF: [silence. OH's posts still do not appear.]

OH [aside, trying to be patient and not knowing how long the allegedly "anti-spam moderation process" takes]: We'll see if it makes it through. I don't mind open disagreement on the forum, but stifling evidence I'm not okay with.

June 3, 2010
CWNF: [OH's posts still have not appeared. Topics move on to other things. WFU, having been shot down, also stops sharing her knowledge.]

June 4, 2010
CWNF
: [OH's posts still have not appeared.]

June 5, 2010
CWNF
: [OH's posts still have not appeared.]

June 6, 2010
CWNF
: [OH's posts still have not appeared.]

June 7, 2010
CWNF
: [OH's posts still have not appeared.]

June 8, 2010
CWNF
: [OH's posts still have not appeared.]

June 9, 2010
CWNF
: [OH's posts still have not appeared.]

June 10, 2010
CWNF
: [OH's posts still have not appeared.]

##and curtain##

Are you fucking kidding me?

Credible scholars do not suppress primary source evidence. They're free to disagree with it or question the implications, but not to suppress it.

Being able to make a crocheted pattern by looking at an image is a valuable skill and certainly one that some nineteenth-century needleworkers were clearly capable of doing. It's not a skill I have, so there's no room to complain that I just want "permission" to do something I would do anyway.

The ripple pattern, employed by WFU, is a documented pattern to the time period both in patterns for petticoats and in stand-alone stitchionaries.

How is this any different from draping, a skill we ooh and ahh over for seamstresses? How is this any different than looking at the crocheted camp tam in Echoes of Glory and reproducing it?

I call bullshit.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, if I approached my scholarship that way, I'd be censured. Primary source evidence is the only & the final arbiter of all assertions about history. Period. It's the interpretation that differs & can cause historiographic debates (sometimes quite heated, at that) but scholars who are caught deliberately suppressing evidence are treated as harshly as those who plagiarize or falsify.

BTW, crochet is peculiarly suited to the paper pattern approach. I have lots of examples from the French journal La Mode Illustree (sorry, I can't quite manage italics) that include instructions for working to a paper pattern.
(1862 pattern for a air of slippers, e.g.) I have others but don't want to burden the blog with a long post.

Silvana

Rachel said...

I didn't finish reading this post. I got to "several other knitters and crocheters and none of us have seen anything like this" and had to come right down here to comment.

Look, I may not be a civil war buff and but I have been using paper crochet and knitting patterns since I was 12 damn years old. Those mittens we worked on earlier this year? Paper pattern.

I'm all for primary source material and I understand the desire for a particular method to be documented, but...WHAT? SERIOUSLY? Not only did you supply primary documentation, she rates the "several other knitters and crocheters" as being somehow MORE valid than oh, say, one of the most well known and oft-cited crochet and knitting sources of the era?

And what of imagination? Can you conceive of a paper pattern? Well then, so can someone during the Civil War era and OH LOOK, Our Heroine has helpfully provided documentation.

Grrr! Let me at 'em, LET ME AT 'EM!

Anna Allen said...

wow. what a load of crap. i've also read about paper patterns used in knitting/crochet. actually i think i read about it when i was making my knitted spenser jacket . if i remember correctly, they suggested making a paper pattern and then knitting the pieces to the shape of the paper pattern. they also had directions to make one, but i think they mentioned that making a paper pattern would be better. i'd have to go back and look to see for sure. i guess i don't feel so bad now for not keeping up with the lists.

Micaila said...

As a fellow reenactor may I request that you post this information on some of the forums, such as the Sewing Academy and the Authentic Campaigner? This information would be invaluable to members of both groups and it is unfortunate that people do not have access to it. Thank you so much for taking the time to pursue this topic.

Bridgett said...

Ok, that's absolutely retarded. My grandmother has been making crocheted slippers every year for christmas by having folks stand on a piece of paper and tracing their feet. She learned it from her grandmother, who was born in 1877. Something tells me she didn't invent the method.