I love when two worlds collide.
So when I had the chance to organize a Jane Austen Knit Day with the good folks at Black Sheep Yarn Shop I jumped at it.
What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday Afternoon!
In preparation for the day I did a little research into who would be knitting during the regency period. Which of Austen’s heroine’s would pick up a set of needles I wondered.
Lizzie, we know, picked up a little needle work while stuck in the drawing-room at Neitherfield Park. Could she have been knitting? I can see her whipping up a scarf or stockings much more readily than I can see Caroline or Mrs. Hurst doing so.
Ladies who enjoyed a certain income would pay for their knit wear, so if Emma ever picked up a pair of needles it was for her enjoyment, or for charity. She never had to learn a Kitchener stitch or how to turn a heal. THAT is something I think Harriet could have taught HER.
Fanny Price on the other hand probably had a little knitting basket to keep her hands busy — when she wasn’t running errands for Aunt Norris or Aunt Bertram that is.
Elinor and Marianne might not have needed to knit at the beginning of Sense and Sensibility but you can bet their disposable income for knitwear was slashed (along with everything else) once they moved to Barton Cottage.
Catherine Moreland’s first knitting project might have been nappies for her flock of younger brothers and sisters .
I suspect that Sir Walter would frown upon something as useful as knitting and would discourage his daughters from taking it up, but there are plenty of characters (Mrs. Smith comes to mind) in Persuasion who are sure to have knitted and purled their way through a garment or two.
The poor, both men and women, would have kept their fingers flying to keep the rich ladies in Austen’s world warm and fashionable. At the time of her death a poor family could make between 12 and 20 pounds annually just by knitting.
Today knitters can relive the Regency period through patterns found in such publications as Jane Austen Knits.
You can even make yourself a pair of mittens emblazoned with Jane’s silhouette.