Friday, August 30, 2013

Jane Addams, Labor Day . . . and Knitting!

Is knitting a part of Labor Day?  It is, in a round-about way . . . .

Jane Addams
Jane Addams was one of the most influential women of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  She grew up in Cedarville, Illinois (about an hour from our shop in Galena!), and made her mark as the founder of Hull-House in Chicago.  The Hull-House residents saw to the physical needs of their neighbors (food, clothing and shelter), but they also saw to their humanistic needs - music workshops, art galleries, libraries, theatrical productions, child care for working mothers, and playgrounds for children. 

Jane Addams' Hull-House years (1889 - 1935) were a time of booming industry in Chicago - and a very difficult time to be a factory worker.  Her Labor Museum at Hull-House was a tribute to the skills of workers.  She was also an early supporter of safe working environments and ending child labor, the ideals that prompted Congress to make Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894.

And through it all, Jane Addams was a knitter!   Many of her hand-knit items were given away to friends, and some of her knitted work is on display at the Cedarville Area Historical Society Museum.

Knitting Traditions Magazine
We don't have any record of what patterns Miss Addams used to knit.  It is likely that the pattens in Vintage Baby Knits, a collection of over 40 heirloom patterns from the 1920s to the 1950s, would have been familiar to her.  Or perhaps she would be charmed by the sweaters in Little Vintage KnitsI'm sure she saw plenty of shawls from around the world gracing the shoulders of her immigrant neighbors, like the 25 patterns in Folk Shawls, and perhaps she knit socks for her neighbors like the 24 patterns in Knitting Vintage Socks.  There is no doubt that she would recognize many of the patterns in the Knitting Traditions magazine.  The magazine is a favorite of mine - a terrific collection of knitting patterns with inspiring and informative companion stories that frame the projects in cultural and historical context.  

Nature Spun in Sienna
What yarn would Jane Addams have used?  She would have used natural fibers (no acrylic).  Perhaps she used the bright colors of Brown Sheep's Nature Spun 100% wool yarn and Mountain Colors Yarn's 4/8 Wool 100% wool yarn, or the subdued natural palette of Suzy the Shepherdess' 100% wool yarn.  She may have used linen similar to Claudia's Linen or  Claudia's Linen Lace 100% linen yarn, or a 100% cotton yarn like Claudia's Cotton Ball, Tahki Yarn's Cotton Classic or Tahki Yarn's Cotton Classic Lite.

So in honor of Jane Addams, knit your way through the Labor Day weekend!

Happy Labor Day . . . . and Happy Knitting!      Amy

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