Sunday, 23 September 2012

Knitting – the Very Beginning

Feature Festival Event:

Knitting – the Very Beginning
                           with instructor, Carol Oram
(and a bit of history on famous knitter,
                           Eleanor Roosevelt)

                                By: Joan Beswick

I just came back from visiting Campobello Island, New Brunswick, as well as parts of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.  Now since this is not a travelogue, but rather the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts blog, I’ll not ramble on about the wondrous scenery and fall foliage. However, being away last week prevented me from interviewing a fibre artist and posting that information on this blog. But all is not lost ... because fibre artists, past and present, are always with us.  And in a visit to the Roosevelt Cottage on Campobello, I discovered that Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of U.S. president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was not only a teacher, writer, and human rights activist, but also an inveterate knitter. As you can see above, her love of knitting is commemorated in her statue at the FDR Presidential Library in Hyde Park.
Eleanor knit on the beach ...

on planes ....

and at the United Nations where she was actively involved in drafting the universal declaration of human rights.  In fact, Eleanor’s knitting needles were so ubiquitous that Douglas Chandler’s 1949 oil painting is a composite of portraits showing her with pen in hand, glasses in hand, head in hand, and knitting needles in hand.

My visit to Campobello included ‘tea with Eleanor’, a twice daily event wherein park staff serve tea and cookies, and acquaint visitors with the life of Eleanor Roosevelt, a multifaceted life in which she played many roles - parent, writer, teacher, political spouse, and human rights activist. Nevertheless, despite the many demands on her time and a hectic travel schedule, Eleanor continued to knit.

Now, fibre artists who read this will know why Eleanor knit ... knitting is productive, relaxing, creative  ... it keeps your hands busy and out of the munchies while watching TV ... it allows you to make beautiful things. Why, oh why, then, have some of us never learned to knit? Oh, we have excuses ... too busy, too clumsy, no talent, no teacher ... but these excuses really don’t hold water. My friend, Carol Oram, is a consummate craftsperson, but her first love is knitting. She assures me it requires no talent and is easy to learn .... even those of us who are ‘all thumbs’ (she means me) can do it.

To the rescue comes the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival committee – it has come to their attention that there are ‘wannabees’ out there - non-knitters - people like me who for some reason or other, just never learned.  So the festival committee has convinced Carol, a retired educator and versatile fibre artist, to offer a very basic introductory course entitled ‘Knitting - the Very Beginning’. This will be a friendly affair lasting approximately 90 minutes. It will take place at Deanne Fitzpatrick’s Studio, 33 Church St., Amherst, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, October 12. The cost is $30, and all materials will be provided.  To request more information or to register, call Carol Oram at 902-667-2656.

Carol will teach us how to ‘cast on’, do the ‘knit’ stitch, and ‘cast off’.  Those are the basic skills required to go from ‘non-knitter’ to ‘knitter’, and after that, as they say, 'the sky is the limit'. Who ever knew that 90 minutes could witness such a transformation?  Eleanor would be so pleased.

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