Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Monday, February 1, 2016

Bending wool

 When sailors of old talked about tying a knot they called it bending line. They didn't say it was rope, it was line. With hours to spend just passing the time they developed the art of bending line to an art form. Decorative knots are quite intricate and fascinating to look at. Well, I was in the Navy but was concerned with the propulsion system. It wasn't sail and so the use of line wasn't my vocation. Steam power was my specialty. The " deck hands " were concerned with the mooring of the ship and handling those lines. Many learned the decorative knotting as a hobby. Even in the Navy it was a dying art form. A throw back to the past.
 Where I grew up on Long Island fishing was a staple of commerce. Commercial fisherman worked the bays and ocean. They used a lot of lines in their occupation. They had no time to learn decorative knots however, as this tying of knots was serious business. Knowing how to properly fasten the lines is of vital importance. There were those that specialized in the making of nets and " bags " out of twine. They could bend that twine into squares or whatever shape they desired. Nets of all sizes could be fabricated in an almost magical fashion. My neighbor was skilled in that and I watched him create a few. He started by stretching two pieces of twine from tree to tree. Then using a device he called a net needle he began. One end was square and that end was the width of the opening he wished to make in the net. I know he used that end as a measuring device. Exactly how to accomplished the task of managing all that twine I do not know. Sadly, like most kids I was too concerned with my own affairs to learn anything about that. Seems like when I came back home that net was complete. like a spider weaving a web, it just appeared.
 I was thinking about all of this as I watched my wife " bend wool " to make a potholder. Most folks call that crocheting. She uses a hook to manipulate that wool or thread into intricate " bends " to create the object. They are not knots in the traditional sense as if you pull the end the whole thing will just straighten back out. It strikes me as a bit of a mystery. When the object is finished and " tied " off it remains together and can be handled. It will not just come apart. This crocheting is becoming a lost art. It's cousin, knitting, enjoys a bit more popularity. I can only speculate why. Crochet involves the use of thread and knitting does not. Both can employ wool however. Many people can do both. My wife does not knit she crochets exclusively. I'm sure I will be corrected if I am wrong but knitting remains on the needle until complete and crocheted items fall from the needle as they are created. In knitting the object is passed from needle to needle is probably a more correct description.
 I have no great desire to learn the art of bending line or wool. It is a fascination for me but one to be admired. I haven't the patience required to learn either art form. I can't help but think about those that initially devised these methods. Necessity is surely the Mother of invention and somebody needed a warm sweater. So, somebody figured out how to " knit " wool together to accomplish that. Of course first they had to figure out how to make the wool into a long strand ! I expect it began with vines. However it started someone had to figure it out. Perhaps it is just a bias on my part but I find the intricacies of crocheted items far more interesting. Delicate items can be created with crochet thread and I do not believe you can knit thread. Again, I'll be corrected if wrong.
 My wife learned from her grandmother. She has a few items that her grandmother made as well. We didn't have girls and neither son was interested. I am hopeful that our granddaughter will take an interest. It isn't something you can just say I want you to learn. You have to have the desire to practice that. Practice and patience. My great great grandfather James Terry was a male nurse as well as the town weaver. The tale is he used to knit socks as he sat by the bedside of his patients. That he had a bag full of knitting I know to be a fact. It looked like a doctors bag. My great grandfather showed it to me when I was kid. I have no idea whatever happened to that bag. When great great grandfather Terry wasn't nursing he wove rugs on a loom. I have a model of the loom he used.
 People have been bending wool, yarn and string for centuries. Now it is mostly done by machines. I'm certain a few will continue to pass down the tradition and art form of bending. Maybe I'm a bit old fashioned. Maybe it is just a bit of nostalgia. Maybe it is the chauvinist coming out in me. Whatever it is I find it a comfort to watch my wife bending that wool or thread into objects to be admired and used. I married a " hooker " and I'm proud of it ! It is a proud tradition in the family. Why my own Mom can knit and crochet, as did all her sisters. I hope the granddaughter will continue the tradition of " bending " forward. Knitting is the ford, it'll get you there, but crocheting is the Cadillac ! That's my opinion anyway.