Friday, 25 September 2009

Pillion and Purlin'

I realise that my last post about knitting machines has interested people in this somewhat esoteric craft. Be warned, knitting machines have a mind of their own - my photos do not show the evil tension wires which come out at the back and hover over your head as you work. One time I stood up too fast and got my hair and clothing completely entangled. You remember Steve McQueen coming off his motorbike in "The Great Escape" into a barbed wire fence?

Fortunately I had a loving husband on hand to rescue me, not some nasty Nazis! [Although I believe I may have been threatened with isolation in The Cooler if I didn't act more circumspectly in future!]

I love knitting, and I love riding pillion - but I do not attempt to combine the two activities at once. It is said that Elizabeth Zimmerman [the British born woman who is credited with reviving the art of hand-knitting in the USA] used to hand-knit whilst riding behind her husband! I think that is dangerous - anyone who rides a motorbike without protection on their hands is utterly stupid, and you cannot hold needles properly in biking gloves [yes, I have tried!]And surely you risk stabbing the driver if he brakes suddenly!

zimmerman She was the first knitter to be honoured with a full obituary and article [in 1999] in the New York Times titled "E. Zimmermann Is Dead at 89; Revolutionized Art of Knitting."

Her motto was

 "Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises."

She also said, in her book "Knitting without Tears"

 "Really, all you need to become a good knitter are wool, needles, hands, and slightly below-average intelligence. Of course superior intelligence, such as yours and mine, is an advantage."

I am not sure about that one - my knitting often reduces me to tears, and I feel like Pooh, the Bear Of Very Little Brain - I am definitely a better needlewoman than knitter. [btw It is important, in print, always to refer to oneself as a needlewoman, and not as a sewer. People may misread it, and think you are a member of the Effluent Society!]


  1. 'slightly below average intelligence'! I'm sure that isnt politically correct nowadays!

  2. Loved the whole post, but particularly delighted at the word 'needlewoman', which I shall remember for future posts. 'Sew-er' was the least underground word I could think of before! My son sews. Is he a 'needleperson', do you think?

  3. Male terms for sewing people- well there is 'sartor' and 'tailor'- but they both imply making clothes. Apparently you can also have 'seamster' [m version of seamstress]
    Does your son embroider? If so he is in good biblical company with Bezalel and Oholiab [God filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers and weavers] see exodus 35!

  4. I've read a lot about Elizabeth Zimmerman. You can still go to Schoolhouse Press and buy wool and books. She was amazing!

  5. You would be supprised what people here do while riding pillion. For starters there is carrying a baby while riding side sadle to avoid messing up your sari. You can hold an umberella over the person in front to stop them getting wet, carry one end of a 20 foot metal pole while another motorbike looks after the other end. The list goes on... Of course motorbike gloves are not standard here - you would be lucky if the passenger was wearing a helmet (it is only law for the driver to wear one!?!).

    Needless to say I am not recomending these activites, just things I have seen while walking through Ooty town.


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