Walter Scott & the Shetland Islands

December 26, 2017 at 11:46 am (jane austen, places, travel) (, , , )

Over the holiday weekend I got an email from a friend who plans a future trip to the Shetland Islands! Oooohh…..

Islands have a lure for me – though I cannot say I have EVER visited any I’ve pointed to on a map. The Isles of Scilly remain merely read about. The Channel Islands, because they are on U.K. time, proved impossible to visit as a day trip from Paris, thanks to the ferry schedule. In Scotland, I did get to the Highlands, but never to any of the Islands.

In the back of my brain, however, I dug up the memory of once having ordered yarn (yes, I used to knit) from the tippy-top of Shetland – from Unst, if I recall correctly. I still have the sweater – a thin wool “jumper,” dark green, made to go with a Macdonald tartan skirt.

Oh, the memories! I’m looking at the Jamieson & Smith website. I remember when I used to look at books on historical knitting – and thought about building myself a JUMPER BOARD. If you’re a knitter, and don’t know what that is, click the link. The cost is 85 pounds (though not sure about the shipping…). GROAN: “currently unavailable.” (Ditto for the glove boards.)

IMAGINE: Mail order, in the days before the internet! I can’t be a 100% sure of the company or which island my goods came from, but I’m in the right neighborhood. I bet somewhere around the house is the original packing slip. I remember some fabric, from Scotland, and even Wales, too.

Those were GOOD days. I used to be so enthusiastic about sewing; and I actually designed my own knitwear. Not my own design, but one of my handiwork is this pair of socks:

stocking_clock

The photo was meant to show the “clock” that’s worked around the ankle, although this pattern is Austrian, and features a cable from ankle to knee.

So I’ve had an interest in Shetland patterns, and historical knits in general (I have a tidy little library of books on that subject). AND now I’ve a Highland Lady of my own – Margaret Douglas Maclean Clephane – whom I have been writing about. Margaret married Emma Smith’s (Emma Austen Leigh’s) cousin, Lord Compton. On the death of his father (May 1828), she became the 2nd Marchioness of Northampton.

But Margaret was a Highland Bluestocking.

Torloisk, the Isle of Mull home she shared with her mother and two sisters, is an area I’ve recently looked at on google maps. So it wasn’t hard to look up the likes of Staffa, which Lord Compton visited in 1813 – and I’m beginning to think the Clephane ladies showed him around this island known for its basalt columns.

And not far off from there (on a map): the Shetlands – and that is how I discovered the footprints of Sir Walter Scott!

Margaret Clephane knew Walter Scott (he was her godfather, and her guardian) – and due to her intended marriage to Lord Compton (in 1815) he dropped by the Smith residence at No. 6 Portland Place and chatted an hour with Emma and Fanny Smith! (Mamma was not at home…)

Compton_Margaret and Marianne_Harriet Cheney

Margaret & Marianne (her eldest daughter)

Walter Scott is behind the naming of JARLSHOF, a name he invented for his novel The Pirate (1822). At the southern tip of the Sheltland Islands, Jarlshof is an important archeological site.

Ian Mitchell has written about Scott’s adventures in the Shetlands; Scott visited these northern islands in 1814 – the year he published WAVERLEY, the novel Jane Austen was loath to like, though she “feared she must” like it. [aside: read David Groves, “Jane Austen in Scotland” in JASNA’s 1985 journal Persuasions.] Until that publication, Scott was known for his poetry – and Jane Austen, with three novels to her credit, teased her niece that Scott should have left the crowded field of novel-writing alone! Indeed, his works became fiercely beloved in his lifetime. Published anonymously, it’s rather surprising that Austen had already heard who the author of Waverley was; even Margaret Clephane was only guessing when she wrote to Scott about Waverley – teasing about how much she could have helped the “unknown” author with all things Scots Gaelic (a language Margaret spoke as well as English). She is the reason for a LOT of the Highland scholarship behind Scott’s historical novels. It’s all there, in her letters to him (his replies to her, of course, make up letters in the published Scott Correspondence).

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Knitting with Jane

November 24, 2015 at 9:39 pm (entertainment, history, jane austen, travel) (, , )

ravelry

I recently joined this online knitting & crocheting committee: RAVELRY. I was surprised, though I shouldn’t have been, that some of the “groups” are JANE AUSTEN fans!

Among the groups:

  • Jane Austen’s Girls Swap, which includes “chats about her books”
  • Jane Austen Knits, based on the Interweave knitting publication
  • Jane Austen Book Club
  • Sense & Sensibility, the film and book
  • For the Love of Darcy

Indulging myself, I also joined groups who love opera and historical knitting patterns (like the Aran sweater) and those living in my geographic area.

If you dip your toes in, stop by – my username is JaneiteKelly (though, at present, my profile &c are under construction).

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Knit Your Own Royal Wedding

July 6, 2011 at 6:21 pm (books, british royalty) (, , , , )

Gotta Love It!

In honor of the Royal Couple’s North American Tour, I post the book that elicited so many chuckles when I spotted it:

William and Harry are somehow dead ringers. And I just LOVE the Corgis!

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Scrolled Stockings? Not in Jane Austen’s Drawers

March 4, 2011 at 4:51 am (books, fashion) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Early in  My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park (sent a review copy, I’m closing in on page 50), the author makes mention of “scrolled” socks worn by a costumed-character she terms “The Janeite”. Few might know what is being discussed at this point, but students of 18th and 19th century costume, or knitters (like me) who have worked socks, especially the lovely Bavarian and Austrian patterns, know well what the author alludes to. The correct term Cindy Jones was looking for is “CLOCK“.

Here’s the quote: She “raise[d] her skirt, revealing a scrolling design just above the ankle that would have been a tattoo except it was woven into the thick white stocking that covered her legs like something surgery patients wear.”

As a stocking tapers to the ankle, the only way to accomplish this is through decreasing — “clocks” evolved to be decorative and also functional at this narrowing point.

A nice knitting primer for stockings can be found here: http://www.marariley.net/knitting/stocking.htm

I have a pair of handknitted stockings I made years ago from an Austrian pattern:

It’s amazingly difficult to photograph one’s own leg!

The cables go down the entire stocking in this example, but you can see the small two-stitch cable that terminates beneath the elaborate cable just below the ankle bone. This is the area of Jones’ “scrolling”.

The Germans and Austrians — with their Dirndls and Lederhosen — have some wonderful stockings, highly patterned from top to bottom. Mine are simple in comparison to some I could display here. The yarns tend nowadays to be of heavier wool (mine are all worsted weight wools), which of course would not have the been the case for Jane Austen — or my Mary and Emma. Their stockings would have been fine-gauge. I did once make a Guernsey sweater on size 0 or 1 needles, so I know well how long it would take to knit something simple, like a pair of stockings in a fine wool.

* * *

  • Author Lesley-Anne McLeod has a lengthy, interesting, and link-filled Blogspot on this very topic.
  • The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia has a black silk pair (harder to view, therefore) that were never worn!
  • Heritage Studio actually has a pair, from the 19th century, for sale! In this case, the clocks are embroidered on after the stocking was made. Take a look at the fascinating up-close photo.

NB: if anyone out there is interested in some knitting pointers, just ask. Stockings are easier to knit than you think.

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