A couple of people now have asked if I have a knitting blog, and up until recently, I’ve resisted the urge. But I became so excited by some of the things I’ve seen in my travels around the knitting ‘verse, that I thought, “Yeah, there’s room for one more.”
What I got really excited about most recently is the number of free Hungarian embroidery patterns on Pinterest. Yes. Pinterest. And you may be saying to yourself, but embroidery and knitting are different. And you would be right. Except that I am a stranded colorwork knitter. When we talk about stranded colorwork, what we mean is that we are knitting with two or more strands of yarn per row. The color that is not shown is “carried” on the back, out of sight, until it’s needed. Colorwork can carry as many strands as the design calls for.
The picture below is an example of what I love to do. Now, this happens to be Fair Isle. Fair Isle is a type of stranded color work. It has some specific characteristics, most notably, that you knit or carry no more than two strands of yarn per row. With some really intricate Fair Isle, you have to look carefully to see this because the colors blend together as you move away from it. Fair Isle has some specific cultural patterning stemming from, you guessed it, The Fair Isle, the most northernist-ish inhabited island somewhere close to the Orkneys and the Shetland Islands (can you tell I’ve never been?), but I think this is less important than the fact that you carry two strands of yarn.
Anybody who has seriously messed around with this art has at one point or another gotten into a heated debate about whether or not a specific pattern is Danish, or Nordish, or Fair Isleish. Does it really matter? I suppose it does. But if you look at the trajectory of the Slavic peoples after the incursion of the Romans but before the Germanic take over of the Papal State, you will appreciate that there is a lot of crossover. Or under. Or whatever. Isn’t it interesting when you realize that history happened to people? And this history shows up in their art? Especially when it shows up in their art which also happens to keep their tushies warm.
So, perhaps you can work out why it is that Hungarian embroidery patterns are so exciting to a Fair Isle-ist? Looking at the patterns, some of them quite old, you can see designs that look like they are straight out of Denmark. (Denmark seems to choose a red and white color scheme for carrying two colors at once. Norwegians seem to prefer blue and white. The Scottish and Icelanders choose to mix up the colors, using everything they can get off a sheep and then some, while only carrying two colors per row. My head hurts.)
So, any embroidery pattern (particularly one that is based on lines of work) can be translated, transmuted, or transubstantiated into a knitted element. Now, isn’t that cool?