Wednesday, April 30, 2008

All paths lead to knitting

It is possible - no, easy - to get from silver mining in Saxony in the sixteenth century to Knitty, 21st Internet Knitting magazine.

1) Georgius Agricola was a sixteenth century doctor who lived and worked in the town of Chemnitz, in Saxony. He was extremely interested in mining - it was the main industry of the area. He studied the diseases of miners, the technology of mines and geology.

2) He synthesised all his knowledge into one great work, De re metallica, which was published the year after his death. Before any one tells you it was 'modern', well it wasn't that modern. It wasn't an alchemical work, but he still thought in Aristolean terms.

3) De re metallica was the main mining reference well into the eighteenth century. It was written in Latin.

4) A copy came into the possession of Lou Hoover, the wife of the future United States President. She had studied Latin and geology at Stanford, and after she discovered there was no English translation, she and her husband worked on the translation together.

5) After the translation was published, she became First Lady, which meant people were interested in her knitting. The letter she wrote describing how to knit a blanket was the source for the "Hoover blanket" published in an early issue of Knitty.

6) That Hoover Blanket was one of the first internet knitting patterns I really noticed, and it was one of the few things I connected with Lou Henry Hoover.

And that is the trail of links from sixteenth century Saxony to Knitty magazine.

3 comments:

kate said...

I love games like this :-)

Shan said...

Surprisingly few, really.

KGLO said...

tee hee. this is great! well done.

(and thank you for your comment!)