Stories In Stitches 6: Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose

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During the Civil War era, knitters were frugal and used what was on hand. Tobacco twine was used to make bedspreads, tents were unraveled and the string knit into socks, rugs were knit from cut-up shirts and dresses, and old fisherman’s sweater from Europe became arm winter wear for Americans on both side of the Mason-Dixon line.

SIS6-Spread1In this book, you’ll find projects and stories about sweaters, socks, bedspreads, and rugs that were made from recycled materials and recycled design ideas. America is a land of immigrants, and immigrants brought our knitting traditions to this continent. Until the nineteenth century, the vast majority of immigrants were from England, Scotland, and Wales. (In addition, millions of Africans, usually ignored when discussing immigration, were kidnapped and forcibly transported to the United States to be sold as slaves until the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in 1808.) In the nineteenth century, the ethnic mix of new immigrants began to change as people from Ireland, Italy, Germany, and Asia started flocking to our shores.

– Donna

 Stories in Stitches Book 6

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Immigrants In America
Donna Druchunas

The Lady in the Fisherman’s Sweater
Knitting a Military Tune 
The Fourth Artillery Regimental Brass Band
Dressed for Death Row
Traditional Gansey Pattern Construction

Hagar’s Gansey Kevin’s Gansey

Ruth’s Gansey Dottie’s Gansey

Slaveholding As It Was
Liberty Sontag
Civil War Socks for Modern Knitters
Victorian Ladies’ Stockings
Union Army Men’s Socks

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Tobacco Twine Crochet
Tear Up Your Old Scraps and Knit a Rug
Old Clothes Underfoot: The Round Knitted Rug

What’s Next
Abbreviations and Techniques
Bibliography and Credits

6 Projects for you to make.

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 12.21.17 PMSometimes I fail to do my best work. I’m not talking about having mistakes in published patterns or typos in articles and essays. I’m talking about not speaking out in my writing and hiding from the truth. This is how I failed in Stories In Stitches 5.

Although Stories In Stitches 5 was about speaking out, I censored myself in its pages. I wanted to call my story about Harriet Tubman “Black Lives Matter: From Harriet Tubman to Michael Brown.” I wanted to write about the Black Lives Matter movement and how this country is still suffering from the racism that plagued us 150 years ago before the Civil War and was around before, during, and after the Civil Rights Movement 50 years ago. I wanted to talk about how these problems are still facing us today. I wanted to lament the death of an 18-year-old African American boy at the hands of a white police officer who took the law into his own hands and decided to be judge, jury, and executioner. But I didn’t. When I looked on the Internet, I saw articles and comments saying, “Michael Brown was a thug.” Instead, I considered writing about Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney, killed by a white man in a mass shooting at the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina. But in my mind and heart, I knew that the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was no more or less tragic and despicable than the shooting of Reverend Pinckney. Regardless of whether Michael Brown was a bully—or even a criminal—he was also an unarmed teenager and undeserving of the death sentence. In the end, I didn’t have the courage to breach the topic, and I’m ashamed.

SIS6IntroGraphic2Now I find that I can’t put out another book in this series without saying what’s on my mind. As a society, we believe that we are living in a new era and a world that is much more modern and enlightened than the world in which Union and Confederate soldiers found themselves fighting, but I’m convinced that historians of the future will consider the twenty first century part of the same era as the nineteenth. We are still dealing with the results of colonialism and the industrial revolution: labor and class struggles, laissez-faire economics, and white supremacy.

As you read the stories that Ava and I are presenting in this series about knitting during the Civil War era, it is incredibly important to remember what a dark and distressing time is was for our nation.

Donna Druchunas (Stories in Stitches Book 6)