Images of Knitters – 1880

 No-one told Effie about the sock knit-along

No-one told Elsie about the sock knit-along



























This illustration from a story in The Girl’s Own Paper shows Elsie, a Highland lass.  Orphaned and caring for a sick brother she supplements their meagre earning from growing vegetables by selling her knitting.

Although she went quickly, still she knitted by the way – it had become such a habit  with her, as she went to and fro along the little path to the farm, that she did not feel right unless she had the needles in her hands, and her feet had learned the way without the help of her eyes, which lately had got more into the habit of resting on her work….”

Stories of rural Scottish women knitting as they went about other work are well known.  I have seen photographs of women on Shetland knitting as they carried peat, as Elsie in this story carries her pail of milk.  This story is set in the West Highlands,  I suspect to the 19th century tourists who started to visit rural Scotland (made more popular by Queen Victoria’s enthusiasm for the Highlands and the expansion of the railway) found the sight romantically picturesque. although in reality the life must have been grindingly harsh.

I’m not quite sure how Elsie’s ball of yarn is supported.  It seems to be suspended by something round her neck.  Something to investigate, but if anyone knows do tell me.


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