Saturday, December 29, 2012

Knitting in China

Sadly, I saw no yarn stores in China and so had no opportunity to acquire any souvenir yarn. However, I'm sure yarn stores must exist because, once I began looking, I saw women knitting - in public - most places we visited. Often these women were tending small shops and waiting for customers, but sometimes they had simply chosen to knit in some outdoor location.

Chinese woman knitting 1

I feel somewhat uncomfortable asking people if I might photograph them, so I missed many opportunities for recording what people were knitting, but I did eventually pluck up my courage and, of course, like all knitters, they were only too pleased to show me what they were doing. All the knitting I observed was done in the round, usually on four long metal double-pointed needles (dpns). Some knitters seemed to use a single, long flexible metal needle. I tried to find out what people were knitting (lots of gesture and mime needed) and mostly it was sweaters or, surprisingly, pants and, in one case, stockings. All were knitting with very fine wool and seemed very competent.

Chinese woman knitting 3Chinese woman knitting 2

I loved this stylish woman knitting in a park in Shanghai while her companion read his newspaper. The yarn seemed to be an extremely fine angora mix and she was knitting her sweater in one piece from the top down. Very impressive.

So much for other people's knitting. What of mine? There's not much to tell, unfortunately. As socks are such convenient travel knitting I began the Chouwa socks from Judy Sumner's Knitted Socks East and West just before I left. (You might assume from the title of the book that my pattern choice was most appropriate, but given that the 'East' in the title refers to Japan, and that Japan is not regarded with great affection in China, the choice was probably inappropriate). The socks took more than my four week trip to the Philippines and China to complete. Most of the knitting was done on planes and waiting in airports as I was usually too exhausted to knit in the evenings after a day's vigorous touristing, and the sights were too engaging for me to knit on buses or in other places.

So, some not-very-good pictures of my Chouwa socks:

Red socks

The yarn is Wollmeise Twin in the colour Rosenrot - the most vibrant red you could ever imagine. It's impossible for me to capture the intensity of the colour. I like the socks themselves with patterning that busily mixes lace and cable stitches on the leg of the sock, and then has plain fabric for the feet. Very sensible and wearable.

Red socks 2

But there are other things to celebrate with these photos. The first is that the post-hip-replacement swelling has gone from my left leg so that I can fit the sock on...and the second is that I actually put the socks on and took them off all by myself. Such an achievement. Who cares if the resulting photos are not very expert?


ginevra said...

Thank you so much for a glimpse of knitters in China - I've always been curious what people hand-knit, because we hear so much about China & mass production/factories etc

And thanks for the whole series, I've enjoyed reading!

Sue said...

Wow how fantastic to see other knitters. I did read somewhere that you have to ask the locals where the yarn stores are as some are in buildings on certain floors.

Rose Red said...

Wow, look at that knitting, you are right, so fine - both the yarn and needles!

Your socks look great - I knew it was wollmeise the moment I saw the picture! And most especially - huzzah for putting them on yourself and for them fitting again! Excellent news!

Lynne said...

The socks look lovely and I'm so pleased that you were able to get the, on and off without assist ace -- a great sign of progress!

Your information about knitting in China was very interesting -- thank you.

Sally said...

My friend Ying's mother is an incredibly gifted knitter. She, too, knits on the long, skinny needles with fine gauge yarn. She made several sweater sets for Ying's baby boy (sweater + cuffed, waisted pants)and when she was here visiting tried one evening to teach me the cunning way she knits the waist band, but with no common ground on language and her impossible-to-slow-down muscle's all a blur. I'm so glad you're mending so well, and that you have such glorious travels to write about as you do so! Happy New Year, Lyn!

Knitdra said...

So glad to know you are back on your feet. Love the photos of knitters in China and that kind of is funny not to see a yarn shop given how much of the worlds's yarn is now made there (regardless of where it is repackaged and labelled!). It's a lovely connection with other knitters when you're travelling, the miming is fun too. Great result with your socks, even better with your hip!

DrK said...

these are great socks, and it made me smile to think of you putting them on yourself! i did wonder about the souvenir yarn, but photos of local knitters are just as good.

Unknown said...

I think it's Eminently Lynne of you to be such a wonderful patient. Very glad to hear of the fast recovery, reduced swelling and the feeling of getting back into your normal life. Great news..

Anonymous said...

I am so impressed that you were able to get the socks on and photograph them! They look fantastic.

Finding yarn shops in China is an exercise, but I actually found it worthwhile because it also took me off the tourist beaten track.

Did you try knitting in public? In Shanghai a woman came up to me to tell me (as well as I could understand) that I was doing it wrong (or at least that I could do it better...). She took the needles from my hand to show me how to knit continental.

Unknown said...

I came across your post today while looking for info about knitting history in China. Your photos of knitters in China brought memories back to me.