Friday, 31 October 2014

The Year in Books: October

This month's reading has been somewhat theological in nature; Surprised by Scripture by Tom Wright, former Bishop of Durham, has particularly stood out.  It is a collection of essays based on talks he has given, mainly in America and makes an excellent introduction to his theology and thinking.  Wright has placed an emphasis on reading the Bible, especially the New Testament, within its own original context and then attempts to relate the Bible to today.  Consequently he looks at the thinking which has led us to see the Bible in a particular way, especially the Reformation and the 18th century Enlightenment and the "surprise" in the title refers to the difference between what we may think the Bible says on a subject and what it truly says.

Although it may sound like a very heavy read its original lecture format has made it more readable and means that each chapter is relatively short.  Wright takes on the enlightenment thinking, particularly the ideas of Epicureanism - that God created the world and then left it to itself for example - and takes these ideas back to the Bible to show that they have little or no biblical basis.  Throughout he does not shrink from taking on difficult subjects such as politics, the environment and the role of women in the church - a chapter I found very freeing as Wright went back into the biblical text and its original context.

One of the biggest surprises of the book so far for me was the chapter entitled, "Jesus is coming - plant a tree!", about heaven and earth, explaining how God is not going to be rescuing us from this wicked earth and spiriting us away to heaven, but that Jesus is coming again to renew the earth.  Therefore he argues that what we do here and now matters for the future, especially how we treat our planet, which is not all bad, although "subject to futility" (Romans 8.20).  At the centre of this chapter is a fresh look at Romans 8.

Durham Cathedral

I cannot recommend this book enough, indeed I have been going around telling everyone to read it!  It is not the quickest read, but worth going through and giving consideration.  Should you wish to try one or two of the chapters before committing to buying chapter six, "9/11, Tsunamis and the New Problem of Evil", is available here, more articles by Tom Wright are available here and there is an interesting interview with Tom Wright here.  Get reading, stretch your brain and be surprised!

You can see the other entries in this month's Year in Books here

Friday, 10 October 2014

Some Vintage Knitting Resources

In my journeys around the internet I have discovered some vintage knitting patterns and resources that I thought worth sharing.  Although I knew about Trove*, the free online archive of Australian newspapers and magazines, which contains many free patterns, it was only recently that I came across the collection of digitised knitting books put up by the State Library of Victoria, Australia.  The Australians truly are good to us.


Among the books I have found in the State Library's online collection is the 1933 edition of Woolcraft, a thoroughly useful publication containing a wide range of patterns, particularly strong on socks and baby clothes.  I have started gradually adding the patterns to Ravelry and they can be seen here; it is going to take me a while to get them all up there.  Incidentally the 1915 edition is among a range of books available here.

My personal favourite is the 1948 Woman's Knitting Book which features this dashing reindeer jumper on the cover, which unusually for the period is fully charted.  You can see the woman's role in society in flux between the wartime working women, as seen in a knitted suit, "designed primarily for the business girl or traveller" and the 1950s ideal housewives, as seen in a brightly smiling advert for "Raco Aluminium Ware", "Bright Kitchens Happy Homes".  There is a good range of patterns for all the family, including a man's skiing jumper, baby's layette, gloves, cardigans and socks.  I have added the front cover jumper to Ravelry as I thought it might appeal to those looking for a retro Christmas jumper.

woman's knitting book

Given the age of the collection it is unsurprising that there are various booklets of "service woollies" or "knitted comforts", the austerely covered booklet P&B (Patons and Baldwins) Knitting Made Easy from 1941 is part pattern catalogue, with tips on knitting for the forces and a handful of patterns.  There is also a booklet from the Australian Comforts Fund dating from 1940 and a booklet from department store Coles, Knitting for the Forces.

The last item I will mention for today is the Viyella Nursery Book, listed as dating from the 1940s and containing a great many patterns for babies and children up to five years old.  Some of the patterns are perhaps knitted with finer yarns than we might use today, but a little adaptation could make bigger garments.  There are a great many other baby booklets such as From 2 to 5: 11 smart and practical new styles, Smith's Ideal Baby knits and Toddler knits and Baby Knitting 6 months - 2 years.  Also included are a great many baby books by a lady called Ella Allan but I shall go into them in another post.

I hope you enjoy these resources as much as I have been.

P.S. My crochet blanket is making slow but steady progress.

*There is a Trove group on Ravelry whose members have been doing an amazing job of locating patterns and adding them to the pattern database.