Unexpected Knitters: Virginia Woolf

When I opened the newspaper this weekend I got a knitting surprise – accompanying an Guardian article on the artist Vanessa Bell was a portraits of Bell’s sister, the author Virginia Woolf. But she wasn’t posed with pen or sat in a study, attitudes you might expect from a woman renowned for her writing. Instead, Virginia is slumped in an armchair, her eyes and hands engaged in knitting.

‘Knitting is the saving of life’. So wrote Virginia to her new husband Leonard in 1912, following a long period of mental illness. Vanessa painted this portrait in 1912 too – before Virginia’s first novel was published, though it did exist as a draft. Knitting and writing seem to have been central to Virginia’s idea of herself – I’ll need to look into this in more detail, trawl through her letters on the trail of Ariadne’s ball of yarn. And I know just who might be able to help, my friend Simon over at Stuck-In-A-Book – after all, he has a phD in all things Ginny!


I’m now coming to the end of January’s project and the Dent gloves are nearly done – just the fingers on the right hand to go. I’m pleased with how they have come out, and I’ve really enjoyed learning about Dent’s knitters and Shetland yarns in the process. I’m very excited to reveal February’s challenge – pop back tomorrow to see what I’ll be up to this month!


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