West Yorkshire Knitting Sticks

This week was the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Bronte’s birth, and in honour of that event Yorkshire knitting historian Penelope Hemingway blogged about the Bronte knitting sheaths she had previously researched for a 2012 magazine article. As with all Penelope’s work (I’m a fan!), it’s a wonderful blog post, and I urge you to read it.

The Haworth home of the Bronte sisters is just a few miles from were I live and grew up, so I have a particular interest in them, and as a passionate knitter, with a love of my local textile heritage I am delighted to learn details of the Bronte sisters lives as knitters. Hence Penelope’s post prompted me to search the Bronte parsonage catalogue, where I viewed pictures of the knitting sheaths (aka ‘knitting sticks’) that she described in the post. There are four wooden and two tin knitting sheaths (see list below for picture links).

I was very excited to see that three of the four wooden sticks in the collection are turned spindles. At last here was local evidence of an important-to-me fact I had noted with interest many years previously when reading ‘The Old Handknitters of The Dales’. During an account of sheath styles the authors mention that spindle-shaped knitting sticks were ‘commonly used in the industrial West Riding’ of Yorkshire. It was this beloved fact that led me to purchase a reproduction spindle style knitting stick from the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes a couple of years ago. I’ve also instructed my beloved husband that actual antique knitting sticks would make particularly welcome presents for me. Here’s hoping!

My knitting sheath:

sheath

The Bronte knitting sheaths:

  1. Turned rosewood knitting sheath.
  2. Flat wooden knitting sheath.
  3. Turned wood knitting sheath.
  4. Turned oak knitting sheath.
  5. First tin heart knitting sheath.
  6. Second tin heart knitting sheath.