Three years and 100 posts later

When I started this blog I had no idea how much time I would soon be spending in the alternating roles of researcher and wordsmith. I’ve enjoyed pretty much every minute of it. However, the project has been increasingly beset with need for retrospectively harmonizing earlier posts with recent ones and updating references to source documents that have since been digitized and placed online. More than a few substantive conclusions drawn along the way have been, or still need to be, recontextualized in light of subsequently acquired information.

The round numbers attaching to the present post make it a suitable final entry in Series One of this blog. I had intended to release it on the third anniversary of the inaugural post (19 November) but as noted in the one closest to that date, related commitments interfered with that seemingly simple action. The overdue housekeeping has become even more urgent in the meanwhile. There’s also a formidable and growing backlog of unread articles and books amassed with the intention of fueling future posts that I’m eager to make at least a dent in. Doing this may require easing off what has become a regular schedule of biweekly postings.

I’m particularly eager to work my way through early-20th-century ethnographic reports on the use of hooks for the production of looped fabric by indigenous communities in northeastern South America. There are also regional crochet traditions in Africa that have been assumed to represent the colonial transmission of that craft from Europe. In neither case, however, has it been demonstrated that the non-European manifestation is the younger. There are still many objects in museum collections that are clearly slip stitch crochet but cataloged as having been produced by some fundamentally different technique, manifoldly misrepresenting a historical record that needs to be set straight.

These objects can be sorted into three groups. The first includes material that is of no consequence to the history of slip stitch crochet however it is described and labeled, such as objects dated to late 19th-century Europe that were commonly crocheted there and then. The second is for material made in Central Asia, providing evidence of yet another path along which crochet may have found its way toward Europe. The third group includes material dated to Coptic and Late Antique Egypt, with seismic consequence if even a single such piece — none of which have been radiometrically or stratigraphically dated — should actually prove to be of such age. Sorting this all out is of corresponding significance to the historiography of the other looped techniques for which slip stitch crochet has been mistaken, with knitting, nalbinding, and Tunisian crochet on that list.

One of the standard pieces of advice given to long-term bloggers is to reuse earlier material. I have feared doing that unintentionally for a while now because I no longer remember the full detail of what I posted a couple of years ago. After I’ve plowed through the lot of it in the exercise noted above, a refreshed memory will make it easier to decide what to do next, and resume my fortnightly authorship rhythm.

Volume Two will be rolling early in the New Year with a renewed look at the knitting loom that provides half of this blog’s logo, and both its attested and suggested roles in the earlier production of looped fabric. In the meanwhile, I wish you all a Happy 2020!


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