August 10, 2005

Sailors were known...

Apparently, "sailors were known to knit their own windproof sweaters for long voyages." I know this because no less than 93 webpages, many of them news sites reporting on the "craze" of men knitting, use that exact sentence. What the heck? I just want to find a description of how to knit sweaters to be windproof, and I get all these assertions that sailors used to knit windproof sweaters. All of which use that exact phrasing---if I google for 'sailors "windproof sweaters"' I only get one more hit (referring to the same phenomenon). Indeed, there are only 26 hits for "windproof sweaters" that aren't about these amazing knitting sailors, and most of these seem to be selling them.

Now I'm kind of wondering if it's even true. If it were, I'd expect dozens of hits for patterns and knit technique pages about the traditional styling and so forth, or at least a page that actually backs up the idea, rather than just making the totally formulaic assertion. But the entirety of the internet doesn't seem to be coming up with much, which gives me pause. Does anyone know anything about this? Were the knittinge sailors of olde invented out of whole cloth for this "whoa, people with XY chromosomes can knit too!" thing that the media has been so fascinated with the last year or so?

"I began to despise mathematics when I sensed that I was getting only part of the story, a dull, literal-minded version of what in fact was a great mystery, and I wonder if children don't begin to reject both poetry and religion for similar reasons, because the way both are taught takes the life out of them." --Kathleen Norris

Posted by blahedo at 3:35pm on 10 Aug 2005

I'd call that an internet blind spot. I know I have encountered them a number of times in the past myself. If the information is out there (and you would think it is), the search engines aren't providing a good enough way of distinguishing between contexts and eliminating irrelevant ones (such as "history" vs. "directions").

For my own part, I spent the past 40 minutes trying to produce better results. I can't tell if my general ignorance of knitting was an asset or a hinderance, but this was the best I was able to come up with:

I humbly suggest that if you ever find a suitable answer, you put up a web page about it. :-)

Posted by Brian at 4:42pm on 10 Aug 2005
I read a scholarly treatise once about knitting and other ways to produce results that resemble knit cloth. I recall that it asserted that knitting was a popular activity for men around the same period as rocking chairs and revolution came to France. I think I found this when looking for information about socks through the years or possibly when researching textiles and archeology as it related to the Venus of Willendorf. Posted by lee at 6:45pm on 10 Aug 2005
How to knit windproof sweaters: use 4 to 6 ply worsted with 2 to 3 mm needles. Search for "Gansey" or "Guernsey" Posted by a male knitter and mathematician at 4:27pm on 14 Aug 2006
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