Rachel Hunter’s Quaker Mittens

Mittens for a Mittens for a Friend: Quaker proverbFriend, inspired by the Quaker, Rachel Hunter (created by Diana Gabaldon in her series Outlander)  are being released to coincide with World Quaker Day, October 2nd, 2016.

These mittens feature the Quaker proverb You lift me, and I’ll lift thee, and we will rise together, which speaks to this year’s theme: Connecting Friends, Crossing Cultures and Changing Lives.

And the overall style recalls a form of 18th century embroidery now called the “Ackworth School” or “Quaker” because the style of embroidered design originated at the Ackworth Quaker boarding school in West Yorkshire in the late 1700s (the school opened in 1779).  Original needlework from the school has become quite valuable, and Jackqueline Holdsworth has created a stunning collection of needlework designs, including Ackworth Quaker pieces, at her site NeedlePrint.com.  Her collection of Ackworth patterns can also be purchased from needleprintsociety.com/Ackbook.html

 Mittens for a Friend Quaker proverbQuaker samplers were distinguished by their use of a single color, for reasons of economy, and their geometric designs, but served the same purose as other samplers of the time… to teach and perfect needlework.   Completed samplers were a young girls’s CV of the period, showing off her domestic skills, as well as her piety, and interestingly, grasp of arithmetic.  Samplers were not entirely simplistic ABC affairs.  One f the recovered pieces from the Ackworth school is a a perpetual dieary, which requires an advanced level of math to compute, and another is a memory book.  Most use symbolism to create meaning out of seemingly random stitching.

TQuaker mittenso learn more about Quakerism visit the Friend’s Journal or The Religious Society of Friend’s  website, which is, as befits a Quaker site, very plain… and packed with information.  The Religious Society of Friends is roughly divided into four sects today: Liberal, Conservative, Pastoral, and Evangelical.  This was not the case in the 18th century, Friends in the 18th century were often dogmatic and rigid in their requirements for official membership in a Meeting because Quakerism was more than a Christian faith, it was a life choice.  To be a Quaker was to eschew gambling, liquor, and ostentation… which is still somewhat the case today.  But Quakers were expected to marry other Quakers, or face being read out of their Meetings (forced to leave the church).  And the social guidelines, and theology by which Quakers lived were much more rigidly enforced.  Today there is room for what was once considered heretical thought within the Quaker community, and today Rachel (and her brother) would likely be considered Liberal Friends. 

Liberal Friends “emphasize the authority of the Inward Light, and their membership contains both those who identify themselves as Christians and those who do not. They are often active in service work, but generally not in missionary or evangelical activities.” (QuakerInfo.org)

youliftmeairborn21Rachel’s Mittens come as two pages.. the first can be folded into a little booklet, the second is the pattern chart:

Rachel’s Mittens.. pattern booklet
Rachel’s Mittens.. pattern chart

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