Cool Culture History

The origin of knitting

Liked Who invented knitting? The plot thickens (Eukaryote Writes Blog)

The Egyptian knit socks I outlined in the last post sure do seem to be the first known knit garments, like, a piece of clothing that is meant to cover your body. They’re certainly the first known ones that take advantage of knitting’s unique properties: of being stretchy, of being manufacturable in arbitrary shapes. The earliest knitting is… weirder.

This is a delightful dive into the history of knitting.

Those ancient Egyptian socks look like you could have picked them up at REI. Astonishing that our taste in patterns is consistent a thousand years later. (That museum listing is dishearteningly deficient for the curious. How did this sock survive 700-1000 years? Whose was it? Why does it say origin: Egypt/India? What is its story???) Also, how long after inventing knitting does it take to develop patterns? This sock has multiple patterns. Same generation as developing knitting, or multiple? Maybe people want decoration immediately?

Elizabeth Wayland Barber says this isn’t just knitting – she points to the spinning jenny and the power loom, both innovations in yarn production in general, that were invented recently by men despite thousands of previous years of women producing yarn. In Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years, she writes:

“Women of all but the top social and economic classes were so busy just trying to get through what had to be done each day that they didn’t have excess time or materials to experiment with new ways of doing things.”

This speculates a kind of different mechanism of invention – sure, you need a reason to come up with or at least follow up on a discovery, but you also need the space to play. 90% of everything is crap, you need to be really sure that you can throw away (or unravel, or afford the time to re-make) 900 crappy garments before you hit upon the sock.

Emphasis mine.

Art and Design

Modern Arabic calligraphy

Liked Type foundry Boharat Cairo on the vast possibilities of Arabic type design (

In conversation with Abdo Mohamad of Boharat Cairo, we find out how the Egyptian capital is full of typographic inspiration.

Foundry website

I’ve been wanting to see more design work from outside the western world – and especially curious to see how artistically other scripts can be written, as a way to learn more about the letterforms by seeing what is carried over between fonts. Calligraphy creates art on its own, as the designer points out.

(I requested the reference librarian recommend me books from the library, and they had basically none in their collection (a 1980s book on African textile patterns, a Japanese shop sign book that had few and small images) – and King County has one of the highest circulating libraries in the US, so I doubt many other collections include this either. They also had nothing on female graphic designers, so I suggested one to buy 👍 No wonder aesthetics are converging, if we’re all looking at the same sources of inspiration.)


Read The Lady Travelers Guide to Deception with an Unlikely Earl

Read The Lady Travelers Guide to Deception with an Unlikely Earl (The Lady Travelers Society, #3)

Harry Armstrong has spent years in Egypt, recovering relics and disregarding rules. Now he’s back in England with a new title and a new purpose: penning his exploits. But his efforts are overshadowed by London’s favorite writer about Egypt—a woman they call The Queen of the Desert, of all things. Worse, her stories—serialized in newspapers and reprinted in books—are complete rubbish.

Miss Sidney Honeywell didn’t set out to deceive anyone. It’s not her fault readers assumed her Tales of a Lady Adventurer in Egypt were real! Admitting her inadvertent deception now would destroy her reputation and her livelihood. But when the Earl of Brenton challenges her to travel to Egypt to prove her expertise, accompanied by his dashing, arrogant nephew, what choice does she have but to pack her bags?

With the matchmaking founders of the Lady Travelers Society in tow, Harry is determined to expose Sidney’s secret. But the truth might not be as great a revelation as discovering that love can strike even the most stubborn of hearts.

Hadn’t read the previous in the series. Similar to Crocodile on the Sandbank but with a little on-page action. Very over the top, especially the ending. The author tends on the no comma side which made it feel not fully edited to me when commas were missing where most people would put them. I liked the three older lady friends. The premise was not flattering to the hero. He changed his mind relatively early on, which was needed for the story to proceed, but perhaps not totally earned?