Another year gone by…

July 17, 2013

Before we forget: Today, the pen, the brush and the needle celebrates its third blogiversary!

Ok, ‘celebrate’ might be too strong a word, there won’t be champagne nor fireworks displays, but as every year we’d like to take this as an opportunity to thank our readers for dropping by and sticking around with us…

So: Our most heartfelt thanks to all of you, help yourself to some (alas virtual) candy!

So, yesterday I went to the mountains… Rather than enjoying the lovely summer weather by engaging in some outdoor activity, though, I spent most of my time there in dusky old churches, taking photos of medieval wall-paintings. The bulk of my trip was spent in the small village of Pürgg in Styria:

With its old houses and its blossoming front gardens, Pürgg really is the epitome of a picture-postcard village. And the landscape around it isn’t bad either – especially the Grimming, an isolated peak rising to the height of 2351 metres (about 7711 feet):

Indeed, the entire region is well worth seeing – the region, by the way, being the Enns Valley which the knitters among you may have heard about. The Enns Valley has its own tradition of twisted-stitch knitting, and in 1982-1985 a local school-teacher, Maria Erlbacher, published three volumes of traditional knitting patterns from that region.* Erlbacher’s books have been reprinted several times, the latest edition dating from 2004/5, and since 2009 a one-volume English-language edition is available from Schoolhouse Press**, the specialised publisher on knitting founded by Elizabeth Zimmermann.

Some samples of Enns Valley knitting are on display in the local museum at Trautenfels Castle which is only a few kilometres from Pürgg. Unfortunately, though, I was too busy with my wall paintings to find time for a visit to the museum. The closest I came to anything knitting-related on my Saturday trip was therefore this 12th century wall painting…

…in St. John’s Chapel in Pürgg. This chapel houses one of the most important sets of Romanesque murals in Austria and here, as you can see, in the Annunciation the Virgin Mary is shown spinning, a detail which one finds quite frequently in medieval depictions of the scene.

And while I’m tempted to show you some more of the hundreds of photos I took of medieval wall paintings, I believe it’s perhaps better to conclude this with another view of the stunning Enns Valley landscape:

* Maria Erlbacher, Überlieferte Strickmuster aus dem steirischen Ennstal, 3 vols., Trautenfels: Verein Schloß Trautenfels, 1982-1985. More details on Ravelry: Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3.

** Maria Erlbacher, Twisted-Stitch Knitting: Traditional Patterns & Garments from the Styrian Enns Valley, Cary Bluff – Pittsville: Schoolhouse Press, 2009. More details on Ravelry (link) and on the Schoolhouse Press website.