Archive for September 15th, 2010

NPG 5933. Virginia Woolf (née Stephen) by Vanessa Bell (née Stephen), 1912. Oil on board, 15 3⁄4 x 13 3⁄8 inches (400 x 340 mm). National Portrait Gallery, London

If I paid more attention to painting details, I would have known that Virginia Woolf was a knitter.

Since I don’t, I had to depend on Mark Hussey‘s VWoolf Listserv alert to a knitting website article about Woolf and knitting, “Did you know Virginia Woolf was a knitter?”.

In it, the writer cites Vanessa Bell’s small portrait of her sister, painted while Virginia was working on the draft of The Voyage Out, published in 1915. In the portrait, pictured at right. Virginia is knitting.

Also mentioned are:

  • Dame Edith Sitwell’s reminiscence about Virginia: “I enjoyed talking to her, but thought nothing of her writing. I considered her ‘a beautiful little knitter.'”
  • Virginia’s 1912 pronouncement to Leonard: “Knitting is the saving of life.”

Addendum: This bit of news has generated discussion on the VWoolf Listserv. Steve Posin contributed this tidbit: While reading the Vita Sackville West biography, he learned that Vita supplied Virginia with  knitting wool as late as 1941 from sheep raised at Sissinghurst.

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