[HNW] Re: Crochet vest causing irritation

Chris Laning claning at igc.org
Sun Mar 2 20:04:30 PST 2003

At 8:12 PM -0500 3/2/03, Kathryn Newell wrote:
>Dear Dawn:
>Re Mr. Elwell's crocheted vest in PIECEWORK.
>I'm a bit grumpy, too. Since when does American Civil War (1860's) related
>to Weldon's (1880's)?? However, when it comes to PIECEWORK I sigh a lot.
>They really don't seem to be that interested in historical recreation, so I
>guess I tend to have lowered expectations of them.

My impression of them is that they're somewhat driven by their market
analysis, which probably says their readers want   r - e - a - l - l
- y   simple projects and are more interested in historical "flavor"
than in actual history. When they first started, their projects were
much more interesting, and I remember they got lots of complaints
from readers who said they were "too hard" and "too confusing"
because they sometimes gave more than one option for how to do the

However I suspect a major factor also is that they take what they can
get. You'll notice they really like Deborah Pulliam's articles, and
_she_ is certainly talking about real history. But there aren't that
many people out there who are capable of writing intelligently about
actual historical needlework _and_ who can write well and
entertainingly to the level of the audience they're aiming at. I've
seen a couple of articles by people with respectable-sounding names
who clearly didn't know what they were talking about, and I suspect
that's because they were obviously writing about something well out
of their own fields of expertise.

And I agree that I hope Mr. Elwell's re-enacting audiences are not
taking what he's wearing to be an exact replica that they can just
copy. However anyone who's read Tony Horwitz's _Confederates in the
Attic_[1] can testify that at least some ACW re-enactors are as
exacting about documenting every detail as one might wish, and
wouldn't take his word without checking extensively.
O    Chris Laning
|     <claning at igc.org>
+    Davis, California

[1] Which, by the way, I recommend highly for anyone who does
re-enacting. The ACW has some difficulties peculiar to it, but some
of the conversations and attitudes he records will be familiar to
anyone who "does" history.

And while I'm on the subject, Donna Andrews has written a hilarious
murder mystery, _Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos_, set at a
mythical "Colonial Yorktown" crafts fair -- and clearly she knows
some re-enactors REALLY WELL if she's not one herself, because she's
captured the scene perfectly, IMHO.

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