Corin and the Values of Sheep

Sir I am a true labourer: I earn that I eat, get that I wear, owe no man hate, envy no man’s happiness, glad of other men’s good, content with my harm, and the greatest of my pride is to see my ewes graze and my lambs suck.
— William Shakespeare, As You Like It III.ii
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In this scene Corin, the shepherd, is talking to Touchstone, a jester who has fled the court and is living in the forest of Arden. This play is very much about the juxtaposition of the ‘civilized’ court versus the ‘simple’ and often wild forest. Here we see two side characters chatting about this very topic, and comparing the morality of the wild to the ways of the court. I won’t include the entirety of the of this exchange here, but if you want to see some truly excellent wordplay you should really give it a look.

Touchstone is running verbal rings around a poor and slightly confused Corin. He seems to damn the ways of the woods, but the clever audience knows he is actually indicting the manners of court. Corin cannot make sense of this, and so cuts through the clever BS by stating is simple yet powerful philosophy. It’s one that speaks to on a very deep level, and indeed goes to the very heart of why I picked up knitting in the first place.

Corin takes pride in his labor. He takes pride in the things he makes, and he takes pride in the work he does. Like Corin I love making things myself. Whether it’s food, or sweaters, or beer, or anything really, I take immense pleasure in having things I made. Part of that is of course the control you have when you do it yourself. You can get things just the way you like it. But this isn’t the greater part of it, because as anyone who knits knows, it never turns out exactly as you imagine. But this is often a true delight. This is how you get things you never knew you wanted, or maybe you don’t like the way it turned out. When that happens you have to fix it, and you learn and grow in the process.

Most of all though wearing something that you yourself made is just a great feeling. It’s like a hug you give yourself. Beyond the comfort of the fiber you can tangibly feel the labor and the effort you put into the piece. And it feels good.

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This sweater was designed with the shepherd in mind. Its use of cables and its natural color remind one of the classic shepherd sweaters of the highlands. But it marries the classic cabling and texture with the classic argyle pattern to create something entirely new. It sits loose enough for comfort, but also allows you to wear any sort of shirt beneath it. The yarn is entirely natural animal hair with the Alpaca giving it a luxuriant softness, and the wool giving it warmth and structure. It’s definitely more at home in the forests of Arden, but you won’t get banished for wearing it at court.


You can download the pattern here: Corin

As always the beautiful photos are courtesy of the ever-talented Stephen Mosher

Be sure to come back next week for more patterns, musings, and knitting goodness.