Virginia Wolf was a knitter, and this portrait was done by her sister. The first thing that strikes me about the painting are Virginia's indistinct features, however I've read that Virginia hated having herself photographed, so perhaps this was purposeful. The second most striking element is that everything is outlined in black, and Virginia herself would fade into the background if it weren't for her chair and the shock of her pink knitting.
Virginia thought knitting to be therapy. It's said that she reported to her spouse after being in a rest home, "Knitting is the saving of life." Apparently it worked for her until 1941, when Virginia took her own life. I prefer to think that Virginia failed her knitting, rather than the reverse. Maybe that failing began when this portrait was done as she looks to need the chair's support to sit upright.
I found even more interesting when I read that Dame Edith Sitwell reminisced after Virginia's death, "I enjoyed talking to her, but thought nothing of her writing. I considered her a beautiful little knitter." While that statement is some what patronizing, as Edith could have just said beautiful knitter, leaving the word "little" out, I wonder what Virginia would have thought - to be remembered by her hobby rather than her art.
It's an interesting thought - what would you like to leave behind? My daughter-in-law was recently contacted by an ex-student of hers who wrote her a gratitude letter, telling her how grateful she was and how positively my daughter-in-law had effected her life. I was touched, thinking how wonderful it was to be remembered in such a kind way. Although I am closing in on a forty year career as a nurse, I have never received such a note. I can't help but wonder, when gone, if I would be remembered better as a knitter than how I spent most of my time on this earth.
I don't think I would mind a bit. I feel inseparable from knitting, and infuse myself into every thing that falls from my needles. If knitting is the saving of life, as Virginia Wolfe had said than it seems a perfect match for my career.
Knitting has given, of that there is no doubt. It gives to every practitioner, but the knitter gives too. The knitter insures that the practice of knitting will not be forgotten, that it will be passed on - continued throughout time. The knitter saves the practice of knitting from being a dying art, allowing knitting to give. To save, as it has been saved. Knitting is the cycle of life.