We all know our knitting is infused with love.
OXO is a key design element Fair Isle patterns. In her “Book of Fair Isle Knitting”, Alice Starmore sheds a more practical light on the subject noting that the diagonal lines inherent in this design lend stability to the fabric. The OXO patterns are also easily memorized and improvised on, which enabled the knitters to speed along in their work. For the knitters of Shetland this was work that helped to put food on the table.
It was not necessarily a leisure time activity to be savored.
Starmore also dismisses attaching symbolism to the designs,
especially religious symbolism.
On the subject of Xs and Os, I have very much enjoyed Unionpurl's blog where she is working her way through the alphabet, covering fascinating fiber arts related subjects, knitting a sample using the first letter of the word in discussion. Her entry on OXO is wonderful!
In “The Art of Fair Isle Knitting”, Ann Feitelson notes that at some point around the turn of the twentieth century these patterns became known as OXO, possibly due to the popularity of a bouillon cube product marketed under that name. When I read about this I was so excited to remember that my Mom had given me a small collection of spoons that had belonged to her mother who had come fron England to America on the Lusitania. Among the spoons was one stamped with OXO.
These spoons were apparently given away as promotional gifts.
Just how Xs and Os came to symbolize hugs and kisses is a little more difficult to sleuth out, but it has been linked to the practice of signing documents with an x if you were illiterate or unable to sign your name. We may not sign our knitting, but isn’t it fun to know we can tuck a special message of love into our stitches?
Happy Valentine’s Day!