I have a life-long aversion to reading for reading sake. I do read for information and I love the insight books and commentaries have on what we do today. I have to admit I can’t remember having been taught to knit – it was probably my Mum or my Grandma or even Auntie Alice but it wasn’t in school and not by anyone person. I like many people, just know how to knit and have picked up skills along the way often from other people who have tried this or that. Until recent events I knew very little about wool but that is another story. We don’t think about how we learnt about knitting we just knit.
For Christmas I received 2 books on the history of knitting. One was the ‘go to’ on knitting history by Richard Rudd (a Bishop of Leicester ) and the other ‘The Old Hand-Knitters Of The Dales’ by Marie Hartley & Joan Ingilby. I have then read chapters from other books which have their own take on knitting it’s history and complexity. There are samples of knit like articles from Egyptian times and old Viking samples of knitwear- knitting is old.
Knitting has a strong association with the poor and with women. Hand knitting was an important income for the poor especially in rural communities. The craft also brought people men, women and children knit together, in the Dales knitters gathered to work together, singing knitting songs, and telling stories to past the time. There is a strong tradition of knitting stockings in Tregaron and Carmarthenshire. They worked fast and with wire needles and a knitting belt. There were Knitting Schools and people even walked while knitting.
Knitting has been influenced by technology – fine silk knitting from Spain was only available after fine wire could be made of consistent diameter to make it, knitting frames are nearly as old as knitting by hand. Did you know sock knitting machines were a pre – Industrial revolution invention? Yes knitting on machines before the industrial revolution. The Luddites smashed knitting machinery in their fight for their livelihoods.
The strong connection with women? – During the Victorian times it became a socially acceptable thing for middle class ladies to do – drawing room knitting. If you knit with a pencil grip to your sticks chances are you have Victorian middle class women in your family tree. Women also began the writing about knitting and sharing patterns. If history is ‘written down’ then they began to record knitting – writing patterns down and writing about knitting ideas.
We are all a little bit of our knitting history whats yours?