Stick to your Knitting




Fact and Froth with Jill Lowe




Photo : Shutterstock License

In uncertain times especially, such as we saw during the pandemic, it seems wise to stick to one’s knitting – to do what one knows. Knitting: that process of using two or more needles to loop yarn into a series of interconnected loops in order to produce a garment seems to have dated from Egypt in 11c., although it may have earlier origins.

The popularity of knitting, counting some 9 million members of Ravelry – that inclusive, friendly, informative website made up of yarn lovers from all over the world, is increasing. Widely regarded as the “facebook of knitting,” it maintains a database of patterns, yarns, and personal projects.

Over the years, there has been an ebb and flow in its interest: some slump with new manmade yarns and now a resurgence with a revival of vintage patterns as well as the trend to move back to natural yarns. The focus, especially now, is to stress hand-made rather than home-made items. The pandemic has seen a resurgence of knitters who can explore new stitches, yarns, skills, and projects. Gender, age, and celebrity continue to have no bounds in the interest in knitting.

Celebrities and prominent figures are not new to knitting. Their doing so has spurred others to take it up.

Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth knitting for the “forces” in Windsor Park

Joan Crawford

Mrs. Roosevelt

Marilyn Monroe

Grace Kelly

Gina Lollabridgida

Kathryn Hepburn

Bette Davis

There have been some moments in the past where a particular sweater or garment has, as they say, gone “viral” and has been the impetus for pattern makers and designers to provide for the public. One such sweater was that worn by Sara Lund in “The Killing,” that Danish noir TV series.

Sofie Gråbøl (who plays Sarah Lund in the series) presented a sweater to the then Duchess of Cornwall Camilla, while she was visiting Copenhagen.

The sweater worn in almost every episode, was a pattern highly sought after, so much so such that it popularized those Faroe islands which sit in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The sweater’s popularity is thought to have revitalized the wool industry there, from whence the wool came, not to mention a resurgence in attendance at the annual knitting festival in April in Eysturoy.

Image license Shutterstock

The Faroese economy is still largely based around the twin poles of sheep and boats – with wool as its currency. The amazing looking sheep are bred to be hardy and to produce warm fleece.

Another such moment came in 1981when a gift was made to Princess Diana of a sweater by Australian designer Jenny Kee, based on Blinky Bill. The koala knit was one of Kee’s most popular designs.

Jenny Kee 1978 Photo Grant Matthews

Princess Diana and the Koala sweater

A word about WOOL

The recent months have seen the Campaign for Wool 2022 with the participation of the USA. The thrust to use wool is stressed.

Wool is an overlooked planet-friendly fibre, and the Campaign for Wool aims to highlight wool’s natural eco properties, including its biodegradability, regenerative farming and feed management in relation to reducing carbon and methane gas emissions.

Let us not forget children who knit:-

Knitting, like so many skills is best learned as children. Look at these 2 boys knitting.

And look at this 4 year old, who was copying her granny in knitting. She is using spagetti to try!

Photo Courtesy Sally Ellick

And the men – Russell Crowe is a knitter, as was Cary Grant.

As well, Ryan Gosling, David Arquette (not pictured) are knitters, along with these other un-named men

Now : what to knit?

The booties and layette patterns of 50’s are not popular with modern young mothers. It is too bad because knitting booties is a small project and gives fast satisfaction.

Of limited use, but desirable, is to knit items such as those below to photograph babies

Photo from Ravelry

Photo from Ravelry

Photo from Ravelry

Or how about these items?

Shutterstock License

Shutterstock License

Shutterstock License

Shutterstock License

Charity knitting has allowed many knitters to make baby blankets

Shutterstock license

Photo from Ravelry

Photo Courtesy Sally

Photo Courtesy Sally

Or even knitting go for specialty charities such as sweaters for Fairy Penguins

There are so very many yarn stores, groups of “learn to knit” classes, youtube videos to learn new techniques, knitting festivals, countries with special yarns. Knitting can provide reasons to visit locations. Knitting stores and websites with such clever names as “String Theory”, “I’ll keep you in Stitches”, “Three bags full” , “Knitlikegranny”, “SheepandStitch”, “Yarngloriousyarn”.

Too, over many years knitting has been used for activism and political messages. There was a resurgence after the election of 2016. BUT really none can compare with the vengeful, female revolutionary Madame Defarge of “A Tale of Two Cities.”

Having mastered the rustic art of knitting, Madame Defarge used her skill to encode within her work the names of the aristocrats whom she and her confederates believed must die in order for the new republic to live.

Drawing by Harry Furniss

There are some amazing projects to attempt. The pattern for this image below is available but it certainly seems daunting even though so very fetching. (model not included!)

Photo from Ravelry reveals the therapeutic effects of knitting ranging from reduced stress to better cognitive functioning, self-confidence, the ability to focus on the present, and a sense of control. Sense of Control? Couldn’t we all use some more of this precious, often elusive feeling.?

Notes and further reading,
References and links.
Photo of Jill : Joe Mazza Bravelux inc.
Photos not attributed- copyright © 2022 Jill Lowe. All rights reserved