Monday, 9 August 2010
No Idle Hands
Types of patterns: Not a pattern book
Experimental/Classical/Modern: A little dated from being published in 1988
This is an interesting read about knitting in America from colonial days to the present of the writer in 1988. The last chapter talking about the boom in the 80's was to be followed by bust and then the modern boom and the explosion of the interaction of Knitting and the Internet. It was also pretty interesting when she was talking about some of the fashions and changes and popularity of certain yarns and perceptions about knitting. Much of which you can map as happening at the moment and you can also see some of what was popular waning as it has before and probably will wax and wane again.
It does also dwell on knitting for war and knitting for peace. Some intersting ideas. There was also a mention of a "stitch and bitch" in the mid to late 20th Century! The dearth of knitting for men and the curiousity about male knitters is also addressed.
It looks at how some people knit out of a sense of obligaton, particularly during the war and then abandoned the practice once they could because it was a reminder of those times, and also because as an obligation it became something that when they could they abandoned it. Yes it would probably leave a non-knitter cold but as an example of what women did when they could it's a good one.
It's a social history of American knitting, it dwells on a lot of the social sides, the get-togethers and the feeling of fellowship that many people get from knitting. You only have to glance at Ravelry to see that social aspect of knitting, everything from religion to politics (sometimes a contentious issue and fraught with problems) to pattern searching to books - and thats just the forums. You can also see in it the ways in which people have changes and tweaked patterns more to their taste, a conversation that was harder before the internet.
It's a book that could do with a short update talking about the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century knitting that's been written by people like me as I type. I'd also love to see a serious look at the history of knitting (and crochet) in Ireland, somewhat like this book. I saw a criticism of the book where it complains about how some of the jargon wasn't quite explained well enough (rather like the rumoured story about the woman investigated by the FBI for a coded document in her possession with k2p4k3 written on it, a joke guaranteed to seperate those who know something about knitting with those who know nothing), and yes, it does have some jargon and some of it can be a little unclear because of the change of styles and assumptions about some ideas and themes, but overall it's a very interesting read.
Buy/Borrow: Worth a read, probably worth even more a read if you're from the US, an interesting social history for Knitters.
Where found: Swansea Metropolitan University Library via Inter-Library Loan