Friday, October 14, 2005


I wrote this a few weeks ago but Clare said I should put it in. What do you guys think?

Strange things are happening – young professional women are going back to knitting. There has been a steady stream of articles about it lately. It seems that women have been knitting quietly at home for some time, but been too ashamed to come out about it. My best friend is knitting claret coloured walking socks (and very beautiful they are too). I’ve started knitting and embroidering recently, and making things on the sewing machine. What I find intriguing is how we are suddenly discovering that loads of women are doing these things. Clare and I had not started sewing and knitting because we’d read about it and thought it was trendy. We just (independently from each other even) wanted to give it a go. And then we discovered that we’d each bought an embroidery kit. And then I read that people like Sarah Jessica Parker and Uma Thurman and even Russell Crowe were knitting, and now I find that millions of young women are knitting, with groups that meet weekly, and internet chat rooms about it swapping patterns, the works. Even is giving out free knitting patterns for iPod ‘socks’. And it’s like when you discover a new word, and suddenly you see it three times in two days in the newspaper and on the telly. Young women knitting are everywhere.

So what is it that is attracting women back to these old fashioned activities? And why all of a sudden? I am open to suggestions on this. It could be something in the water (too much oestrogen built up from all the contraceptive pills), or subliminal messages in the middle of Desperate Housewives. Or, perhaps women have started knitting because they just can’t find what they want in the shops. I admit to walking into quite a few high street chain stores and feeling deeply depressed with all the over-priced tat that they try to flog these days. The seams are wonky and the embroidery pulls the fabric, which itself feels like it probably cost $2 a roll.

Or maybe, having spent so long becoming emancipated, women are now are hankering back after the more feminine pastimes, where you can quietly create something useful and personal.

What about the therapeutic aspects of knitting? A comment on by a psychotherapist Betsan Corkhill says that research done in 2004 shows that the brain can be distracted away from pain, and she is of the opinion that the same can be done with depression and stress. Thus knitting can be used as a distraction tactic. Also having an attainable goal and end product gives a great ‘feel-good factor’. Betsan is starting up for all those who use stitching as therapy.

It seems that there is also a good social factor to it these days, with knitting groups springing up all over the place. There are ‘Stitch ‘n’ Bitch’ or ‘Knitwits’ groups in most major towns - lists many of them. And a book called The Stitch & Bitch Handbook by Debbie Stoller has become a bestseller in the US and is doing well in the UK too.

I wonder how much wool sales are going up?

Other sites I like:

· Stitch 'n Bitch Handbook: Instructions, Patterns, and Advice for a New Generation of Knitters and Stitch ‘n’ Bitch Nation - Debbie Stoller
· It's My Party and I'll Knit If I Want To!; Paperback ~ Sharon Aris
· The Urban Knitter; Paperback ~ Lily M. Chin
· Hip to Knit: 18 Contemporary Projects for Today's Knitter; Paperback ~ Judith L. Swartz
· Weekend Knitting: 50 Unique Projects and Ideas; Hardcover ~ Melanie Falick, Ericka McConnell
· Yarn Girls' Guide to Simple Knits; Hardcover ~ Julie Carles, Jordana Jacobs

1 comment:

Scott the Reader said...

When I was in high school, I took an embroidery class as an elective (I'm sure there was a good reason at the time, though I can't imagine what it was now). In theory, it might have been a good way to meet girls, but actually all I remember is spending the semester chatting with all the guys in the class, while we sewed things on t-shirts.

I did a cherry pie; not sure whatever happened to that shirt.