Combining a piece of thread with two needles into a piece of fabric.—Knitting as defined by Wiktionary
What draws us to knitting? Is it the pleasure we find in the pure simplicity of the craft? The feel of the yarn in our fingers as it glides from needle to needle? Or is it an escape from the stress of every day life? When we think of knitting today, we think of soft luxurious yarns, of patterns and books that teach us new techniques, of knitting needles in exotic woods or smooth metal and of endless possibilities that a few loops can create in the form of a unique garment.
The resurgence of knitting is somewhat of a phenomenon in today’s society as we are incorporating something back into our lives that dates back to the eleventh and fourteenth centuries, if not even further back. We are enthralled with the colorful Fair Isle techniques that were created by the Scottish during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and by the stitches that soon followed in the twentieth century, the elaborate cable designs that formed traditional Aran sweaters.
Knitting has always been an occupation among many cultures to produce the much needed warm clothing, such as sweaters, hats, and mittens, or the elegant linen clothing of the wealthy. During the early 1940s, women found themselves "Knitting for Victory" and creating items for the Army and Navy to wear in the winter. Knitters of this time also learned to Make Do and Mend, and recycle old woolen sweaters to re-use the wool for other knitted garments. Then by the 1950s to the 1960s, we were introduced to a large spectrum of colors and styles of yarn. Knitting was fashionable and very “Haute Couture.”
Young ladies were taught to knit in school, as it was considered to be a very useful skill; it was not just a hobby, like today. The most popular pattern during this time was the infamous “twinset.” But as women began to leave the home and go out into the workforce the popularity of knitting soon became passé and by the 1980s, the craft of knitting was almost non-existent, a faded memory of an old-fashion craft that our mothers and grandmothers pursued.
Like a breath of fresh air, the twenty-first century arrived and with it a desire to rekindle an old friendship with a craft that had diminished in most eyes of the world. We have found ourselves drawn back to the magical rhythm of clicking needles that turns fiber into a wondrous creation, to the rich textures and colors of yarns that we must simply caress, while at the same time our minds are meticulously creating a garment of what we are touching and visualizing. This new century has brought to the avid knitter a never ending supply of natural fibers, colors, textures, patterns, possibilities, and a connection with others that share the same passion and desire. Knitting is no longer considered to be that old fashioned craft of long ago, but very high tech. With the spur of technology, knitters can now connect from all over the globe and share their experiences, their knowledge, their patterns and their techniques. Knitters are finding new friendships and forming bonds that were never before imaged.
It will be interesting to see where knitting takes us in this new century of discovery. Will it become passé once more? Or, will it stick around for a while? Whatever the case, this age old craft will give you the desire to create and to be harmonious with the fiber in your hand.
For further information on knitting, please remember to visit your LYS, your local library and the internet. Also consider joining a local knitting group in your area for support or for learning new techniques.