Is knitting still cool?

Many have hypothesized about why knitting suddenly appealed to so many women and men a few years ago. It’s come and gone as a fad throughout the years (apparently popular in the 1920’s and during WWII), but why now? Debbie Stoller’s book with the slightly naughty name (SnB) emphasized group dynamics, like quilting bees. It also showed that knit items could be fun and funky. And maybe this is the key: people realized they could express themselves through knitting.I’ve always been the crafty sort, but, like many people, I hate to be labeled as a trend follower. I have to admit that I got sucked into the scrapbooking craze by a friend (you know who you are). Other than that, my life is pretty blah and seldom affected by the crowd in obvious ways.

Knitting has satisfied me on so many levels, though. Here are some ways:
1) I’ve always been fidgety, as if my fingers have been waiting for yarn and needles to twist and turn. These fiber projects keep my hands busy with meaningful things.
2) I like giving heartfelt gifts, and who can argue that a handknit item isn’t heartfelt?
3) I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes with completing a project, especially a DIY project.
4) Knitting can be rote when you want something to zone out with (see the scarf I’m working on above) or very complicated when you need a challenge (see the sweater in my progress bars below).
5) Stress relief! My worries melt when I pick up a nice ball of yarn and some lovely bamboo needles.
6) I feel challenged creatively when I take up a knitting project.

So, I guess, it doesn’t really matter to me if knitting is still cool or not. It’s meaning is beyond cultural influences to me. It does seem as if the trend is cooling a bit, though. I meet knitters all the time, and the publishing industry is still churning out fiber arts books like crazy. I don’t see young women picking up sticks anew as often, though. Not many of my friends seem interested in learning. Is the fad dead leaving only us true believers behind?


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. RD
    Feb 01, 2008 @ 10:25:31

    Two questions: Where does one go to learn the basics, and more importantly, is the “Night Night” angel headless?


  2. Heather Narbit
    Feb 02, 2008 @ 10:49:05

    The instructions here are pretty good to get started:

    Let’s Knit2Gether offers some great videos on special techniques:

    Other than that, almost every pattern book has a tutorial section in the beginning and glossary in the back. Debbie Stoller’s books are great learning resources as they’re written specifically for beginners.

    The angel you see in most of my pictures is a replica of Winged Victory of Samothrace. I saw her at the Louvre in Paris (as opposed to the one in Wisconsin) and loved her. This one came from Hobby Lobby and is particularly good for modeling knit items.

    Here’s picture that shows where she stands in the Louvre: If you look all the way to the left where the bannister is toward the back, that’s where I was standing — lost — when I spun around and realized the statue was right there. It was rather stunning.


  3. Soleta
    Feb 08, 2008 @ 20:33:54

    I think the fad is cooling because it has become more commonplace. Now it’s just normal. Women knit at therapy meetings I go to, and once in a writing group every other woman there (yes it seems to be all women) started geeking out about knitting. I actually would like to try it myself, but not quite enough to look into knitting lessons at this point. But I’m definitely intrigued.


  4. Heather Narbit
    Feb 08, 2008 @ 20:56:42

    What a great analysis. I know of men who knit, but I’ve never seen any working on it myself.
    I plan to do a little “how-to” here on the blog soon, so maybe we’ll make you a knitter yet!


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