Knit Local, Act Global

Knitting is hip. Subversive, even.

Take knitting and crocheting, crafts previously assigned to grannies and church ladies, combine them with the punk-inspired Do-It-Yourself movement and the connecting possibilities of the Internet, and you get a large-scale revival. And like any revival worth its salt, it has transformative effects—personally, socially, and spiritually.

The last few years have seen record-breaking yarn sales, a burst of knitting-inspired blogs and Web sites, a TV show called Knitty Gritty, and several new fiction books (“knit lit”) that have as their premise the friendships formed in knitting circles. One, titled The Friday Night Knitting Club, by Kate Jacobs, will hit the big screen next year starring Julia Roberts, rumored to be a knitter herself. Nonfiction fans can find more socially minded fare, such as Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time or Knitting Heaven and Earth: Healing the Heart with Craft.

The revival carries a new attitude, even a political edge, brought by a wave of women in their 20s and 30s who approach stitching with a hipster sass and sensibility. Although people of all ages are gravitating toward knitting, these “chicks with sticks” have accounted for a 150 percent increase in knitting and crocheting since 2002, according to a study by the Craft Yarn Council of America.

Debbie Stoller, co-founder of a magazine for young feminists called Bust, has helped refashion the knitter-as-dowdy image into one that’s plucky and cool. She grew up knitting and crocheting in a household that considered them respectable forms of art, but as she got older, she realized they carried a huge stigma. “As far as I could tell, the only reason they had this bad image was because it was something that had traditionally been done by women,” Stoller told a National Public Radio reporter. “As a feminist I wanted to change that.”

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Sojourners Magazine February 2007
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