No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting

So I had some time before class the other night (and we were meeting in the library)... I decided to browse the "TT 819s" to see what they had on knitting. There were some great old books with black and white photos and hard to read patterns... even one pattern for children's briefs.

I grabbed "No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting" by Anne L. Macdonald and took it to class. This is a 484 page hardcover sort of academic thing. Has chapters on colonial knitters, knitting during the American Revolution and Civil War, one chapter titled "Men and Children for Sammy, Too".

I had some time before class to look at it, and someone said, "What are you reading, Frank?" Well, I might as well have said that I was reading a book on how to suffocate kittens. I don't know if the reaction was that it was about knitting or that it was a book on the history of it. Anyway, it turned into a lively conversation with a couple others who also knit... the usual people coming out of their shell to talk about their knitting.

So far, the book's good. From the introduction:

"Of my many questions about knitting, I kept turning to 'Why don't men knit?' I had heard that some men knit, but despite maintaining a vigil like an ornithologist scouting a rare species, I never actually spotted one until I had just begun this book - plain as day, right there on the subway! The preppily clad Capitol Hill staffer opened his cordovan briefcase, extracted a magnificent blue sweater on round needles and clicked away. From my briefcase, I plucked an article freshly duplicated at the Library of Congress, caught his attention and held up the headline: KNITTING IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH. Bursting with laughter, he held it aloft for craning passengers, and everyone exchanged knitting stories for four stops, parting as old friends at the transfer point - an auspicious beginning."

I wonder if that Capitol Hill staffer is on MWK now!


MasonM's picture

Sounds like an interesting read.


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kiwiknitter's picture

This is an excellent book on the history of American knitting. I know you'll enjoy it.

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly