Is knitting a dying art form ?

Having decided to base my zine on the Knitwits, who they are and what they do, I also want to include the subject of knitting in a wider context.

Whilst gatecrashing one of the Knitwits’ monthly meetings, I happened to overhear a comment from one of the members, who was remonstrating about how crafts such as knitting appeared to be a dying art form. Perhaps this was the case a while back, but actually in recent years the popularity of knitting seems to be at all time high.

Last year the Huffington Post ran an article proclaiming that yarn harlots, knit chicks and knit-nerds were taking over, with more young people than ever taking up the “stitch and bitch” craft. There’s a growing wave of young knitters looking for a way to express their creativity, reject cheap mass consumerism, and just relax in a way that doesn’t depend on the technology they are immersed in all day.

Originally a slang term in the 1940’s to describe groups of women who would meet up socially to knit, the term Stitch and Bitch was revived in 2003, with the publication of Stitch ‘n Bitch: The Knitters Handbook.  This was the first in a series of best selling instructional books, which have gone on to inspire many to take up their needles. As of March 2013, over 1460 knitting groups were registered on the company’s website, spread across the globe in over 289 cities.

Loop, Camden Passage

Loop, Camden Passage

Many interesting and quirky knitting shops have also established themselves in recent years, such as Loop in Camden Passage, setup by Susan Cropper, who has a background in Textile Design, Graphic Design and worked as a designer and director for lifestyle magazines in London. There’s also Prick Your Finger in Bethnal Green, who describe themselves as a Yarn shop and Textile Collective, with roots in Punk Rock and the Arts and Craft movement.

Another collective is Knit the City a group of “graffiti knitting and crochet” street artists founded in London in 2009. They are credited with being the first group to go beyond the original concept of graffiti knitting or yarn bombing, (where everyday items are covered in knitting) to tell stitched stories through the use of knitting, crocheted amigurumi creatures and objects to form public installations.

So rather than being a dying art form, knitting seems alive and kicking and more accessible than ever, with regular events such as knit n’watch film nights or knitting treasure hunts and even Sunday pub meets run by I Knit London called Sunday Knit Roast.

And knitting hasn’t just made a comeback, in fact it’s evolving into new art forms through yarn bombing and other public installations as well as performance pieces, such as Hat, which is a play about knitting, written and performed by poet and BBC Radio 3 presenter Ian McMillan. Your ticket even includes a free ball of wool, needles and knitting pattern!

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