These 12 Photographs Capture The History Of Knitting

by Eleonor Botoman

Knitting is a skill that has been passed down through the generations and remains a special hobby for women both young and old. Although knitting has been around for a long time, only recently have photographers been able to document these knitters, and their circles, in action — from Hollywood movie stars to Victorian ladies. In her new book, People Knitting: A Century of Photographs, author Barbara Levine compiled 100 photos, tracking the history of different knitting traditions from the 1860s to the 1960s. Knitting doesn’t just soothe the soul, it forges communities and sisterhoods. So put down your needles and check out some of these amazing photographs:

o 1119ced9ab011b48 0Carte de visite showing Sojourner Truth, ca. 1880. She is sitting at a table with her knitting and a book. Truth commissioned formal photographs of herself and sold the prints to support her career as a traveling lecturer. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

peopleKnitting p30Photograph of women, most likely in a knitting circle, ca. 1914

peopleKnitting p34Red Cross nurses knitting, July 1918

peopleKnitting p51Seattle woman knitting while walking, ca. 1918

peopleKnitting p86 1476992837 for the forces at the beauty salon, London, 1940. On verso is written: “The English women, seen here knitting for the soldiers, do not waste time even while having their hair dried. The pieces of knitting on which they are working are provided by the beauty parlor, and each customer is asked to do her bit for ‘the boys.’ She picks up where the previous person left off, and if it is a hard one to do she finds directions attached.”

peopleKnitting p91 1476992983 Lady Eleanor Roosevelt knits while attending “We’re in the Army Now,” a conference held at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, 1941

peopleKnitting p101Girls engaged in knitting and making toy animals in the handicraft class of the St. Simon’s Youth Center of the National Youth Administration, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1941. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

peopleKnitting p106Betty Grable knitting baby clothes for her soon-to-be-born child with her second husband, bandleader Harry James, 1943

peopleKnitting p117Ingrid Bergman knitting clothes for her twins (with husband, film director Roberto Rossellini), 1953

peopleKnitting p126Woman knitting socks while drying her hair, 1960

peopleKnitting p129 copyDoris Day knitting on the set of A Touch of Mink, 1962

peopleKnitting p133 1476993752, location identified as “Sokolows,” July 1954. 

PeopleKnitting cover

People Knitting: A Century of Photographs (Princeton Architectural Press) is now available for purchase on Amazon

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