Reader Kate (not me) provides some good commentary and analysis on two articles we’ve linked to recently, the Huffington Post article about men and knitting, and the excerpt from the book about knitting in literature. She highlights that there have been a number of popular theories about the development of knitting, and some that have been disproven are still being discussed. She also makes a key point that historically there were really two types of knitting, with two types of knitters: the professionals, who were typically male, and the home knitters, typically female. The same division is seen in cooking – professional chefs cooking for others, traditionally men, and women cooking for their families at home.

There are two well-researched books on the history of knitting: Richard Rutt’s sadly out-of-print “History of Hand Knitting”,

The classic tome.

and the more recent Victoria and Albert Museum publication, “Knitting: Fashion, Industry, Craft” by Sandy Black. I’ve read both. I’m not a knitting historian, and can’t and won’t comment on the accuracy of the content, but I will say that both are excellent reads.

A beautiful book and a wonderful read.

The V&A book is lavishly illustrated with images from the extensive collection of knitted items and related publications and artefacts, and discusses not only the history and development of the craft, but also provides an insight into the role and evolution of knitwear as and in fashion.

The V&A website has a wealth of information about their knitting collections, provides a list of resources and reading,


And if you’re in the UK, BBC Four tonight broadcasts the first part of the next set of its “Handmade in Britain” documentary television series. The first episode, airing September 18th, is about the history of British Knitting in the 20th century. The episode will be available after airing on the BBC iPlayer for those who have access.

The program is a collaboration with the V&A, and Sandy Black, the author of the above-mentioned book, is featured.


There are a number of knitters and designers who are working to document and preserve the history of knitting and traditional techniques… three worth following are Donna Druchunas, whose work you have seen in Knitty, Susan Crawford, and Kate Davies.

Susan Crawford has published two books of designs inspired by knitting patterns from the the 1920s to the 1950s: A Stitch In Time, Volumes 1 & 2. On her blog she writes about vintage-inspired knitting and sewing. Kate Davies researches and writes about a broad number of topics in textile history, and publishes a digital magazine, Textisles.


Young knitters at a primary school in Australia are making pouches to keep orphaned baby wombats warm. Gratuitous adorable baby creature photo alert – knitted pouches not featured, but the high degree of cuteness is a consolation.

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3 Responses to WWW: On Knitting History; Wombats

  1. Jo-ann says:

    Hey, Those photos of the cute baby wombat are from my local paper (all the way down here in regional Victoria AustralIa). It’s a small world…

  2. Sarah V. says:

    Love this post and all the knitting history!

  3. Anne S says:

    BBC iPlayer look for “Fabric of Britain”.

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