Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Crafts and Feminism!


Hey there! On a message board last night, a poster posed the following questions about crafts and feminism as part of her dissertation research, and I found the answers really interesting, so I've asked her permission to pinch her questions to pose to you! I thought it'd be interesting to hear everyone's thoughts since a lot of you are crafters yourselves - I'll feed any answers back to her to help with her research if that's alright! My answers are below, too!

I'm writing my dissertation on the rise of knitting/crafts and how it fits in with third wave feminist analysis' of women's interests and hobbies and lifestyle choices. I'm doing some research into why women like knitting [and other crafts] and why they started doing it, so would anyone mind answering a few questions for me? I'm hoping to carry out real life interviews and I think it would be good to get a few responses to shape the questions I ask!

1) How did you learn to knit? Were you taught by a family member or friend?

2) Do you attend any knitting groups, such as stitch 'n bitch? If so, why?

3) Why did you decide to take up knitting?

4) What do you enjoy about it, what do you get out of it?

5) What image do you think knitting has? Do you think there is still an association with old ladies or has this changed?

6) Do you think knitting and crafts get the same attention as other arts? Do you think they should be worthy of the same interest?

7) Knitting has traditionally been defined as women's work, as something domestic which holds us back from equality. If this is true, why are so many young women engaging in it?


----------------------------------------

I can't knit yet, but I've recently taught myself to crochet, so these are about crochet if that's alright!

1) I've been trying to learn to both knit and crochet for years, and everybody (mum, grandma, many family friends!) who's ever attempted to teach me has almost murdered me in frustration ha so I subscribed to a 'learn to crochet' magazine recently and learned that way!

2) I don't attend any groups, but we do have friends who like to get together and knit so I might start joining them, because it does get a bit lonely crocheting on my own in front of the TV!

3) I wanted to be able to make things like my mum and grandma do - we have so many lovely things around the house that are homemade, and they've lasted for years and years and I wanted to be able to make things like that, perhaps for my children...and also to pass some time creatively because my job is only part-time!

4) I enjoy how quickly you can create something...although I'd like to be quicker! It's really satisfying and something to chat about!

5) When I was younger it definitely had an association with older people, but my mum has always knitted and crocheted since being a teenager, so the idea grew on me as I got older, and now I know so many people who knit socially, I think the image has reversed and it's a bit cool now!

6) No I don't think they get the same recognition, unless there's something really very different about what's been made. I'm not sure whether they should have as much recognition...I guess I think they should have more within fashion and textiles rather than art. A lot of what is created when you knit, certainly as a beginner, is done from a pattern, so arguably more repetitive and less creative than other arts, but I think really spectacular creations are getting more and more recognition, especially with the increase in fashion and craft blogs and information being shared so easily.

7) I think nowadays it's easier for young women (in the context of young British women taking up knitting and crafts) to do exactly what they want to do with much less fear of being judged than perhaps twenty/thirty years ago when a lot of feminist activity was focused on equality, and to be equal, women had to shake off traditional views of themselves. Nowadays, if women want to do something traditionally seen as masculine (engineering, armed forces, go into business etc), they are for the most part positively encouraged, so it gives the freedom to do exactly what you want to do without fear of being seen as either masculine or feminine whether it be flying a plane, building a train engine, making cards (my boyfriend will be delighted I'm sharing that he does ha!), knit a scarf or be a doctor. I really don't know enough about it to discuss it particularly intelligently, it just feels that way to me!

I'd love to hear all your thoughts!



In other news, the tiny bit of crochet at the top of the post was the beginning of my boyfriend's cushion (which I began rambling about in this post!) and I've since decided that the wool, despite being beautiful, is far more suited to a baby than to a 24-year-old boy and it's also so fine that the four rows above took me the best part of two hours...I should probably have realised this sooner, but now I have two balls of wool and no babies to crochet anything for haha so has anybody got any ideas? I also need to buy some more manly wool for this...I guess practise makes perfect, though!

5 comments:

Bluebelle said...

I just found your blog but as I've just started knitting, here are my answers!

1) I was taught at primary school abroad but had forgotten. And then last month I started again, and taught myself from a website I found through google.
2) I don't attend any groups. There is one at my church but it is full of older ladies and I don't think I'm quite up to their speed/standards yet!
3) I'm quite crafty and recently took up painting after years of thinking I couldn't paint. And that was so much fun I did the same thing with knitting!
4) It's relaxing, you don't have to get lots of stuff out or make a mess to do it, unlike with paper crafts or painting.
5) I think there is a bit of an association with old ladies but lots of younger people do it too.
6) If people are interested in knitting and crafts they will get some attention but unlike performance arts (if that's the kind of thing you're thinking of) they work just as well without an audience!
7) There is nothing wrong with women doing jobs which are defined as women's work, as long as they aren't stopped from doing anything else they'd like too - there's often reasons behind stereotypes like this - like that women enjoy making clothes and things for the home, they enjoy calm activities which give you the chance to be sociable too...I don't see any reason why young women (or young men!) shouldn't take up knitting!

Sarah, thanks for the discussion topic, it was really interested, I'll be checking back!

Anna said...

1) My mum and all 3 of my grans were knitters.My gran who is still with us and thriving into her 80s still knits practically daily and i call upon her if i ever get stuck.It was mainly her and my mum who taught me.

2)no i dont attend any group generally dont have the time. i sometimes get togther with a friend or two and have a stitch n chat evening. its nice to socialise with it and help each other out and swop opinions and knowledge with each other.

3)It's just something ive always done along with many other crafts.

4)I like to be able to make gifts and myself things sometimes.it can be a challenge and labour of love at times.I like the idea of making objects for special presents something that comes from the heart. having something unfold and appear from a long piece of string effectively is pretty amazing hey. a craft that have been on this earth for along long time originally to clothe people and keep them warm.

5)I do think it is changing theres always going to be some people who dont realise how 'trendy' it has become and see it as an old ladies past time. Its great to see all ages taking up and not to be embarassed that they are knitting and crocheting.

6) no i dont think it does. i think it is a matter of time and the divide will narrow and it will all be on the same level. I dont see why is is seen differently really but it is.

7)I agree with Sarah on this one there are some jobs that no matter how much equality we have and want woman and men will always do some jobs better than the other...not all, some will break the rules.
generally speaking woman like to nest more and make things for the home and want to make sure their families are clothed etc and in doing that we make things, but thats not saying men cant and arent great at it too. look at all the amazing fashion designers for a start, out there.
its now becoming a great way to socialise and relax too.long may it carry on. not only do we have a useful,practical skill/hobby we now have a social one too. it can be very theraputic and i recommend it to anyone and everyone :)

hope thats been of some help.

Anna x

Classic Becca said...

1) How did you learn to knit? Were you taught by a family member or friend?

My Nanna was an amazing knitter, cardigans, cushions, and toys, nothing ever simple, I collected Garfield things and she knitted me a Garfield Cushion, I will never be as good as that but that's the kind of knitting that I do relate to older people. My mum taught me too knit when I was a kid and my Nanna (my dads mum)taught my mum. I started knitting again Xmas 2008 and found casting on HARD! But I finally learned again and now knit one type of stitch and mainly in straight lines :)

2) Do you attend any knitting groups, such as stitch 'n bitch? If so, why?

I don't attend any groups, but a few people have asked me to teach them the basics to add to their craft skills, so will probably form a mini group.

3) Why did you decide to take up knitting?

I like knitting because you can create something that can - with a bit of imagination - be anything and it is relaxing.

4) What do you enjoy about it, what do you get out of it?

I enjoy making knitted things for my Etsy shop and for seeing something turn from a lump of wool into a usable item. It's relaxing and enjoyable, and keeps your hands busy!

5) What image do you think knitting has? Do you think there is still an association with old ladies or has this changed?

Knitting has a total image change, it's become Retro-chic now and it's become a cool thing, I think that has only recently happened though as even though it was only over a year ago, I found my self covering up/hiding my new found knitting love..until I didn't care what anyone thought and just told them, the un-crafty started to soon realise it was a Retro thing.

6) Do you think knitting and crafts get the same attention as other arts? Do you think they should be worthy of the same interest?

I think its all person dependant, if its down to individuals then it's just about personal taste. But on a larger scale, it won't get a huge amount of attention at the moment unless its successful - I think they think it's cute rather than seeing it as a process the same as painting or sculpting (I am a fan of any media I can get my hands on) all art, craft & design has a creative process but they are deemed as different and for different types. There is a clearly huge demand for handmade goods though, if there wasn't the internet wouldn't be full of the huge amount of sites/bloggers/shoppers of crafts and knitting.

7) Knitting has traditionally been defined as women's work, as something domestic which holds us back from equality. If this is true, why are so many young women engaging in it?

I think it's as simple as there is no better feeling than making something yourself that you can then utilise. Traditionally it was a need and now it is a want.

Hope that's of some help! :)

Becca x

Sarah said...

Thanks, everyone, these answers are great! Keep them coming! :-D

lori vliegen said...

hi sarah! i'm not a knitter (but my daughter is, and she finds it very relaxing!), but i wanted to say hello because i noticed that you had stopped by my blog.....thank you! it's great to meet you! :)))

Exchange Links with Wrapped Up With String!

  © Blogger template Shush by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP