I’m not 85 years old; knitting is for everyone

Sarah James

I love knitting; I really do. There is something incredibly comforting to me about looping string around sticks. It isn’t always about the finished product, although that is an added bonus, especially around the holidays. To me, knitting is about community and rebelling against consumer culture.

I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t pick up the needles, and I’m sure that some of my professors are less than thrilled with my nervous stitching. I’ve been known to knit at parties, on buses and even while standing in line.

My maternal grandmother taught me how to knit when I was 11 years old. Since then, knitting has been a major part of my life.

My grandmother learned the craft in school, when her sixth grade teacher had the entire class knit blanket squares for soldiers. When she tells me this story, she reiterates: “Even the boys learned to knit! We knit during our lessons. My teacher would sew the squares together and send them off to the soldiers.”

I work at a yarn store in Hudson, and I’ve convinced many of my friends to pick up knitting as well. There is nothing more satisfying to me than teaching a friend the knit stitch and seeing them the next week with a finished product. I love helping customers with their knitting, and nothing compares to the look on their faces when what I’ve taught them finally clicks.

It became apparent to me how universal knitting is a few months ago, when my friend Haruka and I began knitting together. Haruka is from Japan, and sometimes we have difficulty communicating. She wanted to make a stuffed toy for her friend’s birthday but couldn’t find a Japanese pattern to work from. We sat side by side and step by step, we both constructed a tiny plush heart. Knitting served as a language for us, a way to communicate with each other when words failed.

Some people ask me how I can consider myself a feminist when my hobby is something so domestic and outdated. Ironically, knitting is what made me interested in feminism. The author of the popular knitting book, “Stitch ‘N Bitch” is also the editor of Bust, a feminist magazine.

For me, feminism is about choice, and knitting is one of those choices. I would never denounce something like knitting just because it is considered a domestic craft.

Knitting is a way for me to rebel against consumerism. Instead of buying a hat or mittens, I just whip them up in an evening. In lieu of buying my friends expensive gifts, I just knit them something special.

When you knit for someone, you’re also giving the recipient a gift of time, which is far more meaningful than something that can be found at the mall. Every stitch represents a fraction of my life that I spent wrapping string around sticks.

Knitting is an integral part of who I am, and it always will be. It is more than my hobby, more than my job. Knitting binds me to my ancestors and gives me a sense of community and accomplishment with every stitch I make.

Sarah James is a sophomore public relations major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].