Accepted paper:

Peculiar and enforced dwellers in knitting


Anna Rauhala (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

Knitting is today related with dwelling in positive spaces as it creates mental wellbeing. Historically it has created different kind of wellbeing as compulsory skill in household. Knitting has been associated with feminine, and has therefore for male knitters meant dwelling in contradictory spaces.

Paper long abstract:

Knitting is a craft which is today related with dwelling in a positive space, as it creates wellbeing by joy of making, creativity and calming rhythm with benefits of meditation. Instead of a voluntary hobby with creative self-expressions, knitting has in historical context been a required task mainly for girls and women. Knitting was considered as an important skill, since it provided necessary pieces of clothing for household economy, as well as a possibility for making additional income. Knitting has also been a compulsory part of craft education at schools. Not only was the craft skill itself considered important, but also the educational means of instilling obedience and discipline. Knitting has been associated with feminine and domestic settings, although it has not solely been a craft for women. This arises the questions: What were the attitudes towards the knitters who did not fit into this scenery? How did the community and individuals react with male knitters? Who were the male knitters and what were the reasons for their knitting? This presentation deals with the wellbeing and gendered aspects of knitting in Finland in the late 19th and the first half of 20th century. It is based on the questionnaire-material collected in 1962-1974 and preserved in the Archives of the National Board of Antiquity in Finland. The presentation highlights the twofold meanings and attitudes towards knitting. Firstly knitting as a necessary skill passed on as heritage at homes likewise through institutional education, and secondly knitting as a skill of difference.

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Dwelling in craft