A history of knitting


Yesterday I was at a seminar about the Swedish history of knitting, or rather upper class knitting, mainly based on four knitting books that came in the 1840’s. Three of them were translations from German and English and one was a Swedish original.


The lecturer, Hanna Bäckström, had test knitted some of the laces that were found in the books and I must say I recognized them both. The finer laces remind me a lot of my Great Lace as did the pictures in from the books. The pattern for the Great Lace is also inspired by older patterns and shawls.

Hanna Bäckström also told about the extensive use of stitches knitted through the back loop in the old pattern books. The test knit of one of those pattern looked like it could be found on any page in any of Hunter Hammersen’s books. Personally I think stitches knit through the back loop create a very tidy look.


It was a very interesting seminar and the thing that struck me the most was the technical development. At the same time as I was looking at a power point presentation with pictures of an old pattern book, very cute but a little meddlesome, that someone had gone through great trouble translating and someone else kept open on a table while following the instructions, I was aslo looking at my pattern as a pdf-file, that I’ve gotten through the Internet straight from the designer herself, in my phone. That’s quite a difference and I can’t even imagine what knitters from the 1840’s would have thought of us knitters from the 21st century. Personally, I think they would have thought us slackers and lazy but at the same time I think that we probably would have found them a little fuzzy and makers of quite useless things*, at least measured by today’s standard. Either way, it’s nice to see that the tradition of knitting is still going strong and that we can still recognize and follow patterns from that long ago. It’s a quite beautiful thing.

*There actually were pattern recommendations for an antimacassar so I felt at the same time connected to the knitters from 160 years ago since I too have made an antimacassar, and also so very far away from them since I made my antimacassar by mistake and find little use of it.