No Idle Hands; The Social History of American Knitting – Anne L MacDonald

No Idle Hands – Anne L MacDonald

I have had this book (on my Kindle) since 2020, but I had a sample of it for much longer. I finally decided to read it.

Here’s the blurb …

“Fascinating . . . What is remarkable about this book is that a history of knitting can function so well as a survey of the changes in women’s roles over time.”–The New York Times Book Review

An historian and lifelong knitter, Anne Macdonald expertly guides readers on a revealing tour of the history of knitting in America. In No Idle Hands, Macdonald considers how the necessity–and the pleasure–of knitting has shaped women’s lives.

Here is the Colonial woman for whom idleness was a sin, and her Victorian counterpart, who enjoyed the pleasure of knitting while visiting with friends; the war wife eager to provide her man with warmth and comfort, and the modern woman busy creating fashionable handknits for herself and her family. Macdonald examines each phase of American history and gives us a clear and compelling look at life, then and now. And through it all, we see how knitting has played an important part in the way society has viewed women–and how women have viewed themselves.

Assembled from articles in magazines, knitting brochures, newspaper clippings and other primary sources, and featuring reproductions of advertisements, illustrations, and photographs from each period, No Idle Hands capture the texture of women’s domestic lives throughout history with great wit and insight.

This was great, if you are at all interested in knitting and history, then this is the book for you. This was published in 1988, and therefore doesn’t cover the last thirty years, but, despite that, it is very interesting. Who knew that knitting was big in the 1930s (and not during war time)? What it also highlights is how women’s roles have changed over time, and how knitting has changed from a necessity to a relaxing hobby that’s good for mental health.

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