“Old knitting patterns are easy to see as ephemeral, disposable items, artefacts of everyday life that we can see in our memory on our mothers’ laps, but that we don’t readily picture in an archive. They are produced for a very specific purpose, and are not designed to become historians’ or biographical researchers’ sources. However, cultural historians and historians of everyday life can learn from them, and can use them as windows on to their time of production. Using sport-related knitting patterns from Winchester School of Art’s Knitting Reference Library as a case study, this paper will look at what historians and biographical researchers can get from this type of evidence: both empirical evidence about disposable income, materials, technology, and household economics, and more subjective, cultural evidence about class, identity, and gender.”
Sweaters and Swimsuits: Knitting patterns as historical sources
Dr Martin Polley, University of Southampton
Friday 11th December 2009: Building 32, room 2097, 2.o0 p.m.