Knitting: A Restrictive Narrative?

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This article explores the narratives embedded in the public discourse that surrounds knitting in the United Kingdom today. Knitting, a process by which a fabric or 3D object is made, is a familiar concept to most. Using a single end of yarn, and through the repetition of a simple action, a four-way stretch fabric is created. Despite this versatility and the abundance of applications it brings, the general public’s understanding of knitting places it firmly in the domestic and ‘private’ sphere.
Through the analysis of discourse within articles featuring the term ‘knitting’ published in The Guardian in 2021 (United Kingdom’s most widely read broadsheet, Statista (2020)), I will analyse how and why particular representations of knitting still dominate and direct cultural attitudes towards the discipline today. To provide further context to this analysis, I will compare the language used in articles from the same source and timeframe featuring an alternative term: painting. The reason for this comparison is that it provides a means through which narratives concerning both disciplines may become more clearly visible.
With applications spanning the medical, construction and automotive industries (McQuaid and Beesley 2005), knitting, a process that can be zero waste and that is ‘unique, in its simultaneous creation of surface, structure and form’ (Smith and Moore 2020) is very well suited to tackling the environmental challenges we face today. This paper illustrates, however, that there remains a particular narrative that surrounds knitting in sections of the British media, it is one centred on the domestic, the female and increasingly, mental health, that prevents knitting from being contextualized in more broadly innovative ways by the general public. This article aims to uncover the explicit and implicit ways in which language used in this identified section of the British media influences and shapes the public’s understanding of knitting.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInteractions: Studies in Communication & Culture
Issue number1-2
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 23 Oct 2023

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