Knitting Books: Knitting America, by Susan M. Strawn

Knitting America: A Glorious Heritage from Warm Socks to High Art

Knitting Heritage

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In her introduction to Knitting America, author Susan Strawn quotes one of her predecessors, Richard Rutt, in bemoaning the fact that very little information is available concerning the earliest history of knitting in America. Strawn’s book does little to expand the historical record, but it is a fun overview of nearly four centuries of this not-so ancient craft (compared to weaving, for instance). The section on the first American knitters spans a mere 21 pages, and much of that space is taken up by photos. The picture Thomas Jefferson’s monogrammed slippers shows one of the few extant pieces actually made in the colonies, while most of the others came from Europe. An anecdote from the writing Susan Rowlandson, who was abducted by Indians, tells how she carried and worked upon her knitting during her captivity.

Once the narrative moves into the Victorian period, both factual information and historic examples abound. and by the turn of the twentieth century, readers are treated to a wealth of interesting material. Perhaps the book’s greatest contribution is in its wealth of documented photos of ads, magazines, patterns, and the social aspects of knitting. Also included are 20 historical patterns adapted to modern terminology and materials.

Not a book to be read straight through from cover to cover, but to be browsed and enjoyed for its celebration of knitting.

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