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Picture This: Caught our Eyes: Knitting Pictures
Caught our Eyes: Knitting Pictures By Barbara Orbach Natanson
When Digital Library Specialist Anne Mitchell isn't wrangling digital files and managing metadata, she can often be seen with her fingers flying as some beautiful new creation emerges from her knitting needles. It's no wonder that she was particularly adept at finding images of knitters and other practitioners of textile crafts in our collections. Here, with her comments, are some that she found:
Not much information accompanied this photo of children knitting in a Prague classroom. The children appear to be making sweaters. I like to think that schools were a place where some children were learning how to knit AND were given classroom time to work on their knitting projects!
Vinohrady (Prague) primary school knitting and crocheting for Russian aid, Prague Czecho-Slovak Junior Red Cross. Photo, American National Red Cross Collection, 1922. http://bit.ly/2At4CHV
Grandfather Clark does his bit, presumably in support of World War I, by knitting. This picture, which shows the granddaughter and grandfather engaged in an enjoyable and relaxing moment centered around the grandfather knitting what appears to be a sweater sleeve. Most photographs I have come across show women or girls knitting, so I especially love seeing a man who appears to be enjoying himself knitting.
(America Junior) Grandfather Clark does his bit [knitting]. American National Red Cross Collection, 1919. http://bit.ly/2Syv5Lc
That beautiful textiles are created from a simply constructed loom made from tree branches, rocks, and metal cans … wow! The weavers are seated on the ground under an open "tent." A glimpse of the finished fabric can be seen beneath the weavers.
Bedouin women weaving. Photo by Matson Photo Service, between 1940 and 1946. http://bit.ly/2Au0hUX
The American Red Cross collection contains more than 400 pictures documenting their work with "mutiles" (disabled persons) after World War I. This picture of a French farm couple walking "arm-in-arm" across a tilled field caught my eye. It shows the wife multi-tasking (knitting and walking) and keenly focused on her knitting, and the husband, with artificial arms, carrying a basket with contents not easy to identify.
Champcerron [i.e., Champcervon.] Ledrans going to the field, his wife knitting. American National Red Cross Photograph Collection, 1917. http://bit.ly/2Sztjd0
People knitting while walking always catches my eye. One of the girls is leaning on a stick which is perhaps being used as a crutch. I would like to know more about what they are knitting and how much they knit.
Serbian girls walk and knit. Peasant girls in Serbia improve each shining hour by knitting on their way to market... American National Red Cross Photograph Collection, 1920. http://bit.ly/2ApS8Ry
Whether the results are socks, sweaters, blankets or simply well-occupied hands, we hope Anne's pictorial finds spur appreciation for these widely-practiced traditional crafts, consideration of the pictorial possibilities photographers saw in them, and, possibly, inspiration for taking up a new hobby!
Examine the variety of people putting needles to work in "The Knitting Craze"–a double-page spread in a 1914 issue of the comic weekly, Puck. Or ponder the ways in which knitting functions as a symbol in this sampling of cartoons.
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