Unraveling Myths: Knitting and the Impact of Feminism in the 1960s and 1970s
Submitted to the faculty of the State University of New York College at Oneonta at its Cooperstown Graduate Program in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in the spring of 2006. this paper investigates the impact of the feminist movement on knitting during the 1960s and 1970s.
A survey of more than 250 American women who actively knit during the time period provided a wealth of information regarding reasons for knitting and personal views on the feminist movement.
A review of popular print literature related to knitting, including women’s magazines, yarn company publications, and knitting pattern and instruction books, revealed a change in how knitting was promoted. No longer promoting knitting as a way to show love for your family, publications reinvented the craft as an empowering tool for self expression.
In summary, women continued to knit during the 1960s and 1970s despite the controversy surrounding highly gendered activities. And although knitting publications began to acknowledge the personal role that knitting played in the lives of American women, they never fully captured the diverse range of motivations. Knitting did - and still does - answer a deeper calling that many feminists and the knitting publications overlooked.
© 2006 Tobi Marie Voigt