You can buy a mug, a tote bag, or a shirt with this phrase emblazoned on it. You can meet a handful of fellow knitters out on the town for World Wide Knit in Public Day or you can share your projects and patterns with the 5.5 million registered users of Ravelry, the social media site for knitters and crocheters. Surprised? You shouldn’t be: knitting, along with other “domestic hobbies,” is exceedingly popular, and has never really gone out of style.
Knitting, sewing, crocheting, needle point, cross stitch, embroidery, quilting, scrapbooking, crafting, building miniatures and doll houses, vegetable gardening, canning and preserving—all traditionally viewed (and often dismissed) by society as “women’s work”—are thriving in today’s do-it-yourself culture. The modern feminist movement of the latter 20th century and the normalization of women in the workplace were assumed to be the death knell for domestic hobbies (and domesticity in general). If women were no longer expected to dedicate all of their energy to creating a tranquil home environment for their husbands and children, then surely they would turn away from the drudgery of hand-stitching samplers. We picture oppressed Victorian ladies hunched over their needlepoint and can’t imagine that there is a place for such an activity in our modern, technology-driven world.