Many Kiwis growing up during the 20th century, especially in the 1940s and 1950s, would have been extremely familiar with watching one or more relatives knitting whole ranges of jumpers, baby clothes and blankets by hand simply using a pair of knitting needles.
They lived in an age of austerity, before globalisation and cheap worldwide clothing imports. For many, knitting was a necessary activity in order to keep family and friends cheaply clothed. However, mass production of clothing primarily in the Far East means that now, certainly in real terms clothing is far less expensive than it was in the 50s. So, knitting has evolved to become more of a popular pastime than a necessity, but as an art it is certainly a long way from dead.
For example, a large selection of baby clothes can still be knitted, providing not only a cheaper option than purchasing those garments from specialist children’s clothiers, but can also provide a great deal of satisfaction for the relative or friend who created them. Blankets, shawls, jumpers and booties are all knitting favourites and now patterns and yarns are both widely available from the web. Similarly, adult sweaters knitted from the finest yarns are still popular presents to give at Christmas, baby showers and birthdays.
However, as well as being a productive pastime for home knitters there is also a thriving commercial knitting industry in the UK, much of it based north. Generating exports valuing almost £23million a year it provides a valuable source of income and does much to promote the quality of textiles produced in modern Great Britain.
Many fabric shops boast a number of colourful boutiques that offer a cornucopia of differing yarns designed to appeal to knitters and crocheters alike. In addition to home-produced yarns the shops also offer a wide and varied range from all over the globe in order to satisfy demand from home knitters.
Whether knitting for pleasure or profit there is no doubt that the internet has allowed knitters to get in touch with those providing knitting necessities, increasing their choices. It has also allowed for the development of an online knitting community.
It may now be more of a pleasure than a necessity, but knitting is a long way from dying out as an art; certainly in the UK, at least!