The phrase 'Stitch 'n Bitch' has been around since World War II, when groups of women got together to knit and talk. The term shortly re-appeared in the 1980s before it became the title of the highly acclaimed Stitch 'N' Bitch. The Knitter's Handbook by Debbie Stoller, first published in 2003.
Debbie Stoller's great achievement with this book was to bring knitting back to the fore and to encourage young women (and increasingly young men!) to take up knitting needles and create their own new, individual, fresh and funky jumpers and accessories.
The book is a mix of knitting history, knitting instructions, ideas and patterns.
I was particularly interested in her take on the reason why knitting went out of fashion and is now coming back. I remember being a teenager in the 1980s, where all the girls would bring their knitting to school. Then the 1990s came along, when making your own was no longer valued and instead we bought cheap imports from Asia.
Women were encouraged to be equal to men by breaking into the men's world. At the same time, anything to do with traditional women's work (housework, needle work) was seen as less valuable.
She rightly asks: "Sure, feminism had changed the world, and young girls all across the country had formed soccer leagues, and were growing up to become doctors and astronauts and senators. But why weren't boys learning to knit and sew? Why couldn't we all - women and men alike - take the same kind of pride in the work our mothers had always done as we did in the work of our fathers?"
Stollar, who is a psychologist by training, took up the challenge to 'take back the knit'.
Since the publication of Stitch 'N' Bitch. The Knitter's Handbook, Stollar has gone on to create a whole series of Stitch 'N' Bitch books, from The Happy Hooker. Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet (with detailed instructions and fun things to crochet ) and Son of a Stitch 'n Bitch (which includes knitting ideas and patterns for the younger male cohort) to Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting, which takes you to the next level of knitting with intarsia, lace and cable knitting.
Ready to create your own patterns? The Knitter's Design Journal is a small, A6 diary style book for those who are keen to keep track of their yarn stash (the family jewels, as she calls them!) and projects you have made or would like to make.
The diary has many design pages to sketch out sweater designs and ideas. The journal also includes illustrated descriptions of basic knitting and crochet stitches, a sizing chart and space to note down your own measurements plus those of others you may want to knit for. This is a handy little diary that would fit into your handbag when you are travelling. The journal does not contain any patterns but is made for those who would like to make their own.
Knitting is back big time, especially in Europe and the US. Stollar has definitely contributed to it's revival with her knitting books aimed at the younger market. Young women and men are taking up needles and re-discovering the great fun that comes with creating your own sweaters, socks and other items.
Knitting is addictive - once you get over the hurdle of learning the basic stitches, it becomes an obsession. 'Bitch 'n Stitch' style knitting groups are popping up everywhere - for our very own local Bungendore groups, check out Knit and Natter at the Library.