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Knitting America: A Glorious Heritage from Warm Socks to High Art Hardcover – October 15, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Bookwormsez syndicated column, December 2007

“This comprehensive book includes some fascinating pictures of knitter past and includes 20 patterns to try. Hint: knitting isn’t just for Moms! Dads and brothers love it, too.”

Spin-Off, Winter 2007

“Susan has successfully balanced both broad picture and details … Her comprehensive overview assembles a vast collection of ideas for enjoyment now and for deeper exploration in the future.”

“This meticulously researched look at knitting America, from Colonial times to the present, earns an honored place on the bookshelf next to A History of Hand Knitting and No Idle hands. Thing is, it’s so visually interesting, you’re going to want to leave it out on the coffee table instead. The illustrations tell the story as vividly as the text…..It’s a must-have for fiber historians.”
--Yarn Market News

Creative Knitting, March 2008
"Part picture book, part social history, part entertainment and all fun, Knitting America places the ordinary task of knitting into the larger context of American history. Beginning with the first American knitters and working her way through the decades to the present, historian and avid knitter Susan Strawn shares a wealth of information about how knitters have supported our troops during wartime, clothed their families, founded businesses and expressed their creativity...There are images of beautiful knitted items, and examples of printed patterns and knitting posters. The text is fascinating and well-researched; if you are looking for a topic for your next master's thesis, you'll find one here. Whether you read it for the history, or look at it for the delightful illustrations, you'll find yourself engrossed in this captivating book".

Book Description

The first fully detailed, full-color, comprehensive history of knitting in America from Colonial times to the present, Knitting America conveys the social and historical realities that the craft embodied as well as the emotional narrative that unfolded at the hands of the nation’s knitters. Also included are twelve historic knitting patterns for today’s knitters. With vintage pattern booklets, posters, postcards, black-and-white historical photographs, and contemporary color photographs of knitted pieces in private collections and in museums, Knitting America comprises a knitted history of American society.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Voyageur Press; 1st edition (October 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760326215
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760326213
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 9.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #613,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I had such high hopes for this book. There are not that many books that look at knitting from a historical perspective, and this one promised to do so with lots of illustrations. Unfortunately, the writer's credibility as a serious historian is lost on the first page when she states that the English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia did not last and moves on to Massachusetts as the locale of the first permanent English settlement in America. Any child in elementary school in America would recognize that this is just wrong. Jamestown was indeed the first permanent English settlement in America and continued to thrive for many years after its establishment. I was left baffled--did she confuse Jamestown with the Roanoke Island, North Carolina colony from the 16th Century that did not survive--and how could her editors not catch this glaring error on the first page of text? Notwithstanding this serious and very basic historical error, I decided to muscle on through the book. The remainder of the book, while written in serviceable prose, could never be described as engaging and certainly not entertaining. And I can't say much for her scholarship, which seems to consist mostly of having looked at a lot of commercially published pattern books through the 20th Century and deducing what she thinks knitting was all about from those. Most of the illustrations come from these commercial pattern books as well. Finally, this book has no serious chops as a pattern book--it doesn't include any pattern after WWII and, as another reviewer has indicated, provides no insight to a modern reader or knitter on how to interpret the early 20th century patterns, which are written very differently than modern patterns. All in all a disappointment--not a good history book, not a good overview of knitting as a cultural, historical or social phenomenon, not a very good coffee table book and certainly not a very good pattern book.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought "Knitting America" after reading a brief description of the book. Thinking that this would be "interesting" I ordered it. It arrived yesterday and the minute I opened the box I was struck by the weight and size of the book. I instantly knew this was not just "another book on knitting". THEN I opened the book!!!

This book is RICH in history with stories, illustrations and vintage patterns. The details held in this book exceeds anything I could have imagined. I have read the first half of this book and I am finding that the outstanding writing literally takes you back in time. In today's world where we live such a considerable easy, soft life then to be taken back and live the colonial and pioneer days on these pages and imagine how exhausting and trying the men and women of that era had it. The strength and stamina being able to knit for family and friends for the need of warmth and the giving selflessly of their time. Bartering their knitted wares for food and supplies after knitting what the family would need to get them through winter.

The story of the elderly knitter that knitted over 300 pairs of socks for soldiers during the Civil War.....

This book will warm your heart, give you a sense of intense pride in the knitters before you who through their stories and craft give you a stronger tie to your own family heritage. The stories on these pages will surely feed your soul.

You will not just be happy in having this book as part of your collection, you'll TREASURE it.
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Format: Hardcover
I ordered this book thinking that it might be a well-researched history of knitting, offering insight into how the times affected the necessity or pleasure of home knitting. Sadly, this is not that book. It does have lots of amusing reproductions of period advertisements and a variety of historical patterns that you might want to make yourself. You will need to be an experienced knitter to do so, since there are no basic instructions for the novice. Hopefully you will have a knitting granny nearby who can get you started. There is no glossary of knitting terms, either, so unless you are familiar with terms like "fulling the wool" you may not understand some of the references. While there is an appendix of sources, it is difficult to tell where in the book these references are cited, so if you're looking for a definitive history, this is not the book for you. As the author strolled through historical periods, I had hoped for more insight into how knitting reflected current society. There was a bit of that during the WW period, but frankly, I could have learned as much from a period movie about the home front. If you look forward to lots of pictures of yarn advertisements through the ages, then this is the book for you. They are abundant and well-reproduced. If you are looking for meaning based on scholarly research or in-depth exploration of how knitting reflected various historical moments including modern artists, then you should look elsewhere.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is not only a gorgeous coffee table quality book with rare and vintage pictures, but it's historic wealth is impeccable. One reviewer unfairly said the history was wrong because the author said the Jamestown settlement wasn't successful. Well, in the next page, the author explains what she meant. Settlers learned from the Jamestown settlement that the climate wasn't balmy and needed to bring knitted hats, socks etc. So many froze to death in Jamestown...

This book is written in an easy to understand style I appreciated. The author spent just enough time on each topic and then moved on, making it a page turner.

I highly recommend this book to any knitter. As someone who knits prayer shawls, it made me realize that things stitched in love really do help people. The story of the soldiers in the Civil War being encouraged by a knitter attaching a note to the item they made for a total stranger, and how it helped the moral of the troops moved me...literally...to keep knitting things for loved ones or total stangers.
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