Norway’s Recent “Knitting War” of Words

In the course of my fascination with Klompelompe I encountered a Norwegian review of knitting books including the Klompelompe book I bought. The review, which you can see if you click through the link above, is not about the knitting books at all.

“All of the knitting books are written by and for women.   Even so, it would be wrong to characterize them as part of a powerful political-feminist movement. Quite the opposite, these books pass on the very matters that are valued as traditionally feminine: the love of ornamental handwork, the desire to dress children well, the joy of homemaking—completely traditional values that we assumed were gone for good.”

Having scornfully dismissed the interests of many modern women, the review goes on to heap further scorn on the idea of knitting as a tradition that connects women with earlier generations. After all, the writer says, women wouldn’t need scores of new knitting books if we have already learned needlework from our mothers and grandmothers. The use of words like “soft” and “natural” and “cozy” gets more scorn, with an economics point that involves a sideswipe at the U.S. How can we sincerely see knitting as relaxing if we then go and talk about it in social media? How can we think it’s contrarian to buy yarn online instead of what might be the Norwegian equivalent of Walmart?

The reviewer has not run out of scorn. There is still plenty left for the idea that knitting is creative. How can we think we’re being creative when we slavishly follow instructions? That is surely evidence of submissiveness, not creativity.

Now that the reviewer has beaten down knitting, he moves on to suggest that modern fashions encourage an “anorexic” look rather than the traditionally “buxom” appearance Norwegian women (and men) once favored.

The translator of the knitting book review summarizes the reviewer’s views with, “Women’s hobbies, magazine-reading, and TV series, along with knitting, are often seen as domestic, and less important than men’s interests like wood-chopping, hunting, fishing, and beer-making, even if those are also nostalgic activities with roots in the old days.”

Apparently, the book review brought out lots of angry knitters to defend the worth of knitting, if not of buxom figures. I love the idea of Norwegian knitters defending their needles in the popular press.

The picture at the top is the Klompelompe romper with one leg completed. The other leg, the straps, and it will be ready for the Baby to wear. It is a Norwegian pattern.