Jessica Hemmings

Textile Writer

Introversion & Knitting: rethinking solitary production (keynote)

In_the_Loop_3In the Loop 3, Winchester, England

Knitting is often celebrated for its social potential. Individuals gather together to share time and conversation while knitting in what are now increasingly rare examples of community spirit. While this potential for knitting is accurate, I want to move away from this well trodden association to instead explore the usefulness of knitting in the formation of meaningful solitary activity. Depictions of knitting as a solitary past time are often presented in negative terms: loneliness, isolation – even madness – appear in literature and films depicting the lone knitter. Drawing on the recently published Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain, this paper will suggest that such stereotypes are the by-product of attitudes that devalue the creative potential of elected individual activity. Cain argues that it is more often the individual, rather than the group, endeavour that results in new ideas. Borrowing from this thinking, the identity and wellbeing of the lone knitter is reconsidered.

The Wellbeing Panel I chaired at In the Loop 3 (Betsan Corkhill, Angela Maddock, Jill Reily)
have co-written “Knitting and Wellbeing” for Textile: the journal of cloth and culture (issue 1, 2014: 34-57) based on our 2012 conference presentations.