Meet Susan Strawn at the Crossroads of Knitting and History

Any PieceWork reader who loves knitting and history will love Knits of Yore. The 2-part DVD set takes viewers to the crossroads of knitting and history as Susan Strawn showcases stunning knitted objects from the past 200 years.

There is no better person to explore the crossroads of knitting and history with than Susan Strawn. She has been involved with PieceWork since its inception in 1993 and still serves as a contributing editor and writer. To see more of Susan’s work, read “Finding Sport Mittens from Norway: A Research Journey” in the July/August 2017 issue of PieceWork and “Gaman: Embroidered Mittens from the Minidoka Relocation Center” with her companion project, Gaman Mittens to Knit and Embroider, in the September/October 2017 issue of PieceWork.

knitting and history

A U.S. World War I poster. Susan discusses the social and cultural importance of wartime knitting in Knits of Yore. Photo by N.Y.: American Lithographic Co./Wikimedia Commons.

Susan is also professor emerita of Apparel Design and Merchandising at Dominican University (Chicago), author of Knitting America: A Glorious History of Warm Socks to High Art (St. Paul, Minnesota: Voyageur, 2007), and an all-around knitting scholar. With Knits of Yore, she takes a step toward reaching one of her highest goals in academia: to get knitting and knitters noticed as topics worthy of scholarly research.

Susan’s many years of collecting fascinating textiles culminate in an enthralling puzzle of historical pieces in Knits of Yore. As Susan says in the video, she dives into three main sources in her research endeavors: publications, literature, and most importantly, the actual knitted pieces themselves. Through studying old magazines, pattern books, and items, she finds the stories behind them, and she shares them with viewers. She has also tapped into her museum connections to tell the stories behind a few other items outside her collection.

These stories of history are impressive enough—the density and precision of Susan’s knowledge is astounding—but she also demonstrates her unmatched skill by teaching viewers how to interpret a 1930s drop-stitch pattern, make an Amana-style picot edge for socks, and start a starburst panel for a knitted cap.

Knits of Yore will teach experienced knitters a thing or two about technique and will spark a curiosity for historical knitting in those just getting their feet wet. If you want to explore knitting and history with the historical knitting queen herself, dive into topics such as knitted bags and pockets, knitting for children, wartime knitting, and fashion knitting of the past with Susan Strawn in Knits of Yore.

Happy learning,

The fun doesn’t end there! To knit history yourself, see these products:


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