Knitters, Weavers and “Women’s Work”

May 16, 2018

Vermont today has no shortage of knitters, crocheters, rug hookers, silkers, sewers and felters. Some are avid hobbyists, and some make a living from their craft. But all are part of a long history of fiber arts in Vermont.

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This Episode’s Featured Object:

Unfinished Silk Stocking

Amanda: The next piece is my favorite bit of this whole display because it speaks to my soul on a very deep level, which is the note here, “Stocking commenced fifty years ago. Unfinished for want of perseverance.”

Mary: I wonder what else she did that she didn’t finish the stocking.

Images: Note written by Laura Anne Flint about the unfinished stocking in her “four stages of silk production” exhibit.

Patty Yoder of Tinmouth incorporated many artistic styles into her hooked rugs, including traditional folk art.

(Top) Katie Wood-Kirchhoff, associate curator at the Shelburne Museum.

(Bottom) Laurel Thatcher Ulrich from Harvard University.

Episode Transcript

Knitter: I think I first learned to knit when I was eight. I didn’t really take it very seriously until much, much later. And I came to it on a really, what I call a serious approach about 10 years ago when I found that there were knitting communities. So I didn’t get to just knit all by myself, I could be with other people and knit. And I happen to really like knitters, so it all worked out really well.

Knitter: I think it’s fun because wherever you go, there’s always somebody. And the second you see them, they have their knitting out, you have an instant connection, instantly. What are you working on? How long have you been doing it? Do you love that yarn? Have you heard about this? It’s immediate.

These women are from a group of knitters, crocheters, and felters who meet every week at Yarn, a fiber arts store in Montpelier.

People in airports. My husband laughs at me because every time I’ve traveled, we get to our gate and then I look around, and if there’s a knitter, I sit down near them, pull out my knitting, and then off we go. He’s like, what is going on? How is this possible? I’m like, we have our conversation right here. We can see it. It’s tangible.

Some of these women have been knitting together for years. For some, this was their first meeting.

Read the full transcript.

Episode Credits

Before Your Time is presented by the Vermont Historical Society, the Vermont Humanities Council, and VTDigger. This episode was produced by Mike Dougherty, Amanda Gustin and Eileen Corcoran, with help from Mary Rogstad. Thanks to our guests, Katie Wood-Kirchhoff, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and the whole crew at Yarn in Montpelier.

Music for this episode is by Michael Chapman and the WoodpilesBlue Dot Sessions, and Podington Bear.