7 Historical Photos of People Knitting - Patty Lyons | Knitting Teacher

7 Historical Photos of People Knitting

In the era of social media, photos are all pretty much digital. But for some of us, we may remember photos B.S.(Before Social Media). Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook and Instagram (where you can find all my pretty photos) but there was something truly special about the process of capturing a photo on film and sending it into a shop to get printed. The anticipation while waiting to get your pictures back was so exciting.

Personally, I love candid photos; I enjoy seeing people truly being in their element. That’s why I’m so fond of People Knitting: A Century of Photographs, by Barbara Levine. Barbara combines my appreciation for great photography and knitting in this vintage collection of people knitting throughout history. She showcases lovely candids of people knitting and enjoying life, and also staged photos of people with their knitting, showing us just how prevalent knitting was back then. 

Here are 7 of my favorite photos from this historical collection, as they feature a range of knitters in diverse scenarios.

Photograph by J. Peterson, ca. 1939, Shetland Museum and Archives.

“Photograph by J. Peterson, ca. 1939, Shetland Museum and Archives.”

"First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt knits while attending 'We’re in the Army Now,' a conference held at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, 1941."

“First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt knits while attending ‘We’re in the Army Now,’ a conference held at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, 1941.”

"Knitting for the forces at the beauty salon, London, 1940.”

“Knitting for the forces at the beauty salon, London, 1940.”

"Men’s knitting group, Florida, ca. 1918"

“Men’s knitting group, Florida, ca. 1918”

“Carte de visite showing Sojourner Truth (c. 1880)”

“Carte de visite showing Sojourner Truth (c. 1880)”

"Ambrotype, ca. 1860, of a married couple. The wife is pictured with her knitting to show she is a woman of character and virtue."

“Ambrotype, ca. 1860, of a married couple. The wife is pictured with her knitting to show she is a woman of character and virtue.”

"Girls engaged in knitting and making toy animals in the handicraft class of the St. Simon’s Youth Center of the National Youth Administration, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1941. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division."

“Girls engaged in knitting and making toy animals in the handicraft class of the St. Simon’s Youth Center of the National Youth Administration, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1941. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.”

Here’s a personal challenge for you. I encourage you to take as many photos as you can, of yourself knitting, your finished projects, you wearing the item, and even your WIPs. One day, you’ll look back and be so proud of all you accomplished! 

There’s a new trend on Instagram of taking a photo of your knit outfit and using the hashtag #todaysknitoutfit. I don’t remember to do it every day, but I’m really loving following this hashtag. Here’s my most recent – Harbor Springs.

And, if you’re up for a little challenge, and some friendly social engagement, try your hand at joining a Knit Along. You can track and share photos of your progress on social media or one of the designated Ravelry boards. Fellow knitters have so much fun sharing tips, updating us with their WIPs, and final projects. There’s a grand prize from the Instagram photos, so make sure to use our hashtag #RoselleKAL.

You can now join the Roselle Tee KAL, at any time, which comes with handy video instructions. Take advantage of a sweet discount before May 20, 2019!

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3 comments

  • Barbara Levine April 25, 2019   Reply →

    So glad you are enjoying my book, People Knitting: A Century of Photographs! Thank You!

  • Missy April 26, 2019   Reply →

    I also adore this book, thank you to Ms. Levine!! BUT – I have to comment that the pic of the cherubic little girl petting the cat is my favorite, not because of the sheer adorableness of it, but because THAT TEENSY CHILD HAS A TON OF RIBBED KNITTING ALREADY DONE UNDER HER ARM, AND SHE’S CLACKING AWAY ON FULL SIZE DPN’S!! You GO, cherubic little child!! This is a SERIOUS knitter!! I have friends who have knit for years now and are still scared to even try simple socks, and it’s solely because DPN’s terrify them!!! LOL!!!

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