Jennifer Challenging Knitting's Housewife Stereotype
Linden Staub's Jennifer Koch, Masters student in Menswear Knitwear at Royal College of Art, created a beautiful jumper to give us an insight into her world of knitting and explains why she wants to challenge the art form's 'bored housewife stereotype'.
Check out the video above of the amazing timelapse video of Jennifer knitting a jumper in one day!
I learned knitting in primary school when I was 10 years old. We were supposed to knit a little teddy and to be honest I never finished it. When I was about 16 I started to make my own clothes and began knitting. However I was quite slow and it took me ages to make anything and then when I finished school I stopped again.
Fast forward 5 years, I started modeling full time after finishing my BA in Fashion Design. With long waits at castings, jobs and airports I got bored and frustrated with time 'wasted'. To fill my time I got some yarn and needles and started knitting again - I was hooked.
A reaction that I have encountered so many times is: “Oh cool, you knit. My Grandma used to knit. But I couldn't do it.” I always try to tell people that with practice and patience they would be able to knit. But what struck me the most, was the assumption that knitting is something for old ladies and holds the stereotype of being domestic and un-feminist.
In my MA studies I researched the origin of the 'granny' image and realised that until the industrial revolution men and women knitted (sewed and embroidered), so it was un-gendered. Also, knitting craftsmen were normally in guilds thus elevating knitting to a form of art. Although only men were allowed in guilds, it took years of apprenticeship for a young man to become a guild member - so teenage boys held the dream of becoming a master knitter! Not what you first think of when you think of knitting!
With the industrialisation of most textile handicrafts, knitting became a hobby for bored middle class women, who weren't allowed to work and thus wanted to kill time. This image still exists, especially our generation clearly associates knitting with housewives having too much time on their hands.
Furthermore, I find that people assume that I must save so much money by knitting clothes. I don't. Good quality yarn is expensive and a homemade sweater is definitely going to be much more expensive than buying one from a high street brand. What changes when you start knitting is your feeling towards clothes. You spend hours making a garment and it is worth so much more to you than any bought item. You look after it. You are proud of it.