Growing up in the Blumenthal family, I learned early that yarn is a treasure. Dad used to say that everyone in my family was born with a ball of yarn in their crib, and it was true (often literally!). In recent years it’s sometimes been seen as unusual to know how to knit or crochet, but I can remember a time when crafting was nearly universal, and it was very common to see a basket of yarn in any living room you might happen to visit.
I took this picture in my office at Lion Brand Yarn headquarters; I love keeping antiques that have to do with the tradition of crafting with yarn. This particular piece is an authentic cover of Life Magazine from 1941. The small text in the bottom left-hand corner says “How to Knit” and inside they included knitting instructions and a pattern for a regulation military vest. One line in the article reads, “To the great American question ‘What can I do to help the war effort?’ the commonest answer yet found is ‘Knit.’” Because yarncrafting was so abundant in everyday homes, this was one way folks found to contribute to the war effort.
In that era, it wasn’t out-of-the-ordinary to see people knitting a few stitches at the bus stop, crocheting a few rows in the park, or toting a bag of yarn to the library. Yarn was often a part of home-life too, even if you weren’t born into it like me. Needles would be clicking after supper and during family gatherings, and more than one child from the time has the memory of holding open a hank of yarn for Mom or Grandma while she wound it into a ball (a process I remember personally, one which always seemed to take an unusually long time).
One of the things I love about working with Lion Brand is seeing the culture of knitting and crochet grow with the development of online resources for learning, web-based ways to meet other crafters and online availability of great yarns. My personal dream is to see knitting, crochet and all sorts of yarncrafts become a large part of American culture again. Yarncrafts have an important place in our history, and I’m delighted that today’s communities of yarn-lovers will ensure a place for crafts in our future.
Want to learn more about yarn in history? Try these posts: