Knitting As a Tool for Communication

Knitting is a form of fiber craft that requires a needle and a ball of yarn. Its earliest forms were embroidered on cloth and later evolved into the modern knitted fabric of today, in which threads are interlocked to make a flat or three-dimensional surface. The technique has become popular worldwide for clothing, accessories and home furnishings, as well as for crafting political statements and protests.

While much of the contemporary knitter is familiar with the basic stitches, a wide range of patterns are possible for both hand and machine knitting. Some of these create designs or pictures using the knit and purl stitches as pixels; others require an elongated stitch (a row of tall stitching) or short rows to provide a different visual effect. A basic pattern consists of parallel yarns zigzagging lengthwise across the fabric, with each knit stitch securing a loop of an adjacent strand from the previous row.

The mutability of knitting demonstrates its capacity as a tool for communication. As the popularity of yarncraft surges, greater attention to its process and product illuminates how long-established meanings are entwined with newer ones. For example, yarnbombing and craftivism highlight how knitting is a practice that enmeshes experience-centred aesthetics and domestic knowledges with spectator-oriented approaches that bestow social, cultural and political value. Yet, this enmeshing also upholds discursive forces that maintain the marginalization of some experiences and knowledges. Consequently, knitters must continue to engage in the work of disentangling these tensions.

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