Eleanor Roosevelt knit constantly and was photographed knitting often. I suppose it’s a bit more rare to see a photo of FDR knitting as well, but here it is. There is another much more comprehensive blog post about Eleanor knitting, so I won’t get into anything here. However, neatorama explains (scroll to the second to last point) that this photo, taken shortly after their marriage, was likely a joke: Eleanor is actually holding a cocktail glass (perhaps his favorite pastime) and FDR is shown knitting (her favorite pastime). He’s doing a terrible job holding the working yarn, by the way, which further supports the idea that this is an elaborate joke.
Not only does this image from World War I depict boys knitting for the war effort (sweaters? wide scarves?), but it also shows a black boy in the classroom as well, so an integrated classroom, if a lone black boy can be counted as an integrated classroom. I would like to know more about all of these boys and have been imagining stories for each of them while looking at this picture.
The Shetland Museum and Archives has textile photo archive available. I think this particular photo is interesting because it shows sweaters (jumpers!) being blocked (dressed!) on wooden forms and I kind of wish I had a few. I wonder when these fell out of use (or have they?) and whether or not making modern versions would be a good business idea – surely someone has already considered it. Also, the shawl being blocked is pretty incredible, so fine that you can see the woman standing behind it.
There’s a theory in the fashion world that a period of austerity or recession heralds a return to the comfort and familiarity of tried-and-tested classics. In this way, we seek solace in what we think of as our heritage. Certainly, many of the collections in the shops for this winter feature designs that have their roots in the craft-based industries of the rugged islands in the north Atlantic that gave their names to some of the styles most closely associated with traditional British clothing – Harris, Shetland, Fair Isle. Today these iconic styles are widely copied by mass market producers while the craft industries which developed them struggle to remain viable, the weaving of tweed on the islands of Lewis and Harris being a notable exception. However, they continue to define the way the places and people of the isles are thought of. For the practitioners too, making plays an important social role in how they see themselves.
Read the whole article from 2012 (really, a summary of research), Making the cloth that binds us: spinning, weaving and island identity, here; it’s not that long and is pretty fascinating.