Knitting, Women and Art

Knitting, Women and Art

It was suggested in my formative feedback to look at the book ‘The subversive stitch’ by Rozsika Parker. The book explores the relationship of women, art and embroidery. Through her work Parker started to close the chasm that has formed between art and craft. The book looks through a wide range of sources to find why embroidery has become marginalised. As is often the case, a creative outlet enjoyed by women is seen as a way to make them subservient.

“I identified historical hierarchical division of the arts into fine arts and craft as a major force in the marginalisation of women’s work.”


I find it crazy how embroidery is so often not seen as art, it requires such skill and artistry. It is often displayed as such in people homes and I think compared to many stitch crafts it is considered more artistic, yet still is not considered ‘art’.


Crafts, especially stitch craft, is often seen as a women’s activity and is actively devalued. Most crafts that are considered art are those that require specialist equipment, even now. Though progression is being made as women are being accepted as artists there is still derision in needlecraft, as it is seen as a form of domestic decoration.

I have encountered the devaluing so often with my knitting. I would never quote for materials and time at minimum wage, it would just be seen as ridiculous and rude. Even though many who ask would pay more in a posh boutique, my ‘hobby’ is not valued. So many just expect it to be free. It is very hard to value the craft yourself even due to this. I personally would not see most of my knitting as art.

I think that this quote is a large reason why I have this division in my work, most is practical, like a hat or scarf.

Most knitted artwork I have seen is either feminist or using unusual materials or techniques. I do not want to do either. I want to make art and the medium be knitted. Use the skills, materials and techniques traditional with knitting, the art comes the idea, execution and display.

With the piece I intend to make for the exhibition it is not practical. It is art. It is illustrating a point and is using the best medium available to demonstrate this. It is not questioning knitting or women’s work; it is focused on mental health and the focus is on that.

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