Wednesday, March 14, 2007

History for Knitters Part 2

Just who is Elizabeth Cady Stanton? According to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was born on in 1815 and died on 1902. She was a social activist and a leading figure of the early women's rights movement. Elizabeth is pictured at the left seated next to Susan B Anthony. (Picture from Wikipedia)

Eliza Osborne appears to have been a friend of hers, not a notable person historically since there was no listing for her on Wikipedia. Eliza Osborne is pictured at the right. (Picture from

Lucretia Mott was born in 1793 and died in 1880. She was a Quaker minister, an abolitionist (part of the political movement to abolish slavery) a social reformer, and a proponent of the rights for women. She is sometimes referred to as the first feminist.

Martha Wright was a knitter and the mother of the girl who upset Stanton with her knitting and caused her to write the letter to Eliza Osborne urging her to quit knitting.

William Lloyd Garrison was born in 1805 and died in 1879. He was a prominent person in the movement to abolish slavery and one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society. He was also a journalist and social reformer.

In Stanton’s letter, the word digital does not refer to the type of digital that automatically comes to mind today. Digital refers to the digits of the hand or the fingers, so she is referring to women doing handwork.

I love the way this mirrors the opinions of some people today. Why knit it if you can buy it cheaper? Dishclothes are no longer 25 cents a dozen. That's about all that has changed in this regard. I have been asked the same question when knitting socks. Why buy them when you can buy them so much cheaper? Isn't it intersting that knitters in the 1800's were basically dealing with the same scutiny from others that many knitters face today in the 21st century.

I was especially interested in the part about men in Osborne's poem:

They even used to preach and plan
To spread the fashion, so that man,
Might have this satisfaction;
Instead of idling as men do,
With nervous meddling fingers too,
Why not mate talk with action?

I've often thought about how much I get done watching television or riding in the car. I like to knit for charity or gifts and the men in my life seem to appreciate what I do.

As for the part about being able to knit and talk at the same time.......our McKnitters group and all the Stitch and Bitch type groups that are common throughout the US this century are sure proof of her premise today.

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