cover image People Knitting: A Century of Photographs

People Knitting: A Century of Photographs

Barbara Levine. Princeton Architectural, $16.95 (144p) ISBN 978-1-61689-392-7

Drawing primarily on Levine's collection of vintage photographs, this charming book features snapshots of knitters from the 1860s to the 1960s, showing men and women being focused, compelled, soothed, and inspired by this everyday practical craft. Levine lets the images speak for themselves, leaving details about them to the back index, with an occasional full-page quote about knitting (usually attributed to the New York Times or Atlantic Monthly during the first half of the 20th century). There's a special focus on wartime knitting: a photo from 1940 depicts two salon patrons knitting for soldiers while their hair dries, another shows an interned German man in 1915 solemnly knitting on his cot, and a group of women knit at the University of Hawaii after being evacuated from Pearl City in 1941. These are interspersed with ephemera such as the Red Cross's "Our Boys Need Sox" 1915 poster, the cover of a 1943 booklet teaching civilians how to knit for the Royal Armed Forces, and a cover from an issue of Life magazine that encouraged Americans to knit for the war. Though many of the knitters are anonymous ordinary people, images of celebrities such as Ingrid Bergman and Audrey Hepburn show that knitting has never been a purely working-class endeavor. In this quaint small-size gift book, Levine (Finding Frida Kahlo) brings forward a universality of experience across generations and a sense of camaraderie that will warm the hearts of knitters of today. B&w and color photos. (Oct.)