New review – In the Loop

This collection of essays goes well beyond glossy photos and patterns, weaving together a serious assessment of knitting, its role in activism, art and more, says Kaite Welsh

“Knitting is many things to many people – it can be cosy, sexy decorative, classic, oversized, micro, clinging, enveloping, chunky, see-through, sophisticated or theatrical.”

Sandy Black’s words in her essay, ‘Knitting technology comes full circle’ could serve as a mission statement for this diverse and witty exploration of essays. Edited by Jessica Hemmings, In the Loop: Knitting Now examines the craft’s renewed popularity in the context of activism, modern literature and contemporary art.

Books about knitting and related crafts have proliferated in recent years – Debbie Stoller’s Stitch and Bitch was the first book to analyse and celebrate the trend and countless others have followed, but none have come close to the intelligent discussion of third wave feminism’s favourite hobby displayed here.

Anyone expecting a light-hearted look at knitting – a few patterns, perhaps, mixed with some yarn porn – will be disappointed. There are no knitted bikinis or artfully-shot pictures of phallic needles to be seen.

Instead, we are treated to essays like Lacey Jane Roberts’ ‘Craft, queerness and guerrilla tactics’, interspersed with glossy photographs of Louise Bourgeois’ Red Room and Mark Newport’s knitted superheroes.

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