Sportsmen and their sweaters: knitting patterns as historical sources
At Recording Leisure Lives: Sports, Games and Pastimes.
07 Apr 2009.
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Old knitting patterns are easy to see as ephemeral, disposable items, artefacts of everyday life that we can see in our memory on our mothers’ laps, but that we don’t readily picture in an archive. They are produced for a very specific purpose, and are not designed to become historians’ sources. However, cultural historians and historians of everyday life can learn from them, and can use them as windows on to their time of production. Using sport-related knitting patterns from Winchester School of Art’s Knitting Reference Library as a case study, this paper will look at what historians can get from this type of evidence: both empirical evidence about disposable income, materials, and technology, and household economics, and more subjective, cultural evidence about class, identity, and gender. The paper will build on the call that I made for sports historians to use wider variety of sources in Sports History: a practical guide (Palgrave, 2007).
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