Hand knitting in a digital era.
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STEED, J. 2016. Hand knitting in a digital era. In Nimkulrat, N., Kane, F. and Walton, K. (eds.) Crafting textiles in the digital age. London: Bloomsbury, part 3, chapter 9.
This chapter seeks to develop an argument for a more nuanced language in our critical understanding of the cultural and contextual significance of hand knitting within contemporary craft practice, towards developing a clearer articulation of the intrinsic complexities within this craft practice set against emergent digital contexts, technologies and new modes of collaborative socially engaged practices. The physical activity of hand knitting is a relatively simple repetitive action that has often been described as requiring limited skill or ability. Knitting at its most basic can be described as the transformation of a linear thread into an interwoven layered construct, whether as a hand-knitted flat panelled jumper knitted on two pins or a complex multi panelled whole garment produced on a high-end computer controlled seamless 3D knitting machine. However, these basic actions and processes, the transformation of yarn into artefacts is not the whole story or the starting point of this chapter. Instead the author suggests deeper levels of complexity that are embedded within the hand knitting language informed by: haptic, temporal and cultural indices. There are greater levels of embodied tacit and experiential knowledge together with complex associations across culture[s] and customs that call for the development of a far more precise and appropriate language in contextualizing knitting against preconceptions of craft.