The Secret History of Knitting, a documentary

One of my favourite things about working in a yarn shop and knitting in public is how many people will say, “knitting really is becoming popular, isn’t it?”  While this is true in part, we know that knitting has been popular on an off for many many years.  But how much do we really know about the history of this wonderful activity?

Last November, we were approached by a team who were in the process of filming a documentary about knitting for Makeful, a new channel “celebrating the maker community and the creation of one-of-a-kind, handmade goods.”  They had scheduled an interview with the brilliant Kate Atherley, who had suggested using Yarns Untangled as the locale for their chat.  After their shoot was over, the film company asked us if they could come and get a som footage of a few hours of the life in a yarn shop, for use as extra material in the knitting takeover of the Makeful channel.

After some back and forth, we landed on a Wednesday afternoon last month for the shoot.  The hope was that they would get some candid shots and long-form scenes of basic goings on, in kind of a slow-TV style, and we mean slow!  The crew was able to put together a full three hours of gorgeous material, including some lovely shots of our yarn for an experience they’re calling Knit Purl Knit: Three Hours in a Yarn Shop.  It aired last Sunday at 4pm on Makeful, in advance of the premier of the feature documentary, The Secret History of Knitting.

The feature documentary itself is a charming tour of the history of one of our very favourite pastimes.  The team interviewed some of the knitting world’s most interesting people.  We’re especially loving the cheeky Joyce Meader, historical hand knitter and author.  She seems like she’d be a great person to sit down and have a long chat with, and she’s just one of a plethora of fascinating artists, authors, and historians featured.  Learn about how knitting was used to send codes during World War II, the birth of The Sweater Curse, the relationship between technology and knitting, and the never-ending silliness surrounding knitting and gender.

It’s humbling to learn what a long line of fantastic knitters and traditions of which we are just a tiny part.  If you missed seeing The Secret History of Knitting, have no fear!  The full piece can now be seen on their website,, or simply press play on the video below.  Watch for familiar faces, and leave a comment below telling us which part was your favourite, or tell us your own personal knitting history story.  And if you’ve got three hours to spare, stick around and watch Knit, Purl, Knit: Three Hours in a Yarn Shop afterward!

One thought on “The Secret History of Knitting, a documentary”

  1. Students at an art school is Lausanne, Switzerland, have created a chair that knits a hat while you read . The article is in French, but the pictures tell you everything you need to know!

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