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A blanket made from damson merino jumbo yarn.

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Merino Jumbo Yarn

Created by Barbara Grabher

Contributed by Wilmarie Rosado Pérez, 2019

Keywords: Crafty activism, The needle or the pen, Feminist paradoxes, Merino Jumbo Yarn

The object is a blanket that fellow GRACE researcher Barbara Grabher fabricated from merino jumbo yarn. The yarn has been transformed into a blanket through the technique of arm knitting. The technique in combination with the thick yarn visualizes each knot individually: due to the continuous repetition of knots, a soft but consistent surface is created.

In Europe, since the Renaissance, and later during the Romantic and the Victorian period, the literary trope “needle or pen” has been present in discussions concerning women’s authorship. Women were told to use the needle instead of the pen. The needle was conceived as a symbol of women’s domestication, the ‘female pen.’ This instrument was the antithesis of the phallic pen used by writers. In response to social constraints against women’s freedom, some women writers rejected needlework and knitting since they were considered confining labour. However, women’s literary and feminist activism made connections between knitting and writing, a strategy that brought the art of creating literature closer to a domestic endeavour in order to change the gendered dynamics that prevented women from writing. The metaphor of textual work as textile work gave them the perfect excuse to write as they knitted.

Download knitting manual