A Reply to the “Knitting Mania”

I happened to see this in my work twitter feed:

So of course I needed to find the whole poem. “The Knitting Mania” has been transcribed by The Knitting Genealogist. The original can be found in the Gale database 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II. (Hampshire Advertiser & Salisbury Guardian (Southampton, England), Saturday, December 11, 1847; pg. 7; Issue 1269. Sourced from the British Library. Gale Document Number: R3208548744).

[After I posted this, I learned from meta-cat that it was reprinted in the “latest issue of Knitting Traditions, a Piecework special issue from Interweave Press.”]

A response was published a few weeks later, which I have transcribed below.

Hampshire Advertiser & Salisbury Guardian (Southampton, England), Saturday, January 01, 1848; pg. 7; Issue 1272. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II. Sourced from the British Library. Gale Document Number: R3208786495

A Reply to the “Knitting Mania,”

My knitting friends have taken, sir, a great offence I find.
At these remarks addressed to them—they think them most unkind;
And have requested me to write immediately, through you,
A short reply to him, and all the “anti-knitters” too.

The nobler sex (?) may smoke cigars as often as they please,
And waste their time and money in such low pursuits as these;
And yet the innocent employ of knitting they condemn,
And women must not work in peace without consulting them.

But while this grumbling brother tries his sisters to deride,
I fancy all the industry exists upon their side;
I don’t suppose he works too much, or else he would not feel
So sadly vex’d and discomposed at their perpetual zeal.

And after all, why does he thus the “knitting mania” blame?
Is it that women ought to have a nobler work and aim?
Is it that they should cultivate their minds with ardent care,
And of the wealth of intellect possess their proper share?

Ah, no! such blessed truths as these to him are dull and dim;
He murmurs that they do not knit nice comforters for him!
He frets because a button is not always in its place;
Oh! selfishness is plainly stamp’d on his fault-finding face.

I speak with boldness, sir, because I am myself exempt
From this sad knitting which excites our poet’s stern contempt;
I mention this to prove I am a fitting judge in strife
And not to recommend myself as his appropriate wife.

His wife! oh no! I’d rather be unmarried all my days,
Or practice knitting till I won all his four sisters’ praise,
Then wed myself with one who deems that women’s loveliness
Consists in mending day by day his articles of dress!

Pray, Mr. Editor, can you reveal this grumbler’s name?
I have no doubt he kept it back for very fear and shame;
Ladies, whether they knit or not, such cowardice detest,
And therefore I subscribe myself,

Yours truly,
Katherine West

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