Monday, October 22, 2012

Knitting in A Doll's House

No, I have not become a victim of a shrink-ray gun. But I HAVE discovered a knitting reference in Henrick Ibsen's play, A Doll's House that is so ridiculously humorous, I absolutely must share it.

"Helmer. Is this yours, this knitting?

Mrs. Linde (taking it). Yes, thank you, I had very nearly forgotten it.

Helmer. So you knit?

Mrs. Linde. Of course.

Helmer. Do you know, you ought to embroider?

Mrs. Linde. Really? Why?

Helmer. Yes, it's far more becoming. Let me show you. You hold the embroidery thus in your left hand, and use the needle with the right--like this--with a long, easy sweep. Do you see?

Mrs. Linde. Yes, perhaps--

Helmer. But in the case of knitting--that can never be anything but ungraceful; look here-- the arms close together, the knitting-needles going up and down-- it sort of has a Chinese effect--."

[Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll's House. 1879. Lexington, KY, 2012. pg. 73 Print. (unknown publishing company)]

First of all, let me clarify a few points about the story for those of you unfamiliar with this play. Helmer is a condescending husband of the main character and Mrs. Linde is the main character's widowed friend who makes a living for herself. The play takes place in the late 1800's and is supposed to make a point about men's view of women as lesser creatures during this era.

That being said, I sure am glad I read this! Here I was thinking that the movement of the needles was a pleasant, soothing rhythm, but it has an exotic, up and down look about it! Silly me. I am going to burn all my needles and take up embroidery IMMEDIATELY*. Who wants my stash?**

In all seriousness, what do you think of that description? I had to stop and laugh for a good 3 minutes about that. I mean this guy is so controlling, he can tell an essential stranger that her craft is ungraceful and she should change it immediately. And the knitting needles really don't go up and down that much, do they? Did Ibsen ever watch someone knit? I am not so sure he did. The movement is so subtle unless it is a beginner who is trying to mimic what they have seen in cartoons on TV.

Ah well, like I said, just thought I would throw that excerpt out there for everyone to think about; please share your thoughts below, I am curious to hear your take on it!

Since that was such a long post with no visuals to go along with it, here are some cat pictures as a reward for getting through all that:

No, that's not a speck on your screen, it is a bug that Biscuit is examining!

Hmm, I really don't remember buying this yarn at the store... 

PS: I have found several other knitting references in literature so this is going to be a little feature! Expect to see some more references as time goes on and I collect more of them!

*I am not trying to make fun of embroidery in anyway, it is a beautiful craft and I give props to everyone who has the skill to make such artful creations using this medium!

**That was a complete and utter joke; it even pained me to write it.


  1. I love "A Doll's House" and haven't seen it referenced in so long. This is a great idea, I think, to talk about knitting in literature! I just finished Dai Sijie's "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress" and there's a whole scene in it in which a woman knits while carrying on conversations. It's worth a read!

    1. Thanks for visiting my blog! It is fun, ready old books to find all the cultural differences; I never realized how knitting really pervaded all social classes back in the day! I will have to check that book out sometime!