In December 1847, Emily Bronte was publishing ‘Wuthering Heights’ – and probably, she was not knitting. That very month, an anonymous gentleman made his own literary offering. I don’t think he was knitting much that month, either…
“The Knitting Mania
I really must – it is no use – I must speak out my mind
And wonder how the ladies can delight in knitting find;
Such pointed, pricking, sharp-edged tools, such rolling balls of thread,
Such puzzling over bewildering rules with such bewilder’d head.
My mother and my sisters four are clever in this way,
They knit at morning, noon and night; they knit, in fact, all day;
Their little bags, their pointed pins, are in their fingers ever;
In short, I really do believe, they’ve got the knitting fever.
And, after all, what good results, come from such industry?
It is not comforters, or socks, they ever knit for me;
But pence-jugs, purses, smoking-caps, while over chair and screen
Are knitted clothes of every kind, and newest patterns seen.
We’ve mats for every standing thing, we’ve covers for each dish;
We’ve knitted cloths for bread and cheese, for fruit, and flesh, and fish;
Our rich dessert dish is fill’d up with bobbins starch’d and clean,
We wipe our mouths in d’Oyleys of every pattern seen.
How many a scratch and prick I get! I could not count them all!
How many a time about my feet I get the tangled ball.
And often have I borne away a handsome square of knitting
Which clung unto my buttons from the chair where I’ve been sitting.
Alas! Alas! each stitch of work I now must pay for doing
My sisters they will knit for me, but cannot think of sewing.
No buttons can I get put on; no gloves can I get mended,
All little comforts of my home are now left unattended.
I might get married, certainly – but I’ll not think of this -
I know how much a knitting wife can marr domestic bliss;
There are such things as knitted caps, and robes, and trimmings too,
And many other pretty things the ladies now can do.
No – I shall wait until I find a wife as wives should be -
Who for all taste of fancy work of every kind is free;
One who will gladly make, and mend, and every duty prize,
Which may increase her loveliness in a fond husband’s eyes.”
Anonymous, Hampshire Advertiser & Salisbury Guardian, Saturday, December 11, 1847