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Riposte to “The Knitting Mania”

Illustrating 'The Smoking Mania'?

One woman didn’t stand for the chauvinistic Anonymous’s poem, and gave him a reply with both barrels blazing. Interesting to note, she was not even a knitter, herself. I hope she took up the needles afterwards.

I had a quick look on the 1851 Census for a Katharine/Catherine or Kitty West. No real likely candidates for our woman, here, although it would always be a tough one as she could have got married (presumably not to Mr Anonymous) between 1848 and 1851, or died (possibly a better fate than marrying Mr Anonymous), or be over any one of the county boundaries that border Hampshire, or moved a long way from there. So it was always a long shot.

Presumably, those in the grip of Knitting Mania were too preoccupied to bother to write a reply. Or maybe Katherine simply wrote the best one.


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 of 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 til I won all his four sisters’ praise,
Than wed myself with one who deems that woman’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.

Hampshire Advertiser & Salisbury Guardian, Saturday, January 01, 1848


2 replies on “Riposte to “The Knitting Mania””

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