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Why the old art of knitting is picking up again

By XN Iraki | October 27th 2021


On a Saturday afternoon at the Limuru Country Club, Winnie Waiyaki (pictured) relaxed with her family after lunch. As they chatted away, she was crocheting and making a scarf.

Crocheting or knitting is increasingly becoming a rare sight among the younger generation.

How did you learn this art? I asked her. ”My mother taught me,” she replied. She added that she‘s also imparting knitting skills to her daughter.

Her children, husband and a family friend listened to the interview with keen interest. She explained how therapeutic knitting was adding that she also did it in memory of her late mother.

Winnie is a clinical psychologist and a university lecturer who finds crocheting as a “healing” practice for stress.

Apart from the scarf that she was making, she explained how she had made pouches, pullovers, bedcovers, male leg warmers (what are those!), bags, blankets and beanies and she did that with pride. She laughed when I asked why we stopped covering sofa sets with knitted covers.

Technology may threaten the art of knitting but our passion can save it. I recall my mum and ladies of her generation knitting most of the time and there was rarely any time for idleness.  

They made scarves, kiondos, school bags, pullovers, leg warmers and balaclavas. There was some pride in seeing your mum knit something for you as you watched, either roasting maize or telling stories. There was no TV or radio then. And I am not that old, I never saw the Union Jack come down! 

The recently discarded 8-4-4 system of education made us hate these arts which were natural and passed from one generation to the next. It seems what is “academised“ is resisted.

That was a great insight from a psychologist. Might her insight explain why parents are resisting the new Competency-Based Curriculum?

Knitting, to her, is a great hobby, a good distraction from routine, giving life a whole new meaning. It must have been very handy during Covid-19. Knitting something from yarn teaches one the art of patience.  Youngsters, can you hear me? Did I hear that knitting can slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s disease?

Winnie promised to crochet something for me soon. I suggest woollen socks which one golfer claims can reduce a handicap (the measure of a golfer‘s potential). Can you knit or crochet? I hear men are at it too. Share your experience, please. And what do “Crochet Sisters” do opposite Nairobi hospital? 

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