Writing & Presentations


Wars and warm socks! Perils and purls! High treason and high art! Knitting America shows the cultural history of knitting from pilgrims to pioneers, immigrants to native peoples, through war and peace. More than 300 color and black-and-white images of knitters and knitwear, plus 20 historical knitting patterns.

Strawn, S. M. (2007). Knitting America: A glorious history from warm socks to high art. St. Paul, MN: Voyageur Press. Awarded first place in crafts category, 2007 Midwest Independent Book Publishers. Available as print and e-book.


My collaboration with dress history scholar Ann W Braaten restored a mid-century knitting designer to her rightful place as a Studio Crafts Movement artist in our chapter titled “Virginia Woods Bellamy: The Poet as Knitter.” The hidden history of American fashion: Women designers in the 20th century N. Diehl (Ed.), London: Bloomsbury.

Who are the artists? Quilters, knitters, seamstresses, embroiderers, and all makers and stitchers of cloth and clothing claim a place at the political and gendered table in the art world.

Strawn, S. M. (2010). American women and wartime hand knitting, 1750-1950. In M. D. Goggin & B. T. Tobin (Eds.), Women and the material culture of needlework & textiles, 1750-1950. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 245-259.

Why do we think “skiing” when we see Nordic knitting design? During the 1930s, developers of the fledgling American ski industry were eager to maintain skiing’s Norwegian heritage and branded the sport with Nordic designs on mittens and sweaters

Why did jackets with embroidered symbols of Mexican culture become a trend in mid-century North America? Souvenir jackets hold the history of post-World War II political relations between North America and Mexico.

I published my research on Norwegian knitted mittens and gloves and, with Rogelia Lily Ibarra, our research on the politics of the “Mexican Tourist/Souvenir Jacket” in Ethnic dress in the United States: A cultural encyclopedia (A. Lynch and M. D. Strauss (Eds.), 2015. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield).

Cover of "Women and the material culture of needlework and textiles, 1750-1950.'

My chapter titled “American Women and Wartime Hand Knitting, 1750-1950” appears M. D. Goggin & B. T. Tobin (Eds.), Women and the material culture of needlework and textiles, 1750-1950. Aldershot, UK:  Ashgate Publishing.

Other Publications

  • Another noble cause: Suffragist knitters of World War I. PieceWork (Summer, 2023), 45-49.
  • The Art of self-dress: Closures and independence. PieceWork (Winter 2021), 8-12.
  • Ellen Harding Baker’s solar system quilt, PieceWork (Winter, 2020), 28-32.
  • Braaten, A. W. and Strawn, S. (Winter, 2019). Further discoveries of Virginia Woods Bellamy’s geometric number knitting. PieceWork, 50-53.
  • Strawn, S. (Spring, 2019). Patriotic knitting bags of World War I. PieceWork, 64-67.
  • Strawn, S. (Winter, 2018). Women and needlework magazines: Opportunity, recognition, income! PieceWork, 45-51.
  • Strawn, S. (September/October, 2017). Gaman: Embroidered mittens from the Minidoka Relocation Center. PieceWork, 8-13.
  • Strawn, S. and Ibarra, R. L. (July/August, 2017). “Here we go to Mexico”: Embroidered Mexican souvenir jackets. PieceWork, 34-37.
  • Strawn, S. (July/August, 2017). Finding sport mittens from Norway: A research journey. PieceWork, 54-57.
  • Strawn, S. and Braaten, A. (March/April, 2017). Virginia Woods Bellamy and the puffbunny wardrobe. PieceWork, 25-30.
  • Strawn, S. (May/June, 2016). A mysterious handmade tatting-sample book. PieceWork, 33-36.
  • Strawn, S. (Fall, 2015). “You’ve got to really like your job”: Department stores as purveyors of yarn and knitting knowledge, 1930-1960. Knitting Traditions, 84-88. 
  • Strawn, S. (Spring, 2015). “The life of a wandering princess, mine”: The travels of Susan Shelby Magoffin on the Santa Fe Trail, 1846-1847. Knitting Traditions, 62-65.
  • Strawn, S. (2014). The curious case of the 1940 Suomi Olympic mittens. Winter Games. Loveland CO: F & W Media, e-book, 1-2.
  • Strawn, S. (2014). Knitting comforts for the troops. The Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits, 20-25.
  • Strawn, S. (May/June, 2013). Susan B. Anthony: A letter about lace. PieceWork, 57-60.
  • Strawn, S. (Spring, 2013). Knitting in the Amanas. Knitting Traditions, 34-37.
  • Strawn, S. (March/April, 2013). Dancing couples: A Nordic design for knitting. PieceWork, 16-19.
  • Strawn, S. (November/December 2012). Florence Yoder Wilson and America’s immigrant needleworkers. PieceWork, 57-60.
  • Strawn, S. (Fall, 2011). The knitted snowsuit: Keeping American snow babies warm and cozy since 1920. Knitting Traditions, 108-110.
  • Strawn, S. (Spring, 2011). “Comfort and good looks”: Sweaters and scarves as fashion essentials. Knitting Traditions, 92-94.
  • Strawn, S. (November/December, 2010). “Simply another name for perfection”: Corticelli silk. PieceWork, 34-37.
  • Strawn, S. M. (March/April, 2010). In appreciation of potholders. PieceWork, 18-21.Strawn, S. M. (January/February, 2010). A child’s mitten from sixteenth-century London. PieceWork, 36-37.
  • Strawn, S. (2010). Especially for the baby: Amana star-pattern bonnets. Knitting Traditions. Loveland CO: Interweave Press, 44-46.
  • Strawn, S. (January/February 2009). An unfinished sweater: The wartime knitting of Wardi Keter Kalil. PieceWork, 30-32.
  • Strawn, S. (November/December, 2008). The baby soaker: A most humble hand knit. PieceWork, 16-19.
  • Strawn, S. (September/October, 2008). Traveling stitches. PieceWork, 16-21.
  • Strawn, S. (Spring 2006). Navajo-Churro wool. Knit It!, 22-25.
  • Strawn, S. (May/June 2005). The wedding cloak of Johann Georg I. PieceWork, 22-23.
  • Strawn, S. (September, 2004). Culinary herb goes dye crazy. The Herb Companion, 22-28.
  • Strawn, S. (Fall, 2003). Expanding the digital edges. Surface Design Journal, 12-15.
  • Strawn, S. (Spring, 2003). The Sheep is Life celebration. Surface Design Journal Newsletter, 14-15.
  • Strawn, S. (Winter, 2001). Mohair: The chosen fiber. Interweave Knits, 46-48.
  • Strawn, S. (November/December, 2000). Especially for the baby: Amana star-pattern knitted bonnets. PieceWork, 44-46.
  • Strawn, S. (Winter, 2000/01). Stockings and story. Interweave Knits, 112.
  • Strawn, S. (Summer, 2000). Spinning and a Colombian road trip. Spin-Off, 79-80.
  • Strawn, S. (Summer, 2000). Estonian wooden distaffs. Spin-Off, 81-83.
  • Strawn, S. (July/August, 1999). Patriotic airplane quilts. PieceWork, 42-46.
  • Strawn, S. (Summer, 1999). Toadlena trading post: The middle of everywhere. Spin-Off, 24-25.
  • Strawn, S. (Fall, 1998). Spinning in the Aztec world: Duty, cotton, and the Codex Mendoza.  Spin-Off, 82-89.
  • Strawn, S. (January/February, 1998). Sequined flags of Haiti. PieceWork, 14-21.
  • Strawn, S. (September/October, 1997). Knitting in the Amanas. PieceWork, 18-21.Susan, S. (March/April 1997). Playful, practical pot holders. PieceWork, 44-45.

Knitting Designs

  • Strawn, S. (Spring, 2019). World War I Service Socks to knit. PieceWork, 68-69.
  • Strawn, S. (September/October, 2017). Gaman mittens to knit and embroider. PieceWork, 14-16.
  • Strawn, S. (July/August, 2017). A Norwegian barnelue to knit. PieceWork, 58-59
  • Strawn, S. (September/October, 2016). A scarf to knit for Vera. PieceWork, 42-44.
  • Strawn, S. (Fall, 2015). Vintage sport socks. Knitting Traditions, 71-73. 
  • Strawn, S. (2015). 1847 stockings. Knitting Traditions, 89-91.
  • Strawn, S. (2015). A bonnet and wristlets for baby Emma. The Best of Jane Austin Knits.
  • Strawn, S. (2014). Tea cozy for cook. The Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits II.
  • Strawn, S. (2014). Mittens based on a Finnish-American design. Winter Games. Loveland CO: F & W Media, e-book, 3-6.
  • Strawn, S. (2014). World War I comforts for the troops: Hot-water bottle cover. The Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits, 128, 130.
  • Strawn, S. (2013). Dancing couple: A Nordic cardigan. PieceWork, 47-49.
  • Strawn, S. (2012). Number knitting: The new all-ways stretch method. Knitting Traditions, 26-29.
  • Strawn, S. (Fall, 2012). A bonnet and wristlets for baby Emma. Jane Austen Knits, 56, 68.
  • Strawn, S. (Spring, 2011). Lydia Bennet secret stockings. Jane Austen Knits, 32, 54-55.
  • Strawn, S. (2011). The baby bunting snowsuit. Knitting Traditions, 111-113.
  • Strawn, S. (2011). The Imogene scarf. Strawn, S.  Knitting Traditions. Loveland CO: Interweave Press, 95.
  • Strawn, S. (November/December 2010). Fancy silk mittens to knit. PieceWork, 38-39.
  • Strawn, S. (2010). Amana star-pattern knitted bonnets. Knitting Traditions. Loveland CO: Interweave Press, 44-46.
  • Strawn, S. (January/February 2010). Mittens to knit inspired by a late-medieval mitten. PieceWork, 34-35.
  • Strawn, S. (2009). Keep them warm wristlets. Interweave Knits Accessories 2009. Loveland CO: Interweave Press, 120, 127.
  • Strawn, S. (January/February 2009). Fingerless mitts: A new pattern from wartime shooting mittens. PieceWork, 32-33
  • Strawn, S. (November/December 2008). A baby soaker to knit. PieceWork, 19-20.
  • Strawn, S. M. (Spring 2006). Navajo-Churro handbag to knit. Knit It!, 24.
  • Strawn, S. M. (Fall 2005). Cozy socks. Knit It! 20.
  • Strawn, S. (November, 2000). Especially for the baby: Amana star pattern bonnets. PieceWork, 44-46

Presentations, Available Online or In Person

I love sharing my travels and research about stories held in knitting, cloth, and clothing. Please contact me if your knitting, reading, or genealogy group would like me to present one of the following illustrated talks online or in person (nearby ).

Knitting History

The Woman Citizen magazine cover
“Win-the-War Women: The Knitter,” June 1, 1918. Illustration by C. D. Batchelor.

“Remember Pearl Harbor, Purl Harder”: The Knitting Penelopes of the American Home Front

Follow the history of women and men who knit to support the troops during wartime.

Needlecraft The Home Arts Magazine, March 1935
Needlecraft The Home Arts Magazine, March 1935

“Ladies, You Have Entirely Too Much Free Time on Your Hands”: The Image of Knitters

Discover ways that media, art, and literature construct the image of knitters and knitting.

Illustration of Nordic-style mitten

Nordic Knitting and the Birth of the Pacific Northwest Ski Industry

What? Skiers didn’t always wear Nordic design sweaters? Learn the story of the campaign to defend the Norwegian-ness of skiing.

"Number Knitting: The New All-Ways-Stretch Method" by Virginia Woods Bellamy

Finding Virginia Woods Bellamy: The Legacy of Number Knitting

Why did prominent knitting designer Virginia Bellamy disappear from the historic record? Learn the story of this fascinating poet, knitter, and inventor of number knitting.

Cultural History of Cloth and Clothing

Needlecraft The Home Arts Magazine

“Our New Citizens”: The Immigrant Advocacy Campaign of Florence Yoder Wilson

Journalist Florence Yoder Wilson conveyed pro-immigration messages to women during the 1930s through stories written for Needlecraft Magazine, despite the anti-immigration bias. Wilson believed that beautiful traditional clothing predicted good citizenship.

Two potholders

“Hot Pot I Feel You Not”: A History of Everyday American Women in 50 Pot Holders

Do pot holders matter? Pot holders reveal American folklore and a hidden history of twentieth-century textile makers.


Clues in Clothing photo

Clues in Clothing 1: Use Historical Clothing to Date and Understand Vintage Photographs.

Clothing is a language. Were your ancestors fashion-conscious? You may be surprised! Learn ways that silhouettes and styles of clothing can be used to date and deepen your understanding of family photos.

Clues in Clothing 2 photo

Clues in Clothing 2

Take a closer look at family photos and learn to identify clues to immigration, mourning, and childhood in family photos.

Clues in Clothing 3: Workshop

Up to six members of your organization can submit a family photo for discussion and my analysis of clothing.