Quotations for Lovers of Literature & Fiber Arts

For those of us who long ago lost the battle against fiber craft obsession 🙂 , some phrases and words will always speak to us more loudly than they will to others.  It could range from watching the old movie and informing the people in the room with you that the child (on the screen) who says mother is “crocheting this massive doily for the couch” (Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, 1991) is wrong (it is an antimassacar, not a doily!) to reading the Old or New Testaments of the Bible and fixating on fiber-related imagery, to studying the classics in college and wondering why you’re the only one who “gets” the fiber language and metaphors.

I have gathered several quotations from an eclectic array of sources.  This list by no means serves as even the proverbial toe in the pond, so please feel free to post more!


“And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.”  (The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, 1902-1968)

“The counterpane was of patchwork, full of odd little part-colored squares and triangles; and this arm of his tattooed all over with an interminable Cretan labyrinth of a figure … this arm of his, I say, looked for all the world like a strip of that same patchwork quilt.”  (Moby-Dick, Herman Melville, 1819-1891)

“Make me thy spinning wheel complete.”  (John Edwards, 1747-1792)

“Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care, the death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath, balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, chief nourisher in life’s feast.”  (Macbeth, William Shakespeare, 1564-1616)

“They say that you have held the wool-basket among the girls of Ionia, and been frightened at your mistress’ threats. Do you not shrink, Alcides, from laying to the polished wool-basket the hand that triumphed over a thousand toils; do you draw off with stalwart thumb the coarsely spun strands, and give back to the hand of a pretty mistress the just portion she weighed out? Ah, how often, while with dour finger you twisted the thread, have your too strong hands crushed the spindle!”  (Heroides, Ovid, 43 BC-17/18 AD)

“Love is a cunning weaver of fantasies and fables.”  (Sappho, 610-580 BC)

“A weaver who has to direct and to interweave a great many little threads has no time to philosophize about it, rather, he is so absorbed in his work that he doesn’t think, he acts: and it’s nothing he can explain, he just feels how things should go.”  (Vincent Van Gough, 1853-1890)

“My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, And are spent without hope.”  (Job 7:6)

“Hercules, when you touch the basket of wool, does not your mighty hand cringe?”  (Ovid, 437 B.C.-17 A.D.)

“And the staff of his spear was like a weaver‘s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.”  (1 Samuel 17:1)

“Land of wheat, beef, pork! land of wool and hemp! land of the apple and the grape!”  (Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman, 1819-1892)

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  (Matthew 19:24)

“Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.”   (Exodus 35:35)

“I believe that the yarn we spin is capable of mending the broken warp and woof of our life.”  (Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948)  (pic source)

  • Charkha is the symbol of the nation’s prosperity and therefore freedom.”  (Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948)
  • “The spinning wheel represents to me the hope of the masses. The masses lost their freedom, such as it was, with the loss of the Charkha. The Charkha supplemented the agriculture of the villagers and gave it dignity. It was the friend and the solace of the widow. It kept the villagers from idleness. For the Charkha included all the anterior and posterior industries- ginning, carding, warping, sizing, dyeing and weaving. These in their turn kept the village carpenter and the blacksmith busy. The Charkha enabled the seven hundred thousand villages to become self contained. With the exit of Charkha went the other village industries, such as the oil press. Nothing took the place of these industries. Therefore the villagers were drained of their varied occupations and their creative talent and what little wealth these bought them.”  (Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948)

And here’s my personal favorite:

“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.”   (Elizabeth Zimmermann, 1910-1999)  (pic source)

Please free to add more to my list!


About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
This entry was posted in Crocheting, Dyeing, Fibers, Knitting, Miscellany, Spinning, Weaving. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Quotations for Lovers of Literature & Fiber Arts

  1. Yes … and I think that attitude permeates more of our lives than just clothes. Sadly.


  2. Fibre has long been the fabric of our lives, the problem is our modern disposable society where we need no longer toil and have therefore lost the appreciation for our synthetic clothes mass produced in some unknown land. 🙂


  3. 🙂 Whenever I hear the phrase “bones knitting” I think of knitting with needles from bones!

    Sent from my iPad


  4. Thanks for checking out the blog … I should have included a poll so people could vote for their favorite – I bet it would have been Elizabeth!

    Sent from my iPad


  5. I am SOOOO with you re the misnaming of knitting or crochet projects! I have seen that not infrequently at state and/or county fairs! How is someone allowed to judge the “best of show” without recognizing the difference between knitting and crocheting?!

    Sent from my iPad


  6. Though her name and dedicated knitting go hand in hand, I don’t recall any quotation attributed to her. Did I miss that?

    Sent from my iPad


  7. Well, she as simply an amazing woman!

    Sent from my iPad


  8. Northern Narratives says:

    Those are some great examples. I’m sure there are many more. I always think of quilts whenever I hear the word Patchwork. The quote by Elizabeth Zimmerman is one of my favorites.


  9. Tracey says:

    Those are great! Thanks.


  10. ethgran says:

    Love the Zimmerman and Shakespeare the most. I still remember reading Elizabeth’s Zimmerman’s book “Knitting without Tears”, over 40 years ago when I was a new knitter and finding a kindred spirit. As per your first quote, my husband can’t watch a nature program without saying something about them getting something wrong (usually calling a critter the wrong thing). Do you ever see something in a shop marked “Crochet” that is a knit? Makes me want to go tell someone they have it wrong – but then the ones working in the place are just working in the place, if you know what I mean.


  11. Tina says:

    I love Elizabeth Zimmerman’s quote, it’s always been a favorite of mine .


  12. Well there’s also Madame DeFarge!


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