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First Knitter of the Land -- Eleanor Roosevelt

Updated: Jun 11

This Saturday, June 11 is World Wide Knit and Crochet Day. Begun in 2005, it takes place on the second Saturday in June and shows the general public that knitting can be a community activity.

Knitting has a way of bringing people together…and for good causes.

Did you know that whenever Eleanor Roosevelt was sitting, she was knitting? She always wanted to be of use and to have a purpose.

On September 30, 1941, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt took to the stage in the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. She told the audience of 2,000 women, “We cannot turn our backs on the needs of other people.” And then she began to knit after her speech, to lead by example.

Eleanor launched a national drive to enlist every American women in a knitting army. She encouraged volunteers to knit one million sleeveless sweaters for soldiers and sailors before Christmas.

With Eleanor as the “First Knitter of the Land,” knitting became a national movement and a way for Americans to express their patriotism.

In her honor, every year (with the exception of the pandemic) the “Eleanor Roosevelt Knit-In” takes place in May at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York.

You can learn more about Eleanor Roosevelt and 17 other first ladies in my book, LADIES, FIRST: COMMON THREADS.

I'll also be speaking at the Oyster Bay Historical Society on June 25 at 1:00 p.m.

Happy knitting and crocheting! What will you make? Where do you plan to knit or crochet in public?

Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution NPG.82.158

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