Issue #009, 2022 ISSN: 2581- 9410
It is hard to believe that knitting, which seems to be the most favorite pastime of middle class women during winter, came to India only during the British Raj. Christian missionaries helped in spreading it as girls were taught knitting in schools. Slowly it became an important handiwork for women and replaced spinning as more people started to wear hand knitted sweaters and socks.
Cottoning on to wool
In the nineteenth century, people in Punjab were not in the habit of wearing sweaters, even when it was very cold in the winter. Pashmina shawls, by the wealthy, and woolen lois, by the poorer sections, were preferred—both for wrapping around oneself, as well as for bedding. Baden Powell (in 1872) writes, ‘It is a remarkable fact that in the plains during the cold weather natives do not like woolen goods, it is only the poorer class that resort to kambal or blanket. Every one who could afford it, much prefers wearing several thicknesses of cotton cloth and coats padded with cotton wool are universally worn.’ Sir George Watt and Percy Brown also expressed similar thoughts in 1904 that cotton in general rather than woollens were the preferred choice throughout India. This, has also been corroborated by many other writers and Gazetteers of the period. Hand spun khaddar was thicker and warmer than mill made cottons and women used it to made their suits. Men often took a khes as a w...
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