What is Utilitarian Knitting?

I have been pondering a comment that was made to me at a knitting group recently. While I was knitting a sock I was asked the question

“What are you knitting?”

“A sock” I smiled.

She looked at me took a sip of coffee and said,

“I don’t do utilitarian knitting, it’s a waste of time.”

I nodded and went back to knitting my sock.

Utilitarian knitting 3

I have been contemplating this small interchange for a few weeks since it happened.

So is life too short to spend my time doing utilitarian knitting?

If you enjoy knitting socks comments from knitters and non knitters can become par for the course. But I’ve been thinking about what exactly utilitarian means. The dictionary describes a utilitarian object as one made for useful ends as opposed to display or show purposes. A useful thing that is fit for some practical purpose.

So taking that meaning into account I would be happy to come to the decision that I do enjoy utilitarian knitting projects. I enjoy knitting socks. I love knitting something practical. Hand knit socks are useful. They keep my feet warm in the winter. Wick sweat away from my feet in the summer and cushion them as I walk through my life.

But looking at this meaning utilitarian knitting would be any practical and useful knitted object.

A warm woolly hat keeping my ears warm in the winter. A soft scarf swirled around my neck. Gloves keeping my fingers warm. Fingerless mitts to keep my hands warm while I take photographs on the beach in the cold weather. A cabled sweater. An elegant cardigan. Even a knitted toy could be considered utilitarian if you’re knitting it for a child to play with. A dishcloth. A hot water bottle cover to cuddle on a cold night.

And the ultimate luxurious utilitarian object a knitted afghan or blanket to snuggle under while reading a fun novel and holding a mug of jasmine tea which is being kept warm wrapped in a knitted mug hug.

So the answer for me is that my life would be too short not to do utilitarian knitting and love every moment that I spend doing it.

Practical knitted objects will make my life and the lives of the people around me more comfortable and cosy. Which is exactly the reason why I do knit.  Every moment of utilitarian knitting is for me time very well spent.

About Nicolette


  1. The last pair of socks that shrank were made into wrist-warmers and very cosy they were too!

  2. Karen Richard says:

    started knitting socks just over a year ago and love it; so many beautiful patterns and yarns. I’ve made about fifteen pairs, learned so many techniques, relaxed, met some of the nicest ever people and made many feet warm. It gives me huge pleasure that my kids wear something that I have made for them and I doubt that they would wear anything else that I knitted so readily.
    Sock knitters seem to me to be a particularly warm, generous and artistic bunch and I feel all the better for learning how to turn a heel and all else that has followed.

    • I love knitting socks too. I wear hand knit socks all the time. Most comfortable socks to wear. I’ve made some for family as well. Sadly, a few of my first socks were knit using wool that wasn’t super wash – and they have shrunk, I have so many now that I tend to just pop them into the wool wash in the washing machine! So much fun knitting new ones.

  3. Oh, would love to know what she was knitting? Isn’t all knitting utilitarian if it’s going to be worn or used? Life is too short not to knit, or to be swayed by another’s opinion! Your socks are beautiful. ūüôā

  4. I love knitting socks, mostly for my son but also for myself, and hats, gloves and wristwarmers. My grandmother knitted socks for my father, he knitted socks for me (my mother knitted the cardigans and jumpers but Father was the sock knitter) and I knit for my son. There is a pleasing feeling of carrying on the tradition and the satisfaction of making something useful by the work of my hands. The socks my be utilitarian but they can also be decorative – I’m knitting Norwegian stranded socks at the moment and enjoying watching the pattern developing.

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