the bluestocking club

Celebrate women writers! Knit some socks!

This club celebrates the lives and work of the important group of intellectual women – known as the “bluestockings”. We’ll explore the contribution of these women to the material and literary culture of the eighteenth century through seven different sock and stocking patterns; we’ll examine the history of sock knitting; and we’ll (of course) knit our own bluestockings!

Sign-ups open via this link at 9am today
detail of Ann Frankland Lewis watercolour, Morning Dress of the year, 1785 (courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

What kind of patterns does the bluestocking club include?
The bluestocking club includes seven sock and stocking patterns inspired by seven different eighteenth-century women writers.These patterns range from a plain “vanilla” recipe for socks and stockings, to lace, twisted stitches and stranded colourwork. The patterns are constructed toe-up, with two widths, a fully adjustable foot length and a design that enables you to get the most from each skein of yarn. All patterns will remain exclusive to bluestocking club members throughout the duration of the club and can not be purchased individually.

The first pattern is dedicated to Elizabeth Montagu, and celebrates the launch of a new digital edition of her important correspondence.

What yarn is supported by the bluestocking club patterns?
We will be knitting our bluestockings in John Arbon Exmoor sock yarn: produced in Devon, from local fleeces, using traditional worsted processing – a wonderful woolly yarn that speaks to the club’s themes in many ways. Yarn packs for each club pattern will be available from the KDD shop. But you can of course knit your bluestockings in any sock yarn that you wish!

What happens when?
You’ll receive patterns on alternate Fridays, every two weeks, from May 21st.
On alternate Sundays (following each pattern release), club members will receive an exclusive newsletter in their inboxes, introducing the life and work of the writer celebrated / commemorated in each bluestocking pattern.
Every Wednesday during the club period, there will be a “sock of the week” post on the KDD blog, exploring the intriguing history of sock and stocking knitting around the world.
Each alternate Sunday (between pattern releases) there will be a post on the KDD blog exploring the work of different “contemporary bluestockings” in long form essays and interviews. These posts will explore many different topics, but there will be a connecting focus on the relationship between professional / intellectual expertise (in different areas) and their love of knitting, crafts, and textiles.
During the duration of the club there will be a bluestocking knitalong, hosted in our Ravelry group, with a range of fabulous prizes for your finished socks and stockings! For those who do not use Ravelry, images of your finished projects can be submitted to the competition by email.

How did the bluestockings get their name?
On Monday, May 24th at 4pm (BST), bluestocking club members can explore this question through an online symposium hosted by Prof Nicole Pohl (Oxford Brookes University), exploring the cultural context of the bluestockings, with expert contributions about different aspects of eighteenth-century sock and stocking knitting. Susan North will talk about eighteenth-century knitting; Lis Gernerd will talk about men’s stockings and Isabella Whitworth will talk about eighteenth-century methods of wool dyeing and worsted processing. The club’s first bluestocking pattern will also be discussed, and you’ll be invited to knit along while attending the symposium! Please note that, due to the nature of the digital platform, places on the online symposium are limited. In the event of the number of club subscriptions exceeding the available number of symposium places, tickets to the event will be allocated to members on a first-come, first-served basis. We hope to be able to make a recording of the symposium available after the event, so the content will be accessible to all club members.

Detail of print after Philip Mercier, Young Woman Knitting / Domestic Employment. (1760)

Is there a bluestockings book?
Yes! The bluestocking book edited by Kate Davies and Nicole Pohl will be published and shipped out to members at the conclusion of the club. The book includes all seven designs, plus essays by Kate, Nicole, Sonja Barjielowska (from John Arbon), and other expert contributors exploring our interrelated themes of eighteenth-century material and literary culture, women’s intellectual lives, wonderful wool and socks! There is a digital-only option for those who prefer this to print.

Sign-up knitty-gritty
Club sign ups will open in the KDD shop at 9am (BST), Friday May 14th and close at 9pm (BST) Thursday May 20th. The club will not be open to new subscriptions after this time / date.
Please choose digital only or Print+digital for your region when checking out. (EU includes all countries in the EEA, such as Switzerland and Norway, and ROW = all other countries (rest of world). If you’d prefer to receive your club patterns via our non-Ravelry delivery option, please enter NONRAV when prompted at checkout.

Club pricing
Digital only £15
Print + digital (UK shipping) £17
Print + digital (EU shipping) £18
Print + digital (ROW shipping) £20

Other considerations
A key aim of this project aims is to share and widen understanding of the material and intellectual culture of the eighteenth-century, and to celebrate women’s important contribution. To further that aim, the project has a range of different elements, some specifically for club members, some available to all. The club is very reasonably priced, is open to members anywhere in the world, and offers digital or print options (at a tiered price structure with reduced shipping rates). There are both Ravelry and non-Ravelry options for the delivery of club patterns and a range of different participatory elements, on several different platforms (including the KDD blog and Zoom) for club members to take advantage of if they wish. And for those who do not wish to / cannot join the club, but remain interested in its themes, there will be a wide range of supporting content published here, each week on the KDD blog, freely available to all.