Those Weird Victorians! The Origin of Knitting Poem

We’re thrilled to bring you the poem “The Origin of Knitting,” published in London in 1849.

Piecework Editorial Staff Dec 27, 2023 - 5 min read

Those Weird Victorians! The Origin of Knitting Poem Primary Image

This week, we’re featuring a snippet from the 19th-century needlework pamphlet Ladies’ Needlework; Knitting Tales and Poetry: A Melange of Instructions and Amusements. This eBook is a treasure trove of oddities and whimsy from a bygone era, from riddles about knitting to patterns for unusual items.

Today, we’re thrilled to bring you this poem, “The Origin of Knitting,” published in London in 1849. Print it out, bring it to knit night, and regale your friends with a recitation! Share on social media to spread the joy of those weird Victorians and their love of knitting.

The Origin of Knitting

When Venus, to her bower of bliss,
The God of Love invited,
Divinest, sweetest ecstacies
Within her bosom lighted.

Arcadian groves more beauteous seemed,
Each lovely spot grew fairer;
New brightness from each blossom beamed,
Some fresh delight to bear her.


And every wanton zephyr, while
Among her ringlets straying,
Called up a most celestial smile,
As if some mischief saying!

Could Beauty, blest by Love, desire
A cup more brimmed by Pleasure?
Ah! Yes; e’en Goddesses will tire
Of having too much leisure!

She called to Cupid—and he came,
Half smiling, half unwilling!—
The fitful youth seemed scarce the same,
His very breath was chilling.

“What ails thee?” then the goddess asked;
“So young, and yet so fickle?
You were not too severely tasked;
But I’ve a rod in pickle!”

So straight to Mercury she hied,
Who said it was distressing
To see, with all of bliss beside,
She wanted still one blessing.

Then, taking one of Cupid’s darts
From out her breast (sweet plunder!),
While from her zone a thread he parts,
He snapped the reed asunder.

“There, test your skill,” the god then said,
“In these an art is hidden;
Ply well the points, inweave the thread,
The secret comes unbidden!”

Back to her bower she hastened. Now,
The moments do not linger;
With flashing eye, and ardent brow,
She twirls th’ unwearying finger.

Cupid stole to her—but unseen;
He spoke—unheard! Still plying
Her thread those magic points between,
She heeded not his sighing.

His accents tremble as they grow—
He kneels to her to bless him;
His swelling veins fresh ardours know,
She deigns thus to address him:—

“Beware, in future, boy! Once slight
The smiles by Beauty lavished,
And other joys will master quite
Those once her bosom ravished!”

So Venus chid the arrant youth,
But by forgiving, ended;
And so she learns this wholesome truth:
Be tasks with pleasure blended.

And thus, by strangest stratagem,
Yet doubtless most befitting,
To punish Cupid’s fickle whim,
The gods invented knitting!