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Needlework Is for Old People

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This trope is for when needlework (knitting, sewing, crochet, darning, etc) is associated with the elderly in fiction. When Textile Work Is Feminine and this trope love each other very much, you get the idea that needlework is for "grannies" or "old ladies", so it's slightly more common among elderly women than men, but elders of both sexes are seen doing needlework and with this trope, younger women think it's for old people too.

A younger fashion designer will often get away with sewing, but knitting, crochet, etc is still associated with the elderly. Often the old person who does needlework is either seen as a popular-with-kids Cool Old Lady or Cool Old Guy or a well-meaning but boring/embarrassing older family member. Both types will generally make clothes for their younger family members, which will either be liked or be seen as too ugly/itchy/boring, and the Homemade Sweater from Hell is often knitted by an elderly relative (often a grandma, grandpa, or great-aunt).

Old people who do needlework are usually friendly no matter where they fall on the popularity spectrum, though some evil elders (like an elderly Wicked Witch, for instance) may do needlework to exploit the stereotype of the friendly old lady/man.

This trope is Older Than Radio because many fairy tales and nursery rhymes mention "the little old woman sitting at her spinning wheel" or similar.

Sometimes Played for Laughs by having someone magically turn elderly and be seen instantly doing needlework or showing someone doing needlework who's elderly but also not human, for instance a Nearly Normal Animal, Civilized Animal, Funny Animal, mythical creature or alien.

Common for a Granny Classic. Contrast Knitting Pregnancy Announcement because, with that trope, the woman is young enough to be fertile. Truth in Television for some, but not others. Compare Games of the Elderly.


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    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Wizard of Oz, an elderly woman is briefly seen knitting in a chair inside the tornado.

  • The grandmother of Adrian Mole is frequently mentioned as knitting clothes for the family to wear.
  • A subversion appears in some Agatha Christie novels set post-WW2 where a middle-aged viewpoint character complains about young women knitting on the subway.
  • It is mentioned in Danny, the Champion of the World that Danny's late mother (presumably young) knitted and sewed all Danny's father's clothes, most likely for reasons of economy.
  • Many elderly ladies in The Famous Five are knitting or sewing.
    Still, the old lady did not look up. She pushed her needle in and out of her sewing, and seemed to hear and see nothing around her.
  • In Gangsta Granny, the granny knits sweaters with puppies and kittens on, which Ben dislikes.
  • In The Last Hero, Vena the Raven-Haired (a deliberate take on Lucy Lawless) is encountered as a septagenarian barbarian heroine who is placidly embroidering a sampler. With the legend "Burn This House". It is also noted that she has slain several heavily-armed assailants with nothing more lethal than a pair of knitting needles.
  • Milly, Molly: Aunt Maude is probably at least a bit old because her same-age friend Biddy Bid has gone grey. In "Milly, Molly, and Aunt Maude", she takes up knitting, but only because her leg is broken and she wants something to do. However, she keeps knitting even after it heals. This is a Downplayed Trope because she didn't start knitting of her own accord and none of the other elders do needlework.
  • Exaggerated in The Old Nurses Stocking Basket. The titular Old Nurse is old enough to have been Hercules's nurse and the only hole she was unable to darn was a whirlpool.
  • In Sleeping Beauty, most versions involve the evil fairy disguising herself as an old woman spinning.
  • Zigzagged in The Tailor of Gloucester. The tailor himself is old, but mice of all ages also sew.
  • In Thank You for My Yukky Present, Charlie's grandmother knits him a jumper which he initially dislikes, but it turns out to be magical.
  • In The Trouble With Gran, the Gran is seen knitting.
  • Exploited in The Witches. The grandma knits and she uses her knitting to lower the boy (who'd been turned into a mouse) down to the Grand High Witch's balcony.
  • In the children's book Wilbee the Bumblebee, Wilbee doesn't have fur but rather a black and yellow jumper that was knitted by his grandma.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In a Doctor Who episode featuring possessed senior citizens, several balls of yarn can be seen in the old folks' home.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Mrs. Davis' hobby is knitting ("Hobby Show"). However, she is also adept at sewing and dressmaking ("Madison Country Club"). A few episodes reference the fact Mrs. Davis is a member of a sewing circle ("The Stolen Wardrobe" and "Mr. Casey's Will").

    Web Original 
  • In Neopets, elderly female Ogrins are seen with knitting wool.

    Western Animation 
  • Played with in Arthur. Grandma Thora knits a lot and so does her friend, Mrs. MacGrady, who is also elderly, but in "Arthur Unravels", Arthur takes up knitting too, however, he is embarrassed to admit it because he thinks it's kind of a "girly" hobby. In the end, Arthur discovers that his piano teacher (who's around the same age as Arthur's parents) runs a knitting club and offers Arthur the chance to join, admitting that the club could use more members anyway because aside from him, the only members are Mrs. MacGrady, Oliver Frensky (who's middle-aged) and Rattles from the Tough Customers (who's only a year older than Arthur).
  • Played with in Baby Looney Tunes where Granny never knitted before, and she repeatedly utters "knit one, purl two" in the process.
  • Played for Drama in the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "The Quilt Club". Courage's elderly owner Muriel is at a fabric shop when the shopkeepers, a pair of elderly Conjoined Twins called the Stitch Sisters, tell her about their quilt club, encouraging Muriel to bring in quilts she's made so they can decide if she's worthy to join the club. Muriel makes progressively bigger and more elaborate quilts, and the Stitch Sisters keep rejecting them, causing Muriel to go through Sanity Slippage as she tries harder and harder to impress them. They finally accept her into the club, and for the initiation, order her to stitch a cloth with a certain symbol into a giant quilt. The quilt is actually magic, and when the symbol is stitched into it, Muriel is pulled into a pocket dimension in the quilt where she is stuck floating with the souls of other quilters. The Stitch Sisters have been doing this throughout time to prolong their lives. Courage eventually saves Muriel by stitching some of her old patches into the quilt, freeing her.
  • Granny of Looney Tunes often knits to the point where she gets too focused on her work and doesn't see Sylvester trying to catch Tweety, and she sometimes hits him with the needle when she does.
  • Milly, Molly: Just like in the books, "Aunt" Maude is at least borderline elderly since although her own hair hasn't turned white yet, her schoolmate Biddy Bid's hair is grey. She doesn't normally do needlework, but she does in "Aunt Maude", however, that was just a way to keep her entertained while her leg healed. However, she still likes knitting even after it heals, but none of the other elders are seen knitting or doing any other needlework.
  • In an episode of Disney's Recess, the gang visit a retirement home, where Spinelli is paired up with an old woman knitting. She's really bored by this until the woman shows Spinelli that she's knitting the inner liner for a boxing glove.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • SpongeBob's grandmother knits him and whoever else comes around sweaters "with love in the stitches".
    • In "Goo Goo Gas", one of Plankton's attempts to turn Mr. Krabs and SpongeBob into babies so he can steal the Krabby Patty Formula instead turns them into seniors. When an elderly SpongeBob decides to take up knitting, this gives an equally-elderly Mr. Krabs the idea to join him so that together, they can knit a net to catch Plankton in. When they successfully knit the net and catch Plankton in it, they hang the net like a piñata, so the other seniors can beat Plankton up for calling them old.