Oh, Alex. You’ve gone and gotten the knitters’ backs up now. Again. So here we are, looking like a bunch of humourless harridans for taking offence at such a lighthearted piece; and fair enough, joke’s a joke. It’s a funny article. Really it is. I laughed, especially at your 10 rules. But it also made me cross, in ways that were just so completely unnecessary.
Not liking crafts is fine. Frankly I’m not a big fan of Crafts myself. (What? I’m not! I love knitting. Crochet is great. I have nothing but admiration for lacemakers, embroiders, and dressmakers of all kinds. All crafts, obviously. And anybody who enjoys doing pottery, bookbinding, beading, mosaic or any kind of craft at all, well, more power to ’em, and I will happily browse Etsy for your fine products. But the idea of Doing Crafts – rather than pursuing any specific interest – still sets my teeth on edge.) But why on earth did you have to be so insulting toward those of us who like to make things? It’s not just lack of clue. It’s breathtaking lack of logic and consistency.
I used to work with you. So my first reaction on reading this was: “Damn, I wish I’d had a chance to convince you that knitting doesn’t mean living a Fifties housewife existence.” But, hang on, you already have crafters in your close circle, whose crafts you admire. So it’s not that you haven’t had a chance to see that a person can whip up a beautiful lace scarf and still, say, hold down a job. Given that, how to explain statements like this:
“Luckily, I already have a scarf. I bought it with money I had earned by going to work instead of staying at home and making things.”
What on earth makes you imagine that crafting and careers are mutually exclusive? You do understand the concept of hobbies, as something that happens in one’s spare time, right?
Right! Because, Alex, you say your hobbies involve TV, and the pub, and football. Fine. Nothing against the couch potato bit, I love some telly myself, though I’d hesitate to glorify such a passive endeavour with the name of “hobby”, but whatever. You know knitting* has been known to happen in combination with all those things? True! Well, maybe not the football part… though in the US, baseball fans certainly get their Stitch ‘n Pitch on, and what a fine idea that is. Presumably you also enjoy more intellectual pursuits; you are after all the books editor, and suggest reading Hegel as a more worthy alternative to embroidery. Again, and as commenters have pointed out, it is quite possible to do both; and again, that should be obvious, unless you’ve found it impossible to read a book since buying a telly.
As it happens, knitting can also sometimes be combined with work. Ask Rachael Herron of Yarnagogo, who works as a 911 dispatcher;** she and many of her colleagues knit on shift. I’ve been known to knit at work myself. Not to mention knitting on the train or bus to work. So, knitters can and do do all the things you do – for money, for fun – but in addition and maybe even at the same time we create beautiful things. Things you admire. Things you can’t make for yourself. I don’t mean to make you feel inadequate, you poor hamfisted thing, but maybe lose that condescending tone? Hm?
And speaking of condescending tones.
…there are my ideological objections: not to genuine crafters such as Maggie, or another friend who has always made and decorated cakes and is irked beyond endurance by the current fad for home baking…
What the friendly fuck, Alex? What the fuck? What on earth is a “genuine crafter”? And what on earth is there to object to in seeing other people take up one’s own hobby? I gotta tell you, I’ve been knitting and crocheting for twentymumble years, and I’m nothing but delighted by the “fad” for knitting. More crafters = bigger market = more resources = more crafters = more friends who share my interests. It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. Sure, some of these new knitters may develop a lifelong passion while others just footle around for a while and then move on to something else. So what? How does this threaten me? Does your baking friend perhaps need some quality time with her therapist, or would a heart to heart with her evidently neglectful or unreasonably demanding mother do the trick? I’m baffled. Baffled.
I know that this suspicion of the “fad” for what might be seen as domestic arts is perhaps not entirely unfounded; or at least, it’s an interesting and complex subject, encompassing a whole slew of questions revolving around feminism, class and socio-economic pressures. As it happens, the subject was discussed extensively and insightfully in the notorious “pinny porn” thread on Ravelry, some years back. Do you know about Ravelry? It’s a social network (and much more than that) for knitters and crocheters. Actually, I’d say it’s the best social network on the web, partly because the standard of discourse is so high. With subgroups on anything you can think of, plus plenty of general interest conversations, it’s my first port of call whether I’m looking for help with computing or parenting – knowing my questions will be met with more comprehensive, intelligent and courteous replies than I could expect anywhere else. Incidentally, it also has an excellent feminist group.
What I’m saying, Alex, is that – in my fairly extensive experience, as a lifetime knitter and one who has spent five years running a shop for knitters – crafters don’t really fit the picture you seem to have of them. We’re not obsessed with reliving the austerity years. (Seriously. Especially those of us who’ve been known to pay £40 for a skein of handpainted, beaded cashmere. Cashmere we bought with money we earned by going to work instead of staying home and making stew… not to belabour a point.) We’re not desperately seeking out obscure and random items of home decor to embellish. We’re certainly not tucked on the sofa all day and all night, with needles in hand but without benefit of books, TV or friends. Not to put too fine a point on it, we have lives. And – honestly – we do also have a sense of humour. It’s just that there have been a few too many jokes at our expense. So next time, maybe you could try a little harder to be funny without being a total idiot? Please?
* For simplicity’s sake, and because I know the knitting world better than that of any other craft, I’m using this word. It should be taken as read that I am including other crafts.
** And writes books, by the way. Two novels and one memoir published so far. So, one gruelling day (and night) job, one famously difficult sideline, and knitting isn’t even her only hobby – she plays the ukulele, too. Yeah, you’re right. Crafters really are a bunch of saddos with too much time on their hands.