Oh how far we've...

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Erm…not come. Even as knitting and other fiber arts have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity during the past decade, along with an increased interest in creating things by hand rather than buying mass-produced items, disparaging snubs against the crafts, or even just against making things in general, are still disappointingly easy to find. This latest slight hails from a recent article in the NYT about spiritual tourism –– not a topic that has much to do with fiber arts until we get to the description of one of the tour guides. In that part-patronizing, part pop-ethnography style of “let’s peer into the thoughts and habits of these kooky folks!” that the NYT does so well, the writer of the article subtly presents facts about the tour guide to demonstrate just how far from normal she is. The very first fact the author lays before the reader? No, it’s not something related to her unique spiritual outlook that brings her to lead these tours where participants enter Egyptian tombs to connect with spiritual energy. Nope. It is the fact that –– are you ready for this? –– she knits her own clothing! Gasp! But wait, not only does she knit her own clothing, she knit her own clothing from fiber that she harvest from her alpaca (named Hopi, nice humanizing detail included as per Journalism 101) and spun herself. Double gasp! Wow, she must be nuts! I wonder what the author of the article would have made of any of our legions of knit-bloggers. Not only do they knit their own clothing, they spend time to write about it! How crazy is that?

I don’t know why this particular snub about those who do fiber arts bothered me so much. Usually these little snippets that reflect how society tends to view anyone who takes the time to create something by hand don’t elicit much more than an eye-roll from me. “Silly people, they don’t know what they’re missing out on,” I would say and move on. But this, this little insidious paragraph remained lodged in my brain for days. Perhaps it was just the last straw after the plethora (that has now thankfully died down) of articles about the knitting craze all written with a slightly disbelieving note of shock that “gasp, these knitters? They all seem to be stable, normal people!” Or the profusion of knitting books bending over backwards to reassure their readers that this is not the same craft as practiced by dull grannies and unfashionable women incapable of having fun, that this is hip, cool, and hey, something celebrities do! To all this, I just want to ask, just what exactly is so odd, so wrong with taking the time to create something from scratch? Is it better to spend the time vegetating before a flickering television? Does that somehow make a person a more “normal?” Maybe this continued snubbing is just a matter of the persisting stereotypes of those who “hand-make” things…the hippie, the granny, the socially-awkward wall-flower, and so on and so on. Maybe it’s all a matter of waiting for these seemingly indelible images to wear down and wear out as more and more people take up “hand-making” things. In the mean time, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to turn on the crazy and knit myself a sweater.


Anonymous jessie said...

Here in Vermont, I find that most of the people (not all, but most) who knit are "flatlanders" like me, not natives. My in-laws, all Vermonters, love the things I knit for them. But when they see me spinning, there is always a raised eyebrow and a laugh about how hard I make life for myself when, hello, there are yarn stores right in town.

Maybe we are crazy.


2:30 AM  
Blogger hege said...

You are so crazy. You;re right about that article, it's insidious. I have recently decided that I will not knit in public anymore. I can't believe it's that much of a novelty, but I just don't like the attention from horrible people. Like this journalist.

6:51 AM  
Blogger Marie N. said...

I must be on the cusp of falling into "crazy" -- I knit with the TV on after the kids are in bed.

I learned something interesting from my husband. When I am reading a book in the evenings (on those no-tv nights) he feels like he is interrupting me when he wants to converse. When I'm knitting instead of reading, he does not feel that way. It is funny because I save the knitting I really need to concentrate on for the nights when there is nothing to see on the tv.

I suppose it is no surprise that the NYC journalists are in antoher world.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous nova said...

Maybe after that new Julia Roberts movie comes out next year the coverage won't be so patronizing. I am going to go "turn on the crazy too." Heh.

10:51 AM  
Blogger Yarn Tails said...

Well I for one am completely crazy and have been for many years. Every since I can remember I have knit/crocheted and done it in public. I think people who say that about the knitting world is just plain old jealous that they are not capable of producing something so beautiful. I even got my 15 year old to do it in public. Nothing wrong with it. That journalist would probably think we all lost a few marbles if she/he realized how many people knit/crochet and blog about what they do.

BTW.... I am crazy every single day. I can not just sit and watch tv. I have to have something in my hands at all time. My kids/grandkids will always say that one of their fondest memory of their mom/grandma is that she was always creating!

11:35 AM  
Blogger Faith! said...

Thanks for this insightful post- It's bewildering to me that people would think knitting is anything unusual at all! I mean, I'm a sucker for positive attention, but sometimes this "Oh my goodness! Look what they're doing!" makes knitting seem like an unusual fetish. We better not let on about things such as yarn porn and swaps, then they'll really think we're weird.

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Nora said...

Well said Marie (you crazy gal) :)

My fiance (boyfriend at the time) was once asked how it feels to have such an old-fasioned girlfriend!!

1:38 PM  
Blogger Digital Leaf said...

Knitters are not crazy, everyone else is. Its crazy that people can baulk at the peaceful process of making something useful. Its crazy that people can find making a sweater more odd than killing thousands of people in war.... Its crazy that sooo many people are unwilling to try something before they criticize it.

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Knittypants said...

I am glad you are back. I missed your posting.

5:18 PM  
Blogger allisonmariecat said...

Ugh, that's so irritating. Just because someone doesn't like an activity doesn't mean the people who do are insane or quaint or whatever. I completely understand how annoyed you were in reading that. Just keep knitting and ignore them!

8:05 AM  

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