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March 31, 2005


The New York Times. Ran an editorial yesterday. About knitting. Surely I think this is a good thing? Surely I am pleased that the very thing I am trying to center a life around merits some ink. Any publicity is good publicity, right?


Okay. I just needed to get that out of my system. I'm all better now.


[deep breaths]
[more deep breaths]

Can I try to explain what riles me so about this? It's kind of meta, I admit. I'm not so upset with the author of the opinion piece, who, after all, is entitled to her opinion: she is allowed to tell us that she once felt knitting was the province of grandmothers (*incompetent* ones, too -- did y'all notice that her grandmother made her "oversized" hats? You have to love casual ageism). I am upset that the Times felt it was worth printing.

This kind of puff piece is somewhere between a press release for the Craft Yarn Council and a personal essay for English Composition 101. It's got no business being on the op-ed page of a newspaper of record as though it were of immediate relevance for today.

The author says that since "we are in the final days of National Crochet Month," it is "the perfect moment to reflect on knitting and the American way of life". I'm sorry, but that doesn't make any sense to me at all! First off, crochet and knitting are TOTALLY DIFFERENT THINGS! Secondly, "National Crochet Month" is a STUPID MADE-UP OBSERVANCE. Thirdly, I don't really understand what prompted Ms. Carol E. Lee to write her piece at all. It is very little about her grandmother or her own knitting.

I find the insistence on the "hipness" of knitting to be detrimental to the long-term renaissance of the craft of knitting. Interest in knitting started picking up about five to seven years ago, and at first I was truly delighted, because let me tell you, I was good and tired of walking into yarn stores and being the youngest one there.

Right now, though, I am very much coming to resent people thinking that I knit because it is hip, or that I have opened a yarn store because I would like to capitalize on it having become hip. That idea is so far from the kind of person that I am that I just want to grab the people who mistakenly think that way, and I want to bounce up and down in front of them while I go all screamy and red in the face.

I've been knitting since I was twenty years old. I own a couple hundred knitting books, some of which are extraordinarily obscure, and are by no means hip. I have taught myself techniques that I will almost certainly never use in garment construction, simply because I find them interesting to figure out. I learned to spin wool years ago, not when all the cool kids on the knitting blogs started going to Maryland (hi, cool kids! Can we meet up?) but because I read the dear ancient FiberNet group (which used to be a BBS). And even though I love my little green iPod (and god help you if you try to pry it out of my cold, clenched, paresthetic fingers) I'll be damned if I ever knit it a fucking cozy.

You may have noticed that I'm feeling a little unrestrained in my diction today -- that would be because I am teetering on the edge of nervous collapse. I leave for Louisiana on Monday; between now and then I teach twice, we have the Church of Craft open house on Saturday, I'm throwing Francis a birthday party on Saturday night, I will be squiring a young friend around town on Sunday, and I have approximately eight hundred loose ends to tie up before I leave. A couple of friends have helpfully pointed out to me that not everything is going to get done before I leave, and that it will all still be okay. I have never gotten the hang of that last bit.

Posted by Rose at March 31, 2005 02:46 PM


hi Rose, I had some of the same thoughts about the Times piece, although at this point I'm sort of more bemused by it all. It is indeed very strange that the Times chose to print a puff piece exactly like the 100s (1000s?) of other puff pieces about the hipness of knitting in the last 5 years. Slow news day?

Hang in there. I'm looking forward to the spinning class on Saturday (and I promise I'm not taking it up just to be one of the cool kids...)

Posted by: Alison at March 31, 2005 05:04 PM

My reaction wasn't as quite as apoplectic as your's, but I was certainly put off a bit. I saw the headline and had to read it, becoming dismayed as I went along. I am getting tired of the knitting articles that simply go on about how hip it is to knit, and I'm certainly tired of all the patterns for cellphone cozies.

Posted by: Liz at March 31, 2005 05:16 PM

I'm afraid I got as far as the first paragraph - the one where she says National Crochet Month was the perfect time to talk about knitting WTF!? and deleted it - thought it was a waste of my online time. Definitely a slow news day.

Posted by: Colette at March 31, 2005 07:42 PM

I was knitting on the subway (a lace shawl for a friend's wedding, *not* an ipod cozy, just for the record) when the person sitting next to me made a point of showing me the article. I nodded and all...but later when I actually read the article...well, you nailed it!

Posted by: Cassie at March 31, 2005 09:16 PM

I somehow missed the thing in the Times, but it was certainly a doozy. My favorite part is when she actually says she'll knit just 'cos it's hip: "Perhaps I will give knitting another try, lest I be passé during the mod moment of my generation's youth." Or was that meant as irony? So hard to tell these days.
I've been knitting (badly and sporadically) since I was five or so; I can't say I've ever worried much about being the youngest in the shop. Or the malest. Usually I just worry that I'll never actually use the yarn I buy, and I usually don't. Last time I moved, I gave two hefty-bags-full of old yarn to a friend, whose mother does, in fact, knit for Our Boys Overseas, whatever Ms. Lee says.

Posted by: Vardibidian at April 1, 2005 08:17 AM

You are so RIGHT ON! ..."we are in the final days of National Crochet Month, the perfect moment to reflect on knitting and the American way of life."

What the fuck does that mean? EH?! Three disconnected ideas. Crochet does not equal knitting. The perfect moment for this trend was THREE YEARS AGO! And the American Way of Life has more to do with football than crafts ever will...

This is like a bad Hollywood film sequel (are there any other?) - just a retread of some previously interesting ideas delivered without point too little too late...

BTW - I will be enjoying the MDS&W vicariously through you this year! Can't go - but can I be a cool kid anyways~?

Posted by: Bonne Marie at April 3, 2005 10:00 PM