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Topic: NY Times opinion article on knitting  (Read 2238 times)
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gloriana
« on: March 30, 2005 08:18:56 AM »

Hey y'all - here's a link to a new article in the NY Times on knitting:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/30/opinion/30wed3.html?incamp=article_popular_4

Debbie Stoller is quoted in it, of course.  I was particularly intrigued by the "Stitch 'n Ride" train cars in Oakland!
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starlings
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2005 08:48:43 AM »

Articles like this leave me ambivalent. On the one hand, I think it's great that knitting is so popular - it's great to have so many people to talk to about it, the selection and availability of yarn has exploded.

I'm glad that in the time I've knitted, no one like the author of this piece has expressed their narrowminded and ageist attitude to me about it. It would have pissed me off. In fact, the author's apparent belief that an activity is only as cool or interesting as the people who engage in it is nearly as offensive to me as sexism.

As for knitting as a feminist symbol, "taking back the needles", I have yet to be convinced that the phrase has any real social meaning. Knitting is an activity that presumes a certain amount of leisure time (and in the case of the luxury yarn sub-craze, disposable income). I think this explains why it is most common among women of univeristy age and women of retirement age. The major difficulties facing women in our society have more to do with economic and legal rights than the devaluation of the recreational needlework most of them no longer engage in.
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2005 09:20:37 AM »

I've been trying to compose a good reply to you starlings, but I mostly just wanted to say that you make some very good points and have given me food for thought.

And relating to the article (and to the idea of knitting as a middle class activity for people with the time and disposable income) I was really excited about the idea of movie screenings with the lights on in that article. That would be so much fun!
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starlings
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2005 09:59:37 AM »

I was really excited about the idea of movie screenings with the lights on in that article. That would be so much fun!
Me too! Smiley

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lisascenic
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2005 10:04:18 AM »

The article read like a not very well researched book report, boiling things down to overly-simplified "facts."  Just because this author didn't appreciate her grandmother's knitting, then all knitting prior to last week was for uncool grannies?  I don't think so!

And as far as the Oakland knitting train goes, I believe that that was a one-time event.  Amtrak offered a discount rate to the Stitches West Conference this year, but as far as I know there are no regular Knitting Trains.  One wonders how this would work....  Woud you have to open your bag, and show the conductor your project before you got on the train?  Would crocheters be told to sit in another car?

I find these "knitting is suddenly cool" articles that spring up from time to time mildly exasperating.  I've been knitting for years. I do it because it challenges me mentally, and creatively.  I like being able to wear garments that exist only in my mind. I like being able to give hand made gifts.  But am I doing it in an attempt to be cool?  NO FREAKIN' WAY!  
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ultraviolet
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2005 10:17:57 AM »

Exactly, lisascenic! And the author seems to feel obligated to learn to knit because it's the trendy thing to do, despite her negative feelings towards it. I mean geez - it's not for everyone! If you're not interested in it, then don't do it.
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« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2005 10:24:34 AM »

Excellent comments everyone.  I don't have much to add, except to say that I am irritated by the author's "Well, now it's cool to knit so I might as well give it a try" tone.  I am new to knitting, and I have to admit that I have felt sheepish at times because (I thought that) those around me suspected that I was only knitting because "everyone else is doing it."  Give me a break!  And a little bit of credit!  I have been crafty my whole life, and honestly, knitting never, ever crossed my mind until it became so popular.  No one around me ever knit, so I just never thought about it until the new craze started.  I tried it, I love it.  Simple.  If I wanted to be cool I'd be spending less time and money on grad school and more time and money on being a consumer of pop culture.  But wait!  Knitting IS pop culture!  GAAAAHHHH!   Wink
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fancypantsayla
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2005 10:46:03 AM »

What about the  boys who knit?  There is no mention of them here, the article only focuses on the domesticity issue to feminists, which in itself is quite sexist and shortsighted.  I KNOW there are knitting boys out there, personally I only know a few but there are more on this site, too.  They're the ones who should be bummed by this editorial, they aren't even acknowledged.
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starlings
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2005 10:51:44 AM »

I am new to knitting, and I have to admit that I have felt sheepish at times because (I thought that) those around me suspected that I was only knitting because "everyone else is doing it."  Give me a break!  And a little bit of credit! 

Good for you for taking this position. Learning a new skill is always a good thing, regardless of what gave you the idea to do it.

So do you think that someday soon we'll see people rolling their eyes at the sight of a knitter and saying "oh, knitting, it's so OVER...I gave that up AGES ago..."
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« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2005 04:44:52 PM »

Good for you for taking this position. Learning a new skill is always a good thing, regardless of what gave you the idea to do it.

Thanks - I agree!  I want to learn crochet, too, becuase for some stuff (like flowers and edging) it just works better.  I welcome new skills!  I gobble them up!

So do you think that someday soon we'll see people rolling their eyes at the sight of a knitter and saying "oh, knitting, it's so OVER...I gave that up AGES ago..."

I already see ponchos on their way out, despite the recent Martha incident, so I think that some knitters will give it up once they don't have "cool" stuff to knit. The article did do an adequate job of documenting how knitting popularity waxes and wanes with time (as with all things, I guess).

But, for some reason I suspect that knitting will stick with a lot of people for a long time.  It really seems to be a satisfying, relaxing, fun hobby for a TON of people, and since you can do it in the privacy of your own home, it's not subject to the same kind of peer scrutiny as what you happen to be wearing.  And, judging by the huge variety in age, employment, income, and interests that I see from various SnB groups in my area, knitting isn't simply a pop culture, youth-inspired trend.  It's really taken hold over all kinds of groups of women (and men  Wink). 
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