Knitting and the Death of Conversation

I’ve seen an awful lot of conversation in the knitting community about permissible discussion.

Of course, this is all after the Ravelry controversy. Some say that politics of any kind shouldn’t be allowed. Actually, sex, religion and politics should be left out of knitting groups altogether. We should only discuss knitting.

And that just breaks my heart. I recently wrote that there are “people who knit” and “knitters.” “People who knit” binge on occasion, while “knitters” need support groups. And that is so true on so many levels.

Like any support group, knitters are there with a shared dilemma. We cling to these needles like crazy and can’t let go. But, in other support groups, we’re allowed to discuss our lives, our troubles, why we knit, why we’re knitting this particular project, why we have an entire closet of stashed yarn in Tupperware bins and still buy more. How we readily scream, “Shut up, I’m COUNTING!”

These are the shared experiences of an addict! THIS is the one common bond we come to the group with: our craft. So, it pains me that we’re not allowed to share our lives with each other in that particular setting.

You know, someone had mentioned that I just let this whole Ravelry situation rest. “Just let it go.”

I’m afraid I can’t do that.

If you’re in this online knitting community, you know damned well there have been divisions for quite a while now. And this whole stink of their’s has real world, real life, real time repercussions. This isn’t just an online gossip forum gone wrong. There are real people out their with livelihoods that are being affected.

And we’ve seen it happen for a while now.

The best knitting groups I’ve been involved in talked politics, religion, sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. We never had problems. We disagreed about who was better (Beatles or Zeppelin?) or who they were voting for (Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney?), and yes we always had a fascinating back and forth because with those needles in your hand you’re already coming to the discussion from a place of peace.

We knitters don’t run around with our needles STABBING others (although many wish they could), but we sit quietly instead MAKING things for others….for comfort, for joy. (Ya’ll don’t remember that deliciously accurate meme? “I knit so I don’t kill people?” Oh, the irony of this whole situation.)

I cannot feel in my heart that knitters could EVER come from a place of hatred. Maybe misunderstanding, but not hatred.

Dangit, when my needles hit my skeins of yarn, they’re ready to make love to each other, not fight each other to the death….Those hard solid needles, and those delicate, soft skeins come together to MAKE something precious, wonderful….intimate happen. (Watch out E.L. James….I just might make knitting sexy with a line like that….)

I was having a discussion with someone on my facebook page a few nights ago. She said, “I only want to talk about knitting in knitting groups.”

And we had a fiery back and forth about Ravelry’s decision. But, it never made it to the point where we name called each other, or crossed the “oh, no you didn’t,” line. No. It was cordial and friendly. And at some point she said, “Right now, with my husband being in the ICU, I’m just a tad overwhelmed by the fact that the one place I had to go for vacation away from C.R.A.P. is now festering with political bullshit.”

To which I could only reply, “If you need a hand, someone to hold, someone to be with you right now, then we’re here. You see? We would not have known this trouble you were going through had you only talked about knitting. If you need anything, let us know. We’re here.”

There is so much more that you can KNOW about someone, LEARN from someone, BUILD with someone if you remember that we’re ALL knitters. All escaping into our craft to hide ourselves from reality. All in need of a support group where we can SHARE.

If Ravelry is dead set on tearing this community apart, then I’m sorry, I can’t just “let that go.” Because I want to bring this community back together again, using this one simple craft to bridge more divides than people have ever realized were possible.

Casting on now, will be stitching way into a WIP in no time. And the person I disagree with most? Well, they’re probably doing the same thing right now….

….and I would SO want to talk to them about something OTHER than knitting.

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  1. I’m new to your blog, and I feel the same way. I love a good debate and it doesn’t have to be hateful. How else do we learn? I love hearing others point of view about everything! Keep those needles a clickin!

  2. I agree with you 100% Gregory. I can’t wait for yur next post to find out what is happening in Your world. Hugs, Tobias…PS I think I figured out my problem with BlogSpot but soon will be going with Word press. Your not the only one that recommended it. Hugs, T.

  3. I am new to your blog and have loved reading them, but I hope it is ok but I’m not a knitter, I’m a hooker(aka crocheter)

  4. I am trying to work out when we stopped being able to disagree and still talk to others, when it became so divisive. It almost feels like the playground, you don’t agree I wont talk to you any more, and then run off whispering nasty things about you to others. We are not all the same we don’t have to agree on everything to love each other and care. I so agree we need to talk and find common ground and stopping the discussion isn’t good, but some of the discussion was not nice or kind. Thank you keeping on talking, keep going in love, and craft.

  5. I am a new reader and you’ve written an excellent piece. There’s little debate, now called conversion, between people any more. Yes, I know not everyone is a bully. This isn’t the first time Americans have passionately held opposing views. The difference now is social media. It allows many to hide behind electronic devices and spew vitriol most probably would not say in person. This cyberbullying is the worst use of social media. Yellow journalism has reared its ugly head once more. Now, at least one mainstream company has joined this groupthink. It’s sad.

    When we gather in support groups, in our neighborhoods, or anywhere talk naturally moves to what is important to us. We will talk about our concerns. It’s human nature. If we were in a knitting group IRL, then of course we’d chat about all sorts of topics including politics. So, yes, talking about politics is a part of knitting. Verbally abusing one another should not be condoned, but unfortunately it is.

  6. When I was young, I read a dystopian children’s book in which some teens were transferred to a school for evil. They learned lessons about strategy, like how a single wasp inside a car was able to kill an entire family.

    This was before the internet, but I can’t help thinking that there’s a school out there training people in how to destroy internet communities, and how to use their destruction to destabilize communities in real life. Or maybe the internet is just letting us see a lot more of what people are really like than any of us can stand to know…

    You and ravelry are taking opposite approaches to solving the same problem, it seems to me. I prefer yours, but some other people may need theirs. Perhaps both need to exist, so we can choose.

  7. I’m crying after reading your beautiful post, it feels like you know me. I’m a new follower of yours after reading following a link from a new crafting site.

  8. So beautifully expressed. I’ve been knitting for fourteen years. I remember when I first started it exposed me to people I didn’t usually hang out with. It was so good for me. I’m grateful there are still some folks like yourself who are interested in influencing with kindness rather than hate. It’s the ultimate irony that their tactics are having the opposite effect on me. Thank you, too for not being like the one who posted on IG that if we don’t agree, we can get the F out.

  9. I have a Masters in Political Science. I grew up working on campaigns with my parents. I knew I wanted to go into politics when I was a young girl. I wanted to work in a diplomatic role. I walked away from my government job and stored my diplomas in the garage a few years ago. I swore I wouldn’t put my family or myself through the hatred that’s being spewed. In my opinion, the culprits are the 24 hour news cycle and social media. It has become a crazy reality show entertainment spectacle. People are clueless about issues. They literally base their opinion on memes and talking points and they think their candidate is deity and the other one is Satan incarnate. (Sorry for the rant)

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