The Segregation of Knitters

So, I received this delightful little email about the Brooklyn Tweed Knit’s letter of “Equity and Inclusion.” You can read it for yourself here before proceeding with this blog post. Because….well….You need to at least SCAN it with your eyes before reading my rebuttal. It’s ok. I’ll wait.

Done at least skimming? Ok…

What I found interesting was that there was very little discussion about the craft, but more about who was allowed to appreciate it, and who wasn’t. There was, however a lot of talk about who had designed the pattern, rather than the pattern itself, or even who had spun the yarn, and not the yarn itself.

Then it really is no longer about the knitting. Not the product, not what is brought to the craft, not what someone contributes, but who does it. And that is so dangerous. That is when your noble efforts at inclusion become basically segregation.

Queer knitting night. I wouldn’t go to that if I were paid. Sounds as horrendous as Queer Bowling Night, or Queer Church. Not there for the knitting, not there just to bowl, and not there just to pray, but there just to make a statement….and the true endeavor is lost. (Went to all three of those examples once…were basically hook up scenes. No one knit or bowled….they just preyed.)

When you keep considering people marginalized, they will always stay there. You don’t invite people into the fold when you use those terms. You keep them separate. Which is why I was determined to help them punch up their bullet points to remind this company that we are knitters, plain and simple. Because if you keep telling someone they are outside your world, at the edges of your world, then you’ve never really invited them in….you just brought them in for a dog and pony show.

When it comes down to it, you’ve hijacked this craft for some strange purpose that I have yet to figure out, but I have all ideas the bright, smiley ego is involved. You get to make a press release expressing how left they are, and how virtuous you are….and nothing about the craft.

And the darker thing about this “manifesto” is that it clearly states that as of now we are “virtuous.”

What? You mean, before you made this statement you DIDN’T believe in these ideas? “Last June (which I guess would be two months ago) we hosted our first ever Queer Knit Night.”

I bet if you had just had Knit Night, a couple of queers would have been there and you may or may not have known it. A few other marginalized groups would have been there, too. But, if you’re a knitter, you wouldn’t have recognized that….because you were there for the knitting.

If you keep calling us marginalized, then we will stay marginalized. Call us knitters instead.

What is happening to this community?

Well, it isn’t knitting, that’s for sure.

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  1. This is the exact thing that led me away from weekly classes at one LYS near me. All of sudden, it was as if we needed to take pledge in front of everyone to be allowed to enter hallowed ground of the virtuous. Here I was all dumb and stuff just there for the knitting and friendly chatter about shared interests in yarn. Yarn which became fiber arts (then fibre arts) and then only trunk shows from strange startups not really interested in what knitters need. I quit. I still knit but order online and read blogs. Like yours. Which I adore.

  2. I’m so confused right now…I just want to knit and share my love of yarn with EVERYONE. I’m starting to feel ashamed to be a knitter.

    Thank you for this wonderful, thought provoking blog.

    1. Wow….there will be some out there who will be floating on cloud 9 to see your words…I’m starting to feel ashamed to be a knitter’..These communists have been doing their homework for many many yrs and it came to a culmination in 2008 when ovomit rose from hell to hypnotize the confused into believing his horrific way of life. I look back when people told me I was wrong about the new communists rising in our govt. Please be proud of your craft…be a RACIST…Really Awesome Conservative Independently Supporting Trump. Even if you don’t like Trump…look at the conservative platform..see the difference between communists vs conservatives…

  3. Wow. Just ….. wow…. The words ‘privileged’ and ‘marginalized’ have become so toxic and if you follow those concepts to their logical politically charged conclusion, fill me with sadness. I think I’ll stay home and finish knitting the little felted bag I’m working on for my 91 year old mother’s brand new Kindle. …. and contemplate…. I don’t know…. wool? No, wait. Is my wool virtuous? I’m not sure. Is yours? Good lord. What a mess. 😦

  4. Love your blogs Gregory, and this one is especially wonderful. It’s what I have wondered about many endeavours, and groups of people…we are all the same, in that we are all unique. This should be celebrated! ❤️

  5. I agree with you 100%. I own a yarn shop. But, I am marginalized by the other yarn shops. Being a man and the only male owned LYS, I am the only yarn shop in the region not allowed to participate in the yarn hops, but Brooklyn tweed wants to empower the women owning those shops that discriminate against a man? They’ve gone off the deep end. Bring back the knitting and leave the BS where it belongs.

    1. Thank you Thank you Thank you. From your heart to my ears. I couldn’t have written this better. I just want to knit and enjoy the craft, not worry that the yarn isn’t inclusive enough!

  6. What is happening to knitters? The same thing is happening in our society. We have little clumps of people who all think alike (moo cows is my term) and there are several of them. They form their own little village and feed off each other. They don’t let anyone in, nor do they talk to them, if the beliefs of the other parties are DIFFERENT. They feed off themselves with hate and disdain and they say nasty things about the other groups, who are also feeding off each other. It is called cancer in the body. In society, it is called break down.

  7. Thank goodness I found your blog. I was about to drown in all the virtuous aren’t-we-inclusive stuff. You are absolutely right. Let’s focus on knitting and stop worrying about who is what. “If you keep calling us marginalized, then we will stay marginalized.” You nailed it.

  8. Great job sir!! I couldn’t have said it better. I am not in one of those “marginalized” groups (unless being a woman is considered so..I’ve lost track honestly) and frankly I could give a rip if anyone else is either. I JUST WANNA KNIT!! This whole situation just hurts my heart. And yes, we bring people together by focusing on our similarities, not our differences…how many times did i say that to my children?!? Thanks for this, I appreciate it, and I appreciate you!

  9. You have his the nail on the head….the left always claims to be more virtuous, morally superior…then lords it over you…that in order to do business…you must fall in line. Just as Ravelry is doing. It is a means of control. It is identity politics…which at its core is racist by basing their judgment of you by your skin color, religion or sexual orientation. They call you marginalized …they call you victim…they need you to be those things so they can be the superior. It is not about the yarn…it is not about the knitting. I raise sheep…I make yarn…I will never talk about by customers or business partners in such a way and make rules for them…I will talk about my amazing yarn.

  10. Spot on!!

    Knitting is (for me) an act of getting out of yourself. Focusing on the pattern rather than that bad day at work. Focusing on the recipient if the item is intended as a gift to a friend or charity. Focusing on the wonderful feel and color of the yarn rather than the [bad] news headlines. It’s an act of giving, the emptying of self into the knitted product.

    What SJKs do is turn that around backwards.

    Knitting is something that’s all about ME. You buy a pattern because the designer is “marginalized” in some way. You’re thinking about what a great person you are. You photograph a row of skeins in a rainbow and post it on social media with a big statement about your “inclusion.” You miss the beautiful play of colors interacting on the needles and think about what a great person you are. You knit yourself a hat with “PRIDE” and when you wear it, what you’re really feeling is pride in your bright, shining virtue. You display so you can take in compliments on your virtue, not your knitting. You might as well be wearing a paper crown.

    You’re right. Knitting itself is completely shoved aside in these inclusion olympics. The love of the craft is replaced with, not the love of people, but love of yourself. This is a travesty. Make knitters knit again!

  11. You just pinned the tail on the donkey!
    The knitting “community” is just catching up with the rest of the society. A society that instead of joining together as one and embracing differences, wants to segregate and seclude. They want labels on all the different people and people groups. By labeling they can then keep out the undesirables. This is their way of making little safe spaces for the like minded.

  12. I’ve seen where all this nonsense started & it appears to have been just a couple of loud mouthed bullies. Why then, did rational people feel the need to jump in with them? Have none of you read “Lord of the Flies”? If you haven’t, I recommend you read the book or watch the movie.

  13. I’ve seen where all this nonsense started & it appears to have been just a couple of loud mouthed bullies. Why then, did rational people feel the need to jump in with them? Have none of you read “Lord of the Flies”? If you haven’t, I recommend you read the book or watch the movie.
    I love knitting & have never paid attention to the color, gender, or sexual orientation of who dyes the yarn or who writes the patterns. A good product stands on it’s own & needs no “support” for the sake of inclusiveness.

  14. Thank you for this post! I agree 💯. I took a class at a local yarn shop awhile back. It was a small class only 3 ladies and the teacher. The other two ladies were talking not really excluding me, but I didn’t have anything to add, soon a gay man came over to the table and sat near me. He worked at the shop. And had just stopped in on his day off. We started talking, I had a great time talking and sharing with him. He has a special place in my hear, because I truly believe he purposely started a conversation with me, so I wouldn’t feel alone. Had it been just a class for so called marginalized people. I may not have met him

  15. Once again sir you have said what needed to be said. I read this manifesto and was amazed that they used the word marginalized so many times. Talk about “putting people in their place” language. Boxing up different people into little groups instead of just letting us all be human. Sad day. On the bright side, I will not be buying any of their products as I do not encourage this behavior.

  16. I’ve come to learn – over my many years – that just because a person or few is very vocal it does not necessarily mean they are the majority or actually represent the majority. That just because we have the right to say a thing does not make that thing right. I learned this in kindergarten. And I’m just so weary of the entire state of misrepresentation that occurs. It’s no wonder us old people are cranky. We’re done. Just fed up with it all. I’m not participating in the discussion started on the “R” that shall not be named or anywhere else. I’m out – Gregory will be speaking for me from here on out – he does it so well and seems to still have the energy for it. I’m done. I’ll be over here in the corner nursing my broken sensitivities and trying to get my knitting mojo back.

  17. My mother always said “If everyone was jumping off a bridge, would you just because?” I am so sick of making a big deal of peoples’ differences. We were more inclusional (my made-up word) before we started making a big deal of it. This said from a 66 year old southern woman. LOL

    Let’s just knit, and buy yarn and discuss different patterns and the “best” needles and eat cake and drink coffee and/or tea. Our knitting group is so open that we will let you in if you don’t even drink coffee, or on a diet, or maybe just don’t like coconut cake.

    Not everything is about differences. Sometimes it about sameness.

    As always, I love your blog. I am so happy I found you. AND I wouldn’t go to a “Queer Knitting night” either!

  18. You, sir, are a breath of fresh air! It’s been difficult to wrap my head around what has happened to the knitting community over the past year let alone put words around it. Thanks so much for both your eloquence and your common sense. I wish there were more like you in the world. So glad I stumbled across your blog. ❤

  19. It seems that inclusion is not a priority for you. That’s fine, I know to avoid you and your posts/blog in the future. For now, I will simply say that the very MANY of us who have been/felt excluded appreciate what Brooklyn Tweed is saying and more importantly, doing. I walked out of a yarn store that I loved deeply after a fellow knitter wanted to “be part of” a gathering of Black women who were attending an event (not at the yarn store). She went on to say, she “should” be invited because her grandma used to always say their family had a “n#gg@ in the woodpile.” She, of course found this hilarious and the others I. The store chose to pretend they didn’t hear her although they were part of the entire conversation.

    I chose to leave and no return, taking my money with me. We vote for the society we want with our dollars so when you say it wasn’t about the knitting, that is EXACTLY what it is about. Is there space for me to BE in these predominantly white businesses. If you when into a Black owned business and were treated that way, would you return?

    This is the last you will hear from me and while I usually put a lil something in the tip jar, I’ll pass this time.

    1. It’s a shame that you’re turning this into a case of racism. He was not saying, “Be racist or non-inclusive.” He was saying we shouldn’t let it get in the way of our knitting.

  20. When I hear or read of an offensive slang term used to describe someone of a different race, religion, or gender, I cringe. I’m not going to type those terms here; anyone reading this should be capable of finding out the ghastly terms used to describe Italians, Jews, Irish, blacks, Catholics, homosexuals, women, etc.

    What I don’t understand is – why would a member of a group refer to him/herself and/or the members of his/her group by those nasty terms? Then again, I prefer to refer to everyone as PEOPLE in the plural and PERSON in the singular. Why seek to divide us by race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation and all of the other divisions which some folks are now so fond of? Gosh, why not UNITE?

    So – you are a knitter (hooray!) I am a knitter (hooray!) I am not going to separate us out by divisions. I wish other folk wouldn’t either. I just want to see attractive, well-written out patterns with useful charts and schematics. I don’t care what “division” the pattern author belonged or belongs to. I don’t think about division. Frankly, how in the blue blazes is it relevant to pattern writing?

    Before I step off the soap box, do you remember Randy Newman’s single, “Short People”? Shucks, I’m short, and I didn’t object to it – I thought it was funny. I guess that in this day and age I should be furious (is “triggered” the correct term?) and demand Randy’s neck in a noose.

    Unity. And please, a return to senses of HUMOR.

    1. Well said – seems ‘these days’ all people want to do is put you in a box – I thought – finally – everyone is open to everything, everyone and this hits me like a brick!
      we are who we are, It is what it is – just get on living and treating everyone with love and respect – My Mum said – respect people how you would like to be respected xx

  21. I must say, while I suppose the intentions are good with the Brooklyn Tweed Knit’s manifesto, I can sum up the whole thing with simply “Treat other people as you would like to be treated”. We focus so much on what color we are, what our ethnic background is and keep ourselves divided that we lose sight of the one important thing – we are ALL human beings for which there is absolutely NO genetic basis for race and no reason to focus on how a person identifies themselves, it basically is no ones business but their own. I see no application to knitting in their manifesto either, other than removing any kind of gender identification on their patterns. We only need to be respectful and civil to each other, kindness and politeness will take a person a good way in getting along with others.

  22. I will echo everyone else and say “yes, ditto!”

    But there’s one line in the BTweed “manifesto” that really, REALLY bothered me:

    “We will not tolerate behavior or words that compromise the safety of a marginalized person.”

    So… lashing out verbally or physically at non-marginalized people is ok? Because you, the self-professed benevolent white savior, are only going to save the marginalized, as that’s how you get justice points and prove your virtuousness?

    Even though I know how the game is played, I refuse to play it. As everyone else has said – I go to knit groups to knit. I will stick up for ANYONE who is being abused. There is no need to draw attention to myself or my actions in either situation.

  23. Yes! Thank you for this!
    I have this book of South American traditional knitting, and there are pictures of people in ponchos knitting outside with bicycle spokes as needles.The craft of knitting has been around for ages, and in countries and practiced by people all over the world.

  24. The stupid burns. “We will not tolerate behavior or words that compromise the safety of a marginalized person.” Um, hello? Did they go to kindergarten? While sticks and stones may indeed break their bones, words will never “compromise the safety” of ANYONE. (Excepting, of course, the “Fire!” in a crowded theater, etc.) Your feelings don’t give you the right to limit what other people are allowed to say. EVER. You can deal with your feelings like an emotionally-well-adjusted adult and realize that not everyone is exactly like you, nor do they desire to be. Who are marginalized are people of intelligence, who can see through these puritanical, virtue-signaling power plays as what they are…attempts to control everyone.

  25. Great post as usual. I’m still stunned by all the bs and I wonder, is this break down prevalent only in online presence peeps, or has our whole country gone to crazytown? How many knitters out there have just put their heads down, picked their needles up and are waiting for the storm to pass? I use to one click anything by Penny Reid who wrote the Knitting in the City books, I did not finish her last book due to sanctimonious, cliché stuff with racist cops, and virtue signaling That was my first inkling that something weird was happening; but maybe we aren’t the minority. I don’t like crazytown, I don’t want to stay in crazytown.

    1. Nobody wants to be in crazytown. I think sometimes it gets built around us, though. As for only online, not in my experience. It happens in real life groups, too. Sadly and sometimes painfully.

  26. I couldn’t have said this better myself. What happened to treating everyone fairly and as equals instead of raising someone up (or putting them down) by focusing on their appearance or beliefs? Keep knitting focused on the knitting!!!!

  27. This is only the second blog post I have read since joining, and by God I am enjoying it immensely. People who just want to be people are becoming the minority. Just give me a dam place to get my yarn and patterns, and yes I’ve been called white privilege, I was born into it. It’s called peaceful coexistence. Try practicing it for a while instead of calling attention to the differences.

  28. OMG, so are straight knitters excluded from Queer Knit Night based on their sexual orientation? Hilarious!
    For knitters of mixed race, what percentage of which races do I need to be to quality for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or People of Color) yarn support? Do the white folks not get yarn support, based on the color of their skin?
    It’s sad when nice people lose their minds with victimhood hysteria.

    1. Right? So as a white german/irish American I’m pretty much excluded from EVERYTHING these days. 😦

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