“Your Skein, Comrade….”

Since that dreadful manifesto Brooklyn Tweed Knits put out a few weeks ago, I have been agitated by phrases I’ve heard tossed around lately like, “We will do our best to ensure our prices do not exclude the BIPOCs, Queer, and Houseless communities.” Because, if you’re anything like me, that statement reads, “Only white people can afford our yarns, so we’ll do our best to have cheaper things on hand for you poor helpless, marginalized peopel.”

Or even WORSE! “We’ll offer a premium discount card available ONLY to people of a specific race, sexual orientation, or housing status,” which, by that statement’s very own nature, is one that reflects the minutia of real bigotry in the knitting community.

Can you see me? Ball cap, boots, jeans, middle aged and white, with a Jack Daniel’s belt buckle swaggering into an LYS and the looks I’d get in this current climate? Oh, the looks I’d get.

“May I help you?” You would be able to notice the coldness in the air, the shocking degrees at which the temperature nose dived.

“Looking for sock yarn. Berroco specifically.”

“I’m not sure….” Feigned disinterest never impresses me. I’d rather you be outright rude.

“I’m gay.”

“OH HOORRRRAAAYYYYY!!!!!” Suddenly, balloons fall from the ceiling, confetti is shot from tiny little canons behind skeins, I’m handed a welcome basket full of brie, French bread, Perrier and Prep. “I’m so sorry your people are so marginalized by society. It must be awful for you. So awful….”

Actually, no. Well, allow me to clarify. We don’t ALL have the same experiences. Just because you are (GROUP!) doesn’t mean you’ve had the same experiences that other people that are in that (GROUP!) have had. My life as a gay man has been pretty extraordinary….probably because I never really defined myself to the world as a (GROUP!)

No, you get no “as a (GROUP!)….” terms with me before I start a sentence of praise or complaint.

You get Gregory Patrick. Mad Man Knitting. MY experiences.

So, no. I’ve had no issue being a gay man. Never got beat up, never got bullied. Actually, was bullied once by this overly aggressive, straight man who was so adamant about calling me weak, puny, a pussy, a fag. But, I was smooth enough to know the real psychology of what was happening in his head and….well, slept with him six months later. (Last I heard, he was working on a gay cruise ship….)

And it is always so weird for me, that living in such a big gay town like Orlando, that people would think I’m marginalized. Weird….

“Ma’am, I just want to know if you have any and how much it cost.”

“Oh, to help with your afflictions as being a marginalized Queer person, we can offer it to you for almost nothing. We’ll doing the right thing, helping you to find representation in this community.”

“I don’t care for the term ‘queer,’ because I’d rather be called ‘sir,’ or….well, you don’t need to call me anything, just point me to the yarn. It’s my feet that need representing. Do you have the Berroco or not?”

“‘Sir’ is such a misogynistic term, don’t you-”

“Ma’am….do you have it or not?”

Because, at some point it becomes offensive being labeled a “victim” all the time. “Oh, you can’t get ahead because of the patriarchal system that marginalizes….”

Good grief. Don’t you get it? I AM MY ONLY OPPRESSOR. My successes have been by my own hand. And my FAILURES, as well. NO ONE has kept me from success, my OWN life choices have.

I think it shameful that LYS’s have reached the point where they are pulpits of some kind ideology, where “terms of service” equate to “manifestos,” where you start designating some of your customers as second class, and calling your fellow knitters “comrade,” because the word is gender neutral, isn’t racially charged, and doesn’t merit the slightest mention of someone’s sexual preference. Yes, I have started hearing the term, “My comrade in knitting” thrown about like a soft pillow that lands on my heart like a cement block.

Because, you know I’m a little old school. We used to call those people our “friends.”

First, best, most original description of your fellow crafters ever: FRIENDS.

It isn’t gender neutral, isn’t racially charged, and doesn’t merit the slightest mention of someone’s sexual preference. Because we weren’t thinking about all of your status points on the victim scale, we liked you for who YOU are…..not whatever inter sectional cosplay you’re coming up with to hide yourself behind.

I would love to walk into an LYS and say, “Looking for sock yarn,” to which the owner would reply, “Got some gorgeous, smooth, delicious Berroco with some fun color ways as they self stripe.”

“AWESOME! Let’s take a look!”

“Oh, by the way, I love sock knitters, I’m one, too….so I’m going to offer you a 30% discount if you buy at least two skeins. Oh! And they have some really fun British names so I’ll remember what you bought the last time you were here….”

You see? You see that scenario right there? That is Utopia. That is two people bonding over yarn, recognizing each other for their interests and not their skin tone, gender, or sexual preference, and not placating a moment of victimization that needs reparation. This scenario went quickly to two people becoming friends for a solid love of the great joy in knitting socks.

THAT is what this craft is about. Making friends….

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13 comments

  1. Being white, female and of an age that knitting is now acceptable, let me say that I too have fought to be heard and not marginalized. I started knitting almost 30 years ago, I was young and had young children. I felt like I was out of place in the lys, but I soon learned that everyone there was in the right place. Knitting helped me grow up, not old. It is with deep sorrow that our lys is no longer a shop, but is being kept open as a place to meet and talk and knit, or crochet together. Everyone is welcome.

  2. Once again, Love, love, love. If you are ever in Murray, KY come into our LYS, #Redbugyarn, and knit awhile. I don’t own it, but you will love everyone there, and I bet everyone there will love you.

  3. “Like” is not strong enough for how I feel about your post (do you hear Michael Bolton singing “Said I Loved You” at this point?). Gosh!
    1. Why do any (Group) want to identify themselves by foul names? I don’t get it.
    2. Do you not have yarn folks in Orlando that gush about yarn colors, composition, and patterns? Is it all about marginalization, racism, sexism, and all the other isms? How very sad. Come to Savannah GA – we still LOVE our yarn here. We love to knit (and some of us [but not me :)] crochet
    3. Why don’t we have a big ol’ “I’m So Sorry Day”. Everyone can apologize to everyone else for all the hurt that’s ever been done to them personally or to their relatives or ancestors. Then we can just Get. Over. It.

    1. Girl, you know I have a long history with Jen’s Frayed Knot in Savannah. I used to live across the street from her older shop, Wilde Fibre when I lived on Habersham…then we both moved to the corner of Bull and Liberty in about 2009. I’d love to come back and knit with ya’ll. 🙂

  4. The sad thing about labels is other folk apply them even if you don’t want or need them because it makes them feel better, oh yes they are (group) and I am being kind to them because of it! NO, nope no way no. I do understand when labels become oppressive you (group) take ownership of the name of the label to take some of the hurt out of it. Fine be (group) but it makes no difference on who you are or what you do you are still you. I love it when folk apply labels to me, oh yes your (group) or well of course your are (group) because I can then ignore them a wee bitty better! with less worry of making my own judgments too quickly! Stereotypes are great for books, and easy for TV/film to show and make a quick link or story but is no good for real world! Thank you for being you and it is you I follow, not any (group) or label. Now get back to the knitting, because as much as we love the words you need the knitting too ❤

  5. I love this post. You have nailed it: Friends is the way to go! I will be taking your ideas into the knitting world and beyond. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  6. The trope that [marginalized group] is too poor to participate in crafting is very real. (Never mind that ten bucks will get a serviceable skein of yarn and a pair of needles at Walmart)

    And I quote:
    “You’d be forgiven for assuming the knitting community is basically white. The craft conjures images of Jane Austen-era women doing needle art at home, older (white) women in rocking chairs, and, more recently, left-leaning “stitch-and-bitch,” pussy-hat knitting women, also mostly white. And then there are the barriers to entry. Aside from the fact that it can be daunting to join a community where no one looks like you, a single skein of high-quality wool can cost $30-60 (if not more), and this doesn’t even account for the cost of needles or the time required to complete a project.”

    Source: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/xwnp4a/the-real-reason-ravelrys-ban-on-white-supremacy-is-surprising

    That’s just the opening paragraph. Read on but be prepared to cringe. Hard.

    The “Woke Left” is utterly and completely bigoted and racist, and totally unaware of it.

  7. I’ve been thinking things along the same lines for years now, and I also like the summarized Eleanor Roosevelt quote:

    “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

    I’ll be honest – I get so frustrated whenever I see the word “empowerment” now, because it has been tied to women for so many years. It makes me feel as if there is a large group who believes that women cannot succeed by their own power. We need someone else to tell us that we are ALLOWED to be great before we can do ANYTHING. That is garbage.

    Most people who can’t succeed or don’t succeed are only held back by their self-imposed limitations. But it’s easier to blame someone else for holding me back than it is to work on what is within myself that is truly serving as a roadblock to my success.

  8. You should print this and mail it to Brooklyn Tweed. What’s wrong with them, anyway? Why are they cowering like a runt who got brutalized by the mafia? I’m thinking someone threatened their lives.

  9. Your words need to be put on a plaque. “I AM MY ONLY OPPRESSOR”. The beauty living in this free country is that we have choices and to be a victim is one way to go…or not. Why let the world assign label of victim across your forehead? Why be a label at all? Because to be a label, according to the left, is how they will decide how you will be treated….in a yarn shop or any place else. Really? I graduated from high school a very long time ago. Thank you for your words of supreme wisdom. They are a comfort and are useful as we fight off the mean crowd.

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