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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Knitting Vs. Evil

Lately, I have received quite a few emails and comments from people telling me how much they’ve been enjoying my recent blog posts. I can’t thank you enough for that, because I have to tell you, I have never enjoyed writing more than I have recently. I can’t wait to get up early in the morning, get the coffee started, do a little knitting, mull over my thoughts, then put the needles down and dig into my writing. I LOVE IT! I’m writing because I have more and more passion everyday.

Then I get other comments that criticize me for being condescending, that I’m a terrible person for the positions I take, threats to silence my writing, threats to my career. And I have to say, I I can’t thank you enough for that, because I have to say YOU are the reason I’m so passionate about my work right now.  Ohhh, you have no idea how much enjoyment you’ve given me these last couple of weeks. You are the reason my heart is on fire.

Just before the issue with Ravelry’s new policy, I was contemplating leaving this craft. I was going to retire my “Mad Man” moniker, just start using my own name, “Gregory Patrick,” start up a new blog, a new facebook account, focus on writing and leaving knitting behind. Since the Pussy Hat days, I haven’t really liked the direction this knitting world was taking.

Then Ravelry unveiled their new policy and I sat down to write about it. And as I was writing that blog post I noticed that I wasn’t stopping to take a sip of coffee, wasn’t breaking to catch the morning headlines, wasn’t ceasing to really explore my thoughts on the matter. I posted. It went live and it hit nearly 10,000 people in one day.

(My husband peeked over my shoulder and said, “Seems like you hit a nerve.” And I quietly said, “Yeah, I did….my own.”)

And I knew right then and there that maybe I should reconsider my decision to end the Mad Man Knitting brand. And after the Sockmatiton situation, I knew I had solidified my decision to say in this game.

Because I wasn’t going to let you win. I was not going to let you hijack this wonderful world of fibers, this world of delicately crafted hand made needles, this wonderful world of collective creators….I wasn’t going to let you poison their heads with destructive thoughts instead.

I’m not going to let you take these beautiful souls and fill them the desire to harm people. You must be out of your MIND! I’m not going to let you pit person upon person because of their ideologies. How dare you! I’m not going to let you take these knitting needles that craft beanies for preemies, hats for breast cancer survivors, and blankets for the homeless and turn them into battle daggers. You must be CRAZY!

Oh, you better believe Mad Man Knitting is still in, because he is more MAD than ever and is trying to get KNITTERS back to SANITY!

And I have seen so many of you comment about wanting to leave the craft the way I wanted to…..and I’m urging you not to leave because we need more people to stay and take back the craft that has gone from bringing us together….to weaponizing ourselves against each other. Sharpening the tips of our knitting needles…..ready to strike at anyone we dislike.

Gone were the simple days when knitters and crocheters sometimes just didn’t really care for each other. You remember those days when you would say, “I knit,” and the other person would say, “Well, I crochet,” and you would just give each other that look? Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about….

Then suddenly, by the new recent standards of the “Fiber Unions Crochet and Knitting Education Department,” (or F.U.C.K.E.D. as I call them) knitters and crocheters are supposed to destroy each other! Take it to the mat! Draw blood! Take everything from them! DESTROY THEM!!!! Like freaking Battle Royal…but, with knitting needles!

That’s what we’re being taught now in the knitting community: destruction is a good thing.

But, you see that logo of mine? Do you see what that means? That heart is placed right over the needles. The HEART is at the center of this craft.

So, if you were wanting to leave this community like I did, don’t. Stay right here. Show in numbers MORE and MORE of you that want to take this craft back and use it for what it was intended for: good. All things we do with our needles are intended for good. And I won’t be silent if those needles are being used for evil.

And yes, it really has become a battle between good and evil. And do you know why? This comment that I received:

“Still going on about Sockmatician. That was like a week ago. Moving on.”

That apathy is an allegiance with evil, because what I really heard was, “We destroyed him a week ago. Next?”

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An Open Letter to Sockmatition

I didn’t know who you were until today. (And here I am with a t-shirt that that says, “I’m a World Famous Knitter, Bitch.” I’ll send you one! Might make you laugh!)

I have to tell you, in all honesty….it was very hard to figure out just what the hell you had done that made everyone so angry. I saw youtube clips, read articles….everyone eluded to, or suggested to what you had done initially to cause this massive explosion in the knitting community. But, I couldn’t see it for myself because apparently you deleted all of your social media. And I just kept asking myself what this knitter had done to deserve such a punishment, what he had done to lose his career over?

It is still so vague to me, the facts of the case. And that is the funny thing. When I’m asked to defend, respond, or even divulge in conversations about matters I know nothing about I make damn sure I say so, so that I don’t look like a fool.

I know nothing about you, or what this situation has become for you, nor how it happened. I know only what people tell me. I didn’t get to see it for myself.

So I could only think that since I didn’t have all the information, there was really nothing about that I could say…..

Except this: I know you’re wounded now, terribly wounded. All parts of you have been obliterated. And it is in my nature as a knitter (AS A HUMAN!) to look at a wounded person and go, “Brother, it’s time for redemption….but, not without compassion.”

Because we knitters, we work our spindled, anxious hands to the bone to COMFORT people. We CREATE. We do not destroy. And when on our own life paths we come across someone wounded and bleeding, we do not kick them again.

Stabbing them over again and again….that isn’t who we are, not as knitters (NOT AS PEOPLE!).

Which actually makes me laugh. “What the fuck kinda craft did I get myself into????”

I don’t know. Maybe you did deserve a smack down of epic proportions. Maybe it was your turn in the “cancellation culture” carousel. Maybe you really did screw up. I don’t know. I just don’t. I don’t know all the information. I do know that I have just walked by a wounded knitter on the side of the road on my own path through this fiber forest.

Or in another analogy, coming out of a bar and seeing the end of the fight, not knowing what happened, but defiantly standing over the loser, bloody as all hell and asking, “Are you alright???”

That’s what people do. That is what compassionate people do. I don’t know WHAT happened to you, I just see that whatever it was must have been pretty freakin’ bad because you look like you’ve been pummeled.

What the hell happened to knitting? I sort of feel we need to get in touch with the Department of Defense and say, “Screw your nukes, I’ve got something worse. A bunch of hysterical people with sharp ended sticks….but be careful! Some of them know how to use FIVE AT ONE TIME!”

I guess I’ve said everything I can.

No, I take that back. We may not be allies because the truth of it is, I don’t know you that well. But, because I don’t know you that well doesn’t mean I’m your enemy.

PS. I know what it’s like to get struck by your own lightning. Trust me, I do….

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Knitting and the Death of Identity

I ambitiously pursued monasticism when I was in my early 20’s. Yes, I wanted to be a monk. Went to the closest monastery and said, “This is where I’m supposed to be.”

After a while of being there the monks all agreed that this wasn’t really the place for me, throwing a beautiful line back at me. “Brother, you have far too much to say to take a vow of silence. This may be where you want to be, but out there….that’s where you’re supposed to be.”

So ended my monastic career 🙂

I’m not all surprised that I pursued both knitting and writing as a career, because that path does require the same amount of isolation and time alone with the self that being cloistered does. This path required the same amount of diligence, faith, hope and disciple in vast amounts of silence that a monk enjoys before many of us have even had breakfast.

But, there is a classic beauty in this memory that has reared itself for me to think about. Because with all of these recent discussions about groups and communities, I’ve started to feel troubled.

I went to discover myself in a group. Now, my being that young at that time, I didn’t see how wonderful their refusal really was. Because, the monks beautifully reminded me that my individuality was mine to find if I went searching for it….and it was not to be found in a group, but alone.

Best lesson ever learned in life. Don’t go finding yourself in a group, or in a crowd. No, you can only find the true spirit of who you are by going it alone, by identifying less with groups and relying more on your individualism. Because THAT is what this human experience really is about: finding your own particular uniqueness and how that can only be done without groups, without a name, but sometimes only by writing and knitting….because in those quiet hours you truly do begin to see how you are a creator, not a destroyer.

Rules and regulations, terms of service, and “click here to accept,” all remind you that when you’re in a group, human interaction is basically nil. The “codes of conduct” of the group will always supersede your individuality.

Perhaps the state of the world has a lot to do this. And I don’t mean recently, so please no emails or comments about Trump, this has been happening for a very long time. A very long time. Someone proposed to me that “hate crimes” are on the rise against marginalized communities. To which I could only remark that if you watch your local six o’clock news, it would seem crime is up for everyone. (Or rather, the truly marginalized are really just the innocent…despite what group they belong to).

Since the Ravelry unraveling, people seem desperate to find a new group, a new place to belong, where they can validate who they are with the simple badge splashed on their lapel. No longer do we see the days of “Hello, My Name is (blank).” But, have instead adopted the prophetic loss of individuality with a sticker that reads, “Member of the (blank) Community.”

(My husband, reading over my shoulder, said it best, “Politics did that to us. Always pushing us apart, never bringing is together.”)

Sometimes the face of a group, or even the name of a group, advocates whether they promote either leadership or bullying. Take this advice. Be careful when you decide to hide your quiet self, because your loud self tends to sometimes listen to bullies….not leaders.

Now, don’t get wrong. Groups have their purpose, their advantages. So, please don’t walk away from this blog believing I hate groups. That isn’t my point. Groups can be a great thing to belong to….but, detrimental if we are labeled by them.

Knitters! You’re are trying too hard to view yourselves and (!) each other as groups….rather than seeing yourselves and each other as the beautiful individuals that you are. (!)

Because there is a distinct difference between having a moniker that reads, “Member of the LGTBQ+ Knitting Community,” and another that reads simply, “Hello, My Name is Gregory.” Because being Gregory is a lot more interesting than being any other label you may give me.

Don’t spend all of your time looking for new groups, new places to validate yourself. Use that time instead to be alone with your knitting, with yourself. And when you’re finished binding off, blocking and such, hold your work up high just to remind yourself that this was made BY you FOR some ONE….

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If you are blessed with moments of picking up those knitting needles and finding yourself in self reflection, well then, you’re doing better than most people, that much I can tell you.


Knitters at the Mercy of Threads

Recently I’ve been starting threads on my facebook page. Oh, I love starting a little discussion. 🙂

Someone asked me why after all this time I haven’t been a paid sponsor, or influencer in the knitting community? That’s easy. I’m too controversial. Maybe that’s the punk in me. Yes, in describing myself in musical terms, I’d have to say that I was Gothic at heart, punk by nature, but really love a good POP now and then. Sometimes I enjoy bucking the system, the status quo, the conventional thought.

I LOVE to rile people up. I DO! And I don’t intend with every post to start World War III, but sometimes you have to press people’s buttons just to get them to engage with you, to talk to you, to know that someone is listening. DO you see now? Why I’m controversial? Because I get people engaged in discussions. There are forces out there that DO NOT want that at all. And that is a real shame. Because stifling speech leads nowhere. Smart knitters know this.

I can post anything from the new 007 being a black chick, to asking if you’ve ever given up sexy time with your spouse to spend time with your knitting. And knitters from all over the world jump in to partake…..and SHARE. TALK. DISCUSS. We have thoughts and lives outside of this skill! We are REAL people who have things to say. AND THEY MAY NOT LIKE IT, but I sure do love having a platform that embraces the discussions that not too many people will take on.

Because, I have come to the place in my life where I have no interest in people who say, “You can’t ask such questions,” and even less time with people who say, “I refuse to talk with people like you.”

So, I create these questions, these debates KNOWING someone out there disagrees….and will TELL ME why. I LOVE THEM! We, as knitters will find ourselves in a thread that has NOTHING to do with knitting, but we can always use that as our bridge when we disagree! WE get to interact without the forces of a third party deciding if our conversation is even allowed. WE came towards each other, voluntarily, to discuss what was most pressing on our minds.

We are knitters….involved in these posts that become threads when so many people jump in to give their truth to the argument. Because we LOVE to share who we are. Hell, the majority of you knitters reading this have a WIP that isn’t even for you, but for someone else you want to share your care with.

Some people are funny, some witty, some weird. You never know. But, the one thing that you CAN see is that knitters can disagree and still say freely what they think about things. And should the moment get heated, some part of you remembers what you share with the other person….and you often get to see an apology.

My posts are intended to get people talking….in a world where speech has become equivalent to physical violence. (I shake my head).

So, get to talking. Share who you are. Feel free to ARGUE with me. Because if we at least get the chance to have dialogue, then we are already on the right path towards peace. But, WE NEED THAT CHANCE. And I’m more than happy to do that on my facebook threads.

I do NOT dislike you because you disagree with me. But, I will feel bad for you, and me, and all of the whole future of our society if you say, “I refuse to speak to you.”

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When Did Bitchy Become Fashionable?

I’m going to do my best to describe her, but I doubt I could do it justice. She is simply a presence, a good one, the sort that walks by with the scent of calm, quiet understanding trailing her. She has the simple gesture of a woman who learned to care for total strangers from her own experiences as a mother.

Now, let’s back this story up a second.

We’ve been here in our new apartment for 8 weeks now. I love this little place. It is doing precisely what I wanted it to do. Break me free from my agoraphobia. And this is the first time in 4 years I’ve been around people for better parts of the day. But, here is the caveat: everyone who lives in this complex is gorgeous, young, pretty….and weirdly in their own heads, terrified of eye contact, terrified of acknowledging another human, terrified of being outside in the world with strangers who could hurt them. (WOW! Sounds like the agoraphobia that crippled me for years! Has the whole world gone mad?)

They stare down at their phones to avoid seeing you, and if they DON’T have their phones, they look at as many strangest places as possible so they don’t have to make eye contact with you. Their heads dart here and there, twitching back and forth to look at something other than you. “Oh, what’s that up there? A cloud….Wow. Clouds.”

I walk by and say, “Good morning,” because that is how I was raised.

But, you get nothing back. Not a thing. You were this shapeless blob of human that they could not be bothered with. And you just wanna shake the SHIT out of them and scream, “RUDE! It’s a salutation, not a commitment!”

Oh, these kids today. Nothing is real if it wasn’t seen first on their devices first….And if they don’t have their devices, if they don’t have their social media, then it never REALLY happened.

But, I have a tendency to walk by this one woman every morning. She is about 50ish, and tends to walk her dog about the same time I’m leaving to go about my errands.

I offer my usual, “Good morning,” and she replies with a bright smile, “Good morning.”

And it makes you think it must be some kind of generational thing. I mean, when did “bitchy” become fashionable, and “politeness” become cause for concern?

I mean, if you cannot accept some total stranger’s wish for a good passage through this madness we call “our day,” then what kind of weird ass world are you living in? WHAT is going on with you?

Maybe that’s just it: if you’re not willing to receive a blessing, then maybe it’s because you’re not capable of offering one yourself. And I cannot help you with that. But, maybe there is an app you can download….

So, this morning when I passed this delightful woman I said, “Good morning.” She responded with her usual genuine smile, “Good morning.”

But, I said more.

“By the way, if I may….”

She turned to me and asked, “Yes?”

“Two things. THAT is one beautiful grey hound. I assume it’s a rescue. And secondly….thank you for being the only person since I’ve moved here to wish me a ‘Good Morning.'”

TO which she replied, “You’re very welcome. And thank you!”

Don’t let your days seek out the harm in people that you’re convinced may or may not hurt you, but look for the blessings people are trying to offer you with absolute conviction instead.

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“Stitch Activism”

I was asked recently by a reporter if I could share my thoughts on “stitch activism.” I’m wordy, knew I didn’t have much time to say what I REALLY thought about it, so I pretty much said, “Next question.”

Frankly, I’m not a fan of it. I’m really not. I know that everyone comes to their needles from a different place and a different reason, but for myself, I’ve never felt the needles should be used to manifest something that comes from a place of negativity. But, that’s just me.

I’ve always been appreciative of non violent protest. We see it in art, in music, in film. However, if the activism that you subscribe to requires that you create something that challenges our ideas of “peace” and “justice,” then you aren’t doing too much of anything but using your craft to brutalize potential dialogue.

(Oh, I know I use that word ‘dialogue’ a lot, but I feel that no consideration of your protest can be taken seriously if the only objective is to silence the other side….or as crafters, use our quiet talents to SHOUT over someone else).

Peace and justice can only be reached by discussion. There is NO other way. Peace and justice can only be reached from a place of faith.

And I’m not one sided on this. I don’t care for the “Build the Wall” scarf anymore than I care for the “F*!k Trump” hat. They both scream to me an equal amount of hostility. YOU may call that non violent protest, but if the intention in your heart is to fuel a hatred that exists between two camps, then you really have missed the whole point behind non violent protests. Because the REAL intention behind non violent protests is to actively seek ways to bless, love, and comfort your enemy….not tell them they’re awful human beings who should be forgotten and discarded.

If you dislike me, or even HATE me, then I’ve probably given you a reason. However, I’m going to pray that you don’t spend your entire day (let alone career!) stewing in that anger….because you won’t ever have a good life. And that really is what we want for everyone when we say “social justice” isn’t it? We want EVERYONE to have a peaceful and beneficial life. You cannot exclude a total stranger from that “justice.” You just can’t. And you cannot ASK for it, if you’re not willing to GIVE it.

I’ll put it to you this way. Every winter we crafters love love love to get involved in knitting or crocheting blankets for the homeless. Because we CARE. Now, imagine spending your time and days making a blanket for an unfortunate soul….and then you meet the person. You decide you don’t like this person. You don’t care for their political beliefs, you don’t care for their religious views, you don’t care for the color of their skin. You decide NOT to give a person in need of comfort one of your blankets. You decide NOT to give a total stranger your warmth and concern. Rather than just GIVING….you’ve decided that care for another human comes with conditions. And I cannot tell you how much I despise what those conditions have become these days.

“Love Trumps Hate” is NOT stitch activism, not when you craft from a place of hate…then try and tell me that it was intended to spread a message of love. Because messages of love are not as valuable as love itself.

And I know there are a lot of people out there who disagree with me. That is OK. I’m fine with that. You tend to paving over whatever pot holes are in your road, as I tend to mine, in order for us to get where we need to go. But, I promise you this, brother: we may disagree, but if you need help patching up your bumpy road, you can call on me to help.

Some people make a LOT of money in this craft capitalizing on “stitch activism,” resistance, and the perpetuation of division. I will never approach my needles with that sort of offense. No, I might end up poor and penniless, but I’ll be DAMNED if I let anything negative fall off my needles.

You cannot tell me some of the knitting I’ve seen out there is “non violent protest,” or “stitch activism,” because it isn’t. Your intention is still to hurt or harm the person on the other side of your protest. You weren’t able to do that with your bare hands, so you used your needles instead. You found a way to manifest your anger into something tangible, something that can be held ( or even worse ) ADMIRED. To me? That is just one percent away from violence, when in essence, as caring crafters, we should be 100% away from that violence.

Real stitch activism is using your gifts as a crafter to promote benevolence and good faith to EVERYONE….and especially to your enemy. Because that REALLY is when “LOVE TRUMPS HATE.”

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