knitting and the life I almost have around it

Sunday, November 02, 2008

running commentary

When I started this blog, back in July 2005, I really didn't have much of a plan. Basically, I wanted 'someone' to talk at. It was pre-SnB and I was getting to the point where my family and friends were probably going to kill me if I didn't shut up about yarn and gauge and blocking. It meant my diary could be easily read by me, and I could whack pictures in without having trouble closing a book. I could link to things so I would have an easy place to locate online sources I like to use. I could put my hand up for all the blogs I was reading and felt too weird to comment on, hence the People I Am Stalking list. I always knew it was public, and I liked it. It forced me to put a check on the crazy (believe it or not) and made it really easy for old friends to keep track of me when our lives just didn't synch up.
When I started getting the odd comment, I loved it. It was so exciting! I said something and then someone, maybe over the other side of the world, would put in their two-cents. It felt like all over the world, people were being brought together because of their love for yarn.
When I started going to SnB, other SnBers started (or admitted to) blogging and comments from people I had actually met would appear. Once the initial buzz faded, I relished the fact that people were there to offer guidance, sympathy and honesty. I loved that all the knitters I knew were completely different. For the first time I felt accepted for my mad need to make each knitting skill I came across my bitch. I knit a 4ply cotton camisole (my first real summer knit) and for the first time I had friends who could appreciate the skill and time and patience involved, even if some thought it was fugly and would never knit it themselves.
I met many specialists. There were knitters of elaborate lace christening shawls, knitters who churned out an endless supply of charity knitting, knitters who rescued and recycled yarn as a matter of course, knitters who spun, knitters who made brightly coloured accessories for children, knitters who knit for themselves, knitters who knit for therapy, knitters who knit for company, knitters who only knit at SnB, knitters who made detours in traffic so they could knit at traffic lights. My soul was filled with joy at the rich smorgasbourd of wonderful, clever, generous and creative people in my life.
Change is inevitable and, with knitting being jumped apon and trendified, a certain mainstream knitting culture was bound to emerge. I guess what I wasn't prepared for was the value judgements that would attach to this. I always thought that knitters would just knit what they liked and respect each other for doing the same. Some patterns are so different when they come out that everyone jumps on them, and I don't see a problem with everyone making a Clapotis at some point. I guess the issue I take is that a Clapotis is somehow more valid in our not-so-little community than a one-off, I-was-playing-with-a-stitch-dictionary type stole in a rescued yarn. Whereas once I would be frustrated showing a non-knitter a sock and being told "They're like $5 at Target", now I increasingly notice that other knitters will say "oh, have you knit Monkey or Pomatomus?".
When a new book, issue of knitty or a magazine comes out, I have this faintly hunted feeling that if I want to make something, I either have to pick something so complicated that there won't be many contenders or that I have to cast on instantly so I can have something unique, if only for a week or two. What is going on?
And it's not just the patterns. Not do you have to knit something in the top twenty on ravelry, but it has to be Malabrigo or Cherry Tree Hill or Lorna's Laces or Filatura di Crosa. Don't get me wrong, knit with whatever rings your bell. I'm sitting on more than my fair share of hoarded 'special' yarns. But some of my favourite knits have been with plain old Patons. or Bendigo. or mystery yarns that were missing their ball-bands. And when you hunt around on Ravelry, some of my all time favourite knits were cheap substitutes and I admire and respect the knitters that can use their knowledge and skill to produce something fabulous out of relatively unknown yarn. And no-one seems prepared to acknowledge that one of the 'it' yarns might not be perfect. I've knit two pairs of socks in Lorna's Laces and I'm prepared to say: they pill like nothing on earth.
I guess what I'm getting at is that I miss the melting pot. It used to bug me when I was introduced as the 'Sock Queen' but it bugs me even more when you don't count as a sock knitter unless you've made a pair of Monkeys. Sure, it's a great pattern and yes, I've knit it before. But when I see on ravelry that there have been over 7,000 pairs knitted... I have no desire to jump on board.
I increasingly find myself hunting for obscure patterns. I make sketches and change patterns just enough to make them feel like mine. I find myself avoiding situations where I might be forced to discuss the merits of Malabrigo. I keep reaching for the Moda Vera yarns in my stash rather than the Rowan or Debbie Bliss or Filatura di Crosa.
And I recently noticed, in a distracted sort of way, that I hardly get any comments any more. I won't say it isn't saddening, because it is. I really do miss the community. Venting about a problem and having four or five suggestions within the hour was lovely. Working really hard on a new yarn or a new project and having people who understood the work that went into it cheer me on was validating. And being able to state my opinion and being respected for it, even if no-one agreed... well. That made the whole thing very real.
But the thing is, I blog because I need to write about my knitting and my life. I didn't start for comments, and while they were nice while they lasted, I'm not about to stop without them. I knit because I always have. If I like a pattern, I will knit it. I was never the type to do something just because everyone else was doing it, but I don't want to become the sort of person avoids something for the same reason. Neither is particularly sensible and in any way mature.
I read a lot of blogs and rarely comment. I'll say that now. If a question is asked that hasn't been asnwered yet, I'll comment. If someone I care about has a shite day, I might comment. Or I might call them. I never saw much value in 23 comments saying essentially the same thing 'me too, me too!'. I've got knitting to do.
So I guess if the choice is being myself and going without the comments or jumping on the bandwagon and commenting on every single blog, despite having nothing to say, in the hope that those bloggers will reciprocate... it's being myself everytime.
If you do read this blog I don't expect you to comment. If I say something you want to respond to, eg "Ms Spider, you're completely full of it", then by all means, fire away. The whole point of writing in a public forum is that people can disagree with you. But please, don't ever feel pressured to comment. When it comes right down to it, I blog for me and you blog for you. You read who you want to read and I read who I want to read. We've all got better things to do than type "that's pretty" 300 times a week, just because we feel we ought to say something (If you feel you need to say 'that's pretty" then that's fine too).

Ok, that's my thought for the week. I would like to finish by saying nobody's perfect and with all the exposure to wool, it isnt surprising that we can be such sheep at times. ;)

Peace out,
Ms Spider xo

PS. Spun this week, slubby 2ply Blue Faced Leicester in EGMTK Hippie Haven..... yummeh!

PPS. This is not an attack on anyone in particular, just a collection of thoughts that have been knocking about for a while.

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