Friday, August 03, 2007

Pitfalls of the Craft Culture

I have been inspired by Rebecca of 'My Heart Knits'. She blogged about the culture of obsession in the crafting community. Read her entry here.

Here is my response:

Girl, when your right your right!

Knit with your heart! It's a good knitting philosophy.

Your right, all the crafty influences around us do tend to breed lust for what we don't have. I have mostly been removed from gratifying that lust because of our financial position. So there is one thing about not having a lot of money to throw around, you tend not to waste it. Every one of my yarn purchases is carefully thought out. I can't tell you how difficult it was for me to spend $100 at Ram Wools, when I was in Winnipeg, in ONE hour. I didn't do it. Only spent $70 something. I wish I had picked up a book, they had a few of EZ's works, but I just didn't have the time to think it through. I couldn’t feel good about spending that last 25 bucks or so on something I hadn’t thoroughly justified in my head. And I think maybe the books were more than $25 so I would have had to justify going over budget.

Books… there is my downfall. And then there are the magazines. I taught a knitting class this past spring with about 8 students. The 2nd or 3rd class I brought out my mags and books for the students to look through. After the gasps and exclamations about how much there was to look at subsided it occurred to me that I might have a problem. [and it was maybe half of my collection]

After flipping through a few, one of the student’s mothers asked how I had the time to knit all these patterns. I felt like someone had just slapped me and said, “Snap out of it!” Now, that was not her intention, she was honestly asking. The imagined correction came from within me. I wonder if anyone else noticed I was stunned? All I could do was stammer a bit and explain how I liked looking at them and reading them and I get inspiration from them and bla bla bla…. Then admit that maybe I have a magazine addiction.

Up until that point I had found it difficult to not buy every knitting mag I found. There used to only be 2 [VK and Knitters] available so it was not so much an issue. But then in the last few years many more became available but I hadn’t changed my buying habit. Since then I censor my buying. If a magazine doesn’t have a FEW patterns that interest me and/or articles [technique is what I look for] I don’t buy. This has curbed my spending a lot.

Still, what the culture of knitting has become can create a kind of greed for more, a desire to be knitting what the “in” crowd is, to read all the popular blogs, to hear all the popular podcasts, to have everyone reading my blog, to know as much about this culture as possible so I get the in jokes and cool references. Eek! It almost sounds like high school again.

It CAN create that kind of atmosphere but doesn’t have too. If I keep my head on straight and use all the wonderful internet paraphernalia [blogs, podcasts, ravelry, etc.], books and magazines as tools they can ENHANCE my enjoyment of my craft.

After reading Rebecca’s post I did some rethinking.

As the readers of my blog know I just recently got involved in the local knitting and spinning scene. At the knitting group I showed everyone the socks I was knitting and, when asked, showed the pattern I had printed off I was surprised that most had never heard of the site. One of the ladies showed a “new” book that she was about to read that the storeowner had just read and enjoyed by a “new” author. It was Stephanie Pearl-Mcphee’s first book “Yarn Harlot”. I said I had read it, that it was funny and had some interesting info. But what really interested me was the group’s lack of knowledge about the Yarn Harlot [I remember when she was telling stories on the knitlist at yahoo and someone suggesting she should write a book. I, of course, said nothing about this.] Hmmmm. These ladies were all working on wonderful projects, incredibly talented and knowledgeable and they did that all without the internet.

Need to get internet obsession under control.

Why am I knitting socks? I always said I never would. My Dad had many pairs of hand-knit socks from his mother that he never wore because he would put his toe through them on the first wearing. So much work and never worn! I wore my first pair over another pair a lot this winter around the house and sometimes in my boots for extra warmth. They are big and bulky and suited for that. I am knitting a pair of Monkeys that are beautiful but I have caught myself many times wondering if I can walk around on such beauty. [I will give it a go.] Still I bought myself a skein of Fleece Artist Sea Wool to knit another pair largely because of what I read on blogs about it. I started knitting socks because everyone on the internet was talking about it, how wonderful they are to knit and to wear. But is it wonderful for ME. I don’t know yet. I won’t know until I finish these Monkeys and try them out. So I don’t know about starting another pair of socks until I know for sure. When I made my Sea Wool into a ball, yesterday, it so struck me with its beauty that, again, I was second-guessing my plan to make socks and walk around on them. I have even been searching the internet and my library for alternatives.

Anyone have a pattern or idea for a project for 355 yards of sock yarn? I’m thinking lace.

I’m following Rebecca’s example and reassessing my queue again. This also means…… sorting out my stash and library again! I love doing that. I am hoping I find some lace weight. I have done a few small lace projects and feel ready for the big one… a full size shawl. I’m thinking the chances are slim but what about a lace shawl made out of something heavier. Might be more suitable to the North-western Ontario climate I live in….but now I’m rambling. Must move on……


Rebecca said...

Go Girl! I'm really interested to see what you decide to do with your seawool fleece artist. I have some too and am not 100% sure on what I want from it yet.

g-girl said...

you know, it does become an obsession particularly with the help of the internet. Like you, I wasn't into the whole sockknitting thing. Though I gave it a go when I first learned to knit and wasn't impressed with it. I tried again most recently and now I can appreciate all that is sockknitting. The latest pattern I am working on has definitely provided me with a love for sockknitting! So many projects out there and it is hard to choose--but find a kal or read about someone else's experience knitting something, any person is going to want to jump on the bandwagon! As for your seawool--I bought some with the intention of making socks as well but haven't quite made up my mind yet either. Can't wait to see what you come up with. :) How about a lacy shrug? Just an idea.
Oh, and you can definitely make a shawl with a heavier weight yarn.

Alison said...

That skein would make a generous lace scarf, let's see, fingering weight, size 5.5 mm (at my gauge, anyway) and go for a generously-wide-open mesh pattern to stretch it as far as it'll go. Maybe about 40ish stitches. Having made a lace scarf for every woman at church in the last 18 months, I got really good at eyeballing yarns and patterns for quick projects.


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