An opinionated knitter

I cannot seem to keep my virtual mouth shut, even when it would be good for me.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot because Ravelry will be going public before too long.  I’m listed on there as a designer, and whoever entered me in used my real, full name, which they got off of the copyright on my Maude Louise pattern.  This is actually a good thing for me, since someday, when I am a better pattern writer, I might like to submit patterns to publications, and having some sort of repertoire probably wouldn’t hurt me in that regard.

Where it may or may not be such a good thing is that I cannot seem to stay away from the Big Issues Debate group on Ravelry.  I have opinions.  Many of them.  If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ve probably acquainted yourself with some of them in my occasional feminist rants that relate to knitting.  The danger on Ravelry is that the issues coming up in the Big Issues group are not related to knitting at all.  But I still have opinions.  Strong opinions. Controversial opinions.  Potentially alienating opinions.

I don’t want to alienate people.  I really don’t.  People who read my blog do so because we share a love of this craft, not because they want to hear me opine on stay at home parenting, or kid free zones or the obesity crisis.  I’m making this assumption, though perhaps I am wrong.  Perhaps there is a subsection of readers who are just dying to know what I think of the current Pope or my thoughts on the rights of man.

I used to have a political blog.  It was started by me so that I could quietly post rants when I felt like ranting.  What it turned out was that I do not often feel like ranting on my own.  I rant in discussion, not in monologue.   I had the blog for a year and posted in it maybe three or four times total.  No one read my rants.  Though it was posted on the world wide web, I might as well have been writing in a journal.

And you know something, even though I’ve always liked writing, I have never ever enjoyed journaling.  I like essays, but essays are read by someone, even if it’s just the person grading the essay.  They are written to an audience.  I like writing to an unseen audience.  It makes me feel like I’m in dialog, even when I’m not.  Heck, I’m an introvert who works better in a written medium.  Of course I like an unseen audience.  Introverts, contrary to popular opinion, often really enjoy the company of other people.  We just recharge by being alone.  The internet is our playground, because we can be alone and we can socialize all at once.

So you’ve got this thoughty introvert who spends all day in her own head thinking about the Big Issues, and usually surrounded by small children whose primary interests are Star Wars and mad potty skillz and when they will next be fed, and you give this introvert an entire site, the best designed Web 2.0 site on the net, all about her obsession, and you throw in people who want to talk about the things this knitter thinks about all day, and you end up with an opinionated little chatterbox who cannot seem to shut her virtual mouth.

Oy.   The thing about this that bothers me is that I want people to be able to enjoy my knitting the way I enjoy theirs – without a lot of baggage.  I am not ashamed of my opinions, and I am always happy to have a chance to express them.  At the same time, it seems a little much to bring them into a place that is about my hobby.  Hobbies are a break from the world, and I don’t knit to think about my political opinions.  I love my fellow knitters.  I’d hate for them to feel uncomfortable reading my blog because of my opinions on religion.

That said, I don’t know that I’m going to stop posting about my opinions on Ravelry.  It seems almost compulsive.  And there have been many opinionated knitters before me.  Sure, Elizabeth Zimmerman springs to mind, but though she was very opinionated, I realize I mostly am familiar with her strong opinions on yarn, aesthetic and method.  But how about Barbara Walker?  She’s a knitting genius.  The knitters of the world owe her a debt of gratitude.  But at the same time as she was compiling her fantastic stitch treasuries and instructional books, she was also writing about her atheism and feminism, her strong belief in spirituality, and her meditation guides for women.

You know what?  I’m an opinionated knitter.  I’m just going to have to own that.  No one ever imagined, I suppose, that I was nothing but a knitter.   Thinking on it now, it seems a little insulting to my readers to think that they’d never be interested in anything but my yarn.

But since we are interested in yarn, I’ll be nice and show you what arrived today.  In a moment of reckless abandon, I ordered two skeins of Sundara Yarn Sport Merino, because it was so beautiful, and because it is going to be temporarily discontinued.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with these beauties, but I think I’ll be taking them off to Thanksgiving with me, because my heavens!  They are a reason to give thanks.  That’s Lemon Lime on the bottom and Rust on top.  Oh, and my lovely woven scarf that Andrea made for me beneath .


7 Responses to “An opinionated knitter”

  1. Sarah T. Says:

    Interesting. You know, I’m opinionated, too. Super opinionated. But I’ve been avoiding the “Big Issues” group on Ravelry like it was the plague. I sometimes invest too much emotional energy in dumb things that I don’t even care that much about.

    But, I like opinionated knitters. I like reading other people’s opinions and viewpoints, even if I don’t particularly share them. Some of the people on my blogroll are VERY different from me – stay at home moms, conservatives, Canadians, writers, musicians, and so on. But yet, we all struggle with the same stuff.

    So yeah, BE an opinionated knitter. Anyone you alienate is probably easily offendable.

  2. TheWilk Says:

    I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Heck, I’d probably knit a pattern written by a racist, sexist homophobe if it was pretty enough 😉

  3. wazzuki Says:

    Opinionated good! And I think its refreshing to find yourself in opposition to others — debate is always healthy. Speaking of which, I was interested to see ‘Canadians’ in Sarah T’s account of ‘what’s VERY different from me’ above . . . is nationality an absolute category of difference? . . .

    I’ve not been on the ‘big issues’ group on Ravelry. Perhaps I’ll check it out.

  4. Sarah Says:

    I haven’t visited the Big Issues forum at all – partly because I haven’t had much time to spend in the forums and I’m generally there looking for opinions on patterns or yarns, so politics, religion, etc. aren’t even in my head at the time. But like you, I have strong opinions on these things, and I’m wary of getting into it over email or the internet because it’s so easy for others to misconstrue and take offense. Some people aren’t close readers and jump at a few inflammatory words, taking them out of context. It’s hard for anyone to rightly interpret your tone, and I hate it when people take things I write entirely the wrong way as a result. So I like to confine my Big Issue to debates to real life interactions. I go out with my neighbors for a beer and what we’ve laughingly come to call “vigorous political agreement,” since we’re like-minded folk and only hash over the finer details. I save my rants for my husband, who’s always good for a round or two on any issue. (Again, it’s more vigorous agreement than debate.) I’ll bring the fire in public if I feel there’s injustice or bigotry to be spoken against, but I’m trying to tame my temper to make those instances more fruitful. Most people meet confrontation with defensiveness and even anger, or more frustratingly, with avoidance and unwillingness to consider the roots of a held opinion at all.

    But on the whole, I think it’s good and necessary to be opinionated, so keep pouring it on! Of course we’re interested in more than your yarn!

  5. twig Says:

    Interesting topic. I think that if you want to sell on a large scale instead of selling on a level like through your blog there comes a point when you have to choose to censor yourself at least a bit. I don’t necessarily avoid folks who I think are “wrong” on the big issues (keeping in mind that I realize that my “right” is their “wrong” and I fully support their right to be wrong *snicker*) but I won’t go out of my way to read their blogs. However if they were to express themselves in a hateful way, like Ann Coulter or Al Sharpton, I would never consider purchasing a damned thing from them.

    I guess what I’m taking up tons of room to say is that I think you can be opinionated but if you’re on the fringe (either fringe)and militant about it you’re going to lose a lot of potential customers. So yeah, I think there are times and situations that it’s better to censor yourself.

  6. wendelene Says:

    I just wandered here after reading your “rants” on Ravelry. In a perfect world, your designs would be judged by merit alone. I don’t think I would ever not buy a pattern because the person who designed it had different personal beliefs than me. Unless of course it was a case of “all profits from this design will be used to support X”.

    Maybe you should start a thread on this and see how many rants you get 😉

  7. Kristen Says:

    Thank you all for your thoughts. There’s been a lot to mull over, both on my own, and with the help of a lot of interesting people. twig, I sincerely hope that if ever I start spewing bile and hatred, people will call me on it very quickly!

    Sarah (sans T), I was thinking about what you said and realizing that apart from my husband, I have very few outlets for my thoughts on the Big Issues in my daily life. I also tend to find (though it does commit one) that I express myself better when I’m writing than when I’m speaking. So I end up writing a lot rather than speaking my thoughts. Perhaps having a verbal outlet would help, too.

    Sarah T., I like opinionated knitters, too. That’s part of what feels a little silly about my ambivalence. I don’t intend to turn overnight into a nasty person who disregards the opinions of others, so what makes me think the knitting world will dislike me if I express a little personality?

    I did intend to keep most of my deep thoughts separate from what began as a hobby, but at this time in my life, knitting is more than a hobby. It’s taken a role I would not have expected, and it brings its own thoughts and ideas with it.

    Actually, the other reason why my worry is a little silly is that my double last name makes me fairly distinctive and a Google search will already bring up a couple of my radio editorials and essays. If one wanted to know a little more about my opinions, it is already fairly easy to find out.

    I guess I’ll depend on the knitting community to recall me if I overstep any bounds, and I’ll try to stick to topics that are pertinent. I mean, I don’t think the Pope is going to come up much with knitting.

    Still thinking,

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