Round Peg In a Square Hole-crafts

Friday, September 15, 2006

I was Knitting When Knitting Wasn't Cool

(with apologies to the country western song)

Apparently, knitting is “in” now. Who knew? A couple of bellwether celebrities take up a craft, and suddenly, it’s big news.

Now, I’m not objecting. It means that there are lots of fabulous new yarns out. It means I can wear some of the things I’ve made over the years and look stylish, while being warm (which, after all, was the original point of making the things). And there are lots of wonderful new patterns out there. (Check out and I’m currently making the sweater on the White Lies homepage, and just finished the corselette and stockings.) And it gives me something to make for my just-pre-teen-great-niece, that I have some hope she might like and wear.

All this is to the good. But I’ve been knitting since I was about 10. I’ve picked it up and (you should pardon the expression) dropped it many times over the years. It stood me in good stead when I was dirt poor—that year, all the women in my (very large) family got leg warmers for Christmas (when leg warmers were last “in”). It kept me awake when I was studying organic chemistry (the bane of my undergrad years). And I took flack for it; called “granny”, getting funny looks on the bus or the bus stop, being dismissed as not serious in graduate seminars. So, it’s a little hard to have these “Julia-Roberts-come-latelies” waltz in and pick up something that has been a part of my life for so many years and suddenly, it’s “cool”. And, while I think it’s great that knitted clothes and accessories are back in fashion, it’s a little sad to see so much of it be so....plain. I think it’s great that there are simple patterns out there that are very accessible to beginners. But where are the challenging stitches in the stores? The patterns are out there, but made-articles with anything more complex than a simple cable pattern are few and far between. There is such complexity and beauty possible in knitting, it’s sad to see so little of it being explored in fashion. And, because so many of these things are being made off-shore, the prices are very low, too low for home-grown knitters to compete.

So, I guess I’m saying I’m of two minds about this new popularity of knitting. Maybe the best course to take is to make sure I get all the patterns I’m interested in as soon as possible, and stockpile some of these amazing yarns. ‘Cuz who knows how long this “new” fad of knitting will last?