I’ll bet it’s because you’re either a) being trendy and following fashion – the Duchess of Cambridge knits after all, or b) a grannie (yawn, not again), or – and I’m quoting here – c) lazy. Knitting is apparently art for lazy people, or so a particularly annoying piece of recent online journalism has assured us. And – hold the front page – did you know the ‘knitting revival’ (yawn #2) was ‘recent’ (yawn#3)? It is, apparently. Louise at KnitBritish has written a great response to this article, and I feel obliged – as a hack myself – to add my bit.
Look, knitting. Cool, I’m in tune with the zeitgeist!
I know, I know, I’ve had a rant about this relatively recently and have also been known to do so in the past (most recently on International Womens’ Day, when I banged on about the reaction of some of my ostensibly feminist friends), but hey. It can’t be said often enough: stereotypes are simplistic, and – especially when dragged out yet again and applied to knitting – they are also rubbish. Just as they are frequently repeated, we need to repeat our response. Ahem, back to the piece in question.
I can think of one thing that was lazy, and it’s not knitting.
Badly researched and just plain ignorant. And I’m not saying this because I’m a hacked-off hack; I can see how such a silly piece of space-filling happened. It’s self-reinforcing: writer proposes piece on knitting or staffer is asked to produce one, using the fact the the Duchess of Cambridge knits as what is called a ‘hook’. Staffer has a story count to meet. Nothing is said and then writer/staffer is presented with deadline/nasty reminder of story count, at the last minute. Potential author of piece then goes to t’interweb thingy and finds lots of other articles saying that knitting is for lazy trendsetting grannies. Writer rehashes said ‘information’, presents piece, editor (who has no knowledge of knitting) slaps it in. At some point a sub-editor (who also knows nothing of knitting) may have added the odd corny stereotype that was missed out by accident – I did have a sub once ‘correct’ a piece of mine to make it appear that Parisian markets were laden with quinces in spring. Wrong.
The problem really is that where once an incorrect silly story was just the next day’s chip wrapper – as, mind, were stunning pieces of journalism by such legends as James Cameron and John Pilger – now it lives forever on the web, perpetuating error and assumption and sloppiness as time-starved journos try and meet increasingly difficult targets. Now, of course, this somewhat sloppy piece lives on and will be referenced by the next person writing something on knitting. It should be possible to do something accurately, but it probably isn’t. Watchword? Well, it’s my old baby-hack training coming to the fore here: when somebody tells you something, no matter what the medium of communication, ask yourself why they’re telling you whatever it is. OK, I was advised to apply it to slimy local councillors but it’s equally valid as a general rule of life.
Louise has drawn attention to an antidote to all this twaddle: the #ANDknitting tag on twitter.
If you use twitter, check it out, and if you’re also a knitter who uses twitter, add your contribution. Louise tells you more about how it was started, but here are a few of the things people posting there do as well as knit (‘and knitting’, geddit?): historical researcher, professional singer, consultant, physician, mother of two, genetic epidemiologist, engineer, business owner, carer, landscape architect, wife and auntie, contract administrator…
In my own woolly groups – which carry on a centuries-old Welsh tradition, the noson gwau, and so much for ‘recent’ – we have, among many others, a couple of ex-social workers, teachers, someone who was in charge of outside broadcasts for regional TV, a violinist, a business owner or three, farmers and smallholders, a nurse, a grave-digger and a builder. All these people, apparently, are frail and don’t get out much, and none of them are male (this may come as a shock to the ones I’m pretty sure are men). Possibly, given that knitting needles are sharp and that circulars would make a good garrotte, ‘not getting out much’ is just as well.
I’d just like to add one thing…
If you want to experience another truly irritating stereotype, take up spinning in public. Rumplebloodystiltskin has a lot to answer for. Pass me my pointy hat.