Why do you knit?

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.



22 thoughts on “Why do you knit?

    1. kate Post author

      Thanks – and it applies to gardening too (though possibly being accused of laziness is less likely there)… grrrrrr…

  1. susanwriting

    Bravo indeed, on both counts! I knit to make individually designed garments and accessories using my handspun yarns, so that everything made is unique. Also, I work in local journalism, and agree re ‘lazy hackery’. Reporters had far better find someone knowledgeable to interview, rather than rehash previously published gobbledygook written by other folk who didn’t know, either…

    1. kate Post author


      I do find it depressing that inaccuracies are perpetuated in this way to go on and on and spawn other offspring. Decline of journalism, don’t get me going!!!

      (Oh, OK, I am going to go on, just a bit. I remember some training in the early days of the internet, and the person – an ex-Observer editor, I think – who was talking to us reminded us that anybody could put anything up on the internet, and it didn’t mean it was true just because it was up there. The checks and balances – such as they were – of print media did not apply…)

  2. caityrosey

    I’ve spun in the mall food court. It mesmerizes people like nothing else except maybe belly dancing.

    1. kate Post author

      Do you find it attracts more men than women? We do (oh, and small boys)… Haven’t thought of using it as a means of picking up blokes but may have to revisit this should I ever run into George Clooney…

      1. caityrosey

        I think it attracts men and women equally, although I would say that the men are more vocal about their interest. And I just love the way the spinning wheel mesmerizes small children. So far I’ve never had a child try to touch it when it’s spinning. Don’t know if that’s shyness or survival instinct.

        1. kate Post author

          You’re very lucky – my old wheel had to go and visit its maker after one craft fair when I left it unsupervised for five seconds and a small boy had a go. On another occasion (a ‘green fair’) I had to spend ages putting a wheel back together after it had a bit of help from a Demon Treddler. Maybe our local kids are rather more feral, er, brought up in more laid-back way…

  3. opusanglicanum

    People always tell me I must have lots of patience to do embroidery, to which I snort that I have none at all and short temper to boot. I certainly don’t have enough patience to sit still and watch tv all evening

    1. kate Post author

      YES! Exactly my argument with my sneery (ostensible) feminists: at least I do something with my time rather than sit in front of the telly with my mouth hanging open…

  4. Elaine

    I knit because I weave and I weave because I spin and I do it all because I Iike pretty things for me and my girls and (shudder) grandsons. Hubbo is not interested but that’s o.k. All my fiber pursuits make me happy. I don’t do social media of any kind ( no time) but Thanks for sticking up for all us fiber people!

    1. kate Post author

      We’ve got to – to the barricades!

      My Frog grandfather used to say that in our family ‘chaque generation a sa barricade’ – every generation has its barricade: 1968, the Liberation, and going right back to the Commune, 1848, 1830 and the Revolution itself. We’re a stroppy lot. And I’m defending liberty in just the same way, only without throwing paving blocks at anyone. Though I’m sure that could be arranged, ;-)…

  5. Pia

    So how is knitting lazy? Because you sit down doing it? But being passively numbed by tv is not, is it that old story? Being a reporter is pretty lazy too, they just sit on their bums surfing the internet…

  6. knitsofacto

    Brilliant! And as you’ll know if you saw my twitter response to this, I do so agree! I knit because I need something meditative to do, to soothe me after reading all the poorly researched articles that turn up in the press, and they’re not just on knitting!

    1. kate Post author

      I did indeed see your tweet… it’s so tedious, seeing the same drive being trotted out again and again. Maybe we should run a book on how long it is before the next knitting-related piece appears that uses the worlds ‘revival’, ‘recent’ and ‘Duchess of Cambridge’. And perhaps one on whether it’s more or less offensive . I think this was quite high on that scale – about an 8.5?

        1. kate Post author

          Yup, could well be. I’m hesitant to award it a 9, though, because it will feed into others and I may have more need of the 9… maybe I could just change the scale were that to happen, though…

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