Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Reminder for All of Us

I've just finished downloading and sorting the photos from this weekend's 1,000 Knitters public shoot in Toronto. It has taken about six hours. The keynote of the day was joy–joy in the gentle weather, the beautiful setting, the good company, the abundant creativity.

I'll put up a full description tomorrow, but I find I can't wait until then to say something that's been increasingly on my mind for months now. The more knitters I meet, the more I want to say it. Looking over Saturday's faces and remembering the many conversations has convinced me that now is as good a time as any.

Ours is an odd hobby. As Stephanie has noted, according to trustworthy estimates we, the needleworkers, outnumber golfers in North America. We are enthusiastic–even evangelical–about what we do. Yet knitting enjoys nothing close to the media attention or popular regard given to the sport of golf. When was the last time you saw a copy of Interweave Knits at an airport newsstand? But I bet you could find a copy of Golf Digest.

It may not be fair, but it's the way of the world. Until those at the very top of the power hierarchy put down their clubs and take up needles, I won't hold my breath waiting for serious coverage of yarn issues on the nightly news.

The media–and the world that consumes it–neglects most folks. It seldom (except in a voyeuristic, often disrespectful manner) dwells on fat people, short people, quiet people, shy people, poor people, plain people, nonconformists, minorities, or those who simply work too darn hard every day to seek the spotlight.

Another Observation

Unfortunately, many of us–myself included–take this to heart. When you are bombarded each day by advertisements, television shows, billboards and books that tell you in no uncertain terms that you are not okay, it's easy to feel too flawed even to leave the house. When you never see yourself reflected accurately in the whirling collage of popular imagery, it's easy to wonder if you count for anything.

But here's what I've come to realize. The world is wrong.

The society that doesn't value handwork is wrong. The magazine article that suggests you are less than human because you prefer an evening with your cat and spinning wheel to dinner at a noisy new restaurant is wrong. The company that doesn't believe you can enjoy a knitting circle and also chair a board meeting is wrong. The husband/wife/parent/child/friend/boyfriend/girlfriend who sneers at your knitting as a dowdy little hobby for boring little people is wrong.

Observation

I've met more than 900 of you now and spent at least a few minutes talking to each of you. I haven't met a boring knitter yet. I haven't yet met a knitter with no talent or no story to tell. I haven't met the knitter who shouldn't feel proud as all hell at his or her desire to create beauty every day, when most of civilization does nothing from cradle to grave but consume, consume, consume.

The wider world is too busy chasing its own tail to understand what's worthwhile. Pity it. Attempt to educate it, if you like. But if it persists in being clueless, let it go.

Stop waiting for approval. Celebrate yourself. You are beautiful, you are talented, you do count for something. And you have a lot of interesting things left to knit before you die.

291 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 291 of 291
Miss T said...

Lovely post, thank you!

Teyani said...

beautifully said.thank you

jak said...

Thank you for the words of encouragement. We are beautiful & talented. It's nice to be reminded when we forget...

Thanks to you.

Diana said...

And you are STILL amazed by your popularity? You've vision, insight and talent, and we admire that.

This reminds me of one of my favorite Oscar Wilde quotes, "Be yourself. Everyone else is taken."

Anonymous said...

I love you, Franklin!
eyesofblue

Jena the yarn harpy said...

Amen. Thank you for saying this, Franklin. It hit me just the right way today and really, it's a message that needs to be shouted from the rooftops.

mwknitter said...

Thanks, Franklin. Madison Avenue (do they still use that term to refer to advertising?) & the media ignore about 95% of the population as boring, boring, boring - unless, of course, it is an unfortunate individual who has just lost their home to a flood (or worse yet, a beloved to a horrendous murder). I say, "Thank heavens - look what they've done to impressionable youngun's like Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears, etc (although obviously, their parents also have a lot to answer for). The rest of us get to enjoy our full, rich, "boring" lives in blissful anonymity. Will you be doing any book signings in the Chicago area?

Sock Knitter said...

You, my dear friend, ROCK!

Why there can't be more people in this world like you, I will never understand!

MaryB said...

Thanks, Franklin. You so eloquently stated what is in our hearts. Love, love, love, MaryB

Robin said...

Truer words were never written, Mr. Habit. Conspicuous consumption seems to be the way of our society, but it has no real value for humankind. Handwork, home cooking, gardening, quality conversation with friends and family: those are the things that feed my soul.

myboringblog said...

I guess you haven't noticed me on Rav, but I AM boringknitter. ;-) That was a lovely post!

Rachael said...

Dude. Wow. I teared up a bit, that was moving. Thank you for being a voice for so many of us.

Henrietta said...

These words of yours caused tears to pour down my cheeks. I have been reading your journal for over two years now and I have posted a comment here and there, but today I want to share.

I have rheumatoid arthritis and my hands are damaged. Still, I knit, type, write, and have a wonderful life. When I knit in public people automatically see the wheelchair first, then they see the knitting and I can predict they will say one of two things, "I can see how you are doing that with those hands" or "You poor thing...is life really that boring for you?" Usually I smile and divert their attentions somewhere else if possible. When my husband hears these comments he becomes so upset! He is one of those few who do not tell me I am doing things the hard way, but, instead, purchases me yarn when he sees something neat or he believes I would like to work with. He is my biggest knitting fan, and encourages me to the depths of soul I cannot accurately express.

Despite his encouragement, sometimes when people say something about my hands and knitting I get so down. Why can't they see what a beautiful thing I am making? If they can't see that, why can't they see the technical prettiness of it? For most of my life I have had to push aside comments, but when it comes to my knitting it hurts...again. Dis my body, it's even ok to dis the wheelchair that gives me freedom, but dissing my hands and what they can accomplish...? I am not accepting it any more.

Thank you. Thank you so much. I just wish you could come to Kentucky. I would even let you take a picture, and that's saying a lot!

Henrietta said...

These words of yours caused tears to pour down my cheeks. I have been reading your journal for over two years now and I have posted a comment here and there, but today I want to share.

I have rheumatoid arthritis and my hands are damaged. Still, I knit, type, write, and have a wonderful life. When I knit in public people automatically see the wheelchair first, then they see the knitting and I can predict they will say one of two things, "I can see how you are doing that with those hands" or "You poor thing...is life really that boring for you?" Usually I smile and divert their attentions somewhere else if possible. When my husband hears these comments he becomes so upset! He is one of those few who do not tell me I am doing things the hard way, but, instead, purchases me yarn when he sees something neat or he believes I would like to work with. He is my biggest knitting fan, and encourages me to the depths of soul I cannot accurately express.

Despite his encouragement, sometimes when people say something about my hands and knitting I get so down. Why can't they see what a beautiful thing I am making? If they can't see that, why can't they see the technical prettiness of it? For most of my life I have had to push aside comments, but when it comes to my knitting it hurts...again. Dis my body, it's even ok to dis the wheelchair that gives me freedom, but dissing my hands and what they can accomplish...? I am not accepting it any more.

Thank you. Thank you so much. I just wish you could come to Kentucky. I would even let you take a picture, and that's saying a lot!

Sue said...

Thank you.

Not An Artist said...

Thank you. Sometimes its easy to forget this truth.

And thanks for coming to Toronto! It was lovely to meet you ever so briefly.

DorisM said...

As alisonh said, "Wool said!" Thank you, Franklin. You say it all so much better than I ever could.

I made it to Kennett Square (#97) and there were several people from my knitting group who couldn't come and other friends I know of who knit that weren't there. Those 131 people were just the tip of the iceberg. We knitters are everywhere!

I eagerly anticipate your posts ever since I found out about the 1,000 Knitters Project and got hooked on your blog. I look forward to the humor and great writing. Oh yes, and the cartoons describing TNNA were better than any photo journal!

You are an inspiration. Keep up the great work!

Martha0051 said...

Oh, Franklin...you are such a sweetie.

Kris said...

No matter what I say in this comment, it cannot be an accurate reflection of your wise words. So I guess a simple "thank you" will have to suffice.

fleecyknits said...

That was absolutely beautiful. I can't tell you how many times I've felt too flawed to leave the house. Thanks for giving us a voice.

I so enjoyed getting to meet you in Kennett Square. :-)

indigodragonfly said...

I put the highest value of all on handwork. I come from generations of people who have done some kind of handwork...primarily textiles...even the men. In fact "even the men" isn't surprising in my eyes...I grew up watching my grandfather knit and my father needlework. It's more shocking to me to be told that that isn't commonplace. And isn't valued.

There is nothing more beautiful, more healing and more full of love than something made by hand.

I'm currently working for an organization that helps artists with business development, while respecting their creativity...something they don't get in the business world. I give workshops on online marketing and networking, using the online community that knitters have created as an example. I think it's impressive, but see eyes glaze over when "knit" comes out of my mouth. This frustrates me. If you don't like to knit, don't knit. But DO look at this example. DO open your eyes and recognize that this works. Take THAT as your example and see if it works for you. That is all I ask of them.

And some are. Listening. Watching. Following the example in their own way, with their own voice.

It was wonderful to meet you on Saturday. You made me feel very at home in front of the camera...not usually my thing. :)

Kim

Erin said...

love (1,000,000)

Laura said...

Amen.

I wish you could take pictures of an additional 1000 (or more) knitters because I think so many people feel like what you are doing is validating them as a knitter and an individual. And we all want to be a part of it.

However, even without having my picture taken in person, I am sure I am at least partly represented by the 1000 knitters you will photograph - much more so than I am by the media and popular culture. Thank you for that.

Lee Ann said...

I wish I'd been able to get over to Toronto to see you, but there was no way I could get there on time, and little person would not have appreciated being left behind.

Thanks for your post...it's what I keep trying to teach my daughter. Around here, the billboards telling us what we should be versus what we really are take on a whole new twist. Even my explanations require explanations.

Rock on. You're doing a great thing.

Anonymous said...

I think knitters should feel proud, but when you say "when most of civilization does nothing from cradle to grave but consume, consume, consume" aren't you being a tad judgmental of all the wonderful people who don't knit? And isn't there a lot of consumption inherent in our hobby, anyway?

I don't think our hobby makes us better than the rest of civilization, but I do think it can be a wonderful thing.

Adele said...

Thank you, Franklin, this is just what I needed.

I'll show this to my boyfriend - he's too polite to say exactly what he thinks, but I suspect it's something like the "dowdy little hobby" you describe.

gabrielle said...

Jolly well said.

(How very British of me.)

Cyd said...

You've brought tears to my eyes, you devil. Love and hugs, Cyd.

camprunamuk said...

This couldn't have come at a better time for me. Thank you, Franklin.

Ev said...

It isn't often I comment on your blog, though I do read it regularly. I have but one word in response to this post........ AMEN!!!

Friends of Troy Chapman said...

Wait, what if you're a knitting golfer? Or a golfing knitter? Both of which I am, although not at the same time.

Seriously though, thank you for saying this. There is not enough rebellion, publicly or even privately among friends and family, against the tyranny of mass stereotyping and characterizations of what one should desire to be and what one should not.

I long ago began rejecting any tv show or other pop culture outlet that says being standardized is preferable to being weird and unique (and this includes shows like American Idol, where all the winners have the same essential qualities, and makeover shows where the results are eerily standardized physical features). Once you get used to rejecting stuff like this, it's not long before you're only watching "Mythbusters" and "The Simpsons," or (gasp) ditching the cable and using rabbit ears (or selling the TV).

Thanks again Franklin. At the 1,000 Knitters project in Kennett Square, you thanked me for "working for the cause" when I told you I supported Obama. Thank YOU for supporting the cause, too, the cause of letting the freak flag fly.

Maryann

La Cabeza Grande said...

You are a rare and wonderful human being. I love you for that.

Linda said...

That was lovely, and touched my heart. Thank you.

Zabet said...

Reason # 812 why I love you: This post.

I don't know what's worse, that our society is so consumer driven, or that to have a hobby with diverse supplies on hand requires an industry there to supply it, making you a consumer whether you want to be or not. An industry that needs your cash to continue, sitting there and judging you, stereotyping you. I was told by the good folks at Interweave that "Knit So Fine" wouldn't be interesting to The AntiCraft audience, so they didn't send it to me to review even though I requested it, rejecting many other books on the list offered to me. As editor, don't you think I know my audience? But there the industry was, making calls about my audience based on what kind of consumer they think I influence, based on how much cash they could separate from my audience in return. It was a gentle, polite prejudice, but a judgment nonetheless. And they were wrong.

Paisley said...

thank you, thank you, thank you.

Fwx Sharon said...

Franklin,

You are beautiful! Thank you for your thoughts.

Ginaagain said...

Franklin,
I love your writing. You are eloquent and deep and so very, very, talented. I don't knit but I read your blog every day because your view of the world inspires me. Thank you.

Karen S said...

You are right! Thank you for the reminder (although I try not to forget it) and thanks for the project that has shown me so many beautiful faces of knitters!

Sandy said...

That was beautiful!

Bronchitkat said...

Franklin, thanks for posting this. The Media Focus is often wrong, specially the advertising part.

Thanks for reminding us.

Tricia Hill said...

Exactly! Thank you for putting it so well.

Terri said...

Very good. Thank you.

Abi said...

Great article, Franklin. One thing I would say, however, is that media interest in crafts and knitting in particular is not nearly as scarce as you think. A lot of this is down to the internet -- where most minority interests thrive -- but the mainstream media is not immune to that and is responding to what nobody would deny is now a huge trend. There is some really positive coverage of the current craft movement going on out there, and you mustn't feel overlooked

Jennifer Saylor said...

Lovely.

KnitNana said...

Will you run for President?
;)
(((Hugs)))

Alacaeriel said...

Franklin, what you said is true, every bit of it! I've thought about what it would be like to see adverts for knitpicks and cherry tree hill or even bendigo woollen mills on the tv. It just sounds so hilarious, doesn't it? It would be nice, though.

Ragnar said...

Rah rah and well put!

ayla said...

I feel the same way. I belong to OpenDiary.com, and recently I issued a challenge to the general public. Write ten positive things about yourself, every day, for seven days, using only positive words. It's amazing what people's response to that was. Lots of people felt guilty, or selfish, or boastful, writing nice things about themselves, but as time went on, they started finding interesting things about themselves, or realizing things that they never really admitted to themselves.

And I issued the challenge for most of the reasons you list here. :)

Tomme said...

If anyone has doubts about what you've said, all they need to do is look at the faces you've captured during your 1,000 Knitters shoots. I LOVE seeing us through your eyes. You have a way of capturing what's really beautiful and human and special about every single person you photograph. I think you've missed your true calling - Annie Liebowitz, look out!

em said...

God. This made me cry. It's the central message of my life, the one that matters the most. It's not just knitters, I see so many people that the larger narrative (ugh, I hate using this word, but...) marginalizes. And we. all. matter.

My heroes are the ones who say this, this lovely message that you have written so well.

Knowing this is a blessing.

Mama Cat said...

Franklin, will you marry me?

Oh wait a minute - I'm already married. And you're gay, and I'm a girl, so it wouldn't work anyway.

But still. You're awesome. Thank you so much. I needed this today.

Zelda said...

Wow, too many comments to read all of them properly. I agree with your general message (see also my one and only blog post of substance), but I'd like to quibble about a few points.

When you never see yourself reflected accurately in the whirling collage of popular imagery, it's easy to wonder if you count for anything.

Only if you depend on the media to tell you what the world is. And only if you define "an accurate reflection of yourself" as "portrayals of people *exactly like you in every way*". I'm fond of the line from Terence: I am a human being; I consider nothing human alien to myself. I find accurate reflections of myself in all kinds of places, including plenty that, on paper, are nothing like me.

most of civilization does nothing from cradle to grave but consume, consume, consume.

Again, you're accepting the world the media portray as the complete world. What about all those plain, hard-working people whom the media neglect? Aren't they really most of civilization, and arguably the more civilized portion?

The media are perhaps not so much wrong, as irrelevant. We certainly shouldn't be letting a profit-based industry define our self-images. (Although I certainly managed to feel boring when I was in front of your camera-- but that was chiefly about being an introvert stiff with nerves in front of a camera.)

Eileen said...

Bless your heart. I do love your posts.

My cats send their kind regards too (2 Siamese boys, 10 months old).

I'm one of the lucky ones...no one ever disses my knitting (I think they're afraid of me, Stern Librarian is the way most people describe me). My boss (who golfs) is in awe of my knitting...he was blown away when I gave him socks for his birthday...his wife, who is my other boss, is wearing the shawl I made her last year.

But I see so much of the rampant commercialism and nonsense out there...hooray for you. And NPR.
=^.,^=

AnneMarie said...

Thanks, guy. You are the best!

I knit regularly in our small college department meetings. Although some people (including the department chair) think it's weird, I have no intention of stopping. Now I know I'll keep on - although I probably would have anyway!

knitting ninja said...

Thank you. The muggles don't know what they're missing.
Lee

Susan said...

You just made me cry. Well said.

Anna Clare said...

Well said!!

I've been lurking, watching the 1000 Knitter project grow little by little, and I think that what you're capturing is truly remarkable.

Thank you. :)

Zelda said...

Darn. I refer to my blog, and your system and my browser conspire to eat the URL. Anyway, it's an excerpt from Barbara Walker's introduction to her Second Treasury, about the power of doing something to create rather than destroy, carrying on with civilazation.

LuuLuu said...

Oh Franklin, I loved this so much, I had to post about your post! Thank you for your insights and humor, you are simply the best!

mary j. said...

Franklin, I had so many thoughts about the same things as I read Yarn Harlot's post about your fine day together. She was contemplating why it is that we attach so much meaning to what we are creating, why it feels so important to us. My thinking is we as a culture/civilization/mob of greedy consumers, having come to the verge of almost abandoning handmade craft and art, are reconnecting with it and finding a link to our deep ancestral stuff (so eloquent, I know!).

Humans are complex and our evolution at some critical points included learning to make things with our hands, so I think the joy and profound satisfaction as well as the sense that Something Important is Going On When We Knit is connected to that ancient biological and cultural hand work.

I also think it is because we are not satisfied by consuming, but have an innate need to create (I am glossing over the fact that a large part of the current knitting culture we have created clearly enjoys consuming mass quantities of fiber, aka "the stash"). But then we redeem ourselves by creating something with it! So all rests well, we are fed by our creations with something much more fulfilling than simply buying more crap, it keeps us from madness in this mechanized age of passivity, and that is my micro-theory of knitting in the modern age. You can borrow it if you like.

Looking very forward to the 1000 knitters compilation. So glad you are having fun with it!

Nic said...

Those pictures are very inspirational - I haven't read all the comments, but I bet I'm not the first to think they'd rival those teamwork style motivation posters that seem to be all over the Council training centre where I sometimes attend training!

The thing I noticed about your pictures in these series is that everyone looks great - not in the supermodel sense, since they're often don't match the impossible ideal we're presented with daily - but that no one looks like "a bag of spanners" to quote a lovely old saying. Because you have encouraged your sitters to all look relaxed and they are all doing somehting they enjoy, they all look attractive (not in a sexual way, but in a "I'd enjoy having a cup of coffe and passing the time of day with you" way - which is far nicer than looking beautiful, I feel.

I hope that made sense.

Jamie said...

One summer I worked as an performance art piece (long story) and when people asked me what I did, I told them I was a seamstress. And their response was always,"oh" in a sort of sad, surprised way. Sort of like, why only a seamstress, why not a doctor or a scientist or whatever else. I LOVE being a seamstress, a pattermaker, a clothing making person. I get to cut up squares of cloth and make them fit people! But I am looked down upon. As well as the carpenters, the plumbers, the hard working crafts people who make us beautiful things. Thank you for standing up for us. Thank you.

Barb said...

I haven't ever commented before but I just had to chime in. Tonight I went to Knit Night --my first in my new town now that I've moved to New York from Texas. It was magical and warm and welcoming and for the first time since leaving Austin, I got to exhale, let down my yarn and feel perfectly at home.

God, I love knitters.

TigerWillow Cortes said...

I was moved to blog about your project yesterday, and I hope that's ok with you.

MonicaPDX said...

{{{{{{{{{love}}}}}}}}}

AngeliasKnitting said...

Yay Franklin! Thank you for that post.

innostrantsa said...

Really realy righteously true. The more we say it, the more we shout it, the more true it is.

You're a lovely man, Mr. Habit. Thank you for the reminder.

{{{loves on ya}}}

the boogeyman's wife said...

thank you for the reminder. most of my life i have been outside the world's idea of how things should be (and really i'm not radical at all) and most of the time letting it go is easy. sometimes it gets under my skin though, and very occasionally (like when i'm buying clothes made for twigs with no shoulders and i'm feeling very giant-like) i have moments of wishing i could fit in. but then i let it go, cuz hey, i can knit myself a top with shoulders. it'll just take longer :)

Kelly said...

Wow, just wow.

Thank you for your beautiful words, you acctally brought tears to my eyes. I'm very fortunate to belong to a family were my handknit/crochet items are loved and appreciated, but still I find when I knit out in public I get all sorts of comments from those who don't appreciate the time, love and work that goes into all that we make.

I don't know what prompted that blog entry but I know it was wonderful.

Thank you,
Kelly
Raverly id: Fairieknits

Wendy said...

Thank you, Franklin.

"The world is wrong" is the thought I've been thinking for most of my life.

Sunnyknitter said...

I just had a truly crappy job experience and came home to check on the world of Ravelry, etc., and was directed here via ShadowDancer. I now have tears streaming down my face and a big smile. Thank you. Consider yourself hugged and should you need a room in the Palm Springs area, the door will be open.

She Knits Flying Monkeys said...

Amen.

Anonymous said...

You are a wise man, Franklin!

Ditmar

Sara said...

you know, I'm out in Aruba, all the way from Ireland on my honeymoon, and I was out on a romantic sunset cruise with my husband, only to be abandoned by him as he went up the front with 2 other new husbands. Us new wives sat at the back sipping our champagne, and what do you know, we all turned out to be knitters!!!! We rock!

Anonymous said...

Thank You.

You are special and what you do matters. I think I'm going to make a scarf that says "This is extremely important" down the length.
-K8Met

Caroline said...

I never commnet on blogs with forty million comments, but on the off chance that you read all of them, I want to say how much I enjoyed reading this particular post. For some reason it made my eyes smart. I've always known that what you are saying is true but to have someome put it so elequently is wonderful and touching.

yarnlust said...

How aptly put, Franklin.
I fly weekly all over the country. I didn't think about others also noticing the lack of representation in magazines. But then again, aren't I to blame - at least a little? I am writing to Hudson News and requesting they add knitting and crocheting magazines. If enough people did I think we'd get results.

Kathy said...

Along with the other 277 commenters here, I really appreciate this post. 'Tis true, of course.

Whenever I suspect someone finds my knitting frivolous or dowdy, I simply remind myself that should I ever be required to, I am able to clothe persons of my choosing using naught but some raw fibers and some sticks. It helps to imagine all those others naked and whimpering.

BTW--I spied your profile with a bunch of the knit-stars at TNNA in the Ravelry Flickr set...it looks like it was a blast!

knitkim said...

Thanks...I needed that!

mel said...

I was pointed here by a friend, and was so touched. THANK YOU!

Colleen said...

Franklin, Thank you for the reminder and the affirmation. It is a special gift for me today. Peace, Colleen from Florida

Shadows of the goddess designs said...

love your blog and your thoughts!!

Booa said...

Oh, Franklin. You made me cry. In a good way. It takes so long to learn this, that the world is wrong about what is important and why, but I am so happy to have learned it, and happy that you are celebrating knitting and knitters and our culture. Which does exist, and is important, and people who think they know everything about it without knowing anything about it at all, well...they can kiss Dolores' grits.

Thank you for what you are doing, with 1000 knitters. It is important, it matters, and I (among others) am very grateful to you.

Becka said...

Bravo.

Brewgal said...

Love you too, Franklin. Mwuah!

Endako Jo said...

thank you

Sakebottleswing said...

I damn well better be knitting on my deathbed.

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melodie said...

Aw damnit. Now you've gone and made me cry.

Thank you... i think that's something i've needed to hear (or read, whatetver) for a long time.

Weird that I can accept these words written so long ago, from someone I've never met... words which aren't even directed to me... more readily than the same from the people around me.

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