Tuesday, April 3, 2007

So the thing is...knitting is ruining the world

A year or so ago, my sister took up knitting in earnest. If you're having visions of those "lovely" afghans grandma used to make everyone for Christmas...add a factor of ten. For a long time, she knitted only prayer shawls. Then she taught my daughter to knit. The two of them set to work knitting hats for homeless infants (I swear), which was nice, and when my sister would babysit for me I'd come home to find them both asleep in my living room, cuddling their knitting needles--which was not so nice.

Time passed. The knitting continued, but the fervor died down. And then I got a Christmas letter from an old friend, and he mentioned that his wife--a government lawyer--was running a yarn co-op. I made a conscious decision not to think through what that might be.

But this morning, the line was crossed. I'm a big fan of humor columnist Barb Cooper. I know, I know--she's awfully positive for a girl like me, but what can I say? She's smart and she's a mom, and she has an incredible way of pointing out the humor, the irony, and even the hope in those little moments we tend to gloss right over in life.

Until today.

This morning, I dropped by the So the Thing Is Blog (which, I might add, I was DELIGHTED to see being regularly updated for the first time in...ever), and...

it was about knitting.

Not the whole blog, of course, but there are. Um. Photographs of yarn.

I blame the Yarn Harlot.


Margo said...

I agree that knitting is ruining the world. Then again, so is CROCHET.

Two years ago I bought three needles (hooks?)m $40 worth of red yarn, and a "Do It Yourself" crochet book because I was convinced that I could crochet my way into a slender body by crocheting instead of eating while watching TV.

In the car on the way home from the craft store (what was I even DOING in craft store?), I had visions of myself wearing a size 6 and guest starring on the Oprah show as a fabulous female entrepreneur who made billions with her brilliant crochet creations. Crocheted houses? Hey, no job too big or small. Crochet was going to give me a skinny bod *and* a new career.

My psychic friend "The Amazing Leonard" (who is actually quite amazing--check out his website at www.amazingleonard.com) told me I'd eventually lose weight but never become a crochet diva. I read my book, whipped out my hook, and set out to prove him wrong.

Two years later, I now have a longish swoop of skinny, intermingled loops (six feet by three inches long) sitting on my bedroom floor. It was going to be a scarf, then I thought, "Why only a scarf? I need a blanket!" and there it's remained, a 6ft x 3" blanket.

I'm still not skinny (and in fact, I've gained 20 pounds since I bought that yarn) but just this month, I started a diet, will begin a Yoga class, and will begin swimming again soon.

Since my psychic friend, "The Amazing Leonard" was only wrong ONCE (he predicted Al Gore would win the 2000 election--and is that really such a "wrong" prediction?) and I did actually fail at becoming a crochet queen, as he predicted, I figure I've now got a great shot at becoming a size 6.

If that doesn't happen, then I can always blame it all on CROCHET, which is ruining the world.

Rich said...

My impression closely follows what was said in Raine Koskimaa's article "Visual Structuring of Hyperfiction Narratives," where he discusses how the quilted technicolour, conceptual and metaphorical map of Patchwork Girl occupies cognitive space in the text as a highly symbolic directional or navigational indicator. This quilt is also the site of intertextuality, the place where the voices of the parent texts--L. Frank Baum's Patchwork Girl of Oz and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein among others--reassert themselves and intertwine with the monster's own.

Symbolism not withstanding, interface metaphors of networked texts are perhaps most remarkable for their uselessness. By 'useless' I mean that their value is primarily aesthetic in nature. They do not function very well as literal maps because, even as they direct our navigation, they are primarily metaphorical in nature. Like Califia 's mandala and its paths in four compass directions, the metaphors of engagement create a sense of order in the midst of randomness and remind us that we are 'lost' in the text.

In Patchwork Girl, the quilt serves to remind us that Jackson's monster is descended from a long line of monsters, including Mary Shelley herself. These metaphors continually jog our memories that cartographic space is not literally navigable and encourage us to seek out the informational gaps and unexplored areas of the text, what Koskimaa calls the "'blank areas' on the map" (Koskimaa n.p.). They also transcode the topological dimensions of the narratological knot onto a two-dimensional plane where conceptualization of the whole is simplified.

These interface metaphors are also crucial to our experience of and navigation through the text. It is our ability to navigate these interfaces as conceptual space with a mouse that engenders agency for the browser.

Barb said...

Well, you KNEW I would have to comment on this, right?

There was a time when I, too, thought that this obsession with crafting had SUCKED THE SOULS right out of the mothers of this country. Where once we were fundraisers and executives and lawyers and doctors and we managed staffs of thousands, our lives had come down to brushing ink on a rubber stamp in an effort to channel our overachieving mojos into something, ANYTHING, that had some sort of immediate gratification.

Now, though, I honestly think that there is a revolution taking place --an underground rennaissance of creativity and growth and branching out into new artistic endeavors --and it's all coming from those of us who have the luxury and energy to not be REQUIRED to continue to struggle up the corporate ladder but who still have something to add to the collective positive. (Yes, I'm using that as a noun. Get over it.) All over the world, women are stitching and scrapbooking and creating goddammed MASTERPIECES of art and because they are pouring their creative souls into this sort of work, perhaps their children will be a little less smothered and nuerotic. Perhaps.

I'm not just saying all this because, in the nine years since I became a mother, I've also become a photographer, a scrapbooker, a seamstress, home decorator, a layer of tile and a, well, a knitter, I honestly believe it.

Plus, it's more fun than firing people.

Margo said...

Does anyone understand what Rich just said?

Rich said...

Rich doesn't understand what Rich just said.

morinn said...

I read in a French magazine that some women were starting to knit as a therapy against smoking habits. I don't know how effective this was but I think that it is just as bad as smoking. My grandmother was a knitting "addict" and she would spend hours on end knitting while my aunt had to cook her food and take care of her household.


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