Elsewhere: Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

While I was putting this list together last night, I was listening to the Close Knit Podcast episode with the always giggling Brandi Harper (who you know from this and this) (photo top left), in which they get into a conversation about the lack of diversity in the knitting/crafting community as represented on blogs and social media and such, which is such an important conversation. I have literally moved from one town to another in the past because the lack of diversity was so unnerving to me, and it puzzles me about this community. I know that the knitters of the world are not as overwhelmingly white as the faces I see on my Instagram feed, so thanks to Ani and Brandi for opening up a dialogue about it, and I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts.

With that, links!

– This little personal project by Kristin Ford (of Woolfolk) is too ridiculous for words: this, then this, and come on!

– Enormous thanks to everyone who pointed me to the Dirt to Shirt segment from a night of the PBS NewsHour I clearly missed — so good!

– I love this interview with BT Tech Editor Robin Melanson — if you don’t know what a tech editor is or does, it will give you new appreciation for what goes into a quality pattern! — but my favorite part is her incredibly beautiful cable sketch-chart

– I take issue with their definition of what constitutes 2 different outfits, but this is still thought-provoking: 33 Articles of Clothing = 25,176 Different Outfits (thx, Jess D!)

The MyBodyModel Kickstarter is now live — if you’re excited about sketch templates customized to your shape, you know what to do! (bottom left)

– Looove this visualization by Elizabeth Suzann of what happens to natural fibers vs synthetics (top right)

“You have to be willing to be bad at it to get good at it.” (Don’t matter what “it” is!)

Look at these gorgeous old sweaters

– and favorite Instagram photo of late (bottom right)

SHOP NEWS: We’ve got fresh stock of Bento Bags and all three volumes of Making, among other treats! And thank you again for your enthusiasm for the army-green Porter Bin!

Happy Friday, everybody! I’m so eager to get back to my Archer and am hoping to finish off another piece of my fisherman. What are you up to?



25 thoughts on “Elsewhere

  1. It really can seem like the knitting community is just white. When I go to gatherings of knitters in the Twin Cities, I’m one of a handful of people of color. I don’t quite know what it is, maybe KOC (knitters of color) like to fly under the radar? But at least a quick browse of Ravelry shows you the true diversity picture.

    I have Robin Melanson’s very underappreciated book “Knitting new mittens and gloves.” You should check it out.

  2. That picture of the goats wearing little scarves reminds me of the time I went to Appalachian Days in Rugby, TN (which was founded as a Utopian town; you should go, it’s fascinating) and they had a NPS ranger in full costume doing an angora-spinning demonstration and she was plucking her material from a piebald rabbit that was on a platform next to her. I asked her what she did with the yarn when it was finished being spun and she said “I make sweaters for the rabbit.”

  3. Some thoughts I’ve had on the diversity issue… the models of patterns are much more white than the actual designers. That would be an excellent place to start. How do you see yourself inside a group if no one looks like you? Also, there appears to be one beautiful, white-haired model for EVERYTHING. So we’re good. No more need to represent diversity of age by bringing in anyone else. (And she’s white.) Ok, I can feel myself getting emotional about the diversity issue. You hit a button there. (And just so you know, I’m white, not blue ;)

  4. Thanks for an awesome and thoughtful round-up this week. Bonus: Those baby goats were beyond adorable and a dose of Brandi always makes my day! Bad new is I’m now completely obsessed with wanting a pullover with a wavy-gravy rick-rack yoke like Cocoknit’s grandma made. ;-)

  5. Yes, representation of non-white knitters and lack of diversity is an issue in the knitting world. I feel like it’s unthinking laziness, I wonder if retailers/publishers/etc. expect that POC will come to the world of knitting instead of making the effort to reach out to diversify the community. I also wonder if there is an economic side to it. Knitting *can* be seen as a luxury, and economic disparity for POC is a problem, so when the existing marketing isn’t inclusive on top of it potential new knitters may stay away. We’re really fortunate to have an amazing yarn company in town (Neighborhood Fiber Co) that is WOC owned. On top of that, they are straightforward about their politics and supporting other communities (I recommend signing up for the newsletter). Looking forward to checking out that podcast and learning more, a quick Google search brought up very few articles or posts.

  6. Although there is a growing diversity in knitwear models (especially in magazines, at least the ones that I read), there aren’t so many knitwear designers or personalities of colour. But it’s growing. Shirley Paden was a well-respected designer, who left behind a great body of design work. On the blog front: I love yardsofhappiness.com, who posts here as IAmDWJ. Her blog is awesome. #justsayin.

  7. As a trained statistician, I like to look for intervening factors. As far as knitting and diversity in the US, I think climate might be an intervening factor. I grew up in, and still frequent, a small town in the deep south. The population is quite diverse, but there aren’t many knitters. Most people who see me with yarn assume I am crocheting. The climate there is too hot for sweaters most days. Crocheted household items are useful there, and everyone I meet either knows how to crochet or knows someone who does, regardless of race, sex, national origin, whatever. My experience when I lived in the Midwestern U.S. is that there was more knitting, more chances to wear sweaters, but less population diversity. Now that I am spending a lot of time in the southwest, I see a little more knitting, but even more weaving. Sometimes there is a cultural connection, such as weaving and Navajo tradition, but I think knitting is more connected with climate rather than culture. Thus, if colder climates have a less diverse population and more knitters, warm climates have more diversity and fewer knitters.

  8. Thanks for this–baby goats! As always, I really appreciate your thoughtfulness and curiosity in these posts. I also worry about the diversity issue in the online craft world (why do we white people fret about diversity so much? How do we turn that into action?). The fairly white demographics of the craft blogs I read stands in stark opposition to who I see crafting in real life: quilting, sewing, embroidering, crocheting, kitting, weaving, rug-hooking, etc. are activities that exist in every community. I work in rural Tibet and young women there are able to spot my hand-knits immediately. So, it is not a case of “we don’t see much diversity because POC aren’t into this”.

    I think the problem will get better–is getting better. I appreciate all the POC craft bloggers out and hope there presence inspires others to start writing about their making online. And I appreciate companies like Quince and Co. and Brooklyn Tweed who include “large” (i.e., more than two) numbers of POC models.

    For me, KT, you play a crucial role in who I hear about and who I read. I know about Brandi because of you, for example. I hope you will continue to highlight more and more PoC makers and blogs.

    On a slightly related note, here’s a fascinating interview with historical re-enactor, Cheyney McKnight, talking about the clothing that enslaved people wore in the US: http://blog.americanduchess.com/2017/06/episode-6-not-your-mommas-history-with.html

    • Zindaginha, I could not agree with you more! Being one-quarter American Indian, I totally relate. I was taunted in the public school system when I was young… but that was long decades ago. I remember the M. L. King days, going to school with POC and understood their plight. I watched how those people suffered at the hands of brutes in the 50s and 60s, and long before that, and cried for them. It was a TRUE CRIME! It was a crime against all humanity… and regrettably, in some places it still is. This is unacceptable!!!

      My father, the half-breed Indian, taught me that all people matter, and that I should not accept prejudice about any race. I have lived this way all my life. We are all humans, no matter where we come from, no matter our standing in society. We all matter… we are all Gods’ children.

      My greatest anger and complaint is that the poor and people of color are not given a real chance to be educated. Oh, ‘THEY’ say those people are, but in reality, it is not the case. There are too many ignorant people who stand in the way of these people being properly educated… given a chance to prove themselves, and in the end, prove that prejudice is still alive and well, no matter the consequences to those who would like to succeed. These people have been beaten down for so long that they do not know that they ‘could’ have a real opportunity to be successful. That is the true ugliness of the matter, the one our Lord does not forget, and the one that our whole society suffers for.

      I have not read the link you shared, YET, but I will. I am sure my eyes will be opened to more education about how people suffered, sad to say.

      My ‘hope’ (which I am very full of) is that all people will come to understand that in reality, we are all ONE, related, and ALL owed the same possibilities and successes in life. Though I have seen great changes over the course of my life, it is still insufficient. It is OUR duty to see that this is changed.

      What are all of you willing to do to propel these changes?

  9. The diversity issue is huge … and I think going to get even more complicated as the knitting community continues to expand and elaborate its various ‘sub-cultures,’ and in so doing brings some people in, and leaves others out. Thinking just about the (relatively) recent emphasis within the craft on the sheep to needle dimension: eschewing superwash yarns, loud dye colours (for both technical and aesthetic reasons) etc, tends to skew it towards one very specific demographic / aesthetic. For many people, ‘back-to-the-land’ aesthetics bring up completely different images than the wholesome, thoughtful, and environmental goals it means to represent. Back to the land / natural can also mean histories of subjugation, insufferable labour, grinding poverty, the inability to express yourself because your options are limited, your materials are restricted, etc. The example of friend, who upon being given her drink in a mason glass jar (as has been the fashion for a while in “local food” restaurants) is utterly furious – her family escaped the legacy of drinking out of food containers, why is a lovely restaurant sending her back there? In the end, I think it’s a question of acknowledging divergent pasts, differing experiences (both family and personal histories), and of acting with care and inclusion. Your superwash yarn (let’s say) is a failure of environmentalism / capitalism (or what have you), while mine is a chance for expression and joy outside those confines. Ranking those desires in a hierarchy leads only to mono-culture and exclusion. It isn’t just about making sure that diversity is displayed in lookbooks and hashtags (although that’s important too), but actively lived, listened to, and for the dominant culture to make space (real space!) for ideas and opinions it doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable with. It’s a tall order, especially in a world that feels like it’s already burning, filled with problems that all need solving right.now.this.minute. (and which often have antithetical solutions), but we owe it to those around us to take it seriously.

  10. Karen (and Brandi Harper and Ani Lee) – Thank. You.

    As a black knitter and as one of the POC in the fiber community, this is a reality that is (always) very present in my mind and experience: to correct or counter, just a bit, some of the other comments left here, it is not the lack of us POC in the fiber community, but the lack of our representation. This reality does not devastate my experience–like Brandi and others, I love this space! (If it did devastate me, I would definitely not still be participating in it, lol). However, this reality does shape it, daily.

    Thank you for sharing about Brandi’s conversation on the podcast, and for sharing in a simple way your own discomfort and observation of it. And thank you for how you have, over the years, done differently – to agree with what others have said, I appreciate how you have not perpetuated this reality. I first learned about Brandi H and other crafters of color through your blog. (And I just learned about a new crafting podcast with this post, woohoo!). Thank you! As a person in this community who rarely sees herself reflected as a model, maker, voice, advocate, stylist, business owner, designer, etc., this matters and makes a difference.

    • (Although I should add, Instagram and Ravelry help quite a bit – there’s nothing like self-representation/making and claiming your own space when you don’t see yourself out there!)

  11. So part of the reason I started to blog about knitting was because of the lack of diversity I saw. I’ve had lots of people say they like to see a woman of color knitting too, there aren’t a ton of us who blog. It’s an interesting topic and subject. It’s one of the things I love about knitting though, the community seems open to so much and willing to talk about it instead of denying it. But even now, every time I knit a doll for a little girl of color people go nuts, so it’s still something where people don’t see themselves represented in a community. But hey conversations like this one and the podcast let me know I’m not the only person who noticed and wants to see more.

    • Lol! I checked out your blog and was instantly like, “I know her–it’s ‘rainbow is a neutral’ woman from Instagram!” Happy to see you write as well as knit. And that rainbow cardi is scrumptious.

  12. I talk about diversity in the knitting community a lot on my blog, Knit’s All Folks! It is something I’ve noticed, and I don’t think it’s for lack of diversity in the knitting community, it’s more a lack of representation. I have difficulty myself featuring patterns with models of diverse shapes and backgrounds, so I know how challenging it can be! I’m using my corner of the internet to raise awareness and try to diversify the way knitting is represented. Thank you for bringing up this important issue and the podcast recommendation!

  13. I so understand what you mean about a lack of diversity. I work two hours away in a major metropolitan city, so see a reasonable amount of diversity. However, the place I live in – two hours out of the city but still densely populated – is not that diverse at all. In fact, I am shocked when I see another family like mine, or someone wearing a veil or a family out with an adult child with a disability. When we moved here, 15 years ago, from a small country town we were thinking we’d be introducing our children to a great deal more diversity. We were wrong. Very, very wrong. We suffered the most stigma we’d ever dealt with and our children were exposed to very cruel and unthinking, narrow-minded people. We’ve grown them here and helped them strive for tolerance and compassion in a place that has, still, very little. We’re fortunate to have found pockets of it and we’re lucky for it.

  14. Pingback: Dark night of the crafter’s soul | Fringe Association

  15. Two things re: diversity.

    1. If you’re following all of your friends, and your friend circle is relatively homogeneous, your view of “how things are” will also be relatively homogeneous.

    2. Just because a population isn’t as prominent in the internet-o-sphere you frequent, that doesn’t mean that population doesn’t exist. Instagram, blogs, and etc. are not not representative of the world at large.

    Karen, since you happen to be a fibers person with quite a lot of visibility, you’re able to do the work that white folks are empowered to do when it comes to increasing the visibility of POC makers within the whiter bits of the community. Brandi Harper is a great example of this. What would it look like to concertedly feature more POC makers here and on the Fringe Association Instagram? Might there be space on this blog to have an ongoing column written by a POC fibers person — not to talk only about diversity in knitting and fibercrafts, but to talk about anything fibers-related?

    Actively inviting in POC is one of the things white folks can do to increase visibility of nonwhite folks in historically white spaces. But also — realize that there are already circles of POC crafters happily knitting away, so featuring us shouldn’t be done with a savior mentality.

    I’ll also reiterate what’s been said above already: more POC models of different ages and body types for knitting patterns. More prominent featuring of POC designers. More awareness of the ways moral and aesthetic perspectives get mashed together in a way that can be stifling and culturally insensitive.

    I really love that this conversation is happening, and happening with so much care and compassion!

  16. I started following Donna Druchnas’s blog (https://sheeptoshawl.com/) for other reasons, but she has been doing a series of blog posts introducing knitters and knitting-related business owners of color. I have been finding it super interesting, since I fall into category #1 from Diana’s post (I live in a pretty white city, although it is becoming a bit more diverse as people flood in).

  17. Pingback: Here and there | Fringe Association

  18. Pingback: Elsewhere | Fringe Association

Comments are closed.