First off, I knit. I also sew, both by hand and machine, and have been known, in moments of hippy abandonment, to get out the crochet. Over the years my single-minded pursuit of the perfect big woolly jumper, or particular lace pattern has earned me withering scorn. “Knitting!!!’’ people shriek, ‘’urgh, that’s what GRANNIES do!!!’’. Except it isn’t now (well, not exclusively). Now it’s fashionable. Now it’s ‘in’. A casual trawl through the web can throw out any amount of bright young things clacking furiously away with the needles, and it’s even being recommended as a form of therapy (although that smacks a bit of institutionalised basket weaving to me). I should be happy. I should be skipping from one end of the yard to the other singing ‘knit one purl one tra lalalaaaaa’.
Instead, I find myself up against something I consider a bit sinister, if not outright rude. You see, I’m not the right kind of knitter. Quite who decides these things I’m not sure, but having engaged in a conversation with a bunch of ladies who’ve become converts to the noble art, I find that because I’m not knitting a cowl using kettle dyed recycled yak hair gleaned by hand from the dirt floors of weaving sheds in Peru I’m not ‘doing it right’. Unless I spend the equivalent of a month’s wages on rag yarn created in an artistic space by a vegan existentialist using his feet, I’m just playing at it. Forget that I’ve got a fantastic big Aran jumper on the go, that will not only keep me warm but looks rather spiffy as well - because it hasn’t been knitted by someone in a commune in gdansk it doesn’t count. I really REALLY like the idea that people are realising that they can make something beautiful by themselves, but I’m mogadored by the price, both financial and effort wise, that’s suddenly become the norm.
Our local library did (might still do for all I know) a “stitch and bitch’’ morning, where you could take your knitting (or whatever) and have a coffee and a natter with other creatives on the comfy sofas in the DVD section. I lasted one session, but was deemed unworthy as I was knitting a hottie cover using ‘just Aran’ - as in “eeww, it’s JUST ARAN’’ (pronounced with the same tone of voice that the queen might employ to say ‘eeww, it’s a Bolshevik’). I was happy to let that one go, but it dawned on me that my lack of roving woven from bat fur wasn’t going to cut it, so I left. I’m much more comfortable sitting cross legged on the sofa, cabling away like a demon whilst watching something lurid and horrific on TV (my woollies are known by whatever I was watching at the time, hence the CSI socks, or the Walking Dead hot water bottle cover). My current item will be known as the Lie To Me woollybeast owing to a bout of temporary insanity that has led me to binge watch Tim Roth.
Anything becoming fashionable automatically ups the price tag, so the current trend for knitting - or any other craft that grabs your fancy - whilst fab, is also likely to put people off after the first mad flush of convert-enthusiasm dies off, unless they realise that there are perfectly good wool shops out there, selling lovely yarn at prices that won’t induce a panic attack, and that knitting with rope is ok if that’s what you want to do (I’m not kidding. I know someone who’s trying to knit a hammock), but it’s not compulsory. Meanwhile me and my ‘just Aran’ will be over in the corner, going goggle eyed at the prices on Etsy for a three foot long scarf created from dryer fluff and twine.