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Stitch 'N Bitch

Yesterday I finally caved to internal pressure (more on that in a separate entry), and decided that I'm going to re-learn how to knit. I picked up a copy of "Stich 'N Bitch," because I know a few people who've read it, and enjoyed it. I was expecting a primer on how to knit, with some cool, modern patterns. I was not expecting to be inspired by the book's introduction. This woman gets it (emphasis mine):

When I'd tell people about my latest obsession . . . [some friends] responded with "Really?" or "How interesting," both spoken with an air of disbelief, even a touch of disdain. After all, I had gotten a Ph.D. in the psychology of women and had started BUST, a feminist magazine - what was I doing knitting? Soon, it occurred to me that if I had told these folks I'd been playing soccer, or learning karate, or taken up carpentry, they most likely would have said, "Cool," because a girl doing a traditionally male activity - now, that's feminist, right? But a girl doing a traditionally feminine activity - let alone one as frivolous and time-wasting as knitting - well, what were they to make of that?

It made me rethink my original feminist position. After all, it had been thirty years since the feminist revolution of the 1970s and housewives as we knew them had pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur, so why, damnit, wasn't knitting receiving as much respect as any other hobby? Why was it still so looked down on? It seemed to me that the main difference between knitting and, say, fishing or woodworking or basketball, was the knitting had traditionally been done by women. As far as I could tell, that was the only reason it had gotten such a bad rap. And that's when it dawned on me: All those people who looked down on knitting - and housework, and housewives - were not being feminist at all. In fact, they were being anti-feminist, since they seemed to think only those things that men did, or had done, were worthwhile. Sure, feminism had changed the world, and young girls all across the country had formed soccer leagues, and were growing up to be doctors and astronauts and senators. But why weren't boys learning to knit and sew? Why couldn't we all - women and men alike - take the same kind of pride in the work our mothers had always done as we did in the work of our fathers?"

This, in a nutshell, is the thing that so many, many, many people just don't understand about feminism. It's not about trying to turn ourselves into men. (Because, ugh, why would we want to do that? Being a woman is awesome). It's about having the freedom and opportunity to do whatever we want to do, same as men have done all along. If I want to stay home and raise my children, that can be a feminist choice. Just like sewing and knitting and baking and all those other "feminine" activities can be feminist choices. I don't have to do "boy" things to qualify as a feminist. (Although I like some boy things, and can do some very cool boy things; I think I impressed the hell out of the guy at the camera store yesterday when I told him about the flash controller I built). Feminism is not about that, though. It's about choices, and being able to make the ones that we want to make, not being forced to spend our lives doing things that have been dictated by someone (or something) external, and not being treated as "less than" because of our plumbing.

I am loving this book, and I'm only on page 10. :D Also, I'm feeling more motivated than ever to do some really cool knitting projects.


( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 29th, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC)
Yes! So, so right.

And I love knitting, so I may have to pick up a copy too.
May. 29th, 2008 08:36 pm (UTC)
I love the Stitch'N'Bitch books. Great patterns, great philosophy.

I adapted a pattern in Stitch'N'Bitch Nation to make my knitted Winchester, and they came out adorable.

And yeah, feminism should never be about devaluing traditionally feminine activities. If anything, it's about increasing their value, so that men and women both can do them without shame.

I'm in a knitting group that meets on campus once a week, and every now and then a guy will see us sitting there knitting and come in to look. They always talk about how cool it is and how much fun we look like we're having, but when we offer to teach them how to do it, they always look awkward and shuffle out muttering "No, thanks." I think it's a real shame that guys are so thoroughly conditioned against engaging in a "womanly" hobby.

May. 29th, 2008 09:13 pm (UTC)
Those are awesome! See, I think it is totally cool to be able to make stuff like that - especially something completely custom and exactly the way you want it. You can't buy something like that in a store.

Yeah, I wish more guys would give it a try. Because it's a great hobby. (Well, in my case, crochet is the great hobby; I haven't knit in years and years, but I'm planning to change that). Connor has expressed some interest in learning, and he has a little knitting loom that he uses occasionally, but he hasn't really made an effort to actually learn how to crochet. At least he doesn't seem to think it's lame or girly, though, so I still have hope that one of these days he'll pick it up and really give it a try.

Also . . . do you know about www.ravelry.com ? It's my new obsession. :D I'm HereBeDragons there, if you decide to join. (Which you should. It's a really cool site). :)

Yeah. I need a new icon. Yours is cool. :) I think I might take a picture of my hands crocheting - I need to do something for 365 today anyway. :D
(no subject) - marinarusalka - May. 30th, 2008 12:34 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 29th, 2008 08:56 pm (UTC)
I so, so love that book! I just read it via Bookcrossing and now need a copy of my own... ^_^
May. 29th, 2008 10:12 pm (UTC)
Word, word, wordy, word! I love SnB's attitude though I must admit that I recently ebayed my copy; I simply had too many needlecraft books. :( I prefer more classic patterns anyway; Debbie Bliss is a current favourite.

It drives me nuts when someone hints that I'm not a feminist because I do domestic things and haven't worked full-time since having my kids. Huh? I have the *choice* to do these things, which is what all the feminists and suffragettes fought for. And anyone stupid enough to argue with a woman playing with pointy sticks deserves to get a poke in the eye. :D

No, I don't need help with feminism. I need help with finishing about a dozen various needlecraft projects before I start yet another one, especially the cross-stitch picture which was due for a wedding last August. Oops.
May. 29th, 2008 10:45 pm (UTC)
I need help with finishing about a dozen various needlecraft projects before I start yet another one, especially the cross-stitch picture which was due for a wedding last August. Oops.

Heh. Yeah, I know that feeling. :D Currently, my "longest-running" project is a dolphin cross-stich I started when I was *pregnant with Connor*. LOL! I'm actually really close to being finished with it - it probably would only take me a few hours to complete - but somehow, having not picked it up and worked on it in almost TEN years, it's kind of hard to get started again. :D I had another cross-stich I started even before that, but I gave it away to someone who actually does cross-stich regularly. I've found that sometimes, giving up on a project is the best thing for me to do, if it's something I'm really not motivated to do anymore. The dolphin thing is tricky, though - since I was doing it for Connor, I asked if he wanted me to finish it, and of course he said "YES!" So, I guess I have to find time for that one. *sigh*
(no subject) - countedx58 - May. 29th, 2008 10:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - countedx58 - May. 30th, 2008 02:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - here_be_dragons - May. 30th, 2008 02:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - countedx58 - May. 30th, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - here_be_dragons - May. 30th, 2008 02:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - synergy - May. 30th, 2008 04:28 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 29th, 2008 11:57 pm (UTC)
I am utterly sick and tired of someone assuming there is "one true way" to be a thing--say a feminist, or a wife, or a "fill in the blank." I'm also sick of being judged for the things that bring me joy (why oh WHY do knitters look down on crocheting, for example?? They are like, millimeters apart in difference. Sigh.)


When you feel comfortable with the basic knitting stitches, you must join a traveling scarf group on ravelry. They just closed the one I joined, sniff, but it is the coolest thing where the scarf goes from person to person getting a few inches here and there--how cool is that?!

Maybe we could do the crochet version together when they get that going...
May. 30th, 2008 01:49 am (UTC)
I see the crochet/knit dichotomy, too. How nuts is that? I love knitting for the stretchiness and the simplicity, and it doesn't hurt my hands as much. I love crochet for the fast results and the ability to rip back several rows without worrying about having to put all those loops back on the needle!
(no subject) - here_be_dragons - May. 30th, 2008 03:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tmkr - May. 30th, 2008 09:59 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 30th, 2008 01:25 am (UTC)
*nods head*
May. 30th, 2008 03:10 am (UTC)
Cool icon! :)
(no subject) - princessrica - May. 30th, 2008 03:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - edda - May. 30th, 2008 08:06 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 30th, 2008 01:47 am (UTC)
Amen sister! I'm right there with you. I knit. Just a little here and there. Is that "caving to the women's stereotype?" Dammit, no! It is doing what I want. Why is it so looked down on for men to knit? When will the "masculinism" movement happen so men can feel equal doing "women's work?" (probably never, because they don't want it any more than the women do!)*heehee*
May. 30th, 2008 03:10 am (UTC)
I think you just hit the nail on the head. As long as things like "housework" are considered "women's work," men get to have an excuse to avoid doing them. Also parenting responsibilities. OMG I know plenty of men who consider themselves to be very highly advanced beings, with great skills and knowledge - until they are presented with a baby in a dirty diaper, and suddenly BANG - completely incompetant. Um, hello! I wasn't born knowing how to change a diaper. I learned; men can, too. :D (And yes, definitely many dads can and do change diapers. Not all dads. I've known some who refused; I've never known a mom who got away with that, though).

In any case, to me needle crafts don't seem like "work" - it's something I enjoy doing. So, they're missing out on something fun, and they don't even know it. :D
May. 30th, 2008 04:25 am (UTC)
traditional roles
Agreed. I think there was some air of...disapproval? when during S's time of inability to work here he took up latch-hooking. Heaven forbid a man do something so...feminine. Then there's the whole thing about him doing most of the cooking and dishwashing. Which is one reason I think we work well together. I don't think any less of him as a man for being perfectly happy doing all those things and he doesn't think me any less of a woman for hating to do those things. :D

On the other hand I do know how to and enjoy other "feminine" pursuits. Except sewing. Because I haven't forced patience on myself to futz with a machine to get it to work right. I lose interest if I can't get it instantly right. lol
May. 30th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
Re: traditional roles
I can understand the "losing patience" thing. That's why I've been resistant to knitting up until now. I knew how to do it years ago, but when I've tried more recently, I couldn't remember what to do, and didn't feel like teaching myself all over again. (Now, I've decided I want to make myself a sweater, and I most of the really cute sweater patterns are for knitting). Even now, sometimes there are things I don't want to bother doing with my sewing machine, because I'd have to futz with the machine. :D (My machine will do embroidery, for example, but I haven't actually bothered to figure out how. Which is pretty stupid, since I bought this machine specifically because it could do embroidery. :D).

I'm not big into cooking (and washing dishes), either. K has done most of those two chores over the years, too. (Of course, that will change soon; I guess I'm going to have to teach Connor how to cook a few more meals, so he can pick up the slack after we're living by ourselves). :D In any case, good for S for latch-hooking! I'd forgotten about that; I did a couple of latch-hooked things years ago - really cool!
May. 30th, 2008 10:00 am (UTC)
Amen, sistah!
May. 30th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
Agree entirely.

I began knitting at the end of last year to distract me from bingeing when I knocked off work and snuggled with Mark in front of a film. It has not only been really successful at that, but I have been happily making up my own patterns for funky scarves (I like scarves and the ability to effectively meditate with it - nothing needing much thought). Mark has one almost like a shawl which I wore to a ren faire and Arran chose fluffy baby pink and blue polyester and something like a sheep's fleece for what has to be the most hideous scarf in existence! I have also done one for his best friend and am almost done one for a friend. I am taking orders and already have a backlog of 5! It is so lovely to get the end of a film and have not only had semi-connection time with Mark but also created something with love for someone I love.
May. 30th, 2008 03:14 pm (UTC)
*nods* Yes, that's very much how I use crochet (I want to expand my horizons to knitting because I want to make some sweaters, and most of the prettiest sweater patterns are for knitting). I love having something to do with my hands while I watch TV in the evenings, and I really love having something lovely at the end of it. I also like having at least one small project going on so I can bring it with me for times I end up waiting for something (for doctor's appointments, or if I arrive early to pick Connor up from school, etc), especially if I'm waiting somewhere where there are other people around who want to talk to me. Can't read a book in that circumstance, but I can crochet and carry on a conversation. (Ooh! I'm clever, huh)? :D
(no subject) - kvratties - May. 30th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - here_be_dragons - May. 30th, 2008 03:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
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