Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Knittin' Crap: Blood Feud

Crocheted Cultist
The Cultist says, "I'm crocheted and I'm proud!"1
I taught myself to knit and crochet from books. Apparently, I did a piss-poor job of educating myself, though, because I did not learn that crocheting and knitting are anathema to each other.

No, it's true, there's a serious us-and-them attitude among many knitters and crocheters, although it seems to be almost completely localized to our beloved country, not to be confused with Alan Paton's beloved country. I don't think I personally know any South African knitters or crocheters, but I have to suspect they'd be shocked that apartheid is alive and well in the U.S. with respect to whether you attack your yarn with a hook or a pair of sticks. Many languages don't even have different words for the two techniques. And, in fact, Japanese yarnie-books very often have knit and crochet projects side-by-side, with no overt distinction between the two other than the technical bits.2

Ravelry is the perfect place to witness the knitters who look down their noses at all things crochet, and crocheters who, well, actually, the crocheters are generally much more polite about the whole thing. Even the ones who don't knit usually just chalk it up to never getting around to it or not enjoying it as much as crochet, but they don't use that as a reason to denigrate all things knitted.

Now, any yarn-ignoramuses out there who are actually still reading are probably scratching their heads, mostly because they still can't tell the difference between the two. (I'm not even going to confuse matters by bringing, say, Tunisian crochet into the fray.) It probably comes across as a religious war where the two factions are waging battles over the interpretation of a single line of scripture. Actually, I'm sitting in the middle, and it seems even more absurd than that.

I'm too lazy to do any hard research, but some people cite a Victorian-era preference for knitting in the upper classes and crocheting in the lower classes. (This doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense to me, because, as I said, this prejudice seems most deep-seated in America.) And many people, when they hear the word "crochet," probably get blinding mental images of granny-square blankets made of multiple shades of orange acrylic yarn, afghans which can be keeping you warm one minute and then sanding the old varnish off a wooden table the next. But times change, and it's absurd to stereotype a craft technique based on the color choices and limited crochet skills of a bunch of 70s-era post-hippies.

Whenever I hear someone say they do one but not the other, I wonder if they'd ever tried the other. That's fine; it's up to them. But for those who haven't tried, then say they really like this pattern but they can't make it because it's The Other Yarn Technique Which They Simply Do Not Do, I just shake my head and think, well, the only reason you can't make it is because you won't try. Granted, I'm a pragmatist, so if there's something I Really Want, I'll learn how to make it. And, honestly, I might not have done much crochet now if it weren't for amigurumi, which is more often crocheted than knit, because the shaping involved is usually easier with crochet. But now I'm not only crocheting little critters, I'm actually making full-fledged crocheted garments. And I might actually finish one of them someday.

So, when I get asked if I can help a knitter who does not (and I don't mean "does not know how to" but simply Does Not) crochet with how they can make something I crocheted, well, sure I can help! I can help you learn to crochet! It's not that hard! (Natalie Dee's advice on learning to knit holds true for crochet, too!)

(Ok, so if I'm so egalitarian, why do I call my yarn-related posts "Knittin' Crap" instead of "Crochetin' Crap" or "Yarn Crap?" Well, fine, "Knittin' Crap" just sounds better aesthetically than the four-syllable "Crochetin' Crap," and I hadn't actually thought of "Yarn Crap" until now, but I think three syllables just works best here. And some people might include things like making summer camp God's-eyes under "Yarn Crap," and while that would actually make sense literally,3 that's not what I'm going for, either.)

1The Cultist is temporarily sporting a crochet hook because Spoon actually chewed the spear in half. I let it pass as it was the day after Pandora died, and I was mostly just relieved that he wasn't trying to eat it. The polymer clay can be toxic when ingested. I will definitely be more careful. A new spear is pending.
2I have, in fact, also seen American knitters, when they finally see these fabled Japanese knitting/crochet books in person, complain that there are too many crochet patterns in there, because They Do Not Crochet. (Granted, as I said, the Japanese use the same word for both techniques, and there's a line of Nihon Vogue publications which actually has "Let's Knit Series" printed in English on each one even though they often contain a mix of crochet and knit patterns, but that's no reason to get pissy at the idea of Japanese knitting/crochet books in general, which, yes, I have witnessed on Ravelry. They don't do it to mislead Americans who think the two techniques should be kept as far apart as orange and pink. They just don't give a crap about Americans who think the two techniques should be kept as far apart as orange and pink.)
3Seriously, I have no idea how many of those things I made in Girl Scouts and camp, but I can guarantee you that of the enormous amount of artifacts from my childhood that my mother still has, there is not a single popsicle-stick-and-cheap-acrylic-yarn God's-eye in the lot.


spajadigit said...

It's Mac vs. PC all over again.

bittersweet-mis said...

I both knit and crochet, I learnt how to knit first, then a month later I gave up and tried crochet to make amigurumi, then fairly recently I got into knitting again because of the urge to make socks (which I still haven't attempted. I've become much more adept at knitting since my first goes and find it quite soothing, whereas I can make more interesting amigurumi with simpler stitches with crochet and basic knowledge (even though I can evenly gauge with knitting, but not crochet).

I think I prefer to be Sweden on the whole thing, for me it was easier to learn how to crochet, but it's too time consuming to do some amigurumi projects. Knitting is relatively quick and rythmic, but you have to really understand it in order to produce pretty cool stuff, and you can easily fudge up a project. By the way, I've done both crafts for less than a year