Knitting and the gentle art of debate


In todays whirl of social media where what we see is increasingly filtered to our likes I wonder whether we are, to some extent, losing the art of gentle debate. The to and fro of discussion, the striving to listen and to understand another's point of view or an alternative opinion to our own.

Every so often a topic crops up on the interwebs which is a so-called hot topic. Something that people invariably have strong views on. On both sides. We aren't talking global politics here - although sometimes we are, but even something as seemingly innocuous as charity knitting or the size of one's stash can often raise peoples hackles and cause tension and dissent.

A lot of that seems to stem from the fact that people want to keep their knitting "just for fun" and don't want it "spoilt" by other people who are ruining it for them. The idea that anyone could say something that would "ruin" knitting for me is a little odd though because after all we have the choice in how we respond to other other's opinions.

Discussion of this nature is often followed by calls to keep the group "all about the knitting" but surely that would lead to a fairly bland and homogenous mix of knitwear. Don't get me wrong, I love knitting as much as the next person but wouldn't an endless parade of knitted blankets and shawls with the "lovely" comments be just as boring and annodyne. 

Whoever said that variety is the spice of life had the right idea and we all need a bit of spice every now again to get us thinking and more importantly to get us listening.

In one of the moments of pure serendipity that I just love about the internet, just as I was setting this to 'publish' I was listening to Emma Gannon's podcast Ctrl-Alt-Delete. She had a terrific interview with June Sarpong - British TV presenter who has a new book just out called Diversify. The idea is that we should all take the time to listen to and understand people who are not like us and who don't think the same as us. If we spend time just within our cosy bubble - whether that be politics or knitting - then we never learn anything new and we never change.


Charity Knitting - how to help when you have no time

This month the focus of my Everyday Knitter Facebook group is on charity knitting and this has lead to some great conversations around this subject. Many knitters love to knit for charity and do so prolifically. Others would love to help out more but although they have the supplies and the ability they lack the time to knit all the things they want to and still help out their favourite charities.

Whenever you are knitting for a charity it is often wise to check out how they intend the finished items to be used/distributed/sold before committing your precious time into a project. There seems to be a unversal assumption amongst certain media companies and PR folk that knitters are elderly ladies with an infinite amount of time on their hands and who don't value their time and skills perhaps as much as they ought to - but that's a topic for another day.

If you don't have time to knit something for a charity appeal but would still like to help - never fear:

1. Tell people about it. Spread the word to those around you who might be able to help. Either online or in person - every person who talks about or who mentions a particular charity helps to raise awareness.

2. Have a clear out and donate some craft suppliers. Charities are often thrilled to receive donations of wool and needles. Often they are able to pass these on to other knitters to make use of and create items for sale or donation. It's often worth checking first before you do to make sure that you are supplying what you need.

3. Look around, some charities accept donations all year round - Knit for Peace is a great example. You can cast on for a hat and donate it whenever it is ready, whether that's in a month or a years time.

When it comes to knitting for charity, really no act is too small or too insignificant. We can all do a little bit to help - whatever that is and in whatever form it takes.