Knitting, Plain Speaking, Politics, Uncategorized

Dispatches From the Front Lines of the Knitting Wars

Greetings fellow knitters (you know who you are). I just got cancelled from KnitCamp!

It’s a knitting community I joined only about a week ago, at a friend’s (former Lefty, now not-so-much) enthusiastic suggestion.  She really enjoyed it because the woman who ran it hadn’t gone woke and/or wasn’t bullying her customers about such matters. When I checked her website myself, I found that she did have an “all are welcome here because diversity” statement, but it was quite lovely, and not at all out of bounds.

My friend had found the site, and KnitCamp to be free of the “smell-me” politics that infect so much of the online knitting presence these days. It’s a fee-based membership, and the members support each other, and the lady who runs it (Marie Greene, an apparently lovely woman with a serious “Doris Day” vibe), creates and sells beautiful, well-fitting patterns, and works hard at this. One of the features of Knit Camp is the “knit-a-longs,” a phrase that will be familiar to knitters, where a group selects or is presented with a particular pattern, people sign up to knit it, and with regular (in this case, virtual) meetings, support, and encouragement, people find out that they can do much more than they thought they could do alone. Who knew?

So, I plunked down my $125 for a year’s membership, got the first free pattern for the Summer Knit-A-Long, and purchased the yarn to knit it ($62). And I was all set.

And then, yesterday, for the first time, politics in the Facebook group. Orders from HQ: Donate to the SPLC. We are all guilty. Check your privilege. Submit. Confess.

I was disappointed, and I wrote an (I thought) rather mild objection, which I eventually discovered through nefarious means (because, cancelled) that went as follows:

Sorry I signed up for Knit Camp now. I did especially to avoid this sort of partisan bullying. Lest you think I don’t believe black lives matter as much as white lives, I’d caution you that none of you knows anything about me, so you should not jump to conclusions. I was hoping that this site, and this community would offer a respite from the knitting wars. But it seems I was wrong. Were I a member of George Floyd’s family right now, I’d be asking for peace, and for people to stop rioting and destroying lives and businesses (many of which are owned by members of the black community whose lives don’t seem to matter much, at least to the rioters). To their eternal credit, that’s what George Floyd’s family is already doing. We should follow suit.

Want to make a difference? Go out and talk to people in your community and find out what you can do to help. Invest your money in your own communities, rather than sending it off to a bunch of national groups with no interest in your neighbors, and with a political and social agenda that may be nothing like yours. And stand up to the bullies telling you what you must think, how you must act, and what you must do. I’m willing to bet that everyone who’s reading this is already a kind, decent, caring human being (after all, we’re knitters, right), who doesn’t need orders from headquarters to know the right thing to do. So just go out and do it.

Well, apparently this was disturbing to some (although not all, b/c I did get some high fives from others in the “community.”)

So I subsequently got an email from Marie Greene as follows:

I understand that these are difficult times and that differing opinions often clash when important issues are at hand. Based on your Facebook comment about regretting Knit Camp, I feel it’s only right to offer you the option of a refund if you’d like to cancel your membership. I know you’ve only recently joined and wouldn’t want your annual membership to be a waste if you don’t feel it’s the right community for you. I don’t typically offer refunds, but I think community is really important and I don’t want you to feel like you’ve wasted your resources on a community you don’t want to be part of.

Either way, I wish you well.

Thank you,

Heh. I may have been born at night. But it wasn’t last night. I ain’t jumping. You’re going to have to push me. So I responded:

Hi, Marie. Thanks for your kind offer. I think I’ll stick around. I’ve already ordered the yarn for the KAL sweater, and assuming that KnitCamp stays apolitical, I don’t have to go look at your other sites, and what you do and say on them is up to you. (I believe I first ran across your “Enough is Enough” post in the “Student Lounge.”)

If you think you can keep the politics out of KnitCamp, then good for you! I hope so. I’m less optimistic today than I was a week or two ago, and Knit Camp was promoted to me by one of its members as “there are no politics,” but we’ll see. Financially, with the discount, it’s not the end of the world if I bail at some point. I have absolutely no objection to being around or spending time with people who disagree with me politically, but I am tired of people virtue-signalling that they’ve suddenly gone “woke” and have all the answers, and that the rest of us are a bunch of clodhoppers who just don’t get it. I think your previous statement on your website about inclusivity covers the subject perfectly.

My heroine in this matter is the YarnHarlot. She and I could not be more different in our political leanings, and she writes about what she’s doing (PWA, Doctors without Borders) all the time. It’s a personal thing for her, and although she invites people to contribute to causes she supports (and I have, to both of them), there’s no pressure and no shaming if you don’t. And although she makes her own political and social persuasions and commitments known as she writes, again, there’s no pressure and no implication that the rest of us don’t get it or that there is something wrong with us. She tells us what she’s actually doing to make a difference, sets an example, and doesn’t nag us about what we ought to do ourselves. I admire her greatly.

Your patterns are lovely. Your site is lovely. KnitCamp appears to be lovely. I don’t expect to participate much by video because my internet connection (satellite) isn’t very good, but we’ll see.

So thanks again. But, no.

And, this morning, I got the email I expected:

Your refund has already been processed. I wish you well.

My final answer:

I cannot say I am surprised. Once again, disappointed, but not surprised. My experience of the newly woke is that they are some of the most intolerant people on earth.

Know that, at the suggestion of David Dorn’s family (he’s the retired St. Louis police officer killed by a howling mob a couple of days ago while his shooting, and his death agonies were jubilantly celebrated and jeered at via live stream on the Internet), I will be donating my “refund” to Backstoppers, an organization which supports the families of fallen heroes.

I do this because, you see, David Dorn’s life matters to me.

Don’t bother to reply.

I’ve already made my donation. And I asked them to send the acknowledgment to Marie Greene.

Commitments matter. Don’t run. Don’t hide. Don’t back down.

I don’t want to start a flame war. I don’t want to destroy this woman’s life and career. I can’t help thinking she’s already been “got at” by those who’ve threatened her with annihilation if she doesn’t give in. It’s not like that hasn’t happened before.

But I want you to see how very little it takes to be jettisoned as the “wrong sort of people” by the newly-woke.

For Pete’s sake. Can we just get real?  And stop posturing?

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