Saturday, June 9, 2007

Yarn Harlot vs. Craft Whore

On Friday night I had the pleasure of meeting up with some knittyheads (Melody, Babbling Stacy, Hellahelen, Chameleon, and Missamite) and going to Powels to see Stephanie Pearl McPhee aka The Yarn Harlot. Her talk was hilarious as usual and I felt very good about myself and the power of knitters to do good in the world. I also really appreciated her fighting back against the current trend of “Not your grandmother’s knitting” advertising. The Yarn Harlot countered that her grandmother was an excellent knitter. Which reminds me that so was mine. Even though I never met her, my father’s mother was an accomplished knitter and tatter (lace maker) even though she lost the sight in one of her eyes, she kept making beautiful things. Anyway I digress. She also brought up gender-stereotypes in knitting. How a woman knitting an intricate lace shawl is ‘cute’ and ‘quaint’, whereas a man knitting a fun-fur garter stitch scarf is a ‘bold innovator’. Grrr.

One thing I disagreed with her about though, was that Knitters identify themselves as such above other distinctions. That while those of us in the room were of a variety of religions, races, political leanings (somewhat unlikely in Portland… but her point was well taken), and generations, but we identified ourselves as Knitters above and beyond the other designations. Now, I’ll agree that when I pick up my needles & go hang out with my knitterly friends I am a Knitter. But I much more strongly identify myself as a Woman, and after that, a Portlander…and I’m sure I could come up with a number of other identities that are important to me, but I don’t think being a Knitter would rank any higher than Baker, Quilter, Museum Goer, PBS Watcher or Volunteer. Knitting is just one of the many things I really like to do with my free time. It’s not my primary identity. And as you can tell by my blog, there are times when certain crafts get much more of my attention than knitting does.

Stephanie Pearl McPhee calls herself the Yarn Harlot because she can’t be faithful to any one yarn… in contrast I’d have to call myself a Craft Whore because I really like to try different crafts, and I enjoy learning new ways to express my creative side. One problem with being a Craft Whore (or maybe I should say Jill of all Crafts), is that as long as I have a full time job, I’ll never really master any of them (the other problem is storage!).



I’ll never turn out complex cabled sweaters month after month interrupting myself to crank out a Victorian shawl here or there. It seems equally unlikely that I’ll ever be able to hand quilt a queen sized quilt at the level of those I saw at the quilt show. And that makes me a little bit sad, and occasionally insecure in the face of certain knit-blogs. But at the same time, I like knowing how to do a lot of different things, I like being able to switch between crafts depending on my mood or needs at the moment. Plus it gives me the option of combining some of these skills into one project. Given unlimited resources, I’d love to learn even more crafts, pottery, carpentry, weaving… anything. Someday maybe. ;-)


Anyway I love the Yarn Harlot, and she really made me feel good about all of my crafts. I think Knitters, and all Crafters deserve more respect than we often get. So in honor of her, I'm going to start showing off some of my other stashes.


The quilting stash (part of it anyway =P ) ... (yeah I was trying to knit some fabric... didn't work though... that particular project has been abandoned)Decade old cross-stitch WIPs. But look at all my embroidery floss!
Christmas angels from ... back in the day, and santa flannel for uh... I can't even remember. :-P
A purse that will be sewn up.... eventually.
Anyway, I'm coming out of the closet so to speak, about my promiscuous crafting. I knit, but I'm not a Knitter, and that's okay.

6 comments:

T said...

Don't feel bad, I'm a craft whore as well. And I don't think you have to be one thing either. I love to do it all and will join you in your quest to show off my "stashes" as well, and keep people informed on what I am doing, and will also keep reading about your quest. I love to see new things and get inspired!!!

Bezzie said...

Hee! Craft Whore--I like that!

michael5000 said...

In crafts, I cleave chastely to quilting and quilting alone. But I'm a total hobby slut. It's all good.

When I bought my third fabric cabinet, I promised my wife it was the last, and I've held to that. Fortunately, she is only vaguely aware of the fabric closet, or the 10 to 15 tubs of fabric in "my" attic.

Lastly, let us consider the terrible plight of the poor disadvantaged male in the crafts. True, some people are going to call him a "bold innovator" just from showing up (Helllllooooooo Ricky Tims!). But remember, an awful lot of people are going to call him a "goddam freak." Either way, it's a pain in the butt.

Rebel said...

You've got a point, and obviously I wouldn't know what it's like to be the only man in a knitting/quilting group. But I have been a woman in a knitting group with only one man - and let me tell you - his plight didn't seem so terrible with 15 women ooohing and ahhhing over him! =P But then again, he probably wouldn't get the same attention if he started knitting while watching a football game with his buddies. So I can sympathize, if not empathize.

I do think the whole gender-division of crafts and hobbies is absurd, and think both boys and girls should be given the opportunity to explore whatever useful activities they are drawn to.

michael5000 said...

OK! OK! It's true! Sometimes we like the oohing and aahing!

There, I said it.

: )

Katie said...

I'm not just a Knitter either...I've been known to crochet, cross stitch, sew and do various other crafts as well.