Monday, 19 November 2012

Needles vs. Hooks

Crafters may look like a close-knit group, but the reality is that there are armed camps within crafting, that knitting and crocheting especially have a Sharks vs. Jets-style rivalry. Knitters and crocheters brandish their respective tools and claim their craft is easier to learn or more versatile, while those who are bistitchual remain determinedly on the fence. The mockumentary Wooly Bullies, which appears above, explores the animus between the Needles and the Hooks. Part of the problem seems to be that while knitters contend with the "old lady’s pastime" stereotype, crocheters are up against the even more negative "old lady's pastime of making granny square and toilet paper cosies" stigma.

Kim Werker, founder of Crochet Me, expounds on some interesting theories in this 2006 interview in which she's asked about the conflict between knitting and crochet. Crochet is much younger than knitting. Knitting is believed to have been invented circa the eighth century, but crochet doesn't seem to have existed much before 1800. Werker says crocheting first came to North America as an easy and affordable way for poor and working class women to make lace, while knitting was the established craft. Moreover, knitting machines were invented over 200 years ago, but to this day crocheted items can only be produced by hand. Knitting's advantage of mass production may have resulted in knitting becoming a respected and staple means of clothing production, while crocheting repeatedly goes in and out of fashion, with corresponding fluctuations in its popularity. It’s surprising and thought-provoking to speculate that this half-joking, half-real schism between knitters and crocheters may have its roots in classist attitudes from 200 years ago.

My own guess is that the schism between knitters and crocheters has a fairly simple explanation. Which may be that most people who knit and/or crochet love the one craft and don't care much for the other (and it seems that generally they prefer the one they learned first), and it's easy for them to get adamant about it, especially on the internet, where everybody tends to get adamant about everything.

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