So is knitting still cool? When asking yourself this question as a young woman, you are effectively asking ‘Does Zooey Deschanel do it’? If Zooey’s at it then it’s cool. Or maybe just ironic. If she’s not then your hobby is slightly too quaint and grannyish.
Like Ugg boots, knitting is something that was once terminally unfashionable and consigned to the over 50s but has in the last five years risen like a phoenix from the denture fix, to be embraced by the young and the hip. This inevitably gives it the shelf-life of any trend. Uh-oh. What if this means that my beloved hobby is now on the road to naffness (rather like that word itself) and that by the end of this year I will never be able to mention it in public again except at my covert knitting symposiums with the widow Nesbitt?
Knitting makes me happy. I started to learn it as a child but didn’t really get into it until I took a part-time job at a yarn shop and mastered the basics so I’d know what all the grannies in the shop were going on about. There’s something about the hypnotic rhythm of the stitching, the pleasing clack of the needles and the productivity that warms the heart. It’s also a hobby that you can learn at your own pace, seeking help from your elders who have spent years patiently amassing their expertise.
Incidentally, in an episode of New Girl, Zooey’s character was shown to be hosting a ‘crochet night’. Alas, surely now knitting is yesterday’s news with crochet muscling in and production of decent knitting patterns nose-diving in favour of obscure crocheted Manga characters.
Which then begs another question: when did merely knitting no longer become good enough? When did my calming hours of knit, purl and the occasional yarn over (cheeky!) become a contest of who can be the most outrageous? Old style knitting groups had names like The Women’s Institute but new groups are called things like Stitchin’ Bitches, Crochet Hook-Up and Purl Necklace. We get it, you like double-entendres. But does a good old gossip and yarn sesh have to include notions of meat-market sexual hedonism to attract members? OK I concede that knitting has many in-built puns (just looking back at my yarn over comment there) and we Brits as the creators of the Carry-On movies have natural long range pun-seeking capabilities.
The groups aren’t to blame but now there are hierarchies within the knitting community, with knitters at the bottom of the heap beneath those who crochet, the spinners and the increasingly attention-seeking ‘guerrilla knitters’.
Yes, who knew knitting could be an extreme sport? Well it is, and can be political, humourous, or just kind of annoying rather than pleasingly quirky. It is starting to boil down to marketing of products and column inches in the media. We’re kind of getting to the same point in the knitting trend as when rock descended into spandex and hairspray. And that’s sad because when all this is over I’ll still want to knit a lacy shawl every now and then. I just don’t want to be told it’s ‘so two years ago daaaarling’.