Are you knitting ironically?

I have written before about the news media’s (and the general public’s)  fascination with knitting being *gasp!* popular, and *gasp squared!* popular among the non-grandkids-having group.

Then I ran into this article from a Canadian weekly, which proposes that knitting isn’t just a fun hobby made even more fun by new contemporary yarns and specialized social media, but it’s a style statement:

“In recent years, the grandmanian pastime of knitting has been taken over by that haughty, ironically bespectacled crew – young, urban hipsters.”

Knitting is the new black | The Uniter: Winnipeg’s Weekly Urban Journal.

Wait, WHAT? Is knitting a hipster thing now? It used to be indie rock and art gallery openings, ironic trucker hats and living in Williamsburg, but I never thought working with your hands was one of the defining features of non-mainstream urban subcultures. Until someone on the ravelry forum shared an anecdote, where she was sitting in the university lecture hall, knitting, and a young girl walks by her and exclaims, rolling her eyes, “God, I HATE hipsters.”

Then it dawned on me that the logic works out: if you can wear a vintage floral dress with your converse, why not pick up a vintage craft with your Gender And Media Studies 101 lecture?

hipsterFrom there it’s only a step to the Winnipeg Urban Journal’s tongue-in-cheek lamentation that “and now, it seems, you can scarcely walk down the street without getting hit in the face with some young punk’s unwieldy knitting needles.”

Of course there are many to argue that knitting today is not a vintage craft, it is very much alive and changing with the times. Until someone walks up to you when knitting in public, and asks: “Are you knitting ironically?”

To which I can imagine one appropriate answer:

“I liked knitting before it was popular.”

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3 comments

  1. Oh, god. The funny thing to me is that historically knitting was considered “grandmotherly” for only a very short period of time. Since then, it has belonged to all of us who like to create with our hands—and the ‘all’ is incredibly varied. And before then, it belonged to everyone who wanted to stay warm.

    1. That is very true. Working with your hands to make something useful was just life, like any other chore for most of history, and only became anachronistic in the early twentieth century when it became cheaper to buy machine-made things that actually looked good. But of course, anachronisms are what style trends thrive on…
      I really do hope that this won’t stay an anachronism though, and that hand-made things have a permanent place in modern culture beyond changeable style trends.

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