Friday, March 23, 2007

JF has been telling me I should write more about my thoughts and perspective on knitting and not just provide pics of my WIP's. So in an effort to make this blog more entertaining and interesting I'm going to be writing more about my thoughts. I have to warn you: some of my ideas are contradictory to the general knitting culture. Do not read on if you are faint of heart.

I'M NOT INTO KNITTING FOR CHARITY. Wow, it feels dangerous to admit this to the knitting public. It's not that I'm against volunteering and donating to charity per se. It's just I'd rather knit things for myself and friends and family. I did make a few squares for a Project Linus blanket last year but that's it. I know the Yarn Harlot last night said something along the lines of 'A century ago it was expected that you would knit hats for your family rather than buy them. In less than a few generations it's now expected that you buy hats rather than knit them.' I think it sounded more eloquent when she said it.

Anyway when I think about people who are really poor and needy it does make more sense to me to send them, for example, one hundred store bought hats rather than 10 hand knit ones. I know about the whole concept where the person feels special because it's handknit. In the case of third world countries where they're just trying to survive I think they'd rather have that ubiquitious $1 Walmart hat rather than no hat at all while their neighbor is flaunting a beautiful striped Koigu beret.

I do make an exception for oncology patients or hospitalized children though. Maybe that's why I went ahead and made those Project Linus squares. In the former case it's hard to buy a hat soft enough that it won't irritate the scalp for people who have lost all their hair to chemo. In the latter case children in the hospital, even if their families are of limited means, still have access to blankets. Then having a one-of-a-kind colorful blanket would seem more special than the generic scratchy hospital linens.

I can also relate to people who make blankets for cats in shelters but that's probably more because I have a soft spot for cats than based on logical reasoning. In fact now that I think about it, it actually makes less sense since the cats do not have the concept of something handknit vs. machine made. If you took a really soft blanket and cut it up into cage-sized squares it would probably have the same effect for the cat. In most cases it probably just makes the knitter feel better.

The other reason I can see knitting for charity making sense is that most likely people will not go out and buy blankets and cut them up for cats or purchase one hundred hats at Walmart. Perhaps this is a way to get people involved in donating who otherwise would not. I also understand that there are charitable knitting groups at hospitals and churchs who enjoy the social aspect of knitting together. If that makes your needles click then go for it.

I think my overall problem with charity knitting relates to the pressure I sometimes feel that I'm supposed to be knitting for charity. Are other hobbies or interests like that? To bring up similar obsessive pasttimes to the ones Stephanie mentioned on the tour do Star Trek fans, fly-fishers, and model builders frequently donate to charities in the context of their shared interest? Not that I know of although feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. I spend all day at work helping other people and I have volunteered my time for causes in the past. Am I terribly selfish if I only want to knit myself a scarf or only make a baby hat if it's for a friend?

I just want to encourage knitters to think for themselves on a variety of topics and not feel pressured into thinking and doing things the way everyone else seems to. And please, don't take this as me urging people to stop knitting for charity. In fact go ahead and knit double to make up for me and thousands of other knitters who haven't knit for charity but are too ashamed to admit it!

1 comment:

Knitting Ewe said...

I read your post last night I have to say that I have been thinking about it ever since. So first, thanks for making me think about my knitting in a new way. I do a lot of "Charity" knitting and you make some really good points. The realization that you brought me to is that when I knit for Afghans for Afghans or helmet liners for the troops, I am really doing it for myself. It makes me feel good to think of the person who may get my hand knit. Thank you for your post, it really gave me a better understanding of a part of my knitting.