Friday, March 16, 2007

Knit and basketball

I attend a "basketball school". Marquette has put itself on the map due to its inclusion in the NCAA men's basketball tournament over the past several years, and the subsequent success of Dwayne Wade in the NBA. So, when Marquette plays in the NCAA tournament, they throw a big party at the Union Annex. And because I want to get the most out of my Marquette experience, last night I attended this party.

We played Michigan State in the first round of the tournament and, how to put this delicately, we stunk it up big time. Michigan State whomped us. Although, I think we established the title of only team to ever score all of their first half baskets from the 3-point range. I think we only had about a half dozen two-pointers in the whole game. It was crazy. That, and we didn't score at all in the first 8 1/2 minutes. It was brutal. But! I got free pom poms out of the deal! There's always gotta be a bright side.

On an unrelated topic (yet sort of related, purely by chance), I have to rant for a bit about a certain type of fellow knitter. You see, I took knitting with me to the party. Just a plain cotton dishcloth, the kind I can knit without looking at it at all; the kind I always knit while watching sporting events or award shows. While we were waiting for our food, an older woman came around asking if we'd like our faces painted. When she saw me knitting, she immediately said, "Oh, you throw". Now, to the non-knitters out there, "throwing", also called "American" technique, means you knit by controlling the yarn with your right hand, and actively wrap the yarn around the needle during each stitch. It's the way most Americans learn to knit. The other main technique is called "Continental" and means that you control the yarn with your left hand and basically use the needle itself to wrap the yarn around for each stitch. There's a little waggling of the index finger for purling, but you get the general idea. Now, it may just be me, but it seems that many times it is implied that only novice dumbasses "throw", and experienced, or "real", knitters knit Continental. The face-painter was one of these. She went on and on about how Continental was so much better and I would never want to throw again once I learned it. I tried to be gracious while trying to get her to shut up -- I wasn't in the mood for a knitting lecture and tried to inform her that I just wanted to knit as I could without looking -- the whole point of bringing the dishcloth to knit while watching the game -- and that I could knit Continental, just not without looking. She finally gave up and moved on. But I was rankled.

I am kind of a solitary knitter and everything I know about it I have taught myself from books or articles on the internet and I like it that way. For the record, Continental does offer an economy of movement and speed over throwing, and I would like to become proficient at it, if only to have an alternate technique in my repertoire. But I'm not yet proficient at it, and I feel clumsy and awkward when I do it. Mastering it will require practice, and when I'm trying to watch a game while knitting is not the time for it. If I do master it, it may very well be that I prefer it to throwing. But as it is, I am a very proficient knitter and turn out some lovely items using my lowly little technique. And if I do switch to primarily knitting Continental and come across some other knitter who is throwing, I shall ask about her project, compliment her stitches, and generally have a nice chat with her (or him). I will not mention what technique she is using because who the F*** cares????? Knitting is a hobby, a form of relaxation, and a means to and end -- lovely handmade items to keep or give as gifts. It is not a competitive sport. I will not become a party to making it such.

Yarn snobs and technique snobs. I daresay the community would be better off without them. But then, I'm just a novice dumbass -- what would I know??



Becky G said...

You were nicer than I would have been. Really, only people who lack confidence in themselves feel the need to criticize others.

I throw, too. I know how to knit continental, but like you, I find it clumsy and awkward. I know I just need more practice, but I knit to relax. When I'm relaxed and my guard is down, I always revert to American knitting without even thinking about it.

There is no right and wrong when it comes to knitting styles. If it works for you, it works, and no one should tell you that you aren't doing it right.

This, along with yarn snobbery, is one of my hot buttons. Can you tell?

Tricia said...

What a great story. I had no idea about the whole knitting snobbery thing, but here in Santa Fe, Tommy and I often enjoy having a hearty laugh at the expense of yoga snobs. Believe me, they're all cut from the same cloth. Whoever saw anything more ridiculous than a bunch of upper-middle-class 30-and 40-somethings working themselves into an anxiety attack about whether Ashtanga is superiour to Kundalini? It's a relaxation technique, people!

As a professional writer, I often note how my perfectionism limits my creativity because of these same sorts of thoughts. Only this time, I'm the one being critical (of myself and others). To alleviate this, I entered a Harry Potter fanfiction contest. And didn't even place. Even though I'm a "professional." Anyhow, some of the people on the fan-fic website were criticizing the winning entries as if we were in a college literature class! (Never mind that some of these stories were written by teens. Isn't this a bit harsh?) So a posted a comment saying I thought all the winning entries were really interesting, and encouraging the entrants not to take the lit-crit types so seriously--and then they all started criticizing me! What a fun exercise. . . .;)

Tricia said...

Oh I definitely had fun. And I'll probably enter more fan-fic contests--I just won't trade opinions about them online!

YarnThrower said...

Thanks for your kind comment about my blog. Sorry to hear about your Golden Eagles (though I'm not sure if that is what Marquette's team is called these days -- I live under a rock). The Badgers fell in the next round, and my expectations for them were much, much higher.

I went to a lecture by Meg Swansen a few months ago, and from what I gathered there, she is a thrower. Also, Hazel Carter stood up in the middle of the question and answer section and made some remarks about how throwing gets a bad rap, yet even as a thrower, she is still a very fast knitter, etc. And, with an internet identity of "YarnThrower", obviously I, too, am a thrower. So, you and I are in good company with some big names!.....and, it's not that we **can't** pick, it's just that we don't **want** to... (Seriously, would you really want to be called "YarnPicker"?) Anyway, I'm originally from the Milwaukee area, so I enjoyed reading about some "local" things. I'm going to have to hunt down one of those R2D2 mailboxes -- my boys would flip out!

Finally, glad to hear that I'm not the only one who puts dishrags into insinkerators (sp?) and hot pans onto acrylic hotpads with negative results.....

Have a great Wednesday!