"Knitting is a stupid hobby." Those few words, spoken by the other member of my household, nearly drove me to inarticulate rage last night.
We had sat down to dinner - enchiladas, if you want to know - and I was in the midst of talking about the new 25th Anniversary Vogue Knitting magazine. I had wanted to share it, show how it was put together, and figured we could have a laugh at the preponderance of advertising and bizarre design that filled its pages. Alas, this was not to be so. Not only was I interrupted with a complete non sequitur on his part, showing me a different magazine from another genre (hello, can you sit down and listen for a minute? you're not the only one here with interests or opinions), but the reaction I got was totally unexpected. I was shaking my head at the latest Maie Landra-Koigu design (a suit set with short tuxedo pants, modular construction to the tune of 55 skeins of KPPPM and sequins, sequins for crying out loud), hoping to get some agreement on the fact that the design as written was prohibitively expensive and a little ridiculous. No, in response, I hear, "of course -- knitting is a stupid hobby."
That about killed my appetite right there (which was a shame; they were good enchiladas).
Look, I don't believe for one second that everybody should be a knitter. It's not economical, it's slow, it's repetitive, and in most cases (unless you're a pattern designer) it's not even that mentally stimulating. I recognize these drawbacks, if you want to call them that. But I enjoy the process; I like choosing colors and patterns and making something that is beautiful, flattering, and interesting.
So why did this comment bother me so much? Yes, it was a little insensitive. As we all know, there's no accounting for taste. I don't have to enjoy playing video games, or collecting porcelain figurines, or working on cars, or breeding cats, or any other hobby out there. I don't expect other people to enjoy knitting. I can't even expect people to like the way knitting looks, and that's acceptable to me. I didn't worry too much when he said that he didn't personally care for the aesthetic of knitting. This is fine - I don't have to like the aesthetic of high heels, cropped pants, or synthetic fibers, and I certainly wasn't trying to force him to wear anything I'd knit.
Our discussion continued and the opposing viewpoint emerged that knitting was slow - so slow as to be a throwback to a pre-mechanized era (which, of course, is true). To the other member of my household, who works with computers, this was anathema. He couldn't understand why anyone would want to make something so slowly, by manual labor, when surely there were faster ways. When I countered that of course there were faster ways, but they were less satisfying and produced different results, his argument gradually seemed to boil down to the idea that I was wasting my time as well as my intelligence on such drudgery.
Part of the argument was about a difference of opinion on aesthetics, and as I said, that's a matter of taste and we don't have to agree there. But the accusation that I was wasting my time and intelligence fell into a different category. I felt insulted. I don't knit all day at the expense of my other important responsibilities. I don't define myself exclusively as a knitter. Why, then, is it so bad that I enjoy something that is slow, that is downright inefficient? How can I explain that it's not always about the product but the process? That it's not about speed but creative expression? That it's about personalizing my wardrobe and my surroundings, about having something unique? I should be able to take pride in this work as much as any other work I do. Why, then, do I feel so belittled?