Friday, July 27, 2007

"Knitting is a stupid hobby"

"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?


Mariella said...

Oh please don't pay any attention to him! You go knit girl and enjoy yourself! I don't care what my husband thinks of my knitting or any of my hobbies. They are MY hobbies and part of ME.
Sometimes men can be so dense :)

RangerSarah said...

Ugh! I feel insulted too! I don't see why he needs to have an opinion on it anyway - its a HOBBY. It's not like you've devoted your life to sheep breeding to make softer wool, or refuse to wear anything but hand-knitted clothing - its just something you do to pass the time because you enjoy it! As long as knitting isn't taking over your life or impacting your relationship, it shouldn't matter what you do in your spare time.

The closest my other-household-member got to mis-understanding my knitting was when, after I had knitted through "The Last King of Scotland," he said, "I guess you didn't like that move very much." Actually, I really liked the movie, I guess he didn't get that I can pay attention to a movie AND knit at the same time!

Saraz said...

I'd poke/stab him with your needles. MAybe in time he'll figure it out and understand? I hope so for your sake!

reluctantMANGO said...

Grrr. DH doesn't 'get' my knitting hobby/addiction, but he knows it makes me happy, and that's good enough for him. He used to get jealous of my attention - complaining when I knit through movies or other sedentary activities - but soon realized that I can knit AND pay attention to him/the movie/the ball game. Hope your housemate gets a clue, and soon!

Madam said...

OH, do I hear you. Journey, not destination, blah blah blah. Try having this discussion with someone who plays video games because they're "interactive" but won't engage in things that actually have him, y'know, interact with the world.

I have every sympathy for you. Really, what matters is that it is important to YOU, and he should respect it for that reason. he doesn't have to understand it.

Dove Knits said...

I'd be insulted, too! You could easily argue that video games are a stupid hobby -- because what do you get in return? No finished product, no knowledge, nothing but slightly weakened eyesight and a weird buzz. But you wouldn't say that to someone who enjoyed video games, because it's their prerogative to enjoy them. Heck, you could argue that anything is a stupid hobby. Reading, for instance, is much slower than watching the movie, and cooking is slower than buying frozen pizza.

I think the offensive part comes in from this, the lack of respect for you and your likes. So what if he doesn't like it? If it makes you happy, AND if it's a constructive (i.e., not, you know, drug abuse or compulsive overspending) hobby, then that should be enough for him to respect the hobby, or at least respect you enough.

My husband doesn't care for knitting, but seeing how happy he makes it, he's more than happy to indulge my hobby (which is alot more out of control than yours is! I DO avoid other things for knitting!). Most people who know me don't begrudge my knitting during movies and conversations, because they know I just like to keep my hands busy.