I see there's quite a shitstorm of discussion going on over at the Yarn Harlot. Apparently someone left a comment about the socks Stephanie was knitting, calling them "fugly". Stephanie was slightly miffed, pointing out that her blog was like her living room, and it would be rude for a guest in her home to say "Gee, that's an ugly couch", so why do visitors to her blog feel they can say whatever they like?
Well, at the risk of putting my foot into it, welcome to the world, girls. When I first encountered the sublime realm of knitting blogs, I was quite put off by all the mutual adoration going on. Everyone seemed so nice, freakishly so. Of course it's great to hear total strangers say "You're brilliant", but when that's ALL you ever hear? Just not realistic. People have all kinds of different tastes and abilities and that's what makes life interesting.
Given all that, I still like the Yarn Harlot, mostly because Stephanie is a compelling writer, with a Leacock Award-worthy gift for humour. (Stephen Leacock was a very funny Canadian. There is a yearly award given in his honour.) But the fawning that goes on in the comments section! It's a bit scary. The Harlot has a huge, well-deserved readership. It would be normal for there to be some difference of opinion. But now I see it - step out of line, get a little loose with the "fugly", and it will be noticed. I feel great sympathy for the poor reader who dared to differ - she was swiftly and universally shat upon by, at last count, over 550 commenters.
Compare that to the comments typically received by another of my favourite bloggers, No Impact Man. Colin regularly gets nasty comments, sometimes quite personal. But he doesn't get hundreds of comments from people leaping to his defence. Why? Not only can he defend himself quite well, the topic of discussion is at a different magnitude, and correspondingly passionate. How to reduce one's environmental footprint to save the planet invites debate. Whether or not it is worth one's time to knit grape leaves on socks is apparently sacred.
Now, I have been following the progress of the socks in question, and while I can see that the design is ingenious and the challenge for many an accomplished knitter quite irresistible, I wouldn't make these socks myself. Why? There are not my style, not to my taste, just not my thing - in other words, I THINK THEY'RE UGLY AS SIN! They are, as my mother would say, galoptious, meaning overly decorated. I would say they have lost their integrity, and their relationship to function. But go ahead and make as many as you like - have fun - (and the most sacrilegious thing I will say tonight) it's only knitting!
Don't get me wrong - I love knitting, and I believe it brings good to the world, in many ways. I have done my share of waxing metaphoric about the divine structure of knitting. But I also believe knitting, as a form and practise, is tough, and can withstand critical thought. I'd love to see more lively, gritty discussion about knitting - now that so many knitters have developed the skills and techniques to tackle complex projects, there are a multitude of paths that can be explored.
And if that's leaving myself open to comments from people who disagree, fine!