Thursday, October 02, 2008

Knitting in Rough Waters

I have no new knitting to show you today, since I've been spending my scant free time glued to CNN and CNBC this past week or so. Unlike my knitting time with half an eye on Law & Order, my time viewing the financial news is spent with both eyes firmly glued on the screen so I don't miss any interesting charts or scrolling words at the bottom of the screen.

I won't bore you with my own opinion about the financial crisis. You've all heard enough opinions on the matter by now I'm sure! I do have plenty of them though. Ah yes, I've spent plenty of brainpower playing armchair quarterback - or perhaps more aptly "armchair legislator" - these past days.

What I will share with you today are some philosophical thoughts about knitting trends that have crept into my mind amidst the economic facts, fictions, and financial soundbites.

It seems pretty clear that lace has been a growing trend in knitting for some time now and seems to be picking up more and more steam. There are plenty of explanations for this, from the simplest (lace rocks; it's fun and satisfying to knit and yields stunning results) to the most logical (the wave of new knitters over recent years have graduated in skill and are seeking more challenging projects). There's also the financial aspect of lace knitting. That is, you get a great deal of knitting bang-for-the-buck. With almost any lace project, you get a lot of knitting time for a relatively small amount of yarn budget. Lace yarn goes a long way and it's somewhat slow-going to knit. The end product is also often something of extraordinary quality. Who wouldn't want 30 hours of knitting enjoyment ending in an heirloom quality piece for a total of perhaps $40 for yarn and pattern?

But is there more to the trend than that? Can we dig deeper into our collective knitters' subconscious and read more meaning into it?

How our economy ended up in this hot mess is complex and I won't go into my own opinions on that either. I will, however, pick one little factor out of that and wax philosophic about it. Beneath all of the contributing factors that led to so much toxic mortgage debt there is one small truth that perhaps contributed in a small way to all of this. That is, we are a culture of instant gratification. We want it all and we want it now. The American Dream of home ownership has morphed into a dream of home ownership now. No time to amass a significant down payment. No starter home in a questionable neighborhood will suffice. We will stretch to the max and take great risks to reach the dream. The dream is no longer the home of the Cleavers. It is the home of one of the Housewives of Orange County. No laminate for me. I must have granite! And, of course, the right car or cars in the garage.

Now again, I must stop and be sure you know that I do not think this is the crux of our economic woes, but I do think that our drive toward instant gratification has played some small role in some of the decisions that some people have made. I'm keying in on it now only because this minor factor interests me when thinking about knitting trends.

What does all of this have to do with knitting and knitting trends, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. I think that somehow this financial fiasco will continue to creep into our collective knitters' subconscious and turn us more and more away from the need for instant gratification. We are seeking true gratification. Deep, meaningful and long-lasting satisfaction. For a knitter, that often means more complex projects that require time and effort to achieve results. But oh how worthwhile the results are!

I think this little seed about the dangers of instant gratification that are planted somewhere deep in the recesses of our minds will continue to sprout and grow. We as a group will move further toward projects such as lace work as I mentioned previously. I think we'll see more larger projects, such as afghans and sweaters. Intricate cables. Challenging construction. Generally, more complexity and a slower pace of achieving results, but a greater pride and satisfaction in the end. We'll always have the occasional need to whip out a quick and simple hat or scarf, of course, but I think generally we'll see larger and more complex projects take center stage.

My apologies for leaving you with no knitting photos for content today. I did finish knitting the large woven-stitch wrap I've been working on, but it still needs to be blocked. I'm also close to done finalizing the pattern for the lace shawl I finished a few weeks ago. So you see, I have managed to find some productive knitting time. But right now I need to get back to CNN.


Debra said...


Thank you for your great post. I've decided to develop a post for BlogHer about the impact of the economy on our hobbies, and this will be likely be the kick-off post. (I'm on sabbatical now, so don't look for it until after 1/1/09).

Could I email you before this post goes out to check again with you and your opinion of how the economy is impacting hobbyiest (knitters) and hobby suppliers??

Lynne E. said...

A thoughtful post!