You may have heard me mention in a past podcast episode about not understanding why some knitters mock crocheting and some crocheters mock knitting. By this I mean adults are making fun of and/or opposing the other fiber art. In case you didn't hear that episode I indicated I was shocked to discover that this mentality even existed. Alas, it does exist in certain circles and I'm on a quest to bring that frame of mind to an end.
For the purposes of my argument I'm going to refer to this way of thinking as the Us vs. Them Mentality. If a yarncrafter is pro-knit and anti-crochet, or pro-crochet and anti-knit then they are part of the Us vs. Them Mentality.
After getting over the disbelief that anyone would pick sides like that I began asking where might this way of thinking have come from. I'm guessing one of the contributing factors is because knitting has historically been around longer than crochet, or at least based on documented artifacts knitting appears to have been around longer than crochet. It's natural to think the longer a particular art form has been around the more people have played with it and developed new things within that medium. If we are going to assume that history is correct, and knitting was here first, then knitters have simply had more time to develop more stitch and technique options, and focus on more natural fiber yarns, than crocheters have. Beware any anti-crochet lurkers... crocheters have been catching up and are gaining new ground!
I've received responses from listeners and readers that crochet has a stigma of being a granny-style hobby that's only used to create novelty items with rough and outdated acrylic yarns. Those of us who actually crochet know better, but perhaps there are some knitters who really think that way. Crocheters can help combat this ideal by continuing to make more crocheted products using high quality yarns and a variety of stitch techniques.
As far as crocheters being anti-knit perhaps this mentality developed as a defense response to the aforementioned group. Or, maybe the anti-knit movement was in response to seeing too many ugly holiday sweaters back in the 80's and 90's. Who knows. No matter how the negative sentiments came to be they should disappear. And, I have four reasons for you to ponder as to why we should all choose not to jump on the Us vs. Them bandwagon and simply embrace both skill sets.
First of all, having either (or both) the ability to crochet and the ability to knit proves that you have specific skill sets. Having the ability to make beautiful things by hand is a wonderful thing! Develop those skills, no matter what they are, and you'll not only see your confidence level grow but you'll contribute to keeping those skills around for generations to come. Keeping them around will also help them to become even more developed and complex over time.
Just look at designers like Vashti Braha and Doris Chan who are consistently working to improve their crochet skills, develop new techniques and share them with everyone. (I would also name an innovative knitter or two, but I'm too new on the knit scene to know of them. I'm sure there are many and I welcome you to note any innovative knitters in the comments section below.)
Secondly, being part of the Us vs. Them mentality is just plain reactive instead of being proactive. Being reactive is defensive while being proactive is forward thinking and can be positive. To help illustrate my point here is a quote by Serge Prengel from ProactiveChange.com:
In this context, the word “reactive” implies that you don’t have the initiative. You let the events set the agenda. You’re tossed and turned, so to speak, by the tides of life. Each new wave catches you by surprise. Huffing and puffing, you scramble to react to it in order to just stay afloat.
In contrast, the image we associate with “proactivity” is one of grace under stress. To stay with the previous analogy, let’s say you’re in choppy waters. Now, you look more at ease. It’s not just that you anticipate the waves. You’re in tune with them. You’re not desperately trying to escape them; you’re dancing with them.
I'm a fan of choosing to be graceful and letting the naysayers fill themselves up with negativity. (Ok, sometimes I may reactively vent to myself or my family, but I put the negativity away and get back to a positive approach as soon as possible.) I honestly don't feel that this topic should consume anyone in the yarn world, but I do feel that we shouldn't give any more of our energy to the causes who so defiantly oppose either skill, both of which used to be more commonplace skills in society.
Thirdly, other fiber artists aren't doing this to each other. Do you read or hear about dyers taunting or speaking negatively about spinners? Or weavers making fun of those who choose to embroider? Why any knitter or crocheter would care about knocking the other craft is completely beyond me. Learning and sharing any or all of these facets of the fiber arts is keeping the crafts alive for future generations, and helping them to grow and develop in new ways.
Lastly, but most importantly we need to support each other and remain in the same network. Trends can ebb and flow, and right now we're seeing an upswing of crochet in the fashion markets. This trend may continue for a season or two, or it may remain for years to come. When the crochet trend fades, or when the knit trend fades, I say just continue working your skills and developing your craft so that these skills aren't lost with whatever the latest fashion may be.
I'm a firm believer that the art of crochet will become as mainstream as knitting the more we use it and the more we invest in our supplies and skills. Keep asking for more types of classes that will not only expose you to more intricate crochet stitches, but it will also allow you to create more complex garments, accessories and home decor. Having more options for both skills around the world will evolve and one day it won't seem so one-sided.
No matter what your preferred method of stitching is, friends, just keep those hands stitchin'! Be confident when it comes to developing your skills and don't be afraid to brag about them.