February 7, 2008

Big snow, big day, big question

Big Snow: Two storms in 24 hours provided Toronto with a huge dump of snow yesterday morning and last night. A few of the faithful gathered for knit night at Lettuce Knit last night and marvelled at the hours of thundersnow and the way the stuff just kept coming. I took some pictures on the way home last night, since as much as I hate winter, I've got to admit that it is very beautiful. (In my weaker moments, it is likely only how pretty it is that keeps me and my will to live connected in any way.)

Busshelter0502

Snowystibliz0602

Carorsnow0502

That one is a nice knitter named Alexis trying to figure out if that's a car or a pile of snow. As we were digging around in it I sort of wondered why we wanted to know. Both answers are sort of disturbing. Either there's so much snow that it's entirely buried a car, or there's so much snow that it's car sized. Not exactly a win/win.

2. Big Day. Big snow means snow day, which means tons of knitting gets done because seriously...where am I going to go. To that end, the Vintage socks are done, gloriously done and drying after a nice blocking (where the leaves curled a little bit and please me enormously) and I turned my attention back to a half done pair that were languishing, and are now

Bootstchsock052

Socks.

Bootstschmoran0502

Meilenweit Mega Boot Stretch, (I love this yarn.) Colour 708, size 2.25mm needles, my ordinary sock recipe.

3. Big Question. I noticed yesterday that some readers who dislike the socks I'm knitting.... said so. Now, I'm not particularly bothered (or at all bothered, actually) by people disliking what I'm knitting. I go to blogs, I look at what other people are knitting and to be entirely frank, I would not be caught dead in some of it if it was week three of a broken washing machine at 40 below. Lots of knitting is not to my taste. I have never been able to connect with any part of me that wants anything fun fur. (Not even a scarf). I am still reconciling my inner self to most things that are pink, and there are a great many uses of intarsia out there that send a shiver down my spine. I would never, ever wear some of it. As a matter of fact, I would never wear the Vintage socks. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not really an embellished sort of person. Now, I do think they are beautiful. I think they have been a treat to knit, and I am exactly the sort of knitter who will knit something just because the process appeals to me and I enjoy a challenge, but the real reason these are being knit is because I know someone who will die a thousand deaths out of sheer joy when she receives them as a gift. They are totally her cup of tea, and nobody in the world will love them more.

Back to the question though. I tend to think of blogs as virtual living rooms. An invitation to visit the blogger at his or her house. So when someone leaves a comment about something being "ugly" I sort of imagine it like somebody walked into a living room, saw the couch and said "Whoa! Your couch is hideous. That's a seriously ugly piece of furniture. Sorry, but I think someone should say something." I don't know anyone who would do that. I know people who would say nothing. I know people who might even say "Holy crap did you see their couch?" in the car on the way home. I even *am* the sort of person who would think it....but would it come out of my mouth? No Ma'am. My mother would knock me into next week if I did. Similarly, I don't know anyone who would walk up to a woman and tell her that her dress was ugly. I wonder then, what prompts this sort of comment in another context? As a general rule, I'm not seeking permission to knit the things I do, nor will I be tremendously influenced by what you would wear. I return the favour too. Though I may not like your sweater choices, I respect a knitters right to choose. Chacun à son goût.

It's an honest question, and I'm looking for an honest answer. I don't think there's anything wrong with disagreeing, disliking or dissenting. I even enjoy discussion, debate and discourse on the merits of a particular pattern or colourway. I think there are better ways to inspire that though. "It's ugly" isn't exactly critique of a sort that inspires discussion. I knit to please myself and the people I love, and the only way that a comment like that could hurt me would be if it was from the person I was knitting for (and I want to make it clear that if the intended recipient of the Vintage socks left a comment with even a whisper of negativity in in I would have to have therapy.) Generally though, it doesn't hurt my feelings, and I'm not wounded. I have a feeling that saying "wow, your work is really ugly" is actually a translation of "that is not to my taste and I wouldn't wear it if you paid me", and truly.... that's a fair statement, if unfairly stated in its original form.

I'm sincerely wondering what is running through someone's mind as they type something that would be hugely out of character for them to say were I standing in the room, especially since I am in the room. (Sort of.) It's been suggested that perhaps it feels good to dissent, (It does.) and that many of us have an urge not to be taken for a sycophant and occasionally take it too far. (I have been known to do that one myself.) There's even the thought that not all people have manners....which is the one that perplexes me.

I am almost 40. In my almost 40 years, NOBODY has ever walked up to me and said "I'm sorry, but your shirt is just ugly." NOBODY has ever walked into my home and dissed my stuff. (I'm sure they thought it. Some of my stuff is pretty bad. Even I don't like it.) Not only has that never happened to me, I haven't really heard about that much either. Now, this is pretty compelling evidence that people do (mostly) have a code (or at least a set of guidelines) when we're standing in front of each other. How does that code change, and why?

I'm not saying we all have to be nice... or agree. We all enjoy (especially) watching intense debate. (I admit I have loitered on the Big Issues Forum at Ravelry for the same reason.) It's fun. The thing I'm wondering is what provokes it in this personal a context.

Discuss. I'm making tea.

Edited to add: Ok. I think I didn't phrase this right. (Which is surprising...since I used so many phrases. You would think I would have nailed it just on odds.) I am not asking "Why are people rude". I actually don't think dissent is rude, nor did I find the comments that called my work "ugly" rude, hurtful or unwelcome to the point that they need a public slapping. I hope they don't feel that way. What I do wonder is what anyone thinks is achieved by a comment like that. What, in the purest sense, are they hoping will happen? Do they think it will make me a better knitter? Reshape what I'm knitting to suit their taste? People don't usually act without motive....and I'm wondering at that motive.

Posted by Stephanie at February 7, 2008 3:02 PM