Instead of spending the last three days with my hands guiding yarn and needle, I've spent them flying through Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. I've been meaning to read this book for years, fascinated as I am by the fact that our alleged classless society remains as segregated by social stata as it is by race. The short version of the story is this -- Barbara Ehrenreich is traumatized by welfare "reform" and wants to see how it's possible for people coming off welfare to make enough money to survive. So she takes low wage jobs in different parts of the country and tries to eek out a living on the meager income. It was a depressing, heartwarming, shocking, hilarious and life-changing experience for her, and for anyone who reads it.
So I'm feelin' Marx-crazy these days, sneering at the well-heeled people with whom I share the train, the sidewalk, the office, and at the same time, I'm hanging my head in shame as I ponder my "need" for new shoes or skeins. But most of all, as I'm trekking through my favorite blogs and miles of links, and sharing people's excitement at their newly finished knitted creations, I am becoming increasingly disturbed.
Crafters were born of meager means. Back-in-the-day, crafters were (mainly) women who learned to stitch as a money-saving technique. Yarn and a couple needles were much cheaper than mittens from the local shop. And I came to knitting for those same reasons. Going through a very rough financial patch, I tried to imagine ways to minimize my costs. With an infant in the house, I figured that sewing and knitting some of his clothes would help a bit. But ... I was wrong. Times have changed since my grandmother raised her babies. Fabric, yarn, and notions are expensive. And the ability to sit still and count stitches is a luxury that few people have.
Now I sit behind my fancy computer, at my fancy job, which rests on my fancy college degree, wearing my fancy clothes, made from fancy fiber, and I am disturbed when I read these knitting blogs that seem more focused on how many projects they can churn out, or how much yarn is in their stash, or how many hours they sit with needles in their lap, or how many projects they have going on simultaneously, or how wonderful their trip to X city was-when they visited X knitting store-and purchased X pile of knitting supplies [see photo of booty]. I can't help but wonder -- how much money does this cost??? And do you understand that most people can't make these same choices?
Writing a blog can be cheap, but generally, it's not. Knitting is expensive, the digital camera is expensive, a high-speed internet connection is expensive, and the luxury of blog-writing time is expensive. Do we yarn snob bloggers ever stop and consider how truly privileged we are?
I would love to read a blog written by someone who is actually struggling to make ends meet, and who happily buys Red Heart and other acrylics because that's what's sold at Walmart for $2/pound.
That blog might be motivated by a true love of knitting, and a true love of sharing that joy through the written word. If you know of such a blog, please let me know.