Julie knits and writes and knits.

Knitting camps?

I just left this comment on Brenda Dayne’s Cast-On site, where a lot of thoughtful posts are going up in respose to her Episode # 49. Go read up… But I’m interested in your thoughts, there or here…


Had tea with a researcher from a local manufacturing company that makes beautiful furniture, regularly knocked off in the U.S. and other countries. They are constantly struggling with the trend toward open source development , even open source design, in the U.S. and worldwide, and the very different point of view about design and ownership in Asian countries in particular, but around the world generally. More important every minute as especially China’s market doubles and triples. Of course this company has historically worked hard and paid deep legal fees to protect their intellectual property rights in the design and trade of these furniture designs. They launch marketing campaigns about buying the real thing. Try to educate designers in design schools about the work to protect ideas. I swear this has something to do with knitting…

But the Milennial generation in particular and other countries are squeezing at this idea of intellectual property. Their idea, much too simply stated, is that ideas shared raise the entire human condition. Once an idea has been released into the world, how can it be owned? How can we, as humans, not seek to build upon that idea? And as humans, shouldn’t we do that? Isn’t that, in fact, a more humane and morally correct response to ideas…. to borrow, spread, and further them? To constantly better the human condition, if not the craft?

I shared with my research friend, who is not a knitter, the experience of attending my first Stitches Camp, where I felt, I felt like an “other.” (Lost reference) Though I work to embrace what I am growing to see– as a new knitter and a person who lives comfortably online — as two major camps of knitters, I seemed to have landed in a sort of anti-online camp. Labeling is awfully helpful, I realize, but Luddite doesn’t work, as RuTemple points out. I want to be kind, because I recognize the anguish and fear felt by the not-online knitters. But at the risk of being overly simplistic (not really a risk, because I’m always overly simplistic) the camps seem to be forming with the not-online, intellectual property-protective people on one side, and the open-source, online folks on the other.

Having lived and knitted among the not-online knitters at camp for several days, I came to understand (a little better at least) that their fear is based on a concern for the craft they love — or make a living through — being diminished in some way, their sources of income being devalued or commoditized in some way. At the same time, I recognize how online knitters are preserving the craft, pushing the craft, increasing the size of the market, creating sub-markets, making markets findable, making inexpensive online marketing possible for a market that has had not marketed much at all in the past. That is, for those comfortable with online tools, for those who can explore and manage online life. Those who fear the most are those with the least online experience or ability to move their livlihood online.

Tribalism is a powerful force in the world and in humankind. We can hardly help forming tribes. But though the yarn craft world is enormous, it probably doesn’t need more division. We learn early that we can spread understanding by exploring the points of view of the other, and allaying fear by offering help to the have-nots. We can help local yarn stores build their sites and register them in the search engines. We can link to them from our knitting blogs whenever we talk about the yarns we bought there. We can bring Brenda’s and others’ podcasts to knitalongs in the stores. We can talk about online patterns at our local guilds. We can ignore the lines, and share more, and show people what the online knitting community does to float all of the knitting boats.

Back to charging fair prices for work, for goods, for design… ach. The market is a difficult mistress (why do we say that? Gigolo? A difficult gigolo?) for all artists and every industry. The question of percieved and real value, and how to protect yours for your product? Age old. If your work is a work where there is risk of perceived commoditization (yarn spinning), then you need to communicate to your market why your yarn has greater value than others. How yours is in a different category (hand-spun?, the source fiber?, the dye process? the limited runs? The silky sheen from the spit of the nearly extinct yak species? What?)And prepare to change your game and change your story when the online market is flush with hand-spun, spit-sheened, hand-dyed yak yarn.

Will the world ever value hand-crafts, especially those perceived widely as women’s work? Dang. I live in a country where we still can’t elect a woman for president, so don’t ask me…



  Marsha wrote @

You bring up a lot of interesting ideas here. I started knitting over four years ago but didn’t start blogging until two years ago. For a long time I had no connection to the online knitting community (Yarn Harlot? Huh?), and when I finally joined it myself I could not believe how rich it is. I get together weekly with some local knitters who span a wide range of ages and vary wildly in their use of the Internet. A few have blogs, and a few can barely manage e-mail. We often share websites with each other, but I’m constantly amazed when someone presents a pattern or a piece of information that isn’t available anywhere online (not readily, at least)–something that she has in hard copy or maybe even just in her head. We’ve managed to avoid tribalism in our group of twenty knitters in part, I think, because we don’t value one form of information more than another.

  jujuridl wrote @

That’s a cool group, valuing information from many sources. You’re so lucky to have them!

  prunila wrote @

Hi Juju,

Thanks for your comment in my blog.
I found this article very interesting!
Here is Spain many women knit but are totally apart of the internet world, and some young have blogs. What I have seen is that not always the best knitters are online. I should say, like my teacher she has been knitting for 20 years but she is not using internet at all; she likes very much that i can use it to have more “knowledge”… who doesn’t?
I’m an addict of this new form of learning. You advance much faster because in my city it is very hard to see a knitting book in any library or book shop.

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