the collective will

yesterday was my local ‘stitch and bitch’ gathering. it only happens once a month and i missed last month because of flyball, so i was particularly looking forward to yesterday. the gathering starts at 2pm which leaves plenty of time for a yummy lunch at a cafe down on the beach, and we had an excellent table on the deck this time – this is was i got to look at while i ate my salt and pepper squid:

then it was off to the cocktail lounge at the local seaside resort/hotel. it was a slightly smaller group this month, which was nice, i feel like i got to talk to a few more people and met some new people i missed last month, and some new-but-old people who had returned from overseas. i like this group a lot, there is a good mix of older women, people my age, and some younger, so its a really nice cross-section of the local knitting community:

(the picture is fuzzy because my camera ran out of battery and i didnt want to use a flash, but thats probably a good thing!). i have said before i find big groups difficult and yesterday wasnt too bad like that, but a few things have been playing on my mind since. firstly, there were lots of weddings booked at the hotel yesterday and the lounge became very crowded with a whole heap of satin, perfume and hair spray. i was in jeans and sneakers, so it didnt take long for me to start feeling out of place. the constant sideways attention of a heap of ‘pretty young things’ looking at us knitting didnt help either. weddings make me feel queasy at the best of times, but yesterday it kind of got to me, all these people spending all this money on an appearance – it is not something ive ever felt compelled to do but i suddenly realised that even if i did want to, it was probably too late. its not that that bothered me, its just more of a realisation of what a different path my life has taken, and how things have happened and choices made that took me away from the normal mainstream social expectations of women my age.

there were some lovely young women at snb with babies too, all of them younger than me, educated, married, beautiful girls with beautiful children and it just made me think about how far i am away from that idea of ‘normal’. this is exacerbated every day where i work, because there are currently three pregnant women and two on maternity leave. all the women older than me have children, the younger ones probably will. i wont ever have kids now, and i dont want them either, but there was a time when i did. im not sure if i regret not having them, its not that really, its just a feeling of getting old, of being different, of not being able to relate at that level. in the back of my mind are mean conservative politicians whispering that i havent fulfilled my biological function as a woman, that im not grown up or mature because i dont have children. of course i know this is bullshit, because ive been places and done things that some people will never do (not all of them they’d want to either). but when women with kids get together and talk endlessly about kids, and you arent part of that conversation, it can be really hard work.

at lunch, we were talking about the public perceptions of knitters, and how there seems to be some assumption out there, among certain cretinous popular entertainment types in particular, that women who knit only do so because they dont have any other kind of  life.  of course, you only have to look around our group to see how far from reality this assumption might be. but its easy to make assumptions about things from the outside, when you are not a part of them. in some ways, i have been guilty of this assumption myself in relation to collective knitting activity, especially in the form of the Knitters Guild. a few of my friends joined last year but i didnt, i wasnt living in sydney anymore and i heard a lot of negativity from one or two people who were on the committee about various political issues. having survived many years of flyball politics, i had no desire to jump into that frying pan. but i have been going to some meetings of the inner-city group and have enjoyed every minute of it. so i have finally joined, and received my paperwork, complete with badge and lanyard on friday!

i am a little bit excited. it feels weird, to be pleased to be a part of this particular collective, but my decision to join was kind of justified when i heard someone at snb say yesterday (not about me) “oh i heard she even joined the guild, why would you want to do that?” a fair enough question, if you have the perception that its a bunch of crazy old women who have no life. but for me, its not about the politics, or wanting to get in there and change things. its about wanting to be part of a tradition, the organised recognition of knitting as a craft, requiring a guild. i know there ARE things that need changing, and they will change when the time is right, because thats what life is. change. and if at some point there is some role for me to play in that, well i will, but for now, its just about the collective. about being part of something that has a history that is bigger and wiser than me, that will continue long after im gone, and about being around other women who believe in that too.

in other words, its about the knitting. and i dont think any of us care what anyone thinks about that!


About DrK

researcher, knitter, dog lover View all posts by DrK

10 responses to “the collective will

  • bellsknits

    no we don’t. Not one bit. You’ve prompted me to remember something that happened recently I want to post about, so thanks.

    there’s nothing like being around a great big group of women all gathered for the one purpose to realise how varied the group actually is and therefore how meaningless the generalisations are. I try to remember that when I find myself tempted to generalise about other groups. It doesn’t work to put a whole group in one pot, not in any circumstances.

    I feel outside the mainstream too and mostly that’s because I’ve put myself there as a response to the many aspects of mainstream life that bug me. Even when I did have a wedding, twice, i didn’t do it the ‘normal’ way, but not to be deliberately different. Just because I found I didn’t quite like the things I was expected to like.

    Getting older, we all find our own paths, or rather, we should. I think it’s best that way.

  • Rose Red

    This post didn’t end up where I thought it was going (a sign of a good well-written post, as always from you!).

    I am really glad you joined the guild, and for putting into words my reasons too – I’ve never really been able to put my finger on it properly before, but you have now done that for me.

    As for the first half of your post, well, who wants to be “normal” (if it exists anyway). I think our experiences with knitters show there isn’t such a thing. And as for what conservative policitians (or the media for that matter) say, well, I prefer not to listen to them, because it’s all crap anyway. (I’m afraid I’m not expressing myself very well, I need you to do that for me!!).

  • shellauw

    Preach it sister!

    I may have a lot of life experience to catch up on you, ;p, but Speaking as somebody who tries her damndest to steer clear of the norm, I think there are a number of you independent women out there who have made the choices, either consciously or unconsciously to make your own decisions and stick by your own principles – to hell with the rest of the world.

    And that is fantastic.I wish there were more of you around… 🙂

    And I’m slightly envious of your joining the guild – that’s going to be quite exciting. I now wonder if I shouldn’t be considering looking at jobs in Sydney… hmmm.

  • 2paw

    My friends encompass all kinds of normal, normal is as normal does. We are lucky to live in an era where we can choose our own normal, but I fear the old normal is at our backs.
    Hurray for you, Guild Member!!!

  • Ailsa

    Yes yesterday was a BIG wedding day at snb. It happens from time to time, being Saturday.

    I hope you didn’t really feel out of place in your jeans and tshirt – because some of those PYT’s looked a fright! And you can bet they didn’t look so good at three this morning slurring and stumbling either. Your jeans and tshirt looked okay to me.

    But the sidelong glances do sometimes make me feel uncomfortable at snb too.

    The worst thing about those overachieving gorgeous engineers is that they are all really top people to boot – AND they knit beautiful things as well. Not so long ago they used to swear they’d never have children – now look at them …

    I don’t think I talk about parenting much (I hope I don’t), because mostly I don’t give a crap how anyone else does it – and the conversations are BORING and go round in endless circles. I did feel the conversation was a bit like that yesterday and it slightly annoyed me, even though I was participating in it!

    It’s funny how everyone sometimes thinks the grass is greener – because of course it isn’t. I guarantee at times every mother envies the freedom of the women without children, and wonders what life would be like without them, whether it would be better.

    Great post.

    • drkknits

      thats so true, they really are lovely women, and i dont begrudge them talking about their gorgeous babies, because they have a lot to be proud about. i think i just get these moments of ‘what if’ you know? i had a great day yesterday tho. and my re-cast off looks TOPS!

  • fernicle

    For some reason, not being a knitter here in the arctic is considered rather strange and unusual. Must be something about the weather and the history of different knit patterns representing particular valleys, regions and locations. I guess people still don’t do it in public so much but still no one looked sideways at the women I have seen knitting on buses and at parties!

    As for kids, it is strange because I know that most of my friends have kids but somehow I still do not feel like I am old enough to consider such things. In my mind I am still about 21 I think 🙂 But I am also a little obsessed with the topic of the importance of population control at the moment so I think you actually occupy the higher moral ground by not having children! Remember that…

  • 1funkyknitwit

    As a parent & stay at home mum I too get quite tired of the whole “kiddy” conversation too. Partly this happens when it’s the only purpose/interest of a person’s life. I think the trick is to fill your life (if/when possible) with other social outlets or activity’s that don’t involve your family so there is outside stimulation in your life other than family.

    For me knitting was something I started very early on when my son was 7 mths & it has evolved into a whole social circle of friends & an outlet from what can be hard yakka at times.

    Balance & parenting is a fine line & the creativity from knitting gives me that balance. In my opinion if you only have your kids to talk about there’s not a lot happening in your life (& for a time this is how it is) but we must move on past this phase as one day our kids will & then what will you do?

    I could go on…

  • donna lee

    You almost lost me at ‘salt and pepper squid’ !

    What people spend on wedding parties is depressing. One party and no thoughts of what the rest of the life will bring.

    I’d join the guild because the idea of being connected to a group of women who are perpetuating a tradition is appealing. And Guild sounds so medieval. I know the people I work with think I am daft for knitting. Some of them are rather patronizing about my “little craft”. I just stopped sharing any info and continue to make adorable baby things when the occasion happens to require it.

    And what a beautiful place to meet!

  • Sarah

    Oh that view at lunch – JEALOUS!

    I joined our Guild this year too – definitely a tradition thing for me too

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