playing with string

there are a few sure signs in this part of the world that winter is on the way. all knitting type magazines originating in the northern hermisphere forget they have readers in the Opposite world and start with the cottons and pastel colours. a blanket at night doesnt cut it anymore and you switch to the doona (last night). and your feet are cold in the morning, mostly because the slippers youve had for the last 4 years have a hole in them. i always associate slippers with easter, as a kid, i got a new pair every year with a big chocolate egg inside them.

but as an adult, easter has mostly meant the sydney royal easter show, and the 3 or 4 days of flyball competition with the 5am starts and long treks from carpark to showground. that’s not part of my world anymore (except in a peripheral sense) but i have a different attachment to the easter show this year, which was the entering of a knitted item into the arts and craft competition (for the first time ever, in any show). i entered the girasole shawl. it was fun to enter and im glad ive done it, but i wont be doing it again, and not because i didnt win anything. i categorically did not expect to get a ribbon of any colour. it was non-traditional lace, in a non-traditional colour and design, and any good judge would have picked up the one mistake i couldnt hide. but i am sad beyond words to hear that that lovely big circle with the flower in the middle was displayed folded in half with points strung up by fishing wire. it will sound weird, but i am sad for my shawl. people passing those glass cabinets will just see this mess of dark red string, and wont know how really pretty it is. and im not the only one. even the absoutely gorgeous winning shawl by nikki was all bunched up and probably inside out. such a shame, and so unnecessary. im very glad to see some of my very clever friends like fee and zena get ribbons for their beautiful things, but the judging in some of the other categories just really makes you wonder.

actually, the whole show makes me wonder. on tv the other day there was a ‘news’ item advertising the start of the show and there was a guy in an akubra telling everyone how this was the ‘real australia’, the smell of the grass, fresh produce, animals etc. i wanted to add racist, bigotted, bogan, uneducated, homophobic, sexist, nationalistic, conservative, backward and less than 30% of the population, but hey what would i know? i got out of the ‘real australia’ and headed for the city as fast as i could, where i am obviously not a ‘real australian’ but some kind of phoney (let alone An Immigrant). on the weekend at herding, i sat through conversations that made my stomach turn. people (the same ones who make fun of me for having a phd) talking about homosexuality and immigration as though a) their opinions on this actually mattered and b) they knew what they were talking about. i wanted to remind the rednecks at the table that their idea for getting rid of all immigrants meant that they too should get on the first boat out, considering none of them are aboriginal and thus they are ergo, all immigrants.

the unfortunate thing is in australia we have dog whistle politicians, who play to this lowest common denominator and portray this way of thinking as ‘normal’ instead of setting a standard based on ethics,Β  humanity and compassion. we are so busy here knocking the heads off our tall poppies and wringing our hands over the pernicious evil that is the do-gooder chardonnay and latte sipping watermelon elite that the creaking wheels of the archaic ‘outback’ get portrayed as mainstream and normal. and sadly, it appears as though this is also the case with aspects of the arts and crafts competition at the easter show! i know its terribly post modern of me to eschew all normative definitions of ‘real’ (my real being no more real than anyone elses) but i will at least maintain that the Real (sorry Lacan) as presented by rural australia needs a good swift kick up the arse.

of course, none of that has any bearing on my knitting activity, which has never been driven by any need to display or win ribbons. i knit because i love knitting, and because i like to wear the stuff that i make. the chill in the air this last couple of days has made me more conscious of wanting to be wearing my own knitted things soon, and has upped the ante on the ‘red accessories’ project.Β  i have socks and a shawl, time for a hat. i am also trying to knit as much as i can with the amazing things i got in america, and so i have gone straight to the top of the pile, and last night pulled out this:

what can i say about string cashmere that wont sound like i need to be locked in an institution? such a great little shop, like a parisian boutique! and the yarn, oh swoon. i wish i could convey to you how soft this is. would it help if i said this cost me $40US a ball (with assistance from the gift voucher from jody!). i have not really thought of myself as a hat person, but last year when i went to bendigo i borrowed rosered’s ‘rosered’ and everyone said a hat really suited me, so i thought i would make myself one this year. i decided to keep it fairly simple and this is going to be hannah fettigs ‘early morning beret’.

its knitting up so beautifully, i cant wait to wear it.

as you can see the magnolia tree out the front of the house is losing its leaves quickly now, so i guess i will be whinging about the cold soon enough. perhaps that will make me a real australian?

k xx


About DrK

researcher, knitter, dog lover View all posts by DrK

18 responses to “playing with string

  • shellauw

    Again re: the hat *swoon*. It looks absolutely amazing.

    And I’m sorry about the show, really. I am. But I’m not surprised. The same comments come out again, and again, and again. Every year, without fail. *sigh* And your poor girasole. That’s really not cool.

  • Bells

    what a challenging bunch of ideas here. Great post.

    It’s an issue close to my heart, as you know, that being a Canberran means being attacked for not being a real Australian, for being elite and removed from the rest of the country. It’s as shortsighted as saying only one skin colour can be real Australian. There must be room for, and acceptance of, all Australians. A multicultural country can’t have one single definition of what’s real.

    It must have been so galling to sit there listening to that sort of rubbish. If being racist and biggoted makes you a real Australian, count me out.

    You did look great in the RoseRed hat. Good move to make a red hat of your own. Bravo!

    • drkknits

      it was galling. its been one of the most difficult aspects of dog sports and dog people for me generally, and one of the things i dont miss. not that everyone’s like that, of course, but people who think like this are generally the most noisy too.

  • Bells

    god I didn’t even touch on Girasole but you know my thoughts already. A crying shame. Absolutely. As you know, I’m less inclined to enter any show ever again after the tragic display in Canberra this year.

  • justthreadtwiddling

    Your comments on racism and bigotry apply the world over. I can remember my dad saying “a daughter of mine won’t marry a …” and what did my sister marry? Right now we have a group of wealth politicians who think they should pay less in taxes than the common citizen. At the same time they want to cut programs that help the elderly and poor. I am amazed at the people who agree because they think that the only people who are poor are a different color than they, and they can’t imagine being elderly.

  • RoseRed

    Yes, a terrible shame about Girasole. It’s hard, because if we don’t keep entering, then things won’t change (says I who have never entered, despite my good intentions!). But if things don’t change, people won’t enter either. It’s a shame the Easter Show is really the only venue for showing off our skills to the non-knitter.

    Yay for red hat! And red accessories generally! I think a slouchy hat suits everyone!

  • M-H

    As a ‘new Australian, thanks for this piece Kylie. Well said. Whatever happened to ‘I am, you are, we are, Australian”?

    • drkknits

      its just so divisive, all this what is or isnt australian. we need to grow up and just be whatever we are. and im taking a stand against racism, its been the silent killer in this country for too long.

  • trent

    I tend to see racism everyday in middle Australia, sometime I ask the people who I think are being racist “Do you think you are racist?” Invariably the response is along of a loud “No I am not racist! but if we get rid of all the spics, sand niggers, abo’s wogs, faggots and other people who don’t want to be like me, we would not have a race problem”. Some of these people even act like seemingly intelligent people.

    BTW I love your knitting and most of all I love that you enjoying knitting. xx

  • LynS

    Thanks for this post, Kylie. I’ll join you in your stand against racism, and I also find myself increasingly taking a stand against ageism. Such essentialising ‘isms’ are lazy and very damaging.

    I thought the displays at the Show this year were better – items in display cases were better grouped and the overall aesthetic effect was more attractive. This was particularly so for the toys. However, some individual items, particularly the shawls, suffered dreadfully. Clearly whoever was hanging them had taken care with the overall effect, but had not actually looked at the characteristics of the piece of knitting.

  • Kerry Edwards

    I saw that piece on the TV, made me gag, turned it off.

    There are other venues, formal and informal, to show off our knitting. The Knitting Guild has exhibitions, so do the Spinners and Weavers. Ravelry people could organise their own. Informally we have our own bodies and houses to decorate and adorn. I knit on the train and a hundred people see me every day. I walk through busy city streets and throw my shawl over my shoulder. I knit in Martin Place and people come and talk to me about knitting.

    The craft will not die as long as we keep practising it.

  • Tam

    Crap! At least your shawl wasn’t damaged, as some have been. Sigh. What is wrong with the knitting presenters? What?

    Anyway, red cashmere is probably the cure for anything that makes you feel sad. I might not be able to afford it, but I’d travel to Sydney just to go to the shop and give it a squeeze! πŸ™‚

    • drkknits

      for this squishy red string you have to hop a plane to NYC. worth the trip tho! or theres always the internet! as for my shawl, its hanging by a piece of fishing wire and i wont know till i get it back if its been damaged, im seriously hoping not!!

  • donna lee

    Substitute the word American for Australian, and you could have been sitting in the park here and overhearing that conversation. People are amazing in their ability to ignore whatever doesn’t fit in with their own views.

    And who cares what you are or where you’re from? I love being next to people who are different from me! That means I get to learn something new and that’s what makes life interesting. Not being culturally diverse would be so boring.

    I don’t like myself in hats but have been told I look “cute” (at 53, I’m just glad no one says “old”) so I’m going to make myself a beret for next winter in some fabulous yarn.

  • 1funkyknitwit

    That is such a shame about your shawl Kylie and exactly why I don’t enter 😦 until they sort out the way they display items I don’t want to risk getting holes in my work that took hours/days to do. However will enter the regional shows as they do a much better job at displaying because it’s done by knitters who know better, maybe that would be a great place for you too, it also supports local shows which some seem to be lacking entrants πŸ™‚

  • 2paw

    I love your beret in the tree!!

  • Emma

    Don’t think it’s weird at all to feel sorry for your Girasole. It sounds like whoever organised the display didn’t treat it with the respect it deserves.

    The use of the word ‘real’ to as a marketing ploy frustrates me a great deal. As soon as ‘real’ is used, it instantly marginalises those who don’t fit that description. I think it’s a lazy and off putting way to draw people to a particular product/event/etc.

  • Leonie

    Having never entered any of my knitting in a Show I can only imagine the pride at submitting and the dismay at the treatment of your efforts. Is there a feedback mechanism that you and other entrants can use to inform the display personnel about how best to display your item, or to give them feedback about their display methods? Might be worth trying so that they can indeed improve their efforts for the next round of entrants.
    We are Australian and the lack of effort that seems endemic in all the obvious spots is also endemic in all of the not so obvious spots like The Sydney Easter Show. It’s a shame that the lackadaisical attitude present in our nation applies to other’s outstanding efforts as well.
    As to the “Australian” issue, it’s a hard and complex one. There is racism and bigotry everywhere and you can get caught up in the whole angst of it all or you can step back and let it wash away. I’m a live and let live kind if person and actually feel sorry for people with such a closed view of the world. They are missing out on so many interesting things and opportunities because they can’t see past their prejudices. Ultimately it’s their loss, it’s just a shame the rest of us have to suffer through it.

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