During my two days at Ally Pally, I was unfortunate enough to meet some of those unpleasant individuals, the scourge of the yarn world: the Knitting Nazis!
Are you holding your yarn in a slightly awkward fashion? Do you tuck your needles under your armpits when you knit? Have you given up trying to turn a heel in the traditional way and created your own rather unconventional method?
Then WATCH OUT! The Knitting Nazis will get you! The Knitting Nazis are always on the lookout for someone carrying out the age-old craft of knitting in a non-proscribed fashion. Wherever you knit, they will be there, looking over your shoulder and tutting if they see you with tension that's too loose, a thumb that's not properly set in, or if you are using needles that are deemed too small or too large for that particular weight of yarn!
It wasn't the first time I'd encountered the Knitting Nazis - one of them confronted me on the train to work a couple of years ago. She sat next to me as I knitted, and glancing over at what I was doing, said: "You're not holding your wool properly". My hackles rose instantly, and I snapped: "Well it's done me alright for the last 20 years, thanks very much". After that she became rather contrite and started making complimentary comments about what I was making but it was too late, the damage was done! What sort of person thinks that is the right way to open a conversation?
Anyway, they were obviously out in force at Ally Pally, on the prowl for any wrongdoers. They were ready to come down swiftly and forcefully on any unconventional casting off, to stamp out the use of new-fangled techniques, and to put to rights any breaches of Traditional Knitting Etiquette.
One of them upset a good friend of mine, who is not yet particularly confident with her craft, by snatching her project out of her hands and proceeding to show her the 'right' way to do it. (And incidentally, since when has continental style knitting been the 'right' way on British soil? Not to get too jingoistic about it, but surely it is important that we preserve our own traditional style of knitting, as well as welcoming alternative techniques for those who find them easier to adopt?)
Another one was rather critical of one of our film-poster props, commenting how 'someone needs to show you how to set-in a thumb!' as she picked up the aforementioned item and examined it at length, narrowing her eyes and tutting. "Well madam, I'll be showing you how I execute a sharp kick up the backside in a minute," I felt like saying, but instead restricted myself to: "We weren't really aiming for technique in these items..." and then hovering menacingly at her side until she thought better of it, and went off to look for more unsuspecting victims.
I can only assume that the Knitting Nazis were scarred in childhood by being taught their craft by fierce schoolteachers who rapped their knuckles with canes every time they had to rip back their projects. In the same way that abused children often grow up to be abusers, the Knitting Nazis are just trying to pass on the misery that they experienced. They don't think we should ENJOY knitting, they still see it as a chore, and want us to hate it as much as they did.
Well I tell you, it won't work! We are liberated by our love of fibre! Hold your yarn how you damn well like - whatever's good for you is good for the world at large! As long as you enjoy your crafting, you can knit with your big toes, and use square needles and elastic bands for all I care! Love your own style, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise: it's always wise to listen if someone wants to show you a different way of doing things, but if they try and make you knit 'the right' way, just tell them where to go!
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