Paul Kengor: When even knitting becomes political
“I went to a quilt guild meeting today and discovered that even quilting has been politicized.”
That’s an email I received from a friend last October.
“It’s purely political,” she continued. “The state quilt guild was touting a traveling quilt show called ‘Threads of Resistance.’ I’ll let you guess what that was about — you’ll be right. Clearly time for me to re-examine being a member of a guild. This is just awful. I can’t stand it.”
Yes, “Threads of Resistance.” Grandma hooks up with antifa.
My friend was upset. I’ll leave her nameless to protect her.
She emailed again in February: “You laughed when I brought up how even quilting has become politicized — e.g., ‘Threads of Resistance’ and similar projects. Since I also knit, the following was of interest also, in a ‘the world has truly gone bat-guano crazy’ kind of way. This looks to be even more dangerous — actually ruining people’s online businesses.”
She included a link to a website called quillette.com, which featured an article titled “A Witch-Hunt on Instagram,” regarding the politicization of knitting.
“Knitting is just so white,” one voice in the article lamented.
Seriously? We’re going to condemn knitting as racist? What’s next? Lectures on critical theory at Wednesday night crafts?
The article documented how websites like Ravelry.com, the top source for knitting chat forums and finding online knitting patterns by independent designers, had become ideological.
“This might seem trivial,” my friend noted, particularly in light of major national issues she highlighted in her email, but she’s frustrated nonetheless. She asked me to report on these shenanigans. I didn’t because I was disgusted. It was too painful to think about. But since then, the story has oozed into the public consciousness, and some of my colleagues have begun writing about it, as it has gotten worse.
The latest exhibit is this statement from Ravelry.com: “We are banning support of Donald Trump and his administration on Ravelry. We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy.”
My friend’s reaction: “Again, you may find this trite, but it’s indicative of the depth of the divide in the country.”
She has personally left the Ravelry email list, and admits to being “not surprised by any of this. It’s enough to make you want to not be part of a crafts group.” She is happy to see “some people pushing back. …It’s really difficult for people with little businesses like mine to get anywhere in this poisoned environment (especially when you’ve made the decision, as I have, not to do special orders — that’s where the money is, but it’s also where the lawsuits lurk).”
For the record, my friend isn’t a Trump supporter. She finds the man distasteful. She also, however, finds this kind of politicization distasteful. She owns a crafts business. Can’t she knit in peace?
It’s pretty sad when even quilts become acrimonious. And don’t blame this on Donald Trump. Sure, Trump is divisive, but there’s no reason why knitting must be ideological.
Knitters of the world, unite! Against Trump!
It’s another sign of how toxic our discourse has become.
Please, folks, must even knitting tear us apart (pun intended)? Have the integrity to stay, um, above the fray.
Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and chief academic fellow of the Institute for Faith & Freedom at Grove City College.