Posted on June 27, 2004 at 5:26 pm

I have been thinking about a post that Margene made last week about scarf knitters.  I have been dwelling on it, practically.  If you haven’t read it, the story goes that that she checked out a new LYS and found that it exclusively carried novelty yarn for the making of scarves.  There was one size needle available in the store, and the proprietress offered to launch anyone on the journey of the making of a scarf from the yarn of their choice, even if they had never knit before.

This gave rise to a lively debate on Margene’s site which I am not interested in repeating here, necessarily.  I’m not trying to start a fight, but no doubt someone may take offense.  Please understand, I have nothing against the knitting of scarves, but I don’t think it’s knitting.  I think that it’s a craft thing.  That such yarns are sold at discount by Archie Moore and Jo-Ann Fabrics reinforces my suspicion.  I don’t think that someone who can cast on 18 stitches in the loop method and garter stitch their way along for 24 inches and cast off can justifyably call themselves a knitter.  It’s a start, certainly.  But it’s not knitting.

Knitting is the methodical plodding (or soaring) through a pattern in anticipation of the joy of wearing or giving it.  I’m all for instant gratification, but knitting is more of a patience thing.  If I could compare it to something like cooking, the scarf knitter microwaves their food.  But the knitter is the cook who reads a recipe, or opens the fridge to survey the contents, and from thence makes a lovely meal.

I have come to bear a certain grudge against the knitters of scarves.  Not because they have made Saturdays unbearable at my LYS.  Not because recently, I was at an event absolutely without anyone to talk to, and was having high school flashbacks when a normally opaque acquaintance struck up an unusually fun conversation.  We were interrupted when an unfamiliar woman fingered my sweater and asked if I made it, and when I (modestly) said yes, she pointed to the dead Muppet around her neck and said "I’m a knitter too!" and the normally conversationally opaque woman I was speaking to in an unusual moment of lucidity turned away from me to fawn all over this creation, and then turned back to me having lost any thread of fertile thought. The muppet slayer walked away leaving me without even that recourse for pleasantries, and I was marooned again.  What ensued was mild jealously and a sense of injustice. 

No.  I bear a grudge against the knitters of scarves because they sell them in flea markets and clothing boutiques.  I bear a grudge because of this heart-breaking woman who has been coming to my knit group this summer.  She is on a fixed income, and has seen these scarves for SALE at flea markets and shops, and she has taken it into her head that she can make some extra money selling scarves that she has knitted.  The desperate thing about this tale is that she has squandered a small fortune on trendy sparkly fluffy glittery bargain yarn from Archie Moore, AND can’t knit.  Her eyesight isn’t what it used to be.  I have been trying to help her, in fact to the exclusion of any of my own knitting at  knitgroup, and there has been glacial improvement.  But she has a looming deadline, and has determined to have an inventory by then.  It’s all that I can do not volunteer to make the blessed things for her.

It is the "Oh, I can do that!" phenomenon that moves me to pronounce that scarves are not knitting.  They are a cruel hoax. 

So here is my request.  Take a scarf knitter aside today, and inspire them to move on.  Tell them to stop selling their wares in the shops and leading my friend the fixed-income knitter down a primrose path.  Tell them about your favorite book of sweater designs.  Show them magazines.  Teach them about the purl stitch. Take them to your LYS and march them past the candy aisle and make them buy something with some protein content.

Good Luck.