January 24, 2008

Aww, I think someone needs his bottle

Hey Philadelphians — riddle me this. What is this guy’s deal?

I should stress here that knit-Nazis are in no way like real Nazis (apart from being really touchy and big fans of the films of Leni Riefenstahl). I use the term because it’s an astute parody of the way the crafts most associated with brain-dead, soul-destroying pre-feminist housewifery—knitting, beading, stitching and crocheting—have been re-packaged and successfully sold to smugster sheep as radical, alternative and edgy.

I have two books on my desk right now, both pushing the strange idea that twiddling about with bits of wool is totally punk rock. And they’re just the tip of a huge knitted iceberg. There are entire sections containing metric shit-tons of these knit-Nazi manuals in every book barn in America.

First up there’s Alter Nation. There’s a rad-lookin’, crazy blue-haired rebel chick on the cover alongside a boast that it contains “25+ DIY fashion projects.” Be still my punky heart.

Then there’s Anticraft, subtitled “Knitting, beading and stitching for the slightly sinister.” One can only assume they’re using “slightly” here to mean “not at all.” And that “anti” is a misspelling of “auntie.”

Wow, he’s awfully edgy, isn’t he? Oh wait. He fancies himself a “punk poet” according to his Wikipedia entry. Awww, I guess we’re not PFR enough for him. (“PFR” = a term from my high school days usually applied to the trying-too-hard punk rock types, and I’m sure you can figure out what the F in the middle stands for).

Since when are crafts “associated with brain-dead, soul-destroying pre-feminist housewifery”? I suppose if you took up spitting as a hobby instead, as he recommends at the end of the review (which isn’t much of a review — more a chance for him to play punkier-than-thou), you’d be so much cooler.

Does he know anything about the fiber-as-art movement embodied in, say, the Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting exhibit, or the work of Lisa Anne Auerbach, Jenny Hart, Sabrina Gschwandtner, Lexi Boeger, Whitney Lee et al? Nah. It’s easier, and lazier, to mock a book that encourages people to avoid cookie-cutter mass culture and create their own style. It’s simpler to make fun of the model on the cover for having blue hair and plead ignorance about the wider world of craft-as-art. Lame.

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  • andi

    I don’t know about Punk poet, more like (P)rik the people’s poet from the young ones…

    Lederhosen chafing much?

    Reply to andi
  • Jennifer

    I used to call those kids conforming non-conformists. It is funny how worked up people get when trying to act cool.

    Reply to Jennifer
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  • Post authorShannon

    “Conforming non-conformists” is good, Jennifer, but it doesn’t have the F word in it so it’s NOT NEARLY PUNK ENOUGH. Ha ha ha.

    Also, I love his diss on the Anticraft subtitle. Because oh yeah — authors have full control over their titles. And their covers, too.

    (Knowing what I do about the book creation and publishing process, that’s the one thing I’ve discovered not too many people know. Sure, you can give the publisher ideas for a title. But it’s usually the marketing staff, not your editor, who makes the final call. Same thing on the cover. So fault the marketroids who thought they needed to tone it down with the “slightly,” not the authors).

    Reply to Shannon
  • Arabella

    Reading the wiki entry made me want to get in my car, drive to Philly, and belt him across the face with a heavy-duty Maglite flashlight.

    Reply to Arabella
  • Andrea

    I’m really having a hard time understanding what his problem is exactly. So why don’t you like knitting? Too difficult for you to figure out? Spitting is fun, I won’t begrudge him that, but his rant seems to be coming from a personal wound.

    Reply to Andrea
  • Erin

    Wow. Someone should poke him with pointed sticks. You know, like knitting needles. 😉

    Reply to Erin
  • andi

    Ok, finally got around to actually reading this young man’s article in all its glory and I have a couple of comments.

    One wonders if he has heard of Vivienne Westwood? Or the store she had on the King’s Road named, Sex? As well as copious rubber/fetish articles, it also sold *gasp* items made of yarn! One wonders if said young man ever watched The Sex Pistols?

    Mr. Lydon was famous for wearing “knitted” jumpers. I seem to remember a lovely mohair one, knitted in a very large gauge full of holes, that he wore quite often.

    Hmmm, I’d love to see this angry young man trying to tell John Lydon that he’s a pretentious Nazi cumbucket!

    That would be fun 🙂

    Reply to andi
  • futuregirl

    I’m a contributor to the AntiCraft book, and I live in Philly. I expect nothing more than this kind of crap from a Philadelphian. Every time my husband and I walk out our door, we hear the citizens of this city heckle each other. City of Brotherly Love my f’kn ass.

    As for characterizing the past times I’ve enjoyed since childhood as:

    “brain-dead, soul-destroying pre-feminist housewifery—knitting, beading, stitching and crocheting”

    If it’s so easy, then I bet he could do it, too. Right? I mean, knit up a pair of socks you cocky mthfkr. Crochet me a blanket. Sew yourself a shirt. Not only does this ass hat need his bottle, but it sounds like he needs his diaper changed, too.

    Reply to futuregirl
  • Post authorShannon

    Futuregirl, if you think Philly is bad, you should see my fair city. People wonder why all the college grads and artists flee… in a recent review of Derek Hess’s solo show (Hess being an internationally known rock poster artist, among his many other skills) the reviewer flipped out because the prices at the show — for original stuff, not posters or prints! — were over $500! The horror, the horror.

    Besides, if you were a real feminist, you’d like spitting more than crafts. Ha!

    Reply to Shannon
  • Rosemary

    Wow. Did someone’s mommy punish him by locking him in a cage of yarn and poking him with knitting needles?

    Knitta, please.

    Reply to Rosemary
  • Zabet

    Favorite comment from one of my SNB’ers:

    “Wow… was he attacked by a rogue tea cozy as a child?”

    Reply to Zabet
  • Kathleen

    Well, it’s always easier to snark, snark, snark than to actually engage with your own response and try to explore what it is that is making you crazy when confronted with something, anything, that tips your world on its end.

    Spitting, my ass.

    Kathleen 🙂

    Reply to Kathleen
  • drpj

    After reading that wonderful piece of prose, I’m selling, no, giving away my stash and taking up spitting. I want to be cool.

    methinks the acrylic scarf is tied too tightly around his neck.

    Reply to drpj
  • Post authorShannon

    That’s hilarious, Zabet! I — after learning he was British — was making jokes about too many trips to the Oxfam shop with his mum as a child. Seriously, that’s some deep-seated seething right there. And all in the name of (purportedly) defending feminism.

    Not to mention there’s only ONE knitted project in all of AlterNation, two if you count the scarf made with bits of yarn and dissolvable interfacing. This pretty much proves my contention he never even got past the cover.

    I might add that the blue-haired girl, a friend/neighbor of the photographer’s (like all the other models, save one), is freaking gorgeous no matter what her hair color. I had to wheedle the hell out of everyone to get her on the cover at all! If he thinks this is some corporate manufactured Hot Topic b.s., he’s wrong.

    Reply to Shannon
  • Rebecca

    For the record, I’ve never seen the films of Leni Riefenstahl (though there have been opps via Cleve Cinematheque). I don’t think I’m ordinarily touchy, with the exception of when I’m in the presence of someone extremely and voluntarily stupid.

    I think this guy needs to go back to school. Waitwait: *effing* school. And I’ll be there to kick his retentive, inflexible arse when we hit the playground.

    First of all, because fiber/textile art has been widely represented and accepted as an art form since the mid- to late 1960’s all the way to today: witness Judy Chicago, Lenore Tawney, Ed Rossbach, Eva Hesse, Anne Wilson, Olga de Amaral, Sandra Brownlee-Ramsdale, and so many thousands more.

    Second of all, and this is where he reeeealllllly looks like an ignorant dodo-head –sorry! EFFING ignorant CRAP-FILLED dodo-head — (cuz he’s all punk, gotta give him that crud) (cred) (whatev) it’s only been in the last very few hundred years that embroidery, knitting, crocheting (actually a very new artform, relatively speaking), weaving, etc. has been returned en masse to the hands of women. During the Dark Ages, Medieval, and Renaissaince periods, these were professions governed by guilds RUN AND STAFFED (heh, Freudian intent, that!) BY MEN.

    Sorry to get all academic, everyone else’s posts are much more fun. This guy brought out the indignant teacher in me. If he’d’ve heard my teacher voice, his ears would have been bleeding. I don’t know. It carries. Maybe they are, anyway. A girl can wish!

    Still, I don’t know that I want him picking up the tools of my fiber passions, I’d be afraid of him hurting himself. Clearly he’s NOT got the balls, if he’s afraid of a few balls of yarn. Would it be entirely evil if I said I’d be amused to find him on the Darwin List self-impaled on his own knitting needle? (If it is, I didn’t say it.)

    Reply to Rebecca
  • Matisenerc

    Ladies, ladies. Be nice. After all, he’s an astute parodist!

    Reply to Matisenerc
  • Nyx

    A few weeks ago there was a lady who commented on a game, which she had never played and had gone by a comment made to her from someone else. she claimed this game had copious amounts of sex and that it should be banned from being played/sold.. Only after a hell of alot of people went on amazon dissing her book and calling her a twat in thier own various ways did she even give the game a look to find that everything she had claimed was untrue and that she made herself the fool and stuck her foot in her mouth.. Though she did appologise.

    The point of this story is that too many people are being judgemental of things they know nothing about.. this is another example. Because this boy/man has decided for whatever reason he doesn’t like knitters he has gone and done what this lady has previously. I have a good friend who is a journalist and have seen the lengths of research he has done for various articles in the past.. (No this anti-knitter isnt that friend) and he would be appalled to know that someone has taken such a judgemental stance in writing a review purely from personal opinion. Definately a bad journalist. imho.

    As for bringing up nazi’s? That as futuregirl and others have said is just pathetic. Learn to write dude… (the writer of the article) KTNXBYE. *shakes head* I do hope it was a rouge tea cosy that has him in some kind of chaotic ball of idiocy.

  • Kathi D

    Mmmmmmm, sounds to me like he’s a teensy weensy bit JEALOUS! Maybe his book deal hasn’t come through yet?

    Reply to Kathi D
  • Curupisa- Silvia

    there’s a phrase in the Spanish speaking world, commonly attributed to Don Quijote de la Mancha: “Ladran, Sancho, señal que cabalgamos” o “Ladran, Sancho, luego cabalgamos”. If I were to translate it, it would (sort of) mean “if they bark, Sancho, is because we’re riding”. So some touchy conservative punky little boy aknowledges that there is something going on in the craft world.
    There´s no need to be completely out of the conventionalism to be subversive and/or a feminism activist. I guess that he might belong to the kind of people who, in order to have sex, dress up in leather and end up taking the missionary possition (understand me, not that I have anything against the missionary, p-lease), but then accuse others of being conservative if they don’t use leather, as well.
    P-lease (I repeat)… the next time you insult the Queen, baby, try doing it STEPPING ON British ground. Let’s see how subversive you are.

    Reply to Curupisa- Silvia

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