November 16, 2010

Beware those with pointy sticks

The NaKniSweMo group on Ravelry brought this ridiculous editorial to my attention yesterday. After mocking NaNoWriMo, the editor — who has wisely kept his or her name hidden in the shadows, says:
This is the lovely thing about language. We all get to use it, use it reasonably well, and words are so easily recycled. Imagine, a contest called NaSweKniMo — National Sweater Knitting Month — in which first-time knitters knit their hearts out. In many cases that would be a total waste of wool. In NaNoWriMo, the talented and inexperienced, the experienced and untalented, and all of the rest, can use as many words as they want, knowing that we will never run out and not one will be wasted.
Umm. Hello?
So after some prompting, I could no longer resist, and sent this to the Times:
Dear New York Times,
I find it both distressing and laughable that your editors find it good sport to mock knitters (and aspiring writers, for that matter), as seen here:
as well as page WK7 of your 14 November edition. For one thing, there IS such a thing as NaKniSweMo. I should know, because I organize it — and have since 2006. Any combination of ‘national,’ ‘sweater,’ ‘knitting’ and ‘month’ plugged into a search engine (one presumes the Times’ writers have heard of and used such a thing?) will bring up our event in all of the top results. “Total waste of wool”? Your writer betrays his or her utter lack of knowledge, in that there is no such thing — if one makes a mistake, it is very easy to rip out one’s knitting and start again. If only it were as easy to backtrack on these sexist and ignorant assumptions!
The NaKniSweMo knitalong group on Ravelry.com (a website for knitting and crochet enthusiasts which recently welcomed its one millionth member) numbers nearly 1000 participants, and this doesn’t count the other people knitting along on their own websites, etc.
Perhaps your editors should be more careful next time — after all, we are armed with very pointy sticks.
Shannon Okey
author of 13 books on knitting, ex-magazine editor, and magazine columnist as well as
organizer, NaKniSweMo

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  • Kat B

    I’m so glad you sent off that letter. I expected more from the NY Times. I mean, is it too much to ask that they Google something before assuming it doesn’t exist.
    I hope the publish it, and I hope they get a lot more from us people with the pointy sticks. 🙂

    Reply to Kat B
  • Kate

    Thanks for that Shannon! Even “smart” people like NYT writers are often, well, dumb. Too many people make off the cuff comments about things they know nothing about, this is just another example!

    Reply to Kate
  • Kim Werker

    Uh, drivel. I bet that editor’s cold all winter long, what with how useless sweaters are. I *think* they weren’t trying to slag on NaNoWriMo, but managed to come across as crotchety about it anyway. Regardless, I’m putting this editorial in the DUMB pile.

    Reply to Kim Werker
  • Daniel

    Oh whatever, that editorialist clearly has three or four unfinished novels in their desk drawer and felt the need to slam everyone who didn’t fail. “I spend $100,000 on journalism school and all I got was this snarky attitude!”

    Reply to Daniel
  • Elissa

    Post this on Ravelry and The Times will feel the knitterly wrath.

    Reply to Elissa
  • Christina

    Knitters’ smackdown, yo. Nice verbiage, Shannon!

    Reply to Christina
  • Post authorShannon

    Feel free to repost elsewhere on Ravelry, everyone — we’re already discussing it over in the NaKniSweMo KAL group! 🙂

    Reply to Shannon
  • Jean

    NICE! I also read the editorial yesterday. I can’t believe how ignorant some people are.
    I’m doing 6 sweaters this month, already done with 1. CRAZY right. I bet no one can write 6 50,000-word novels a month.

    Reply to Jean
  • Mary G.

    You go, Shannon … not like the writer even checked their facts … 1st time knitters indeed! It gets pretty wearisome that some folks just don’t “get” knitting ….
    Hugs and happy knittin’ ….

    Reply to Mary G.
  • YuLian

    All I can say is “LOL!” It’s so ridiculous that it’s hilarious. I wonder if you’ll get a response?

    Reply to YuLian
  • MarthaH

    You go girl!!!!!!!!!

    Reply to MarthaH
  • stitch jones

    Nothing irks me quite as much as when knitting gets dissed in print, or when people who knit are lumped into a group and put down. Good letter, Shannon. This bitch got Told!!

    Reply to stitch jones
  • Mylyne

    Yeah! You tell them, Shannon! 🙂

    Reply to Mylyne
  • Teresa C

    Hmmmmm….. It is a little strange to just come up with NaKniSweMo. My guess: Someone that writes editorials for the NYT tried NaKniSweMo one November and ended up with a total waste of wool and probably took nearly a month to write that editorial and couldn’t dream of writing, for real or fun, enough words to make good on NaNoWriMo. Must be a NaKniWriMoFaMo. (Fail)

    Reply to Teresa C
  • StephCat

    gah, between this and that huffington post article with Ravelry being a fringe/weird site, we knitters are getting NO respect.

    Reply to StephCat
  • arndis

    Good for you!!!
    Didn´t know about the NaNoWriMo defiantly taking part next year!!!

    Reply to arndis
  • Jennifer

    Great response. It is interesting that it’s an anonymous editorial. Rather cowardly. I look forward to seeing if you get a reply, or if there is further discussion by the Times.

    Reply to Jennifer
  • Jodi

    WOW, what a comeback. You should have been in film noir.

    Reply to Jodi
  • Kota Atok

    I am so annoyed about this article on two points the complete disdain about writing and knitting. My daughter is NaNoWriMo participant and I am supporting her again this year. Where do they think we will get the next Tolstoy from? The second point which I was hopping about was the side swipe at knitting. It certainly matches the Huffington post which described Ravelry as a strange social networking site.

    Reply to Kota Atok
  • HarpaJ

    What a great reply!
    So sloppy of the Times not to bother to check the facts ( not to mention the arrogance!).

    Reply to HarpaJ
  • Laura

    As both a writer and a knitter this bothers me. Mostly because the author just seems so dismissive of the basic act of creating. Sometimes the point isn’t the end-product, but the process. We all have to practice, whether it’s writing or knitting. Yeah, so maybe none of the NaNoWriMo novels will get published, but that’s billions of words of practice for aspiring writers. I don’t see how anyone can have a problem with that!
    “The point is the indulgence, for many, of a dream.”
    Indulgence? Of what, exactly? Of learning to be disciplined and write/knit over 1000 words/stitches a day? I’m not sure what exactly the author (who is unnamed, apparently) thinks anyone is indulging except their ability to meet a deadline.
    The main thing I’ve learned through both graduate school in professional writing and an ACTUAL professional writing career is that the “kill your darlings” concept is not abstract or theoretical — if you don’t kill your own darlings, someone else will. It’s best to not get too attached to one idea, sentence, or even novel—the minute an editor or other outside authority gets a look at it, they’ll rewrite your precious prose, delete the sentence altogether, or just ask “what else you got?” I wonder if this commentator is probably a little too attached to his or her precious prose, and can’t fathom a world where people can write (or knit) for the sheer sake of creating.

    Reply to Laura

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