Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Litmus Test(s)

There are all kinds—and few of them are good (well the REAL one, used to quickly determine if something is acid or base/and how much so...well that's a great use!)

There are some of the other kinds metaphorical litmus tests—(shibboleths (3rd meaning), if you prefer); the all or nothing kind of test exist that everywhere—in religion (the ONLY way to get to heaven is to believe THIS) in politics (the only view to hold on this topic is this or I WILL NEVER Vote or support you) and in Knitting (THIS IS THE WAY TO DO DO—Everything else is wrong!) I don't like this sort of thing.

There a some knitting knottsies out there—who say: MY way is the only way!
Me? I try to be open minded—though today, I am not being so.

To me—the correct way to do something is the way that ends up with the correct result. (Are there better or worse ways—yeah, sure sometimes. But better isn't always the RIGHT way—and for sure not the only way!)

Going for garters stitch? Knit Every stitch, in every row--It's the most the common way to do it.

But if you want to purl every stitch, in every row, go right ahead!

And if you want to knit a row (conventionally) and then work a row of purls –in a true left-handed way (from left needle onto right)—well it's not my choice, but I agree, that would result in a fabric that looks likes (that IS,) garter stitch.

That last method wouldn't be my first choice (or second!) style to use, but if it works for you? Do it.
Any of these methods results in a fabric that IS garter stitch. (And there are others methods that would work too!)

I Judge the results, not the process. Are there processes that are speedier? Sure (And do I knit using one? YES) but do I think knitting fast is a superior way to knitting? NO!

To me the only litmus test in knitting is the result. IF it looks right, It is right. The method or process used doesn't matter. There are ways to make mistakes in knitting, but there is no WRONG way to knit.

And to be honest, I use that as a sort of litmus test.

I don't mind in the least if a KNITTER has a strong opinion (I THINK THIS IS BEST PROCESS, and here is why; or I ONLY KNIT THIS WAY—(I acknowledge other processing or styles exist, and they might have some value for others, but I DON'T use any process but mine!)

Strong opinions are welcome. But I don't like DOGMA: I knit this way, and this is the only way to knit. I DON'T CARE that you get the same results doing something else; if you don't work in the same style as me, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.

Dogma is my litmus test.

So last night I went to see Debbie Stoller at the Brooklyn public library.. and when some one asked “What's next?” She said—“I don't know!” (what a wonderful refreshing answer!)

I suggested she could do a book about knitting styles--since one point that I was really bothered by, in her first book, was a bit of dogma about right and wrong (stitch mounts). (There was other dogma, that I didn't like—but since I am a combo knitter, this little bit of dogma bothered me especially.)

Debbie went into an fun little skit explaining why EASTERN CROSSED knitting wasn't the same as standard stocking knit--and then went on to say: “Sure, I have talked to Anne Modiset, and others, but other styles of knitting, (besides European);I know about working with yarn tensioned round your neck, or working in a style that keeps the yarn always in front of the work (as to purl) –but they Are wrong.

She went on further to say—It's a shame these styles of knitting will likely die out--(but, then, they are wrong).

And with that bit of dogma, (and another: “There is a design section in my newest book—it covers the 4 styles of sleeves” ) she lost me.

Let's come back to that second bit of dogma. THE 4 styles? Wait, since when are there only 4 styles?! --the 4 styles she acknowledges are Raglan, drop (no armhole shaping at all) simple (a decrease at under arm, but not much more) and set in (and she couldn't ever remember the term set in!) and apparently nothing else.

I guess we no longer have kimono sleeves, or dolman sleeves, or gathered sleeves, or leg o' mutton sleeves, or bat wing, or .. (I know about 40 different styles of sleeves—some only sort of—I don't know the official names of the styles—I just know they exist-- There are sleeves that are different front and back, (and I haven't a clue what they are called!) or ones that that use gussets,(gusseted sleeves?) or that ...

Well WAY more than 4! (even as basic styles!) And yes, there are some styles I don't like (dolman, and to a lesser degree, batwing—a style that can resemble a moo-moo!) but just because I don't like them, or use them much, doesn't mean they don't exist!

And then, almost as a kicker-- while spouting dogma of her own, she noted that her first book was 'rewriten' when it got translated into Danish –and any mention of holding the yarn in the Right hand –(commonly called English style) was omitted. She was sort of amazed that this could happen. Apparently she is such an authority on knitting,(not!) only she allow is allowed to dogma.

So, my un-comfort with her dogma in Book 1—a bit of dogma I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt on—wasn't a mistake. She doesn't say “FOR ME, and the books I write, I am only going to discuss and use European style knitting—other styles exist, but I never use them, and especially, never will advocate any of them, for any reason. (a perfectly valid point of view) –

What she instead says is: THE ONLY WAY TO KNIT IS THE WAY I WAS TAUGHT, the way my mother knit, the way my grandmother knit. Any other way to knit is wrong. End of discussion.

I think its sad. And while I am not going to toss out my copies of Stitch n' Bitch, or Stitch n' Bitch Nation—I am never going to buy any other books by her. I went to the talk with an open mind. I excused her bit of dogma as editorializing. But she opened her mouth, and made her views clear.

I think its sad. She has done much for knitting. But for me, she has failed the litmus test—She want to make up the rules for knitting, and for her, the first rule is: MY way is the only way.

And I totally disagree. I think all methods and styles of knitting are valid.
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