Thursday, May 25, 2006

I Knew This Would Lead to a Life of Crime

said my husband this morning, pointing me to this story. Is it possible even knitters could have a dark side? Perhaps the proliferation of expensive luxury yarns has created new levels of addictiveness comparable to the tobacco industry's ramped up nicotine levels, or super potent crack cocaine. Lured in by a simple ball of wool or even acrylic, fiber lust takes root and rapidly outstrips one's ability to pay. I suspect that there was likely some psychopathology going on in this particular story, although the bit about the husband calling the yarn store to come and get it struck me as funny - I wonder how many spouses have looked at their loved one's stash and thought "that's insane - s/he couldn't possibly have bought all that??" Food for thought when sneaking fiber into the house.

The story did make me think about the virtues of knitting: connectedness to the past and the natural world, creativity, patience, generosity of spirit, slowing down - I think of knitting as analogous to the "slow food" movement - "slow garments" - as opposed to instant gratification. What a pity if consumer culture were to overshadow these things, making knitting and its accoutrements just one more commodity to acquire. I wonder if theft of yarn on such a scale is symptomatic, if the humble act of creating beauty from simple materials is being lost to industry fueled consumer envy.

Paradoxically, knit blogging appears to both feed and mitigate this consumerism. I had no idea I needed hand painted luxury sock yarn before entering the blog world. On the other hand, there is a great deal of generosity in the sharing of patterns and techniques, as well as an encouraging number of small "cottage industry" fiber producers and designers. Hopefully the organic (or at least eco-friendly) fiber and textile movement will gather momentum here as well.

Interestingly, I discovered this story just as I was pondering with some trepidation our impending drop in income, and wondering what I would do if I someday ran out of yarn. Or more accurately, ran out of the kind of yarn I have come to believe I need. I don't believe that love of beauty is unhealthy (quite the contrary), but I think a little introspection regarding what leads me to believe I need certain products may be in order.