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I have been thinking lately about the phenomenon of the upscale knitter - that is, he or she who embodies American knitting's century-long shift from the only practical way of outfitting a family with warm winter underclothes to a luxury parlor art indulged in more often by those with disposable income and idle time than those without.

I'm a practically penniless writer, myself (lacking only the garret room and the consumptive lover), but I can't help but smile a little at the irony of indulging my champagne-and-cashmere tastes in order to reinvent as a pastime what has historically been a chore - Marie Antoinette playing at milkmaid.

Don't worry - this isn't turning into a fiber fascist's manifesto - I knit for the simple pleasure of it; because I think making something that pleases the eye and hands is worth time and effort; because I have an unconquerable inability to sit still; because I can't bear to step into a mall come Christmas. The holier-than-thou who sniff at "trendy" knitting can see me in hell - I'll be the one wearing the mohair legwarmers.

I do think, though, that it's important to be a thoughtful knitter, aware of the spirit of economy and thrift out of which today's expensive hobby grew. I'd like to learn to spin, and learn more about fiber production, but for now:

True scraps and leftovers that will become a bonny Fair Isle vest, in the best tradition of turning waste into something new and useful - exercising my portion of the innate and universal eye for beauty, gratefully.


your observations are right on. this same thought strikes me like a brass monkey every time i walk into purl in the middle of a weekday. my feelings on the subject are mixed (she said, typing wearing her new cashmere gauntlets) but i think you're right - awareness is the healthy part.

I couldn't agree more myself. It is most evident when I knit with my great aunt who doesn't see any need to use anything other than the plainest wool & acrylics. She grew up knitting socks & sweaters for her family as the only means of warmth & comfort.

She is sweet and would never say anything mean spirited about the yarns/needles I choose but I do think she finds me frivolous at times.

I think your scrap vest will be lovely! I am saving mine up for a felted bag.

Oh & your new blog is fantastic! Very well done!

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