The Thrill of Yarn

When Bitches Gather

Kathrine Jebsen Moore explores the high-passion minefield of intersectional knitting

She was even accused of being a neo-Nazi because she enjoys drinking Guinness. 

It’s the tale of a yarn enthusiast who mentions her excitement about the prospect of visiting India, a life-long dream. And who is promptly scolded by the woke knitting community – a thing that exists, apparently - for being a “coloniser,” for harming “non-white people,” and for being “racist.” A struggle session ensues.

For many readers, the world of knitting activism may be unfamiliar terrain; but the dynamics on display will, I think, be quite familiar.

Update, via the comments:

Having read the piece, TimT and others note, “This is awful behaviour.”

Well, yes. The pieties of the woke-lings are nakedly ill-intended. It’s a malevolent little drama. But then, being woke is the latest excuse for archetypal mean girl behaviour, which may explain why “social justice” posturing attracts so many women. It’s the fashionable, statusful way to be an utter bitch. Though instead of picking on someone for having unfashionable shoes or the wrong kind of bag, they’ve seized on someone’s enthusiasm, their moment of joy, and done their damnedest to sour it.

As we’ve seen many times, woke psychology is not what it pretends. Not even close.

Update 2

Paula adds, “I read the Quillette article and all the original post and still can’t see anything offensive. What are these people on?”

Viewed objectively, there isn’t anything to be offended by. Ms Templer describes her excitement and says that for her, a young woman with little experience of global travel, the opportunity to fly halfway around the planet is “like being offered a seat on a flight to Mars.” That’s it.

But for those inclined to recreational grievance-seeking, that’s the appeal. The less basis there is for indignation, the more pleasurable the scolding becomes. It’s a twisted power dynamic, a form of gaslighting. And for a certain kind of person, making someone anxious and confused, and then making them prostrate themselves in public – when there’s no reason to do so – is the sweetest triumph.

It’s a game for budding sociopaths.

Update 3:

And via Darleen, of course there’s more.

She-People Of Pallor, Repent Ye!

Attention, all white women. You and your “whiteness” are “causing real harm and violence.” You are, to put it bluntly, “a perpetrator of harm.”

And so, obviously, what you need is a workshop, where you can “confront your participation in the oppression of others,” which is to say, “confront white womanhood,” and thereby be in “true solidarity” with beings of colour, who are flawless, downtrodden and inherently more noble. Given your own vile and corrupting nature, interaction with beings of colour must only be attempted after following the guidance of suitably enlightened instructors. Instructors who will bestow intersectional epiphanies by steering you to the works of these lofty, selfless warriors, and also to articles published in that high-minded journal for troubled women, Everyday Feminism

For a mere $20, you could be stewing in the wisdom of, among others, “artist and activist” Heather Marie Scholl, who was famously interviewed by Gavin McInnes, and whose creative efforts “examine white women’s roles in the establishment and maintenance of white supremacy through… embroidery techniques.” When not toppling the patriarchy with unattractive needlework, or “approaching social justice issues with a productive emotionality,” Ms Scholl boasts of her “BA from The Evergreen State College in Race, Gender and Sexuality.”

So, ladies. Sunday March 4 is the date for your diary. Book early

Spider-Man’s Unwell Cousin

Because I know you love it, here’s more “guerrilla art” on a bridge. Or more specifically, an “infiltration in public space.” This time the venue is Pier 66 at the 2011 Fountain New York Art Fair, where Canadian performance artist Martine Viale thrills and captivates passers-by, armed only with a carrier bag of bobbins and a head wrapped in yarn. The powerful climax is rather special. 

A triumph, I think you’ll agree. 

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The Needs of Artists

As an artist, of course I do seek attention – I want to express and communicate ideas, and refuse to feel compunction for that. Even in the face of criticism, I will make no apologies for my art.

So roars Ms Casey Jenkins, the “performance artist, craftivist and rabble rouser” whose vaginal knitting video thrilled us recently. And who now seeks to widen the minds of Guardian readers:

Over the past two weeks, over 3.5m people have watched the YouTube clip… documenting my 28 day performance piece, Casting Off My Womb… The short clip… gives an overview of the work in which I used skeins of wool lodged in my vaginal tunnel to knit a long passage, marking one full menstrual cycle.

Yes, a mighty work. Colossal in its scope and profundity.

My image and work have been consumed, contemplated and commented on by millions across the globe. It’s interesting then, that all of this electronic crackle and buzz has not altered my identification with it at all… The response to the clip was immediate, massive and, for the most part, negative, marked with fear and repulsion. The word “ick” features heavily, as do “eww,” “gross” and “whyyyy?”

Well, pulling wool out of whatever bodily orifice it’s been crammed into, especially wool that’s smeared with menstrual blood, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, or idea of a rich aesthetic experience. In much the same way that the audience for viewing used tampons and used toilet paper is somewhat niche and limited. But then I’m sure Ms Jenkins knew that before she began, and indeed was counting on it. For the talentless, transgression is the only card to play. It’s therefore unsurprising that mockery, bewilderment and mild repulsion are insufficient to prompt Ms Jenkins to rethink her artistic medium and life choices more generally. Clearly, she is impervious to mere public feedback and is happy to construe disdain as in fact an affirmation:

Commentators seem to be genuinely outraged that I would dare to do something that they view as strange and repulsive with my body without displaying shame. Women putting themselves forward in any capacity in the world is frowned upon, and for a woman to put herself forward in a way that is not designed to be attractive or pleasing is downright seditious. People are incensed!

Yes, incensed, outraged and afraid. The patriarchy trembles. Proof, if proof were needed, of just how radical and daring Ms Jenkins really is.

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This Isn’t How My Gran Did It

A “craftivist” is apparently someone who “uses traditional craft techniques for a political or social activism purpose.” Say, when taking a “brave” stand against the patriarchy and our “very gendered” society. As the Australian performance artist Ms Casey Jenkins demonstrates

“When I’m menstruating it makes knitting a hell of a lot harder.” Thank goodness the world’s artists are showing us the way.