Not Your Grandma’s Knitting

Are there any cliche phrases in the knitting world that you are just getting a little tired of? For me, this is one of them. What exactly does this mean and to whom does it apply?

I think it goes without saying that people get bored doing the same thing over and over. That is a big reason that styles come and go. For a designer, keeping your work fresh can be a challenge. For me, I like being open to inspiration in that I don’t restrict my “vision”, “design philosophy”, or “aesthetic” to the knitting world.  At the same time, I like to have garments that are functional and practical as well as beautiful. I also like to be able to wear things for more than a season. I love the classics.

Cliches group everything in one class and tends to give one a rather myopic view. Not all grandmothers do doilies (nothing wrong with doilies, some have been turned into shawls with yarn that is heavier than lightweight, and then are deemed “trendy”), or knit with cheap acrylic that feels like a trash bag after it has seen more than a few months wear. Others methodically and painstakingly turn strips of plastic bags into “yarn” to knit with, and that is then considered trendy (I have seen some high fashion things that have little value to me beyond being shocking or making an “art” statement). Or, how about things that are vintage themselves, now having the lustre of urban chic?

How about the grandmothers who were the authors of Shetland Lace? Fairisles? Bauhaus? Over the years, the very grandmothers who were the real innovators and gave us the body of knowledge that we have today are being deemed un-hip, un-trendy, and just not relevant. I think this is really sad. In our love of what is fresh and new, let us not forget the body of knowledge that gave us the ability to know so much more.

I also dislike catch phrases such as “hip and trendy”. According to who? It is all a personal expression, and how we feel about fashion and ultimately ourselves. I personally don’t care for a lot of what I see labeled as hip and trendy, for a variety of reasons. I see myself as classic and timeless. I see myself as beautiful lines, loving beautiful things, as not needing to be “fashionable” to a 16 year old – or an urban chic sophisticate – in order to have really wonderful things to wear. I know what I love and I am unapologetic for it.

I have a love of detail. Detail with stitch pattern, or garment details. The fact of the matter is, hip and trendy is whatever is fed to us by another individual who has made the decision for the masses on what their opinion of what “new” actually is. I have been around long enough to know that we are constantly re-inventing the wheel on that one.

One of the articles I did for Knitting, a magazine in the UK, talked about color and culture. This article was a series of three on choosing colorways. As I researched this article, it became apparent that things are constantly repeated, in variations. Everything is inspired by something else, and we constantly take in and then interpret for ourselves. True innovations are rare…being creative with combinations of old and new, well, that is where we see a lot of really brilliant work. That is more a function of the individual’s creative ability than being truely innovative. Good design does not have to be shocking, edgy, trendy, or any number of other hot adjectives. Imagine my surprise when I was looking at vintage russian folk costumes, and saw fabric in yellows, pinks, and orange. Oh yes, there was some cream in there too. It did not fit what I expected at all, and I found myself laughing and wondering which came first, this garment or the colors of the 60’s. And did the two exist outside each other, or was one inspired by the other?

See the world without labels, and let your creativity run rampant. If you look at the world in this way, you are not assigning pre-determined values to what you are looking at. You are able to look at it with no boundaries. Your mind is ready for your own opinions, and you are the author of your own definitions. For me, this simply means sometimes I want my grandma’s knitting, and sometimes I don’t.But it is my choice, based on my preferences and how I like to knit…not on a decision made for me by an editor, or a culture, or anything else.

It is your knitting, your passion, your choice.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace


2 Responses to “Not Your Grandma’s Knitting”

  1. rosie Says:

    Jolene, You might be interested in blog entry by the owners of Rosie’s Yarn Cellar in Philly, PA.

    Stop Insulting My Grandmother

    If that doesn’t work here is the tiny URL

    They have vowed not to buy another book for their shop with the word “Easy” in the title.

    Very interesting entry as are the comments from their readers/customers. Both pro and con.

  2. jolenetreace Says:

    Thanks, Rosie, that was REALLY great. I loved it! I have not read through all the comments, but I did read through some of the ones at the beginning. It is a great post and quite thought provoking and I am glad you shared it.

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