I was aware that there are knitters selling handknits on the site - and there is the concern about the now-common practice of selling products manufactured elsewhere. Abby Glassenberg has a fantastic blog post on this topic.
The other day, I tripped over an Etsy shop selling handknits (to which I won't link, for reasons that will be obvious) . I was doing some looking around, as you do, to investigate how a particular design element was being used in fingerless mitts.
My reaction to this shop was visceral. I was shocked. I was appalled. I was offended. I was angry.
The strength of my reaction took me by surprise.
It was pretty clear from the photos that all the items in the shop were worked with twisted stockinette stitch. That is, all the stitches were twisted.
|Image from blog HooksandNeedles.com|
Now, some patterns use twisted stitches deliberately, for an effect. Bavarian stitch patterns use them to create beautiful mini cables and travelling stitches.
And sometimes, twisted stockinette is used to create a denser fabric, or to add bias or change the fabric in some other way.
And indeed, some knitting traditions are based on twisted stockinette - specifically Eastern Crossed. It's not like it's not a valid technique.
But it's rare. Especially in North America.
The items in this Etsy shop weren't using Bavarian stitches, and given that they're all stuff like ordinary fingerless mitts and cowls, I'm pretty sure that they weren't using twisted stockinette for a particular effect. And the name of the store and the knitters and the (admittedly little) info given lead me to believe that they're not using Eastern Crossed.
I can't know for sure, obviously, but my immediate conclusion, therefore, was that the knitters creating the items for sale in this store are knitting wrong.
That's a loaded word, absolutely. And my reaction was loaded, too.
As a knitting teacher, I am all about options. I much prefer that students know that rationale behind a particular step or stitch or method, and understand where there are options. And I like, where possible, to allow the knitter to make her own decision about those options.
But I surprised myself with the immediately of my judgement about these items. My initial reaction was not to consider or allow any options - just that they were doing it wrong.
Technically speaking, what the knitters are doing is ok, it's is just not the common North American method.
When I calmed down a bit, and was able to open my mind a bit more, I went back to look at the store again.
And I realized what was making me angry. It was that it seemed pretty clear (again, the only info I have is the store info and the item descriptions, so I will freely admit to jumping to conclusions) that the knitters weren't aware that they were doing anything unusual.
And that was it. That was the bit that I was upset about. These knitters didn't know enough about their knitting to know that what they were doing was either worth fixing or worth explaining. Indeed, I was forced to conclude they didn't know enough about their knitting to even notice - and presumably wonder why - their work didn't look like the work of knitters around them, and as shown in books and magazines and in other pictures online.
And that makes me sad. If you don't see that your work is different, and then wonder why, and then learn more, then the conclusion I come to is that you don't really care about your knitting. And of course, I'm sad about that.
But then to sell those pieces to others... that's the bit that I got angry about.
Now. Does this matter? Not really! And I know there's lots of stuff of questionable quality on Etsy. It's not like Etsy is promoting these items as the best of knitting, or anything.
But ultimately, I realized, I was angry because I didn't want anybody to be disappointed with a knit piece. I didn't want anybody to not like a knit piece. I didn't want anybody to make something substandard, that would leave people with an incorrect impression about handknits.
So yes, as Kim said, I did "flip out" a bit. Probably more than strictly necessary... But I have to say that in thinking about it, I learned a little something about myself.
(As a side-note, I also learned that it's very easy to created twisted stockinette if you're working on a loom, although again, these items were described as handknits, and some of the patterning used would be difficult to work on a loom, so I don't think that's the cause of the issue.)
What do you think? How would you feel if you saw something being sold that was "wrong"?