Grey-Haired Old Ladies No More

17 March 2009

You remember knitting?  That occupation for grey-haired old ladies who sit quietly in the corner churning out sometimes ghastly sweaters which their grandchildren refuse to wear?

Well, those of you who are not knitters may have noticed that the image is changing a bit.  Young, hip people knit!  Film stars knit!  Groups are opening up all over the world in cafes and bars – not perhaps the usual haunts of grey-haired old ladies.  And although I’m not young and hip myself, nor a film star, I do try to do my bit to promote knitting as an activity for anyone – young, old, male or female, grey-haired or otherwise.

For the last 18 months or so, knitters of the world have been raving about Ravelry – a wonderful community for knitters/crocheters/spinners.  The New York Observer has a good article here which pretty well explains what it’s about.   

The forums on Ravelry cover practically anything under the sun and you can generally say what you want.  Moderators of the groups are there to ensure that nothing is truly disgusting or libellous but I’ve never seen any sign of true censorship. 

Last weekend, Ravelry again made the news because it has actually BARRED a group of people,  not for their right-wing views per se but for the way they felt they had to express them and to abuse those who disagreed, with occasional threats.  Apparently the group on Ravelry was closed down but they all went off site and continued their bombardment. 

Now of course they’re screaming “freedom of speech”.  That, and the phrase “it’s a free country”, is so misunderstood and misused.  People are NOT  free to say what they like, where they like and to whom they like.  A free country is one where you can publicly criticise the Government and other institutions.  It doesn’t mean you can DO what you like, wherever you like.  That’s not a free country; that’s anarchy.

And of course they forget that Ravelry is not strictly a “public” forum.  It’s owned by two people, who invite us to join them and, like any hosts, are free to ask us to leave.  Which is exactly what I’d do if anyone came to MY house and abused my other guests.

What this is doing for the image of knitters as grey-haired old ladies I’ve no idea.



  1. Well stated. I’ve come across the odd comment or two on Ravelry forums regarding how every poster should be able to say whatever he/she likes and it’s really annoyed me. We were all invited to join–and we should be respectful of our hosts.

  2. I agree. I always try to remember to only write online that which I would be happy to say face to face. And why deliberately set out to upset or annoy people, anyway? I really can’t see the point in that at all.

  3. Yep, Ravelry is effectively the owner’s living room, and we should respect that. “Freedom of speech” doesn’t apply there. Interesting how people think that it should, though.

  4. I don’t belong to Ravelry so I get my news about the things happening there from others. I happen to read the blog of one of the people who was banned and, oh my! She’s fine when she sticks to knitting but when she gets off into politics, she’s very offensive.

  5. I’m not a member of Ravelry, even though I think it’s a great idea. I just know that I would spend way too much time there! I have heard on the grapevine that things can get heated [as they can in any forum, online or not] but I agree, if one is invited somewhere, one shouldn’t abuse that privilege.

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