So I've been pretty quiet about the topic of diversity in the knitting industry, which has sparked a huge conversation on Instagram this month, and I've been trying to find an eloquent way to address both my silence and my feelings towards it all. I'm not sure it will be eloquent or concise, and it might sidetrack a bit, but I hope all who read this know that it comes from a place of sincerity and love.
For starters, my silence has not been intentional. Three weeks ago, we lost my sweet uncle in a horrible car accident. Losing him in this way, watching my cousins lose their father, watching my father lose his brother-in-law who was as close to him as his own brothers have been, it's been horribly difficult. My family traveled to Southern Illinois for his funeral and to support my cousins during this time. I am still so heartbroken for them, especially since they also lost their mother almost 3 years ago (and the pain from losing her is still very raw for them as it had been for my uncle; he visited her grave every day since she was buried, and died while making his way to her grave that night). Hearing the news, I think we all feel like the wind was knocked out of us. If you have a moment, please say a prayer and send some loving vibes toward my cousins as they move forward without their wonderful father.
It was also around this time that the fiber world was shaken up, and there have been several great discussions (some of them very heated) about diversity and the lack of inclusivity. I won't rehash it all here (there is SO much out there that I don't think it would all fit in one post), but I encourage anyone who hasn't been following along on Instagram to do so (check the hashtags #diversknitty and others that you find in the posts you read, as well as feeds from @su.krita, @thecolormustard, @ocean_bythesea, @astitchtowear, @tina.say.knits, @ggmadeit, and others who have had very well said and insightful contributions to the conversation; follow the conversations and the hashtags, and you'll find it all; Ravelry has a thread here that documents it all as well).
Because I have been processing our family's loss, I haven't really known what to say and how to say it. Honestly, I haven't really known what to say about most things, even what I'm working on or the quirkiness that is our family and everyday life (I released a new pattern last weekend, but even that took more out of me than it normally does, and I have yet to write a blog post about it). But I'm finding some time, space, and peace to put words together now.
During this time while everything had exploded and brought to light an awakening for many, what is resulting is a thing of true beauty: awareness, healing, inclusiveness, sharing, and love.
And, also, yarn. Lots and lots of amazing yarn. And knitting. And crocheting. And all of it together. There is still a ways to go but man...I am celebrating the direction it is all going.
And here is where I'm going to sidetrack a bit from what I originally wrote.
Last night as I turned off my computer, I had this post written up, proofread, and lived with for a day to make sure that it included everything that I wanted to say in the way that I wanted to say it, and to make sure that readers left knowing that I care about them and that they are loved. Just as I’ve been celebrating the forward movement towards more love, acceptance, and inclusiveness, a person with significantly narrower views than mine spoke their mind. They’re entirely within their rights to do so. And I am entirely within my rights to disagree with them.
Maybe this person hit a nerve. Maybe it’s me still being completely sick over Jussie Smollett being attacked in an absolutely horrendous and grotesque way in my most beloved city. Maybe after having put so much care into writing a thoughtful post on the subject, I’m reacting instead of taking my time and acting (something I try to be mindful of and fail at often). Maybe it is all these things.
So I am going to say this and I hope to make it very very clear to all...
Hate has no place here.
Racism has no place here.
Bigotry has no place here.
Misogyny has no place here.
Violence in any manner has no place here.
Bullying in any fashion, even passive bullying, has no place here.
Refusing to listen has no place here.
Not acknowledging a person’s pain and not trying to help it go away even in the smallest of ways has no place here.
Making a person feel less than because of who they are has no place here.
Making a person feel threatened or unsafe for any reason has no place here.
Lacking to take a minute to try to understand another's point of view even if it doesn’t align with your own has no place here.
What does have a place here?
And once again, Love.
And yarn. Always yarn.
If you do not accept all, then you do not accept me. All are welcome in this place.
In many ways, we have come a long way. And, clearly, in many other ways, we have far to go. No matter where you are in your journey through all of this, there is always room to do better, each and every day.
For those who have spoken out, keep talking. Keep sharing. Keep being you. I see you and hear you. I appreciate you. I honor you. You are amazing, and I look forward to seeing all that your talents bring to the table. And if I've mis-stepped sometime in the past, I am truly sorry. I am a constant work-in-progress and always trying to do better.
My door is always open. I don't have a huge following and I have a very small toe in the large fiber industry, but I am always open to collaborating or working with anyone who feels our skill sets compliment each other. I'm trying to do more designing and am always looking for dyers to collaborate with. If you find that you have a space for crochet, contact me! I'd love to work with you.
In the wake of this (with the exception of what one person said this past week), it's been wonderful to see the outpouring of support and the sharing and the love that's happening. That was very apparent by all the shares from last weekend's Vogue Knitting Live in NYC. Also, check out the hashtag #ourhandsthatstitch, especially this post from @ggmadeit and this post from @yarnrevolution. I am hearing more backstories about my fellow yarnies (including dyers, knitters, crocheters, weavers, designers, et cetera...et cetera...). Some I have followed for a while and have learned more about, while others I am just meeting for the first time. I've enjoyed all the new people I'm meeting and love watching everyone's journeys.
It's the journeys that I find most fascinating; the who you are and what it is in your life that has brought you to where you are today. It's different and unique for everyone. No two stories are exactly alike. And yet, we may find similarities in the little details that are shared. I love that we all share such great admiration for fiber and working with it creating pieces that ignite our spirits.
In one of my day jobs, I work for a company that promotes awareness products. Our main focus is medical cause awareness but we've been slowly incorporating social awarenesses as well. For so many generations, things in our society were just not discussed and not shared. Very few people talked about things like medical concerns, race relations, difficult times families experienced (anything from loss to abuse to mental health), and so, so much more. But now, in this age of hyper-communication, we have no excuse not to share and not make people more aware. It is through this awareness that we can all gain understanding. I look forward to continued lessons about all the wonderful makers in our circle of yarn loving stitchers, and truly respect and appreciate everyone. I hope that I earn your respect and appreciation in return.
Keep the conversation going. Keep making people aware. Keep doing it with love and kindness. Keep listening with patience and understanding. Please treat and respect one another as you would want to be treated and respected. Please remember that in this huge and beautiful and yet sometimes cruel world, to quote the Maya Angelou poem Human Family (one of my favorites), "we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike."
And, through it all, please keep creating.